Self-Healing and Community
As a solitary practitioner/armchair occultist for the majority of my life, yes I said it; I have spent too much time on the outside looking in, wishing to be part of a community that I did not realize I was already part of. The perspective of the outsider is one that most of us can relate to. Many of us were brought up in a situation or have been in a situation where we felt like we didn’t belong. Something deep in the core of our being tells us that something is not right between oneself and the environment they are in. It is not uncommon for those individuals seeking spiritual understanding through one of the many self-healing and self-honoring practices within Neo-paganism, Wicca, Witchcraft, and the many forms of “New Age Spirituality;” to have experienced some kind of emotional trauma, mental illness, physical/non-physical abuse, and PTSD from various situations. Many of us, myself included, are very self-reflective when it comes to dealing with our issues. We seek wisdom from within, and oftentimes have difficulty asking for help or knowing where to turn.
These psycho-spiritual issues in many cases are what prompted us to seek answers in the first place, and question the current paradigms influencing one’s life. With information being readily available spiritual seekers are able to investigate the metaphysics of esoteric traditions and explore self-healing; however, the support of the community is not always initially visible or accessible. Many of the individuals that are in need of self healing are also in need of support from the community, especially those individuals who are coming from backgrounds where they were ostracized for who they were or weren’t. Whether it is healing, empowerment, or answers; we all seek something.
I think that it is so easy to become distracted with our books and ritual items, hoarding spells and magical tools like a dragon. The way our practices are now fetishized in our culture by mainstream fashion and entertainment industries and our own goals of success. There are some beautiful photographs out there of people showcasing their altars and magical items, some of these photos while beautiful are perfect examples of the materialization of occult practices. What some individuals have on one altar is more than I own in my entire home. However, I am guilty of being infatuated with beautiful things and magical artifacts as well. It is easy, especially as a solitary practitioner living in an area with little or no pagan/magical community to forget that a large part of who we are as Pagans/Neo-Pagans/Wiccans/Witches/Heathens/and others is our community specifically those closest to us. It is easy to focus on our own spiritual growth and development when things are moving smoothly for us, but when something happens and we need a community to reach to it is reassuring to know that the Pagan community is there.
Paganism is not a religion, there are no institutions as those in mainstream monotheistic religions know them. We are drawn together by a collective movement and belong to many diverse traditions. There are some initiatory traditions within Wicca and Traditional Witchcraft which are structured similar to what most would recognize or consider a religion. For example, the Gardnerian Tradition is part of the religion of Wicca. Today, there are entities such as the Temple of Witchcraft which are recognized by the United States government, and granted rights like any other church, mosque or temple. Likewise, these organizations are also involved in community outreach, environmental activism, and humanitarian efforts. It is part of our basic belief system as Pagans and worshippers of Nature that we protect and give back to the Earth and Her children.Many of you might already know that I recently went through a difficult period, which initially I was very excited about. It began by moving from Indiana to Florida, feeling like the stars were in alignment everything leading up to the move went extremely smooth. It was almost as soon as we arrived to Florida that things began to get extremely difficult. Between having to deal with some issues with my estranged mother and the sister we were staying with our situation quickly got out of control. We arrived at a bad time of year, under a different impression we thought things would go differently than they did. The Fates had something else in store. My sister, husband and I could all feel a very powerful force guiding and surrounding our unfolding situation which was an impetus for complete change for all of us. One major issue was financial, due to personal medical expenses that I pay out of pocket I was quickly getting into a dangerous situation.
I hesitantly thought about different ways that I could support my medical obligation, and after selling some personal belongings, working as much as my restaurant position would allow, and looking around at resources for assistance within the community I had the idea to turn to my community. I didn’t want to be one of those people, and sound petty or superficial, but I set up a GoFundMe for medical expenses. I was asking for a small amount compared to many of the other fundraisers but I initially felt a little guilty seeing some of the detrimental situations of others. I was really surprised by the support that I did receive, and wish to keep my donors’ names private. There were a handful of people that shared my fundraiser post to help boost the signal, and one individual made a generous donation when you consider the amount I needed. The reminder and reassurance that I received from the individual support that was given during my time of need was worth more than any dollar amount. It reminded me that there is a large community of individuals out there with similar beliefs and experiences that have been there and understand how difficult living on the outside of a society can be.
There are those individuals within our community who are called to be in the service of the community and those in need. Just like some of us are called to honor the gods or accumulate knowledge, there are those whose devotional practice involves helping others. I was reminded that we are not just a group of individuals on separate paths of spiritual development but a collective community united by our love for nature and our inherent diversity. It was a reminder to me that community outreach, environmentalism, and compassionate treatment of others is also paramount to our development as whole beings. I won’t ever forget the selflessness of such an action by the individuals who felt called to help me. Each and everyone of them had their own positive influence on my situation and I will always be thankful for that. I was already excited to involve myself deeper in the local Pagan community when I re-located to St. Petersburg, Florida; since that didn’t work out I now find myself in southern Michigan/Northern Indiana. There is a thriving Pagan/Magical Community in this area of the country as well, and I look forward to fully integrating so that I can be contributing asset to Paganism and Magic in this part of the world.