Unconfirmed Personal Gnosis

(I wrote to a pagan friend who lives in a small town and doesn’t know any other pagans in person, suggesting that he could benefit from finding some.)

W., you need to get a — do you say coven? anyway, a group that you can practice with.

He replied:

ugh…no thank you.  Why do I need a Coven?  I adore the Freedom that being a solitary affords me.  I try to revive, and construct, a Cult of the Morrighan (and not many strictly worship Her alone). Although, Covens, strictly, are very authoritarian, where the HPs [high priestess] “rules” it, without any whiff of democracy.  Traditionally-speaking, anyway.

Although, as soon as I shall move to DM, I will find some Pagans to pal around with, at least.

So, why do you believe I am in need of a Coven again, exactly?  And, please be HIGHLY specific (and detailed!), for my analytical mind.

Okay, maybe not a formal coven with an authoritarian high priestess. But some kind of circle of like-minded people. 

To pal around with, for one thing. But also as a support system, both for spiritual growth and for general life issues. You share what you have been trying and how it turns out, other people will say it works for them too, or it reminds them of something similar but different. In so doing, the insights you and the others perceive are tested in the discernment of the whole group. And you are mutually accountable to each other for how you use or neglect to use the truths you discover.

Now here is an example from my own experience. The specifics are different from what you will be dealing with, but it illustrates how people in a group can help each other come to realizations that they might not have reached on their own. Last Sunday when we were doing some extensive reflections on the readings, C. said that it had never seemed meaningful to her to be concerned with salvation in the traditional Christian sense of the term. It just wasn’t important to her. She asked the rest of us how we felt. I said that for me, the assurance of salvation means that I don’t have to worry about salvation. The fear that I might at any time fall out of God’s favor is precisely what I have been saved from. I had said that before, but C.’s question prodded me to go further. I said that was one of the good things I got from my Southern Baptist upbringing, the absolute confidence that I am in no danger of hell’s fires. Then I realized it was the Southern Baptists who emphasized the need to be saved from hell in the first place. In other words they supplied both the poison and the antidote. Where does that put them, ethically speaking?

This might not mean much to you. I’m writing it because it was on my mind recently. Although the details would all be different if you were in a group of like-minded seekers, the same general advantages would prevail. Different people would bring to the group their differing strengths and learning styles and life experiences, which can result in everyone growing in ways they might not have by themselves. Some hermits have gone out into the desert to work and meditate by themselves, but most people find it helps to have the support and encouragement of other people.

I’m looking forward to hearing what you think.

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