Not only do Solitary Pagans have to deal with a different assortment of challenges than other Pagans, we also have to take different approaches to Community and Unity. Understanding who we are as Solitaries is critical if we are to be equal partners in the Greater Pagan Community.
Being Solitary Can Be Dangerous
Pagan activities with a group of people can draw strange looks and even the occasional nutter who wants to “save” everyone. I have discovered that, sometimes, practicing your spirituality alone can lead others to think you are actually insane. I suppose I should add this to the list of differences between Traditional Pagans and Solitaries. It isn’t that we are crazier than Traditional Pagans (at least I don’t think so), it’s just that Solitaries seem to be more suspect than groups.
Perhaps when someone sees a group of people doing something out of the ordinary it is viewed as strange but nothing more than “a bunch of wackos”? Perhaps when the same behavior is practiced by an individual it crosses the line into “crazy”? Let me give an example.
About 6 – 7 years ago, the region where I lived was smacked by a very significant ice storm. I personally had no power for 6 days and I lived 3 blocks from the main power substation in the city. I know that a lot of people can relate to that with the winter that we just came through. A few months after the storm my favorite hiking spot finally started getting their trails cleared. They also started marking the trees that were too badly damaged to be saved. This was a place where I spent several hours hiking a couple of times a week. I knew every trail and was familiar with most of the larger trees and their spirits.
When I learned that many trees, including several of the oldest in the wildlife refuge, were to be taken down I was heartbroken. On my next trip out and took time to walk all of the trails and talk to all of the trees that were slated for removal. The trails were still fairly flooded and debris-strewn, but passible enough for me to visit these old friends. One tree spirit was very talkative and frightened, so I sat down, put my arms around it and began talking to it. After a few minutes of this I sensed someone else.
When I opened my eyes and looked around, I saw there was a young couple on the adjoining trail with their small child. Although the look on the adult’s faces was priceless, it was clear that they were disturbed that I was hugging and talking to a tree and telling it not to be afraid. I smiled at them and started to explain what I was doing as I stood up. The couple didn’t wait for my explanation. Apparently standing up made them think that the “crazy tree-guy” was going to attack them so they ran down the trail like jack rabbits, with child in tow, and vanished onto the main trail leading back to the central parking area.
Exercising the better part of valor, I bade the tree spirit farewell and slide back to my car (parked near the “secret” back parking lot) just in case Park Rangers were dispatched with a straight jacket. I can’t help but think that had there been a crowd of tree huggers that the couple would have passed on by with a chuckle, but seeing a Solitary left quite a different impression. Yes, being a Solitary Pagan can be a risky proposition. Not because being “out of the broom closet” might cost a job but because saying hello to a fairy just might get you put in restraints!
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