I went and got my hair cut last night. I’ve been going to one of those places where you can walk in without an appointment and whoever is there will cut your hair. I like my hair short, and I’ve generally been happy with their work. Last night I got a really cool hairstylist (I’ll call her Alanna) and as we chatted, she told me she’s Wiccan. I told her I’m pagan, too, and asked her about her plans for Winter Solstice. She wasn’t sure. She said that she’d started out practicing Wicca with a good friend of hers, and her friend had moved away for a couple of years. In the meantime, Alanna hadn’t been celebrating the sabbats and esbats, or practicing her religion actively. She’d lost some of her former focus, now that her friend wasn’t physically near.
This got me thinking of how we can rely on interactions with others to fuel our spiritual life. Pagans, especially those who began their spiritual journey with a coven or circle, may feel like they’re not “really” being spiritually active if they aren’t doing ritual with a group of people on a regular basis. But ultimately, we’re all solitary practitioners. Each person’s relationship with the Divine is unique. When we get distracted from that, and seek connection solely through other people or customary modes and tools of worship, we can lose focus and feel disconnected. As the Charge of the Goddess says, “if that which you seek, you find not within yourself, you will never find it without.”
Alanna’s experience of missing the connection to her spirituality, but not pursuing it because she isn’t in a familiar setting with other people, rings true. I’ve felt it myself in the past, and hear echoes of it from pagan friends. I started out as a solitary pagan, and I’m currently feeling called to focus on that deep solo work, which for me is tied closely with my creativity and imagination. At the same time, I continue to reach out to my spiritual community through writing, Reiki, the creativity coven, hosting gatherings, and other means. As I change, my expressions of my path change too. I’m working on finding a balance of shared spirituality and going deeper into my calling as a writer. Something that works for me is my two co-writing projects. That way I can connect spiritually with others, and also feed my personal connection with the Divine. Obviously, each person’s needs and wants for community will be different. I guess it’s a matter of clarifying what those needs and wants are, and then finding positive ways to pursue them, both alone and in community.