It sometimes feels as though the happenings of the world are relentless, particularly after such a year of intensity, and now finally, change. As always, I had no expectations going into my weekly rune reflection, and so I was both equally surprised and unsurprised to pull Mannaz.
Mannaz is a rune that tells the story of community. It also speaks of home, the human home - manaheim. As you may see, in the center of Mannaz sits Gifu, the concept of reciprocity and gifts given and received. It is bond together and held up by two Isa, the ice rune, steady and reliable. We see a story of great care taken to hold the gift of connection.
I think for a lot of readers of my blog, community has perhaps shifted in meaning over the last year. We're stuck inside, and caught up in our small family units, or entirely alone. We might feel isolated, or find we are intensely seeking the essence of community. All this coupled with the divisive disconnect of opinion, ethic and moral extremes, and amplified by the distance that the imperfect virtual community of Facebook has created - it can feel like too much.
This is also the time of year where community becomes a craving, even in the most accommodating of years. (And this year hasn't been especially accommodating, truth be told.) I know that I personally haven't gone so many months before without travelling to see family, both domestically and abroad. Most of us have holiday celebrations that require community: Thanksgiving, Christmas, Yule, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Solstice... the list goes on ad infinitum.
So, what do we do? Well, mannaz gives us at least a clue as to how we might proceed. What experiences are available that create an exchange based on two or more people holding themselves in the present, for one another? I personally have found utilizing zoom more and more has begun to make a difference.
I've also been trying to prepare myself for future exchanges. I've been studying Swedish language more, in hopes that I might find myself in a situation in the not too far future where I will be with my Swedish community of family and friends again, surrounded by the love and groundedness that brings up for me. I also have been trying to prepare gifts and crafts that I might be able to exchange from a distance, something made by hand, that offers me a connection to my parents and my family across the US.
It's funny this rune came up, as a Needfire we've also been trying to answer the question of "how do we maintain the feeling of community, without being able to spend time in groups?" Community is at our core, and we've developed our Troll Club and Jul Fest in a short time. Troll Club is unique community of ethical magical practitioners looking to share and discuss their craft, and feel a part of something. Jul Fest is an online series we're launching with our favorite teachers, in hopes of creating experiences that allow our internet community to feel a part of something fun and uplifting.
The funny thing is that, when I start to think about a future where we are allowed to mingle with friends and strangers again, I think about how exclusionary that might feel after a year of online festivals and talks geared towards inclusive connections. Will we really be able to limit festivals in the future to in person participation, or will that feel in some way exclusionary? It's an interesting thing to muse on.
In an effort to bring this blog entry to a close, I leave you with this question - who is in your community? What would you like to see from your community, and how would you like to be met by other community members? What's missing? What needs haven't been filled? And are you making an effort to fill those needs in others?