Why I Need Spiritual Community

I’m exhausted. I started the day with gentle yoga, cooked the breakfasts, harassed my son into his clothes, got him to class on time, bought groceries, cooked and cleaned up lunch. A pretty typical morning. What’s missing from this day (and every other day for the last week) is sitting at my altar, lighting incense, saying prayers, or any form of puja. What was unusual for my day was 45 minutes of me crying while I cooked lunch.

After the catharsis that was a good cry, the nourishment that was a good lunch, and the relaxation that was a cup of tea, I realized that weeks like this are why spiritual communities are so important.

I am just about 8 months pregnant. My husband and I are in the process of buying a house. Yes, we will be moving house just in time to be settled for me to give birth. It’s crazy. I’m nesting and sensitive. And I need help. Most of my friends are scattered far and wide. This is where a church community would come in handy. Tell the prayer ministry people and they’ll pray for positive outcomes for you. Contact the community outreach people and they will organize a meal train for the weeks after birth, as well as rope in people to help pack and move.

A solitary practitioners, my husband and I don’t have that automatic help.

It’s not just the tangible support that would be nice. What I’d really like right now is to go sit while some one else made puja. I want some one else to drive the devotional train. While I take pride in my practice and enjoy, both tangibly and theologically, the personal authority and responsibility that witchcraft and my Hindu practice give the individual, when times get tense, it’s sometimes more than I can manage to steer my own spiritual practice on top of meeting the needs of my children and the obligations of the outside world.

At this point I don’t even care if you practice the same traditions as I do, I just want to be where the juice is flowing, where the devotion is genuine, where the gods are honored. Ever so briefly I even considered tracking down an Episcopal church, just to sit in silence and surround myself with some candles and liturgy. What I want is a circle to lean on, to lean into.

A voice whispers just behind me, Lean into us. My gods whisper to me. I still have such a hard time trusting that they aren’t an invention of my own longing. But there they are, whispering to me.

And still. Still, I long for a community beyond my altar room.

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  • Nakhtbasterau

    I am 8 months pregnant with my first child, and I can very much relate to this. I was heavily involved in the local Pagan community for years, and my longing for religious community, coupled with this immense life change is actually what has given me the final push to leave that community and my identification as a Pagan in the past. I was not Wiccan or Druid, and while my contributions to the group were valued for a time, ultimately my beliefs were too different from theirs, and despite all the volunteer work I had done on behalf of the larger group there has been no one there who has been able to support me in a religious capacity. I have had a couple of friends who I met through the group reach out to support me, but it was because we were friends that they reached out, not because we shared a religion. My religions have given me immense comfort during this time, and it is no longer enough for me to spend my time with a community where the values of my religions are really not the values of the group at large. It’s taken me the better part of a year to come to terms with this loss but realizing that I did not need or want to identify as a Pagan to my open-minded and curious librarian colleagues over the winter holidays, and realizing that the example of the people in this community was not going to help my son learn the values of his father and I, that in fact many of the assumed attitudes were in fact hostile to our values (and no less so than the Methodist church I attended as a teenager) really brought me to the end. I would rather my son be exposed to the religion and philosophy of his Jewish grandfather, and I would rather take him to a Gnostic Mass than take him to Eclectic Pagan rituals put on by my community. Pagan is just a word, and I have final realized it is not my word because it says absolutely nothing about who I am. I am a Thelemite and I am a Kemetic. I am now seeking out the O.T.O. and House of Netjer for religious community instead of foolishly supporting Wiccans, ADF Druids, OBOD Druids, and Eclectic Pagans thinking they could support me when my time of trial came, because they could not, only my Thelemite husband could. I thank the gods for blessing me with a child, because with his immanent arrival on the horizon I have experienced the greatest spiritual clarity I have ever known.

    • Wow, this is the second response like this I have received today! Pregnancy is extraordinarily clarifying – as is parenting! What are my values? How do I want to those be passed down? What’s really important? What can I let go of? I have faced these questions too, and they don’t go away with more children!

  • I hear you.

  • Oh yes! I feel this too. Last year it drove me to seek out a Greek Orthodox service.

    And I know my wife feels it too, alone in her Mormonism in our house.

    • I spent many years worshiping in the Orthodox church, did a lot of my graduate work through an Orthodox lens, and seriously contemplated converting for many years! There isn’t an Orthodox church here that I can see, although there is an Eastern Catholic women’s monastery on the far edges of town that I might check out one of these days. I do love me some liturgy!

  • Bianca Bradley

    I understand.

  • Hestia

    I am part solitary and part of the Reclaiming Community, if that makes any sense. Having only joined the community within the last couple of years, I finally felt “at home” and it comforts me to know that I can call on any of the lovely witches in my community were I to need help. I grew up as a Jehovah’s Witness where community was not only key to your spiritual survival but outside contact with those not in the faith was highly discouraged. When I left (actually, I was excommunicated) the thing that bothered me the most out of the whole situation was no longer “belonging” to a group of similar minded people. There is a Yahoo group called “webra” that you could try (you’ll need to be granted access first). Perhaps you could connect with some witches in your area to help support you during this time when it is more difficult to carry the burden alone. Blessings.

  • Amy Wayne Haddon

    I’ve struggled with this, too. I’ve been part of really active covens, and been solitary. I’ve been part of very open, community groups (like Reclaiming) and part of small, close-knit groups. Right now, I’m without community and am missing it a lot. Sometimes, I longingly drive by churches and wish I had anything similar. I also wish I had a place to go to provide my children with religious education. The closest thing we have here is something like the Unitarian Universalists. However, I also struggle to make room for community in a busy life full of kids and work. I suppose in that way, I am currently solitary by choice.