A few weeks ago I attended a local Pagan Pride Day planning meeting down in Tacoma. The current group running PPD are a hard working and incredibly welcoming group. It was so nice to walk into a group of people I barely know and instantly feel welcomed and respected. I knew it was a group where I could make suggestions and give my opinion, and that they’d form their opinions on the quality of what I said, rather than what group I was a part of or who I studied with. It made me realize just how much I miss being a part of an open-minded local community group.
When I first started practicing magick, back at Wellesley, I was blessed by being part of an incredible group. We were all beginners struggling to learn together. Everyone was pretty much equal and everyone pitched in and helped the group to learn and grow. In retrospect I realize how incredible that group was. I found a second family in that group and some of us will be sisters forever, even though we’re spread across the globe now. The most remarkable thing was that because none of us had any “lineage” in the craft, we could only judge each other on what we actually said and did. We had no past to be judged on.
When I came back to Seattle I expected to be able to find local groups that would be as open and welcoming as the group I left. To say that I was disappointed by what I really found would be a gross understatement. What I found was a community shattered by politics. I found people who didn’t care who you were unless you were introduced by someone with status, I found “open” groups with no interest in even saying hello to new people (let alone welcoming them), and I found it almost impossible to even find the community without an “in.” My friend and I once went to an open sabbat and spent 30 minutes in a dark room while the group hosting the event came in, late, and one by one passed us by without even saying hello. When we asked if we were in the right place we received looks that clearly stated we weren’t welcome - even though the event was advertised as open to all. Gotta love the Seattle freeze. I’ve found people that wouldn’t give me the time of day because I wasn’t 50; I’ve had others that wouldn’t talk to me because I wasn’t under 25; and goddess help me if I mention that I don’t “embrace the warmth and light of the great mother.” I once had a fellow practitioner tell me to my face that I was evil for working with Kali - way to be understanding lady.
I had almost lost hope that there were, in fact, decent groups out here. Then I started hosting Grey School info booths at the local PPD events. The thing about PPD events is that their entire purpose is to foster community strength and understanding. The folks that take the time and trouble to come out to them are, generally, friendly people who genuinely want to talk to new people. At this point PPD is pretty much the one day a year I spend out in my local community (other than supporting local magickal merchants). Through PPD I’ve met several local community leaders that don’t make me want to pull my hair out. (There’s a really terrific Dianic group here - too bad I’m not Dianic.)
I’ve met some amazing people in the local area, so what on earth is stopping us from coming together? Terrible inertia? A lack of leadership? Fear? Come on people, getting together in a coffee shop once a month isn’t exactly rocket science. I suppose if I want local community I’m going to have to put on my big girl pants and make it happen. *sigh*