Yesterday, I found a question that was asked of individuals that I believe might be beneficial to ask in a wider public forum.
Name something about the Occult Community you would like to see change…
As you can imagine, a wide-open question like this invites a lot of different angles and perspectives. My response:
Well, it sounds rather basic – but just be yourself. I don’t play any kind of gate-keeping role in what Pagans of any stripe should or should not be doing, that includes what one needs to be doing within the wider community. I think it’s more important to individual Spirituality to find one’s own self and utilize that as an anchor to avoid becoming some kind of “Pagan clone”. If we stay authentic to ourselves and to our wider Community, we avoid a lot of the “artificial” perspectives that arrive when we start looking at others doing their own thing and saying that their approach is “wrong” or ‘New Agey”. Everyone has their own path to walk, and we should avoid trying to play up the idea that any other walk than our own is incorrect, incomplete, or inaccurate. Diversity in Paths, Approaches, and Perspectives are a strength, in my opinion.Tommy /|\
Not precisely earth-shattering stuff, right? Nothing that I haven’t written about before on the blog. Nothing radically different from stuff that I have talked about face-to-face with others. Nothing that others have not disagreed with me on before either. But its not my answer I want to write about here. It’s the writing prompt.
As I’ve noted often, at the risk of being ad nauseam about it, I have been on my Pagan Path for three and a half decades. In that time, I have watched the ebb and flow of the Pagan community. When I started, digital communications, such as the internet did not exist. Much of long-distance communications were done through personal letters or via dial-in Bulletin Board Systems (BBSs). You can imagine (and some of you don’t have to imagine – you lived it, just as I did) the Community was largely dependent on the cohesiveness of various local individuals. Over time, digital communications expanded into what we know and utilize today. That expansive communications ability has been helpful to so many on their own individual Paths, and has not only widened our knowledge base, but allowed for a lot more cohesive research on those perspectives by so many. Our wider Pagan community has not only grown by leaps and bounds, but we have found more ways to help one another along our respective Paths.
However, from time to time, there is always a need to step back and take stock of what has been done, what is being done, and where things are going. Questions such as the one noted above, are typically the start of such endeavors. Like I noted, I have been around a long time. My direct participation in the Pagan community has also ebbed and flowed during that time. I would never hold myself up as a paragon of virtue in being a part of the community. I am aware of most of my faults and missteps. However, despite all of that, I am a part of the wider community, even if I wanted to deny that point. Whether I like it or not, I am a part of the Pagan community. So, what I answered above is not a judgment of the community or a damnation of what is lacking within the community. What I answered was merely an observation, nothing more. My prescription for it – also within my answer – is only my perception of what needs to be done. I am not the Pagan with all the answers. Furthermore, I can only correct my faults and missteps. I cannot and will not be responsible for changing the behaviors and attitudes of others.
Should the Pagan community be taking stock of where things are, and be looking for what change can be done? Well, my answer would be “yes.” But I am a single individual. I am not the Pagan Pope. And if you dig hard enough, you may find a few claiming to be such, somewhere on the internet. But I am all for self-examination. Within my own professional career, this type of perspective is an ideal thing. Within any Information Technology project, there is a period after the project has been completed, and the results set into motion, where self-examination happens. Within the realm of Project Management, this is called a “post-mortem” process. In Latin, the term means “after death,” essentially an autopsy. What you are essentially doing is checking how things went. You look for places where things went wrong, and how things were resolved on the fly. You are looking for ways to do it better the next time. Honestly, I do this after I make changes to my own personal ritual processes. Because I am always looking for where the kinks were, what worked, and what didn’t. That way I can change things and try my best to make my ritual process work better and have a better impact on what I was trying to do. It’s a process I use when writing code within my professional career. It’s a manner of getting better at what I do – learning new code, learning new syntax – just getting better. After all, there’s always room for improvement. Always.
The hard part about doing this in wider community setting, is that this only works on areas of commonality. Believe me, all of that is hard to locate – we are a wide, diverse community that is full of contradictory perspectives. However, there is one aspect that we can all agree upon (hopefully). That is respect of other spiritual perspectives. Even those that are in diametrical opposition to our own. I believe that this is the point that we need to take time to check and re-check ourselves on.
I was wondering aloud about what direction the wider community could take without this re-check process. Well, I hate to bring this into the point, but without checking and re-checking our aspect of respect for other perspectives, particularly those in opposition to our own – our future as a wider community might potentially look a lot like those in American politics, at this moment. Where the Right/Conservative, and Left/Liberal perspectives become so divided, that commonality cannot be achieved. Simply because we dig into our perspective perspectives, and demand that ours is the only, true way. That the other perspective is just wrong. When our entrenched attitudes will develop feelings or hatred, betrayal, and bring about enforcement of our belief over all others. The middle ground recedes to nothing. Compromise can never be achieved in such an environment. Entrenchment gets deeper and deeper. The result will be a civil war of proportions that are unimaginable. All because we lose respect for the other side. Where matters go after that civil war is an unknown that I do not want to even approach.
You might not agree with my assessment. I can grok that. (For those of who have not read Robert Heinlein’s works – “grok” simply means to empathize or communicate sympathetically – or if you prefer “I get you”) Right now, I would surmise that my logical progression to this point, is a wild guess-timation. I certainly hope that I am completely wrong.
Circling back to the original question, what would I – me, Tommy – like to see change within the wider Pagan community? Aside from what I have already written in response? Well, we have the tools to do so. I would like to see us talk with each other. Not talk AT each other. But that’s a conversation for another time, and probably for a better setting than a blog. I really wish we could all gather round a fire on a nice, clear night. Everyone with a nice beverage of choice. We will probably never solve all of the world’s problems, but there certainly is something to be said for the civility o face-to-face communication over that of hiding behind an IP address. #JustSayin’