As we Frosts travel around the country, we meet many small groups and a few large ones. Even when the small groups have connections with other groups, they tend to look inward, concentrating on their own ritual practices and on studying such things as history, herbal practice, astrology … you name it.
Some questions come to mind then:
1. Why do groups break up?
2. Why are there still Witch wars?
3. Why are we not expanding into the general community, even though we know that more people than ever are in favor of our Craft way(s)–especially when the green movement and spirituality are of growing interest to the slightly better educated populace?
And it occurs to us to ask a further question:
What advantage is there for someone to join a pagan/Wiccan group? Meeting friends of like mind? Being able to discuss ideas with them without much fear of being put down? And… ?
The downside of this is: Joining such a group may even now cause problems with relatives and with the general populace.
We can learn from other groups such as naturists and the gay community that we need to offer more in the way of support for each other.
** If we think about a Christian church, we find its members naturally working with each other in the temporal world, using their peer group as resources. We in the alternative mindset tend not to do that. How many pagan/Wiccan groups have a list of their members’ qualifications, their occupations, their abilities, their skills? If you want to get your car repaired, whom do you go to? If you need a lawyer, whom do you go to? If you want your kids sat for an evening or your house painted, whom do you go to? So we urge you to compile a business directory and encourage your members to support each other in the temporal world. The gay community calls this idea the gay Mafia list.
** The second whole area that we think is being sadly underserved is helping local police and sheriff’s departments. We two have both been members of the North Carolina state chaplain’s board serving inmates; and we served as a resource for the state juvenile officers’ group.
When we address groups we often ask, “Do you know the name of your sheriff? of your police chief?” Too often the response is a totally blank stare. Yet law-enforcement people run into occasions when (especially young) people have wanted to do something bad. (“Woo hoo. See me being naughty!”) Law enforcement may simply not know where to turn, how to find someone to serve as an information booth. That could be you. In local elections the sheriff often wins by just a handful of votes. A little political activism on behalf of the candidate you like can pay infinite rewards. Even if he loses the election, the other side will have learned that there is a power bloc they need to address.
** A third task that you can do for your group is to write grant applications. Your local college may offer a course on this skill. We have been involved in such things as writing an application for our local hospital, seeking a grant for an electrically operated sliding door.
** Or how many of you are into prison ministry? We don’t mean just visiting the occasional inmate. We mean getting involved in such things as taking in a Thanksgiving meal to one of the low-security prisons with the aid of local restaurateurs.
** How about solstice packages? Many chain stores will donate to you the canned and dry goods necessary to package small donations at solstice time.
** What about an exchange of children’s outgrown winter clothing? A lot of children are coming to families of the community, and coats and things grow more expensive every season.
** What about starting a pagan library or book swap? The School of Wicca runs its own library, lending the books suggested for our courses, because many of those titles are a challenge to find.
** And finally, how about a half-hour TV program every week on your public-access channel? It doesn’t have to be a glossy sexed-up production; just standard digital camera work on local events, speakers, herbal hints, interviews, mention of solstices and equinoxes and full moons … You can do it. Yes, it’s a commitment; but it gets the group together in a worthwhile project. If any church gets access to your public-access channel, then you too qualify and cannot be denied– that is, if you have done the paperwork with the IRS. And when you do it, you will find that inward-looking, tightly contained frustration and anger with one another will go away. Many pagan/Wiccans are highly qualified. The FBI finds that pagan/ Wiccans are the most highly educated group in the nation.
When we two present at a college, we think nothing of pulling in 300 or 400 attendees. The history department, the religious studies department, in fact all the humanities departments are prime targets for you to address. At residential colleges, the resident advisors like evening programs. (Make very clear to liaison people that you are not there to urge, but simply to reveal. They can make what they will of the facts.)
Pagans and Wiccans have a lot to offer. We can change hundreds of lives, just by being visible. We can answer lots of questions; and at the same time we can help ourselves. Because the one thing teaching does is crystallize and clarify your own belief system.
** These things are being done by Greenleaf in Springfield MO. We thank them both for their work and for the ideas.
Okay; we’ve beaten on you enough. See you. Blessed be.