2nd Wednesday: Cottage Witch Corner (everything home, garden & family)
Last Thursday morning, under the palm trees in front of my house, I packed up some blankets, pillows, the warmest clothes I could find (not easy in Florida), my drum and a few other items. I jumped in my little 10-year-old silver Hyundai, plugged in my phone to play an audiobook over the speakers (Ritual by David Pinner, the book that inspired the movie The Wicker Man) and swilled countless cups of pumpkin spiced lattes as I headed due North. I stopped for a night’s sleep in a cheap motel in North Carolina, to rise early and resume my course for another five hours.
I finally arrived at my destination: Hallowed Homecoming, a Pagan Samhain retreat in beautiful Prince William’s Forest in Virginia. I spent the next 48 hours having a great time, then I hopped back into my car on Sunday afternoon and headed South. I got home Monday night, but I’m still on a high.
I am not going to tell you about Hallowed Homecoming; though if you’re curious about it, I do have a review published here. This blog post is not about Hallowed Homecoming. This blog post isn’t even about travel. This blog post is about community.
On that long drive home, after I finished my audiobook and belting along to the score of Wicked, I shut the radio for some quiet. My mind wandered to the topic of community, and how important community is.
In general, community is an important thing. Like it or not, by nature, we’re social creatures. I’m not going to say it’s impossible to live without connecting to some other humans, but I will say that the hermit life is not ideal for the vast majority of people. Community fulfills that social need, it gives us a sense of belonging, it gives us people with which we can work cooperatively.
For Pagans, I think community is doubly important. Pagan religions were, after all, communal religions. The earlier religions were tribal, later they were shared by villages or cities. The Pagan revival began as initiation-based mystery religions. The term ‘solitary practitioner’ was only something popularized a few decades ago, and only out of necessity– many Pagans lived too far from others to take part in a community.
We all practice solitary sometimes– there are always going to be those personal aspects to your journey you have to face alone; the times you need to ‘go within’ to seek answers or wrestle your ‘demons’. We all need that.
But we also need community. Community enables us to share and compare experiences. This helps us evaluate our personal gnosis. It allows us to be inspired by new ideas and practices so we can broaden our horizons.
There’s something incredibly powerful about group energy. Finding a group of people who share your values (not necessarily your opinion, but your values) and your spirituality, all raising energy together toward the same goal– it is an amazing experience.
I’m not saying I think everyone needs a coven or full-time group that meets every week for rituals. I like to go to camp-out festivals. I even list the festivals I plan to attend above (click ‘Find Me At Festivals’ on the black link bar under my name on the top of the page). I’ll travel hundreds of miles to get to a good festival if I can. I get to meet new people, I learn a lot from the speakers and workshops, and being able to take part in rituals led by so many different people really keeps things fresh and new.
Once in a while, a couple of times per year, go to a local festival– even if it’s just a day-long festival. Attend an open sabbat. Go to a workshop or meditation group. Invite some Pagan friends over for a Sabbat dinner and a drum circle. Make community part of your spirituality– after all, we are all connected on the web of life.