Yesterday I found I’d been thrown out of a large Pagan facebook group (Pagans and Witches of the UK). It was a sobering reminder that all communities are conditional and that any community is perfectly entitled to evict me at any time and for any reason. It’s not the first time I’ve been kicked out of something and I’m sure it won’t be the last – the other two occasions were far more upsetting. There is no point protesting innocence, or appealing, getting angry or objecting, because in any community, the people who hold the boundaries have the power, and person evicted has none, and thus endeth the issue.
I wasn’t rude to anyone. I wasn’t trolling. I thought I wasn’t spamming, but four posts in eleven days is just too much, it turns out. Let me be clear, I failed to pay enough attention and I broke their rules and for this reason they are perfectly entitled to close the door on me. I don’t recall exactly what the posts were – proof enough that I wasn’t careful enough about this group. They will have been, for the greater part, me sharing things I thought were good and interesting that other people have done. It’s what I do, and on that score I remain unrepentant. Most Pagan organisers and creators have little or no budget for promoting their work. I will give shout outs, and share on things I think are good, things I’m asked to share – and yes sometimes things I’m paid to share (but I still have to think those things are good to take them on!). Feel free to ask me, or to make use of the spaces I hold.
I try to make sure that, in any space I’m in, I give enough of value to offset any short comings or mistakes on my part. I do my best to make sure I’m putting things in the hat that have at least the same value as anything I might benefit from. I had been an active participant in this ‘community’ but with thousands of people involved, what I give has little value, while my mistakes (largely that my understanding of ‘advertising’ is not theirs) are noticed.
I’m probably not alone in craving community spaces where I don’t feel this pressing sense of conditionality. Spaces it might be safe to turn up in need, and places where saying ‘hey look, a book!’ would not likely get me thrown out. Places where my value as a human being is good enough to offset my sometimes poor concentration, and my getting things wrong. Also spaces where I can champion other people’s projects and help them along.
On which subject, lovely Laura Perry has an online course running in Minoan spirituality – http://www.lauraperryauthor.com/#!online-classes/cmyn
Gods and Radicals is looking for submissions for its online site and twice yearly publication A beautiful Resistance http://godsandradicals.org/never-submit/ (forest-edged words, I love this so much).
You may not have seen the new online shrine to Rhiannon, which is also open to contributions. http://www.churchofasphodel.org/shrines/rhiannon/welcome.html
Of course it flows both ways, because my participation in any group is also conditional. Why would I want to be part of a Pagan group that wants to limit the sharing of Pagan creativity, events, courses and so forth? This is not somewhere I could ever call home. For me, one of the fundamental aspects of community is mutual support, and another is taking an interest in what each other are doing. I don’t know what you have if you take those two things out, but I do know its somewhere I wouldn’t choose to spend any time at all. You can’t have real world action if you can’t talk about things that are happening outside of facebook.
There is an enormous sense of power in being able to reject – especially the power to throw people out of spaces that mattered to them. The power to hurt and to deny can be a massive ego trip. On the whole I prefer the kinds of communities where every effort is made to include and support, they’re just nicer places to be. I’d rather be in communities where the conditions are very unlikely to force out anyone who really wanted to be there.