A Few Words from a Solitary Pagan
When I started walking the Pagan path almost a decade ago (wow! I can't believe it's been that long!), I thought I was the only person interested in Paganism in my city or perhaps even in my whole country. At first, this just frustrated me because I just wanted to learn from someone, or at least learn with someone. Obviously, I couldn't find a teacher and, after reading a few inspirational books, concluded that I didn't need a teacher. All I needed to learn would be sent to me through the universe, or instincts (and a few books every now and then didn't hurt). So, for a while, I was satisfied with learning about Paganism all by myself.
Then the Internet did its part and I met lovely people on forums. To this day, I claim that carrying out discussions on these forums helped me form my personal stances and beliefs about Paganism. After a while, I felt that just talking/typing wasn't enough. All I wanted to do was practice my faith. Since I couldn't put this off any longer, I started practicing on my own.
I didn't know anyone else who could share this interest until one day when the universe blessed me with one acquaintance. This acquaintance turned into a friendship and it brought about several new relationships which also flourished in time. In turn, these friendships also lead to many more friendships and with them, many beautiful experiences. Just by the way, only one of these people lived in my town.
Six years. That's how long it took me to find people that I could work with, even if they did live on the other side of the country. It's funny in a way, how the Universe knows when you're ready for these kinds of things. When I look back now, I realize that out of these six years, at least three were spent in a sort of spiritual limbo in which I wasn't quite sure what I wanted. I started reaching conclusions and fully practicing my faith just about the same time as the Universe sent all these wonderful people to me. Basically, what I'm trying to say is that we all receive what we need in due time.
Ever since then, things have just been getting better and better. About a year or two ago, I found out that I'm not the only Pagan in my town after all - there are quite a few of us. This small circle of people has slowly been growing. We haven't been proselytizing or anything like that. People have just been contacting us one way or another and I have to admit that each one of these people has turned out to be wonderful. We have actually been working together quite often and have performed several Esbats, a few invocations and even celebrated our first Sabbat together this Mabon! :D
Now that I think about it, I can't even call myself a solitary Pagan anymore...at least not in the strictest sense of the word. Nevertheless, I was a solitary for a number of years and know what it feels like to work alone. I occasionally work alone nowadays too, but only for special, personal occasions.
Even though working alone has its charm and its good sides, it can get lonely sometimes, especially if you are very sociable. For instance, Sabbats are supposed to be about celebrating, about feasts, dancing, singing and so on. It's hard to do all this by yourself. Esbats are slightly different, though. I personally find it easier to perform an Esbat ritual by myself than a Sabbat ritual. Working alone can present you with a few more obstacles. One of the largest ones I came across was raising energy. I have recently come to the conclusion that the Cone of Power is the most important part of every ritual (be it an Esbat, Sabbat or any other kind of ritual). The Cone of Power, or any other method of energy raising that you use, forms the core of the ritual and defines its energy, outcome and strength. The group I work with has become great at raising energy and I can't explain how much I enjoy performing this part of the ritual with them. Of course, it's much much harder to raise energy by oneself because of obvious reasons.
Still, working alone can have its good sides. First of all, there is considerably less organization involved. You can just start a ritual anywhere, anytime when you work alone. Also, you can improvise the whole ritual if you like. But when you work in a group, you have to invite everyone, set a time and place, find a fitting location, write a ritual, get everyone synchronized and so on. This gets you exhausted even before you get started with the actual ritual. When working alone, you can also adapt everything to you own needs and preferences. Some people prefer to work skyclad, but don't feel comfortable doing this in a group. Others have a problem letting their bodies and voices go in a group, but feel no inhibitions whatsoever when working alone. Then there is also the issue of traditions/paths; when in a group, one has to take into consideration that not everyone has to follow the same Pagan path so every group ritual has to be adapted and non-specific so that everyone feels comfortable and equally included. When you work alone, you can create a ritual that is tradition/path-specific and fully adapted to your beliefs. In addition to all of this, working alone enables you to do much more personal work and a lot of introspection. Some people meditate on very private issues, ask the gods for help with regard to intimate problems, thank them for personal things and do magic to aid them in their private lives. Not everyone is willing to share these things with a group of people. So yes, being a solitary has its up sides as well.
If you are a Solitary and reading this post, I have several things to say to you. First of all, congratulations on your bravery and persistence. It isn't easy to work alone; I know the feeling. Second of all, I hope that you enjoy following the Solitary path and that it fulfills you, Thirdly, in case it doesn't fulfill you and you wish that you had a group to work with, don't worry; the right people will show up when the time comes. Everyone feels like they're walking their path alone at the beginning. But soon enough, people start joining you in your walk; they step onto your path from side streets and bypaths, lead you along shortcuts and finally, become your guides and friends, just as you become theirs.
In case you want to read more on the topic of the Solitary path, I have written about it before in my posts entitled "Eclecticism and Wicca" and "Solitaries vs. Covens". If you happen to be a Solitary in search of quality literature, well I have some suggestions regarding that too. You would be surprised how many books have been written especially for solitary Wiccans/Pagans. Here are some of my favorite books that helped me a great deal during my first years on this path. :) I hope you enjoy them as much as I did. ^^
I truly recommend reading them if you plan on walking along the solitary path for a while longer. They will really be of great use. :) I wish you the best of luck!
Until next time. Yours,