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What's so funny 'bout peace, love and understanding?

This post was written for the 3rd Annual International Pagan Values Blogging & Podcasting Month.

I had thought about discussing how our various traditions prescribe values, but it didn't feel quite right. I considered addressing Star Foster's sense around a "schism between values/community based traditions, and those based on individuality/magick" -- that's something I still plan to do, because it's something I've observed as well and was grateful to see in writing, but the words just weren't coming.  There's so very much to be said about the values that ground us as Pagans, and I went to bed last night feeling disappointed that I hadn't found my hook, hadn't come up with something on the first day.

Then, this morning, I woke up with a song in my head, and the direction I wanted to take for my first Pagan Values post began to take shape.  While I'm largely a very pragmatic person, I've also been accused -- affectionately, I hope -- of being a sort of post-hippie idealist; the song that's been haunting me speaks to the need to strive and search for better in the face of despair.  I want to talk about hope as an underlying Pagan value.

One of the better definitions I've seen of the word "hope" is "a wish or desire accompanied by confident expectation of its fulfillment"; theologically, it is also defined as "the desire and search for a future good, difficult but not impossible to attain with God's help."  My experience as a member of the local and global Pagan communities is that we're really, really good at hope, regardless of which definition we use.  One explanation might be that our practices empower us: one of the first paradigm shifts a new student in some, even many, branches of Paganism experiences is the teaching that magic is real and can be used to shape our world.  This is particularly true of the various Wiccan and Wiccanate traditions which have exploded over the last twenty-some years.  The notion that we can direct our will and cause change is an enormous leap of faith, but we make it, and fashion ourselves into co-creators of reality alongside whatever gods or spirits we revere.  Even those of us who don't practice magic (and I include myself in this number) carry the certainty that we are not powerless, that we can contribute.  This is powerful stuff!

The world we live in is scary.  It always has been, of course: our ancestors shared our experience of fear, oppression and sadness, even if their challenges were different.  Our commitment to hope is what allows us to carry on, even when we can't keep calm.  Hope is not, of course, an exclusively Pagan value.  Nothing is, any more than any value is exclusively Christian, or Buddhist, or of any other religion.  I think it is fair to say, however, that one of the distinctions between Earth and Sky religions is that in Earth-based practices (and I don't just mean ecological spirituality -- I wish I could find, or even remember who wrote, an article about the differences between the two being more connected to immanence vs. transcendence), we don't privilege the next life over this one, or the spirit over the physical world and experience.  To me, one of the chief expressions of hope in Pagan and other Earth-based religions is our connection to the present, physical world.  That we continue to try, and that we have activist traditions like Reclaiming, speaks to me of our deep commitment to maintaining hope.

Let the rest of the world despair over the state of things.  In the midst of fear and hate and despair, we can be Pandora's boxes, each of us, offering a safe haven for hope.

As I walk through this wicked world
Searchin' for light in the darkness of insanity.

I ask myself is all hope lost?
Is there only pain and hatred, and misery?

And each time I feel like this inside,
There's one thing I wanna know:
What's so funny 'bout peace love & understanding?

And as I walked on through troubled times
My spirit gets so downhearted sometimes  

So where are the strong and who are the trusted?
And where is the harmony?  Sweet harmony.

'Cause each time I feel it slippin' away, just makes me wanna cry.
What's so funny 'bout peace love & understanding?

On Initiation

It seems I've finally resurfaced -- as I noted some time ago, I've been retraining into a new career for the last two years, and I've finally finished the program.  Previously, my education was in the Humanities; now, I've trained into Social Service Work, which was the experience of a lifetime.  I graduated this past Friday afternoon with distinction -- a hard-won accomplishment of which I am very proud, having maintained not only an A average but consistent A or A+ marks in every single class over two years.

We live in a culture where we just don't talk much about initiation rituals.  Often, we think of them as something those other people do, those people who don't quite make sense to us.  That saddens me.  What is the process of education and graduation but an initiation?  We enter as neophytes, struggle and strive, experience an enormous transformation, and come out the other end renewed and celebrated.

As I prepared for the big day, I allowed myself some time to consider initiation as it applies in this context.  I've told anyone who'd listen that the SSW program was far more of a challenge for me than my university education, or even my graduate work.  Possibly because I tend to live in my head, university studies came easily to me.  I don't remember struggling with the work or with the workload.  Conversely, the last two years -- and especially this year -- have devoured my life in a way I never could have expected.

I remember reading, when I was far too young to fully comprehend it, that initiation has two components: the transformation and the celebration.  We hold initiation rituals to acknowledge the process of transformation undergone by the candidate at some point previous.  It's embarrassing how long it took me to turn that information into deep knowledge.  I never experienced that kind of transformation in the well-intentioned but horrifically ill-conceived circle my friends and I formed in our early twenties, and I certainly never experienced it in university.  I never walked through fire, never found myself falling or buried or drowning.  It may be accurate to call that circle an ordeal, even a transformative one, but it's not the kind of transformative ordeal that takes place in pursuit of a goal.  This community college program brought me to a deeper understanding of myths like the Descent of Inanna, sometimes leaving me with the distinct impression that I'd been stripped and hung on a hook to rot.  As rewarding and informative as it was, it was also hard.  I often felt hollow, and then something would come along to fill me up again.

And so it was that this past Friday, I got dressed up -- I even wore a white dress! -- had my hair braided into a pentacle in honour of the core that sustains me, put on the supplicant's robe, took part in the procession, crossed the stage to be recognized and decorated, and felt enormous pride at the accomplishments I had shared with these people who had become so enmeshed in my life.  I spent the last hours of the day in the company of loved ones who have offered their support in so many ways.  But for the absence of certain fellow-travelers and supportive loved ones, it was a perfect day, and an initiation I'll remember.  May all of our initiations bring us such joy!

On Living Life, Passing Time, and Losing Track

The Scottish poet Robert Burns famously said, "the best-laid schemes o' mice an' men gang aft agley" -- and how!  My scholastic endeavours have taken a lot out of me over the last few months, but I'm hopeful that the worst has passed, and I can refocus on the things that matter.

I hope to return soon with a more substantial post, but in the meantime, I wish everyone a very happy All Snakes Day!

On Professional Development: OMC conference 2010

About this time last week, I was on my way to the annual educational conference organized and hosted by the Ontario Multifaith Council, thanks to the intervention of my mother-in-law and my friend Brian.  There's a long story behind that, but let's shorten it to "I wasn't sure I'd be able to go, but people made sure it happened."  Since I became involved with my Regional Multifaith Committee a couple of years back, I've made it a priority to attend, even though I'm the token Pagan in the facility and I spend most of my downtime answering questions about what it is Pagans believe and do.  This year's conference was no different: the first evening, before I'd even checked in, the questions began.  I don't have any objection to educating people, but I'd have liked to have had a chance to put my suitcase down first!  All in all, though, I had a really wonderful time, and I'm getting to the point where I know people now, and look forward to seeing them.  I particularly enjoy talking to institutional (hospital, long-term care, corrections) chaplains, because they're somewhat more accustomed to working in a pluralistic environment than my fellow faith group representatives, and thus, tend to ask better questions.

This year's sessions were amazingly diverse and a real pleasure to attend.  The keynote speech was entitled From Meditation to Music to Mosaics: Spiritual Practices in the Context of Holistic Care, and focused on enabling spiritual development through creativity.  It was as great as it sounds!  I attended four presentations after that: Ethical Committees in Long-Term Care, Prevalence and Mental Health Care Needs of Inmates in Ontario Correctional Facilities: Implications for Policy and Practice, Losses and Lingers (related to dementia/Alzheimer's care), and Spiritual Care Practices to Nurture Spirituality, Health and Well-Being.  I had wanted to attend the evening program on the healing power of song, but I grabbed what I thought would be a quick nap and wound up  sleeping through it!

As I've told a whole lot of my colleagues, this conference is one of the very few opportunities I have, as a spiritual care provider, for professional development.  As a Pagan Priestess, there just aren't that many resources available to me, and fewer still that land within my financial and time budgets.  The educational conference is really beneficial to me, that way.  I can both learn and teach in a stimulating environment.  It energizes me.

On Sacred Writings

Charge of the Goddess (Traditional by Doreen Valiente, as adapted by Starhawk)

Listen to the words of the Great Mother, Who of old was called Artemis, Astarte, Dione, Melusine, Aphrodite, Cerridwen, Diana, Arionrhod, Brigid, and by many other names:

Whenever you have need of anything, once a month, and better it be when the moon is full, you shall assemble in some secret place and adore the spirit of Me Who is Queen of all the Wise.

You shall be free from slavery, and as a sign that you be free you shall be naked in your rites.

Sing, feast, dance, make music and love, all in My Presence, for Mine is the ecstasy of the spirit and Mine also is joy on earth.

For My law is love is unto all beings. Mine is the secret that opens the door of youth, and Mine is the cup of wine of life that is the cauldron of Cerridwen, that is the holy grail of immortality.

I give the knowledge of the spirit eternal, and beyond death I give peace and freedom and reunion with those that have gone before.

Nor do I demand aught of sacrifice, for behold, I am the Mother of all things and My love is poured out upon the earth.

Hear the words of the Star Goddess, the dust of Whose feet are the hosts of Heaven, whose body encircles the universe:

I Who am the beauty of the green earth and the white moon among the stars and the mysteries of the waters,

I call upon your soul to arise and come unto me.

For I am the soul of nature that gives life to the universe.

From Me all things proceed and unto Me they must return.

Let My worship be in the heart that rejoices, for behold, all acts of love and pleasure are My rituals.

Let there be beauty and strength, power and compassion, honor and humility, mirth and reverence within you.

And you who seek to know Me, know that the seeking and yearning will avail you not, unless you know the Mystery: for if that which you seek, you find not within yourself, you will never find it without.

For behold, I have been with you from the beginning, and I am That which is attained at the end of desire.

You know, there's really not a lot of this kind of thing in the global Pagan community.  Though some traditions are faithful to the holy writings of particular cultures, most of us don't have any kind of holy book to which we adhere as revealed truth.  I think that's really a strength, to be honest.  Even those of us without a lot of cultural guidance, though, hold on to some works of poetry and music as instruments of devotion, which guide us in our dealings with the world.

The Charge of the Goddess is as close to scripture as I'll ever get.

Regardless of its traceable derivation, I believe this is as close to a divine-inspired text, a gift from whatever constitutes divinity, as I'll ever see.  Though it's primarily a Wiccan document, and thus borrowed from a tradition not my own, it informs the way I move through and interact with the rest of the world.

The Charge was a formative document for me.  I don't remember when I first encountered it, but I remember how touched I was by it, how profoundly moved.  Like Estara T'shirai, I see contained within it the kind of ethical standard the Rede can never be.  That's right, I said it: even if I thought of myself as Wiccan, I would reject the Rede because frankly, it's useless.  It says nothing about anything.  The Charge, by contrast, provides a positive model: beauty and strength, power and compassion, honor and humility, mirth and reverence.  Like our liturgical calendar, it provides eight spokes on a wheel; in this case, instead of reminding us about a celebratory cycle, it advises us on how to be human.  (I strongly recommend the article at the link, by the way.)

And it's just so poetic.

On Pagan Pride

The last couple of weeks (wow, already?) have passed in sort of a blur.  We got Pagan Pride Day off the ground, and it fluttered around in the raging gale.  The rituals, aided by the presence of a mighty pile of rhythm instruments from big ol' djembes to seeds in pill bottles, were absolutely gorgeous.  We got some pretty nifty media coverage (more on that in a bit).  We collected a small donation of canned goods to bring to our friendly local soup kitchen.  We made enough to cover the space rental for next year!  We had some discussions.  We had some vendors who didn't make very much, because it was cold, and we didn't have enough publicity, and did I mention it was COLD?  My feet were killing me by the end of the day, except for my toes, which I couldn't feel until I got up the next morning.

I wasn't entirely satisfied with the result of my (roughly) half-hour-long interview with the reporter from the Sault Star, and even less so with what came of CTV's visit with Jen and our guest-ritual-leader Bonnie while I was out getting lunch (sorry, no link available).  Both reports were generally positive, but failed to understand some fairly significant stuff.  For the Sault Star article, I'll shoulder the blame.  I've developed some skill in encountering members of the media (I'd be remiss if I didn't acknowledge SooToday.com's magnificent Carol Martin, who attended as a member of the community but was unable to report on us as she has before), but I'm not perfect, and I wasn't as explicit about some things as I could have been.  In fact, I think Carol sort of spoils us: being part of the Pagan community, she knows what questions to ask and how to frame them.  It's pretty specialized knowledge, really.

So how does this relate to Priestessing?  Aside from my being present to lead the rituals, that is.  I mean, don't get me wrong -- I grew up in the Anglican Church, so I'm given not only by nature but also by habit to put a lot of work into the theatrics of ritual, and I do feel most at home, in many ways, before the altar -- but there's so much more to Pagan Pride, and to Priestessing, than that.  Pagan Pride is about community outreach, helping those in need, building a positive public presence, and living faith a little more publicly than we typically do.  All of those...well, perhaps not the last, since I'm so far out of the broom closet that I can't even find it anymore...are so deeply important to the work I do.  Helping people find or create understanding is as much my job as leading ritual.  Being part of the Pagan Pride Project is a sacred responsibility to me, a duty I chose and would...no, not would, do...choose again.  I've said before, though probably not here, that I don't maintain a relationship with any particular deity, but rather that I serve a more amorphous kind of divinity through service to my community, both locally and globally.  Ultimately, I can actualize greater good and avoid harm best with this approach, and Pagan Pride is part of my quest for goodness and beauty.

On Belief and Experience

This is cross-posted from my personal blog -- I'm a writing fool tonight!

I'm gearing up for the OMC educational conference, and as I think about it, remembering last year, a couple of key things come to mind. One: I'm reasonably sure I'm going to be the only Pagan there. I was last year. Two: as such, I'm going to field questions about what it is I believe. There will be several iterations of this, mostly from well-meaning mainline-to-charismatic Protestant fellas. They're unfailingly polite, and unfailingly unaware. I wonder how it is that a Pagan in the back of beyond (well, for Southern Ontario folks, it may as well be) is so heavily involved in multifaith work, while elsewhere, if they're involved at all, they must not be particularly forthcoming with information.

The first year I attended, there was a Pagan representative from Ottawa, and Richard James (the founding HP of the Wiccan Church of Canada) was a panelist. That was the last time I saw another Pagan at conference.

In light of all this, I find myself wondering how exactly I can answer this. Ten or fifteen years ago, it might have been easier. I was a lot more rigid back then: a lot more bookbound, frankly. The fact is, when it comes to belief...I don't really have any. I find myself closer and closer to something Starhawk said years ago. I wish I could remember the exact quote. She said, roughly, that she doesn't believe in the Goddess any more than she believes in a rock or a tree. That rings truer now than it ever did when I was younger.

The fact is, I'm not a believer. I'm not much for theism at all: it's not that I find monotheism and polytheism and even atheism distasteful, but rather that they're spiritual frameworks that happen to other people. That's just an example, of course. I know there are non-theistic systems of belief, too.

I experience, in the world, what I identify as the Divine. I don't expect others to share that, though it's pretty nifty when they do. I experience this divinity as a sort of ordering principle, not as a personified entity. Furthermore, probably because I'm very much in touch with my own woman-ness, I experience this ordering principle in the universe as primarily feminine. Not female, mind you, but manifesting in a way that my experience and identity lead me to call feminine. It's not always that way -- there are times when this divinity, this ordering principle, feels more masculine. It's not easy for me to articulate exactly why that is, or how it works. It's very gut-centred. Sometimes it helps to use names, chiefly from some culture's mythology, as a sort of shorthand; other times, it seems silly to outwardly call on something I feel within myself.

My gut, my instinct, experiences some times and spaces as sacred: not absent from the everyday world, but somehow hyper-present. In circles. Next to water, or during a rainstorm. When the sun warms my skin. With my loved ones near a fire. In intimate moments with my loves. In solitude and quiet, and sometimes in boisterous gatherings. Really, those moments of connection can happen anywhere, at any time. I can call them into being, as I do in circle, or allow them to engulf me when they happen spontaneously. I can resist, too, but that just seems counterproductive. It's not a matter of believing -- it's something I experience.

I use certain tools and techniques, and I follow a liturgical calendar. The tools and techniques are an eclectic mix of ancient and modern, but they're mostly chosen for aesthetic reasons: for me, it's not that one tool has any intrinsic value over another, but rather that I recognize that I'm conditioned to use certain items for certain purposes, and therefore it works for me. It makes sense to layer West and water and cup and cauldron and endings and so on because it calls on what I can only imperfectly refer to as a kind of ancestral memory. The calendar I follow divides up the solar year into segments of a certain duration, spokes and spaces on a wheel. It orders my world, and it corresponds to the natural changes around me: longer or shorter days, seasons passing, that sort of thing. Again, it's part of my world.

So what do I believe? Well, I don't. But I experience some really beautiful things.

On Loss

For the second time in my adult life, I'm feeling the loss of someone who inspired me, to whom I felt a strong sense of kinship mixed with awe, without having developed the kind of substantial closeness that might have followed if that awe had been a bit smaller.  I want to note that this is a separate category from people to whom I was authentically close.  I don't know why I feel the need to make that distinction -- perhaps I just don't want to presume, or characterize my loss as equivalent to that experienced by the intimates of the deceased.

The first of these losses, a couple of years ago, was one of my mentors in the art and craft of theatre, who took me under his wing and nurtured my skills and my spirit.  The second, earlier this month, was Lady Serena Endura.  When I was in high school, Serena ran a little witchy bookshop, and it was there I bought my (now tattered) copy of Scott Cunningham's Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner.  Like any baby Pagan, I must have been terribly annoying and clueless, but she was very kind and welcoming.  I sat in that shop with her on many, many occasions, just chatting.  She formed my early impressions of what a Priestess and Witch -- the real thing, sans pointy hat -- were: authoritative, nurturing, and deeply connected to the world through her faith.  Her shop closed, of course, and I lost track of her, though I knew she ran a group just outside of town.  When I was planning my wedding, I found her again, and while there are many things I'd now change about the ceremony, her blessing meant and still means a lot to me.  We still have most of the container of sea salt -- pewter, with a pentacle on the lid -- that was her gift to us.

As I recently started to emerge from my Priestess-burnout, I was thinking about her almost constantly, never realizing how close she was to the veil.  I wish I'd had another opportunity to connect with her, to ask her to share some of her wisdom as one who'd been leading for so many years.  I feel as though I barely knew her, and yet I feel her absence from the world like an old friend.

The day I heard of her passing, a poem came to me once again, the same one that haunted my consciousness after Steve died.  To honour her, I'll share its last lines here: the poem is Tennyson's Ulysses.

Death closes all: but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.
The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks:
The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep
Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends,
’Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

Workshop Planning: The Broom Closet

Pagan Pride Day is slightly less than two weeks away.  Are we ready?  Not nearly.  But that's not actually such a big deal -- we're as ready as we need to be at this stage, just not as ready as we'd like to be.  Story of my life!

At any rate, this year we're trying to get back to PPD's central purpose, which is being informative to the general public and the media, rather than being a sort of mini-fest for the Pagan community.  With that in mind, the workshop I'm planning is one near and dear to my heart: I'm calling it "The Broom Closet: Coming Out Pagan".  What I'm hoping is that it'll provide something for everyone: some content for those in the community, and some for those who might not understand what a significant decision it is to be open about adhering to a non-mainstream form of spirituality.

Things I plan to address: why we closet, why we come out, deciding whether/how far to step out, strategies.  I figure that's a lot for half an hour to forty-five minutes.

On Priestessing

(x-posted from where I first published it, because it's relevant)

I've spent a lot of time recently thinking about my work as a Priestess, and how fundamental it is not only to my community (I sincerely hope), but to my own well-being.

It really is a calling in the same sense as the mainstream denominations use the word. Priestessing drives me, it wakes me up at night, it imposes itself upon my consciousness no less urgently than hunger or thirst. It's inextricably linked to everything I am.

But it takes a lot of energy, and a lot of support. I don't always have that, and I'm just now recovering from trying to Priestess in a void.

Priestessing for a community, even a small and decidedly fragmented one, isn't an easy task. Contrary to what seems evident in many Pagan publications, it's more than knowing which incense to burn, what phase the moon is in, whether to pick up the athame or the wand, or how to speak eloquently in circle. Those are all handy skills, mind you, but it's so much more than that. It's understanding the people you serve, and giving them what they need. It's comforting the sick and the wounded and the bereaved and the confused, and walking beside them for support instead of pushing or pulling them in any particular direction (imminent danger notwithstanding). It's organizing and following through. Sometimes it's "what a beautiful ceremony" or "you helped me so much", but sometimes it's "what the hell was that?". It's elation and frustration, often at the same time. It's taking responsibility for the vulnerable. It's creating and performing ceremonies, sure, but it's also paperwork and counselling and mediation and teaching and a thousand random tasks that you'd have never thought were part of the job.

It isn't that it never comes easily. It does, far more than that last paragraph might lead you to think. It's not drudgery at all (well, okay, maybe the paperwork, but there's really not that much). In fact, it's the most rewarding thing in my whole life. That's a good thing, because if you're in it for glory or money or some other extrinsic reward, you're a fool. Love is the motivation, and love is the reward. Even in moments of pain and loss and rage, there are moments of excruciating beauty, but if you're not there, all the way there, you miss them. I guess what I'm saying is that it takes commitment, and commitment is hard to maintain in a vacuum.

I came into Priestessing by accident, really. Those who embrace a deterministic view of the universe may disagree. When I was a baby-Pagan, there were no resources to be had: it was the early '90s in Sault Ste. Marie. Sure, there was a group out in Goulais with a Priestess who was very kind and patient with me on those occasions when I spoke to her (and who eventually performed my handfasting), but that might as well have been the moon for a teenager living at home. So I taught myself. A few years on, when the opportunity arose, I started a circle with friends, and I'm still not entirely sure how I ended up in charge of leading rituals, but there I was. I'll skip the description of everything that went horribly, horribly wrong in that whole situation; before it was over, I'd developed some pretty impressive liturgical skills, and exercised my counselling and mediation and teaching skills along the way. Was I any kind of expert? Hell no. I spent years resisting being called High Priestess -- I still do, actually, when it comes up -- because to me, that pointed to someone way, way beyond my skillset. I was just doing the work because it needed to be done. By the time I realized it had become part of me, and that I didn't ever want to give it up, I was sort of stuck in the role. It's a good thing I loved it! It's led me into some really beautiful experiences, including my work with the Multifaith Committee and All Seasons Weddings, each of which is tied into Priestessing for me.

There's something in the Charge of the Goddess that's always jumped out at me, and that informs everything I do as a Priestess: "let there be beauty and strength, power and compassion, honor and humility, mirth and reverence within you." I try to strike that balance. It's not as difficult as it might sound, because I really see each pair as inextricable. If they're not, something is terribly wrong. When I fall out of that balance, it hurts, and I have trouble doing what needs to be done. It's a powerful thing to internalize. I wonder if other Priestesses and Priests in Pagan traditions have similar experiences.

I wonder that because I'm working in a vacuum.

I was talking to Jen (surprise!) about this tonight, and what I said was this: "I've been spending a good part of the evening thinking about priestessing, and how it's important to spread those responsibilities around to avoid burnout. And then it occurred to me that most of the stuff I do that really goes to the core of Priestess work is stuff nobody ever taught me. And then I got to thinking about casting about, quietly, and seeing if there was any interest in developing a small work group to mutually co-train and develop Priest/ess skills, in order to share the load. I sort of feel like with new training developing locally, some of the lurking sense of responsibility for the baby Pagans is lifting, and maybe it's time to focus on how to serve, rather than whom." I'm still rolling that around, sort of, that idea of developing some leadership in the local community. I don't like to think of myself as a leader, because I'm pathologically incapable of gloryhounding. I'll call myself Priestess, but not High Priestess; I'll call myself organizer, but not leader. I don't want to be monolithic, and I certainly don't want my community to depend on me so hard that if I were abducted by aliens or otherwise rendered incapable of serving, they'd be without anyone to turn to. I want to find others with a calling to serve the community and get together and develop ourselves and each other into solid Priestesses and Priests. I don't want to lead or teach, at least not beyond a fair and equal share, distributed among all of us. I get by, but I'm no authority or expert. We have a new Druidic tradition and a new learning circle developing locally, both of which are coming into being through the work of good, ethical people. They may not be equipped to do much (I think the learning circle is asking for trouble for a whole plethora of reasons, not least of which is that it's purporting to teach Wicca when there are no actual initiates in sight, but that's not for me to police), but at least baby-Pagans won't be entirely lost in the wilds. It feels like it's time for the development of some real, solid resources.

I just wonder if there's anyone else with that little voice, nagging them to serve. I hope so.

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