In this modern, transient, and digitally-driven world, we find ourselves frequently discussing the meaning, development, make-up or even the apparent death of “community.” For Pagans, this can be a particularly profound discussion due to the incredible diversity in our faith and practice. How do we develop and nurture a positive and lasting Pagan solidarity across differences in belief and tradition?
In Atlanta, the answer has come in the form of a wreath. In the spring of 2012, Lady Charissa, senior priestess of North Georgia Solitaries (NGS), began a community wreath project that has now been going for over nine months. She explains:
The idea behind [the wreath] is for people, groups, or covens to add a ribbon to the wreath symbolizing how connected we all are. We are connected to the people we like and work with; connected to the people we’ve never met, connected to the people that we don’t care for. All of these people, friends… make a community. By connecting to this wreath we are bringing …[manifesting] cohesiveness for the Pagan community. (From the NGS Website)
Several years ago, Lady Charissa and a fellow Atlanta Pagan, Kieran Nightstar successfully incorporated a unity wreath into an NGS Samhain ritual. The work proved beneficial and inspirational to all attending. In 2012, Lady Charissa decided to resurrect this idea when she was asked to lead an Ostara ritual at the Atlanta Pagan Marketplace of Ideas, an annual festival celebrating Pagan life. Lady Charissa remarked:
I had not considered making the wreath a long term project. But, when I was leading the ritual and passing the wreath around, the words just came to me. “We will pass the wreath around the community during the coming year.”
She started getting calls the very next week. Pagans from all over the Atlanta-area wanted to participate in her community wreath project. A few short months later, that simple grapevine circular form was covered with a menagerie of ribbons representing both solitary Pagans and covens throughout the north Georgia community.
Over the past 9 months, the wreath has been passed around the local community attending private sabbat rituals and open festivals. In September, the wreath traveled to Alabama to attend the first annual Auburn Pagan Pride Day. As leader of the open ritual, Lady Charissa incorporated the wreath project into the evening’s work. Then, late in October, the wreath was displayed at both Atlanta’s and Savannah’s Pagan Pride events.
To date, more than eight covens and organizations, representing different Pagan traditions and faiths, as well as countless solitaries have participated in building Pagan solidarity through this community wreath.
I have been pleasantly surprised at how many people have wanted to bring the wreath into their circles and to be a part of this project. It has grown far past my original idea.
On Yule, my own group had the wreath. We tied our ribbons into its tapestry. It was indeed transformative as we looked over the rainbow of interwoven ribbons – some from friends and others from strangers, but all a part of the community. Through our shared experience, we were immediately connected.
In the upcoming months, the community wreath will continue to makes its way through Georgia’s Pagan world. Lady Charissa hasn’t firmly decided on its final destination. She said, “At this point, I will just see where [the project] wants to go, doing my best to facilitate the journey.” Right now, she plans to circle the project back to its starting place at the 2013 Ostara ritual for Atlanta Pagan Marketplace of Ideas. From there, the wreath will grow in new ways, as Lady Charissa notes, just as “the community energy grows.”
Wreath building is one symbolic way that we can nurture Pagan solidarity within our diverse world. Have your local communities used any methods, magickal or otherwise, to bridge gaps, to build and maintain community in an effort to foster Pagan solidarity? What ways have you used?