To Be or Not To Be (Alone)...
“How do I worship thee? Let me count the ways...”
people have a belief in one or more deities, or
“supernatural” figures, and religion of one kind
or another has been a part of Man’s existence through
all of recorded history.
the majority of people belong to one of the “Big
Three” religions (Islam, Christianity and Judaism),
with large numbers adhering to Buddhism, Hinduism,
Shinto and other widely-recognised belief systems.
These are “Established” religions, with official
“churches” or organisations and a written “creed”
which serves to unify followers of the main groups
worship is a much more complex subject than that
of worship within any of the established religions.
One difference is that, despite the many factions
forming part of the major belief systems (Catholic,
Protestant, Baptist, Presbyterian, Shia, Sunni,
Orthodox, Ultra-Orthodox...) there are organised
centres of worship catering for each offshoot.
on the other hand, are a diverse group of people
worshipping in many different ways to one or more
deities or representations of deities or to Nature
/ Creation itself / herself. Some worship in a quiet,
meditative way, others join together in covens and
dress for full ritualistic ceremony; some dance
around naked under a full moon, others chant, others
plant trees. Yet there are no official Pagan churches
nor official recognition of their festivals or beliefs.
how do we worship? What are the ways?
“groups” (in terms of worship) can be broken down
into three main types, regardless of the religion
Group of One. As the title suggests, this refers
to a solitary practitioner, one who seeks no accompaniment,
who worships as and when he / she sees fit. This
person is free to adapt their belief system to suit
themselves and their life experience, takes full
responsibility for the consequences of their religious
beliefs and sees worship of their chosen deity as
a private matter.
the sole practitioner receives no assistance or
input / feedback from others, and does not enjoy
the community aspects of the Group.
Group, Assembly, Congregation or Coven. The
most widespread of practices, worship in organised
groups tends to involve a heirarchy of official
members who oversee the lay audience, teach doctrine
and specify belief. These groups play a part in
many aspects of life, from birth (baptism) through
marriage (handfasting) to death. Members of the
Group may assist one another in many ways, from
learning more about applying their shared beliefs
to their day-to-day lives, to offering emotional
or financial support.
strict doctrine means there may be little room for
dispute. A member may be required to agree with
all aspects of the religion - or else take like-minded
others and form a splinter group or offshoot.
Alliance. This more loosely-based group has
no heirarchy, no initiation, and asks for adherence
only to a general approach or concept. The Alliance
is a gathering of equals of similar-minded Groups-of-One.
Quite anarchic in nature, the Alliance has the benefits
of community present within the Group, but with
the freedom of mind and expression sought by the
solitary practitioner. This is the approach favoured
by many of the growing numbers of Pagans emerging
is no right or wrong to worship. Some people prefer
the community and discipline of the Church or Coven,
others prefer to meet occasionally with friends
old and new to discuss their beliefs. Some are happy
to sit at dawn on a hill overlooking a green valley,
mist rolling around them, and offer thanks for the
beauty around them to the One who created it all.