It is an experience most within the Pagan community have had. In our interactions we discover that an individual we are interacting with does not live up to our expectations in terms of belief, follow through, ability or view of social justice. Our pre-conceptions are shattered; we question our own judgment in engaging with the individual, examine how “different” they are in the light of day and realize our mistake.
Therein is the rub. It is our mistake. In our desire to feel secure in our community we have laid down expectations that surly will be shattered. In our need to believe that we have a safe place to grow spiritually we have manifested a fantasy world where our co-religionists share all of our values. For some this idea of our “Blessed Community” leads to disillusionment.
Simply stated, many discover that there is no safe place for spiritual growth. The process of growth involves confronting our own pre conceptions, learning compassion for others and accepting that our relationship with the divine is unique, individual and not dependent on the actions or beliefs of others.
Growth is dependent upon confronting our need for uniformity, developing the ability to honor the paths’ of others and embracing both our intersections of belief and our divergence in personal ethos. Many proclaim that our community is fractured, that “those Pagans” are not like us. This process of “othering” tears apart the community and limits our ability to come together on issues of mutual interest.
The Pagan community can only move forward if we focus on honoring our differences, having compassion for those with whom we have issues and engaging the wider world together in achieving social justice.
I have friends in community who whole heartily believe in issues I oppose. My task is to be willing to engage with them where our beliefs intersect and not sacrifice my personal understanding of the divine upon an alter of expectation.
I will honor the differences as manifestations of the diversity in beliefs and paths within our “Blessed Community”; ever mindful that my path to the divine is unique and intended for me alone.