Community Vision

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  May 28, 2008 — 11 Comments

What does community mean to you? Is it a place of magic? A gathering of like-minded people with a single goal? A place to get taken care of? A place to belong? Singing and drumming around the fire? Doing good work with others?

Come closer. I will tell you my vision. It is a vision of the present, and a vision of the future. All time is now, and magic is here, so everything is possible. The moment is reality. We breathe together, and the vision opens:

You have studied, and danced the spiral many times. You have walked the pathways of sun and moon. You have been guided, and rebelled a time or two. Slowly, you come to recognize your power, the power you’ve always been told was within you. Still, you study. You work. You play. You practice. Eventually, you come into your own work. You recognize the rhythm of the divine heart within your animal body. We stand and cheer. We celebrate your beauty and your power. You teach us what you know. We dance awhile to the beating of your drum. If others are called to similar work, they will join you, forming a coalition that creates something beautiful, that does meaningful work together, that is of help to all involved and to the rest of us.

Meanwhile, she makes her music and he writes his epic stories. She sits high amongst the branches to save a patch of forest. He campaigns for clean water. She teaches. He plants a garden. They come together to leap the fires in spring and to gather canned goods for the food bank come the autumn. This is community, this coming together and this moving apart. Nothing is static, the rising and falling belongs to a living, breathing, being.

Why does this image come to light so seldom? Why are we so worried about jockeying for position, and fighting over scraps? My answer: because, as communities, we are afraid of autonomous power. We seek to uphold the status quo. Her unique expression may rock the carefully balanced boat. His deep study is seen to take away from what the group needs in the moment. Anything different becomes a threat. We fight for what we have, instead of reaching for what we can become. We tear each other down instead of supporting someone else’s rise.

There is no need for this. Here is the secret: if we all have power, there is no need to fight for scraps. If each has a role to play, there is no need to jockey for position. The quiet bring in listening. The noisy bring in liveliness. Some grind incense and others teach our children. We can all be equal, but this means we cannot be equivalent. Every biosphere needs diversity and the ways of magic are no different. Not any one of us holds the fabric, but each holds a vital thread. Your thread does not trump mine, nor mine, yours. What is this fabric? It is the fabric of the Limitless Divine. God Herself flows in each thread, and we color these with our lives.

Community does not mean we all do the same thing. Community is not about who gets the biggest role in ritual. Community, for me, is what I have with my best peers. It is something we’ve been hard pressed to learn ourselves, after many years of our own squabbles and power plays. We finally reached a point where we went off by ourselves for awhile to discover our deeper talents and interests. We sought the magic that welled up from within, rather than always seeking the magic outside. We would come together periodically, to toast the longest night, or dance up the spring flowers. But mostly, we studied, practiced, and prayed. And now we are strong and beautiful. We each have something valuable to share.

I celebrate my friends: the artist, the dream-worker, the medium, my friend who helps heal sexual wounds, she who priestesses the dying, he who teaches. I toast my friends: the mystic, the poet, the singer and she who dances down the Gods. This is my community. These are my peers.

We all still seek out teaching. We celebrate together. We eat and laugh and raise a glass of wine. We do our work apart. We ask for help during the planting of something new, and we share the gifts of our harvest, knowing that there is plenty to go around.

This, for me, is community.

What do you wish for yours?

- guest posted by T. Thorn Coyle

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Jason Pitzl-Waters

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  • Ketzirah Carly

    Beautiful post. Too many people mistake interdependence on overly-dependent. True community, as you shown, brings out the best in all as individuals and the group.

  • Tony R

    I am starting to wonder whether the “squabbles and power plays” are important pieces of the process of evolution. When I’ve seen myself fall into the sniping and power-struggles, and see how much it hurts myself and my communities, I have the opportunity to learn more about what it takes for me to become autonomous and engage with others from that place.I’m also suspecting that no community structure or belief system can bypass this learning process and implant autonomy in the person. More and more it looks like we all have to do some hard work, show our ass a few times, and listen when someone patiently offers their wisdom and encouragement for us to grow.

  • libramoon

    see and comment on my community investment plan:http://lunaramble.blogspot.comlibramoon42@mindspring.com

  • Anonymous

    Its a good question. One that I’ve been thinking a lot on since I started having large “community” events at Stone City.Part of the problem, I think in addressing the question is that we have very few models of what a community looks like in our practical lives. Who do we look to? The Amish? It is my belief, incidently that this is no accident. (More on this later)I guess I would think of community in this sense as an affinity group that is supportive of its different members. The distinction being that supportive element. Contrasted to say, “The California Blacksmiths Association” which is an affinity group that doesn’t really take care of each other much outside of the realm of blacksmithing. The “Feri” tradition would be a good example of these deliniations. There are those who practice Feri (its various permutations aside) who are part of an affinity group. They all practice Feri, all over the world, discuss things in person, or online, read the same books and magazines, etc, etc. Then within that there are Feri peer groups. Not only do these people have a common affinity for Feri, but they actually know each other, by name. They have opinions about each other, know things about each other and to some extent or another, are concerned with their image of each other. However, not all these people are community.I think of the Andersons and the people who gathered around them and came to know each other, and beyond that to help and rely on each other, to participate in other (non-feri) things together as a consequence. Raising money to help Cora, various members working on festival gathering staff, sharing vending space at belly dance gatherings. Promoting each others pet projects and commercial enterprises, that to my mind is community. An interdependence that transcends even friendship. When I read ethnographies of some tribal society somewhere, and I read some guy say to the anthropologist ” Nobody can stand him/her because of blank, but they always make the goat cheese for the festival” _thats_ community.Today in this country, and as far as I can tell, most of the “civilized” world, community has become an intentional, counter-cultural act. Whereas in the past, community simply arose out of necessity, now it has to be cultivated in spite of the prevailing cultural forces. Its not a coincidence that in an era of ever increasing population densities, people die and turn skeletal in their homes without the neighbors ever even noticing. I don’t think this is an accident, but is the result of social engineering. Community is fundamentally anti-capitalist economy (as expressed currently, anyway). When people live in a community, it enables them to share things, which means fewer units need to be purchased. Further, with community there is a social safety net, and a self regulating social dynamic. Antithetical to a insurance based, litigous society. Communities, to a large extent are self-policing, which enables the community to select its own laws and morality. Dangerous stuff to be sure.So that to my mind is the essence of community. Interdependence within and independence of, an affinity group.-Dionysus Devotee

  • goiriath

    Wow. I think I’ve been struggling with the very concepts poetically expressed in this post…However, where ever we come into our own power, even if it was worked on in the context of a group, it is still own power, individual, from-within, and community is when we come together to share and celebrate that.It feels so selfish to be working on my power-from-within when I ‘should’ be contributing to others, to ‘community’ instead.I’ve been struggling with my involvement in some community events. Ones that served me in the past, & due to the value I received from them, I felt an obligation to continue.I had a realisation recently, that this was not how I could best serve myself, and that in not serving myself, I was not working with my strengths – not offering what I am best to those around me, those on the same path, those I regard my current & potential community.And so, I declared, enough.It was a struggle to establish that boundary for myself, but what happened? Talk, communication, a flourishing, a renewal of community, in a form that suits me better – and appears to suit many others better.In my new enthusiasm I may have overcommitted myself again, *whoops*, but I am more aware now that if something is not a source of personal growth for me, then I’m not able to contribute that growth to the community around me, and there are better ways.I am trying to work on my own personal practice, first and foremost, and come together with others to share, learn, and celebrate our accomplishments, rather than viewing others as the forum by which accomplishments are recognised, or accomplishments as lesser if they aren’t ones recognised by others. Obvious, but hard…

  • thorn

    goiriath, I agree that if I am not being fed, the activity is not sustainable. This goes along with Dionysus Devotee’s vision, as well: we can learn to support each other’s good work and become more interdependent. This is the opposite of what many communities start with, which is trying to force everyone into the same mode of activity and mold of process. This doesn’t make the best of the skills we already possess, nor does it foster us to learn our best skills.Tony, all groups have disagreements, but if we are learning from them, and helping each other grow into our best, rather than playing “whack a mole” as Katrina posted in the other comments section, we won’t all have to leave in disgust or fight for bits of perceived power, which is what I see happen over and over.

  • Hadar

    So… why does this happen so rarely? That is, real community, real sharing, without fighting for scraps?(I’m talking about any kind of community, not just spiritual communities).Beautiful writing, Thorn.

  • Christopher Penczak

    Thank you Thorn. It seems like community is the theme of the day in many of my blogs. I see us as a great web, where each point of light is needed to connect to every other. And I treasure you as a part of my web!

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for this, Thorn, and everyone who left comments. We had a running, not-so-funny joke here for a while that when someone comes into personal power a bull’s eye target appears on their back.I have found that squabbles over power develop out of the scarcity mentality so prevalent in the outer culture: There is a limited supply of love, power, talent, etc.When we open our eyes and re-member the incredible abundance of the universe, when we recogngize these qualities are available in unlimited supply, we become more willing to share, celebrate, honor and even (gasp) assist others in finding their own. Love and Power–Karina

  • Soli

    We can all be equal, but this means we cannot be equivalentI know someone else quoted this, but I think it sums up everything. If we’re are going to form a REAL community we will need to have people filling diverse roles. Besides, if we all did the same jobs and had the same strengths, that could get boring after a while. *winks*I yearn now to find a local community that could fulfill such needs, and doubt it can be found here in southern New England. Too much in the way of backbiting and grandstanding for my tastes.

  • Dee

    I have struggled with the question of what I want in a community and how to balance that with my own work, so this vision is a great blessing. It’s so beautiful!