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Thread: Your Community Experiences?

  1. #21
    AsatruarMarc's Avatar
     is offline Someone hail me a cab, will ya?
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    My experiences have been a little different; I'm the only Asatru I know for about 150 miles.
    I have a very supportive wife, understanding neighbours and work-mates, and a few friends that didn't hesitate to say to me "What took you so long to realize what we already knew" when I finally stood up and annouced my faith.
    Due to the fact that I am alone in my worship, I do what I can to re-create the blots and sumbels from transcribed texts, and informative friends abroad who are part of the same faith (though I would like to have a Gothi/Gythia to help guide me), and my own "beginners" library.
    I've not had the chance to attend an Althing as of yet, and I haven't been to a group gathering in some time; but I'm hopeful that once I get home, all of that will change.
    From below the dragon / Dark comes forth
    Nithhogg flying / From Nithafjoll
    The bodies of men / On wings he bears
    The serpent bright / But now must I sink

    The Poetic Edda, Vol. 1
    Lays of the Gods - Voluspo

  2. #22
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    I've had generally positive experiences. I suspect this is because I keep the connections superficial.

    I'm currently assisting with preparations for the first-ever Paganicon (upper Midwest people! Come to this!), a three-day convention for Pagans and the Paganish here in town. We aren't trying to build a coven, or create a Unified Theory of American Paganism; we're individuals or small groups, each with our own practices and beliefs, creating a fun event for people to enjoy in their own ways. Sure, the group has prickly pears, but so has every group, Pagan or otherwise, that I've been part of.

    I attend the open Sabbat rituals of a local community group. These are "light": as with Covenant of the Goddess or other cross-traditional group, the organizers understand that people come to the rituals with their own beliefs and individual practices, and that we're here seeking an afternoon of community connection.

    When I've tried to join working circles or other covenesque groups, things have gone less smoothly. I've just never found a group of "my kind of Pagans" practicing in the area. And that's fine; I have my twoven, and that is where I want to put my focus. I will stick to Pagan social events in group settings.

    Not to sound like crotchety grandma lady, but I suspect that part of the challenge face-to-face meetings is this gol durned Internet. When we only encounter other Pagans online, in fora like MW, we can easily ignore people we dislike or disagree with--scroll past their posts, add them to our Ignore list, or stick to threads or boards for our particular type of Paganism. It can build the false perception that Pagans in the world are Just Like Me!

    Once we get Out There, we encounter people who hold ardently to beliefs anathama to our own, or who have different visions of what they want a group or an event or the world to be like. The realization that everyone in the world isn't Just Like Me! can lead to the feeling that groups are a disappointing waste of time.

    For myself, the more I am able to go into these situations not only expecting but eagerly anticipating the multitude of personalities and viewpoints I'm going to encounter, the more positive my experience ends up being.
    If you're lucky you'll find something that reflects you,
    helps you feel your life protects you,
    cradles you and connects you to everything.
    Dar Williams, "The Hudson"

  3. #23
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    When I got into seeking people out in paganism in general I found loads of wonderful people, but that was in another state, actually Oklahoma. We could get together for rituals, Sabbats, camp outs, psychic fairs and we had a great time. People from groups and solitaries came together and we all seemed to get along.. even if you knew so and so were fighting .. disputes were put aside for the general good of the community. Now its been 13 yrs since I have lived there and I don't know if it is still the same.

    I have moved to Michigan and it was a whole different story.. people are very closed up and its seems that this group is doing this and some one else will do something and instead of coming together to do things its all separate. I also seems that some get mad at you if you go to this ritual and not that ritual .. its so disappointing.

    My daughter loved it in Oklahoma and really missed the community up here and we moved when she was 12.. sadly she became a christian and honestly said that community is a big part of her life and paganism up here is not a community, it was so sad to here, but I understood where she was coming from.

  4. #24
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    I used to be a very active member & initiate in several occult/neopagan groups which were heavy on ceremonial Magick. It was pretty much my life beyond usual work & play and I threw myself into it as soon as I came across my first book on Magick. I was dedicated almost immediately - very ambitious in my endeavors. It was great, for a couple years, but I've always been a bit of a philosopher. The kind of questions I asked and where they led me made it difficult to continue as I'd begun. Carefully, politely, I said goodbye to everyone and left. I had to reassess everything, alone, never to return to things as they were. In that time I all but completely ceased to have anything to do with popular ceremonial Magick.

    A decade later now its different. I feel like mixing with groups again and so much has changed. I think I want to get something happening like get some local Pagan celebrations going as time goes on and reach out to people. So far I've met quite a few Pagans in chance meetings or at events but there doesn't seem to be much happening for them here really. Maybe I could help change that.

  5. #25
    ~Elise~'s Avatar
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    I've had good and bad experiences...such is life. I've run a group for almost 10 years, teaching for most of that. I've not done that for the past 2 years because it seems that people aren't as serious as they say.
    I'm tired of investing my time in teaching and then having the student drop out half way through the year.
    Now I just teach Reiki and a Self Defense workshop...it is only a day investment of time.

    Elise

    ETA--as for online experiences...they suck. I'm hanging onto MW by a very slender thread. I love it here and would hate for it to be gone.
    Last edited by ~Elise~; February 4th, 2011 at 01:06 AM.
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    It seems some folks confuse "secrets" with Mysteries.
    The Mysteries aren't secret.
    They are there for whoever wishes to seek them out.
    There just aren't any shortcuts.

    That's the Secret.

    Don't ask Life to polish you into a jewel and then complain about all the rough treatment!

    If you're talking shit behind my back - then you're close enough to kiss my ass.



  6. #26
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    Wow, I do have to say that I’m kind of surprised by the reaction to what people wear. To me, that’s something that I rarely notice beyond “that’s cute, or that’s… interesting.”

    I’ve found that my interactions have been good, but I try to manage my expectations when meeting new people. If you expect everyone to be just like you, you will be disappointed. Realize that there will be the kooky ones, the attention-whore/ drama people, etc., and there will also be some really cool people.

    I’m part of a witchy women’s social group- the private online group has about 100 women in it, and we get together for parties every few months. My friend and I started it around six years ago. I’m more serious about the craft than she is, and we have both hardcore serious Pagans, as well as those who are in it for the drama, etc. It doesn’t mean that we can’t all get along and play some Rock Band or have a glass of wine. We also have just Pagan-friendly women who come and play sometimes. Usually, I’ll facilitate a non-traditional ritual, and I have to say, a few of these rituals have been among the most powerful circles I’ve been to. I feel like it’s a good way to introduce group work to women who don’t want a coven experience.

    I’m also in a closed coven. I started the coven seven years ago, and we had women ranging from 19-26. Life happened, and many left (and returned), and now we’re a coven of mostly early 30-somethings. I have to tell you that age has a lot to do with maturity within a group setting, so I totally agree with the college-age Wiccans stereotype. We’ve had some ill-fitting people petition and even dedicate, but they don’t usually initiate. We’ve had liars, and drama queens, and angry types, lazy witches, and immature “bouncing off the walls” types. When we were in our forming stages, we were less picky about those who we’d allow to dedicate. Now, we have a small, intimate group with very similar goals, and we’re careful with who we let dedicate because we have this wonderful dynamic- very different women, all working together in harmony. To the poster who mentioned that covens are cliquish- that’s kind of the point of having a closed coven. Creating a hive mind and a family bond requires actions similar to being cliquish. However, all of our sisters are also part of the social group, and we all hang out at parties, in addition to hosting open events for the social group and other friends.

    I’d love to write a book just about all the weird and interesting personalities I’ve come across along my path so far.

    In regards to the wider community, most everyone that I’ve seen keeps to themselves at Pagan Pride Day, however we used to have a local camping festival and people were much more friendly. Not that people at PPD are unfriendly, but the witchier-than-thou attitude is alive and well, for sure. I’m not the most outgoing person, I’ll admit, but there doesn’t seem to be a lot of mingling at our PPD- maybe because it’s a pretty big event. I had the opportunity to visit Denver’s PPD this year, and it was a MUCH smaller event than our LA one. People were SUPER friendly and nice and just talking to one another, playing with the kids and dogs, and it was a very different vibe than what I was used to. People seemed less theatrical in Denver than in LA (which is disappointing, because I love all the outfits that turn up at PPD). But it was a great trade off for the friendliness returned.

    I think I want to move somewhere friendlier. I find that people in general are nicer elsewhere.
    Ivy Artemisia
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  7. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phoenix Blue View Post
    What have your experiences with Pagan communities been like? Good, bad, ugly? I'm looking to hear what you've been through, in terms of both participating and in leading Pagan groups.
    Really terrible. They all gossip and talk crap behind backs. There are only a few covens (probably because of the shit storm that one goes through of the "you aren't real pagan" varity that is thick here) and if any higher ups in them deem you unworthy than you're outted forever.

    I was studying with a coven who's high priest made those who wanted to go further up to sleep with him and when I refused... well, that was that. I'm certain he didn't tell them that I wouldn't sleep with him. Probably a variation of "she's trouble". I've tried several other groups but they won't talk to me and open celebrations with most of the pominate in attendence feels ackward.

    It probably is for the best. There is a local witch website/forum and 99% of the posts are just bitching about other community members.

    I miss it though. How bad is that? I really wish I could be part of some tradition out here. It gets lonely out here.

  8. #28
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    To everyone who has has mentioned bad experiences involving sexual manipulation... I'm sorry! People suck! I have had a similar experience to this, I do *not* consider those kinds of people and groups to be 'real' or 'right' by any sense of the meaning. They have taken something that (for wicca specifically is supposed to be service to the gods and being helpful to the world, and they have twisted it into a way to indulge their own lusts, greed's and vices, manipulating others and draining others energy. I hope they get it back agazillion-fold.

    That said, due to my belief that not everyone is like that... I have slowly but surely found my way back to the pagan scene.

    ahme. So, my experience. I have heard a lot of tall tales, I have been lied to, cheated, and manipulated by so-called-'spiritually minded', 'pagan', and 'wiccan' folk. Many of these people were my friends, whom I trusted in my naivete. Simply put; I figured out that they were not really my friends. It hurt my heart and messed with my mind. It has taken me a long time to bring myself back to explore paganism.

    I am able to come back due to the nice, nurturing Pagans and Wiccans that I have meet. Who would share their thoughts and beliefs with me *when i asked*, but never tried to get something else out of me for it.

    So far, I've meet up with a small coven. No disasters yet ;P I'm quite enjoying it actually.

    To those hating on cloths, that attitude is just as superficial as the one you are supposedly criticizing. If you have another valid reason for not liking a group or person, why not say that? Clothing is part of freedom of self expression. And to quote one that *does* dress like she is from the renissance at pagan gatherings, she explains: "It is an indulgence, and my religion does not prohibit indulgences." As far as I'm concerned, freedom of self expression should be more prevalent at any type of spiritual gathering where you are supposed to be able to be... you know... yourself. I mean, that's why people go skyclad (I think?), and that is criticized by many as much if not more than 'dressing weird' by most other 'mainstream' types.

  9. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Amory View Post
    I was studying with a coven who's high priest made those who wanted to go further up to sleep with him and when I refused... well, that was that. I'm certain he didn't tell them that I wouldn't sleep with him. Probably a variation of "she's trouble". I've tried several other groups but they won't talk to me and open celebrations with most of the pominate in attendence feels ackward.
    This sort of thing happens far too often and its nearly always a high priest (or equivalent). I've seen it a lot before. I've even seen someone I trusted and respected do this to a young girl who was totally devastated by it. When he was discovered he played some sort of helpless victim cameo, not just telling everyone "she's trouble" but standing by apparently pretending to be helpless as the group persecuted her. A true scumbag.

    Quote Originally Posted by Amory View Post
    I miss it though. How bad is that? I really wish I could be part of some tradition out here. It gets lonely out here.
    Its totally understandable. Everyone wants to make personal & spiritual connections with others. I still miss the old days before I discovered just how pathetic the head of main occult group I was in turned out to be.

  10. #30
    Umbress's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eyeris View Post
    To those hating on cloths, that attitude is just as superficial as the one you are supposedly criticizing. If you have another valid reason for not liking a group or person, why not say that? Clothing is part of freedom of self expression. And to quote one that *does* dress like she is from the renissance at pagan gatherings, she explains: "It is an indulgence, and my religion does not prohibit indulgences." As far as I'm concerned, freedom of self expression should be more prevalent at any type of spiritual gathering where you are supposed to be able to be... you know... yourself. I mean, that's why people go skyclad (I think?), and that is criticized by many as much if not more than 'dressing weird' by most other 'mainstream' types.

    The clothing thing reminds me of the first larger event I went to - a Beltane Festival I had to travel some distance to get from my house to the event much of it going through little red neck towns so I dress common casual not quiet job interview but definitely not Renaissance - Now I had been to local drum circles and I dress the way I like for me - I do clothing optional where clothing is an option - it is the one I opt for as per agreement with non-pagan hubby = at the local drum circle my clothing option and choices were never mentioned

    Any way I drive up in my SUV to the private gathering in the middle of BFE wearing redneck causal with membership card in hand - NOT what they expected but that happens to be my specialty I am never what any one expects -

    I stop where the sign said to and I was met by the gate person wearing some thing between Renaissance and throw back hippy attire - It is obvious by her expression she assumes I am lost -

    I look at the printed page in my hand and said this is "XYZ" - Looking taken back the woman admit that I am indeed in the right place - She moves onto membership - I show her my card, my proof of payment for the event ask for the sign in sheet I was told I would need to fill out

    Raised eyebrows handing me the sheet to fillin and sign she asked "do you actually know any one out here " - Yeah "leader of drum circles name " said I could find her over at "said" camp ground - I think I know where it is she drew me a map.

    The poor lady walked up presuming I was some lost cow girl - turns out I knew the folks running the festival - as I drove off I reminded the lady with her jaw on the ground to never judge a book by it's cover - always best to read the content before assuming you know what is it all about"

    At Samhain the gate people remembered me - another frequent occurrence - not to sure why I am so memorable but I tend to be

    I get used to it - I try to use it as a positive learning situation for them and an acceptance reminder for me - I try not to judge people even when they are judging me - it can be hard. I dress the way I want and if some one does not like it that is their problem - Smaller local groups seem open to getting to know me larger gathering well I end up being known one way or another.

    As far as sleeping around - I am married to a non-pagan He and I are monogamous by agreement - I seek companionship and I am open to learning - I am accepting but expect the same respect in return -Most oblige when directly given the option - Gee not wanting to become a convent member seems to play in my favor but then I don't think we have many wiccans if we do they are eclectic so covens are not some thing I have heard much about. . . . .. in these parts


    Quote Originally Posted by Tanya
    Dianics, and straight Wiccans... frankly it's a bore and not what I'm looking for, if I wanted to get huged, i'ld go to a bar.
    What are you looking for out of curiosity???

    You get hugged in bars??? My husband would have five different sort of fits.

    Bars before marriage - I find the step back offering a hand shake gesture works well to communicate my desire not to be hugged - Attempted groping one good wrist hold usually does nicely - learned in bars before marrying
    Last edited by Umbress; February 5th, 2011 at 04:33 AM.

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