At the Church of the Earth we find a place to celebrate our Paganism, and here I use the upper case “P” to refer to our systems of belief. Much of Paganism is characterized by a reverence for the Earth. Certainly this is a common denominator of the many paths represented by the many members of our community. But when people ask me, “What is Paganism?,” I cannot as easily describe it to them. We are as varied and diverse a group as most any gathering of people you could imagine. So, for me coming to the Church of the Earth is bit like a trip to the ice-cream shop.
As does ice cream, Paganism comes in a wide variety of flavors. Each one of us probably has a favorite even though we are often willing to taste and sample other flavors from time to time. Some enjoy the various store brands, and even among those may have a popular brand which always finds its way into our shopping cart and freezer. Others may like certain chains where they dip the finest blends of the most natural ingredients or kneed and massage the frozen treat on a refrigerated slab of stone. Some prefer to make theirs at home in the solitary confines of their kitchens, using time honored recipes handed down through the generations in their families or daring to experiment with differing fruits, creams, and taste combinations to achieve the ultimate ice-cream experience. There are those who enjoy the enhancing presence of the cone while others would rather consume theirs from the cup or dish.
I would hold the same can be said for my experience at The Church of the Earth. Whether we are observing a “high holy day” or a simple Sunday morning circle, or perhaps basking in the radiant light of the full moon, each of us who leads a ritual shares a bit of the flavor of their Path or Tradition with us each time. Wiccans, Witches, Druids, Asatru, Animists, and Native American expressions can be shared in our community which honors the meaning each has for that member, without a need or desire to require that belief or “flavor preference” from all of us. Those who have a stronger preference for solitary practice can still find a place of support from a community that recognizes and honors their spiritual beliefs. As long as we remember and honor the Old Ways, and remember and honor the Earth which provides for and sustains us, these tenets become the unifying principles which enable us to be together in this ice-cream shop we call the Church of the Earth.
I hope each person who either visits us, or goes on to call themselves a member of our community, can experience some of the delight of this wonderful diversity. None of us is exactly the same – each is different in her or his own special way. The same is true for our varying beliefs, but our shared beliefs unite us in a more important way. Now, let’s go get some ice cream!