Y’all know me. I’m pretty big on education of all forms. As Nelson Mandela put it, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” It doesn’t just benefit one person by helping that person grow and evolve, but it also benefits an entire community by promoting cultural understanding and awareness.
Education doesn’t have to be formal. For example a book club is an informal sort of continuing education. Some are a little more intense than others, for example the Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle which is one of the oldest book clubs in America. Others like my mom’s library book club focuses on the social benefits of education (i.e. frequently no one finishes the book, and they chit chat about town news). However the focus of both organizations is self improvement through reading and sharing. Bottom line if you, lovely reader, get anything from this blog, it is that absolutely everyone should engage in some education pursuit in order to be the best version of themselves.
In the modern Pagan tradition we have this amazing nouveau tradition of education through classes, workshops, and intensives. I love it so much because Neo Paganism is such a new faith in the modern context, and by having all of these classes we as a community are having much needed discussions about theology and personal practices. Some classes are completely free and online, for example Selena Fox’s Circle Craft Podcasts. Also a lot of Pagan and New Age shops will hold small classes on really in depth subjects like tarot and crystals and whatnot. These can be great community builders as well. Some shops even bring in famous Pagan authors like Starhawk and Ellen Dugan into their facility for lectures. Similarly festivals like Pagan Spirit Gathering tend to offer classes during the day (here is the list of their course list from 2015). And of course there are programs like Cherry Hill Seminary which confirm Master’s degrees and clergy certification for Pagans who want to become ministers.
Also I think it’s important when you develop a wealth of knowledge in a subject to make the transition from student to teacher in order to further the cycle of education. Last weekend I taught my first class on Paganism through my local community center. There were about eight students there to talk about our personal practices and how to better incorporate them into everyday life. I found it incredibly rewarding to facilitate learning and conversation. Also it was extremely beneficial for me to not only try something new and get out of my comfort zone, but also to learn alongside the attendees.
So as the Wheel Turns to a new Pagan new year this weekend, consider ways you can engage your spiritual brain. Look up workshops and intensives in your area or online. Start a book club or study group. Even teach a couple of classes to help encourage thought in your community. It’s time to find yourself through the pursuit of knowledge.
© Ariadne Woods