Another in my continuing series about seekers and what I personally pay attention to is the question of perspective. Like courtesy, perspective can mean different things to different people, but there are some ways it manifests in the Pagan community that I see regularly. Keeping perspective about these things goes a long way.
What does perspective look like?
Someone with perspective expects that finding the right group for them might take time. just like finding the right job, or the right romantic relationship. They know there are things they can choose to do to help the process along. At times, they may decide to back off for a time, so they can focus on other areas of their life.
Someone with a lack of perspective might expect a group to fall into their lap right away.
Someone with perspective will understand that there are many different Pagan paths out there. Many people feel drawn to one or two. Perspective means that they will learn a little about those paths before racing down them, and will think about the best ways to reach the goals they want. This exploration is a normal and healthy part of learning – but see it for what it is, and hold off on seeking a more personal relationship with a teacher or group until you’re more sure of your focus!
Someone with a lack of perspective might try out several paths in really rapid succession (like a new path every month), or make decisions based on just one or two resources. (This is what’s sometimes referred to as IRAB Paganism – “I read a book”.)
Peace with the past:
While some people come to Paganism without any other formal religious background (and some folks, these days, were raised Pagan), many of us were raised in other religions. This is absolutely fine – but running from one religion into another can be hard on everyone around you (and hard on you too.) Someone with perspective will take time for reflection, and to make sure they’re choosing their new path deliberately.
Someone who is lacking perspective might pick a path out of reaction to a previous one – and might pick it for reasons that don’t actually apply to that new choice (they just think they do.) For example, some people assume that because individual groups in traditional Wicca are autonomous (there’s no central authority), that Wicca can be anything you like. That’s not true.
Once someone with perspective finds a possible group or teacher, they will ask questions to make sure that there’s a good fit for what they want and can offer. There are many places to start, but some excellent ones are listed in an article from called 12 Steps to Finding a Spiritual Teacher You Can Trust. Someone with perspective will also recognise that the teacher or group will ask questions too, to make sure they’re a good fit before committing to taking someone on as a student or small-group member.
Someone without perspective might be tempted to skip this step, or be afraid to ask questions of their possible teacher. That can be anywhere from very unhelpful to actually dangerous.
Time and energy:
Someone with perspective will remember that a group leader has a lot of other things on their plate. They’re often working full time, balancing group life with their family, other interests, and their personal practice. Someone with perspective will understand that a prospective Seeker probably isn’t the highest priority for their time. They will do what they can to make it easier for the group leader to respond, and will be reasonably patient (at least a couple of weeks) for initial responses.
Someone without perspective might get frustrated if they don’t get an instant response, or if it’s not as welcoming as they hoped for.
The need for fit:
Someone with perspective will understand that there are many fantastic groups out there – but that not every small or focused group is going to be a great fit for any given individual. They’ll be interested not just in whether a group is doing the things they’re interested in – but whether they’re a good fit for the group. They’ll know that the group is also considering the same things.
Someone without perspective might want a group at any cost.
My next post is going to talk about a few of my perspective related personal peeves and frustrations, to give some other ideas of how these things might become an issue.