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Community Revisited

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S3E4 TRANSCRIPT:----more----

Mark: Welcome back to the wonder: science-based paganism. I'm your host mark. And today we're going to talk about a subject that we have already done. One episode about. But it was nearly two years ago, Right.

after the start of the Corona virus pandemic.

And I listened to it today and it just seemed really stale and that topic is about community building. And so particularly we want to talk about community building today and also doing that in the context of the pandemic. How can we build an experience community when we're having these concerns?

Yucca: Right. I mean, it really seems like we're in a different, a different era than we were when we did that first that first pass at this topic. And I think we were very hopeful about how quickly things were going to resolve themselves. I don't, I certainly didn't. I didn't expect that we would still be where we are right now.

Two years later.

Mark: Well, at one point in that podcast, I, I remember hearing myself say when I listened to it this morning well, when we get a vaccine and everything goes back to normal, then blah, blah, blah, blah. Well, we have a vaccine, but things have not gone back to normal. And there's, there's still a lot of concern and a lot of, a lot of loss happening around this pandemic.

So,

Yucca: for the vaccine and, you know, fully support, you know, go ahead, get that, you know, if it's something that you, you are able to, and that's really, really important, that's part of this solution. But as we're seeing that, unfortunately it's not quite as simple as we were hoping it would be.

Mark: Yeah.

Yeah.

Those viruses, they mutate so quickly. And of course there's all the whole socio political stuff around getting vaccinated or not really complicated things, but from our standpoint, you know, we're very much a yay science

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: here. And so we really encourage you to get the jabs.

Yucca: Yeah. And I just want to remind folks that there, there are still populations that cannot, I have a child who cannot get the vaccine yet. It's not available to him. And so, you know, for us as a family, It's you know, every, I think that everybody's still being careful, but we have to be super careful. And, and, you know, if you see that, you know, we're very masked up and super social distancing it's because we have a very vulnerable member.

We know we don't want him getting it sick and we don't want him passing it on to his elderly grandparents and all of that. So anyways, this is probably very familiar territory to everyone. So this is the context that we're talking about. Can we hit it again? Right? This is our context today.

Mark: Yes. Yes, exactly. So, so the first thing really to do when you're talking about anything is to define your terms. Right. As an aside that I just had a, ridiculous Twitter exchange with a fist at a Christian who was certain that he was going to prove to me that his God existed, but he was unwilling to define what it meant which is a little problematic when, when you're talking about logical proof.

Yucca: Right. So defining let's start. Yeah. What are we talking about?

Mark: I think we're talking about a variety of different social situations. Community can be a small group of five or six people. It can be a large population of people who all share something in common and feel a sense of shared values and interests. And in the pagan community, we tend to. We tend to have sort of concentric rings of community. Right.

Many people belong to covens or circles that are relatively small working groups that they do a lot of their rituals with. But then they're also part of a local community, which. May hold pagan, pride events or public rituals or something like that. And then they may see themselves as part of a national movement that has conferences and festivals that you go to.

And, and then part of an international community as Well,

Yucca: Well, and, and to jump back down, actually on that local level, they might be part of a community, which is maybe an interfaith where it's this kind of various, you know, non dominant religions that are, you know, there's kind of the right, like vaguely new age people. And the pagans kind of have a a community going on in their, in their area.

Mark: right. The the we're not the big three folks.

Yucca: Yeah,

Mark: Who it's interesting, at least where I live in this, maybe because the, where I live in this kind of blue bubble in Northern California, but in the interfaith circles that I go to, I find that. Pagans and sort of alternative folks are, are disproportionately present.

There's more of them than there are proportionally in the overall population. Whereas the interfaith groups may only have a couple of attendees that are Christian, for example even though they're Christians everywhere,

Yucca: Sure. How was it with the Quakers?

Different, there's like two very different branches of what Quakers could be, but do you tend to have the kind of more, I dunno what to call it? Prim and proper that the Quakers,

Mark: yeah.

the more kind of peace and activism oriented Quakers who are, tend to be sort of less deterministic about theisim you know, for them, it's much more of a practice and, you know, listening for that voice from within themselves. And maybe some of them consider that to be a voice of spirit or of God or something like that.

But others don't

Yucca: Yeah, that's the certs that we've got mostly in my area and they tend to be the ones that will show up and be at many of the space in some many of the spaces that are shared with pagan folks.

Mark: Right.

Yucca: It's very interesting. We also have quite a few sufis as well, but kind of in that area. you.

Mark: Yeah, the last interfaith thing that I did, it was, I don't know, probably 15 people in there were two Quakers in two sufis. And the sufis were the only Muslims represented. There weren't any other more sort of mosque going muslims. And of course, none of the evangelicals are there because why would you.

spend time with people who are wrong?

Yucca: Oh, there's then to convert them.

Mark: right, right. So community. is something that we as humans need we're social animals, and it feeds us to interact with others. Even those of us that are really introverted, still can get something out of engaging with others that we see as being like us, and that we have an affinity for.

Yucca: Well, there's that emotional need of the sense of belonging, which I think is really, really important in the community. Right. And I think that's very important for our, our mental health. Even those of us who are introverts. Right.

Mark: Yeah.

that the feeling of belonging is something that comes up a lot in pagan circles in my experience. And particularly in non-ferrous pagan circles, because people say, oh, I thought I was alone. I thought I was the only one that, you know, that thought this way. And now there's this community of people that I can belong to.

Right. Without having to sort of hide what I really believe. Any of that kind of stuff. And I know that for a lot of people who are sort of social socially misfit, socially disconnected people who are just different and they they're, they're not interested in kind of gliding along the path. That's been carved out for everybody in our society.

Many of those are really gravitated towards paganism. Many of them are, are neuro atypical or. Too bright or you know, or have other sort of social impediments? Um, Yes. So, so let's talk a little bit about different ways of being in community and we're, we're going to talk some a bit later on, we're going to talk some about recruiting community, finding people to be connected with some techniques that we can use. Some strategies that we have for finding ways.

To find people to connect to because it's particularly hard right now with the pandemic. So the next thing to talk about after understanding what community is and why we want it. And that can be I should also say that can also be very functional. You know, if you want to do, if you want to have a book club, for example, you probably don't want a book club of 75 people. You, you know, there, depending on what the interest of the area of shared interest is, there are different sizes of community that you can look at having, but let's talk about how to approach. A new community or, you know, coming to enter an area where you might be able to recruit people who reflect your own interests and share passions that you have.

So you can build community with them.

Yucca: Yeah.

Well, I think one of the first things to do is to listen, And

Mark: Yes.

Yucca: that's listening on many levels, listening to yourself, but also listen. And paying attention to the other people, to the, to the cultural expectations with the sub cultural expectations that you're stepping into. And not just sometimes when we get excited, we can just do all the talking and kind of run over someone else and just taking a moment to, you know, consider are you talking?

Okay. So. With the animals that we have in our homes, sometimes like dogs are, have really different personalities and cats just like on a species level. The individuals have different personalities too, but the way that you're going to be friend to cat, and the way you're going to be friend to dog is different and you need to stop and listen and figure out, you know, is this a dog or a cat that you're dealing with or something else?

Mark: Right. Yeah, that totally makes sense. And not only listening, but being genuinely curious about other people that's, that's really important because a lot of the social glue that builds communities is just a general sense of am I seeing, am I appreciated? Does this person like me, and one way that you can show that a person likes you is by being genuinely curious about who they are and what they're into. So that's a really important piece as well. I think, you know, if you, if you enter a new space and right now we might be talking about county scale pagan disc, or a discord chat or or a zoom call, right? Not something in person, very likely because of how things are. It's a pandemic right now.

You know, really kind of going in there and, you know, not only saying, you know, here's who I am and here's what I'm into, but also asking other people what they're into and who they are is a great way to start building that sense of community around yourself. And who knows, maybe your idea of doing a book club is something that a bunch of other people are really going to get excited about.

Yucca: Right or there's something. Wow. That idea that they had, he didn't even know how much you wanted that idea until you heard them say it.

Mark: Right. Somebody wants to do moon rituals, every full moon. Oh boy. I've always wanted to do full moon rituals, but I can never make myself do them. Right. I just, I don't ever really get around it, but if it's in my calendar to get together with this group, And I've got some accountability with them because they're expecting me to show up.

Then I can start doing this practice that I really have been wanting to get into. Right.

So that's exciting both for you and for them that's, it's a win-win.

Yucca: Right.

Mark: So, a subset of this is talking about being non theist pagans in the broader pagan community. Right.

And we've, we've talked about this before. There can be some friction there, there are people who are very defensive about the reality of their gods and. They're very threatened by the suggestion that there may be someone in their circle who doesn't believe that their gods are real.

This is a little bit of a tight rope to walk, but it's important to both not be in the closet and not be a jerk about it.

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: So you can just say, you know, You know, cosmologically feel logically. This is where I am. I'm a science-based science seeking pagan or witch. And. And I'm a non fist. But you don't need to get into an argument with somebody about whether their gods exist or not.

Look for commonalities. I mean, if somebody starts to get bent out of shape about that, you can immediately go to, for me, the earth is sacred and this ritual is about the sacred earth. I mean, You're invoking Gaia, Right.

The, the world. We share that in common and we can do this in common.

Yucca: All right. And, and also be walking that line, be tactful too, about when you. When you state what you believe, you know, maybe not in the middle of, you know, you, you wouldn't come out to your parents at like your sister's wedding kind of thing right. In the middle of when it's not about you. Right. It's about her.

It's about that. Like, you know, so in the middle of a ritual, if you know, that's what they're into, like, you don't need to be like, no, you're wrong or, or something like that, just, you know, kind of, you know, read the. And, you know, like mark, you were saying, you don't need to hide, but, but just be aware of what's what's going on.

And, and when, when it's important for you to state it, when it isn't, you know, it goes back to that old using pick your battles, like where are you going to be putting your energy right now?

Mark: Right, right. And an important consideration as a part of that is the principle that I call your house, your rules. If somebody else is organizing a ritual, I am not going to give them a hard time about having God. It's their ritual, their rules. If I want to participate, then I'm going to have to, you know, go through that process.

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: I mean, even if it means that I'm just kind of standing quietly while they're, you know, invoking their deities and I'm, you know, just kind of waiting for that part to be over. I'm not going to be interrupted and I'm not going to be argumentative. And you know, that's just not right. But if you're the organizer of the ritual, you don't have to put gods in, in order to accommodate somebody else, you know?

So your house, your rules,

Yucca: right? Yeah. That's that's great.

Mark: the most important, oh, go ahead.

Yucca: oh, well, This was going to take us in another direction code, so please continue. And then I'll then I'll take us off in another direction.

Mark: Okay, that sounds good. The important thing to keep in mind, and this is something that most people will respond to in a positive way. Most people will stand down their defensiveness. If you go to this principle, which is that everybody has the right to their own spiritual path, right. Everybody is an individual.

Everybody develops in their own way. Certain things appeal to people that, I mean, there's a lot of people out there that really want to be told what to do, what to believe. What to value that whole authoritarian model really works for them. And they're not going to be pagans there. They're going to be Christians or they're going to be Muslims or you know, something else.

And they're entitled to. They have a right to it. That's the spiritual path that they choose. So if you get into one of these sort of friction moments, I think it's really important to go back to that. This is my spiritual path and I have a right. to it And you have a right to yours and they don't have to agree.

Yucca: right. And what I was actually going to say is you also can set your boundaries about the types of interactions you want to be involved in, and you completely have the right to do that. And to be able to say that, you know, I don't want to be treated in certain ways and I'm not going to engage if I'm going to be treated that way.

Right. So you can do that.

Mark: right.

Yucca: and when forming, when entering, when looking for a community or being in a community that's growing your needs and boundaries, you know, those are really important. You don't need to make other people have the same boundaries as yours, but you can set those rules for yourself.

Mark: Right.

Yeah. And there are communities out there. That aren't a fit for you. You know, there, there are times when, you know, there may be particular personalities that are really dominant in a given community and they just are you, you and they, excuse me, you and they are like oil. You just don't mix. And if they're already well-established in that community and you're coming in from the outside, you're probably going to bounce off and go and look somewhere else.

And that's okay. It can be sad that there isn't that openness to diversity, but we don't get to control what other people do only are.

Yucca: There's certainly for me been some groups, especially online groups. You know, there's just an accepted communication style, which is just too kinda too rough for what I'm comfortable with. Right. Where, you know, people are more okay with doing jabs and kind of putting words in other people's mouths.

And while there's certain value and things that I love in it, I'm going, you know, I just, I, I just don't have the bandwidth for that.

So. That's cool. Do you all, do you, but I'm going to go over here and I'm going to, I'm going to have stress, stress myself out and I want community, but I'm going to find a little bit of a gentler community, you know, and that's fine.

Mark: Right. Yeah. And being in a community is something where you can, I mean, you can even do it on a pad of paper. You know, it is very much a costs, benefits kind of consideration when you're in. And, you know, I've found myself in communities before where I finally realized this is damaging me more than it's benefiting me.

I got it. Other communities where it's like, wow, this feeds me overwhelmingly. And it's got some things about it that I don't really like, but I can shine those on because this is so good for me and overall So,

positive. And it's important for you to be aware of that. As you participate in a community or as you approach a new community, just really to be aware of how are my needs getting met here? How is this working for me? And it's okay to ask those questions. You don't have to just sort of suffer along because everybody else is suffering a lot.

Yucca: Yeah. And if they don't interpret themselves to suffering, that's fine. Right. They might not be, it might be fine for them or maybe they are, and that's their choice. Right.

Mark: Right.

Yucca: you can take care of your, you gotta take care of yourself. And then most of these cases everybody's going to be an adult. Right. So they can just go ahead and make those choices.

Mark: Right. And if they're not going to be an adult, you don't want to be there anyway,

Yucca: Yes.

Mark: because you know, life is too short to not deal with grownups who aren't grownups.

Yucca: Oh yeah.

Mark: It's, it's hard. And you know, obviously we're all working to be. As adult as we can, as conscientious and as wise as we can. And we are where we are.

But, you know, if, if you have, I mean, one thing that happens in religious communities a lot, and it does happen in pagan communities a lot is that you get these charismatic sort of dominant personalities and. They get the bid in their teeth and start expecting that everybody's going to kiss their ring and it gets really toxic and it is perfectly okay for you to recognize that that's poison to you and you're not going to play that game.

That is perfectly okay.

Yucca: right.

Mark: So let's talk a little bit about how you might go. people that might form a community around you. right.

Obviously you're looking for people who are, have shared interest with you. So if you're really interested in Toronto, for example, you use you meditate on tarot cards as a way of tapping your unconscious and you know, accessing your intuition.

And you want to, you want to talk about that with other people? That's, that's a great opportunity. It's something you could put out on meetup. It's something you could announce in a, in a Reddit group, Reddit, subreddit. And see I mean, especially now during the pandemic, there's, there's less geographical challenge than there used to be. Just to be the meetings were like, well, you have to happening by video conferencing. We have a much better opportunity to engage with people who are all over the world.

Yucca: Right. Yeah. And it's, it's just normalized, right? Like everybody knows how to get on zoom or whatever platform it is. And, and, you know, some people are tired of it because they're working on it or going to school on it or doing all those things. But, but it's not as awkward as it was a few years ago.

Mark: Right, right. Yeah.

It's, I mean, Everybody from little kids to grandparents there, they're all doing zoom now. It's big. It's become sort of a secondary a second nature communication channel for us.

Yucca: Right. We've changed. The verb used to be, oh, Skype with them. Now you zoom

Mark: that's right. That's right?

Yucca: It's her, Skype's not happy about that

piece to be the verb. Yeah,

Mark: but they didn't update their product in a appropriate way in there. They've got a crappy product now, so

Yucca: yeah,

Mark: just not nearly as good as zoom is.

Yucca: So anyways, let's, we're talking about finding shared interest, right?

Mark: right,

Yucca: then, he might find interest within, you know, people who share more than one interest to.

Mark: Right. You know, if you find yourself in a couple of different venues, maybe online and the same person is in both of those and you really like what they have say, maybe that's somebody that you would reach out to.

If you're interested in forming a little circle and saying, Hey, you know, I I'd like to do rituals once a month.

What do you, you know, would you be interested in helping to put together an online ritual circle with me, Or if they're in your local geographical area, you could say, well, maybe we could do this online for now during the pandemic, but eventually we would look to getting together in person.

Yucca: yeah. depending on your comfort level, there might be, you might be able to do some in-person, but distanced, you know, if it's a, if you're interested in outdoors type things, did he go hiking or,

Mark: Right,

Yucca: know, things like that.

Mark: right. Yeah.

Yucca: you can feel pretty, pretty safe that, you know, you're 10 feet away from each other in the outdoors.

You're probably. Okay.

Mark: yes. Yes. And that's good for you in all kinds of ways.

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: Yeah, but that's, I mean, it's good for you because it's exercise and it's good for you cause it's getting out into nature and it's good for you cause it's building community. So all of those things are great. One of the things about building a group of any kind is that you need to have some agreement.

Yucca: Yes.

Mark: And groups can get in trouble by assuming that there's a tacit agreement to how we're going to behave with one another and not explicitly articulating what those agreements are, because then if somebody violates them later and is abusive or harassing or something like that, there's nothing to point to, to say this isn't okay here.

Yucca: Yeah. Well, and even if they're not being abusive or harassing where you just have the conflict that, you know, one person was saying LOD, I didn't think this was okay. And the other person was going, what do you mean? Why isn't this? Okay. We never said anything about it. Why is that a problem?

Mark: right,

Yucca: Or that you wouldn't think that, you know, I was in a pagan kind of group for a long time that it was the one person had the assumption that we shouldn't publicly disagree with each other.

And I would publicly disagree with them and had no idea that I was like, seriously, offending this person. By disagreeing with them because, you know, I thought I was doing it polite fully with gentle language and I feels and all of that, but they were just like horrified by it.

Didn't tell me for a long time that that was a problem. Right. And I had no idea. I'm like, wow.

Mark: Wow.

Yucca: never my intention to hurt you, but Okay.

Mark: wow. That's that's kind of a big one to keep to yourself. I Well just, well,

Yucca: Yeah, well, but, but there are some, we were coming from just very different backgrounds in terms of, you know, they, I was, I come from a background. I come from the sciences where disagreeing with somebody is not a bad thing. You're just trying to work towards the truth.

Mark: Right.

Yucca: chosen. They were from that whole like arts, humanities feelings.

Those are all great things, but there's just a different culture around that. Yeah.

Mark: Yeah, for sure. That's actually something that gets science-based pagans kind of sideways of many other pagans, because our orientation is, you know, what's true matters and we want to interrogate claims, Right.

So, you know, if you claim that you have psychic powers, well, why do you claim that?

And where's the evidence and you know, what are, what are the odds that that's just a coincidence, as opposed to, you know, some sort of actual psychic thing, that's our orientation. And for other people, it can be highly offensive,

Yucca: Right. And then, and it can be taken. Yeah. Well, I know that, I mean, the situation that I'm referring to and I'm kind of being vague about it to be respectful of people's privacy, but I learned later that me challenging the ideas felt to them. Like I was challenging them as a person in their validity when I was just.

Disagreeing with things that I thought were factually incorrect, like claims and statements.

Mark: Right.

Yucca: Right. But for them it was like, no, this is part of my identity. This is part of me. And you're saying this publicly,

Mark: I think it's very, I think it's very challenging, especially given the way that we're encouraged to internalize our worldview by the over culture. I think it's very, very challenging for people to separate their identity from what they believe. To be true. And that's a core aspect of scientific training.

It's, it's an absolutely necessary piece of scientific training and many scientists don't actually do it when it comes to their religious beliefs.

Yucca: Yeah,

Mark: They do it in their area of

Yucca: we're good at

Mark: their, their area of research. right? Yeah.

So, but when it comes to, you know, religious beliefs, you know, cosmology about.

You know, heaven and hell or all that kind of stuff. Then they may very well subscribed to all that stuff, without asking any questions about it, any of the natural questions that would arise. So that is really tricky and it's something that we need to be sensitive to, but it's also something that shouldn't shut off conversation.

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: I. I feel wounded that you have questioned. My cosmology is not a valid statement. You know, I'm sorry you feel wounded. I have not meant to attack you at all. You're a perfectly respectable person. I just disagree with this idea you have, and I don't see why you have it.

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: So going back to agreements and conduct standards it is helpful. I mean every, every mediation negotiation I've ever been through, you know, it starts with the agreements about how we're going to behave and how we're going to deal with conflict. And it is worthwhile to spend a little time on that, because if you can get agreements about that stuff upfront, it will smooth the way for your group's history.

Tremendously.

Yucca: Oh, yeah. At whatever your group is. We're talking about pagan communities, but my partner's a professional DM online and puts out before doing the group an agreement of expectations and people get to like comment on it and all agree. And those games run so much smoother the other ones where you know, that we've been in the past where people.

Kind of, you know, fight and don't know, and don't like, everybody has different expectations. So just having the conversation in the beginning is so, so key.

Mark: Yeah. And it's another one of those adulting things, Right. I mean, it can be a little uncomfortable to raise the issue that we may have conflict to raise the issue that somebody may feel that someone else has treated them in a, in an inappropriate way, but not talking about it. Doesn't prevent it from happening.

Yucca: Right.

Mark: It's just like, Def talking about Def doesn't make it any more likely to happen to you suddenly.

Yucca: And it doesn't make you a bad community that you have conflict. It doesn't make you same thing with partnerships. Right? If you fight, if you're having a fight with your partner, like that's just being human, right. How you then handle it. That's different. Right. But some people go, oh, you know, we don't have to talk about how we'll do conflict resolution because we're never going to have it.

We're so similar where this like, no that's humans, we disagree. We accidentally hurt each other. Sometimes we purposefully hurt each other and we need to address that within ourselves when we do.

Mark: Sometimes we get mad and we say things that we really wish we hadn't said, and we do things that we really wish we hadn't done. And there needs to be a way to address that and repair it. And having those agreements makes a big difference in, in being able to get to a good place. Again.

Yucca: Yeah. And there's going to be different levels, right? We're not saying that like, every single friendship needs to have like a, like a huge book of written down, commandments with the amendments and all of that. But, it's going to depend on the scale and the frequency, but that there should be some agreed upon that you, that you're working from the same page.

And sometimes an actual written agreement might be really helping.

Mark: Yeah.

Yeah. And I mean, that's actually true in relationships too, that, you know, written agreements around how we're going to do conflict, you know, how we're going to do decision-making, you know, it's like, no, I'm, it's not okay with me. If you run out and spend $5,000 on something that we didn't even talk about.

not. Okay. So, you know, what are those thresholds? What, you know, what, what do we need to both talk about? Right.

Yucca: Where our boundaries for privacy, right? What, because that's going to be different for different people.

Mark: Yes, it is. So it sounds sort of technocratic And You know, rule-bound and all That kind of stuff, but honestly, these kinds of agreements help facilitate better communication, better relationships.

And you can actually get closer because there's more safety

Yucca: And

respect, right. That respect is, is part of that safety.

Mark: Right. Yeah. So I wanted to tell our listeners about an initiative that's happening in the atheopagan community right now. Cause I know that a lot of our listeners are, are in that community. That I'm very excited about.

I announced it in the Facebook group yesterday. We are currently in the middle of finalizing. Conduct standards and and agreements for dealing with conflict and anti harassment policies and anti-discrimination policies, all that kind of stuff. And we're doing all of that. This is for atheopagan context.

And that would include the Facebook group and the discord server and all that kind of stuff. But more to the point, we're now looking at.

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: we're going to roll out a program called affinity groups. And What that means is that people can form their own little atheopagan groups. They don't have to be little, I mean, it could be 75 people or something. Around a topic of interest or a geographical area, or, you know, whatever is the common thread that binds those people together. And then those groups can meet on their own on whatever platforms they find useful, whether it's Facebook or discord or Mastodon or whatever it is.

Yucca: One? I have not heard of

Mark: I just heard about this.

Mastodon is a open source, highly private Twitter, like thing. It's a microblogging context. I haven't actually seen it, but apparently it's like, there's no, there's no data capture. And so for people that are really, really focused on online privacy, it's something that's desirable.

Yucca: Hmm.

Like the animal that is named for,

Mark: yeah, me

Yucca: anyways

sorry to derail you there. Let's let's keep going.

Mark: that's okay. So I expect we're, we're about to open the the conduct standards to to, for community comment. In, in the atheopagan Facebook group and discord server, that will happen tomorrow because I'll be getting the last of the comments from the atheopagan council by tonight

Yucca: So that actually means tomorrow will be. The first day that people will be listening can be listening to the podcast because this is Sunday night that we're recording. And so the podcast usually goes live Monday morning, but sometimes, sometimes life has other plans you know, sick kids or cars or whatever.

And it will come out a little bit later, but we shoot for Monday morning when we can.

Mark: Right,

Yucca: So that will, that should be by, by the time you're listening to that, that should be there.

Mark: That should be available. And so we invite you to take a look at all that stuff and comment on it. You know, if there's something that's missing, please let us know if there's some, you know, form of language that just doesn't sit Right.

with you. That's fine. This is important because these new atheopagan affinity groups will not be moderated by anybody.

Other than themselves. They're they're self-managed right. They're your groups you can do with them, what you want. But what we do ask is that you sign a charter that says, you know, we're, atheopagan, we believe in a naturalistic world and these four pillars and 13 principles, and our group has this purpose.

It's a thing you can print. And I don't know, put on your wall or whatever the charter for your, for your new group. But it also includes the conduct standards and stuff, so that if there is a problem if someone comes into the group and, you know, starts private messaging, somebody. Sexually explicit pictures or something.

You have a document you can point back at it and say, this is totally not okay. And you, you know, you know that it's totally not. Okay. Cause we have it here in writing.

Yucca: Yeah, and this is a great, you know, it's open every, everybody knows that that's not a secret. What the expectations are here. It is. We all have access to it.

Yeah.

Mark: So I am really excited about this affinity groups idea. I think it's the next, the next step for our community is for people to start to have a control over forming their own communities of interest. You know, the, the atheopagan Facebook group is about to hit 4,000 people. It's large

Yucca: Yeah, it's definitely. And things happen fast too. It's like, ah, you

Mark: They do. Yes. They happen really fast, which for the moderators is a challenge. And

Yucca: for the, the affinity groups. Especially yeah, later lots of different areas, but you know that that's another form. There's going to be a little bit more intimate form of community.

Mark: Right. The idea there is you get to know one another, you know, let's say you've got a group of like nine people or something. You get to know one another and you form friendships and those friendships can deepen. If your affinity group is focused in a particular area, like, you know, atheopagan of New Jersey, When the pandemic eases or there's a really reliable medication for it so that people don't get definitely ill.

Then you can meet in person and see where that takes you. So I am super excited about this. I think it's, it's definitely a step whose time has come and You know, a lot of what we're about is building community around these ideas and these beliefs since. So, this is, this is an important moment for that.

I think.

Yucca: Yeah. Well, I'm glad that we came back to this topic and we probably will come back to it again, because this is, this is just a really important thing about being human and being pagan and just in the world.

Mark: It is, it is I should put in one more plug for the century retreat in Colorado happening in Colorado Springs on May 13th through 16th. That is an in-person gathering of non-ferrous pagans. The programming is now available. You can download the PDF with all the workshops And activities and all that kind of stuff.

At atheopagan and some.org.

Yucca: And we will be doing a live podcast from, from the retreat.

Mark: we will wifi permitting. We, we will, we will do that.

Yucca: Well, if the wifi doesn't permit, we'll still record it and publish it. Well, we'll definitely do a podcast coming from there. Hopefully we'll be able to do it live though.

Mark: to do it live. Yeah.

And have other people join us here on the zoom call would be really nice because I know that there are folks that are, you know, they're either in Europe or. Australia or they're just unable to get to Colorado Springs for one reason or another, that would still like to be a part of this.

So I, I think that's really an exciting thing. So we invite you to register for that. It's cheap. I mean, you have to get to Colorado Springs, but. It's $215 for the three days that includes all your meals. We just sent the meal orders to the to the retreat center and we're going to have some really lovely food and plus lodging.

So, and lodging can be as cheap as 70 bucks for camping for the three days, or it can be camping in a year, which I think is. Actually maybe the, maybe the year is $70 and the camping is $22 or something. I don't remember.

Yucca: Yeah, but they're, they're fairly low for.

Mark: yes,

Yucca: Yeah. And,

and

Mark: then there are

Yucca: there's the option for if people are local to the area, you know, you can live in your home and come hang out with us during the day. Right?

Mark: Yeah.

I mean, if you're, if you're within driving distance, then by all means, you know, register for the event and come in and just do the stuff with us. It's going to be great. We're going to have wonderful rituals and workshops and a lot of socializing and it's just in a dance party and it's going to be really fun.

Yucca: Yeah. So just around the corner may is very soon. So

Mark: believe how close Mae is now. We've been talking about this for a long time.

Yucca: yeah.

Mark: Yeah. Okay. Well, Thank you so much for listening as always. We really appreciate our listeners and we get great feedback from you and great ideas about things to talk about on the podcast. And I'm just super grateful to be able to do this and have listeners.

So thank you.

Yucca: Thank you everyone.

Mark: See you next week.

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S3E4 TRANSCRIPT:----more----

Mark: Welcome back to the wonder: science-based paganism. I'm your host mark. And today we're going to talk about a subject that we have already done. One episode about. But it was nearly two years ago, Right.

after the start of the Corona virus pandemic.

And I listened to it today and it just seemed really stale and that topic is about community building. And so particularly we want to talk about community building today and also doing that in the context of the pandemic. How can we build an experience community when we're having these concerns?

Yucca: Right. I mean, it really seems like we're in a different, a different era than we were when we did that first that first pass at this topic. And I think we were very hopeful about how quickly things were going to resolve themselves. I don't, I certainly didn't. I didn't expect that we would still be where we are right now.

Two years later.

Mark: Well, at one point in that podcast, I, I remember hearing myself say when I listened to it this morning well, when we get a vaccine and everything goes back to normal, then blah, blah, blah, blah. Well, we have a vaccine, but things have not gone back to normal. And there's, there's still a lot of concern and a lot of, a lot of loss happening around this pandemic.

So,

Yucca: for the vaccine and, you know, fully support, you know, go ahead, get that, you know, if it's something that you, you are able to, and that's really, really important, that's part of this solution. But as we're seeing that, unfortunately it's not quite as simple as we were hoping it would be.

Mark: Yeah.

Yeah.

Those viruses, they mutate so quickly. And of course there's all the whole socio political stuff around getting vaccinated or not really complicated things, but from our standpoint, you know, we're very much a yay science

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: here. And so we really encourage you to get the jabs.

Yucca: Yeah. And I just want to remind folks that there, there are still populations that cannot, I have a child who cannot get the vaccine yet. It's not available to him. And so, you know, for us as a family, It's you know, every, I think that everybody's still being careful, but we have to be super careful. And, and, you know, if you see that, you know, we're very masked up and super social distancing it's because we have a very vulnerable member.

We know we don't want him getting it sick and we don't want him passing it on to his elderly grandparents and all of that. So anyways, this is probably very familiar territory to everyone. So this is the context that we're talking about. Can we hit it again? Right? This is our context today.

Mark: Yes. Yes, exactly. So, so the first thing really to do when you're talking about anything is to define your terms. Right. As an aside that I just had a, ridiculous Twitter exchange with a fist at a Christian who was certain that he was going to prove to me that his God existed, but he was unwilling to define what it meant which is a little problematic when, when you're talking about logical proof.

Yucca: Right. So defining let's start. Yeah. What are we talking about?

Mark: I think we're talking about a variety of different social situations. Community can be a small group of five or six people. It can be a large population of people who all share something in common and feel a sense of shared values and interests. And in the pagan community, we tend to. We tend to have sort of concentric rings of community. Right.

Many people belong to covens or circles that are relatively small working groups that they do a lot of their rituals with. But then they're also part of a local community, which. May hold pagan, pride events or public rituals or something like that. And then they may see themselves as part of a national movement that has conferences and festivals that you go to.

And, and then part of an international community as Well,

Yucca: Well, and, and to jump back down, actually on that local level, they might be part of a community, which is maybe an interfaith where it's this kind of various, you know, non dominant religions that are, you know, there's kind of the right, like vaguely new age people. And the pagans kind of have a a community going on in their, in their area.

Mark: right. The the we're not the big three folks.

Yucca: Yeah,

Mark: Who it's interesting, at least where I live in this, maybe because the, where I live in this kind of blue bubble in Northern California, but in the interfaith circles that I go to, I find that. Pagans and sort of alternative folks are, are disproportionately present.

There's more of them than there are proportionally in the overall population. Whereas the interfaith groups may only have a couple of attendees that are Christian, for example even though they're Christians everywhere,

Yucca: Sure. How was it with the Quakers?

Different, there's like two very different branches of what Quakers could be, but do you tend to have the kind of more, I dunno what to call it? Prim and proper that the Quakers,

Mark: yeah.

the more kind of peace and activism oriented Quakers who are, tend to be sort of less deterministic about theisim you know, for them, it's much more of a practice and, you know, listening for that voice from within themselves. And maybe some of them consider that to be a voice of spirit or of God or something like that.

But others don't

Yucca: Yeah, that's the certs that we've got mostly in my area and they tend to be the ones that will show up and be at many of the space in some many of the spaces that are shared with pagan folks.

Mark: Right.

Yucca: It's very interesting. We also have quite a few sufis as well, but kind of in that area. you.

Mark: Yeah, the last interfaith thing that I did, it was, I don't know, probably 15 people in there were two Quakers in two sufis. And the sufis were the only Muslims represented. There weren't any other more sort of mosque going muslims. And of course, none of the evangelicals are there because why would you.

spend time with people who are wrong?

Yucca: Oh, there's then to convert them.

Mark: right, right. So community. is something that we as humans need we're social animals, and it feeds us to interact with others. Even those of us that are really introverted, still can get something out of engaging with others that we see as being like us, and that we have an affinity for.

Yucca: Well, there's that emotional need of the sense of belonging, which I think is really, really important in the community. Right. And I think that's very important for our, our mental health. Even those of us who are introverts. Right.

Mark: Yeah.

that the feeling of belonging is something that comes up a lot in pagan circles in my experience. And particularly in non-ferrous pagan circles, because people say, oh, I thought I was alone. I thought I was the only one that, you know, that thought this way. And now there's this community of people that I can belong to.

Right. Without having to sort of hide what I really believe. Any of that kind of stuff. And I know that for a lot of people who are sort of social socially misfit, socially disconnected people who are just different and they they're, they're not interested in kind of gliding along the path. That's been carved out for everybody in our society.

Many of those are really gravitated towards paganism. Many of them are, are neuro atypical or. Too bright or you know, or have other sort of social impediments? Um, Yes. So, so let's talk a little bit about different ways of being in community and we're, we're going to talk some a bit later on, we're going to talk some about recruiting community, finding people to be connected with some techniques that we can use. Some strategies that we have for finding ways.

To find people to connect to because it's particularly hard right now with the pandemic. So the next thing to talk about after understanding what community is and why we want it. And that can be I should also say that can also be very functional. You know, if you want to do, if you want to have a book club, for example, you probably don't want a book club of 75 people. You, you know, there, depending on what the interest of the area of shared interest is, there are different sizes of community that you can look at having, but let's talk about how to approach. A new community or, you know, coming to enter an area where you might be able to recruit people who reflect your own interests and share passions that you have.

So you can build community with them.

Yucca: Yeah.

Well, I think one of the first things to do is to listen, And

Mark: Yes.

Yucca: that's listening on many levels, listening to yourself, but also listen. And paying attention to the other people, to the, to the cultural expectations with the sub cultural expectations that you're stepping into. And not just sometimes when we get excited, we can just do all the talking and kind of run over someone else and just taking a moment to, you know, consider are you talking?

Okay. So. With the animals that we have in our homes, sometimes like dogs are, have really different personalities and cats just like on a species level. The individuals have different personalities too, but the way that you're going to be friend to cat, and the way you're going to be friend to dog is different and you need to stop and listen and figure out, you know, is this a dog or a cat that you're dealing with or something else?

Mark: Right. Yeah, that totally makes sense. And not only listening, but being genuinely curious about other people that's, that's really important because a lot of the social glue that builds communities is just a general sense of am I seeing, am I appreciated? Does this person like me, and one way that you can show that a person likes you is by being genuinely curious about who they are and what they're into. So that's a really important piece as well. I think, you know, if you, if you enter a new space and right now we might be talking about county scale pagan disc, or a discord chat or or a zoom call, right? Not something in person, very likely because of how things are. It's a pandemic right now.

You know, really kind of going in there and, you know, not only saying, you know, here's who I am and here's what I'm into, but also asking other people what they're into and who they are is a great way to start building that sense of community around yourself. And who knows, maybe your idea of doing a book club is something that a bunch of other people are really going to get excited about.

Yucca: Right or there's something. Wow. That idea that they had, he didn't even know how much you wanted that idea until you heard them say it.

Mark: Right. Somebody wants to do moon rituals, every full moon. Oh boy. I've always wanted to do full moon rituals, but I can never make myself do them. Right. I just, I don't ever really get around it, but if it's in my calendar to get together with this group, And I've got some accountability with them because they're expecting me to show up.

Then I can start doing this practice that I really have been wanting to get into. Right.

So that's exciting both for you and for them that's, it's a win-win.

Yucca: Right.

Mark: So, a subset of this is talking about being non theist pagans in the broader pagan community. Right.

And we've, we've talked about this before. There can be some friction there, there are people who are very defensive about the reality of their gods and. They're very threatened by the suggestion that there may be someone in their circle who doesn't believe that their gods are real.

This is a little bit of a tight rope to walk, but it's important to both not be in the closet and not be a jerk about it.

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: So you can just say, you know, You know, cosmologically feel logically. This is where I am. I'm a science-based science seeking pagan or witch. And. And I'm a non fist. But you don't need to get into an argument with somebody about whether their gods exist or not.

Look for commonalities. I mean, if somebody starts to get bent out of shape about that, you can immediately go to, for me, the earth is sacred and this ritual is about the sacred earth. I mean, You're invoking Gaia, Right.

The, the world. We share that in common and we can do this in common.

Yucca: All right. And, and also be walking that line, be tactful too, about when you. When you state what you believe, you know, maybe not in the middle of, you know, you, you wouldn't come out to your parents at like your sister's wedding kind of thing right. In the middle of when it's not about you. Right. It's about her.

It's about that. Like, you know, so in the middle of a ritual, if you know, that's what they're into, like, you don't need to be like, no, you're wrong or, or something like that, just, you know, kind of, you know, read the. And, you know, like mark, you were saying, you don't need to hide, but, but just be aware of what's what's going on.

And, and when, when it's important for you to state it, when it isn't, you know, it goes back to that old using pick your battles, like where are you going to be putting your energy right now?

Mark: Right, right. And an important consideration as a part of that is the principle that I call your house, your rules. If somebody else is organizing a ritual, I am not going to give them a hard time about having God. It's their ritual, their rules. If I want to participate, then I'm going to have to, you know, go through that process.

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: I mean, even if it means that I'm just kind of standing quietly while they're, you know, invoking their deities and I'm, you know, just kind of waiting for that part to be over. I'm not going to be interrupted and I'm not going to be argumentative. And you know, that's just not right. But if you're the organizer of the ritual, you don't have to put gods in, in order to accommodate somebody else, you know?

So your house, your rules,

Yucca: right? Yeah. That's that's great.

Mark: the most important, oh, go ahead.

Yucca: oh, well, This was going to take us in another direction code, so please continue. And then I'll then I'll take us off in another direction.

Mark: Okay, that sounds good. The important thing to keep in mind, and this is something that most people will respond to in a positive way. Most people will stand down their defensiveness. If you go to this principle, which is that everybody has the right to their own spiritual path, right. Everybody is an individual.

Everybody develops in their own way. Certain things appeal to people that, I mean, there's a lot of people out there that really want to be told what to do, what to believe. What to value that whole authoritarian model really works for them. And they're not going to be pagans there. They're going to be Christians or they're going to be Muslims or you know, something else.

And they're entitled to. They have a right to it. That's the spiritual path that they choose. So if you get into one of these sort of friction moments, I think it's really important to go back to that. This is my spiritual path and I have a right. to it And you have a right to yours and they don't have to agree.

Yucca: right. And what I was actually going to say is you also can set your boundaries about the types of interactions you want to be involved in, and you completely have the right to do that. And to be able to say that, you know, I don't want to be treated in certain ways and I'm not going to engage if I'm going to be treated that way.

Right. So you can do that.

Mark: right.

Yucca: and when forming, when entering, when looking for a community or being in a community that's growing your needs and boundaries, you know, those are really important. You don't need to make other people have the same boundaries as yours, but you can set those rules for yourself.

Mark: Right.

Yeah. And there are communities out there. That aren't a fit for you. You know, there, there are times when, you know, there may be particular personalities that are really dominant in a given community and they just are you, you and they, excuse me, you and they are like oil. You just don't mix. And if they're already well-established in that community and you're coming in from the outside, you're probably going to bounce off and go and look somewhere else.

And that's okay. It can be sad that there isn't that openness to diversity, but we don't get to control what other people do only are.

Yucca: There's certainly for me been some groups, especially online groups. You know, there's just an accepted communication style, which is just too kinda too rough for what I'm comfortable with. Right. Where, you know, people are more okay with doing jabs and kind of putting words in other people's mouths.

And while there's certain value and things that I love in it, I'm going, you know, I just, I, I just don't have the bandwidth for that.

So. That's cool. Do you all, do you, but I'm going to go over here and I'm going to, I'm going to have stress, stress myself out and I want community, but I'm going to find a little bit of a gentler community, you know, and that's fine.

Mark: Right. Yeah. And being in a community is something where you can, I mean, you can even do it on a pad of paper. You know, it is very much a costs, benefits kind of consideration when you're in. And, you know, I've found myself in communities before where I finally realized this is damaging me more than it's benefiting me.

I got it. Other communities where it's like, wow, this feeds me overwhelmingly. And it's got some things about it that I don't really like, but I can shine those on because this is so good for me and overall So,

positive. And it's important for you to be aware of that. As you participate in a community or as you approach a new community, just really to be aware of how are my needs getting met here? How is this working for me? And it's okay to ask those questions. You don't have to just sort of suffer along because everybody else is suffering a lot.

Yucca: Yeah. And if they don't interpret themselves to suffering, that's fine. Right. They might not be, it might be fine for them or maybe they are, and that's their choice. Right.

Mark: Right.

Yucca: you can take care of your, you gotta take care of yourself. And then most of these cases everybody's going to be an adult. Right. So they can just go ahead and make those choices.

Mark: Right. And if they're not going to be an adult, you don't want to be there anyway,

Yucca: Yes.

Mark: because you know, life is too short to not deal with grownups who aren't grownups.

Yucca: Oh yeah.

Mark: It's, it's hard. And you know, obviously we're all working to be. As adult as we can, as conscientious and as wise as we can. And we are where we are.

But, you know, if, if you have, I mean, one thing that happens in religious communities a lot, and it does happen in pagan communities a lot is that you get these charismatic sort of dominant personalities and. They get the bid in their teeth and start expecting that everybody's going to kiss their ring and it gets really toxic and it is perfectly okay for you to recognize that that's poison to you and you're not going to play that game.

That is perfectly okay.

Yucca: right.

Mark: So let's talk a little bit about how you might go. people that might form a community around you. right.

Obviously you're looking for people who are, have shared interest with you. So if you're really interested in Toronto, for example, you use you meditate on tarot cards as a way of tapping your unconscious and you know, accessing your intuition.

And you want to, you want to talk about that with other people? That's, that's a great opportunity. It's something you could put out on meetup. It's something you could announce in a, in a Reddit group, Reddit, subreddit. And see I mean, especially now during the pandemic, there's, there's less geographical challenge than there used to be. Just to be the meetings were like, well, you have to happening by video conferencing. We have a much better opportunity to engage with people who are all over the world.

Yucca: Right. Yeah. And it's, it's just normalized, right? Like everybody knows how to get on zoom or whatever platform it is. And, and, you know, some people are tired of it because they're working on it or going to school on it or doing all those things. But, but it's not as awkward as it was a few years ago.

Mark: Right, right. Yeah.

It's, I mean, Everybody from little kids to grandparents there, they're all doing zoom now. It's big. It's become sort of a secondary a second nature communication channel for us.

Yucca: Right. We've changed. The verb used to be, oh, Skype with them. Now you zoom

Mark: that's right. That's right?

Yucca: It's her, Skype's not happy about that

piece to be the verb. Yeah,

Mark: but they didn't update their product in a appropriate way in there. They've got a crappy product now, so

Yucca: yeah,

Mark: just not nearly as good as zoom is.

Yucca: So anyways, let's, we're talking about finding shared interest, right?

Mark: right,

Yucca: then, he might find interest within, you know, people who share more than one interest to.

Mark: Right. You know, if you find yourself in a couple of different venues, maybe online and the same person is in both of those and you really like what they have say, maybe that's somebody that you would reach out to.

If you're interested in forming a little circle and saying, Hey, you know, I I'd like to do rituals once a month.

What do you, you know, would you be interested in helping to put together an online ritual circle with me, Or if they're in your local geographical area, you could say, well, maybe we could do this online for now during the pandemic, but eventually we would look to getting together in person.

Yucca: yeah. depending on your comfort level, there might be, you might be able to do some in-person, but distanced, you know, if it's a, if you're interested in outdoors type things, did he go hiking or,

Mark: Right,

Yucca: know, things like that.

Mark: right. Yeah.

Yucca: you can feel pretty, pretty safe that, you know, you're 10 feet away from each other in the outdoors.

You're probably. Okay.

Mark: yes. Yes. And that's good for you in all kinds of ways.

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: Yeah, but that's, I mean, it's good for you because it's exercise and it's good for you cause it's getting out into nature and it's good for you cause it's building community. So all of those things are great. One of the things about building a group of any kind is that you need to have some agreement.

Yucca: Yes.

Mark: And groups can get in trouble by assuming that there's a tacit agreement to how we're going to behave with one another and not explicitly articulating what those agreements are, because then if somebody violates them later and is abusive or harassing or something like that, there's nothing to point to, to say this isn't okay here.

Yucca: Yeah. Well, and even if they're not being abusive or harassing where you just have the conflict that, you know, one person was saying LOD, I didn't think this was okay. And the other person was going, what do you mean? Why isn't this? Okay. We never said anything about it. Why is that a problem?

Mark: right,

Yucca: Or that you wouldn't think that, you know, I was in a pagan kind of group for a long time that it was the one person had the assumption that we shouldn't publicly disagree with each other.

And I would publicly disagree with them and had no idea that I was like, seriously, offending this person. By disagreeing with them because, you know, I thought I was doing it polite fully with gentle language and I feels and all of that, but they were just like horrified by it.

Didn't tell me for a long time that that was a problem. Right. And I had no idea. I'm like, wow.

Mark: Wow.

Yucca: never my intention to hurt you, but Okay.

Mark: wow. That's that's kind of a big one to keep to yourself. I Well just, well,

Yucca: Yeah, well, but, but there are some, we were coming from just very different backgrounds in terms of, you know, they, I was, I come from a background. I come from the sciences where disagreeing with somebody is not a bad thing. You're just trying to work towards the truth.

Mark: Right.

Yucca: chosen. They were from that whole like arts, humanities feelings.

Those are all great things, but there's just a different culture around that. Yeah.

Mark: Yeah, for sure. That's actually something that gets science-based pagans kind of sideways of many other pagans, because our orientation is, you know, what's true matters and we want to interrogate claims, Right.

So, you know, if you claim that you have psychic powers, well, why do you claim that?

And where's the evidence and you know, what are, what are the odds that that's just a coincidence, as opposed to, you know, some sort of actual psychic thing, that's our orientation. And for other people, it can be highly offensive,

Yucca: Right. And then, and it can be taken. Yeah. Well, I know that, I mean, the situation that I'm referring to and I'm kind of being vague about it to be respectful of people's privacy, but I learned later that me challenging the ideas felt to them. Like I was challenging them as a person in their validity when I was just.

Disagreeing with things that I thought were factually incorrect, like claims and statements.

Mark: Right.

Yucca: Right. But for them it was like, no, this is part of my identity. This is part of me. And you're saying this publicly,

Mark: I think it's very, I think it's very challenging, especially given the way that we're encouraged to internalize our worldview by the over culture. I think it's very, very challenging for people to separate their identity from what they believe. To be true. And that's a core aspect of scientific training.

It's, it's an absolutely necessary piece of scientific training and many scientists don't actually do it when it comes to their religious beliefs.

Yucca: Yeah,

Mark: They do it in their area of

Yucca: we're good at

Mark: their, their area of research. right? Yeah.

So, but when it comes to, you know, religious beliefs, you know, cosmology about.

You know, heaven and hell or all that kind of stuff. Then they may very well subscribed to all that stuff, without asking any questions about it, any of the natural questions that would arise. So that is really tricky and it's something that we need to be sensitive to, but it's also something that shouldn't shut off conversation.

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: I. I feel wounded that you have questioned. My cosmology is not a valid statement. You know, I'm sorry you feel wounded. I have not meant to attack you at all. You're a perfectly respectable person. I just disagree with this idea you have, and I don't see why you have it.

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: So going back to agreements and conduct standards it is helpful. I mean every, every mediation negotiation I've ever been through, you know, it starts with the agreements about how we're going to behave and how we're going to deal with conflict. And it is worthwhile to spend a little time on that, because if you can get agreements about that stuff upfront, it will smooth the way for your group's history.

Tremendously.

Yucca: Oh, yeah. At whatever your group is. We're talking about pagan communities, but my partner's a professional DM online and puts out before doing the group an agreement of expectations and people get to like comment on it and all agree. And those games run so much smoother the other ones where you know, that we've been in the past where people.

Kind of, you know, fight and don't know, and don't like, everybody has different expectations. So just having the conversation in the beginning is so, so key.

Mark: Yeah. And it's another one of those adulting things, Right. I mean, it can be a little uncomfortable to raise the issue that we may have conflict to raise the issue that somebody may feel that someone else has treated them in a, in an inappropriate way, but not talking about it. Doesn't prevent it from happening.

Yucca: Right.

Mark: It's just like, Def talking about Def doesn't make it any more likely to happen to you suddenly.

Yucca: And it doesn't make you a bad community that you have conflict. It doesn't make you same thing with partnerships. Right? If you fight, if you're having a fight with your partner, like that's just being human, right. How you then handle it. That's different. Right. But some people go, oh, you know, we don't have to talk about how we'll do conflict resolution because we're never going to have it.

We're so similar where this like, no that's humans, we disagree. We accidentally hurt each other. Sometimes we purposefully hurt each other and we need to address that within ourselves when we do.

Mark: Sometimes we get mad and we say things that we really wish we hadn't said, and we do things that we really wish we hadn't done. And there needs to be a way to address that and repair it. And having those agreements makes a big difference in, in being able to get to a good place. Again.

Yucca: Yeah. And there's going to be different levels, right? We're not saying that like, every single friendship needs to have like a, like a huge book of written down, commandments with the amendments and all of that. But, it's going to depend on the scale and the frequency, but that there should be some agreed upon that you, that you're working from the same page.

And sometimes an actual written agreement might be really helping.

Mark: Yeah.

Yeah. And I mean, that's actually true in relationships too, that, you know, written agreements around how we're going to do conflict, you know, how we're going to do decision-making, you know, it's like, no, I'm, it's not okay with me. If you run out and spend $5,000 on something that we didn't even talk about.

not. Okay. So, you know, what are those thresholds? What, you know, what, what do we need to both talk about? Right.

Yucca: Where our boundaries for privacy, right? What, because that's going to be different for different people.

Mark: Yes, it is. So it sounds sort of technocratic And You know, rule-bound and all That kind of stuff, but honestly, these kinds of agreements help facilitate better communication, better relationships.

And you can actually get closer because there's more safety

Yucca: And

respect, right. That respect is, is part of that safety.

Mark: Right. Yeah. So I wanted to tell our listeners about an initiative that's happening in the atheopagan community right now. Cause I know that a lot of our listeners are, are in that community. That I'm very excited about.

I announced it in the Facebook group yesterday. We are currently in the middle of finalizing. Conduct standards and and agreements for dealing with conflict and anti harassment policies and anti-discrimination policies, all that kind of stuff. And we're doing all of that. This is for atheopagan context.

And that would include the Facebook group and the discord server and all that kind of stuff. But more to the point, we're now looking at.

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: we're going to roll out a program called affinity groups. And What that means is that people can form their own little atheopagan groups. They don't have to be little, I mean, it could be 75 people or something. Around a topic of interest or a geographical area, or, you know, whatever is the common thread that binds those people together. And then those groups can meet on their own on whatever platforms they find useful, whether it's Facebook or discord or Mastodon or whatever it is.

Yucca: One? I have not heard of

Mark: I just heard about this.

Mastodon is a open source, highly private Twitter, like thing. It's a microblogging context. I haven't actually seen it, but apparently it's like, there's no, there's no data capture. And so for people that are really, really focused on online privacy, it's something that's desirable.

Yucca: Hmm.

Like the animal that is named for,

Mark: yeah, me

Yucca: anyways

sorry to derail you there. Let's let's keep going.

Mark: that's okay. So I expect we're, we're about to open the the conduct standards to to, for community comment. In, in the atheopagan Facebook group and discord server, that will happen tomorrow because I'll be getting the last of the comments from the atheopagan council by tonight

Yucca: So that actually means tomorrow will be. The first day that people will be listening can be listening to the podcast because this is Sunday night that we're recording. And so the podcast usually goes live Monday morning, but sometimes, sometimes life has other plans you know, sick kids or cars or whatever.

And it will come out a little bit later, but we shoot for Monday morning when we can.

Mark: Right,

Yucca: So that will, that should be by, by the time you're listening to that, that should be there.

Mark: That should be available. And so we invite you to take a look at all that stuff and comment on it. You know, if there's something that's missing, please let us know if there's some, you know, form of language that just doesn't sit Right.

with you. That's fine. This is important because these new atheopagan affinity groups will not be moderated by anybody.

Other than themselves. They're they're self-managed right. They're your groups you can do with them, what you want. But what we do ask is that you sign a charter that says, you know, we're, atheopagan, we believe in a naturalistic world and these four pillars and 13 principles, and our group has this purpose.

It's a thing you can print. And I don't know, put on your wall or whatever the charter for your, for your new group. But it also includes the conduct standards and stuff, so that if there is a problem if someone comes into the group and, you know, starts private messaging, somebody. Sexually explicit pictures or something.

You have a document you can point back at it and say, this is totally not okay. And you, you know, you know that it's totally not. Okay. Cause we have it here in writing.

Yucca: Yeah, and this is a great, you know, it's open every, everybody knows that that's not a secret. What the expectations are here. It is. We all have access to it.

Yeah.

Mark: So I am really excited about this affinity groups idea. I think it's the next, the next step for our community is for people to start to have a control over forming their own communities of interest. You know, the, the atheopagan Facebook group is about to hit 4,000 people. It's large

Yucca: Yeah, it's definitely. And things happen fast too. It's like, ah, you

Mark: They do. Yes. They happen really fast, which for the moderators is a challenge. And

Yucca: for the, the affinity groups. Especially yeah, later lots of different areas, but you know that that's another form. There's going to be a little bit more intimate form of community.

Mark: Right. The idea there is you get to know one another, you know, let's say you've got a group of like nine people or something. You get to know one another and you form friendships and those friendships can deepen. If your affinity group is focused in a particular area, like, you know, atheopagan of New Jersey, When the pandemic eases or there's a really reliable medication for it so that people don't get definitely ill.

Then you can meet in person and see where that takes you. So I am super excited about this. I think it's, it's definitely a step whose time has come and You know, a lot of what we're about is building community around these ideas and these beliefs since. So, this is, this is an important moment for that.

I think.

Yucca: Yeah. Well, I'm glad that we came back to this topic and we probably will come back to it again, because this is, this is just a really important thing about being human and being pagan and just in the world.

Mark: It is, it is I should put in one more plug for the century retreat in Colorado happening in Colorado Springs on May 13th through 16th. That is an in-person gathering of non-ferrous pagans. The programming is now available. You can download the PDF with all the workshops And activities and all that kind of stuff.

At atheopagan and some.org.

Yucca: And we will be doing a live podcast from, from the retreat.

Mark: we will wifi permitting. We, we will, we will do that.

Yucca: Well, if the wifi doesn't permit, we'll still record it and publish it. Well, we'll definitely do a podcast coming from there. Hopefully we'll be able to do it live though.

Mark: to do it live. Yeah.

And have other people join us here on the zoom call would be really nice because I know that there are folks that are, you know, they're either in Europe or. Australia or they're just unable to get to Colorado Springs for one reason or another, that would still like to be a part of this.

So I, I think that's really an exciting thing. So we invite you to register for that. It's cheap. I mean, you have to get to Colorado Springs, but. It's $215 for the three days that includes all your meals. We just sent the meal orders to the to the retreat center and we're going to have some really lovely food and plus lodging.

So, and lodging can be as cheap as 70 bucks for camping for the three days, or it can be camping in a year, which I think is. Actually maybe the, maybe the year is $70 and the camping is $22 or something. I don't remember.

Yucca: Yeah, but they're, they're fairly low for.

Mark: yes,

Yucca: Yeah. And,

and

Mark: then there are

Yucca: there's the option for if people are local to the area, you know, you can live in your home and come hang out with us during the day. Right?

Mark: Yeah.

I mean, if you're, if you're within driving distance, then by all means, you know, register for the event and come in and just do the stuff with us. It's going to be great. We're going to have wonderful rituals and workshops and a lot of socializing and it's just in a dance party and it's going to be really fun.

Yucca: Yeah. So just around the corner may is very soon. So

Mark: believe how close Mae is now. We've been talking about this for a long time.

Yucca: yeah.

Mark: Yeah. Okay. Well, Thank you so much for listening as always. We really appreciate our listeners and we get great feedback from you and great ideas about things to talk about on the podcast. And I'm just super grateful to be able to do this and have listeners.

So thank you.

Yucca: Thank you everyone.

Mark: See you next week.

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