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Creating Community in a Hyperindividualized Society

By Lupa

In the United States, we have achieved what is possibly the most hyperindividualized culture in the history of our species. Some of the effects of this have benefited people, particularly minorities of various sorts who, while still facing oppression, are able to find more footholds for asserting their unique identities amid the masses. However, we’ve taken the archetype of the Rugged Individualist to such an extent that most of us no longer really know how to function as a cohesive community. More and more of us no longer live in the same state, let alone city or neighborhood, as our extended or even nuclear families. The average American moves over a dozen times in their lifetime.

Culturally, we feel rootless as well. Dissatisfied with mainstream (generally white) American culture, more people, neopagans included, are seeking connection with other cultures as a substitute for strip malls, reality television, and the aggressive competition associated with hyperindividualism. Unfortunately, this often results in varying degrees of cultural appropriation, in which an individual draws whatever isolated elements of a culture’s practices they prefer, while ignoring the context provided by what they’ve left behind.

I can personally speak only from an American perspective. However, while we’re not in a situation where “As goes the United States, so goes the world”, neopaganism has developed largely in individual-based Western cultures, and neopagan religions retain that influence to some degree, even when practiced in more communal settings.

I’ve run into countless pagans who want to form “tribes”, “families”, or other sorts of communities. Some may want to create intentional communities on land that no one yet owns; others just want some connection in their city or region. Many are inspired by the Temporary Autonomous Zones created in the context of pagan festivals, and wish they could extend that permanently. Unfortunately, community doesn’t just happen overnight. Nor can it be forced or even necessarily planned neatly. It’s an organic thing that happens at its own pace. Wanting to have a community doesn’t automatically confer the social and practical skills necessary to make it happen.

Read the original article at: The Wild Hunt

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