Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Song of Community: Supporting One Another

Over the past couple of days several things have transpired, in the larger Contemporary Pagan community, in the Eastern NC community (where I am), and in my personal life. All of which have one commonality—one axis round which they go. Each one of them is about supporting the community.

For those that do not remember, several years ago L. Galadriel, one of the founders of the Unicorn Tradition, was diagnosed with a failing liver. Sadly she did not have insurance and could not afford to pay for the transplant herself. BUT… then something amazing happened. The entire Contemporary Pagan community united. No arguing, fighting, or bickering; okay maybe just bit. We as a community forked up the bill, and she got her transplant. In an unfortunate turn of events, her body rejected the new liver and she departed our company for the Mighty Dead. Whereas I am saddened by the turn of events that transpired, within them I saw something that at the time I thought impossible. I didn’t think that our fledgling community, and believe me when I say we are still in the beginning phase of transforming ourselves from being a New Religious Movement into whatever is to come, but I digress. Our greater community is pockmarked with in-fighting and Witch Wars, after all we are fiercely independent and not afraid to voice our disagreements. Yet somehow we set that all aside when one of our Elders needed us and answered the call for help.

More recently Isaac Bonewits entered into a fight with cancer. For those who don’t know, the man pretty much made American Druidism into a viable and working religion. If you call yourself a Druid and use a three realm based cosmology, vice the four elemental system common to British Druidry, then you have this man to thank. Again the community at large extended what help we could in order to ensure he had a livelihood… it’s very hard to make a living off traveling to festivals as a guest speaker when you can’t travel. Isaac eventually closed his eyes and was initiated into the ranks of the ancestors.

In both these cases, any hope of success came about as a result of the community giving back to our Elders. Since then, I have seen an increase in the manners in which we support. I can say this is particularly true of my local community. Y’all got your heads on right in this thing. I have lived in several states, thanks to my employer, and nowhere else can compare.

So back to what has me thinking about all of this:

Recently a prominent Contemporary Pagan blogger, Star Foster, entered into some tough times. Read all about it on her blog. I met Star back before there was a blog, when I lived in Atlanta. She is good people and truly cares for our community. Her blog is a labor of love. I don’t know exactly how much help has been given, but I do know that when the call went out, the community responded.

Yesterday, I received an invite to attend the Wiccaning for a local couple’s daughter. The invite took me by surprise. I know the couple and have talked with them briefly at Mayfaire and Shadow Harvest, but don’t regularly run in the same circles as them. Nothing against them, our paths just don’t cross often. For those that don’t know. I am a huge fan of showing support to our community and increasing the bonds therein via Rites of Passage. This blog sums it up very well.

In Greenville, NC, where I ran a successful Coven for several years before having to move away due to employment, there is a local shop suffering from the down turn in the economy. When I lived in Greenville, the Tipsey Teapot was the hub for our community. Several groups met there. Though most don’t know it, our Coven held our interviews there. Now several years later, the community has other centers but the Tipsey is still a common stomping ground. The local community recognizing the threat towards one of their beloved establishments has united and is doing what they can to assist. I applaud them and give them my support in this endeavor.

The third thing that has my mind on this issue of communal support is the rush of volunteers. I am one of the organizers for a local festival, Shadow Harvest, and I am amazed at the offers of support and help that I have received. Unlike other festivals, Shadow Harvest (and Mayfaire, its compliment) is completely free and exists solely because of volunteers and donations.

Yesterday, this blog went up on the Wild Hunt. HERE. In the spirit of it, and having already thought a lot about supporting the community, I have decided to make a short list of ways that Contemporary Pagans can help each other out.


New Age Store: By ALL your supplies from them. Maybe it takes some creative planning but they need the support; and without these stores our community has no actual building and places by which to organize. Here is what I do. I stock up when at a store attending an event. Or I place a bulk order to be exchanged in person at a later date. Almost everything I use in my Craft is supplied this way. There are times when I see something online, that I must have, but before I buy it, I see if a shop I support can get it. Pay a little extra for what you want; you’d spend the same in shipping anyway. On that note, once you have built up some repertoire, you might even get a discount. Help them help you.

Crafts Folk: Need something made or want to learn a new skill. Support your local Contemporary Pagan crafts folk by purchasing your wares from them, or hiring them to share (even if in barter) the how to.

Festivals: Volunteer. They are a lot of work and do tremendous good for uniting our community.

Give: Sometimes the best say to support the community is to just give, whether it be time, cash, or skill. I know it’s not always possible, but when it is, lend a hand.

Encouragement: Our path is not an easy one. There is a lot of hard work and struggle that goes into it. Especially for the inexperienced and new to the path, they may be working through hardship from previous paths and ways. Offer them encouragement. If we are to grow as a healthy community, it is gonna take everyone. That whole ‘it takes a village’ thing applies here as well.

Rites of Passage: The Rites of Passage for others are yours too. They strengthen the bonds of everyone, socially speaking; also when you attend someone else’s, your re-experience the rites yourself via proxy.

Attend Events: Go to community events. Festivals, Pagan Pride Days, and those sponsored by shops.

So that’s what I got. Care to add to this list?

Boidh se!

-Spanish Moss

"Lost in a thicket bare-footed upon a thorned path."

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