If you've read my first post, you will know that I am a Solitary Witch (a term I am still getting use to using on the public stage and in reference to myself). I have been especially guarded of this aspect of my life until this past year. There was no announcing what I am or a "coming out of the broom closet" (as I've heard it put recently). I simply set up a large altar in the public area of my house and stopped hiding my spiritual journey in the shadows of my life. As best I could, I let go of any fears that family and friends wouldn't approve. I am what I am and if they can't love and respect me for that, it's not my problem; it is their's. Fortunately, this hasn't been a problem. Who I was on the outside didn't change all that much because who I was on the inside didn't change. I simply started showing more of the inside to the outside world.
This past year has held many firsts for me in regards to my spiritual journey. One first happened a little over a week ago: I attended a public Beltane ritual in a local park.
I identify as a Solitary. That's not going to change anytime soon. However, in the past I have been known to practice with an EXTREMELY small group from time to time. There have only ever been two others I have trusted enough to work with on a semi regular basis. One (from here on out, I will refer to her as "K") is interested, but just starting out and not highly devoted to individual study. The other, I grew up with like a sister, but life has taken us down roads so different, I doubt we will ever speak to each other again.
K joined me on my excursion into the public setting. We arrived just before noon and there were already a few people gathered near some pick-nick tables. I placed a large bowl of cookies on the pot-luck table (much to the displeasure of the event organizer. He had failed to organize what everyone was bringing for the pot-luck and had apparently not expected so many people to make cookies) and found a nice patch of grass under the shade of a large tree. I spent the next hour talking to a few people and generally observing everyone. As this was my first journey into the local pagan circles, I knew no one. My first encounter (with the event organizer) had not gone well so I was a bit nervous to approach or engage anyone else. After a while, these nerves were laid to rest as more people showed up. We made egg charms to hang in the closest tree, feasted, participated in an AMAZING drum circle, watched a May-Pole dance, and shared stories/life experiences. There were a few more uncomfortable/angry/rude moments that centered around the event organizer, but over-all, everyone was friendly, lively, and wonderfully outgoing.
So when ritual time approached, I felt comfortable enough to stand with several others when the call to the circle began. There were a few moments of tension as the organizer stormed around trying to figure out what to do because "someone who was supposed to help with circle left early" (I'm pretty sure she left early because she fell in injured herself shortly after noon). With a woman to my right and a man to my left, I stood hand-in-hand with strangers and helped to cast the circle. We honored several gods and goddesses, shared a chalice of juice, each took a cookie as the tub was passed around the circle, and were each anointed and received a blessing from our "stand-in" goddess.
Over all, it was a wonderful experience and I met many amazing people. I am glad I decided to break out of my shell and step into the public space for this event. While I will probably think twice about attending one organized by the same man, I will absolutely be looking forward to the next public gathering I have the opportunity to join.
The Solitary practice is what feeds my soul. I do not believe my spiritual beliefs could ever align so perfectly with those of a large group that I could join a coven/study group/etc. However, it is an amazing experience to spend the day with a large group of Pagans. If you have the chance, I highly recommend it. There is only so much interacting you can do with other Pagans online. It is good for your heart and soul to witness so may welcoming, good-natured, loving people all in one place and interacting with one another.