Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Community: I've talked a good game, but...

Back in October, I participated in Blog Action Day by posting on the 2008 theme, poverty. I felt pretty good about the post and about the response it generated (I made good on my promise) and then, sad to say, I pretty much forgot all about it.

A recent essay on The Witches' Voice yanked my chain and shamed me back into awareness. Jeffrey Pierce's, "The Magick of Giving" is an engagingly written, passionate wake-up call to examine our me-more-mine culture.

I tried in vain last night to write a clever review of Jeffrey's essay and restate his already well-stated points.The fits and starts convinced me that I was trying to reinvent a perfectly fine wheel. Better I should just point you toward the essay and toward the author's website, Old Ways, and let you feel first-hand the impact of the stark truths he presents and the reminder of our accountability to our community I felt when I read this admonishment:

Being Pagan isn't simply about working magick or casting a Circle. It's more than taking a magickal name or building an occult library to further our own growth and knowledge. We follow the phases of the moon and the journey of the sun around the Wheel of the Year, we attune ourselves to the cycles of Nature, but we lack any sense of community. Yes, we have Pagan friends - but that meets our needs, not the needs of those who are struggling simply to survive.

Community isn't simply about developing friendships, but putting the whole ahead of the individual. We staunchly argue that it's not how things should be, that we deserve to pursue our individual goals and have earned the material rewards we heap upon ourselves. And yet the ancestral village, tribe, or clan of our spiritual ancestors that we look to for inspiration on our path put their neighbors and their community ahead of their own personal gain.

Not pulling any punches, Malidoma Patrice Somé, an African Shaman, writes in his book, Ritual: Power, Healing, and Community, "The only place where abundance is warranted is in nature. A person who wastes is a person who insults the gods. In light of the waste encountered in the modern world, one wonders if anyone knows that there is a world outside of this abundance where people are aware of priorities other than materialism."

Go read the essay, then visit Old Ways...and then let's talk about what we can do.

4 comments:

  1. I'm in agreement with you. I've been far happier, more productive, and done more good by stepping out of the pagan community and extending my hand everywhere I am instead of looking at building something just for "me-mine-us".

    Something to ponder... is the reason that we, as Craft/pagans/witches, are far less organized (when compared to organized religions) the stimulus to encourage us at a basic level to focus on the whole instead of simply our part? I see the future as being a place where the lines of congregation and coven aren't drawn in the squares of churches or the circles of ritual. The very walls and spheres we build to hold our energy can also separate us and assist with the forgetting that you and I are One.

    I, too, find that too many pagans are what I call "Pyramid Collection" pagans. They have great libraries full of books (most of which probably haven't been thoroughly read or digested). Their walls are covered with great art. They have all the tools and ritual gear. From the outside, wow, don't they look like something! Granted, this is one way to express the path. But it's totally selfish, you know?

    The cycle of moving energy has to start somewhere. Pagans, as much as it pains me to say it, exemplify consumer "taking" as much as any other citizen. We suffer from the same self-centered habits. Breaking those habits, dissolving the lines between what benefits me and what I want and what benefits us all and what we can have together... that's a defining moment in human evolution and a wonderful next step for which to prepare.

    It might even stop the stupidity of competition for the sake of feeling better about one's self, which is another divider between people that seriously needs to go.

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  2. Here here!

    I'm a "quiet" one in the loose community of Pagans (but y'all read my blog and you already knew that). I agree with Sitara--maybe we're not rigidly organized so that we can more easily reach out to those on the 'outside'.

    There's a lovely statement to this by Rainer Maria Rilke....I'll find it and post to that end on mine.

    But, regardless, the "little" we do on our own does a lot to erase the culturally established "me mine" mindset.

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  3. I agree with you, thanks for the interesting read

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  4. I really like the banner picture. Thank you for your blog.

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