In what many call the ‘ancient times’, inclusion in a group or tribe was a necessity. Each person in a group had a role, and that role was for the betterment and survival of a group as a whole. This also meant that there was a division of religious responsibilities as well; elders worked to help take care of the health of the group, provide interpretation of the signs they saw in nature and help work with the spirits and Gods in order to provide the necessary rains for crops or animals for food.
In today’s day and age, we still need to be included, but not for the same reasons. Psychologists believe that we are social animals and that we all need to play a full and active role in our society in order for us to be mentally healthy. However, should we be excluded, the ancestral fear of being alone is still there, and that causes that exclusion to seriously affect us. It lowers our self esteem and causes us to question our own self worth. Have enough rejection and exclusion in your life and we become a blubbering mess of depression and anxiety, unable to stand on or own two feet or make any decisions to better ourselves.
Inclusion became a powerful weapon in early Christianity. I don’t think I have to go into a lot of detail to prove the point, but I will point out the threat of excommunication as a way of exclusion was used extensively to ensure everyone was doing the will of the religious authority. Further, I argue that inclusion / exclusion was utilized when trying to Christianize other countries. My sister put it best when in her Religious diversity class, she said, “The Christians wanted to party with the Pagans, so they moved their holidays to line up with the Pagans.”
Well, more or less she is right. I would say instead that it was a way of including the Pagans into the Christian activity to slowly convert them to Christianity.
Fast forward to Good Ol’ Gerald Gardner and Alex Sanders. As the story goes, Mr. Sanders wanted to learn Mr. Gardner’s version of Wicca. Mr. Gardner declined to teach him or initiate him. So he created Alexandrian Wicca, which VERY closely mirrored Gardenarian Wicca and also became the second lineaged version of Wicca, and which certainly isn’t the last version of it. Again, it isn’t hard to see the fear of exclusion / need of inclusion at work here. I am not saying that all lineaged groups were created by people who were excluded from other lineaged groups. However, I am certain that they were not all spontaneous; The sting of exclusion can be a strong catalyst or spark for forming new groups and organizations.
especially for the lineaged traditions of wicca, the wish of inclusion is alive and well today. A great example of this is the yahoo group ‘amberandjet’. This invitation-only group that has been alive for years under the guise of having seekers meet up with lineaged witches in order to join lineaged covens. At current count, the group boasts 2187 members, more than half of them being seekers that have been on the list for a significant amount of time trying to get included into a lineaged coven. Month after month a ‘seeker’ list goes out with a massive amount of the names and locations of people trying to find covens to belong to. And month after month, it’s the same names on the list. Talk on the group’s site reminded me very much of students trying to impress their teachers; perhaps giving the perfect answer might catch the eye of a lineaged witch and that would be all it took to get into the Outer Court of her coven.
I’m not saying Inclusion is bad. I understand the reasons why it is necessary, and I understand the power of it when in religious circle. However, I think in moving forward we need to understand our human nature enough to see when we are using inclusion and exclusion to the detriment of our fellow human beings. We cannot ensure everyone is included, but we can help someone understand why. We don’t have to be asses about it.
I agree very much with the believe that we as humans must play active roles in our society in order to be healthy. This means we must be included. And this is one thing that I think paganism in general is hard pressed to show such inclusion. The very nature of personal religious freedoms is one that reeks of individuality. And how can you be included if you are an individual?
Social Inclusion from the British Psychological Society