For a while now, I’ve noticed that on some official and public pagan groups there seems to be a lack of input from members – a lack of contribution, as it were. It often makes me wonder why people take the time to become a member of something and then sit back and not want to participate in any shape or form. I also fully understand those who are quietly learning, putting out feelers and coming to an understanding of their path, and thereby don’t feel that they can or should contribute.
What I have believed for a long time now is that everyone should have their say. As in my previous post about honour, everyone has an inherent value. What seems to be growing, however, in the pagan community is apathy when it comes to contributing to the whole.
Take for example The Druid Network. When I first joined many, many years ago it was a burgeoning place filled with new ideas and articles being contributed by people following every imaginable Druidic path. It was a veritable goldmine of information, and I spent weeks and months going through it, learning from it, reading new articles. I was inspired, fully charged and wrote many articles for TDN myself return. Nowadays, I haven’t noticed any new articles at all – over the last couple of years the input seems to have dramatically decreased. Why should this be?
With the collapse of the economy, I can understand that many people have to work harder just to keep their head above water. Then there is also the increase in social media, where information is being exchanged via Facebook and Twitter rather than in people taking the time to write their own articles about an issue. I believe that the increase in passive screen entertainment as well has a lot to do with it – we are waiting for others to wow and dazzle us with their insights. We have become a passive culture, in cushy armchairs or sacked out on the sofa waiting for life to come to us.
I also believe that more and more people are wanting to get something in return. Membership to TDN, having access to their social media site and getting quarterly newsletters isn’t enough for some people. A lot of people, when asking about membership for TDN, say “What’s in it for me?” This is something that I think really needs to be addressed in paganism today. We already live in a world full of me, me, me, I, I, I – we are already taking more than we need and giving very little in return. We need to look at the bigger picture, and see Druidry and Paganism for what it is, and not for what it can give us.
Is it the introspective nature of Neo-Paganism that is causing this? We must first heal ourselves before we can heal the world? We must look within before we look to others? I don’t believe this for a second, but this is just my personal opinion. Having been blessed with the curse of self-awareness, humans tend to forget that there is a much bigger world out there, and that they often don’t see the big picture. The may believe that they see more than other creatures around them with this heightened sense of self-awareness, where in fact they have put on blinkers to everything by being so darned self-aware. If you are self-aware, how aware can you be of others and the world around you? How can you look outwards if you are always looking inwards?
I had to take a step back from TDN a few years ago, and retire as Trustee due to lack of time. I had just started my own dance company, and began writing again. I currently have three jobs. I haven’t been able to contribute to the newsletter, or offer any articles lately, but that is something which I aim to redress very shortly. My giving back to the community comes in many shapes and forms, and I hope that I can offer TDN some of that again(in some shape or form), as well as what I currently do for Moon Books, SageWoman, my own personal practice and priestly duties. I’ve never really thought about “what can this do for me” – I’m always wondering “what can I do for it?” and, though this sometimes makes me run ragged, I think is still a better way of being in the world, of contributing to it in a positive way.
Much as in group ritual, sometimes it is an absolute joy for a fellow priest to take a step back and simply enjoy the ceremony. However, to do this all the time is selfish. We must find a balance between give and take. We must also realise that everything we do can be a participatory act, and not simply a passive one. From ritual to prayer to memberships, what we do is more important that who we are.
Let us break the chains of apathy within the pagan community. Let us give of our inspiration, to inspire others, to share in the awen. Contribute to your local moot, or pagan newsletter, or website. Offer songs back to the land at twilight, and dance with the gods around the fire. Know that you matter, that you have a say in your religion, your path or your philosophy. Don’t sit back and watch it happen around you. Get up and turn the screen off, and get out there. We are human beings – let’s bring the being back into it. Shake off the shackles of passiveness and know that you can make a difference, in whatever form you may. And most important of all, don’t let others do it for you.