sunfell: Half-vulcan b/w (Default)
[personal profile] sunfell
Jason Pitzl-Waters' WildHunt blog has an very interesting discussion on what causes Pagan groups to disband- and what makes them stick together. (Don't skip the comments- they're also really interesting.)

[...] I think it does convey an important truth about modern Paganism: that small Pagan groups often disband or drift apart, and that this is a normal thing. It is an important fact to know, because journalists used to the congregational model of worship might think a group disbanding might be sign of ill health within the faith itself. Instead, it is just a side-effect of our strong individuality. Indeed, according to the Pagan group’s former faculty advisor, we’re “notoriously” ephemeral when it comes to working together.


I've often pondered that particular mystery on why Pagan groups (and I am using the umbrella, inclusive term "Pagan" here) are so volatile. Is it individuality? True, we prize individuality above many other things- thinking for oneself is the cornerstone of many sects. But what about community? Why does one Pagan group have a long-term thriving community, while another is constantly struggling, or vanishes within a year or two?

The answer might be surprising and unexpected: The very eclecticism prized in a lot of modern Pagan (especially Wiccan) groups may be the very seeds of its destruction. Much criticism has been lobbed at Wicca for its 'cafeteria'-style mixing and useage of pantheons. The biggest head-butting contests have occurred when erstwhile Wiccan covens have attempted to appropriate pantheons and rituals from ancient faiths, or crossed swords with Traditional (Gardernarian or Alexandrian-descent) Craft and/or Reconstructionist groups. Pick-and-choose pantheons and casually appropriating rites- and creating new ones from whole cloth and a ton of speculative and fantasy fiction- seem to be the hallmark of the shortest-lived Wiccan sub-sects. Other problems include 'HPS Disease', adversarial takeovers, and other insider disruptions.

On the other hand, the more 'orthodox' the group is- in other words, the regular activities of its community, set ritual basis, leadership, and vetting of new members- the longer it will last. Orthodox groups are not bomb-proof, but they are more resiliant when things shake them up. Often, instead of disbanding, they'll hive off a sister group, growing peacefully and creating continuity across a range of groups. This was the pattern of growth for British Traditional Wicca, and some of their groups have lasted decades.

Size seems to matter, too- if groups grow too large and dispersed for any real local administration- they tend to become unstable and collapse. Funding is a potential destroyer of groups, too- if a regular system of funding (tithing) is not established and properly administered, the group can collapse- often in a hail of lawsuits.

So, what's the solution? Eliminating eclecticism isn't going to be it- eclecticism is the heart of the life and Light of the Pagan experience. And embracing orthodoxy totally isn't the solution either- in its extreme form, it renders the beating heart of the group inert, and you end up with people parroting ritual by rote.

Perhaps a blend of these two systems is a way around it- and the understanding that even though we might practice some synchrodipitous system of Divine interaction (AKA magic), we are not immune to the foibles of leadership, poor construction of rites, human nature or change. If we acknowledge that the foundation of solid leadership, transmission of teachings, administration, fiscal responsibility and accounting - all that boring paperwork and mundane stuff- has to be properly addressed for the group to survive and thrive, this will set the group off in the right direction. Adding a strong community bond- both within the group and with the outside community as a whole- creates another level of stability. Topping it off: a stable ritual system, with proper vetting, probation and training of newcomers. That is the most vital element of all. "Perfect Love and Perfect Trust" might not be truly achievable outside the crafted Circle, but a strong bond within the group should be created and maintained.

I always tell people that they must read Kenneth Haugk's "Antagonists in the Church" so they can understand congregational dynamics. But that is only one aspect of group stability. There are many others. Sadly, there does not seem to be any books addressing this pervasive problem.

Maybe I need to start writing.
sunfell: Half-vulcan b/w (Default)
[personal profile] sunfell
I've been around a while- both metaphysically (30+ years) and online (15+). I've been through ages and stages, from fiery Zealot (Never again the burining times!), well-meaning HPS (Ground and center! Ground and center!), Born-again Atheist (I'm not listening! La, la, la!), and into my current iteration, Skeptical Philosopher-Geek, and Curmudgeonly TechMage. I do not proclaim or claim any rank, title or degree- I pitched those when I hit the Abyss, and have gone through the Crucible and come out... OK, I guess. In my Journey, I've gained a pretty good grasp of The Current, Synchrodipity and Small Gods. For me, "magic" is a carefully crafted alignment of Current, Synchrodipity, Will, and whatever helpful Small God might be in the vicinity. Any one of these things will be helpful and get results (including nothing, which is also a result!), but if you manage to get the whole stack, wonderful things can happen, or not, depending on what's up. Sometimes "Will" flips polarity to "Won't", and there isn't anything you can do about it. That's life. No one is immune.

My Rede and motto is a simple, practical one: Keep what works, Fix what's broke, Ditch the Rest. I'll probably lurk and comment far more than I will originate posts. Also, I am in the start-up stages of a new Dreamwidth community which might be of interest to some here: [community profile] 2012. I see it as complementary to this one- lots of spiritual discussion will probably take place there.

Anyway, it's good to meet y'all. Hope to have some interesting discussions!
wide_worlds_joy: (Wicca)
[personal profile] wide_worlds_joy
Well, as you might guess my name is Daven. That's not my real life name, that's my online handle.

If you do a search for that name, you will find a gentleman named DaveN. That's not me. He is Dave N something. I'm Daven. Rhymes with cavern.

I'm not the cartoon character off of Something*Positive. That's Randy Millhouse's character and I was using this name years before he started drawing.

No, I am Daven of Daven's Journal. It's a smallish metaphysical site that I put up back in 2000 or so, dealing with topics of metaphysics and Wicca, Druidism and Witchcraft. I've somehow managed to keep it going for all this time and even added to it. Somewhere along the line I collected fans (go figure).

I'm an author. I write articles for my site, for an online magazine called Rending the Veil, for other places as well. I used to make the pages for "Cats of the Craft" over at The Witches Voice.

I am a self proclaimed Druid, Witch and a Seax-Wican High Priest. I'm ordained through the Universal Life Church and I do take that seriously. I read Tarot. I review books. I think. I was a member of the Ord Draiocht na Usinech, a Druid order that splintered off from the Henge of Keltria. It eventually closed down, but I still practice their ways.

I'm a Theiran. That means that while I am a human person, I feel that there is a part of myself that resonates with my cat-side, so much so that I tend to take on cat like qualities from time to time. I purr. I get high from Catnip. I like to be touched and stroked. I tend to curl up in balls or to stretch out to impossible sizes.

I'm a magickian. Yes, that spelling is deliberate. I got used to spelling it magick a long time ago, to put some distance between what I do and what David Copperfield does. My magick isn't illusions and misdirection, my magick is about manipulating reality in direct ways. I tend to work for the best of mankind first and then work for myself second. Sounds stupid, but there you are.

I am what is called Dragon-Kin. I started working and learning from some dragons I met while on the Astral plane, and because of some really major things I did for them, with them and to them, I was rewarded by being adopted into a clan of Dragons as a reward (and probably punishment). It brings a lot of burdens and rewards.

I astrally project regularly and I have a lot of interaction with beings on other planes. I write about it somewhat.

There's lots more, but that is what is relevant to this community.

Thanks for letting me here.

*waves*

Apr. 15th, 2009 10:36 am
phoenixsong: Woman with dark skin and dark hair, draped in red cloth. (spirituality)
[personal profile] phoenixsong

Since introducing yourself seems to be the thing to do, I shall do so!

I grew up Catholic, but with a pagan-friendly/curious bent that developed during high school. For reasons that aren't directly related to this community's topic, I ended up leaving Catholicism about six years ago, and went to my first Unitarian Universalist church service 5 1/2 years ago. My personal beliefs are somewhere between UU, Pagan-Gnostic with a healthy respect for Judaism, and plain old eclectic. Above all else, I do my best to respect others' beliefs; I have a Hermione Granger-like penchant for researching stuff, and try not to appropriate gratuitously without knowing what it is I'm getting into first.

My experiences with "spiritual woo" also go back to high school. I'm hesitant to call myself an empath as a blanket term, but there are certain people that I naturally tune in to. Those same people rarely show up in my dreams unless there's a Really Good Reason for it. I have an interest in tarot, but haven't really put the time in to playing with the deck I picked up a few years ago. I believe non-corporeal beings exist, but I don't assume every creak or funny noise means I've got ghosts parked in my living room.

Why am I here? Just hoping to find some like-minded folks to share information with. s:) It's hard to tell who you can speak freely to about these things, and I'm pleased to see a woo-woo-friendly community springing up already.

jenett: Big and Little Dipper constellations on a blue watercolor background (Default)
[personal profile] jenett
Hi there! I'm excited to see this community, and posts, and all sorts of good stuff. I recognise some of the names in here from around LiveJournal and a few other places - but one of the things I'm looking forward to as Dreamwidth grows is making new connections too.

Me:
Librarian, currently working at an independent high school in Minneapolis. 33, divorced for about 3 years after 4 years of marriage, though currently starting to be in the "the right relationship might be really nice" place.

I play harp (that's her, color-edited, in my icon) sometimes, spin yarn, play occasional computer games, and do a few other things that you can find out more about if you're curious over here.

The religious stuff:
I'm a 3rd degree in a small tradition local to the Twin Cities. I hived (the first person in the trad to do so formally) last year to form a new coven called Phoenix Song. (The trad has a longstanding interest in the phoenix and its symbolism) and as you might guess from my coven name, we're particularly interested in music's integration with magic and ritual.

(How long have I been Pagan? Good question. I started reading about it in around 1995, to help deal with some specific grounding and shielding issues. I started seriously exploring Paganism as a possible religious path sometime around 1999, found the group I trained in in early 2001, and was initiated in early 2003. I spend a lot of time talking to people from other trads and paths, too.)

The tradition itself is something I general describe as 'religious witchcraft' or 'Wiccan-influenced' rather than Wiccan. We're an initiatory, mystery focused religious witchcraft tradition with oathbound material - but we don't share a direct lineage in any of the British Traditional Wiccan trads (Gardnerian, Alexandrian, etc.) and over the years we've made a number of choices that shift away from what I know of those trads (via talking to people, online interactions in places like the Amber and Jet mailing list, etc.)

more specifics including other Pagan stuff I do )
valkyrie: Original art by Rick Vermillion-Salsbury (Rainbow Tor)
[personal profile] valkyrie
I was raised Presbyterian, became deeply agnostic in my late teens and early twenties, and then (re)discovered paganism in my early thirties. As you can perhaps tell from my choice of username (It's been my online nick for going on 14 years, now), I tend to follow the Norse pantheon. Organized anything scares me, so I tend to make my own path as I go. I'm looking forward to meeting new people and learning new things from everybody here.

Intro

Apr. 14th, 2009 01:25 pm
rainbow: drawing of a pink furred cat person with purple eyes and heart shaped glasses. their name is catastrfy. (Default)
[personal profile] rainbow
Well, let's see.

I was raised quasi-Catholic in that my maternal grandparents (where I spent most weekends) were Catholic, but my mother had terrible experiences growing up in the church. So I attended church and sometimes summer school at the church, but never had First Communion, etc.

I went through a pagan phase in the 20s, but finally realised that for me organised religions just aren't a good fit. I don't care for ritual for myself at all, nor having someone else define the "right" way to do things.

I'm very spiritual, but it's based on what I experience myself and what resonates with me. I do a fair bit of energy work and healing, and I enjoy Tarot (especially the Halloween Tarot - fun imagery!), palmistry, and several other things -- but I'm not particularly serious about any of them.

I'm terribly curious about how this comm will develop.

Carys
bohemianeditor: an old-style typewriter (probably 1940s Remington Rand) (commit no nuisance)
[personal profile] bohemianeditor
Hi, new people! Welcome!

Mostly I intended this community as playing in a new sandbox, yay! a Pagan-friendly (and, of course, woo-friendly) place without the name-recognition of, say, [livejournal.com profile] wiccan on LJ, and I totally didn't expect more than 10 members. So I am thrilled that each and every one of you has joined!

Please feel free to post intros or any kind of chatter you'd like. I'll drum up an intro outline if people would like it. Don't worry about topic drift unless we get a lot busier. ;)


My intro:

I've been Pagan for just about 10 years, starting when I went to college and quit going to church. I was raised Baptist, but as a teenager I was very interested in stuff like ghosts, telepathy, and extra-sensory perception. Becoming Pagan opened up a whole new spirit world to me!

Within the past three years I've begun to study both Blue Star Wicca (an initiatory tradition of witchcraft, in which I am currently a Dedicant) and Tarot; about six months ago I started reading about psychics and mediums as well as books like Psychic Self-Defense, and I'm much more comfortable in those "woo-woo" realms than in a more structured, ceremonial magick sort of environment. I self-define as a polytheistic Pagan and witch. I'm married to a Pagan-friendly man who currently identifies as an atheist.
bohemianeditor: an old-style typewriter (probably 1940s Remington Rand) (bohemian)
[personal profile] bohemianeditor
Greetings, everyone! I'm pleasantly surprised to see so many subscribers here. :) Which means it's time for an icebreaking post.

Last night I attended a book signing for Thorn Coyle's latest, Kissing the Limitless. She spoke for a few minutes and answered some audience questions, including one about her definition of magic -- I can't put a hand on a direct quote, but it's something close to "the alignment of breath (life force, connection), will, and desire" -- and when those three things are alignment, when your body and emotions and mind and Will are in alignment, magical things just tend to ... happen. Synchronicity. Thorn told the story of the homeless person she'd posted on her LJ as an illustration.

This lines up pretty closely to my own experience. In fact, I only heard about the event because I read her LJ. Then I discovered that the bookstore happened to be near where I work, I happened to have exactly enough money to buy the book that day, and I didn't already have plans for that evening. (The last, I admit, is not all that unusual!) Things lined up just right to put me in the right place, and what I did and heard was signifcant to me and my life and work.

So, what do you think? When you're in tune with yourself and your Will, do those fortunate things just happen for you? Is it magic, luck, or something else? Can you alter how frequently they occur?

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