We have been in deep reflection and dialogue with each other, community members, and our local Interfaith leadership partners since the publication of an editorial piece that appeared in the Atlantic on December 25. You may know exactly what I am referring to….and you may not. I imagine that most who follow this Temple page or are connected to our community in any way would have a strong reaction to the picture the author painted of paganism (lowercase “p” intentional) and may be feeling a deep personal or collective concern.
Indeed, the views expressed are disheartening and frankly, frightening. Strong rebuttals from across the country penned by Pagans and Pagan-affiliated individuals and communities bring a new wave of awareness of our numbers and presence in this country.
As the Temple of the Creative Flame, our purpose and focus remain the same. We continually ask ourselves, how do we serve, support, and protect our local communities of thinkers and lovers of life?
For us, it is apparent that this one writer’s voice wields power which is compounded by the fact that he is widely known and the piece was published in a highly regarded, globally read publication.
Our work is still local, and it matters. This is where our ceremonies and rituals happen, this is where we speak to the diverse communities we are part of. This is where we break bread and serve the Communion of the Goddess with friends and strangers, initiating and engaging fully in uncomfortable conversations while listening deeply to opposing viewpoints about religious and spiritual beliefs and practices.
I reflect upon experiences shared over the years as we have navigated some of those opportunities and conversations. The big work, the work that creates a bridge or brings a better understanding to those who think they don’t know any Pagans or who hold untrue beliefs about us, is often revealed after the fact or even behind the scenes. In 2018 Cynthia and I were asked to write a piece for an Arizona newspaper’s “Faith Matters” section. Our piece was titled “Wicca values life, and Witches follow many paths.” When it was published, the newspaper’s editorial staff had removed all capitalization of Witches, Pagan, Paganism, and Heathenry. The real communication began as we wrote a rebuttal to the action, published a statement regarding the change, and then continued communication, providing additional resources to broaden their understanding of Paganism.
We step into opportunities to serve, speak about, and model our Pagan values where and when it is possible and safe to do so. We encourage and support our community members who are moved to do the same.
We enter 2024 with a heightened awareness of the extent to which some will go to exert power over patriarchal views. We recognize the dangers of not only the words but also the misguided beliefs that develop as a result of blind trust in an individual or a publication based on their stature or readership.
As Pagan leaders and members of the greater as well as local communities, we understand our strength is in deepening our own roots and anchoring connections. Like thousands of other Pagan communities, we are small but well-woven and well-rooted.
We will continue to bring the Communion of the Goddess – bread from fresh grains of the earth, sweet honey, apples, water, and wine, along with knowledge, wisdom, and guidance to each table or altar we set or to which we are invited. We support those within the greater Pagan community who work in different ways, as we hold a shared vision of the importance of a strong and diverse Pagan presence today and into the future.