In my previous blog about small-town Pagans, I mentioned the new book that Llewellyn author Bronwen Forbes is working on. We sat down and did a little interview over email for you about some of the issues that small-town Pagans face. I hope you enjoy it!
Llewellyn: How long have you lived in small towns?
Bronwen: I moved to a town of 8,000 (at the time) in 1971. After 20 years in the Maryland / DC / Wilmington, DE area, I’ve lived in various small Midwest towns. So, roughly half my mid-40s life so far.
Llewellyn: What was your first clue that living in a small town as a Pagan was going to be harder than you thought?
Bronwen: When I made what needed to be a quick trip to the grocery store for toilet paper and was told by the clerk, “It’s on the north wall.” It took me a good ten minutes to figure out which of the store’s walls was in the north — of course it was the fourth one I checked! I was embarrassed; I thought after 20 years of being so directionally-oriented in ritual, I would know which direction I was facing at any given moment!
Llewellyn: What are the advantages of living in a small town?
Bronwen: There are so many! The biggest one is incorporating ritual and other Pagan life habits into a normal small town daily existence, like growing our own produce and herbs, hosting regular bonfires in the backyard, seeing deer in the field across from the house at twilight, stargazing every clear night (no light pollution), and being able to walk pretty much everywhere I need to go — which is great for the environment!
Llewellyn: What tips would you share with a “big city Pagan” who’s about to move to a small town?
Bronwen: 1. Get involved in your community. There are volunteer opportunities that will help you express yourself spiritually — community theater, local garden club, animal shelter, etc. — and are also a great way to get to know your new neighbors.
2. If there are local Pagans, sweeping in and presenting yourself with a “big city” attitude will alienate them faster than anything.
3. Don’t expect it to be the same. Just because there are fewer shops, covens and open rituals doesn’t mean there is nothing of spiritual value for you in a small town. Enjoy the chance to stargaze in a light-pollution-free sky, take long walks, watch the seasons unfold all around you.
Llewellyn: What advice would you give to a young adult living in a small town who wants to connect with the larger Pagan community?
Bronwen: Try not to be shy; open community events are designed for someone just like you. Go to as many as possible (within your means) and try to volunteer when you get there, even if it’s just sweeping up after a sabbat post-ritual potluck. You will definitely get to know people the more you help out!
Also, join the nearest Yahoo, Facebook or other online forum to you. You’ll have a chance to get to know some of the larger Pagan community before you attend your first event!
Llewellyn: Thank you, Bronwen!
Check out Bronwen’s “Top 10 Problems of Being a Small Town Pagan” post, and add some of your own if you like!