From Me to We
One of my favourite songs by Bob Dylan is probably one of his most famous, the times, they are a-changing. And now, as I listen to that song its title takes on a new significance. I have been on my Pagan path for roughly a decade now, and that path has been a solitary one. For me, being solitary has worked, it’s been my ‘thing’ and I’ve been happy experiencing my faith my way. It’s always been about ‘me, me, me’, but sometimes ‘me’ just isn’t enough anymore.
I started off on my Pagan path solitary; and at first it was purely out of circumstance that I practiced alone-I just didn’t know any Pagans. That all changed when I became more active in the online Pagan community here in SA. But with that I soon came to see some of the politics that happened behind the scenes, the name-calling and just downright ugliness that some people are capable of. I didn’t want to get caught up in all that. I didn’t want to join a group, only to have them try shape my views. I didn’t want to sacrifice my freedom. I then knew that being solitary was no longer circumstantial, but a personal choice.
And it is a choice that I do not regret and it’s one that has served me well. I’ve had time to come into my own. Unlike others who come to Paganism in a group setting and then discover themselves by way of a shared spiritual experience, I did it by myself. That has worked for me and I am now confident in who I am and what I want in terms of my spirituality; and I feel like I’ve come in leaps and bounds from my eclectic beginnings. But something changed that; it flipped my perspectives and made me rethink my personal position on being solitary.
One of the perks of being a solitary Pagan is that you often find yourself being the outsider looking in on the Pagan community. Sure, some solitary Pagans get involved, but rarely on the same level as groups and covens do. That outsider-looking-in perspective is great for bringing new view points to situations, but you are still left the outsider. I also know that as a solitary Pagan, I tended to deal with the greater Pagan community at arms length; never wanting to relinquish my solitary status.
But as I saw some recent discord once again erupt in the Pagan community I was left feeling that there is a need for change in the dynamic of the Pagan community. I looked at the disharmony, once again the outsider peering through the windows to the arguments happening inside. From my lonely place I watched it unfold and hoped that maybe it would change. At the same time that this was going on I felt I had reached a brick wall spiritually. Sure, plodding along on my own had been great, but I wanted more. I wanted something deeper, something richer, something more profound. It all left me feeling out-of-touch and a bit confused.
So I decided that the best I could do was put it to the Gods. I trusted that something would come along that would pull me out of the slump I was in. And something certainly did.
My perspective changed. Don’t ask me how or why, but it did. It was like I woke up one morning and knew part of the answer: I couldn’t sit around on my rear end and simply wait for change. If I wanted things to change, I had to work towards that. I had to become involved. I started in baby-steps by joining the South African Pagan Rights Alliance and the South African Pagan Council.
Great, I was being a part of something, I was getting involved and voicing my opinions more; but I still felt as if there was so much more I could be experiencing spiritually. And then my second answer came.
I was scrolling down my Facebook newsfeed some time in January and came across a post that sparked my curiosity. The post was for postulancy lessons for the Notrenlim Phoenix Tradition. That inner voice was nudging me, telling me that this would be the right direction for me. My solitary nature cringed. But after reading through some introductory notes on the tradition, and yes, consulting my trusty oracle cards; I listened to my inner voice and started postulancy lessons.
Fast-forward three months. My postulancy is complete and I am faced with the decision of what to do next- do I stay the outsider-looking-in, or do I take the plunge and become a part of something so much bigger than myself?
Last week Saturday I did something for the first time – I held a ritual with another Pagan. What ritual you may ask? A dedication ritual. I took the plunge; I listened to my heart and soul. I decided that while the solitary path has fitted me well the past ten or so years, I am ready to be a part of a spiritual family. But I will admit that it is going to take some getting used to.