What Are We Doing Here?
At this time I would like to take a few minutes to offer all of you this thought to ponder.
A deep yearning to belong is a natural state for most of us. As it is, we are all spirit having a human experience. This is a balance that humankind has been in search of since the beginning of our time on this planet. I believe this is part of "What we are doing here?"
We have all chosen to embark on a search for like minded folk. A seeking of a strong, compassionate, open community where one can share ideas, thoughts and speak what you believe. A place where each person is free among their people, to follow their own path and to hold their own truth... Without fear of judgement. We gather in groups like this for support and assistance in times of despair and to celebrate with each other in times of joy as well. In difficult times such as economic crisis, family conflict, death, disaster, we rally as "tribe", our instincts tell us that there is safety in numbers, this is again a part of "What we are doing here?"
We gather to herald the birth of our children and our grandchildren. To share our joy of an anniversary, a wedding, birthday, graduation, or new job. We gather to drum, to dance, to celebrate the cycle of our Moon, our high sacred days, and our lives as pagans with ritual and feasting. We need to be together. That is what we are doing here.
We constantly strive to provide a positive community but what does that mean?
It means that we as pagans have come from the same places and face the same problems and obstacles as the general population. Are we as pagans, better than the general population? No.
Can we strive to be more positive respectful people, more positive practitioners, more aware of our energy, our fellow humans, our earth, our environment. Yes!
I’d like to take a few moments to give you the meat of some discussions I have had over the years with some other long time pagan community members that have either visited Mystic Moon or, have met with at different gatherings over the last 15 years. Shekinah Moutainwater, Dorothy Morrison, Lillith Dorsey, Bev Richardson, Silver Ravenwolf, Selena Fox and several more folks, are that are of a mind set likened to the way we try to work here. Leaders seem to be created and designed by the community around them and very few have bestowed that title on themselves. A true pagan community cannot consist solely of leaders. Name recognition is not more important than the real work we are trying to accomplish. Within many pagan communities come some problems with uncontrolled egos. Leggo your ego... Please and just find what you love about the community and support it! That will help with weeding out labels and need for people on pedestals or personal status and bring about the gathering of folks who just want to associate with other folks of like mind. That’s yet another answer to "What we are doing here?"
I think Shekinah Mountainwater summed it up best as to say: "Everyone is worthy of a relationship with Divinity, The All ,The Gods/Goddesses, and, they do not need anyone to intercede for them. The folks that we may call leaders simply have more experience with or study of esoteric knowledge, ceremony, teaching and/or administrative duties".
For this purpose, we have elders but are not "the leaders." Elders do have some of that experience needed to take the steps required for a working community. As a tribe, we should expect to respect our "elders" as they are a very valuable part of our history and usually hold some of the secrets that have gone before us. Secrets that can be lost over time, as we know well enough as a pagan people, how this has happened in our past.
Shekinah also goes on to say: "That getting people to think differently about community is similar to fish swimming upstream. In a line. There is a lot of resistance because of where we come from, with the water moving in the opposite direction." How do we guide folks to swim differently within a new age of thinking? We don’t. We simply go back to the ancient ways of the "circle". So, we think about circles for a moment and how leaders aren't at the top. They are a part of the circle of people, and have some of the skills to help circle the group and propel it wherever it goes.
This is our goal at The Moon to maintain a strong, compassionate community of support. We do and always will have certain "rules of hospitality," these rules are no more than anyone would have in their home. As a retail establishment fostering a community center, we provide a space that is open to all spiritual paths, whether we agree with them or not, it is not our place to judge and their right to follow their own paths must be respected here. Our existence depends on Mystic Moon remaining a "safe sacred" space for everyone. We have never been just about the business, however, to stay here and provide community we have to keep the store solvent and keep customers. I don’t know any one person or group that can fund an entire community solely out of pocket, do you? Our efforts here depend on the "circle" and the movement of "the circle".
That is why, with the exception of our "rules of hospitality" we have not, do not and never will , tell anyone what they should or shouldn't do with their spiritual self. Your path is your own, your truth is yours. We respect you, and your beliefs here whether you are Wiccan, Asatru, Hindu, Atheist, a Vampire, a Satanist, or even a Baptist! You are welcome here as a respectful seeker. There is no one here that is more important than you are, nor are you any more important than anyone else here. We are not a group, or a coven, we are a tribe of equals, there is no hierarchy in the community here!
Our goal and mission is to create a "circle of assistance around each and every one of you to offer help however we can help you. If you refuse help, then you have the right to learn from your experience. You do not however, have the right to make others miserable due to your experience. We are here to help, not to enable or validate co-dependency.
We work to develop a positive environment. We ask for help from all of you to make some long needed changes here and in communities wherever you may go. Pagan communities don’t happen simply by magick alone, it takes a lot of money and many dedicated volunteers to make these events happen.
A question: When was the last time you thanked a volunteer? There would be no events if not for them. They choose to be here to help, for you, for a cause we all believe in. They do this out of love, out of a sense of responsibility to give. This is truly a labor of love. Do you thank them? Do you leave your trash for them to clean up? Do you get an attitude with them if an issue has to addressed? We never pressure anyone to volunteer, and we don’t want anyone to feel bad if they can’t or even don’t want to, but at least be respectful of those that are here trying to help you have something you want in your community!
If you choose to be a part of the team effort for Mystic Moon Events or represent Mystic Moon in any way, there are requirements. Yes, there are requirements! Being a part of staff here is wonderful and so is being a part of the community as a whole. With the privilege of being a part of any community event or activity also comes some obligation, at least while you are here. Everyone must understand, there are things required of everyone in life, and there are things required of all of us to maintain a healthy productive community.
Instead of telling you what to do, we express to you what we feel needs to be done and offer the procedure that works best from our own experience or liability. A healthy group dynamic can be attained with a willingness to rise above negative weakness and pull together in difficult times. Things are negative enough out there without contribution on our part as a magickal people. Healthy, positive relationships within a community could be maintained by considering these "Seven Rules for Collaboration for Humans" written by Professor Muneera Spence:
1. Look for common ground with others, look for shared experiences, listen and give feedback in a respectful way, accept differences in perceptions and opinions, uncover similar ethics and values, be open about who you are and expect the same of others.
2. Learn about others in your community, recognize their perspectives and needs, allow people to express themselves.
3. Critique results, not people, help others to feel good about themselves. Personal hostility and intolerance is a waste of time and energy. Try to avoid put downs and criticizing the person instead of the idea if you disagree.
4. Give and get respect from others, respect other opinions, try being considerate and friendly, try some empathy. Speak to each other with confidence and tact.
5. Proceed slowly, check for understanding and acceptance of ideas or relationships before moving onward.
6. It is important to move slowly in the creation of community and numerous new contacts. Try to surround yourself with those who share the same goals.
7. Be explicit and clear when you engage another, observe nonverbal communication, speak clearly, select meaningful words. Stay away from rumors and gossip.
Thank you for taking the time to think about this important question.
An Iowa woman will make history next month by being the first Wiccan in the nation to give the opening invocation at a state legislature.
Although Christian pastors and priests normally give the invocation, Deborah Maynard of the People’s Church Unitarian Universalist told KCRG that Democratic state Rep. Liz Bennett asked her to open the Iowan House of Representatives with a Wiccan prayer on April 9.
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