A community is a powerful thing to have. There are aspects of Paganism it can be hard to really maintain alone – seasonal ritual and meditation are two that spring to mind. Making the time to celebrate, overcoming all the regular life demands, isn’t easy. If it’s just you and there’s no one to notice your presence or absence, it can be that bit harder to show up.
Dedications made within a community are much more potent than those made alone, too. Either way, we may feel that the sacred is listening, but in practice human witnesses turn out to be effective. It’s not just the potential shame of failing in front of our peers, either. The inspiration of seeing what others do, the encouragement to try, and the space to celebrate whatever progress we make can all help with that process of manifesting intentions. When you are making changes, be that to some private aspect of lifestyle, or national politics, it can be lonely. That feeling of fighting the tide. A community of likeminded people can make it easier to believe your intentions can manifest. Belief, is vital. In terms of being able to keep going when times are hard, belief can in fact, be everything.
Communities share our rites of passage. They witness our changes, our growing and our falling away. They cry with us when we are sad, and for us when we have gone. There is simply no substitute for this. A life lived with a community (in person or virtually) is a life that is grounded in human connection. We are meant to be connected to each other.
When I have been hurt and lost, my community has brought soft words of encouragement. When I have not known where I belonged, people from my community made a point of telling me that I was wanted, and showed me places I could fit in. When I have not been able to see what the point of anything was, people from my community have come and asked things of me that have given me back a sense of worth and purpose.
During November, Patheos Pagan is honouring those who inspire us, inviting contributors to talk about the people we are grateful to. For me, there are simply too many to name. A word here and there has so often made an epic difference. The people who sit with me, walk with me, share with me. There are too many to list, and I feel deep gratitude to them all for being part of what makes this space, this nourishing, challenging, vibrant environment in which I have been able to flourish.