I want to be a part of a thriving pagan community in Nashville. And honestly, I think we are not thriving. Of my peers, we are drifting away. In the larger community, there seems to be condemnation instead of compassion. At community events, there are cold shoulders more than warm hearts.
Why? Why are we not thriving? Part of it is economic. We are poor, tend to be too independent minded to really thrive in hierarchical work environments, and are hamstrung by the fact that so many of the networking and opportunity contacts run through the Christian churches. We have our choice of 1. pretend to be Christian for the benefits, 2. stay in the broom closet and just don't talk about religion, or 3. be open and risk being punished and discriminated against (and it is a significant risk with a likely bad outcome).We therefore often choose to be invisible and therefore have trouble finding each other, and when we do find each other, we are not as able to support each other as much as we might like.
Part of it may have to do with the burnout of clergy. Many of our older clergy have stepped aside, burned out, chosen not to actively lead anymore. In my personal circles, some left without having fully trained their initiates to a level where they could step in as leaders.
Part of it is politics, I think. A little too much of an insular mindset, combined with the distrust of outsiders who might out you, and added to an opinionated conviction in the superiority of your own personal practice, can combine into a very fractured community.
Whatever the contributing factors, though, I want to begin generating new energy, meet fresh faces, and enrich the pagan community. To that end, I have an iron or two in the fire for beginning a pagan discussion group at the UU. Something to generate energy, and to draw in interested folks. Something to get the wheels going. It would feed a growing need within me, to see this community strengthened and thriving.