|Painting by Barbara Jacobsen|
If you've been reading the Broomstick Chronicles with any regularity -- I post infrequently -- you're aware that in August of 2012 I disaffiliated from what I'll call my 'matrix community,' Reclaiming (San Francisco, the matrix, and offshoots of that matrix) -- after more than 30 years of doing what I could to help create and establish a community, one that evolved into a tradition in its own right, one that contains roles and practices that I had a hand in, and a statement of Principles of Unity that I helped articulate, bylaws I helped write, a 501(c)(3) tax status that I helped to acquire, and, not least, having taught magic and ritual to people who went on to claim the appellation Witch.
In many ways I experienced this as an amputation or a cutting adrift, an unmooring, although now that I look back, I can see there wasn't much of a dock to which to moor. I can now forgive myself for being blinded by idealism.
I've always felt a sort of honorary membership in the Paganistan community.1 I've felt welcome among the Seattle Pagan Scholars. I've enjoyed my involvement in the Pagan Studies Section (and others) of the American Academy of Religion and the Claremont Pagan Studies Conference. My more recent work with the inmates of the Wiccan circle at San Quentin State Prison has been a rewarding challenge. The work I've done in the area of local and regional interfaith has taught me much and in a sense mellowed me. I believe my involvement has benefited Pagans of all religious expressions. That's satisfying.
Most satisfying of all are the years I've spent helping to establish a Pagan seminary, not to parrot overculture models, but to explore our roots in an academic mode, and to prepare Pagans who wish to serve their communities to do so more knowledgeably and more effectively. The good folks, nearly all of whom except faculty are volunteers, who work to make Cherry Hill Seminary happen maintain their focus on CHS' visions and goals regardless of minor disagreements from time to time. In other words, they're mature adults who play well with others.
I do all those things under the auspices of either CoG or CHS. That's community, of course, but establishing a respected Pagan presence in interfaith, academia, and beyond, is work I've been doing more or less independently all along regardless. Opportunities have arisen from these activities, and I mean to take advantage of them when they come my way.
In any case, for the past 18 months I've been seeking to regain my footing. I've been feeling wobbly. I've opened myself to see if and how I might reestablish a sense of belonging, a sense of community.
I found the beginnings of a sense of belonging to something I'll call a 'meta-community' at PantheaCon in San Jose in February. Spending last weekend with the wonderful folks at Sacred Space Conference in Maryland sealed the deal. I'm a Witch at Large, an activist on behalf of Pagandom beyond Craft or tradition. My 'meta-community' has transformed me from Witch to welcome presence almost anywhere.
Not only that, but I've been here in this meta-place all along!
1. In the late '90s some members of Northern Dawn Local Council of CoG proposed making me an honorary member.