A Question of Pagan Solidarity: Part Two

Heather Greene —  January 13, 2013 — 74 Comments

Last week I presented the question of Pagan solidarity. Does it exist? Should it exist? What is the impact and evolution of such a concept? Generally speaking, it is widely accepted that Pagan solidarity, in some form, is vital for both the protection and continued growth of the non-traditional religions that fall under the Pagan umbrella. Additionally, solidarity can offer a sense of community and comfort over a host of social networks supporting both Pagan groups and solitary practitioners.

In December of 2011, Lady Liberty League mobilized a Task Force to protect a Southern Pagan family’s religious liberty within a public school system. The Task Force, of which I was a member, was comprised of professional individuals representing different Pagan organizations and Pagan spiritual traditions. Together, in solidarity, we worked for three weeks and, in the end, achieved quite a victory.

After that case was settled, the Task Force itself disbanded. However, Lady Liberty League still operates; watching and waiting. Since 1985, the organization has been ever on the “ready” with the ability to mobilize Pagan resources as needed. When active solidarity becomes a regular occurrence an organization is born.

Let’s turn now to a network of Pagan voices to hear their thoughts on the growth and importance of the Pagan organization.

Chas Clifton

Chas Clifton (center)

Our desire to be seen as a legitimate religion by government entities has forced us to change to fit their definitions, which, in the United States at least, were designed for Protestant Christians…We have been dealing with this issue since the mid-1970s, when the Covenant of the Goddess was created. – Chas Clifton, editor of The Pomegranate: The International Journal of Pagan Studies and a practitioner of American Eclectic Craft

Jonathon S. Lowe

Jonathon S. Lowe

One of the most basic principles of Paganism is that we are all interconnected to everyone and everything around us. Solidarity helps us to solidify those connections… Organizations are merely facilitators helping to make these connections possible.”  – Rev. Jonathon S. Lowe, Interfaith Minister, Founder Midnight Star School of Witchcraft, Coordinator of The Atlanta Pagan Marketplace of Ideas 

Lady Charissa

Lady Charissa
North Georgia Solitaries

I am a member of several worthy organizations that…have members with diverse beliefs and yet all of these organizations work every day to help build community by concentrating on the task at hand and respecting each other’s differences. Lady Charissa, founder of North Georgia Solitaries, coordinator of the Pagan Assistance Fund, High Priestess of Silver Pine Grove 

Before we go any further, we need to deal in semantics. Most responders made no distinction between an institution and an organization. Are they same thing?  Covenant of the Goddess representatives, Rachael Watcher and Ginger Wood say no.

On the Fears and Dangers of Institutionalization:

Certainly some individuals and small groups might come together for the sake of mutual interest and form an organization, but would that constitute an institution? … Those who are drawn to think outside the box in expressions of spiritual freedom are not generally going to be ready to discard that freedom of thought for yet another set of doctrinal mandates. – Rachael Watcher, National Interfaith Representative for Covenant of the Goddess 

Ginger Wood

Ginger Wood

We do have organizations that have worked hard some for over 30 years, to give Pagans a flag to unite under. [But] I will not accept [institutionalization] as ”must” and I pray to the Goddess that none of us are forced to institutionalize in order to be heard.  – Ginger Wood, National First Officer of Covenant of the Goddess, Priestess of Gryphon Song Clan and Pagan novelist

Both Rachael and Ginger are using the accepted sociological definition of institution which is explained at length in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Very briefly, an organization is less complex or rigid in structure, scope or activity than an institution.   

Christine Hoff Kraemer

Christine Hoff Kraemer

We need to think deeply about what kinds of organizational structures best support our values…guard against rigidity in power structures and in belief systems. – Christine Hoff Kraemer, Managing Editor at Patheos Pagan Channel, Cherry Hill Seminary Instructor

Institutionalization is a big issue for me, always has been. It’s something I’ve resisted…  In more recent years my attitude has softened. Years ago my friend Sam Webster insisted that we needed to establish institutions because institutions are the only thing that lasts.  Individual humans pass on.  M. Macha Nightmare, Priestess, witch, teacher, ritualist and author.

M Macha Nightmare

M Macha Nightmare

Macha makes an excellent point. Humans do pass on. Organizations or institutions can be passed down. Can we create viable Pagan institutions that serve solidarity without sacrificing spiritual freedom and, at the same time, last for decades to come?

On the Building of Pagan Institutions:

Holli S. Emore

Holli S. Emore

“Pagans are perfectly capable of having healthy institutions which serve our needs and goals, indeed, we participate in such institutions every day in our real-world lives…Why wouldn’t we want to enjoy the benefits of stronger infrastructure, better accountability and healthy leadership?” – Holli S. Emore, executive director of Cherry Hill Seminary, Priestess of Temple Osireion 

Peter Dybing

Peter Dybing

A wide diversity of Pagan institutions are necessary as the glue that will bind us in our common effort to defend the rights of all belief systems. Peter Dybing, Pagan Service Advocate, Chief Officer, Federal Incident Management Team, 100% for Haiti Board member

Crystal Blanton

Crystal Blanton

We need some of the power that institutions bring to any community or movement… Togetherness commands attention …The key is finding a way to use the concepts of community solidarity in balance with some of the undesirable things that come with community dynamics – Crystal Blanton, High Priestess with Solitaries of the Second, Pagan author.

So how do we create that balance? How do we create and maintain healthy organizations and fluid institutions that promote solidarity and allow for that community dynamic?

Building trust person-to-person, which tends to spread to friends of those people who begin learning who each other is, how they think, what their concerns are, how they express their spirituality.… I think one of our greatest assets as Pagans is our diversity.  M. Macha Nightmare, Priestess, witch, teacher, ritualist and author. 

I think we should do our best to make strength out of diversity. If you have twelve Pagans together, they normally represent at least thirteen religions. [But] It is natural for people to seek agreement…I recommend we conform to one standard: mutual respect and intolerance only of intolerance. – Freeman Presson, Namen of Temple Zagduku & Fr. Ophis, Church of Hermetic Sciences. 

Selena Fox of Circle Sanctuary

Selena Fox

Like a delicious multi-ingredient salad, when Pagans unite, we can bring our individual flavors and textures as we join together — and we can maintain this diversity in our collaboration. Our diversity can enrich our solidarity.Rev. Selena Fox, Senior Minister at Circle Sanctuary 

Our diversity is our strength. Our diversity is our asset. Our diversity is our core.  So, with that essential ingredient, can we venture to build uniquely-structured institutions that respect and serve the expansive Pagan world view for generations to come?  If so, these institutions must conform to the rigid expectations of mainstream society; thereby ensuring our legal protection and promoting social awareness. And, as the wheel turns, this increased awareness will eventually lead to a broader and a healthier social acceptance of the diversity that began it all.

Thank you to all the contributors for their valued opinions and to the readers for opening the doorway to this conversation and continuing the process into the future.

Full Comments: (listed alphabetically)

Crystal Blanton
Chas Clifton
Peter Dybing
Holli S. Emore
Rev. Selena Fox
Christine Hoff Kraemer
Lady Charissa
Rev. Jonathon S. Lowe
M. Macha Nightmare
Freeman Presson
Rachael Watcher

 

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Heather Greene

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Heather is a freelance writer and Pagan spirit living in the Deep South. She is currently National Public Information Officer for Covenant of the Goddess and worked extensively with Lady Liberty League. She has a masters degree in Film Theory, Criticism and History with a background in the performing and visual arts.
  • Guest

    in·sti·tu·tion
    /ˌinstiˈt(y)o͞oSHən/

    Noun
    A society or organization founded for a religious, educational, social, or similar purpose.
    An organization providing residential care for people with special needs.Synonyms
    establishment – institute – foundation

    sol·i·tar·y
    /ˈsäləˌterē/

    Adjective
    Done or existing alone: “I live a pretty solitary life”; “tigers are essentially solitary”.Noun
    A recluse or hermit.Synonyms
    adjective. lonely – lone – lonesome – desolate – secluded – alonenoun. hermit – recluse – anchorite – eremite – anchoret
    Thank you Merriam-Webster.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1186404199 Crystal Hope Kendrick

      If everyone went by the dictionary definition (which is a problematic way to make an argument) there would be no solitaries. I think I can say for most Pagans, solitary is a description of their practice, not of their social lives. As someone stated above, solitary is not the same thing as a hermit.

      • Guest

        Very few people don’t have solitary practices – that is not the definition – being solitary isn’t just having solitary practices, it’s being a *SOLITARY* Pagan, and though they aren’t the exact same as hermit, it’s not going out to fellowship with other Pagans – the definition “hermit” is in fact is really close. Funny how people are invested in being upset it doesn’t mean their hierarchy, coven, their teaching courses, etc.
        Being a solitary is not for everyone, and since I’m *not* misappropriating the term for myself, I’m not invested in twisting and finding some “This is still being alone” like if someone’s a Recon or whatever and hanging out with fellow Pagans but they’re Wiccans. It doesn’t describe people who fellowship with others as Pagans, even sometimes.

        • Baruch Dreamstalker

          What is your authority for the claim that, for example, attending a Pagan Pride Day or an inter-tradition public Samhain observance voids one’s status as a Solitary?
          The common understanding of the term is that one’s regular practice — the defining backbone of one’s spiritual being — is done alone rather than with a coven, grove, etc. Not that it precludes social life, even involving a bit of ritual, with other Pagans.
          Please try to answer without getting into the motives of those who don’t agree with you. Argument ad hominem is a classic fallacy.

          • Guest

            This “common understanding” you claim is bogus.
            You’re the fallacy maker here.
            Solitaries aren’t all “in the closet” but they don’t do groups/heirarchies/activism/covens/etc. Nope, in their Paganity, they’re out on their lonesome, not social. Every lineage of practice I know has the backbone of their practice work done alone – that’s NEVER been the definition. So give it a break.

          • Tiryth

            I hate to say it, but this “Guest” user just sounds like a troll to me. He/She/It is arguing just to argue.. It has no facts to back up it’s claims, it’s claims are so ridiculous that even a 5 year can call it out. This comment alone is gold-plated.. ” You’re the fallacy maker”

            Did anyone else read that as ” Nuh uh, you’re a duty head,not me thppppp” ?

          • http://www.facebook.com/joey.bouchard.9 Joey Bouchard

            My name is Joey Bouchard, and as a Christian who has “Pagan” friends and family let 1st say that you are a coward to hide behind a “Guest” profile and try to argue about religion….. Grow some balls or shut up!

          • Guest

            Don’t care about your name, or your religion. Not sure you’re worth any argument.

          • Guest

            Probably their thoughts are more sophisticated than yours. Don’t project your problems on them.

          • Tiryth

            I give you the same advice.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            I never used the phrase “in the closet,” That’s your invention.
            As to the common understanding of “solitary,” look around you on this comment board.
            And looking around the board myself, I have to agree that you are a troll. That’s a serious charge I seldom press on the merely argumentative, but you are clearly beyond that.

          • Guest

            Yes, you didn’t use that phrase, that’s a common phrase I put “” over (probably because I don’t like the phrase much) and didn’t mean it as coming from you. Sorry – about that.

  • Guest

    I love LLL and encourage their support.

  • Guest

    I think its pretty obvious that misappropriating “Solitary” got somehow chic.
    If you’re a covener/group/activist/teacher or have teachers, you are not. get over yourself.

    • Thriceraven

      It could be that this ‘solitary’ practices their religion alone, but does community outreach/service in solidarity with others that are somewhat like-minded. I think then they can still claim solitary status then. And I think that’s what this series is getting at — not circling or ritualing with others, but organizing with them.

      • Baruch Dreamstalker

        It’s not as if we had a Pagan Solitary Accreditation Board validating who is and who is not a Solitary.

        • Guest

          Yeah, because the Pagan Solitary Associations aren’t a nonsense idea in the first place.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            Solitary /= Hermit.

    • Northern_Light_27

      Disagree with some of that. Being an activist has no bearing on how you do your *religious* practice. If all your rituals in your main practice are solo, you’re a solitary.

      I’d also say it’s fair to call yourself solitary if your only group contact is a drop-in group with public rituals you attend now-and-then (or are public rituals for a Pagan religion other than yours– I know some recons who go to public Wiccanesque rituals to be around other Pagans, because there aren’t any of their particular kind of recon around them), but the bulk of your practice is solo.

      • Guest

        Finding excuses to go out with Pagan groups and call yourself “solitary” to your fellow Pagans is ridiculous. Solitary is a simple concept and word. Means alone.
        If Paganism is making social calls for you, you aren’t a Solitary.
        I see nothing wrong with not being Solitary, but people seem threatened, worry, and fear losing said “status” – not one person explained why.

        • Northern_Light_27

          You’re really overwrought about this, aren’t you, dictionary nonny? You’d think if you cared that much you’d come up with a username.

          (Also, the idea that there’s status in being solitary is funny. Paganism hasn’t changed *that* much.)

          • Guest

            I’m more annoyed that stupidity gets coddled so much in Paganism that people hate those who can read.

          • Tiryth

            Stupidity definitely does…. ^^^

      • Guest

        Grouping by choice with fellow Pagans means no longer being a Solitary, even when the one person is a Recon and the other Wiccan.
        That sentence above almost hurt to say.
        Last I checked Wiccans are Pagans, too.

        • Tiryth

          By your logic, going to your science class in school automatically makes you a Scientist

          • Guest

            No, a solitary would have no teacher and attend no school.

          • Tiryth

            Then how would you learn? Knowledge is not retained in the blood, and by your logic, even reading a book on the subject will invalidate your “Solitary” status.

          • Guest

            I think some people would disagree that they haven’t learned on their own, and not just from books, and a person needs to be part of a group and have a teacher. Also, you can be alone with a book.

          • Tiryth

            A book is still a teacher.

          • Guest

            It’s not a person. And if you’re hanging out with someone else, you’re not solitary.
            That I even have to explain that shows I’m dealing with stupid.

          • Tiryth

            A book still teaches, therefore is still a teacher… And I know how it feels to deal with stupid..

          • Guest

            If you think that books = people then you and your books aren’t solitaries.

          • Tiryth

            Don’t have to be a person to be a teacher..

          • Guest

            You have not answered why you or anyone cares about their Solitary status being invalidated, when Solitaries wouldn’t have anybody who would care, since what they are and do hasn’t any social design.

          • Tiryth

            Solitary statuses,are for the solitaries themselves. I,personally do not wish to “invalidate” them. However from the other posts from you (I assume that it is you, anyone can use”Guest”) just conversing with others invalidates your solidarity status.

          • Tiryth

            Knowledge is NOT carried in the blood, you do not automatically come up with knowing what to do. You have to learn it. From what you’re saying, even reading a book negates your Solitary status. You cannot learn if you have no teacher or school, even if that teacher is a book, and that school is trial and error.

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

            I believe that some knowledge is carried ‘in the blood’ (I believe the concept is called genetic inherited memory.)

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1542692508 Peter Dybing

            Guest, I am listed as a Solitary member of COG and have served as National First Officer, seems your idea of what a solitary is not supported by major Pagan organizations.

          • Guest

            Peter, you are definately not a Solitary. And I like you, and I mean both statements.

  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    I too have no use for attempts to formulate dogma for the Pagan masses, but that is not what I mean when I say (as I often do) that Paganism needs institutional strength. I mean that we need more outfits like Cherry Hill Seminary and Lady Liberty League. In my useage, the former is an institution and the latter an organization, but the term “institutional strength” covers both.

    Here in North Central Ohio I have found the ACLU a weak reed in defending Pagan civil liberties. The local chapter is too tied in with liberal Christian clergy, and the state and national organizations too deferential to the local. I am very glad for the work and existence of LLL.

  • Gordon Cooper

    There are also many Orders and Lodges in the mix of Ecotheistic alternative spirituality groups. With enough fully engaged members these groups can endure for centuries if relevant and slightly well managed. Many of these are not accessible through the Internet, and more than a few still operate in the main as postal courses.

    I have said for a number of decades that we should be looking at the ways Shinto, Afro-Diasporic groups and others have adapted to 21st century society and not automatically assume that a “Hypercoven”, modern Protestant Churches or Universities are the most applicable structural models for all or most us, however it is that we are defining “us”.

    Shinto temples accept prayer requests via fax machine, or at least some of them did fifteen years ago. Silent Unity has a 24/7 Prayer and Meditation hotline funded entirely by donations. There are certainly some possibilities here.

    In my opinion, technologies and structures should exist to facilitate goals and not become the goals.

    Green forests and blue skies!

    NWLorax
    Bremerton WA, USA

    • Guest

      NwLorax With a different group, I used to help with prayer requests – sent by phone, email, or written down near the guestbook. we’d take them and read and pray for them in the physical community temple (which was also 24/7). There was some living person manning the temple all those hours, doing rituals. Even if someone often was the only person there, it was a cooperative effort, not solitary.
      I’m just going to note for those who might not know (I think you probably do) that typing online here, cyber rituals – they aren’t same energy as that of ritual temple work. Prayer volunteers weren’t spending their time holding their phones reading emails or just reading your email and waving at it from their computer. anyhoo

  • http://www.facebook.com/laurie.a.bates Laurie Ann Bates

    I think we are getting caught up too much on the semantics of the word
    solitary. The question was solidarity, not solitary. I am a long time
    member of North Georgia Solitaries and former HPS of small family coven :
    House of Sacred Mother and Child, locally here in the North GA
    mountains. NGS and other groups are founded on the basis that all Pagans
    in covens, small groups or as solitaries can all come together as a
    community if they so choose and celebrate sabbats, esbats, festivals and
    warm wishes among friends. There have been very few disgruntled members
    of this group, as Lady Cris is a wonderful HPS. The work that this
    group (and others like it) out in the community is phenomenal. This is
    where the focus should be directed. Programs like: PAF (Pagan
    Assistance Fund), Compassion Crafts, Toys for Yule, Pagan Prison
    Ministries and yes, North Georgia Solitaries focus on bringing Pagans
    together. We tear each other apart in the infantile notion that this is
    appropriate behavior. Shame on us. If we spent half the time tending
    our own fields instead of trying to cull the proverbial fields of
    others, we might as Pagans move forward in our efforts. Groups like
    these bring bright blessings into the lives of those who choose to be a
    part. The semantics in a word or even in a group dynamic is irrelevant.
    It is the work and the forward spiritual movement that matters (be it
    solitary or group involvement.

    • Guest

      NGS seems like a nice group run by nice people who picked a ridiculous name. You’d be making a projection or citing knowledge I do not have to suggest there’s other problems being said than that. It’s a heirarchal teaching coven church and they’re misappropriating the name Solitary in it. And that’s obvious.

      • Lord Redhawk

        I’m sure that NGS is very concerned about your opinion of what they choose to call themselves. Someone else might think that the name you chose to call yourself, “Guest”, is ridiculous as well. NGS is absolutely NOT a “heirarchal teaching coven church” and you have absolutely no right to slander something you obviously know absolutely nothing about.

        • http://www.facebook.com/laurie.a.bates Laurie Ann Bates

          Hey “Guest” I refuse to be roped into an argument of semantics with you. North Georgia Solitaries is an umbrella name for groups in Georgia to come together to share energies. It started with a small group of people, who all considered themselves to be solitaries. Since then, it has grown into an umbrella group for Pagans to network. It is the one of the largest Pagan groups in Georgia. The focus should be what these groups are doing for Pagans, on the whole. There are many groups under NGS. It seems to me that you are too caught up on the semantics, the dictionary definition and have lost sight of what this article is truly about. Community. Lifting the veil. Being part of something bigger: spirituality. The original wording was solidarity. Look up the definition.

          • Guest

            Okay,how about both you and everyone drop the “Solitary” label nonsense and then I’ll do it, too.
            When they all are about Solidarity and Community and Association, etc. and Grouping, ‘Solitary” it what it is not about and not what it is.

          • Lord Redhawk

            Read Tiryth’s post for an indepth explanation. Maybe then you will understand.

  • Lord Redhawk

    This is an argument with semantics that can’t be won. Why is everyone arguing about their differences when there’s nothing wrong with any one person’s feelings on the subject? How we practice and what works for each of us is a very personal thing. One way is no better than another as long as it works for the individual and no one else has a right to say, “you’re doing it wrong!” If a solitary practitioner wants to participate in Pagan solidarity, whose place is it to pass judgment on them? At the most fundamental level, all our practices are all just different roads to the same destination. The destination should be the focus, not the road.

    • Guest

      Nothing wrong with someone wanting to participate in a group or be alone/solitary Means they won’t be a Solitary anymore, but that’s okay – right? It is, isn’t it? It’s not a loss in status somehow to be not Solitary?
      Solitary means alone, guys, it’s not complicated.

      • Lord Redhawk

        Of course it’s not a loss in status. Different people have different views on what being a solitary practitioner is and whether participating in solidarity changes that. If it does in your opinion, that’s fine; if it doesn’t in theirs, then that’s fine, too.

        • Guest

          Then why the massive display of defensiveness? The “I’m with all these groups for rituals, but I’m still a Solitary, because they’re Wiccanesque, and I’m not..”

          Why the previous discussion where people mentioned “threatened” and “fear” and “worry” about their “status” being changed from alone -> with a group?

          • Tiryth

            Speaking of defensiveness……

          • Guest

            Hey, I’ve given my explanation – what’s your reason?

          • Tiryth

            I’ve given mine.

      • Tiryth

        Participating in groups here and there does not mean you’re part of that group.. Technically,in order to lose your “Solitary” status, you have to JOIN a coven… NGS is a “walk-in and make yourself at home” setup. It isn’t a Coven, nor does it have specific ways to do things.

        “Nothing wrong with someone wanting to participate in a group or be alone/solitary Means they won’t be a Solitary anymore,”

        “Oh just because you walked into a McDonald’s means that you are no longer a customer, you’re an employee now” Does that sound just as ridiculous to you as it does me?

        • Guest

          Now a very WIccan-centric definition that isn’t applicable for most Pagans. There’s many groups that aren’t called covens. Loose or tight, they’re all groups, and Solitaries don’t do them.

          re: McD’s – lol – “Solitary” in this example would be someone who didn’t go there – or in what you’re saying – someone who’d pretend they didn’t a couple times a month because it’d hurt their status.

    • http://www.facebook.com/laurie.a.bates Laurie Ann Bates

      well, said.

  • Tiryth

    Some of you put way too much impact on the word “solitary”. Just because you’re a solitary practitioner doesn’t mean you are alone. With some of the comments here just being “Pagan” in itself means you’re no longer solitary.

    NGS is not a coven, covens are a group of witches who are of like mind, and practice singular ideals and rituals. Covens normally have one way of doing things (For argument’s sake I am using a Traditional Coven example) Set rituals for each time of year, normally passed down through the ages. You are not a Solitary Practitioner if you are in a coven.

    Churches are a place of worship, where you have your own ideals and methods of worship, however there is usually a hierarchy of the Divine,(Pastors, High Priest/ess, etc) You are still an individual, however you are USING the example of the hierarchy. You can still worship in your own way.

    Using the example someone else has given with Pagan Pride Day; NGS works off this same principle. While you may be a solitary practitioner, you may want to mingle with other pagans, and see what types of practices they do, perhaps even add them to your own. While you are NOT giving up your individuality, nor your solidarity you are still amongst others of the relatively same mindset.

    In response to the anonymous user who stated NGS is a ridiculous name, The organization is located in North Georgia, and it is run by Solitary practitioners…. If you ask me the Name itself is quite self-explanatory, sorry you just can’t follow…. As I said before, NGS is NOT a “hierarchical Teaching Coven” at all.. It isn’t Hierarchical, The organization itself has no teachers (there are those within the NGS Organization who do offer teaching though), and it is definitely NOT a Coven.

    Many of you are over-complicating what NGS really is. I’ll explain so that all can understand equally, NGS is an organization that offers a safe area to practice, numerous people who are solitaries to talk of their path to any and all who are interested, a platform used to associate with the many other pagan networks out there within the community, founded by solitaries for solitaries and groups combined to be active within the community at their own pace, and a place for those who want to be around other pagans, but do not wish to join a coven.

    I can understand the confusion between “Solitary” and NGS as a Group, however most of the ones who comment negatively here haven’t even bothered to do any research on this subject. You just take the definition of Solitary, and compare it blindly against a “Group”. If you bothered to research a little instead of blindly commenting,you will look less misinformed, trust me, I’m guilty of this at times as well.

    An example I used earlier is this, ” Just because you go to a Science class, doesn’t make you a scientist” Same applies, Just because you associate with a group, doesn’t mean you’re no longer a solitary practitioner.

    • Guest

      You just take the definition of Solitary, and compare it blindly against a “Group”.
      The only blindness here is suggesting the two aren’t contrary.
      “Just because you associate with a group, doesn’t mean you’re no longer a solitary practitioner.” Yes it does, and calling out inane nonsense gets certain Pagans up in a twist.

      • Lord Redhawk

        Socializing with like-minded people and having a solitary practice are two different things. Taking part in one does not negate the other.

        • Guest

          Getting tired, going to start cutting/pasting what I wrote earlier since you skipped or didn’t read – If you’re a covener/group/activist/teacher or have teachers, you are not [a Solitary]. get over yourself. & If Paganism is making social calls for you, you aren’t a Solitary & Every lineage of practice I know has the backbone of their practice work done alone – that’s NEVER been the definition [of Solitary Paganism].

          Why would someone who does associations pretend through calling themselves “Solitary” that no one gives them sociality, teaching, help in their religious community? That seems the opposite to “Solidarity”.

          • Tiryth

            Why are we arguing against a run of the mill Troll again? Obviously it is just arguing for it’s own amusement, has no facts, and has no idea what it is typing about.. Obviously this thing has no concept of Pagan hardships and has proven this time and time again. Let’s just leave the “Forever Alone” troll to it’s lonesome, may it never read a book, talk to another person or animal, may it never come into contact with any other living organism (because that’s how Solitaries roll…) whether through direct or indirect contact, and let it continue to be a miserable excuse for a human being all on it’s own. It seems to prefer it the way it has described. It has failed to “convince” anyone of it’s credibility and it will continue to fail…

            We, as REAL pagans should be even giving this wretched creature the time we have already given it. We are above this, I myself am guilty too, and I know this. This troll has proven one thing though, (and one thing only) that we, as Pagans, will viciously attack those who threaten what we hold dear… (Also proving that the lot of us are not Wiccan). This is not what we should do as a first response. We all know this Guest Troll is wrong, we can all see it and only it cannot, so from here on out, it will receive no more attention from me. We’ve tried to educate it, but alas it is a lost cause.

          • Guest

            The message you are trying to bring “REAL pagans” – Don’t quote the dictionary or the hate happens. And your hand-wringing, self-directed curse is stupid and petty.Lord Redhawk suggested I read your “solidarity post. Now I have. Thanks Lord Redhawk, but I think I’ve read better.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1542692508 Peter Dybing

            Guest I strongly disagree, it being your opinion does not make it so. I am sure everyone read your opinion, and many disagree. Blessings to those with strongly held opinions!

      • Tiryth

        You’re in here commenting with us regarding this “Group” so in turn,according to you, You are no longer Solitary, you are now “Part of the Group”

    • Lord Redhawk

      Exactly!

  • Rev. Jonathon S. Lowe

    Everyone seems to once again be forgetting the fact that we’re
    talking about a solitary practice of your individual spiritual beliefs.
    You aren’t required to be a lone hermit in life in order to keep your
    spiritual practices to yourself. The way this seems to be being
    presented is that you’re a solitary until you decide to go to a drum
    circle consisting of more people than just yourself, and suddenly you’re
    not? I’m a Shaman. My shamanic spiritual practices are my own, I
    practice them with no other. However, that doesn’t stop me from
    attending a public ritual meant to bring Pagans together for friendship
    and support, especially if it is held a few days before or after the
    actual sabbat day so that I may do my own thing according to my
    practices on the day of the sabbat. It also doesn’t stop me from taking
    the knowledge, experiences, and wisdom I have gleaned throughout my
    practice and putting it to use for the benefit of the entire Pagan
    Community around me as far as I’m able to reach. Some of you seem to be
    defining Solitary on such a narrow base that it doesn’t allow for you to
    seek knowledge or wisdom from any source other than yourself. That is
    not the point of being a Solitary at all first and foremost, not even by
    BTW standards. Secondly, if it were, not a single person on this planet
    could call themselves Solitary because we all learn daily from the most
    unexpected of places, and at times we even inadvertently share our
    knowledge and experiences with others. Most (not all, but a good majority) solitaries initially learn about their spiritual path from another person, or person’s teachings (via book, blog, web site, etc…or from being passed down in the family…) and typically this method of learning continues through reading articles such as these or books by other Pagan authors both solitary and group-working. By every esoteric definition of what can be defined as a teacher, each of those sources has been a teacher to us. Similarly, whenever a friend, relative, neighbor, or stranger who knows/finds out who or what we are, asks us questions about our faith and spirituality and practices, if we answer them, we are then teaching them as well. We are at all times student and teacher. So the claim that if you are a teacher or if you have teachers (meaning if you are a student) then you aren’t a solitary, is completely inaccurate and moot. As human beings it is natural for
    us to want to reach out and connect with others. Just because we attend
    a social circle every now and then does not mean we’ve somehow betrayed
    our solitary practice. If for some reason being Solitary means to an
    individual that you must live a lonely life devoid of contact or life
    lessons from anyone or anything else around you other than what you
    yourself deem to be kosher, then that’s wonderful for you. However it
    doesn’t place you in a spot where it is okay to dictate to others what
    does and does not constitute Solitary practice. You’re getting too hung
    up on what “solitary” means which in the dictionary as understood by the
    human mind is one thing, it’s quite another when applied to strictly
    spiritual practice, which then crosses into the realm of subjectivity.
    What constitutes solitary practice (as you can obviously see from the
    replies to this article) is subjective and varies greatly from person to
    person. The wonderful thing about being a solitary is that what is
    important is what *your* solitary practice means to *you.* Because many
    solitary practitioners cannot agree on much (again as we can obviously
    see from the responses to this article), solitary practice lacks a basic
    structure that all followers of a solitary path follow. This is because
    the only structure in solitary practice that matters is the structure
    each individual person creates to make their spirituality their own. The
    point of this article was also on Solidarity and I don’t see too many
    people focusing on that at all. Since we seem to be bouncing around
    dictionary definitions:
    Solidarity:

    Noun

    Unity or agreement of feeling or action, esp. among individuals with a common interest; mutual support within a group.

    “Unity
    or agreement of feeling or action among individuals with a common
    interest; mutual support within a group.” Nowhere in there does it say,
    “conformity to one single set of ideas or practices.” Solidarity does
    not threaten a solitary’s lifestyle. In fact it helps to preserve it. That is the point behind solidarity. Preservation and protection of each individual’s rights and way of life, regardless of whether they are solitary or group-workers. All of these petty arguments about semantics is one of the largest reasons why we as Pagans cannot seem to pull it together when the need arises. We’re all too busy fighting with one another. Paganism is about understanding that you are as much a part of the All as the All is a part of you. One of my former students read all of this and he stated, “Being Pagan, to me, means that we are interconnected with Nature, the world, the Universe, and Deity…which means we should be willing to make connections with other people as well because humans are as much a part of nature and Deity as everything else out there.”

    Organizations such as North Georgia Solitaries, the Lady Liberty League, the Pagan Assistance Fund, and even groups such as Circle Sanctuary and Covenant of the Goddess, are all very different organizations who each are comprised of people from a vast array of walks of life and beliefs. Each group comes together for a common cause, which also connects each of the groups together in a network that allows for them to function on a broad scale. The purpose: protect and preserve the individual rights of every Pagan that we can reach so that we all may practice freely according to how we believe we should. Again, solidarity does not mean conformity. It means support and strength; that we’ll have those things en mass should the need for it ever arise.

    A wise woman once told me something along these line in response to the question of how she could be in a coven and still maintain a solitary practice: “I enjoy doing group work and the energy that multiple people can raise, however I also enjoy having my own solitary practice at home that focuses just on my own energy.” She is not the only Pagan who I have run across who is in a coven, or group, organization or even a Seminary, who still holds on to and maintains their own unique solitary practice at home away from the energy and prying eyes of others. This solitary practice is the core backbone of many an individual’s own personal strength. However it would be unwise to dismiss the need and power of group dynamics when the need arises for them. One single wooden stick could be easily snapped in to, however if you take thirty or sixty of those wooden sticks, suddenly they’re not so easy to break. Your solitary practice allows you to grow personally and find your own inner strength. A group of people is nothing without each individual’s own personal strength being added to the collective.

    The name: North Georgia Solitaries is very apropos, in my opinion, because a solitary doesn’t conform to fit the beliefs, views, or definitions of what everyone else around them is trying to fit them in to. NGS is a place where each person with or without a solitary practice can still bring their own solitary power to add to the collective to help out the community around them and to make friends and connections. Just because some people don’t work well in groups or for whatever reason dislikes socializing with another human being, doesn’t mean that this way of coming together is wrong or threatening at all.

    For those of you who are making negative remarks about such organizations, just remember that some of these organizations helped make it possible for you to practice more freely in the United States and have equal rights compared to other mainstream religions out there. While we’re not 100% there yet, it is definitely heading in that direction and it’s groups like these that make it possible. When your children get kicked out of school for wearing a Pentacle (or pentagram), being accused of wearing gang-related symbols, or when you get fired from work due to religious discrimination….it is groups like these who hop up to the front of the line to fight for your rights as an individual….but we fight the battle together under solidarity, unified for a common cause.

    • Lord Redhawk

      Very well said!

  • Saebriel

    I know a lot of the voices that are speaking up about this article, mostly because I met them through solitary practice with NGS. NGS has had many people, who define themselves as solitaries, come and go over the years. But this article is about SOLIDARITY. I’m going to go with “Guest” and hit the dictionary:

    Miriam and Webster’s Definition of Solidarity:
    : unity (as of a group or class) that produces or is based on community of interests, objectives, and standards

    But i looked through “Guest” posts and found this:

    “sol·i·tar·y
    /ˈsäləˌterē/

    Adjective
    Done or existing alone: “I live a pretty solitary life”; “tigers are essentially solitary”.Noun
    A recluse or hermit.Synonyms
    adjective. lonely – lone – lonesome – desolate – secluded – alonenoun. hermit – recluse – anchorite – eremite – anchoret”

    We are trying to see Pagan/Witch/Wicca/Druid/etc as a unit, as a group. As many have stated: If you have had ANY form of learning (book, teacher, internet) you shouldn’t be able to cal yourself a solitary, by “Guest” definition.

    As many of the other’s who have posted can attest to, I do not comment unless i feel that the need arises. The definition that “Guest” posted (solitary) made me giggle a little bit and made me have to say something. Mostly about the example of “tigers are essentially solitary.” If we stick with what “Guest” believes is a “Solitary,” then we are surely a dying breed. How ever do we know what a tiger is if they are “solitary?” They aren’t breeding asexually, or by cloning!

    NGS has taken solitaries and given them a save haven to “breed” knowledge, to share with others, to not be judged by another. I have been in rituals with NGS for quite some time and every circle has different people, different energies. I have also been invited to participate in different coven’s rituals. The energy created by a coven can be quite overwhelming and powerful, same with the NGS energies, but with NGS we have the understanding that all who are at this ritual, may not be at the next, they are free to come and go as they please as solitary practitioners. The covens that were generous to allow me to attend their ritual, that energy is the same at every sabbat, because they know who is going to be there and what they bring to the table EVERY TIME. The creativity and community energy that is created by solitaries is remarkable.

    I had made a comment to NGS after the first article posted, and they made suggestions that I bring them here, and they very closely mirror what Selena Fox stated in the article:

    Religion is like a buffet, and “Pagan” is like the Salad portion of that buffet. Some of us just want spinach leaves. Others, just romaine hearts. But there are the solitaries that are more like the Cobb Salad: Some lettuce, some meat, some cheese, an egg, tomatoes… But without knowing what you are putting into the salad, you can get some surprises.
    When a group of “solitaries” come together, we can form new and wonderful combinations. We gain information on other traditions, pantheons, and general practices. We learn about each other and create new ideas on how to achieve goals that we struggle with as solitaries. And, more as a personal note, I enjoy my solitary practice where I can be me and not conform to any set rules, but I appreciate and (on some days) crave the structure that comes with working with a group.

    I believe i have said my piece, even if it didn’t quite flow nicely.

    • Guest

      It does take being part of a group or sharing your information with others for it to be passed on, but some folks don’t care about that.
      It may take two to breed, some don’t care about breeding. Humans are typical social creatures, but some aren’t. Not everybody is geared to be a Solitary.
      Supposedly a person’s more protected within a group, but really that only only is true if they conform. Even saying that “solitary” means “alone” (even directly quoting the dictionary – with its warts and all) causes people to wack out and start cursing (themselves) and saying other people for having their own opinions aren’t “REAL pagans”. And few will call that out – they fear they’d lose status.

      For solidarity, that doesn’t mean you or they have to change their opinion. What does have to happen is other people won’t have to change theirs either.
      And frankly, mine won’t. If someone’s hanging around someone asking for their advice and help and calling themselves a “Solitary” later on because the Pagans they asked weren’t Recons or some other thin excuse for pretending they’d did it on their own – that’s pretty ridiculous. It isn’t “Solitary” if you work and learn with other people.

    • Guest

      Why are you invested in calling yourself a solitary when you fellowship in groups of other Pagans? (About every Pagan has practices they do alone, too, that would not be a valid rationale)
      I just want to know what everybody’s getting out of what looks to be the word’s misappropriation.

  • Kilmrnock

    Quest i’m giving up on you ………………….you are completly missing the point here , of what is trying to be stated here . PPD and meeet ups are purely social events , as are political pagan groups . Pagans, solitary practicioners and group members agree that solidarity agoungst all pagans for social and political purposes is a good idea , that together we can show a more united front than we can alone. That jioning with other pagans for mutualy benificial reasons doesn’t endanger or change a solitary practitioner into a group member wheras no religious practice is performed at such gatherings and when it is , attendance isn’t mandatory . I personaly donot attend such rituals due to my being on a different path as most at these events. Around here most pagans are Wiccan , i am a Celtic Reconstructionist , CR for short.Why i say this at some PPD gatherings there is a closing ritual , but one doesn’t need to attend if not so inclined .Our local PPD is sponsored by a large local Wiccan group. But is still a good time , chance to hang out w/ fellow pagans , attending such an event DOES NOT change ones personal beliefs or practice , one way or another .

  • Kilmrnock

    That is why i told him , said i’m done with this . We can argue semantics till the cows come home , tis pointless . Seems this guy just likes to hear or see his own writings , pointlessly bait us to watch us react .