A few months ago I took part in the Conference on Current Pagan Studies. The topic was sustaining a Pagan communities and I gave a presentation which focused on Rites of Passage.
I made the assertion that if we want to sustain ourselves as a Pagan community, we need to sustain the individuals that make our community. I also made the point that the future of the Pagan community is with our children.
One of my favorite things about Paganism is our holidays. We have more than everyone else and ours are better, IF you take full advantage of them. You get out of Paganism what you put into Paganism.
Twice a month on Sundays, the Mill Creek Pagan Community meets in dedicated space, indoors. The other two Sundays we do outdoor activities. We had been planning our Ostara celebration for a good long while. We were all looking forward to getting back out to the park, we hadn't been there since Samhain.
We always rent an arbor for the Sabbats, complete with a BBQ and potluck. A full moon on a Sabbat is always a good omen and the Super Moon promised some extra juice, we were all looking forward to. We had boiled eggs and coloring kits ready, and a few other things planned.
But to simply say it rained would be an understatement. There was a moment of hesitation, the thought had crossed my mind that all bets were off. But my wife wouldn't hear of it, "We will make it work," and I snapped out of it. One of my favorite quotes is from Hannibal:
"I shall find a way, or I shall make one."
Over a year ago I wrote a post with the spoof title "If you cast it they will come." And as cheesy as it sounds, it has come to pass. Within twenty minutes the phone tree system went into effect, and everyone was successfully rerouted to our normal indoor meeting place.
In the old days, one of the things our Pagan ancestors did to celebrate the rebirth of spring was to kill death. They would parade through town to a bridge, with an effigy of the Grim Reaper leading the procession. Then they would throw him in the river, throw flowers and sing farewell hymns to him. We have a nice full creek running right by our arbor and a bridge to throw of Grim Reaper off, but that was at the park. So we passed around his sickle, each person took a turn charging the sickle with what they wanted to let go of before crossing the threshold into spring.
Every year I braid Bridget's Belt from fresh mulberry limbs, into a giant wreath. Every year the branches sprout bright green buds just in time, that's how I know its Ostara. One by one each person steps through the porthole into spring then turns to assist and greet the person behind them as if they haven't seen them in years, it's the little things...
As always the food was great, everything from Pizza to stew and lots of Goodies. We are lucky enough to be blessed with to very gifted bakers. Food and friends, that's my favorite part of Paganism, or at least our tradition. The Harald always begins every ritual with: "Hear ye! Hear ye! All those who have gathered here for the noble and glorious purpose of celebration and fellowship..."
Celebration and Fellowship.
I think once we stop focusing so much on candle colors and direction, or degree and titles, and start focusing more on celebration and fellowship, we will have a better chance of sustaining our communities. The phone tree thing works well, even Lepus the Sabbat Rabbit showed up to visit the kids, pass out some candy and pose for a few pictures. He took the Reapers sickle with him when he left, I last saw him heading for the bridge.
Thank you Lord and Lady for all the extra juice.