A couple of weeks ago, I celebrated a full year of practicing with my local group. This is the first time I have been a part of a regular group for this long and I wanted to write a bit about my experiences and what being a part of this community means to me.
I am fortunate to have several friends who have similar beliefs in this area. That’s a rare thing, and I am appreciative of the fact that I had not only several Pagans in my circle of friends, but also non-pagans who were open-minded enough to look past the labels, stereotypes and preconceived notions.
There are a couple of Pagan communities in this area, but like any spiritual group, they may or may not ‘fit’. In the cases of the groups I visited with, the latter was true. After one particularly disastrous encounter with a local meet-up group, we (my friends Bridey, Indigo and Kai and I) decided that it was time to start a group of our own.
Our intent in starting the group was to create a family friendly circle that hosted Sabbat and Esbat rituals, as well as a regularly meeting teaching circle group to delve into the many diverse topics that the Pagan community encompasses. I am happy to report that we have done exactly that, and maintained an environment that is open and respectful, bringing together various paths, experiences and lifestyles to create a harmonious, cohesive spiritual family. Over the last year, we’ve gained new friends and some friends have drifted away, but the group we have now is close-knit and strong – it’s a real spiritual family; in many ways, closer to me than my relatives.
I cannot express how much this group – being a part of and practicing with these people – means to me. Over the past couple of years, I have lost several family members; some to death and some to differences in life-paths. In my circle family, I have older sisters and younger sisters, surrogate brothers and mother figures. I appreciate the roles that they have taken on in my life, and the extended family that they provide my children – through Circle members my kids have added aunts, uncles and cousins of sorts, who provide them with peers from similar spiritual outlooks, which is somewhat rare in the Pagan Community.
The group as a whole has grown as well. We started out as a Teaching Circle with the intent of holding Ritual each Sabbat as well. Since then, we’ve added several Esbat Rituals and have started a community blog, and we will be starting a Children’s Circle this year as well. It’s wonderful to be a part of such a supportive Pagan Community.
For our group anniversary, we met for dinner and then went to a ‘paint your own pottery’ place for some crafty fun. Several people made boxes similar to mine, others made coffee mugs, a chalice, and figurines.
On the bottom, I painted the circle name and date to commemorate the event. My lovely little box now occupies a place of honor on my altar, as a symbol of the unity and family that our group has created and maintained. I am so looking forward to how we grow over the next year or practicing together!
What about you? If you practice with a group, do you celebrate milestones or anniversaries? How?