Still, it was a nice note, and he's a thoughtful guy, so I answered it.
Part of our correspondence is noted below.
----- Original Message -----
Subject: Sia's Blog @ Full Circle Central
Just writing to say that I have been enjoying your blog. Few Pagan blogs take the time to write thoughtful and informative essays. Stangely (or maybe not so strangely) I have been thinking about many of the issues you bring up in your latest entry "Tis a Mystery". First off, do you think that this tendency to go underground is a mainly Wiccan/Witchcraft phenom or is this something you are seeing with other Pagan groups like Asatru, Druids, Reclaiming, etc.
Thank you so much :-)
Actually, this Blog is simply my way of posting random thoughts and keeping up to date on the growing process at FCE. I then use these notes to create full fledged essays later on, usually for our Full Circle newsletter or The Witches' Voice.
To answer your question: As I noted in "Tis a Mystery", I've talked to Pagan organizers all across the country these last 6 months, and I'm hearing this across the board: all Paths, many teachers and types. Most of us have been Pagan for 10 - 20 years. What's happening now is very different. I meant it when I said this is a "sea change".
I myself could be considered "underground" since I don't participate in community building for Pagans since my own community fizzled out after a nasty spate of "witchwars".
That's what usually happens. And then none of the Pagan Organizers can find volunteers. Then good events and Circles close down for lack of staff & support.
But then I am maintaining a online blog, writing for New Witch,
Nice folks over there. Anne Niven (the publisher) is a friend of mine. Now *there's* a practical Pagan.
and going back to school to get a Masters in Divinity so I can serve better.
Good for you! You might want to check out the Gnosis Cafe run by Ann Hill. Anne has worked to build Pagan community for many years now. She just got her MA degree from the University for Creation Spirituality, and is a full fledged Pagan Reverend. She also owns Serpentine Music. Anne is very creative, highly ethical, real world and funny. She is also a great mom.
I suggest that you also read books on conflict resolution. I've noted my reasons for that in my essay on "Pagan Doers" over at FCE's essay page.
Which begs the question in my mind, are we going underground or are we simply regrouping and preparing to do things better.
I'm about to address that question, thus the interviews. I believe it is the latter and I'm hearing some very interesting ideas. I've even got one or two of my own.
Also, check out The Year of the Rooster essay, February newsletter. It speaks to this re the energy that's out there right now.
I sometimes think that we (the collective modern Paganism we) got too big, too fast and we weren't prepared for the explosion of popularity and what it would entail. There was simply too much to do and so the void was filled with crackpots, charlatans and creeps more than happy to pick up the slack. Maybe we are taking a rest for the big job ahead, forging a future for our family of faiths. Its a theory at any rate.
Yeeeees. I think that's part of it. Some of the new folks did bring this energy, and much of the chaff has either drifted away or been seen for what it is. That's exactly how it is supposed to work. After all, none one ever said that this Path was easy, just rewarding. Truly, it's not for everyone, nor should it be.
and yes, some of the Old Guard continue to bicker and waste precious energy on ego fights. Let them. The rest of us have work to do.
I still get letters from new Witches though who've been burned by the b.s from certain "High" Priests and Priestesses. Vigilance is going to be the watch word for a very long time to come. It needs to be maintained on all sides.
Any organizer worth their salt has a list of "Problem Children" - part of doing this work is finding out who you can really count on. Newcomers also have to use an ounce of common sense when choosing a teacher or a group. The Notes to a New Witch post (which is later to be a full essay) addresses this.
To my way of thinking that bit about "Perfect Love and Perfect Trust" is a crock and an open invitation to a con. Why on earth are we setting ourselves up for a "perfect" anything? Our Christian brothers and sisters found that this sort of thinking just engenders guilt and shame. They are trying to change that focus as we speak. As for love and trust, these things are powerful, they are precious, and they are earned. They don't just get handed to you when you walk in the door. So, let's stop trying to be a club, and start teaching what's real.
Oddly enough, I just had this very conversation yesterday with a great gal who closed down her Coven several years ago in order to rest. It is very difficult to share power because we have to be:
a) confident enough in our own power and willing to do so and,
b) we have to find those we can trust.
We then spend an awful lot of time training setting standards and then keeping quality control and finding staff. It helps if we are willing to set an example! Pagans need to be responsible enough to show up on time and be organized, something a great many of our people just don't want to do.
Many of the people drawn to modern Paganism don't have all the tools they need in their toolbox to get along in the world. The good news, as Myss notes, is that this has lets them escape the cultural trance. The challenge is that these folks then come to Paganism bearing a sacred wound and wanting to be fixed. Some people are really screwed up, and they come in wanting power, power they aren't ready to use either fairly or well. If they achieve authority without having wisdom to temper the use of power, they then go on to abuse others.
The Old Guard had the same damn problems and they passed it on, and new people come in the door with these same issues. So, let's give the Old Guard the credit for what they really accomplished during very hard times and let's appreciate the enthuriasm the new comers bring to it. Then, let's move forward, carrying only what works along with us.
Carolyn Myss addresses this problem in her book "Sacred Contracts" in great detail. I recommend it to you.
Dj also addresses this in a very real way via Spiral Steps:
Right now, I'm working on an essay with Dj on Dysfunctional Pagans, what that looks like and how they effect the community. This is part of a series we'er doing. Read The Shadow Knows and The Bard and the Poser here:
Anyway, just thought I would let you know I enjoy what you are contributing to cyberspace.
I have been for quite a while now :-) But it's always nice to be acknowledged. Thank you very much for the kind words and the link.
Good job on your Blog, by the way- I can see that a lot of work and thought has gone into this. I look forward to seeing more of your work.
Oh, why no comments on entries,
Take a look at the comments section in Wren's Next at the Witches' Voice and you'll see why I don't want a comment section in my Blog. Frankly, I'd prefer to receive a thoughtful note privately from someone nice like you then hand a bullhorn over to sillies who just want the attention. I've teased Wren about the comment section over at Wren's Nest over the years becuase so many of the posts are simple minded. (To be fair, it is very useful sometimes and many thoughtful types do post there, as well). That said, Wren keeps the loonies from posting hate speech. It's time consuming for her, though. Bless her for doing it.
I admire Wren's desire to create an open forum without wanting to emulate it. You'll note that TWV does not offer a chat room and this for a very good reason: too many loonies posting rants and insults. Then the thoughtful people run away (ah..we're back to our original topic, I see). As a result, few Pagan sites offer such boards nowadays. Those that tried it watched with mounting horror what happened and then quickly closed their boards down. It's either that, or spend all your time as a Playground Monitor.
and have you considered adding a blogroll of Pagan-related blogs you like?
I don't use my Blog that way. For me, it's an issue of focus and time. I prefer to have my links list over at FCE.
You've done a very nice job of compliling these blogs, I notice. You've found some very interesting writers. I'll get lost in it some more this weekend
My links are at the Full Circle webpage. If and when I have the time, I'm going to be updating that particular links page, but right now I've got other projects in hand.
I've sent your Blog's url over to Snakemoon, the Editor-in-Chief of the FCE newsletter. I think she'll like it, so you should see this posted in a newsletter soon. Again, thank you for the timely and interesting information and for the nice note.
Go well, stay well,
Full Circle Events
Honor the Past, Celebrate the Present, Create the Future
Note to self: There is a nice site on the Culture Trance (from an anti-war perspective, here)