Witch’s Soul Work: Community
People join community for many reasons, maybe as many reasons as there are people. I joined the Pagan community many years ago because I had a child and wanted him to grow up identifying with and belonging to a community. Some people join community to be part of something, or to have social interaction with others, because they are lonely, looking to connect with people of like mind, searching for support and healing, or many other things. When Witches or Pagans join the Sacred Cauldron community what are they looking for? If they don’t find what they are looking for do they verbalize it, ask for it or try to create it? Or do they just walk away. I find that people come to the community looking for nourishment and many other things, but few people join with the idea of participation and giving back. Then if one small problem comes up they dump the community and go back to ‘oh poor me, I’m all alone’. There is no accountability and no loyalty. After years of trying to include people it hurts to get dumped and slandered because of a small mistake. No one is perfect and no community is perfect.
A Wiccan community is not the same as joining a Coven. A Coven is a small spiritual group run by (hopefully) Elders who have many years experience and can give spiritual guidance and teachings. Many of the teachings in Wiccan Covens are oath-bound (not public) and all are confidential. What happens in Coven, stays in Coven! The Elders or Priest/esses will tell you what is secret and what is not. A few weeks ago one of the Covens closed. This Coven had been going for 11 years and the two main teachers were moving out of town for work and school. Also there was a problem with attendance in the Coven and many people were just not committed to coming. When the HPS decided to close the Coven she was criticized by some of the members and others went behind her back and complained about how devastated they were. No one stepped up and said: Well this Coven is important to me; I would like to give my time and energy to keep it going. Not one person said that. The Priestess stopped spoon feeding them and they all went home.
So what is a Wiccan or Pagan community? For us it is a place where Wiccans can meet to talk about their spiritual work, celebrate together and share. We can share teaching, work, crafts, services like healing and tarot and all the other things that regular communities share. We can create a place that newcomers can ask questions and a place for families. Community is the place we celebrate births, successes and weddings and support each other through funerals, illnesses and tragedy. When we belong to a community we feel as if we are cared for and that we are not alone. A community can be online but better a community where people can get to know each other in person.
My problem is that people want community and Coven yet they don’t want to give anything. There are a few volunteers that give all their time and energy and the rest show up waiting to be spoon fed the nourishment, support, love, friendship and all the other things they are looking for. Goddess forbid that someone should ask them for something in return or make a commitment! And if they pay a small fee to belong to the community then that is their only contribution and they then feel they are entitled to receive everything without giving any more. For example we ask the Witches in the Covens to give $15 per month to help support the Center and the Coven. For that $15 per month they get 3-6 hours of teaching per month in Coven, one on one spiritual support from their Priestess if they need it, a place to come and hold their meetings, candles, incense, tea and toilet paper, all the other things they might need. It costs us $2500 per month to run the center including rent, phone, insurance, cleaning supplies, toiletries, ritual supplies and so on. No one is making any money from this venture but the benefit we get from a thriving loving community is well worth it. It is very frustrating to see people sign up for workshops and then not show up, borrow books and not return them, come to the center and leave dirty cups lying around and not put away what they use. Even more frustrating is that they don’t offer to help with anything but when one tiny little annoyance happens they just walk away and criticize the community to anyone else who will listen. No one is perfect and community is not perfect. If you don’t like something, work to change it. If you are angry talk about it and try to resolve it. Treat people with respect and don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater.
There is so much loneliness in the world and depression and sadness. A lot of this is because people are isolated and don’t have communities. We need them! So why not open your heart and participate in your community and support it. Help the ones less fortunate in your own community and it will mean so much.