Future of Paganism
Tribes: Redefining a Generation
Many of us within the Pagan Community have stories of tumultuous relationships with our blood relatives. I could recite to you the song and verse of my own journey, and you will likely find that it is not much different from the story many of us tell. In my quest for understanding and enlightenment I have broken ties with my traditional family structure, but in doing so I have found something new. I have found community -- a tribe of people connected by common experiences, and a shared quest to experience the sacred in all its earthly forms.
In looking at the Pagan Community at large through the lens of Mr. Watter's text I see something new, startling, and wonderful -- I see a tribe. A collection of people connected through choice, instead of obligation, whose ties are based on love, trust, and respect, instead of blood, duty, and history. This is the direction my generation is taking the Pagan path. We are moving together, taking from the past what we need to move forward. We are recreating our value structures and our ideas about community, acceptance, tolerance, and family.
Many of us, in being rejected by the traditional structures that were supposed to accept and love us unconditionally, have learned the value of "perfect love and perfect trust." To us this concept is an essential part of the tapestry. When I walk into a circle and I am surrounded by my fellow supplicants, I know that regardless of the individual back stories we are all present in that moment for the same goal. We are all adding our brushstrokes to the tapestry; we are mixing the past with the present and the future. What we build, we create for those who walk the path beside or behind us.
Those connections make us a tribe, a community, and the new face of family. Our gatherings become reunions and our rites lift my spirit. The old curmudgeonly, staff-toting shaman, represents to me not only my future -- let's face it even in my mid-20s I am pretty curmudgeonly -- but also my Grandfather/Grandmother and the earthly face of the God/Goddess in their guises of Sage and Crone. In my quest to find myself, I have found other people to share the journey with me -- my tribe. But instead of questing for wooly mammoths, or wildebeests, our quest is for spiritual connection, and a new world order that values rather than destroys the earth.
We honor the past by taking what we need from it and by paying attention to the lessons our ancestors suffered through. But at the same time, we know that every step along the road creates a new future, not only for ourselves but for those who will come after us. It is up to us as a family, as a community to decide what we want to take with us, what brush strokes should be added to the canvas. Because what we build today, we create not only for those of our blood, but also for those who walk the path beside or behind us. In choosing to quest together, instead of alone we take back some of those pieces of identity that our elders so lament losing.
Mya Om is a lifelong witch. She was initiated into the craft in 1998. Mya has degrees in History and International Relations; she currently writes a monthly column for Pagan Edge Magazine and has written two books for Llewellyn World Wide.