Here’s the thing about community: for it to function, you don’t need everyone. This is especially true in the case of organizing functions.All you need are the right people to work with you – and by right that means willing, able, and from a cooperative mindset.
Especially among Pagans, that’s not everyone. That’s just the right ones, for the right things, at the right times. And that is totally okay.
There’s a whole bunch of values around participation across Pagan religious groupings – just as there are a bunch around, say, voting and active citizenship. But the US carries (or limps, depending your views of the day) on with its mere 40 – 60% of voter participation. The same is true of the Pagan community, along with the carry on/limp on perspective. Because it’s still small-ish – but not that small, or we wouldn’t be able to depersonalize our celebrities to the degree that we do – we also see more burnout and breakdowns than we might if we did have full participation and more people that continuously embraced new organizational methods and checked their goal alignment on a regular basis.
Right now there’s a division mentality – polytheists versus Wiccans (who are mono, duo, and poly sometimes when you ask the same one), solitaries versus group members, LGBTQ versus the straight, cisgender, etc. As you set your filters to progressively more narrow types, you also can develop some tunnel vision about what is really possible – and who you actually need to do it. People are very busy looking
For example, a few years ago I pointed out that more Pagans are around who have completely dissociated with the counter-culture aspect of the movement. The natural consequence of this is a desire for infrastructure. While its growth has slowed in recent decades, Pagan paths remain a strong choice, so much so that there is some sort of representation in any major city, best assessed by the presence of an occult shop. Occult shops either stick around for decades or are unstable, delicate things – and the Pagan community, as it grows, has more situations where a real infrastructure is necessary.
By infrastructure, I don’t mean churches. Pagans don’t do churches and don’t need to start – sure, temples here and there are fine, as long as they’re honest with themselves about the unavoidable cult aspects of the whole thing. When I say infrastructure I mean other, larger, more stabilizing entities – such as colleges (Cherry Hill Seminary is a good start), nursing homes, hospitals, cemeteries, crisis shelters – and in order to make these things happen, charitable foundations. Yes, those ridiculous muffy fundraisers where someone auctions off a buttcheek for charity actually have a societal purpose. I have, more than once, advocated the start of a charitable foundation – and someone else clearly had the same idea, since San Francisco Bay Area has the Pantheon Foundation, a collective of Pagan traditions that actually collects funds for all-Pagan interests such as protecting people from religious bullying in school (via the Tara Webster Foundation) and the Diotima Prize, a scholarship for one Pagan student to pursue a degree related to studies of benefit to Pagan causes (usually history/folklore these days.)
When I have proposed this idea, however, I generally recieved near-panic, followed by “it will never happen! All people will do is shoot their mouths off!” when I mentioned the idea to Pagans who at the time garnered a lot of attention and even made partial livelihoods from bemoaning the state of Paganism. I understood in that moment that all the person who said that would do is shoot her mouth of, telling me not to invite her into any such projects in the future. She also tried to frame such a concept according to the idea that absolutely all Pagans, everywhere, had to be in support of such an idea or it would never work.
Now that is a load of crap. I can’t think of any one project or activity that all Pagans everywhere fully support – and yet stuff still happens. Universal approval isn’t necessary to make things work. The idea that you need permission, especially when you are NOT part of a coven or group that might have a say in what you do, is a manipulation, a form of group oppression.
That’s fine. I can mark – and ignore – the people that think I need their permission.
You don’t need everyone to make things happen.
You just need the right ones.