Part of being human and relating to each other not just as a people but as a society means embracing the concept of community. The Merriam-Webster dictionary specifically defines community as one of the following:
- A unified body of individuals with a shared locality, interest, policy, or history
- Society at large
- A joint ownership or participation
As a resident of the Boston area, I am part of that community. As a software engineer for my company, there is the community I have at work among my coworkers and associates. As a witch and a polytheist, there is the community I share among my grove, coven, other members of my faith and occult practices. And within even those, there are multiple communities grouped by interest (Hellenic polytheism, traditional witchcraft, Blue Star, Chthonioi-Alexandrian, etc.). These things define a good deal of the communities I am a part of, but they don’t answer the real question: why are they important?
They are important because we do not live in a vacuum. What we do can affect others. In addition, they are all networks of support as well as potent peers and mentors. In a collaborative work environment, we all rely on each other as coworkers and friends and in doing so, are not only able to get the work done but help foster a positive culture that enables us to want to come into work every day to do our jobs. Frequently when companies and cultures within them fail, it’s due to interpersonal conflict, toxic work environments, and things which do not contribute to positive community involvement and building. Part of our work responsibility involves helping to maintain that community, and the payoff to fulfilling that responsibility is the ability to actually enjoy our jobs. Ideally, all companies should work this way and not just a few. The same goes for all groups and organizations, including covens, groves, and any other esoteric or mystical body, and it is the responsibility of the people to each pitch in to provide that healthy community for everyone involved.
Community on the whole means responsibility. We are interdependent creatures who rely on each other to survive and thrive. It also means that if we have the power to do something positive for any of our communities that we should do so. After all, it has been said elsewhere that “with great power comes great responsibility”. This is true of witches and occultists in general and it is true in life. It is a balance we must strive to maintain.
Another balance we need to be concerned with is balancing self care with serving our communities. Without self care, we are useless to others in need. Too often I see people burning out because they serve the communities they are a part of at the expense of their own well being, which helps no one. We must continually ask ourselves the following:
- What am I doing today in order to be a better person to others?
- What am I doing today to honor myself as a person and provide adequate self care for my mental, physical, and spiritual health?
- How can I be a better person in general? In other words, what am I doing today in order to grow as a person and thus be of better benefit both to myself and to others?
Our communities are around us to forever provide the opportunity for growth, challenges, support, friendship, knowledge, survival, and happiness. Some communities can serve us better than others and we must always recognize when we are able to leave a bad situation for something better. At the same time, we can’t always choose what communities we are a part of, so it behooves us to find the ones that we can choose that will work for us best and in joining said community, find a way that we can best serve it at the same time it serves us.