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Author: Dusty Dionne
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It was a hot, sunny, muggy day in Missouri at St. Louis Pagan Picnic 2015. I sat back in my chair in the shade with a little paper fan trying to keep cool, staring at the people walking by from behind my sunglasses. A woman came up, and Dusty stood up and started telling her about everything the ATC does, just as we had all been doing to anyone who stopped at our booth. He finished, and she stood there silent for a second before putting her hand up to her mouth. “I have been searching for you for so long,” she said, as her eyes started to well with tears, looking at each and every one of us.
It was then I realized just how insular my Pagan world had become. He didn’t have to care. He didn’t have to stand up again in the 100+ degree heat, thousands of miles from home, to help this woman. He could have chosen any other, more fun, and less stressful ways to spend this summer day. I was wishing we were spending the summer day in some other way, until this moment brought it all into focus. Watching Dusty change that woman’s life, with a few words that he had repeated possibly one hundred times that day, touched me deeply and reignited my passion for the work we do at the church.
I became Pagan because I wanted to connect with the earth, connect with those who care for it, and to those who feel that connection to the Gods and honor them. I wanted to help people and make a difference. Somewhere along the way I lost sight of that and began getting lost in all the details of my personal journey with the divine. This trip made me step back and allowed me to see all of those little details pieced together. I was able to see just what the ATC really does for the Pagan community beyond my world in Seattle.
The things we do at the ATC matter. Those of us who have lived secluded away from the rest of community get all caught up in our personal experience of Spring Mysteries – or the next Sabbat or whatever might be the current drama. But there are people all over the world who seriously benefit from the hard work we do every day; most of us can’t see over the mountains and are oblivious to it. So many times I have caught myself saying “I have a silly job. Managing Facebook groups and events? Really? I feel like I should be doing something more important.” I bet a lot of people have thought that what they do is just not “important enough.” But each individual is needed to make the wheel turn. No one would show up to our events if I didn’t make and publicize them – in fact, we notice the difference when I don’t post about the events and make sure people hear about them. People can talk on our Facebook groups and look to them for news, advice, comfort and camaraderie. It’s not a silly job. In fact it’s vital to our ministry being successful. That awareness makes my heart smile.
I met many amazing, talented and wise people on my trip to the Southeast U.S. I met many of Bella’s Students in Georgia, previous and current. I met teachers I had from Wiccan Seminary – Anastacia Laveau and Talyn Songdog – Alfred Willowhawk as well, but we’ve met several times now. I met Greg Vence, a 3rd Degree York Rite Mason, 32nd Degree Scottish Rite Mason and a Neophyte (0=0) in The Golden Dawn. I met Grandmother Elspeth, a greatly respected elder in the Pagan community on the East Coast. I met Adrianna Iris Boatwright, Photographer and establisher of Savannah Pagan Pride. I also met Don Lewis, who is the Chancellor of the Correllian Nativist Tradition.
All of these people know who the ATC is, they appreciate the things we do and want to work with us to make a difference in the world. Don Lewis wants teachers from Woolston-Steen Theological Seminary to teach at Witch School. Grandmother Elspeth taught a workshop at St. Louis Pagan Picnic that taught the same mysteries of the Goddess I have learned in Seminary and from revelations at Spring Mysteries Festival. We are all connected and have such amazing opportunities. Yet, I had been so secluded and caught up in my own life, that I didn’t realize the opportunities that the Mother church creates for us. We have the ability to help a world that needs our care if we would only take advantage of these opportunities.
The Pagan community is so much bigger than I ever imagined. Everything we do has an impact on all Pagans across the world. Pete “Pathfinder” Davis deciding he wanted a legally-recognized Wiccan church changed Wiccan history. Leading a ritual for Woolston-Steen Theological Seminary could change someone’s life across the world. Managing a table at Pagan festival can bring someone to tears because of the joy they feel from finding their spiritual home. I met people who knew me that I did not know. I met people, whom I had directly impacted with my ministering that cherish my existence on the planet, whom I never knew I touched. That’s powerful. I make a real difference in someone’s life – that feels good!
Everything we do and everything we say impacts our community and the larger community, which is so much bigger and beyond us that we cannot fathom it. Our choices, what we do with our time each day, whether we help, hurt, or are indifferent to the work we do at the Mother Church directly impacts the whole world of Paganism. I’m so grateful to have been able to travel and gain the perspective of seeing over the mountains, and realizing that what we do here at the Mother Church has an impact much further than I could see, much deeper than I could understand, and much more important that I could have possibly realized.
All of us, who share in this work, make a difference. A big one. Whether it’s filing away a bill, sweeping a floor, or directing a festival, we all make it possible for the church to carry on Its ministry. Thanks for sharing in the responsibility of carrying the load that spiritually protects and feeds the children of the Goddess worldwide.