Now Is the Winter of Our Disconent

I’m going to make some counter-intuitive arguments here, and I’ll start off stipulating (as we lawyers do) to a number of points.

Stipulations: First, I’m old and I realize that my (pre-internet!) experience of Wicca, from a time when you could hardly find any information on it and had to seek, do detective work, depend on luck, really want to find out about Wicca!, and hunt high and low for Pagan groups, is not the experience of most modern Wiccans. I think that my experience had some deep (and now mostly-ignored) benefits to it, although I realize that those times made it difficult for many people, especially those outside of major urban areas, to connect. They kept me a Solitary for many years.

Second, no matter what I say in this post, I believe that modern Paganism is moving towards having “buildings,” whether we call those buildings “temples,” or “community centers,” or whatever. (I hope we don’t call them “churches,” but that’s happening, as well.) That move will have its good points and its bad points, but it is where I think we are headed. I had the opportunity earlier this year to talk with Byron Ballard, whose group has now obtained a building, about both the pros and cons of this movement. I’m indebted to her for her insights, and for the insights of others who were in on the conversation.

Third, I’m not a “festival Pagan,” a “public ritual Pagan,” or even (it’s true, see, e.g., my gravatar) a very nice person. I love the idea of Pagan festivals, but I’m an INTJ, (with my Sun in leaky Pisces and my Moon in stay-at-home, comfort-loving Taurus) and, I’ve finally come to realize, a poor traveler and an even worse camper (The Four Seasons. I like to camp at the Four Seasons. But I’d rather be at home, except for the whole room service thing.) Large groups of people drain me, in rather serious ways. I’ve been to some local public rituals, and I’ve enjoyed them. But they’re far less meaningful to me that the rituals of my own, closed Circle. And I have to remain in the broom closet for my job. Both large public rituals and Pagan conferences endanger that, especially as rules about who can take pictures/video and what they can do with them are often non-existent or observed more in the breach than anything else. (Sacred Space, I’m looking at you.) And then there’s the whole leaky Pisces thing. So my experience of Witchcraft comes almost entirely from my practice, for decades, as a Solitary Witch and from my practice, over the past decade+, with a closed Circle of eclectic Witches. And I’ll freely stipulate that these things make me unusual, perhaps, in the larger Pagan community.

Fourth, as I’ll explain below, I believe that Pagan groups other than Witches may have more reasons for wanting/needing buildings than do Witches. Druids, Members of the Order of the Golden Dawn, Freemasons, Heathens, and others may well have less reason to avoid buildings than do Witches. I get that.

Finally, I’ll add that one of the things that I love about Paganism is its eclectic nature. Let, a la China 1957, a hundred flowers bloom. (Yeah, I know that didn’t last in China, and I’m afraid that it won’t last another century or so in Paganism, and maybe that’s a natural cycle. But I love it.) Don’t like your coven? Hive off. Want to worship an obscure deity? Have at it! Love to write your own rituals, develop your own tradition, sunder from the established group? Blessed Be. It’s why, inter alia, we say, “Merry Meet, and Merry Part, and Merry Meet Again.” Part and be merry! Change your mind later and meet back up again! But it’s not conducive to building churches.

Arguments: So, with all of the above stipulations firmly stipulated, here’s where I’m going to say something less-than-popular: I’ve got no burning desire to see Pagan Community Centers get established.

/stands up, spreads arms, awaits thrown rotten tomatoes.

If there are other Pagans who want them, I wish them all the luck in the world. I do.

But I don’t see that we need them; I see serious downsides to having them; and I’m not working or donating to create them. And when they can’t be maintained, due, perhaps as much the craptastic economy as to anything else, I’m willing to see them mutate or disappear.

I’m sorry.

I’m not saying that if you’re working to maintain or establish one you’re wrong or that I don’t hope you succeed, because, see above re: hundreds of flowers.

But part of what drew me (and I get that, like Zuzanna Budapest, I’m part of a dying generation) to Witchcraft was its subversive nature. My conversion had a lot to do with the notion that religion, mystical experience, feminism, an attack on the structures of Patriarchy, and a sacrilization of the politics of protest could be practiced outside the boundaries of “acceptable” religion. Ellen Everet Hopman, once told me that the difference between a Druid and a Witch was that Druids worked within society, advising Queens and King and helping to form laws, while Witches were those crazy old women who recognized no laws and lived out in the liminal spaces between the village and the forest, doing wild magic that threatened the social order. And every cell in my body, lawyer that (by day) I am, cried out, “And that’s why I’m a Witch and not a Druid.” And subversive groups, well, they do better meeting at midnight in forests, congregating in members’ homes, convening in coffee houses or rented library rooms where no one really knows what they’re up to. They do better showing up outside the Supreme Court to scatter enchanted birdseed for the local pigeons (and then disappearing), law being an Airy business, than they do as law-abiding tenants, renting out a store-front and trying to act legitimate. AND WHEN THEY GET RESPECTABLE, START OWNING BUILDINGS, BECOME MEMBERS OF THE LOCAL MERCHANTS’ LEAGUE, WELL, THAT’S WHEN THEY STOP BEING SUBVERSIVE.

And so, I do see how, for Druids, for example, or ceremonial magicians, or Heathens, etc., it can be more important to have one central location than it is to be outside of the usual social constructs of landowners, associations, fundraisers. And there is a sense in which working together to find, purchase or rent, and maintain a central location can bind a group and create a community connection. And prickly old Witches aren’t too good at that, but maybe Celtic Reconstructions are (OK, I crack myself up, but you know what I mean).

But, having a building requires that a serious portion of your efforts (and in difficult economic times, an even larger portion of your efforts) go towards funding the building, paying for its upkeep, raising money to keep it in existence, governing its use. And I can hear some of the frustration related to that creeping into recent posts by those who are working — as they believe, for all of “Us” — to found or maintain Pagan buildings. It’s easy to underestimate how much work such centers take, how draining they can be for the few who do all the work of establishing and maintaining them, how bitter they can wind up feeling. I’ve known Christian churches where having fundraisers, and pledge drives, and business plans for the Building Fund became far more important than feeding the hungry, comforting the afflicted, preaching the Gospel, or enjoying fellowship. It’s difficult, it is, to work on maintaing a building and to also challenge the status quo, be in relationship with Nature, do a daily practice, and, as we (rightly, IMHO) require most Pagan leaders to also do, to earn a living.

Having a building also requires a bunch of rules (and if you don’t think so, you’ve never dealt with an insurance company or a landlord). No drinking or drugs, no Great Rites, no minors, no animals, no fires (and that means candles and incense and small fires under a caldron, and . . . .) It requires someone to decide which group gets Samhein (well, we reserved way last year, well we have more members and can pay more, well, we’re the group that founded the community center, well we had it last year, well it’s our turn, well the rest of you always discriminate agains those of us who . . . .) And Witch Wars waste more energy than anything else I know.

OTOH, renting. for a day. a local community center, meeting out in the woods, and (IMHO, best of all) meeting in members’ homes and yards, is cheaper, can be done on an as-needed-and-as-can-be-affored basis, only requires obedience to the local rules (or disobedience, if you so choose), and leads to better magic and deeper (although less accessible) community. Not having a designated space makes you be creative. If we’re doing a ritual to influence this session’s Supreme Court, what if we meet outside the court? If we’re engaged in magic to protect the landbase, let’s do our ritual at the local waste treatment plant. If we’re going to cast a spell to protect reproductive freedom, what if we circle the local abortion clinic three times three? If we need to connect with local trees, what if we meet outside the local arboretum? BTW, where DO they store the local voting machines that we’re worried may get hacked? Where IS Selena’s chemo going to be administered? The bank that’s holding up Robin’s loan is located just outside the B4 bus stop. One of our members is old and infirm and finds it helpful if we meet at her house so she doesn’t need to travel.

In the end, for me, it comes down to Witchcraft being a deeply personal practice, to my preference for magic done between and among a group of closely-connected, experienced-with-each-other magic workers, to a desire to remain outside the structures of a quickly-toppling social construct, to having no time for the million details that chew up hours when you’re trying to maintain a building.

I get that a Pagan community center can do some of the things that a local esoteric book store (now replaced by the internet) used to do. (But the internet does do a lot of those things, already.) I get that for Millenials, etc., it can provide a place to connect in “meat space,” and to offer classes, rituals, lectures at the same place each time, rather than in a shifting series of library lecture rooms, rented government centers, and downstairs church basements.

Interestingly, Christians, who’ve perfected the business of owning buildings, are now experiencing a movement away from churches and into the homes of their members. As noted above, I think that Pagans are, will we or nil we, headed into a period of building buildings. And I’m sure that whatever results will be interesting.

But this weekend, my Circle is meeting at my home. And part of my deepest spiritual practice will be, this weekend as many weekends during the year, cleaning my home in preparation for the priestesses, preparing the garden and the outdoors altar, polishing the silver, chilling the wine, making tea, creating a sacred meal, opening a serene and restorative space, and then welcoming Witches (Witches!) into my home. Earlier this week, we met at one of my Sisters’ homes, and I had the opportunity to give reiki to her pet, admire her garden, eat at her table, and discuss in complete privacy with my Sisters what we want to achieve. And that’s where I want to be.


Where do you meet? Are you working towards/currently supporting a temple or community center? What do you think are the benefits or downsides of such places? Are we heading towards having temples?

Picture found here.

67 responses to “Now Is the Winter of Our Disconent

  1. I’m completely solitary, and even though there is a pagan group that meets at a local church regularly I just feel weird being in a building, or even being with a group of others that I don’t know very well. I can see the purpose to becoming more mainstream, but I can also see how with the prevalence of the internet, brick and mortar aren’t as necessary to do that as they once were. I think this is another way to prove legitimacy and I don’t really think that this approach will work the way people think it will.

  2. Robert Mathiesen

    Well said, all of this! This is a great post, and these things need to be said loudly and often.

    I’m also old, a member of the Silent Generation, and though I’m a man, Zsuzsanna Budapest is one of my favorite authors, for much the same reason.

    In some other respects, we may have come to the same conclusion from somewhat different starting points. My ancestors came to California in the 1880s, and like many Californians of their generation, they became pantheists. But the God(s) they saw in nature were hardly all sweetness and light. Nature seemed not always benevolent, as humans judge benevolence. It took life as much as it gave life. It brought us sorrow as well as joy.

    They also developed a private form of magic that owed a lot to the so-called “mind-over-matter” or metaphysical religions of that era. And they had little or no use for the social order and its conventions, or for communities, whether intentional or otherwise. Growing up, I was taught that we were different in these ways from almost all other people, and encouraged to become different from one another even within the family. And that meant keeping secrets from the larger world, while seeming not to have any secrets at all.

    And so, for me, magic (even if you might call it witchcraft) is inherently transgressive, and it often subverts the social order. Also, religion (again, even if you might call it witchcraft) is to be privately held and practiced. In no way is it ever a matter of community. Nor is it something one teaches to one’s children when they are young. The God(s), as my ancestors experienced them, were not inherently benevolent. Magic was much safer for children, they thought, than religion.

    The late Elizabeth Pepper (of The Witches’ Almanac), whom I got to know somewhat in her last years, had something of a similar family background, and she said that she, too, was uncomfortable with the same developments that you and I are talking about, for somewhat the same reasons. But she belonged to the generation before mine even, the so-called G.I. Generation.

    I think you hit the nail squarely on the head when you stipulated that different generations will naturally see these things differently.

    But here is my old voice, for what it may be worth.

  3. I take the liberty of submitting a few random thoughts, not in any particular order:

    o Re. subersiveness–the contemporary house church movement to which you referred started off in the 1960’s with the Christian base communities in Latin America. These were very subersive indeed, and they and their supporters were not appreciated (to say the least) by either the secular or the ecclesiastical Powers That Be.

    o Agreed regarding the fact that the costs and effort required to operate and maintain a physical plant can distract from what was originally supposed to be the objective. I have seen some parish budgets, and it does seem that, after the staff are paid and the bricks and mortar are maintained, there is precious little left for feeding the hungry, healing the sick, or attending to other urgent needs. I suspect that this is true of some national church budgets as well, but the information is more difficult to tease out (and I suspect that this is intentional). I sometimes wonder why these groups are allowed to continue operating as charities.

    o I have nothing to say about the program or philosophy of AA, but their organizational model is interesting. Locally, they do not own or rent property, and they have no paid local staff. They meet in other people’s buildings and use other people’s coffee urns. This allows the members to focus on their mission. Something to consider.

  4. Hecate I’m with you on the subversive challenge we pose to the status quo. It is all about transforming rather than complying with or joining.

    And if we’re out on the edge, then those who find themselves out on the edges will know where to find us.

    Here in Africa there are homeless or impoverished sangomas along with homeless and impoverished exiles, LGBT people, human rights activists, those living with Aids, the destitute, the refugees, the landless. We all need each other and to work together for change.

  5. Gawds, we MUST know some of the same people – even if both of us get more out of small groups. And even if I’m in ASW, who are working on their Library project.

  6. Ellen Evert Hopman wasn’t fully accurate in what she told you about Druids and Witches. Not all Druids were advisors to kings and queens. Some did dwell in liminal spaces between society and the outside. And not all witches were “outsiders”. Some lived right in the heart of a community and acted as healers, midwives, and the like. Of course, you wouldn’t have found “Druids” and “Witches” in the same society, as one was Celtic and the other Germanic, but there you have it. Some Druids, especially in Ireland, were pretty much the same as our conception of the Germanic “witch” however, due to their dark, wild, and lonely natures, and their work.

    I think it’s kind of sad that you based your whole religious path on being a subversive. I think that’s a touch juvenile, but it doubtless has appeal. But let me say this- there is a need for subversive, and a need for liminal, and no matter what people tell you, there is no such thing as a Pagan- of ANY stripe- who is not subversive. Good, civilized (or so they say) Hellenes, feisty Heathens with their horns of mead, those good old green Druids, those Wiccans dancing in secret in the woods, no matter who you are, no matter what sort of job you do during the day, by being a Pagan in a post-christian world (which is still officially christian in 90% of homes in this country) you are being subversive, and occupying a space that is towards the edge of society’s spiritual boundaries.

    So, I don’t think it’s your (somewhat lamentable) choice to be Wiccan that makes you a rogue subversive. I think your basic soul, your basic attitude, your basic approach to all things religious and political is what makes you subversive, and an outsider to THIS society. Pagans are jumping the gun if they really think that “Some” Pagans are in some sort of social mainstream, while others are rogue outsiders and subversives. We’re all subversive, no matter what, by just being any sort of Pagan.

  7. Where do we meet? Folks may try to classify me with the druid crowd, though that’d be wrong for many a reason, but there’s similarity enough to run with there. Where do we meet? That depends entirely on why we’re meeting. It may be someone’s home or a shop’s backroom for a discussion (or arguement – those get pretty productive). In someone’s home if we’re holding a feast day celebration. We’ll meet along the river waters when its time to pay the rent or sending our offerings down. We’ll meet among the thorns in late summer and walk the hills tucked away behind FC Park service signs of projects that never seem to move, harvesting berries and fruits still hot with the sun. We’ll meet on lands rented or gifted to us for a night or weekend to light the fires and sing and dance and leap and offer up and call for blessings of our own. We meet where its needful. Personally, I would dearly love the space enough to tend and coax a working grove, but that’s years in the future.

    Am I working towards a temple or community center though? No. Ask me that a few years back and I would have been all over the project. That enthusiasm has waned over the years. Not because of apathy, but because I’ve kept thinking about it and life has its own way of smacking you with lessons when you aren’t looking. For myself, for my own soul’s need, I just don’t see a need for a permanant structure for worhip purposes. Or even meeting purposes. To be honest, even my one hold out for having a community center (maintaining a library for community use) is dwindling. Not that I think knowledge shouldn’t be shared, but alternative routes are growing more appealing.

    Are we headed towards such temples? Yes and no. It depends on how you define “us.” I would have thought that some of our traditional Hellenistic folks would have been the first, and folks who share their religion and state bonds. It’s the second kind of temple establishment that I find more worrisome – establishment our of ego. It concerns me that we’ll see permanant Pagan community centers or worship centers established either as an exercise in personal ego (Look what I did, community! Take me seriously!) or that they’ll be established for the ego stroke of legitimacy (See? We have a building for worship now. They’ll have to take us seriously.)

    Or perhaps this is the pre-tea, pre-stretching cynacism speaking. I worry that its not, though.

  8. Buildings and “temples” for worship- which I don’t think are needed (I’d rather see a grove, a stretch of woodland, or a stand of trees in the middle of a big field set aside for Pagans to use) would be fine. So long as the people behind it all did it for the Ancestors and the Gods that are Ancestral, as a sign, a human showing, that we honor and respect them, remember them, and want their power to consciously be a part of our lives in the world today. All the things you pointed out are real dangers- that people and communities will do this for ego and status. If the focus is right, however, we won’t have any problems. And I still rather groves.

  9. Powerful words Hecate!

    I’ve recently joined a circle of women (my first group work ever!) and we’ve had one meeting in a park and another in a rented space. Our upcoming meeting is taking place at one of our houses. The work we’re doing, I can’t imagine being done in anything other then the safe place of our houses or out secluded in a park. At the rented space we were interrupted by folks wondering if this was the right room and/or wondering if we were done yet.

    While I think a community center is great for things like holding conferences or having a community potluck or planning I’m not so sure if I agree with using them exclusive for practice. That may work for some but just not me and I came of (Pagan) age in the late 90s!

    No tomato throwing here!

  10. The only tomatoes coming your way from me would be if you need extras for salsa night. Thank you for expressing your views so well. Not sure if it is because I’m a fellow INTJ, but I’m largely in agreement with many of your comments (although coming from the next generation down and with some differences of path). I’m a witch in a decently large coven, however we’re still very much focused on what we can do in the warmth of our living rooms. If it can’t be done in our living rooms, we rent a park pavilion or a private cabin or beach house for the weekend. I think that there is something about the younger generations that makes them want the buildings for gathering spaces, but they’re not financially solvent enough to make that happen. Maybe money isn’t the big resource that is needed now…it’s time for those generations to come into their own in life, and then have the resources to get what they want. I guess for me, I’ll just enjoy the living room life.

    Oh, and because I’m a generation down, I’m okay short-term with slumming it at the Hilton, Doubletree, or lower-level Marriott. If you’re looking for another option to the Four Seasons, I do enjoy the Renaissance hotels (now owned by Marriott).

  11. I dont think “structures” are a terrible thing for the right reasons. Take the standing stones for example. It is a part of history that has been crucial in Pagan history. That is something the ancestors left to us yet it is still outdoors:) I am not “for” structures either, but I can appreciate a heritage left to us all by those who came before us. Personally I think to restore it to it’s former glory would be a beautiful thing for future generations.
    I love the forest and I always will. My choice would always be to be outdoors simply appreciating nature in gratitude.

  12. Liza is correct, on multiple levels. “Structure” does include what appear to us to be simple, crumbling circles of stone. They are outward symbols of a deeper “structure”, and they were placed as they were to represent a continuity between past and present, and to act as an access point for the ancestral force of a certain people. Also, outdoors is the greatest temple that ever will exist, built by the hands of Gods, and no one else. The body of the first and Greatest of Goddesses is the only sacred place anyone will ever need. This is why so many of our ancestors actually had no buildings as temples, and needed none. When a person moves into these ways of thinking, they start to move in the “current” or in the channel of real traditional paganism.

  13. It depends a lot on what any group wants to do. How do they define community? How do they define service to it? Are we talking ‘buildings only’, or are we talking about owning land?

    If there are to be festivals, SOMEONE has to own the space. Betsy’s “Gathering of the Tribes” ended due to divorce when two individuals owned the site and their split lead to legal and financial troubles. If a group wants to erect a permanent circle outside … where? who owns it, the group or the homeowner? How does it affect resale value of the house? If the house is a rental most landlords will be somewhat pissy about one.

    Sure, a group can rent space from the local UU congregation, but that just means that someone else is taking responsibility and, well, ownership. It means a heck of a lot more set up time/effort than if you own the space and have a permanent circle outside or all your gear stored in the garage on site.

    I’m not only in ADF, I’m also in the Assembly of the Sacred Wheel. ASW has land on which each of the covens gets their own space, and the land includes a sweat lodge, two houses with ritual and workshop space, barns/garages for stuff storage, a permanent circle, a permanent Labyrinth, plenty of space for tent camping and pavillions, etc. And now it includes the foundation for a Pagan library as well.

    Owning a place isn’t necessarily good or bad, it just gives a different range of options PLUS a different relationship with the spirits of the land.

  14. The “spirits of the land” are laughing at your use of the term “own”. You may dwell on a land, you may protect a land, you may be one with a land, but you don’t and can’t own a land, which would be about like saying that you can own the spirits of the place, because they are inseparable from the body of the land. You can’t own spiritual power. Sure, there’s courts out there that keep these papers that say who “owns” this land or “owns that” land, but I hope that a member of the legendary ADF knows enough to know that such things are just capitalist, christian, bourgeoisie fiction that have no basis in reality.

  15. Right, Robin. Cuz the Celts and the Norse and the Romans and the Greeks all other tribes were just warm fuzz bunnies before Christianization. No battles over land. No slaves. No industrial dumps. Everything was ecological and communal and they spent their days singing fucking Kumbaya.

  16. I never said those things. That’s all your (admittedly funny) childish explosion of non-sequiturs. But those ancient people you just listed, they didn’t have our modern conception of “land ownership”. Imperium over a people and their land is not the same thing as “land ownership” as we know it. I see ADF’s standards have gone down steeply…

  17. They did fight over lands and people and they did have slaves. Where you stating the obvious for some reason? Because your statement of the obvious did nothing to hinder or harm the point I made originally. Fighting over lands and people and keeping slaves doesn’t mean that you have the modern post-industrial revolution concept of “land ownership”. I could do this all day…

  18. Robin,

    Merry Meet! Glad to have the benefit of your opinions and you’re welcome, for the moment, to insult me all day long. But please be polite to my wonderful readers. I think it’s clear that Fern was referring to legal ownership, something that our Supreme Court has called a bundle of rights. And I do take Fern’s point that legal ownership allows Pagans to, for example, build stone circles and other permanent structures that matter.

  19. Hecate, we’ve “known” each other in that strange online way for a long time now. You probably don’t realize it, but you first interacted with me over at the Heathen blog I was keeping for years and years. I’d never think to *legitimately* insult you, and I apologize if I did. I actually like you, because unlike 90% of the rest of these jokers, you play the hand Fate dealt you without trying to dress it up. We don’t have to agree politically or philosophically to share respect. So don’t take my probably rude wordings above as insults in the pure sense of the word. As far as Fern is concerned, Fern will need to understand- like so many others- that our temporary and passing social fads- even a fad as long-entrenched as land ownership- has no bearing on the true spiritual reality of our relationships to the land, and no deed or any other piece of paper changes the nature of a person’s relationship to the spirits of a land. That’s all I was cracking on him/her for. Not that it matters. Your good, high-quality pal “Fern” through the glove down and got rude first. ANYONE who knows me- and I know a lot of people- will tell you that I play nice without end until someone else stops playing nice, and then, well, it’s headhunting season. If Fern wants to swallow this stupidity and get nice again, so will I. We call that “being isomorphic” to one’s fellows. And I am the isomorph commander! With anyone except Christians and Muslims, that is- one has to draw the line somewhere.

  20. Demonizing Christianity has nothing to do with the original question. And, oh yes, I’m sure you’re well able to bring such things up all day.

    Owning. It’s not a bad thing. It’s TAKING RESPONSIBILITY FOR. Which puts us in a totally different relationship with the spirits of a place. A far, FAR different relationship than having your city or county BE RESPONSIBLE for parkland that you use once every so often. A far, far different relationship than having being a guest of the person who is responsible for the land you meet on. The responsibilities of the host and the guest are complimentary, not identical.

    And by not ‘owning’, not being responsible in every possible way, for the land one meets on (building or no building on that land) you will always be in a different relationship with the spirits, in my never humble opinion.

  21. Oh, and I have always kept up with your blog. I think you’re the best kind of modern pagan blogger- one who has enough years of experience to say whatever the hell they want and not worry over who gets offended. I’m not so different myself. This is my 18th year in this bizzaro club. But I think you’re a bit ahead of me on the “don’t give a frackness”- my only regret is that you tend towards focus on the political and the agenda. I’d personally like it if you talked deeper, or even if you just personally insulted others. But that’s just me. Take that as constructive critical pointers for a possible future outlay for your blog.

  22. Fern, in the way that you want to redefine ownership- as a “taking responsibility for”- I might agree that it isn’t so bad. But that’s not what “own” traditionally means. That’s you re-languaging the situation. Ownership in the sense we know it was probably the core root of nearly all tragedies that have ever occurred, outside of natural disasters. You might care to read Rousseau and Thoreau and hear their thoughts on these matters, especially on the matter of “land ownership”- which is really in its own category- before you go on crusading for your somewhat sanitized version of “ownership”. I don’t have to own anything at all to take responsibility for a place, or the spirits of a place (not that real powers like spirits are really inside of our “responsibility”, per se, but that’s another conversation) and I can’t really see how having a deed signed by a judge does even a thing to change even a thing about anything with regards to my taking or not taking of responsibility. Now, I don’t want to get into a debate which will stretch to the ages of the ages about this- I just want you to know that truthfully, our first Ancestors didn’t objectify the Land into a “thing” to be owned. This doesn’t make them hippies or cesspool salesmen or peace-mongers. They hunted heads, burned down enemy villages, and even probably did human sacrifice. One thing has nothing to do with the other. I’m talking about the worldview that put humans in a different position or relationship to the ground, to the Land, and to nature generally. To “own” a thing is to put it in a subservient position to you, to relegate it to an object dominated and possessed by you. It sets up a vertical hierarchy of ownership, which is contrary to the horizontal hierarchy of relationship, which I would have imagined your ADF masters believed a good deal in.

  23. Clearly, we’re read very different things. Not that we have loads of primary sources, but the Celts appear to have had VERY distinct ways of ‘claiming land as their own’ – what we today call OWNERSHIP. Entering the land area, making a challenge, leaving, returning, etc, and then it was THEIR LAND.

    It was a dance just as formal and legally binding as buying and selling land is today.

    And since land was handed down along clear family lines ‘back in the day’ for Celts, Norse, Romans, etc, how you feel they could inherit land without ownership on anyone’s part excessively odd.

  24. Sorry, Fern, I think you’re reading modern ideas and terminology (the only ideas and terms you’ve ever known) into the ancient world and into ancient records that we have, such that they are. You don’t have to have ownership- and all that it implies- to be able to inhabit a land, have tribal lands, to inherit portions of a land, or anything of the kind. But hey, don’t let me stand in your way of believing whatever the hell you want. I don’t know you or care to know you. I’ve suggested that the ancients didn’t have our particular modern notion of land ownership, and I think there’s more than enough scholarship to back that up. But the real reason I suggested it, is because I know how much our modern conceptualizations stand in our way of really actualizing the old wisdom, particularly on points like this. You may not give a rat’s ass about the “old wisdom”- new agers rarely do- so forget I said anything if you want. Goodbye.

  25. A completely different angle (and I hope the comparison is not insulting):

    Model railroad clubs (yes, me and my father). They too face the same issue of “the building.” And there’s a growing movement where modular railroad layouts are built, and then assembled in a temporary and/or rented space, then disassembled, then reassembled again. (What makes the modules fit together could be likened, I would think, to a set of shared beliefs).

    So this is the idea that a group can persist over time, and perhaps even be more sustainable than otherwise, without having “a building.” There is also the idea that the creator of a particular module is very explicitly building a part for a larger whole, a whole that, moreover, only exists insofar as people’s hearts and minds create it anew at each assembly.

    Just a though…

  26. Robin, I remember you and your blog. I think that, at the same time, you have insights into Shamanism that many lack and that you can be a disruptive, and not in a good way, force on blogs. As noted above, you’re welcome here, as long as you are polite to my readers. I’m about to head off and spend the night w/ my G/Son, helping him to develop a lifelong memory of ancestors. This is important work for me. Behave.

  27. Hahahah! Me? Misbehave? On You? Never….

  28. And really, Hecate, what this world needs is some disruption- and it is the function, the shamanic function, of some mystics in societies (think of the “contraries”) to disrupt the status quo and challenge people and things. Without that, societies and people would become calcified and unhealthy. This is why censorship is such an evil- it’s an attempt on the part of scared, weak people to create a false strength and calcify things into an order that serves their ideas of what is right, at the expense of fresh input from the matrix of humanity and this world.

  29. Good post. Back when Letter from Hardscrabble Creek was a column in Pagan zines and not a blog, I wrote one called something like “Tents, not Cathedrals.” For thirty years, I have seen Pagans rush towards having “centers” and “temples,” and the effort always ends in tears. I would rather support the temples and centers that exist, be they libraries or national forests or museums (named after the Muses, as you know).

  30. AlanHeartsong

    Great post, not throwing tomatoes.

    I wonder though, are a lot of folks in the pagan community pining for their own community centers because they miss that feeling of fellowship they may have had from their former religion? Being a part of some big bunch of people (in person) with a similar mindset is important to some, and having a big community center may seem like the answer to that.

    But let’s be honest (and here’s the part where I might get tomatoes) – most pagans in America have problems with health, finances, and reliability that would preclude their creating a successful community center and maintaining it. Of the pagans I’ve known over the years, probably 70% or more either didn’t have much money to do anything with because they were on disability or had a low-paying job, or because the kept spending their disposable income on shiny/pretty doo-dads that wound up sitting on a dust-covered shelf after a month or two.

    I’ve been openly gay and pagan since 1984, seen my share of Witch Wars and the Ego Empires some people build (which always fall) and I have no faith that the other 30% of us who have a steady income and reasonably good health with our feet on the ground can keep something “permanent” going like this without a major lottery win.

  31. Wow, nobody cares about temples. I’m totally the opposite. I want buildings, I crave buildings, proper Pagan buildings like the temples of old, with scenes from myth carved into the walls, great oak doors, statues, coffered ceilings, circular buildings with an oculus in the ceiling to let the smoke out, all of it; there is a care taken there, there is dedication, something dedicated, a seriousness to it. I know this to be silly, I know we don’t *need* them, but to me buildings, made for the specific purpose of Pagan worship says we take ourselves seriously. It feels rooted, to me. Borrowed spaces made for something else won’t do it for me. I’ve been to a few of the old temples in Europe and the spaces, even in ruin, spoke to me so so strongly. This place here, right here, was built to worship Sulis, to honor Her, these baths here, at this place even now called Bath; this little ruin, this little foundation in the middle of downtown London was made for Mithras. It is a history and it is a commitment, a public statement. It’s a wonder and I want it, dammit. I’m sick of making do with rented spaces, somebody’s living room, all that. Give me a dedicated space.

    Of course I love beautifully made things, offerings, altars, things made for and dedicated to Deity. Buildings and temples for me are just another form of sacred art.

  32. I agree with the blog. I too became a Wiccan/Pagan way back in 1979 where the only sources were old books I could scrounge for in thrift shops and book stores. Being in the broom closet for pretty much the same reasons as Hecate is and not being a public festival attender, I have a considerable amount of wariness concerning the various trends in Paganism recently to cater to the more flamboyant set.

    It is an undeniable fact that Paganism is diverse and that one Pagan could be a follower of Isis while another may follow Herne. I do think that having, for lack of a better word, ” churches” is contrary to what Paganism in its various forms is about, including the nature-oriented forms of Paganism. Need I remind how much Kendra Hovey with her congregational mode of her ” First Church of Wicca” ended up one big disaster, in no small part because of Hovey herself? One of her claims in her response to my blog entry about her was concerning the money to upkeep the church building. While I wouldn’t trust a word she says, particularly after her betrayal of her followers, she did have a decent point in regards to the funds needed for a building maintenance.

    I do think that if an area can support it and the people involved can keep the funds in the black that a community center is a good thing. It shouldn’t be for Pagans only. Some Christian community centers, funded by affiliated local churches, serve as a place to hold various events not connected to the actual church. However I should mention that in Murfreesboro TN there is a really religiously bigoted battle against the Muslims there in their attempts to build a community center on their own land beside a Christian church. If the Xians pull that stuff concerning a Muslim group, you can bet they would do the same to us if they were instigated to do so.

    This is a Catch-22. On the one hand sincere Paganism is more often than to a personal growth thing, done by the individual and a group ” church” type situation actually hurts the spiritual path. OTOH some people need the, for lack of a better word, fellowship of people of similar beliefs.

  33. Concerning the Fern and Robin argument about land ownership:

    I see both sides. Yes some tribal people like the Native Americans did see the land as not “their own” in the sense of possessing the land like one possesses, say, a collection of items. However, if we are to be fair and honest here, there were some Pagan cultures, including Greece and the Nordic tribes, that DID see land ownership as possession and not sharing the land with the rest of the creation. And any group will defend their home territory from invaders, regardless if they think of the land as something to own or as ” guests” of Earth.

    Here’s the reality NOW. Land ownership includes a heckuva lot of responsibility, including federal and local laws. You may have paid in full your land and home, but miss a tax payment to the feds and they will take it away from you if they can legally do so. And unfairly do so under “eminnent domain”.

    Maybe Robin is living in a hippie-based co-op type of culture wherever she or he lives, I dunno. But Human culture doesn’t operate the same way she sees the world. And even the community based land dwelling cultures such as the Aborigonies have sacred places where that land is SET ASIDE and treated specifically by that group pretty much as a temple or other sacred space is in other cultures.

    Simply put, land and buildings become human ownership because the laws of the culture say so. While Robing can argue philosophically otherwise, if she entered a private land without the owner’s permission, she would find the reality of being arrested for trespassing. Don’t forget your passport when you are traveling out of the country. Illegally entering a country can lead to serious prison time.

  34. Marlon C. Hartshorn

    I’ve read this blog post & the replies. I think that the post is actually about money and beliefs about money as is relates to Pagans in general, more than it is about buildings. I don’t see the harm in having a pagan community center, for example. Organizations, particularly large ones, have tendencies to become institutionalized insanity, so that’s clearly not the path. But there is a strong argument to be made here for strengthening of the Pagan community by using money. We Pagans need to have a lot more money. There is nothing wrong with being incredibly wealthy (and no, I’m not about to offer U a way to get there. I have no clue save ritual). There is an old belief hanging on that if you are white, male, Christian and wealthy that you are the most successful you can be. I suppose changing that to white male, Pagan and wealthy would just be a change of belief, but would that be so bad? I think the whole Christian world-view is what has screwed the world up so badly, along with drugs and people who do horrendous things to others. We need more money as Pagans so we can have more power – power to live freely and open without worry of loss (apparently that’s why Demeter is still in broom closet? I’m assuming here, as I don’t know U personally). I don’t see anything inherently bad about having buildings, a place to worship whatever deity you want, and statues of Pan, Zeus, Jupiter and the like would be much welcome on many main city avenues in my humble opinion. It would surely shake things up a bit & tear down some of the walls erected by the psychotic fundamentalist Christians who seem quite focused on altering our country into some Jesus Love Fest. No thanks.

    About land, I don’t think corporations should be able to own land at all, or even to be able to own the means necessary to create their insane institutions of pursuit of profit. I think it should be made illegal for a family for example to own a huge company, to lease or own the equipment and make millions while the rest of the community is far less fortunate. I like what Noam Chomsky says about all this (another discussion, plenty of his vids on youtube). Anyway, I think that addresses the issues here for the most part. I think the solution is focusing on prosperity rituals, creative ways of raising enormous amounts of cash for Paganism, and furthering our causes in the political and public arenas. I don’t see any other sensible way out of the broom closet.

  35. I could not agree with you more.

    I was in a coven for 3 years with two other Witches. It was beautiful, powerful and magical. However, eventually we all went our separate ways.

    Because it was just the three of us and we were friends first, it was very loose, relaxed and we planned our meetings whenever we felt like it. They took place in our backyards or inside our homes if it was too cold.

    I must say, even when I was in the coven, we were still really solitary Witches which is why it probably only lasted 3 years.

    What upsets me about this movement to have a “building” is that it takes the personal connection away and turns it into…………….dogma which then turns into ……………. obligation and rules.

    I’m also irritated with Pagans/Wiccans/Witches who are hell bent on using Paganism and Wicca as a sounding board for political/environmental and human rights issues.

    There is no reason why someone cannot be an activist and keep Religion out of it. If Pagans/Wiccans pull the Religion card they might as well join the ranks of the other Religions who are raping Mother Earth with war. If you want to be an environmentalist, be a fucking environmentalist. You don’t need to get up on a podium and proclaim your Spiritual beliefs and practices in order to affect change to the environment.

    OK, now I’m stepping off my soapbox.

  36. I can see the merits of both sides of the argument, but each leave me with questions.

    Many of us nature-worshipping Pagans are trying to honor agricultural cycles in an urban or suburban environment. Seldom do we have an appropriate and dedicated space for our rituals and ceremonies. Often, the member of the group with the largest living room or private garden is burdened with the “honor” of hosting group activities. I can see why a temple or community center would seem like an ideal solution.

    I have to wonder, however, whom exactly are we trying to impress with our “seriousness”? Why do we need buildings or other external signs of “maturity” to feel rooted? Why do we care if the Overculture takes us seriously or believes us to be a legitimate religious and spiritual path?

    Perhaps these questions spring from my own ambiguity about the future of Paganism. A large part of me loves that we are decentralized and different. I love that we’ve avoided, for the most part, the pitfalls of hierarchies and governing bodies and all the bureaucratic trappings thereof. I love that we’re accepting and individualistic and open to all kinds of spiritual exploration.

    But, there is also a vocal, hypercritical part of me that laments that the Pagan community in general can’t seem to get its shit together. Never have I seen such a loose collection of people with anxiety and other mental issues, physical ailments (often springing from poor diet and a lack of exercise) and poverty. An acquaintance once contemptuously remarked that the Pagan community doesn’t photograph well. I know very, very few Pagans who appear to be grounded and fully present in their own, well-managed lives who would be a qualified administrator for a complex and large project like acquiring and maintaining a building.

    • Nicely said, Tonja. As (another) member of the “Solid Pagan Underground” — in my case, 20 years with a still-functioning BTW trad — I’ve seen many well-intentioned Pagan Community endeavors launch with great fanfare, then subsequently peter out for lack of disciplined, clear-headed planning and maintenance (you know, the boring stuff). 😉

      Whether we like it or not, to some extent the outer *does* reflect the inner, be it on an individual, group, or regional level. Sociability, festiveness, and the informed daringness of openly self-identifying as “Pagan” are great, but they’re not an effective long-haul substitute for commitment, groundedness, and practicality. (Example, a la Tonja’s commentary: How many members of the Community have planned for the disposition of their magical tools/accoutrement in their Wills? And we’re concerned with Community Centers?)

      On a personal level, I’ve often asked myself over the years, “Exactly whose Community are we talking about, anyway?” Not my Coven or Trad, much of whose membership is still in the closet — which is their indisputable right. Not my local inter-Traditional Pagan network, which still relies on personal relationships and word-of-mouth. Not that I’m categorically against “Community” endeavors — just that I still wonder what realistic sense of Paganism people have when they declare “Community” efforts, or (even better!) decide to speak, publish, or present on behalf of the “Community.”

  37. Tonja, I couldn’t agree with you more. Thank you for saying precisely what I feel about the disorganized nature of modern “paganism”, such that it is- and for pointing out the embarrassing truth about the high rate of mental illness, general laziness, social malformation, and other undesirable qualities that you find in so many modern “pagans”. I’ve been involved in this “subculture” for 18 years. Things were this disorganized and eaten up with pretty undesirable people even back then. When you just happen to be a more level-headed or well grounded person (I have moments of remarkable level-headedness and well-groundedness myself) you really start to feel like you’ve cast your lots with the wrong crowd. It’s an embarrassment, really- even the most reprehensible crowd of Christians in America still look (on the outside) like a crowd that you could easily be seen with, or at least they are a crowd that just doesn’t get noticed. But Pagan crowds tend to stand out, and people notice. I don’t know how the idea got out there that “pagan” or “witch” or whatever else you want to say was the same thing as “accepting anyone, no matter how jacked up as members”- because every villain, deviant, hog-ass, deadbeat, and/or hopelessly virgin fantasy/sci-fi gamer and every sexually immature or disempowered former outcast seems to be dramatically “pagan” with alarming regularity. Even the first wave feminists tried it on for size, and have largely moved on by now, but they practically made an industry out of being ostracized for their Gynocratic Womyn strength. If you have even the first bit of comfort with rubbing elbows with “ordinary” society, you’ll discover quick that you aren’t like a large percentage of “pagans” (to use that ill-stirred word.) I ask you, and I am begging to know- when is the last time you met a male Pagan who had even the first hint of muscle definition, and who was handsome by any social standard today, and who had a job and a savings account with more than ten dollars in it? When is the last time you met a female pagan that wasn’t overweight and obnoxious for a dozen reasons beyond her “coven” mates, and who wasn’t taking a handful of meds a day for her solar system of issues, mental, physical or both, and who didn’t have a history of abuse somewhere? I’d love to be able to answer those questions, but I can only think of maybe two such females, and no such males. Is this a symptom of a deeper issue in this “movement” such that it is?

    • Interestingly enough, I’ve met several men, and several women like this. In a way, I find some of this commentary about weight, meds, social standards, money, and laziness to be somewhat rude–and I’ll tell you all why. I’m very ill, but it’s due to an undiagnosed medical condition that I believed we may have just found an answer to. However, I function quite well in society, I held a high-paying job until I became essentially disabled by my illness, I’ve no issues with maintaining social standards, and I’m in no way, shape or form lazy!

      Of the Pagans/Wiches/etc I know, I wouldn’t classify but maybe 1 or 2 as such, and I have a very broad base of comparison. I’m very interested in who everyone who’s been reflecting on this has met. I’ve been so impressed by the intelligence and in most cases, the thought-provoking types I’ve met. In addition, I “rub elbows” with a very wide population of differently religious people. I hang out on an almost daily basis with, and some of these are my dearest friends, Christians, Jews, Muslims, Pagans, and Witches/Wiccans, and even Satanists, Occultists, etc. I have no issues with being friends with these people, and only a few don’t know my views on religion. I’ve had only 2 people decide they can’t be around me due to my views.

      My late mentor was a very strong, handsome, and extremely muscled man. He had a beautiful family, and they looked like any Christian family, or “normal” family, you’d ever meet. The children were being raised Pagan and Witch by both him and his quite beautiful wife. He’s not the first man I’ve met life this, and he wasn’t the last. Nor, for that matter, was she or their kids.

      I have to wonder when I read a post like this, if the perceptions of Pagans and even the outside communities who look in just want to judge those of us who consider ourselves Pagans/Witches/etc by those crazy-ass people on the very fringes of even our culture, who “claim” to be like us, but who have no clue who the majority of us really are, or what we stand for. For instance, when I first “came out” to my hubby, he wanted to judge me, and he assumed I’d be out running naked in the woods and sacrificing bunnies. I looked at him like he had 3 heads, cuz I had no idea on what planet he could ever even THINK I’d do that–my whole life has been dedicated to taking care of and raising animals. I worked in animal medicine for over 14 yrs! My whole thought process was “WHAT?!”

      So when I finally got it worked out in my own head, I asked him where he got that idea. He was raised Catholic. But, he admitted to having tons of questions, and to even having been kicked out of Sunday School because he asked so many questions. So I asked him to consider what he knew of me and what he knew of all the things he questioned about Catholicism. And I told him that I had no intention of harming any animals. And I explained more about my beliefs, and more about my research, and why I associated with being a Pagan, and further, why I considered myself a Witch and a Wiccan. It didn’t take him long to determine that he knew me well enough to know that my beliefs couldn’t be evil if I believed in them, because I wasn’t inherently evil.

      So my thoughts lie along that parallel–these crazy people are what has always worked against us. But the public doesn’t follow that line of thinking because when Christians kill, religions doesn’t play into it. When Jews kill, religion rarely plays into it. But let a Muslim, a Pagan, a Witch, or any other “fringe” religious person kill, and they’re on it like white on rice!

      Just my thoughts… FWIW

  38. Arachneh, you are correct- there is no “community” of Pagans. Before I was censored by Jason Piztl-Waters, who has, in the way of all censorship artists that masquerade as “journalists” these days, banned me for no other reason than having an opinion different to his own (and that of the majority of his pinheads over at “The Wild Hunt”) regarding transsexuality, I often questioned publicly there whether or not there is any such thing as a “Pagan” community. I don’t believe there is. Jason Waters, thirsty always to be a part of an exotic, persecuted minority (some over-privileged white boys are just into that, and white girls, too) is part of the “yes, there is a Pagan community” dream- a dream that keeps his egoistic little web news service in business. But it is a manufactured dream, a farce, intended to keep people like his new-age buddies in business, and to create manufactured drama running between various groups of Pagans, and Pagans and other mainstream powers that be.

    There really is no singular Pagan community, and there is no possibility of there ever being one- I know Heathens, Hellenes, Celtic Recons, Wiccans, and many others- and they spend at least 2/3rds of their time making sure the others know how much they don’t want to have anything to do with them. It’s awesome to have a place where you can be you, and indulge your every spiritual eccentricity- and there’s a brand of “pagan” out there for you, no matter who you are. But that sort of reality means “no possibility of a greater community.” None whatsoever. For 18 years, I’ve seen these magical “spokespersons” for us all pop up- and if you want to find them now, look no further than Jason’s Wild Hunt; they all either participate there, or get generous coverage from him, or he’s linked up their organizations.

    Like you, I’ve watched them “speak for me”, and wondered “who are these people?” I have never seen a single one say anything that sounded remotely like what I feel inside. That has strengths, and it has weaknesses. One of the weaknesses is that we just won’t have big institution-sized building complexes for ourselves.

    • Robin, I agree with you on the trend Paganism has for accepting without question every “villain, deviant, hog-ass, deadbeat, and/or hopelessly virgin fantasy/sci-fi gamer and every sexually immature or disempowered former outcast seems to be dramatically “pagan” with alarming regularity.” However, I should also mention that any group can have various nasties and idiots, not just Paganism. The Goth/vampires/werewolves types trying to claim they are legitimate groups and oh, BTW, Pagans as well, do nothing to help us legitimize the various Pagan paths.

      I like The Wild Hunt. Whatever gripe you have seems to be a personal one not anything based on objective issues. Jason, for whatever faults you may claim, is doing his best to help the non-Pagans see us as not fringe or weird but as a legitimate path. IMO his Wild Hunt web site is a good source for real issues and news, next to Witchvox. While there have been Brand Name Pagans who quite frankly should have shut up years ago, there are organizations where various Pagans can join together for common causes. As diverse in beliefs as we are, we DO have some things in common.

      • Robin you say your gripe against Jason is not personal yet you go on to claim he censors if you don’t follow his dance, is focused on blaming Christianity, etc., and you end by claiming he is a poor journalist.
        One of the problems with those who are big on the idea that freedom of speech and the press is that they think they can say whatever they want regardless of the consequences. Slander and libel are real consequences. You can diss Jason all you wish, and frankly I think part of it IS personal with you, but the simple fact is that he has some responsibilities regarding his Wild Hunt web site. Yes he has biases. But so do you and I and everyone else that lives. All_I_ can say is that I get more detailed info FROM his site than I do in, say Witchvox.
        As for his focus concerning Christians who are intolerant of us, guess what dear? They ARE! Take a real GOOD look at Dominion Now theology, then tell me these people mean us no harm. And before you get on your high horse and start attacking me, you should know that I live in the Bible Belt and saw firsthand some of the dark side of Christianity.

  39. I do mostly agree with your post Hecate, but then I think it’s important to NOT be in the broom closet, and be able to fully worship one’s spirituality/practice/magic/religion like anybody else: without shame. Just like being Lesbian, there’s no pride in the closet, no matter WHERE you are. No reason to advocate for it beyond physical safety.

    But here’s two things: while I LOVE the wildness of Goddess worship/Wicca/Witchcraft, and that full freedom I feel on the Land while doing ritual, far more powerful than in ANY structure, I do also have visions of powerful Temples to the Goddess from the ancient past. What held down our religion WAS having established places that were honored in their cultures, to gather to worship with a greater whole. But we’re talking about dieties HONORED by their societies, and part and parcel of them like the Parthenon for Athena, Eleusis for the Demeter/Persephone mysteries/reenactments, the underground caves with their spirals and the standing stones for the Celtic/British isle, the ancient caves for the more primal shamanic rites with their cave paintings and initiation ceremonies.

    We are living on a Land that DOES NOT RESPECT US, nor would any temples that were created really be honored by the outside, hostile religious patriarchal culture of Christianity. It is not organically built in a culture that wants to express a greater gathering place for it’s peoples.

    I have felt such power in various Native spots like Chautaqua and the foothills there in Boulder, Colorado where I’ve done much ritual in those mountains, Chautaqua was a gathering space for the local Native Americans, or even Yosemite where I have felt great natural beauty, but also Native Power. Wherever ritual is continually practiced, that place will begin to take on that power. That is something to be said for a concrete location. I’d like to see it more in the way of Lands that various Pagans/Wiccans/Witches ect. connect with and grow, perhaps sharing those spaces with other Pagan/Witch/Wiccan groups, so that the reservoir of power could grow in a natural environment which our religion is so dedicated to. I’d like to see it as organic, than an edifice in a city environment surrounded by a sea of those who are into patriarchal religions that largely villify us, or at best try to ignore us.

    I belong to a community of women where we circle and gather yearly in a natural environment. That environment so speaks to me because we have ritualled in that same locale for 20 plus years…the Meadow, the trees, the cabins in the woods, the main dining area, the fire circle….each place I have had various ritualistic experiences, conversations, exchanges of information, ect. ect…..and it speaks to those who also keep coming back every year for that renewal. Much like Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival speaks to a community of women every year too, and THAT IS SACRED AMAZON SPACE, on owned Land by the woman who puts on the Festival yearly. Much ritual is done on that land, as well as a 30 foot Goddess is erected at the very beginning yearly building of the Festival. Women go there to be empowered and renewed from the overall patriarchal culture, religious and otherwise. It is indeed a slice of matriarchy, grounded in a physical locale in the woods.

    To maintain the rest of the year, I DO go to others’ rituals both in natural environments, in their houses, and sometimes at a community center(not their own). I would feel very uncomfortable to do ritual in a church however,not only being Pagan, but also being raised Jewish. I have a huge aversion to churches for many reasons…mostly because too many christians have attempted to force their religion on me, or deny me my own….. Church is specifically a Christian word, whereas Temple is more ancient and all inclusive. Many Jews refer to ‘going to Temple’, and I think of the Great Temples of the Goddess, like Artemis at Ephesus, which were destroyed by Christians. And even the Jewish Temple which was destroyed by the Romans. I wouldn’t want to go to a pagan/wiccan/women’s spirituality event that referred to themselves as the ” Church of _________” even the “Church of All Worlds”, WomonChurch or other pagan groups. On the other hand, I have no problem attending Berkeley Pagan Pride which is held at a public park. I have no interest at present in being in a hotel and raising energy in such an unnatural superficial environment, like Pantheacon, where the energies cannot be grounded by a powerful piece of Mother Earth to wander off to and ground if things get too intense. This year’s Pantheacon was a pressure cooker, and as one who is Dianic oriented, I don’t want ANYBODY telling me who I can and cannot ritual with, or who I must include in my womyn’s mysteries….

    Perhaps instead we should start reclaiming the Ancient Sites, and begin ritualling there again, as well as creating our own more organic sites, and also honoring the itinerant wanderer in us that is at home with Mother Earth and honoring Her mysteries on Her great Body which is our ultimate Temple, and slowly being destroyed. I believe in something, and therefore my beliefs are both political, spiritual, artistic and on every level of my being. Environmentalism is part of the deepest aspects of our spirituality, thus it’s both political and spiritual…and if one species/environment is harmed, we are all lessened and harmed as well…and I will speak to the strengths of my beliefs. I LOVE that my Pagan brethren are DIFFERENT than the Xtians and the patriarchal belief systems, that we stand out as Tribes in so many different ways, that we DON”T conform, that we question, and that we ARE radical and different. Nothing is more boring to conformity, let’s leave that to the submission expected in the fundamentalist religions of how to behave and look and act. And while money and power would be nice to have, at least from time to time, those of us outside those vaunted halls have OUR FREEDOM instead, because to have that money and power one must conform…and most Pagans/Witches/Wiccans rebel at that and prefer to live their own truths instead not valued by this society!

    I honor the Body of the Goddess and that includes the large and full Venus of Willendorf, Venus of Laussel and all the other Primal full figured and empowered Goddesses not meant to conform to advertisement or Hollywood standards!

    • I agree with much of what you said here. Tho I’m still working on reading through the comments, and have yet to get to the actual blog, most of what you say strikes very true to me. Probably the biggest difference for me is that I’m very balanced bt the God and the Goddess where femininity goes. I’m not as into the whole feminine as it appears you are. But I just never have been. I do, however, know many who are, and I believe your stance is well-justified; and a good number of my friends are part of the LBGT community as well as the Pagan “umbrella,” if you will, community. I love that you have such a clear stance, and one not so biased with a seeming hatred for other groups, which does seem at least somewhat prevalent in the replies here… I, too, don’t like the wording “church” of anything, and I’m always so uncomfortable sitting in a church for weddings and the like! I think I could be struck down any moment! LOL And it’s for the exact reasons you state! Just thinking back almost sends me into a PTSD attack…

  40. I agree feisty, wholeheartedly everything you posted.
    My main problem with the non-Pagans ( some Wiccans call them cowans but that is too much like the damn ” muggles” crap) is that they see us as not legitimate religions, just kooks or crazies of some people on a SF/fantasy trip. They wouldn’t dare say that to the Maryolatry in Catholicism. We get cast as the villains or the misguided lawbreakers of a ” cult” in movies, novels and in TV shows. I had one guest in my home get all scared because she saw a Kachina doll displayed in my living room. Goddess knows how she would have reacted if she saw my altar. The ignorance of people who should know better never ceases to concern me. They get indoctrinated by self-styled experts ( usually Christians more into upholding the ” we are the only way” dogma) to think that anything that ” doesn’t glorify ( their) god” automatically glorifies their Satan.

    You wanna know why some of us are still in the broom closet even now? Some of us live in communities where they still are bigoted against other faiths, heck even against other sects of Christianity. Goddess help you if you are gay. Last year the town next to where I live had three anti-gay stories published in the newspaper, one about a group of church people upset that what they claim was a gay man living next door to their church on private property. Not all of us have jobs where the boss is understanding of minority faiths, or neighbors that don’t mind you having an outdoor religious observance in your own back yard.

  41. Yes, Moe – giving up privlege can be very scary.

    • Fern, walk in my shoes before you do your smartass comment.

      • Robin, you are a hypocrite. It is not your way only and anyone else can stick it. You wanna be self-righteous on me, fine. Call me whatever your wish Oh Holy One. I frankly don’t care. Get off your high horse. You are no different from me. At least _I_ am mature enough to acknowledge that. I apologize for calling you a smartass. You are more of a dumbass.

  42. My work would not accept me as Pagan, as a Dyke or as a large woman, but I am all those things nonetheless. I don’t let it stop me. I don’t talk about my spirituality at work, and if so in the vaguest terms, like the ‘cycles and seasons, Mother Earth, and yes, I’m Jewish, because I’m proud of my ethnic heritage.’ I don’t go further into specific beliefs. Nor do I want to hear anyone else’s proseltyzing either! I am out as a Dyke on the job because IT”S OBVIOUS I’m a Butch Dyke, and I have married my partner and I won’t let ANYONE shame me! It’s taken years to get comfortable with it despite opposition. I work with rednecks of the worst sort, and when fortunate, other more tolerant men. Pretty much all or largely males(construction). So I know what it’s like to be daily in a hostile environment. Nevertheless, it does not move us forward to stay trapped in a closet.

    I personally wouldn’t feel comfortable having rituals in my space, except my own, because I live in a large apartment complex, and there are those of all sorts of ethnicities here, it’s not like one’s backyard in a suburban or even urban neighborhood. However, it doesn’t stop me from having an altar in the living room, and I don’t give a damn what the maintenance man or anyone else thinks. I have a cat protector statue by my front door. And right inside is my Athena poster with Medusa on Her shield for protection for the household. I AM going to a ritual tonight that will be in someone’s house in a slightly more conservative area, and she might be having the ritual outdoors. She is a full High Priestess, and I guess she doesn’t worry what the neighbors think, but she also has the support of a large pagan women’s tradition and organization behind her if she so needed it. Personally, I’d rather be on land.

    We don’t move ourselves forward by making excuses for the closet. It’s like the only way you can be gay or lesbian is live in coastal cities, and most of us do…but that doesn’t further the inland or middle american areas. The only way you can be pagan is the same..and no wonder there is such a huge overlap out here of both communities…both are closeted in middle america, out on the coasts….but that doesn’t further the ability to be who you are by maintaining that status quo. So I challenge you to find even a small way of being ‘out’, whether as gay/lesbian, pagan, both or either…..while wearing a pentacle often tips folks off, when I used to wear one at my neck all the time, there were those who knew what it meant and had comments, and those who thought I was Jewish, and I’d say “yes I am” because it’s true….getting it all mixed up. Since I’m both(one ethnically, the other spiritually) it worked for me, their confusion. The only time I really had religious harassment WAS about being Jewish, by a minority man who preached to everybody on the job and railed on and on….said to me ‘Well Jews were the killers of Jesus’ and I HAD HAD ENOUGH! I wouldn’t even dare to mention what I actually do ritually. Still, I stood up to his intolerance and told the boss. We do supposedly have First Amendment rights in relation to religion. I sure wish we had that in relation to sexual orientation as well, but that will be coming..and we do in California.

    So, these days, I tend to wear my Labryis, being an Amazon Warrior/Amazon Priestess/Amazon Witch and DykeAmazon, and one of them has the Cretan High Priestess in the center, her breasts exposed. Most don’t say a word about it…but it feels empowered to see myself wearing it exposed at neck level everyday. Sometimes I wear a subtle Goddess image, or one of my many stones/minerals, whatever I feel in the mood for. There are ways to do it with our sacred jewelry. And by being even somewhat visible, we can meet our brethren.

    There was one time I was in very suburban Maryland visiting my family, and I felt so oppressed dealing with them. I was working on a project for them, and went to Home Depot there in suburbia with my stepmother to get supplies…in the line while checking out was a woman wearing a pentacle, not a huge one, a small one, but IMMEDIATELY I reached out to her and started talking to her. I would have never had that opportunity had she not been wearing it, and it really made my day.I felt validated. Same is true if I see another out loud and obvious Dyke in a very conformist environment, being herself, and reaching out to her too and we give each other that knowing smile and look, “I am one too!”.

    As for that gay man who the church is protesting about, why can’t they mind their own fucking business? I feel badly for him that he should get such harassment, but good for him for being true to himself and taking up his space! I hope he has the support of a local gay/lesbian center! It’s by being OUT and visible that we move our movement forward…but like I said, by also taking our physical safety into the equation as well.


    • Feisty I can relate even though I am a straight female. One day at the local branch of a chain bookstore I saw a teenager wearing a huge pentagram ( we’re talking big enough to be used as a paperweight, with colored beads at the points) and I was both elated that yes there are Pagans in my town and concerned for her safety/ Bear in mind I became a Pagan/Wiccan in 1979. Yeah, THAT long ago, and in Arkansas no less. The next year an Assembly of God Church in my tom burned Elvis records. Some years ago I had a would-be sister in law want to burn my books as part of her conversion of me to her rather extreme version of Christianity. Fortunately the relationship broke up before the altar day and she never got to enjoy her book burning.

      As for the guy living next door to the church, seems the only ” proof” the church nuts had was supposedly his ad on Craigslist and that guys visited him in his home. There was no objective proof that he was gay or not and frankly it was none of their business. They tried to get the county sheriff to arrest him for something, same sheriff being sympathetic to these people regarding liquor sales in the county, but fortunately the sheriff didn’t do anything regarding the small lynch mob’s complaints. I was annoyed that the local paper had the stupidity to put it on the front page.

  43. Robin,

    You’re welcome to comment here on topic. This is not a place for you to attack Jason Pitzl-Waters. Thanks in advance for your cooperation.

  44. Okay let me get this straight. Since I’m a nobody here and don’t kiss up to hecademeter, I am called a whiner and so forth.

    Anything else?

  45. I don’t think that I am ‘somebody’ here. I’m just a random person posting comments. Never met HecateDemetersDaughter (tho’ we almost certainly know some of the same people, especially since she implied she’s been to Sacred Space Conference). I THINK this is the first thread I’ve commented on here, come to think of it.

    I imply post as a Judgmental Druid Bitch, speaking for no denomination or person other than myself.

  46. Moe,

    Feel free to comment; you’re welcome here. No kissing up required. I’ve found your comments interesting.


    You may comment on topic, as long as you’re polite. If you’ve got a beef with Jason Pitzl-Waters, please take it to your blog or to Jason’s. I have a demanding job, a family, a garden that is exploding with weeds, a Circle, and (believe it or not) a social life. I don’t have all day to monitor comments here. I won’t be as patient with you as as Jason was. This is not a democracy; I’ll ban anyone who needs banning. Perhaps this is an opportunity for you to break free from your historical behaviors and find a way to participate on Pagan blogs in a positive way.


    Merry meet! Hope to be at Sacred Space this Spring, as well. Maybe we can meet up for tea?


    In case anyone has any doubts, my belief is that both being in and coming out of the closet are personal decisions. Because of my professional (and, IMHO, sacred (I raised my hand and took an oath)) need to “zealously represent” my clients (and that includes being effective in front of judges whom I’ve never even met and whose biases I can’t pretend to know) I generally choose to remain in the closets, both broom and blog, at this time. I support all Pagans’ decisions concerning whether to stay in or to exit the broom and blog closets. I’m out with my family, friends, neighbors, and those members of Blogistan with whom I can safely be out. And I believe that it is my inalienable right to retreat to the closet when that is what is good for me, my career, my clients (who place their trust in me in important legal matters), my family, my friends. I look forward to the day when no one in America cares. YMMV.

    May your Friday Full Moon be blessed.

  47. Robin,

    Following your last (deleted by me) comment I am asking you, as someone who honors his ancestors, not to comment here again. I’ll spend the time, unfortunately, this weekend to figure out how to ban you. I’m sorry to have to take this step, but I simply don’t have time to keep monitoring your behavior. You’re free to post all of your thoughts over at your own site, but not here.

  48. Sorry Hecatedemeter, Robin just pushed my buttons. I don’t mind a fair and honorable discussion, but in the end this is YOUR forum, not mine or Robin’s or anyone else’s. I understand that in any group of people you can find all types, both good and bad, some easy to get along with, some hard to tolerate.

    I’m not in a profession like yours were you could lose clients if they found you are Pagan, but I do know that its best to be cautious. Living in the South, that is a kind of survival skill to be in the broom closet at times, at least for me. I OC can’t speak for everyone else, nor am I qualified to do so. As for the subject of sacred space or temples, sacred is what you make of it. Some prefer a space set aside in their home or back yard, some would rather have a shared building to go to. I can see the validity in both views. As Pagans, we do have the freedom and flexibility to do both, or neither, as we individually choose.

  49. Thank Goddess I’m a Witch! I really did enjoy this: “that the difference between a Druid and a Witch was that Druids worked within society, advising Queens and King and helping to form laws, while Witches were those crazy old women who recognized no laws and lived out in the liminal spaces between the village and the forest, doing wild magic that threatened the social order.”

    Yep, including the ones in our own communities….(not speaking so much of modern day Druids, but those organizer mainstreaming types, even in certain aspects of Wiccan religion, and I’m not naming names, who gotta keep people in line and are control freaks and crave and want to be the ‘established order’.)

    After leading a very powerful shamanic women’s ritual last summer, calling upon the Primal Mother and other Wildwomon Goddesses, I was eternally changed, it was a rite of passage and initiation for me I entirely didn’t expect, and yes She inhabited my body, and I will never be quite the same..that I CRAVE those WILD MAGIC rituals, ESPECIALLY in the forest with Sister Wildwomyn and Amazons and Witches, beyond laws, in liminal spaces, between the worlds, that it makes every other type of ritual seem pedestrian, boring, too contained and definitely not energetic enough for me. I find many of these rituals do NOT keep the energy up and are way too rote, and have been noticing them getting worse these days over the last 4 years particularly. Even the ones in rented spaces and womens’ houses…but on the Land, in nature, wow…with the RIGHT womyn open to their Witchy/Amazon/Wildwomyn wildness…a completely different and transformative thing and truly open to inspiration, not a format!

    I don’t want the dumbing down of Goddess worship/Witchcraft, the containment, and all the rest…and yet..and yet…it would be nice to have just one Temple close to go to or rent on winter high holy days, where the energy just bounces off the walls and the Goddess imagery has absorbed all of it….and it is a community throughout the year, CONSISTENTLY one can rely on and there was a women’s Goddess temple up in Portland which closed several years ago, and lasted about 13 years, as both a place to do ritual for several Goddess groups, as well as a community center…but if that means we sell our souls in a culture that basically doesn’t honor us, or support us to do so, we will never have our Parthenon, but we DO have our Forests and Oceans and Rock structures and Mountains and Wild Places where SHE will ALWAYS honor us with Her presence….if we honor Her!


  50. One of the things I’m finding most interesting about being Pagan, being *a* Pagan, and falling into the umbrella underneath Pagan as a Witch and a Wiccan, is that there seems to be a big gap between generations and opinions about Paganism, about its “umbrella” religions/religious aspects, and about where they belong and are/should be headed.

    I’m approaching 40, and I’ve pretty much always been Pagan, always had a huge respect for Mother Nature and always recognized that male-centric religions weren’t for me. Without having a name for my beliefs, I simply waited until I was able to research and find someone who understood me enough to help teach me and could help me put a name to what I always knew about myself. Then, as I studied, I recognized how Witchcraft and Wicca pulled me, and I knew I’d found the real me. I totally understand how it can be damaging to your career to acutally come out of the proverbial broom closet–it took me a very long time to even tell my husband and best friend, and there are still some people who don’t know, but those whom I’m closest to are quite clear where I stand.

    I give you this history so you know where I stand in the generation situation, and so anyone who has questions about me can have a basis for understanding where I come from. I think I have a pretty good angle on where many of us go wrong in trying to organize and trying to determine what’s the “best” way to do things.

    Many Pagans come from a Judeo-Christian background. Let’s face it, few of us are raised in a Pagan (and when I say Pagan, please realize I’m working w the term Pagan and the umbrella of religions that are generally considered to fall under it–I mean no disrespect to anyone!) home and/or environment. We tend to come to it from other religions, and so our viewpoint tends to be “tainted” by that Judeo-Christian background, at least to some extent. Unless we can release that, or have released that, we have no strictly Pagan sense of what anyone should do, less ourselves.

    Given this, I think the need for a building comes from several different places. I can see why there’s a need for legitimacy. I know that in many stations in life, there are large numbers of people whose rights are legitimately being violated (such as in prisons and in the military, for example) because people aren’t allowed to celebrate their Pagan rituals, and by right, they should be allowed to do so. In these cases, a building, be it a simply structure of a circle of rocks, or an actual building (for their own protection–or in the case of prisoners, for others’ protection) may be a legitimate and viable option.

    I think that solitaries in many cases tend to be solitaries for a number of reasons. For many, it’s often because they’re either shy or feel they can’t become a part of a group or risk being “outed.” And being outed is a legitimate concern. But for those who strive to be a part of a group, whether it’s really a group they necessarily *want* to be a part of or not, they may join just for that sense of community. Some of us have an intrinsic need for the community because we have traumas in our past and need the security of knowing there’s a group we can turn to who will care for us. Others need a group to turn to to help legitimize our beliefs. There are just so many things that can make people *need* connections, and I think if we look at the world at large, it’s pretty clear that we’re looking at a world that’s losing so many connections, and as Pagans, a large majority of us work at making connections daily, whether it’s with our Gods, Goddesses, Mother Nature, our groves, etc, or with other people just like us.

    However, I think what many solitiaries see, unfortunately, is that Pagans are so diverse, that trying to get a large group together is like putting oil and water together and shaking. I don’t think it *has* to be that complicated, but I think it often is. I think if we could find a way to set goals and to stick with them, and to find leaders (not necessarily high preists or high priestesses, but just people) who had in mind to keep the goals of the whole in sight and to prevent or end arguments of the fringe, that this would be more than possible. IMHO, what keeps us all divided is leaders (in general) saying that we can’t all get along because we can’t all believe in the same thing. But given that there are so many groups of Pagans set beneath the “umbrella” term, it certainly seems that we have many of the same basic goals, even if we accomplish them a little differently.

    I think also we could all do group rituals as Pagans, and then if we want specific Wiccan-based rituals or this-group-based rituals, etc, then those groups can each petition for certain days to have the building, and rules can be created in which to make that a fairly easy process. I think we all try to make things so much more difficult in this entire world that it has to be. We can barely go take a shit w/o the government wanting to inspect our ass before it can be wiped, and hey, btw, they may need to micromanage how we wipe, too. There are a million and a half things the government needs to take its damn hands off, but it won’t. And so long as we approach Paganism this way, we will find nothing easy about grouping together. If we could find a way to make it a more loosely-controlled and loosely-based grouping, and more of a let’s get together and talk about our beliefs, our agreements, our disagreements, and just make sure it doesn’t get out of hand and stays respectful (like this post!), it could work.

    (ok, my first response to your blog–sorry I ate up your space here!!) 🙂

    • I first became Pagan/Wiccan waaaay back in 1979 and basically my definitions of Paganism and Wicca came from what I knew or could gather at that era. This was just before Adler’s ” Drawing Down the Moon” came out and some years before the internet became easily accessible to the public. I went to libraries, bookstores, thrift shops and the like looking for anything that was ever published that might be remotely Wiccan or modern Pagan.

      I understand that those who became Wiccan or Pagan years later had a different perspective than I did and still do. For me it brings to my mind some confusions, such as the differentation between Wiccan and “witch” and that there are “Christian witches”, for example. The relatively recent addition of Goths and those who claim to be “otherkin” ( read vampires, were’s and the like adds to my confusion as to what legitimate Pagans are nowadays.

      For a long time I used to call myself a Wiccan, until I found out the whole “survival of the Old Religion” claim was quite frankly a lie and the Rede, while a good idea, was hardly realistic in living in the real world where passivity in regards to people who want to stomp all over you because you are not of their chosen group was a severe handicap. Even nature doesn’t follow the Rede.

      Wicca and other forms of Paganism are flexible enough to be expressed in many personal styles, I understand that. But with some of the newer ” generation”, they seem to be trying to make Paganism into a fandom convention rather than legitimate religious paths. We’ve been viewed by the non-Pagans as kooks or strange for a long time instead of what we are, people with valid religious expressions and faiths. The misuse of the word “Wicca” in such things as the TV series “Charmed” and ” Buffy” and the agonizngly bad ” Mad, Mad House” reality series ( until near the end) didn’t help matters. In fact they added to the prejudices and the dissing that we are lost in our fantasies and have no sense of reality. I winced when i saw one documentary show that highlighted Laurie Cabot and one of her group was seen on camera in a fairy outfit, complete with wings, in a ceremony.

      • Hey Moe! First, lemme just say that I’ve so enjoyed reading ur comments thru this debate/discussion and that I respect not only ur views but u as well. Ur way ahead of me, as I’ve only really been studying and recogning a name 4 my beliefs 4 the las 18 yrs. I 2 look @ the srsly “outer fringes” w disdain, like the vampires and weres and the weird-ass fairies. However, that said, I don’t look so oddly @ those who feel themselves otherkin, mainly cuz I can sorta understand their views. After all, we live in a society where men and women feel as if they were born in2 the wron body, so in some ways, perhaps some animals were born in2 human bodies… Perhaps our differences in view do differ due 2 what I suspect is a difference in age, but @ the same time, I don’t think that this makes either of us any less or any more Pagan, Witch, or Wiccan, whichever term either of us wants 2 apply 2 how we feel.

        Also, what I failed 2 mention @ myself, which u pointed out rather astutely (and I’m glad u did, btw), is that while I do most certainly consider myself both a Witch and a Wiccan, I call myself a Grey Witch. I do my best 2 follow the Rede, but u pointed out a great thing, and that is that I in no way, shape, or form feel the need 2 follow the Rede 2 its utmost. I feel the Rede is far 2 restricting, and I refuse 2 be held down 2 the point where I cldnt even make a decision. In being what I consider a Grey Witch, I sorta have my own sense of what is right and wrong, I guess u cld call it my own morality, in a way. Consider me chaotic good, as in the game of AD&D, if u will. I refuse 2 take a beating sitting down. I can and most certainly will fight back. I won’t throw the 1st punch, but if u (not u specifically, but a hypothetical u) come @ me, why shld I have 2 sit and take it? I don’t believe that is appropriate.

        I also take that a step further, and I still don’t consider it evil. If u choose 2 harm my family and/or friends, I seek out permission from my Gods, Goddesses, guides, and guardians, but if I get a green light and feel that it is what I’m supposed 2 do, I will also protect them 2 the death. I consider myself a healer-warrior under my Patron God and Goddess, and I’ve seen that Fate from the moment I connected w them. 4 me, I have certain ppl under my protection. If ur under it, it’s w/in my right 2 defend and protect u, so ur abs correct in that I don’t follow the Rede 100%. However, I do believe so fully in the majority of the other Wiccan concepts that I find it very difficult 2 separate myself fr the Wiccan culture and religion.

        @ the dam time, I identify strongly w Witchcraft and w Paganism, so I can’t just separate myself out of those either. Nowadays, I think being any 1 thing 4 many ppl can b difficult, as there r so many choices 4 us, and we do have many more freedoms than we used 2.

        And I so totally agree w u that the public perception has been skewed by such things as Charmed & Buffy. But @ the same time, it did bring young ppl 2 us who were interested in learning more and if we cld find a way 2 come 2gether and actually teach them the right of it, we cld continue 2 strengthen our religion rather than water it down and lose all of our history 2 those kooks and idiots, and if we lose it, all we’ll have r a bunch of idiots running @ creating havoc w no respect 2 the reality of what it is we do and what it is that 2 us is so precious.

        That’s part of why I believe genuinely that having a place 2 gather and trying 2 bring all of us 2gether and express all these beliefs and opinions in1 place is truly such a good idea. If we cld find a way 2 all come and just discuss in a moderated way w/o anybody arguing (which is what the majority of the diff Pagan grps end up doing in the long run, cuz somebody ends up saying that it’s gotta b this way or that cuz there’s no way everybody’ll agree on this 1 pt, so we’re done here) wld b sooooo useful and so pos 4 our legitimacy as a religion and 2 show that we’re really not like those crazy kooks we keep getting blamed 4–cuz every single 1 of us is judged by the public perception that whoever is “out” and @ portrays. If those of us who don’t wanna step out and say look, I’m not that crazy, I’m normal, and esp if we can’t do it as a grp, we’ll b condemned that way 4ever. And if we can’t come 2gether and make that stand in communities all over, I fear we will lose what we really and deeply stand 4 and believe in, and the heart of our religion will sink in2 oblivion, 2 b replaced by what u and I both deplore so vehemently!

        It’s an abs pleasure 2 discuss this w u, so if u’d like 2 talk more, I’m happy 2 keep discussing (that is genuine, not snotty! Hope it didn’t sound that way!) 🙂 hugs and BB! Jen

      • Thanks Jen. Sometimes I call myself a Pagan, sometimes a Wiccan. I guess it depends on what mood I’m in. I do call myself a Goddess worshipper and believe that reincarnation might be real. I think the Rede is a good general idea but it always struck me as too much of the hippie flower power type pacifist thinking rather than what most of our actual Pagan ancestors thought. I’m no pacifist Pagan and if someone is threatening me, I resort to physical defense, not good thoughts. There are some Christian women who have bought into the myth that if they prayed hen some punk is trying to rape them that that would prevent the rape. I know of one case where that is a lie. There are warrior Pagans, those in the military and in law enforcement who because of their profession cannot be pacifists.

        I do agree with you on the we must stand together or go into oblivion. i don’t know if you remember the “satanic panic” era, but I do and I remember the hysteria and the attacks on minority faiths (including Wicca) that happened during the ‘satanic ritual abuse” hysteria. During that same time there was an evangelical Christian movement called Christian Reconstructionism, among other names, where the followers intend to make the Bible the only law of the land and “capital punishment’ would be meeted out on those who broke Biblical laws. That died down when the details became public and now its called New Apostolic Reformation. This boils down to the nasty fact that there are people who frankly wish us ill, even dead, and justify their intolerance and hatred by quoting the Bible and the lies of so-called experts ( who are Christian). If they realize that we are all together and a force together to be reckoned with, then they cannot get us individually like they did to Tempest Smith.

        as it is now in my view regarding Christians, I understand that some Christians are loving and kind, but I don’t trust them enough to tell them I am Pagan. You’ll never know what their reaction will be. The nicest person might turn into the one you have to fight to get away from.

        Like I said, some of the people we now have confuse me. The otherkin I sorta understand but IMO the ‘vampires” are just too much in their fantasy and seem to think that if they pretend long enough, they might become.

  51. Hey Moe,
    Sorry it took me a bit to get back to you. Things have been crazy around here. I think you have a really good perspective on things, and I agree with basically all you said. I’ve learned to really look out for people and to be careful who I trust and who I don’t. It took a lot of time to get where I am, and I’ve totally been burned.
    But at the same time, I get concerned if we can’t come to a conclusion to try to trust anyone at all, including one another. It takes time for us to build trust in everyone, including each other, but it can be built, even if it’s one stone at a time, one grove at a time, and one circle at a time…
    Thanks for indulging my love to discuss!
    Hugs and BB,
    Jen 🙂

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