Throughout the many paths of Paganism I have found that there are many forms of practice. There are those who practice in solidarity who are self studied and independent, those who practice in loose groups who find empowerment in their communal bonds and communal practice, and those who are in tight knit groups with a magickal way of life unique to their communal practice.
This understanding has been a focus of many of my waking thoughts, and how this all could be bridged. I have come to find a severe legitimacy issue within Paganism, this has fostered an environment of continued systemic oppression and ridicule, and has also left sincerely held beliefs to be exploited for profits.
There are many views within Paganism with little consistency as to what it is to be Pagan. A measure of universal devotion is lacking, and common respects are absent. Even within a path, there are so many variations on how one is to conduct their practice that it forms a base of convolution. We can’t even agree on basic magickal correspondences at times.
Some view that there are no rules, some view that there are rules, and some view that rules are meant to be malleable. I suppose I am one who views that there are rules, that some should be resolute and some are to be able to reform with time.
I have observed the rise and fall of many sanctuaries and covens, I have observed how at times they “hive off” and fundamentally change, and I have observed sanctuaries and covens that have stood the test of modern time. The difference I have observed is a resolute structure in legitimacy. It begs questions of sincerity.
If one holds these beliefs to be self evident truths, why would they create them in a manner for their juxtaposition to vanish at the passing of their clergy?
If a belief is sincerely held, should it not have a means to a continuance of faith?
We at Sanctuary of the Phoenix believe that there is room enough for those who practice in solitude or who seek to practice as a coven, offering guidance when desired and offering organized structure for those who desire it. We believe the future of the faith is in the collective celebration of Paganism and being able to have consistency among those of the faith no matter their choice in how they practice. In being able to understand there are many paths with denominational character, helping those seeking to study them, and offering an Eclectic approach to Paganism in a devout manner.
This does mean there are some rules that are universal across all of our members, a set of shared values separate from the rules of a path one may observe. It provides a common ground and a mutual respect so no matter how we practice or what path we are, that we share common aspects in our faith that bring us all together spiritually as a Coven. We have 10 Tenets and we have Virtues.
The 10 Tenets of Sanctuary of the Phoenix
1. Do as you will and harm none, unless in defending yourself or your family.
2. Do not judge the lifestyles of others or their spiritual path unless it brings you harm.
3. Do not utilize Magick to interfere with free will.
4. Use no Hex or Curse on anyone who causes no harm.
5. Protect those weaker than yourself and nature.
6. Celebrate life and honor the deceased.
7. Do not use Magick you do not understand.
8. Cultivate a respectful relationship with nature.
9. Maintain an accountable responsibility for yourself, your words, and your actions.
10. Live life in accordance with The Testament of Shadows.
Our Tenets are simple and agreeable to most fair minded Pagans. Our Virtues are a bit more complicated and are generally imparted in practice as values and through study of The Testament of Shadows. The Testament of Shadows is our doctrinal book published through Sanctuary of the Phoenix. The Testament of Shadows contains history, information on various paths, our values, and the instruction of High Clergy. It is a living book designed to grow and have sections revised as we learn, but is also designed to anchor to our core loving values as a Sanctuary and Coven.
The Virtues of Sanctuary of the Phoenix
As mentioned, our Virtues are not as straight forward as our Tenets, but some can be easily communicated.
We do not tolerate racism, bigotry, extremism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, genocide, supremacy of any ethnicity, gender or biological sex supremacy, sexual orientation discrimination, or gender identity discrimination.
We are to be strong, compassionate, kind, charitable, fair, honest, and loyal.
We are to devote our lives to our Deity/Deities and/or Path(s).
We are to do our best to be upstanding in society, but to forgive the mistakes of the past and allow for individuals to make amends when possible.
This is a simplification of a cross section of our Virtues, but ones that resonate with most of the Pagan Community.
My final summation, is that for a belief system to hold strong through the test of time, there must be a flow of continuance.
There must be structure and order if such things are to be handed down.
Some view rules as something that only holds them back and that is an unfortunate view to hold.
As a Coven, and one that wants to be around in legitimacy for the ages, it is important that we grow in trust and love.
If someone can not agree to such things as not placing hexes on innocent people, or not using their position as a tool of bigotry and hate, there can be no basis of trust.
Besides, if someone only wants to cause harm, it would be unwise to arm them to do as such.
When I hear such statements as “I don’t want rules in being a Pagan” what I really hear is “I do not want to be accountable if I abuse what I am taught”. We believe Paganism is not a faith to be abused or exploited, and a Pagan should feel safe and confident with other Pagans without being taken advantage of. The only way to ensure such security is by making a framework of regulation that serves the faithful.
~ High Priest Odin