Hey there my fellow Pagans, Witches and Heathens who are under 35. I’m doing a little research and I’m curious. What would encourage you to be active in your LOCAL pagan (etc) community? What would make you stay? Are there things that may have driven you away? Are there things that stop you from attending events and rituals and so forth in the first place? Same questions for attending a big festival.
Thanks a bunch!
(PS You can respond to this any way that works best for you, a chat, a reblog, PM etc)
»> weavingittogether said: Just out of curiosity, why the age bracket? Why does age matter to you in this subject?
That’s where the Millennials start. I’m writing a piece about attracting and keeping the young people. Also I’m sitting on a roundtable discussion for KG (Canada’s biggest festival) and one of the topics will be “where we need to head to better accommodate and work with the next generations of pagans”.
I think first & foremost, I need to feel like I’m going to get something out of it — & unfortunately, I rarely do. When I was in my teens I scraped money together from an after-school job & several times journeyed to festivals in the States (because there were either no festivals in Ontario or their advertising never reached me), only to get creeped on by much older men & spend the entire time listening to people talk about computers & roleplaying & bondage & other non-pagan things that I had zero interest in. I realized quickly that I wasn’t going to learn anything from these people, & mostly gave up on the whole thing. I kept believing what I believed, but didn’t practice with other people or seek them out.
Later in my 20s I moved to Toronto & set about searching for the pagan community, & realized pretty quickly that Toronto is dominated by Wicca & Wiccan practitioners who are big into secrecy & initiations & hierarchies & others things I have little patience for. I persisted though, & ended up discovering a little new age shop that welcomed me to their events, & eventually I got a job & worked there for more than four years. In that time a lot of customers asked me if I put them in touch with a practicing group, & I never could. Practitioners are just too guarded here. I did meet lots of pagans working there, but in all that time I only ever became aware of one practicing group (& did practice with them a bit, but they’re not totally my style).
I also sought out pagan pub moots, but was thoroughly turned off by the people I met & never went back. I found, & I’ve heard others complain that this is common at pagan events, that pagans want to talk about anything *but* paganism (& can even occasionally be offended if you ask them point-blank about their paganism). I ended up cornered most of the evening by an older gentleman who wanted to tell me all about how great Buddhism is. Which is another issue: the casual appropriation of eastern & indigenous philosophies/religions into paganism, & the merging of paganism & Buddhism into self-help new age culture, so that paganism, especially among women, is all tangled up with positive energy & vague notions of karma & spirit animals & half-assed yoga etc—which I think is also contributed to by this idea that we have to come together as community & get along, despite actually often having radically different beliefs, so when we meet up at moots or festivals or whatever, out of politeness & inclusiveness we have to vague everything up & talk in big sweeping generic terms. Which brings me back to not getting anything out of it.
I eventually solidified some relationships I made through the shop, friends of friends, & online, & now there are four of us (myself, sparrowqueen, littlecitywitch, & kitzuneh) who are close friends & (very) occasionally practice together — though mostly we’re all too solitary now. & the reason the relationships between the four of us work is because we’re close friends regardless of whether or not we’re pagan.
Myself & littlecitywitch have made a point of attending the last two Gaia Gatherings (the Canadian pagan conference, for those not in the know), but it’s always an unfulfilling experience at best, & after dedicating a significant amount of resources to the last one & failing miserably on a panel, I had to step back & question why I’ve been persistently trying to connect with a community that I’m not sure at this point I even like. I don’t need other people to validate my beliefs, & when I feel I need guidance or renewed spiritual connection, I’ve found other ways to get it.
-there is a lack of accessible public pagan space to meet people and to practice or worship in. In the absence of this space, pagan or new age shops tend to be used, which is not a good idea. Shops are always about making money, not providing free community space.
-Canada is a big place & journeying to festivals can, even within one’s own province, be a big undertaking. Especially if you don’t drive. Festivals also suck up a lot of resources — you have to arrange a car, camping gear, probably time off work, etc. & you don’t know what you’re getting into — are you going to meet people who will actually want to talk about & do pagan stuff, let alone the pagan stuff you’re into? Or are you going to end up sitting in a soggy tent all weekend while it rains & children are restless & crying, & some woman who has no self awareness is dancing around in a loose skirt & doing high kicks & flashing her nether regions at everyone, & some guy dressed all in black is talking to a teenage girl about bondage & how spanking is fun, & someone else is all pissed & yelling because someone took more than their share of the stew, & everyone sitting around by the fire is either arguing about roleplaying or singing folk songs with an acoustic guitar (WHY is it always folk music?), & one of the people selling goods is accusing the only black kid of stealing. ALL TRUE. Anyway, I digress.
-Advertising for pagan events invariably sucks. I’m only aware of as many as I am because I actively seek them out. I periodically spend time online searching for pagan stuff that’s happening in the area. For example, when the Gaia conference was held in Toronto, I was working at a new age/pagan shop *right around the corner from the host venue* & the only reason we found out about it was because I was doing one of my periodic internet scourings & stumbled across it.
Woah I did not mean to write so much.
PS, you should give littecitywitch a nudge. She’ll have a lot to say about this.