Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Is paganism a solitary path?
I've been thinking about this a lot lately due to recent experiences in my life over the last few months. About three years ago I joined an online group as a way of broadening my horizons and learning from others who follow this path, or more specifically a wiccan path, but I found that after a while I left due to the inevitable power plays and bitchiness that seem to occur within a group setting. More recently I joined a physical coven in an attempt to once again experience this path in a group atmosphere - I have been a solitary since I was 15, I wanted to see what working in a group was like - and sadly I have been disappointed once again as group dynamics have led away from the practical application of working together. And I have seen others who have broken off to do their individual journey having grown from the group experience. It has all left me wondering if this path can really be followed in a group experience.
Firstly, many come to some form of paganism wanting something that isn't a "follow these rules, believe this way" scenario, and so it seems that the idea of a group who attempt to follow a set of beliefs and practices could have its flaws. Maybe its just my experience, but as soon as you formalize a group like a coven you have to set some ground rules, structures (ritual structures etc) and boundaries that will probably not mesh perfectly with all the members beliefs.
Secondly, we are generally questing for our own knowledge and spiritual connection on this path - this is a solitary undertaking, nobody can tell us how to undertake this journey and while part of your journey may be taking on the group experience most I know who do this still practice their own way at home.
Thirdly, there is the politics and group dynamic aspects that are inevitably part of any group. Not only the who should be in charge, who makes the final decisions and the power plays that can result as people who feel they have a right or greater knowledge to lead disrupt group harmony. But there is the communication aspect, the trust and openness that is needed within a group to ensure that negative energies and misunderstandings (that are bound to occur) don't dominate the activities and practices. All this makes working energies and practices as a group difficult.
Maybe I'm coming from a negative place right now, but I've done a lot of soul searching in the past month on whether to let my group go and return to my solitary roots. It was an experience I needed at the time and I came away with life lessons I will learn from, but I look at my path, my journey and I see that I am the only one who can walk it, I direct my feet and I will uncover its mysteries on my own.
Posted by Calenth at 9:36 AM