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Author Topic: Drawn to the "Path" but struggling with some shame. Thoughts? Shared experiences?  (Read 638 times)

Bygone

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Years and years ago I happened upon Wicca and dived in with abandon. I'll admit I was young and wrapped up in the romanticised imagery of the whole thing. Over time, my ever-nagging skepticism led me to feel fairly uncomfortable with the Goddess/God/ritual aspect of Wicca. But, if I'm truly honest with myself, there was a certain level of shame attached to my interest as well which ultimately made me abandon this path.  

A long time later, after moving back to the US following years living abroad, I reconnected with that original pull towards Wicca/Paganism. The truth is, I have always felt a deep, sincere and truly spiritual connection with nature. And I miss feeling that connection. I also feel a desire for community, growth and learning but feel turned off and uncomfortable with a lot of what I find. I'm also eager to learn and develop and find a route which makes sense to me.

I in no way mean to be demeaning or offensive by saying this: But I have a hard time feeling a connection with a lot of the people who seem to be drawn to this Path. I sometimes feel silly and embarrassed by my interest. I yearn to find a community of like-minded people who feel the same deep connections I do but perhaps also struggle with uncertainty and a general discomfort with the occult as a genre.

I'd be grateful to hear from any others struggling with these mixed feelings. Where have you gone? How have you made meaningful connections? What have you done to address any embarrassment you may feel from your chosen associations? Have you been able to overcome these issues to find a meaningful relationship with the community and to the path itself?

It would be very heartening to hear from you.

Very best -

Jenett

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Quote from: Bygone;202838

I'd be grateful to hear from any others struggling with these mixed feelings. Where have you gone? How have you made meaningful connections? What have you done to address any embarrassment you may feel from your chosen associations? Have you been able to overcome these issues to find a meaningful relationship with the community and to the path itself?


I haven't had those issues, but I know people who have, so here's some stuff that might be useful.

1) Being clear with yourself about what you're interested in is a good place to start.

This is the kind of thing where a couple of lists that you think about and add stuff to over at least a few days would probably be helpful - one about things you're attracted to or find interesting, one about things you're absolutely sure turn you off and you don't want, and one list for things you're not sure about (and I'd include in here a list of things you didn't like last time you ran into them, but that might have been situational.)

So, for example, my own list might look like this:
- Things I like : my being a geek and intellectually curious person is seen as a good thing, not a flaw (modulo keeping it in proportion for stuff that needs to get done / structure of training type situations.)

- Things I dislike : group that's flaky about scheduling in ways that waste my time and energy.

(Occasional emergencies happen, or stuff has to be changed, but I want to hang out with people who keep that to a minimum and think about alternative options in advance for obvious stuff like 'we are planning an outdoor ritual, what do we do if it rains?')

- Things I'd be dubious of, but would possibly consider in the right circumstances: I've had bad experiences in the past with people who do a lot of inner child focus.

(It would not incline me to a group to see them talk about it, but I wouldn't completely rule a group or experience out that mentioned it until I had more context and could see the dynamics. But if I had a list of groups to check out, this is a thing that would push them lower on my list and I'd check out other options first.)

2) Being aware that the community is vast and contains multitudes.

On average, the Pagan groups that are made up of people with reasonably stable lives who have professional or highly skilled jobs are *not* the people you see getting a tremendous amount of attention in the community.

It's a lot more common for groups like that to have one or two people who may be more visible (often via blogging or other activities that fit around their other commitments) and for more stable groups to have one or two things they do in the larger community some years, but otherwise you wouldn't necessarily know they were there.

This makes it tricky to find them.

Getting a really good sense of what you're interested in (and not), including if there are specific paths, traditions, etc. can help, because it can give you some alternate methods of asking around.

For example, there are some lists and other online spaces for people in various British Traditional Wicca trads where someone there may know of a group near you, even if that group doesn't advertise their presence much.

Going to one of the conventions or festivals with a heavier focus on learning over partying can help. Pantheacon (this weekend in California) is huge and has a lot of more flashy stuff, but Paganicon (Minnesota, in March, about which I'm biased, I helped found it) has a big Saturday night dance where people dress up, but most of the rest of the time has plenty of people having pragmatic conversations, with a good range of presenters who take what they're doing seriously. I've heard similarly good things about Sacred Space (Maryland, also March). Not everyone at one of these is serious or experienced, but you should be able to find people who are if the topics are things you're interested in.

(There are also tons of festivals, but they tend to be a lot more mixed in focus and harder to tell about the split of people there to enjoy themselves vs. more focused discussion and learning, so asking around before picking one may be necessary.)

Poking your head in at larger public events (Pagan Prides, yearly Pagan festival that you can do a day pass that's near you, large public ritual, etc.) can be worth doing if you go in with an attitude of checking out what's there, and a short "Hi, I'm X, I'm particularly interested in Y..." sort of intro elevator speech about what you particularly are looking for. (One or two sentences.)

Volunteering for these things for a hour or three is also is a good way to meet a ton of people, and the other volunteers are more likely to be more serious or pragmatic types who know other people like that than the average attendee.

Keeping an eye on visiting teachers/workshops/etc. at stores you can get to. Random local workshop may or may not be helpful to you, but sometimes someone coming in from out of town will bring a different set of people in, and if that person does stuff you're interested in, it can be a good way to meet other people who are.

3) The much larger question of 'what's going on here'
I think a lot of people who have the kinds of reactions you do struggle with the "How do I take these people seriously."

And the thing is... one of the things about the larger Pagan community is that it is a place where people who've felt on the outside, or who've had experiences other people mock, or who are focused in a different way, on different things (which can be as simple as avoiding consumer advertising and not caring as much about money or status symbols as their spiritual life!) can be more open about those things.

(And sometimes the clothing or the jewelry or the names or that is all about helping people get to a space where they feel free to express themselves in ways that aren't hurting other people, and to heal from society telling them that what they want is wrong - and those things can be odd from the outside, but that doesn't actually make them wrong or bad.)
 
And sometimes that comes across as serious and well-considered and all that. And sometimes it just comes across as weird. Or it's weird until you know the details, and often the details aren't something you're going to hear about a random person you just met.

I've gotten to the point where I've found it's more useful to look at how someone treats people, and then look from there for people I've got interests in common with, even if some of the way they do stuff is not how I'd do it. Usually that ends up with a good mix of people who are serious about what they're doing in ways that works for me.
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