Paganism 101 Again….and Again…

Paganism 101 Again….and Again… February 28, 2012

It fascinates me that there is no continuing education in Paganism (such as “Sunday School” or “Bible study”) but we have an endless series of 101 classes. I had to take them when I was considering the Alexandrian tradition of Witchcraft. I sometimes took classes twice when I was active in the Ravenwood tradition I was initiated in. Now I have rejoined Hellenion after an almost ten year absence and find yet another set of 101 classes facing me.

Don’t get me wrong. I get the need for 101 classes. They are useful. They are good. They are fine. But at some point it feels as if you’re taking kindergarten over and over again. It’s no wonder we have the phenomenon of “tradition collectors” who rack up initiations like they’re merit badges. Seekers are subjected to this intense course of study and then left cold.

I’m not saying any of the classes I’ve taken weren’t useful, but the idea of trudging through another one, no matter how wonderful, leaves me tired before I even start.

Every religious community needs social interaction, heartfelt practice and serious study to be balanced. Keeping these things in balance makes a healthy community. While most Pagans are good at keeping the first two going strong, continuing education often falls by the way pretty quickly.

Continuing education doesn’t have to be difficult. What it consists of may depend on your group, but it could be as simple as a book club, a regular magical cooking get-together, an ongoing herbal study, or even an in-depth look at each of the Orphic hymns in turn.

I think it’s something more Pagans need to consider. Most Pagan groups ask for very little time from their members. Maybe 1-2 nights per month. Far less than being active in a Christian church calls for. Maybe the answer to “collectors” is working to keep people engaged. It’s not hard to do. Engaged people tend to show up for ritual. Engaged people tend to show up for social events. Engaged people tend to become invested and committed to the group and it’s future. Having an invested and committed group of people opens the possibilities for new areas of growth, new Pagan charities and educational ventures.

At any rate, those are my thoughts this morning.

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