I have often been asked the question down through the good few years that I have been a member of the PF.
The question varies in construction but it’s normally something along the lines of “what is the benefit of PF membership”. That is a fair enough question in this day and age when there are so very many other Pagan organisations around and many that don’t even charge you a penny.
Well as I see it there are two kinds of benefits to membership of the PF. Firstly, there are the obvious concrete, stated in the Constitution benefits of membership:
a.) As a member you get a subscription to the house magazine of the PF (Pagan Dawn at this time), you get the Green Pages, you get your District Newsletter (if your District has one) and you get reduced rates of access at PF events.
b.) As a member you can become a regional co-ordinator or local co-ordinator and help run the PF.
c.) After a years membership you are eligible to stand for Committee and vote in the Committee Elections.
Now that is all well and good, five minutes reading PF’s constitution will reveal these to you with little delay. I have always felt that this is not entirely good enough.
It is fine and dandy to be part of a group of like minded people, it’s always nice to receive a good quality magazine and it’s great to be able to join in and help to run a group that is made up of people that have similar beliefs to you – but is that reason enough on it’s own to become or stay a member of the PF?
Many might well suggest that it is not. Fortunately there is a second set of benefits to membership of the PF. These are the less concrete benefits of joining and continuing to support the PF. Ones that PF is not as great at shouting about as it should be, ones that you need appreciate are just as real as the main reasons I’ve detailed above:
a.) You are supporting an organisation that stands up for Pagan rights where they are threatened. Fair enough we may not do this in as aggressive and proactive a manner as members might like – but it is done in a calm professional manner and because PF has been around so long we are taken seriously and not seen as a bunch of kooks!
b.) You are supporting an organisation that provides chaplaincy services to the Prison services and is recognised (due to the hard work and continuing professionalism of our chaplains) as the representative body for the Pagan faiths.
c.) You are supporting an organisation that provides hospital visiting. Attending to Pagans who want a spiritual friend in their hour of need.
d.) You are supporting an organisation that supports interfaith work across the pagan faiths and presses for membership of the national body in a fair and professional manner.
e.) You are a member of a group that give you contact with other Pagans in your local area. Through our District structure or District Managers and Regional Co-ordinators, we can put you in touch with reputable Pagan groups and bring the Pagan community to life for those that might otherwise feel isolated and cut off from those of their own beliefs.
f.) You are a member of a group that can provide Advocacy services where you fall foul of prejudice or discrimination from others due to your beliefs.
g.) Where your District hold events and gathers funds it is entirely likely that a part of these funds goes to a local charity of Pagan significance. Annually many groups affiliated to the PF support the Earth Day initiative and other community support projects.
h.) Finally and of greatest significance to me personally, my being part of PF gives me is it makes the voice of PF when standing up for the Pagan faiths a far louder voice than I could possibly provide on my own. Many have compared PF to a Pagan union over the years and I think that that’s a fair metaphor.
It’s quite a list in my opinion.
Is it enough?
Well that’s your call not mine – let us face it, I’m already a member and on the Committee so it’s clear that I have made my mind up – really it is over to you to think it through and come to your own decision.
Belonging to an organisation isn’t simply a case of belonging for what it can do for you (that’s clearly always a factor but it is not the whole picture) it is what it can do for others and what you can do for it – it’s the members that make the PF, not the other way around!
I hope my ramblings have made some sort of sense and perhaps have cast some light on why there are those of us that work so hard and devote so much time to supporting the Pagan Federation.