This vulnerability includes being subject to cultural misunderstandings about what Wiccans and Pagans do, but never did I consider that we could also be targets for sexual predators too. Maybe I have too much faith in people, I am too trusting, but for someone to sign up for a religious club only to pursue one of its members... to me it was blasphemy.

I was disgusted as a woman to be hit on in this manner, but I was offended that someone would use religion for personal gain. Perhaps I am just naïve, for this has been happening for thousands of years.

One of the other large challenges we face as a small club is that of continuity and leadership. I have been leading this group in the three years since it began, but what will happen when I leave? I'll be graduating soon and probably moving to a different city or even a different country. Will the group be able to sustain itself after I leave?

And because leadership is in the hands of a few (some of the more senior members have taken on a lot of the work too, thank the heavens), those people are taxed with more things to do in their already busy schedules; it's hard for us to keep things going. We certainly don't pretend we can put on ritual and celebrate every Sabbat, because we are students with student schedules and can only do so much. But we are trying at least to put on one ritual per semester.

Which leads to another challenge: space. Where do we have our rituals?

As mentioned above, I live outside of the city. In fact, my husband and I live in a rural area just outside of the city, and it takes 45 minutes to an hour to drive in. Because we are in a rural area, we have lots of space and can have fires, very important to many Sabbat festivals. Getting people here for ritual, however, takes some coordination. Carpooling and scheduling haven't been a problem so far. (And given Pagan time, that's saying something!) And everyone loves the idea of getting out of the city and being in nature to celebrate the cycles of nature.

Last fall for Samhain we had an Underworld that was just a slightly cleared path into the back 40, and people had to navigate it on their own in the dark for their own personal journey. Also, since most of the people in the club are students, they live in residential housing or some other form of student housing, and it is difficult to find another suitable place.

All that said, forming and leading this group has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. It hasn't always been easy, but after every meeting or every event where I am in the presence of these young, intelligent, eager, and good-hearted people I am always more inspired and energized myself.

We learn by trial and error, and because half of our group members are also members of Pride (gay/lesbian/bisexual/trans/etc.), this leads to some very interesting discussions and ritual creation about the dichotomy of the Goddess and the God. But that's a discussion for another time.

 

This article was first published at Witchvox.com and is reprinted with permission.

Stacey Slager has practiced Wicca since 1999, and is trained in the Kairosean tradition of Wicca. In the fall of 2006, she founded a club at UVic now called the UVic Pagan circle. She is working toward her Master's degree in Health Information Science at the University of Victoria and is particularly interested in how pagan practices are addressed in end-of-life care and how pagans deal with their own death and dying loved ones.