Samhain Inspired Thoughts on Community
Hey folks, Samhain energies are at work and so I woke up this morning with some thoughts that I would like to share. First I would like to preface my thoughts with an analogy that I learned about many years ago. Basically, it is about a frog and a scorpion.
The Scorpion wanted to get to the opposite shore of the English Channel. And so he sought out various creatures that could assist him in the endeavor. Each time he was turned down, in part because of the fear of who he was and in part because of what he was capable of doing to others.
At any rate, he finally came to Frog with his entreaty. At first Frog turned him down like all of the others before him. But Scorpion kept pleading, as he knew this was his last chance to reach the opposite shore. Finally Frog relented and agreed to carry scorpion across the channel on his back. When they got to the middle of the channel, Scorpion stung Frog with his venomous tail.
Aghast, Frog cried out to Scorpion, “Why did you sting me, for I am dying and we shall both surely drown now?”
Scorpion responded, “You knew the nature of my personality before you agreed to help me!”
There are several reasons why I offer this analogy as a preface to my early morning thoughts. Imagine that, an Irishman resorting to the art of Triad (grin) . To begin with, there has been a great deal of talk over the years by modern pagans about “pagan community”. The reality is that such a community is a long way from becoming a valid entity. It is a concept that is rife with the insecurities of those who claim to adhere to such a concept. Many modern pagans were once members of the Abraham faiths, in particular, Christianity. And in many cases, such folks have parents, siblings, relatives and friends who still are Christians or what have you. And that is all good.
However, this has created a consistent undercurrent of insecurity because these modern pagans feel an overwhelming need to either hide their current pagan beliefs from their families and friends or to frantically seek approval from such folks.
To my mind, if folks have doubts about their self-professed beliefs, then perhaps they should reassess their desire to follow said beliefs. For to be true to others, one must first be able to be true to yourself. And such insecurities are detrimental to any efforts to build a genuine community whether it be modern paganism or what have you.
In view of such insecurities, there are many modern pagans — either individuals or groups — who feel that their primary mission as pagans is to engage in outreach with other religions. In spite of the fact that there are over four-hundred established religions in the modern world, this generally means that these modern pagans ignore four-hundred of these religions and reach out primarily and in most cases, specifically to the Christian religion.
At this point, I would like to point out that in this age of electronics that genuine communications skills are falling to the wayside. The current generation is losing the art of one-on-one communication due to their reliance on such electronic devices.
And as such, there will inevitably be the “me, me, me” types who will assume they know what I am trying to convey here. They will not seek clarification, because they already have the ‘answers’ to my thoughts… at least within their own self imposed limitations they will think so.
To such folks, I can only shrug my shoulders and hope that one day they will actually grow spiritually and thus find the genuine wisdom to understand a concept that is greater than themselves.
It will be said that that damn Crick hates Christians. My response would be “of course not”, but like the scorpions, I am aware of their own established behavior.
It will be said that that damn Crick is against community outreach. My response would be “Of course not”, but it should not be a primary and driving force in order to validate my pagan beliefs. And such outreach should be “attempted” with an expectation to meet with an equal amount of reciprocity… reciprocity of which is clearly absent from the Christian community. Yes of course there are exceptions to every rule, but it is realistically not the norm.
What then to my mind should be our primary goal you may ask? Well actually there are two very general goals if the modern pagan community is ever to reach a degree of cohesion and thus validity as a genuine community.
The first is to accept the realities of your chosen path. There are very few, if any, real “Masters” in modern paganism. The regurgitation of over the last fifty years of “101 Paganism” should be clear confirmation of this. And besides, we are all students over the course of our lives.
It is this denial of being a student that gives birth to the plethora of twenty and thirty-year-old ‘masters’ that modern paganism is noted for. It is also this denial that precludes modern pagans from acknowledging the pagan paths around the world that have been in place for many, many generations. And finally, it is this denial that sets modern pagans upon those who actually may know more than just the basic 101 scripts that defines modern paganism.
This is why the word “Elder” creates such a conflicting morass amongst modern pagans. For to define the word “Elder” in the manner that it is used among pre-modern pagans is to admit that one may actually be a student and not the “wise know it all’ that so many modern pagans strive to present themselves as, no matter how subtlety it is done. Yes, I know. Let the denials begin. It is to be expected when insecurities cloud reality. Besides, in this modern generation, everyone is right and no one is responsible, which is why we have the current me, me, me mindset in the first place.
Anyway, moving on.
The modern pagan community needs to find the strength to grow beyond such self-centered concepts of me-ism. Each community, pagan or otherwise is the sum of its members. If the modern pagan community is ever to become a genuine community, it must first learn to be true to its own tenets. Many within the modern pagan community will mouth the words acceptance and diversity. Sounds like good tenets to establish a community by doesn’t it?
And yet as soon as a free thinker such as myself proffers an “opinion” that is divergent from some other pagan, well … the ugliness rears its head. Hateful and disparaging words are hurled at will, in an attempt to hurt the author of such individual thoughts, and in extreme cases, threats of physical violence are made. Are such reactions, which in all reality are based upon personal insecurities really conductive to creating a sense of cohesiveness in a budding community?
And finally, we need to find the strength to break out of the modern concept of “me-ism” and reach out to other pagans in this fragile community without preconceptions and/or preconditions. As an umbrella community, we do not walk in lockstep with each other. The modern pagan community, unlike pagan communities of olden times which consisted of folks of identical beliefs and usually of small enclaves such as covens, tribes and the like, is now a morass of many, many different paths.
We need to reach a genuine understanding of the modern interpretation of pagan community that goes beyond just mouthing the words.
Perhaps when we develop genuine outreach amongst ourselves then we can validate the inordinate amount of energy that some modern pagan individuals/groups employ towards the Christian religion as being based on something other than an attempt to give in to ones personal insecurities.
Before I stop here and grab my first cup of java of the morning, please keep in mind that the preceding thoughts are simply the personal opinion of one old witch who has more years behind him then he has in left in front of him. And before you allow the “me -ism” to take precedence in your thoughts, please understand that my sole purpose in this rant is to spark the fuse of thought… it is an attempt to ignite a blaze of introspection that in the end will open the door to a understanding that is greater than you or I.
Now, where is that cup of java?