Community Community Community

There have been a lot of posts about community lately, including a few that missed the mark entirely (and won’t be linked to, as the level of vitriol contained in them is revolting and shouldn’t be shared). I’ll link to a few below, but they really are endless.

I have a community. There are a people that I talk to everyday and hang out with and laugh with and share silly videos with, people who I can talk about the gods and spirits and worry over religious matters with. None of them follow the same path I do. I don’t always have the context for revelations that make them excited. But when they stumble on new research, I still celebrate with them. We rant to each other. We laugh with each other. We try to make sense of weird happenings both in waking life and spiritually. I don’t know what I would do without them.

I would really like to have that physically.

I would like it, but I don’t need it. I’m hoping to develop it, but not yet. I’ve got ideas and big hopes, but we’ll see. I may be more cut out for just finding a few friends and giggling together with them and working, for the most part, on my own. I definitely don’t want to be involved with any local groups at the moment.

Contrary to what some say, you can coexist without giving up your individuality.

Ultimately, all I need is the spirits I serve and a book to write my experiences in. That would get stifling, being unable to share my experiences, but my path is about the spirits and gods first, and doing work for them, and until they push the community issue I’m content with the friends I have. The friends I trust and love and confide in. I don’t need more than that, and I’m not ready to help with anything more than that honestly. I have to work out my own ego issues and figure out how to tame my tongue a bit better around people I find repulsive. After all, in a community we often end up with people we dislike but have to deal with on some level, and we have to clamp down and get work done for the good of all of us rather than spatting.

(That’s really what I’m having trouble with right now, and I have to remind myself that even if I think someone is damaging the community, others don’t, and my opinion is not law.)

Sometimes I feel like I’ll bite through my tongue from holding myself back, but I know ultimately that is worth it. Not that I always hold my tongue – I often speak sharply and cruelly before catching myself, and I used to speak with as much vitriol as is common in certain online areas – but I try. I have to remember when a group or person is worth the effort of an argument, disagreement, or dialog. I have a low tolerance for people that don’t question themselves or each other and form packs of rabid dogs, which is why I tend to drift. I spent my time as a hungry animal wanting nothing more than to tear someone apart. I’m no longer that.

I want people I can talk to, and I found those people.

That’s enough for me, right now.

When I have the patience, when I have the willingness, when I have the time, I’ll start thinking about a physical community. I’ll start thinking about it and exploring that option and figuring out how to build with others something that will last (hopefully) so that people who come later will have a structure. Have a support. We do have supports and groups, but so many of them are in shambles or claim openness while being closed or are very specific (which is not bad, but is limiting). I don’t feel ready to do much now, but someday I will. I’m grateful for the community I have, the people I know, the voices that comfort and challenge me.

Community takes time. It takes some cultivation. It also takes being willing to accept the unexpected – and possibly rethink what we expect and need from the communities we want. Community is like a garden, and sometimes plants have to go, and sometimes you’ve got to tinker with the soil and sometimes it just doesn’t work and you can’t help that. But communities serve and support, and if we can’t set ourselves down and really do that, really think beyond ourselves and our egos – get ready tumblr, I’m going to say words that make you shriek – we’re doing it wrong.

Community Posts:

About Aine

Aine Llewellyn is a 20 year old girl creature currently mucking about in southern Arizona. She enjoys the winters and rain but can’t stand the heat. She is a difficult polytheist that natters on and on about her faith.

  • yvonne

    I think there are differences between a group like a coven, hearth, or grove, and a community. A coven is a group of people with very similar aims, who get along and fit together fairly well. A druid grove (in my experience) tends to be a bigger and looser group of people with different reasons for being part of it. I have no experience of Heathen and polytheist groups but they seem more focused than a grove, probably more like a coven. A community gathering, like a pub moot, is just for socialising and bouncing ideas off each other. There may even be people there that you don’t like.

  • Kris Bradley

    I think what the big “we” miss, is what Yvonne, above, said. Community doesn’t have to be about spiritual practice. It’s about making those personal connections, deepening relationships, and being there for one another. If you can take that into practicing magic or spiritual/religious practice, that’s great. But it doesn’t have to go that route.

    I started what was basically a coffee klatch over 3 years ago. Our group got together just to chat and ended up as so much more. It wasn’t until pretty far into our relationships that we started doing circle together. I think community/covens need to be more like dating – get to know someone for a while, form a deep relationship before committing to something serious.

    • Aine

      I think the being there for one another is a big part, at least for me. Regardless of how I feel about someone, if they’re a part of my wider community, I’m going to stand by them in their time of need. I also like the dating metaphor, since it’s especially useful. I know that every group I left either moved way too fast, pushed for commitment I didn’t want to give, or were so closed off (their members only interacted with each other and never reached out, at times even shunned newcomers, especially youth) that I wasn’t welcome or comfortable.