There Is Some Responsibility Involved Regarding The Pagan Community And Those Who Are Solitaries
In the old days ... solitaries (witches, Wiccans, pagans) generally existed simply because they couldn't find a group - any group - within a couple hundred miles to study with. These days there are quite a number of reasons for people to call themselves "solitary" but only occasionally that one. There have always been people who really do practice their religion in a state of complete secrecy and never with any other. While this is legitimately termed a 'religion' members of most religions practice their faith in a strictly personal way but also practice with a group.
One of the most destructive ways a solitary may be created is when a newcomer falls into the hands of a bad group or leader. Sooner or later most people realize they've been had and the pain of this realization crashes their newcomer's idealistic picture of what a group should be. This can make them extremely wary of groups of any sort. Some who experience this return to their family's religion, some seek even more esoteric paths, some give up religion and some hover around the edge of Pagan activities afraid to join in except in a very peripheral way but are also unable to turn their backs. Occasionally it isn't actually the case of a bad group or individual but a case of mismatch - unfortunately the resulting unhappiness can be almost as severe.
Other people are genuinely not "joiners" for good or bad reasons: some cannot cope with the give and take required of members of a group, some simply fear groups and others are unable to accept that they might benefit from the right group. Some people really do have too many things to do to devote much time to religion other than their personal observances. Some people are truly lazy and only participate very peripherally so they are less likely to be asked to do anything. And, of course, there are always those few who truly 'do not play well with others' and even the tolerant Pagan community refuses to let them hang around.
All this detail is simply to remind people that "solitary" isn't a particularly useful designation since such a wide variety is fitted under it. Of course, back in the old days, solitaries weren't something that we had to worry about. They were too far away from us to be in any way our responsibility. But with the vastly increased communications and community building possible on the Internet and the enormous increase in numbers, we find ourselves in the position of needing to figure out IF solitaries are a part of our community* and if so, how do we include them? Do remember, however, that solitaries are that by their own choice. Part of that choice is that they are not represented and that they have no vote. Of course, nobody has a vote but groups will always have more effect than individuals can.
*For the purposes of this article, I define the "Pagan Community" as those individuals and groups which consider themselves a part of it. An individual or group supports the community when they/it contribute money, sweat or other efforts to bring people together and/or provide services it needs or wants.
Time after Time Life to Life ... the Path Continues
Used with permission courtesy of Esta Weiss, Pagan and Proud of It Art.