The Pagan community is a pretty closed community. It can be hard finding a teacher, if that’s what you’re after, or a group to work with, if that’s what you’re looking for.
Or sometimes you find a group or a teacher, and they turn out to be exactly WRONG for you?
But how do you know what’s right and wrong? Where do you begin? Paganism isn’t like organised religions, where there’s a Holy Writ (like the Bible) and a well-established organisation(s) (The CHURCH) telling you what to do.
It can be confusing and lonely at first, and you wonder if you’re “doing it right”.
But the truth is, there is no “right” way for everyone. It’s about what works for you. What feels right for you. What brings the magic through you and into you, and helps you channel power and health and vibrancy into the world.
That’s why I love Paganism, and why it is right for me. And if you’re a thinker and an independent mind, the independence of Paganism will probably come to be seen as a good thing for you too.
After all, when it comes down to it, we’re all just humans, muddling along in this world the best way we know how. Sometimes we screw up. But I believe that NONE of us have the right to tell others what to believe.
Leaders, Teachers and Guides
In your journey, you’ll come across a lot of leaders, teachers and guides. Some will be self-taught, others will have been taught by others, through traditions that are starting to become more solidly defined.
And you’ll probably come across a few complete nutjobs too. Most will be completely harmless, but some can be dangerous.
In Paganism, as in all of life, your best Guide is your gut. Go with what feels right. If someone feels dangerous or insane, or even just wrong in some way you can’t quite define, walk away. No matter what they claim, or how important they’re supposed to be.
And if something seems foolish and silly to you, don’t do it. You don’t have to believe or practice in a particular way, just because somebody tells you to. That’s why I made a lousy Christian – the whole “Jesus is God” thing just sounded like rubbish to me. Okay, there were other reasons as well (the misogyny was a large part of it, as well as the traditionally anti-gay stance), but I chose to walk away because my gut told me to.
Safety with strangers
Likewise, your safety is of absolute importance. NEVER go to someone’s house or establishment alone, if you don’t know their full name, where they live, and someone who cares about you knows where you are.
If you’re going to meet someone for the first time, a pub or cafe is a great option. If you have no money, just get some water. But that way you’re safe.
To establish someone’s identity before furthering a friendship or relationship, ask to see their driver’s license, or similar photo ID. Take a photo of it, and send it to your email address AND that of a friend. That way, there is evidence of who you are with.
Don’t think this is odd or embarrassing: I’m 41 years old, I’m nearly six feet tall, and a bodybuilder (i.e. I have muscle and know how to defend myself) and I STILL do this if I’m going off with someone I’m not 100% sure about. It’s common sense. I always leave a trail about where I am and who I am with and when I will be back.
Remember – if the person is genuine, they won’t be offended. They’ll understand that you take your safety seriously, and be fine with your precautions. I teach and take classes from time to time, and would NEVER be offended by a request like this.
Established public events, websites and groups
Established public events can be a good way to meet people, as can be classes that are offered through local “Pagan” shops. Look around. Here in New Zealand, where I live, there is an annual Witches Ball that is well attended and a great way to meet people.
There are also Pagan groups on Facebook and in similar forums. The Witches Voice is one place to connect with others in your area. There are others.
Finding good books
The publishing world is awash in Pagan books, and not all of them are good. I’d advise against buying too many, but if you want to invest in a couple, Bucky’s Big Blue Book and Starhawk’s The Spiral Dance are two classics that are worth a look. Google them.
Like any community, the Pagan community doesn’t appreciate or want needy people. Be adventurous. Experiment, study, learn and grow. Be a self-starter. Don’t cling on to others – instead, find your own path with courage and conviction.