There is one thing I know about myself without a doubt: I thrive in groups. It’s weird because I am a huge introvert. But that second I find my people, I seem to blossom. In high school and college, I joined organizations and thus found other nerds and weirdos who were just as excited about Gustav Holst and environmental policy as I am. However like most other young people, once I got out in the “real world” there isn’t such a formalized structure in order for someone to make friends. I admit, I was at a loss about what to do. But a few months ago, I was doing research for a Cauldron and Brew article and found a fledgling Pagan circle in my area on Meetup.com. And something just clicked. So I signed up for the next event and shlepped to the local community center. Fast forward to today, I have a small, but growing, tribe of friends.
So let’s step back from the Pagan aspect of this story for a minute (we’ll come back to that). Why are friends important? According to the Mayo Clinic, friendship:
- Increases your sense of belonging and purpose
- Boosts your happiness and reduce your stress
- Improves your self-confidence and self-worth
- Helps you cope with traumas, such as divorce, serious illness, job loss or the death of a loved one
- Encourages you to change or avoid unhealthy lifestyle habits, such as excessive drinking or lack of exercise*
These all seem like great things, right? Basically friends contribute to a healthy lifestyle as well as fill up your social calendar. Now to feel the full effects (and I can personally attest to this one), the goal is quality rather than quantity. For example, my friends in college who joined sororities and fraternities primarily to amass a ton of friends seemed to be constantly miserable with all of the drama such a large group attracts. But consider your group like the Fellowship of the Ring (yeah, I went there). Despite some of their differences and the obvious situational difficulties, they took the time to form bonds on a multifaceted level which lasted beyond the task of destroying the Ring of Power. Friendships that work well both in groups and one-on-one tend to be the most fulfilling and nurturing.
One thing I have noticed is the friendships I have forged based on thoughts and ideas tend to withstand the shifts and changes of life better than any other. Take my high school friend group. We all met through band and orchestra. We all of us loved music and took playing quite seriously (which is how we bonded). One particular friend and I realized we also had a strong interest in liberal politics and philosophy. After graduation, most of those friendships faded. But the friend who I bonded with over discussions about what we believe? Still friends. Better even than we were in high school.
Fellow Witches and Pagans, we are a group of people who spends a lot of time thinking about what we believe, right? Why not build friendships based on thoughtfulness? I’m not pushing anyone into joining a coven or becoming an active member of a circle or your local Pagan Pride organization. I am saying that it’s easier to find common ground when there is a little more growing in your friendship garden than a mutual admiration of dodge ball or hatred of a professor.
So, lovely readers, I encourage you to go find your people in the Pagan community. For solitaries who have never met another Pagan before, we’ve all been there. The first step for you might be attending a community sabat or visiting a new age shop. For Pagans and Witches who have strong relationships with others in the Pagan community, be an example to the rest of us and extend the welcoming hand. We’re a community of faith, people. Let’s start forging strong relationships in order to grow, evolve, and prosper.
© Ariadne Woods