I should have written this post months ago, but I wasn't sure what to say. Bear with me a moment, for my thoughts are a bit disorganized of late, and I don't mean any offense in the following--as with everything I've ever written here, it's about my own experiences, and your mileage may vary.
I know very few Elder Wiccans. I'm told that they're out there--in retirement, or working with their own groups, or in a few cases out in public trying to establish and maintain the tenuous crack-addled spider web of Pagan Community. But where are they for my generation? Where are our counselors, our role models? Who do we look to when our spiritual development hits a wall, or our lives fall apart and the usual 101 or even 201 rituals prove inadequate?
Are we supposed to turn to the coven leaders sleeping with their coveners? Website authors who attack other authors or blatantly copy their entire sites? Or the online forum folk who pounce on every newcomer and brand him or her "fluffy," "Neo-Wiccan," or whatever, automatically labeling him not worth their time? Should we cast ourselves to the trolls for guidance? Because it seems that online communities are made up of mostly trolls and Wicca-er-than-thou types who want it made very clear that they are NOT NEO WICCAN, whatever that means, that they're the REAL DEAL.
When the true Elders are impossible to find because they too have been driven out of Community by, well, the Community, who do we turn to in a spiritual crisis, especially if like many Wiccans in America, our own personal tribe is made up mostly of people near our own age, the Gen-X and Gen-Y of Wicca, who self-taught and built covens from the ground up with our bare hands while ripping our hair out and trying to negotiate jobs, families, and a hostile political climate without going insane. Many of us started teaching less than five years in, so we aren't much more advanced than our students, most of whom may be older than us. Hubris, perhaps--but it kept Wicca moving. The idea of a religion like ours sparks a fire deep in the soul of many, but that fire takes tending.
Who is tending the fire now? Who will tend it then? It's easy to start a fire and to put one out given the right equipment, but to keep one burning takes time, patience, and attention. It takes knowing when to add fuel and when to bank the coals. Who can we count on for this?
Where we fall short is that stretch of time after conversion and initiation but before...well, really, what then? Except in a coven or someplace online like Cherry Hill Seminary, which most Pagans can't afford, where is our advanced training? Is that really something we can do ourselves? What does that term mean, anyway?
And what is it that we're looking for? Magical power? Personal empowerment? Spiritual gnosis? Mystical union with the Divine? A chance to get laid eight times a year? There's only so far you can go in Wiccan teachings without simply running aground and having to look for another vessel. So I've seen many, no most, of the advanced practitioners I know over the years wander out of Wicca and into Buddhism, Hinduism, self-created general Paganism, Judaism, Catholicism.
Tell me this. If Wicca is so damn old, then why does it have nothing in place to cope with later life and deeper spiritual questions? Centuries underground you would think would give Witches time to ponder these things. Did medieval Witches have crises of faith, or were they too focused on not ending up at the stake, in which case, how is Wicca supposed to adapt to life where that doesn't happen anymore? Was the best our ancestors ever got dying of the influenza at 30 with no idea what would come after? And if so, how does this religion that's supposed to be the Olde One apply to our modern lives at all?
At the opposite end of the spectrum, where my own beliefs lie, there is a conundrum just as daunting: there's nothing. There are no great tomes, there are no trodden paths. Oh, sure, we're supposed to figure things out for ourselves, but when have humans ever done that? We are a social species for a reason. We have our shamans and our healers and at no time before in history has everyone expected to be everything to everyone. Who are we, exactly, and where are we going? Do any of us even know? Or are we simply slogging ahead day by day, festival by festival, without looking at the larger picture of what we're creating together?
None of these are new questions. None of them have easy answers. I'm not writing this to start some kind of huge flaming debate over the future of Wicca, or because I expect the community to rise up and reassure me. I'm writing this because I, personally, have no answers. And I think it's time I admitted how deeply that runs.
For over a year now my spirituality has been nonexistent. It may even have started before that. Every attempt I've made to rekindle that precious spark has met with a broken pilot light. I've tried calling, and not calling; going with the flow and creating reality. And to tell you the truth I'm just not sure anyone is listening anymore.
The rituals of Wicca as I learned it have ceased to have any meaning for me. The ideas and ideals of Pagan spirituality still do, but I'm not sure how much really resonates, and how much just sounds good so I cling to it even though, at heart, I come up empty. Group rituals make me deeply uneasy no matter how intimate I am with the other practitioners--and not just Wiccan rituals, any kind. I just can't do it anymore.
What do I still believe in? I believe in the Earth and Sky, the trees and rivers. I believe there's some kind of God out there and that it cannot be confined to one gender or shape. I believe that this God is love, and this God is interested in its creation, not abandoning us to the whims of an uncaring universe, but actively involved in every molecule.
But I don't believe so much in Sabbat rituals and athames and elaborate Circle castings. It's not that I think those things are fake, or unnecessary to Wicca, I just don't think they mean anything to me anymore. Maiden/Mother/Crone symbology always bothered me. The traditions and myths my religion is based on squicked me out with their implied incestuous symbolism and their duly assigned gender roles.
Just like I don't believe I need Jesus to save me or Buddha to liberate me or to observe kosher law to be worthy or to jump up and down in a three-cornered hat singing "I'm a Little Sacred Teapot, Motherfucker" to earn the love of God. I don't know what sacred hoo-ha I need to feel right about religion, but I haven't found it yet.
I've tried so hard to keep myself in some kind of Wicca-shaped box, for fifteen years, carefully reshaping the box around me into groups and traditions and covens and realizing every time that the box still didn't fit. I finally realized that it's not the box that's the problem, it's me trying to live in a box when I'm supposed to be building a circle.
I'm not declaring myself un-Wiccan or anything like that, at least not at present. I'm certainly still a Witch, for the arts of Witchcraft are a part of me. What I am doing is dropping all the bullshit. Here's the truth.
I have no idea who or what I am or what that means. I don't know where I'm going and I don't know what all I still believe in. I don't hear the voice of God anymore, I haven't for a long time. I feel nothing in Circle. That connection to Deity I worked so hard to foster for so long--and wrote an entire book about--just isn't there anymore. Poof!
So I'm going to find it. Not force it, not drag it back, but put a call out to the universe:
Single White Witch Seeks Divine Presence. Enjoys ecstatic dance, dark chocolate, good sleep, occasional mind-blowing sex, and living by her values. If you're a visceral, sensual, compassionate but firm teacher, a lover, a friend, a mother, a father, with a great sense of humor and an even better sense of rhythm, please send a universal clue-by-four or sacred messenger (animal form ok) to Sylvan's Seventh Chakra ASAP. Must love cats. Nonsmokers only.
What does that mean for this blog? Well, it may not mean much. Obviously I haven't blogged this past year anywhere near the volume I did the year before. What I'd like to do is continue to write about my personal journey and my various rantings and meanderings on spirituality, even if they have nothing to do with Wicca, and document where I'm headed....if indeed I'm headed anywhere. I'd also like to start up with Stumbling Towards Ahimsa again, although I think I may change the focus a little (more on that later). For now, you my gentle reader have stumbled upon the blog of a woman whose entire soul is in flux. I don't know what's going to happen, but I hope you'll stick with me, out of morbid curiosity at least, as it does.
Thank you, as always, for reading. Knowing that someone is listening, sometimes, is all that keeps me going.