A Rant by Rurik the Restless
I've seen it happen again and again. Joe Asatru is a vibrant and interested newbie absolutely overcome with the notion of worshipping the Aesir and Vanir. He actively seeks out a Heathen organization so he can meet with others of the folk. After a search, he comes across the address of the Happy Heathen Network. He writes a letter and they forward him the address of a couple of other people in his area. One is just down the street. They all meet for dinner and get along great; next weekend they get together for a blot.
Everything goes great. They form a kindred and begin to perform the blots on a regular basis. One of them knows a few other people, and they join as well. The kindred is growing and vibrant. All is well in the world. Next thing you know a couple of the core kindred members are teaching classes on Asatru at the local occult shop, much to the horror of some of the politically correct New Agers who are appalled at their "oppressive" viewpoint.
Then their membership renewals come up for the Happy Heathen Network, and they put them in the trash. "Oh," they say, "we don't need to renew because we have our kindred. It's just not important, what can they do for us now?"
A year passes and another Joe Asatru comes along. He lives in the same town, but has never heard of the kindred. But, like the others before him, he finds an address for the Happy Heathen Network in an old copy of Moonrise. He writes a letter. A month or so later he gets his letter back. There's a funny little pink stamp on the front. It's barely legible, but he finally makes out:
If they think they're sad, think about this poor guy who will never know there's a kindred meeting in the same town he's living in.
How many times does this happen? How many people let their group memberships expire after they've finished exploiting the group's resources? How many kindreds pass a single copy of a magazine around to their dozen or two members, and then shed tears when it folds for lack of subscribers? How many times does this have to happen before we wake up?
Organizations and networks require a long term commitment, not just from the core that run them, but also from those who are "mere" members. I'm not talking here about your local kindred; attendance and help there are obviously important, but if they're doing something for you regularly, you're probably not going to forget about them. However, it's those groups who do the networking, advertising, and publishing behind the scenes that too often get ignored. Again and again I've seen it: people come together solely through the efforts of some group--a national network or local Pagan coffee house--and as soon as they do, without a thought, they abandon the very thing that brought them together.
We're not talking big time commitment here. Just writing a check once a year, making your address available for networking, or showing up at a few meetings of the local Pagan network. If you want to do something more like act as a coordinator or write articles for a journal or offer to coordinate some project all the better, but even just being a member is important. Involvement counts.
It's not big money. Membership in the largest Asatru organization in America is currently less than ones local monthly cable bill. It's also less than membership in Greenpeace, the NRA, or your local public radio station. It only comes once a year. You can afford it.
And you don't have to be happy with everything the group does and stands for--the Gods know the groups I support aren't everything I want them to be. Maybe you're thrilled and that's great; maybe you're not so sure about them and you'd rather keep your distance, but keep your foot in the door. (And, yeah, there are a few groups that you probably don't want to touch with a 10' nithing pole, and I can't blame you on those.) For most networks you, the members are their primary resource. It's not about what they can do for you, it's about what we all can do together for Heathenry.