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Waldfrau
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« Topic Start: January 15, 2009, 12:01:00 pm »

What do you personally expect of pagan group events and group work? Which goals would you like to achieve in the group/s?

What kind of group events or group work are you enjoying/looking for? (workshops, open circles, moots, covens, etc.)

Do you have experiences with any Pagan group situations? Have they met your expectations?
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« Reply #1: January 15, 2009, 12:11:20 pm »


I'm regularly attending different moots and I've been at a few rituals with a small group and am currently thinking about how the moots and group work does meet my expectations, which expectations it doesn't meet and how I could deal with those differences. Since I'm still a seeker, one of my main goals is learning about different paths, opinions and ways to do things, so an ideal group for me at my present point of life would

- encourage personal search and give seekers a lot of time to learn and try out stuff before they commit themselves to the group tradition (if there is one). I like to work in eclectic/mixed groups for that reason, but aren't against structured traditions. I've just not yet found one in my region fitting to me and don't feel ready to commit yet.

- anyway (eclectic or structured tradition) for me it's important to be in a group where I feel I can be honest about my personal practice or interpretations (apart from the group focus) without being laughed at if it should differ from the majority. The group should respect paths, traditions and ways different from the group work, though I don't expect the group to incorporate every wish of individual members. What really annoys me about some groups and moots I've experienced is if people constantly make fun of other paths (like eclectic witches complaining about BTW). Even if no one at the moot is fond of a particular path it does create a bad atmosphere especially for seekers who are unsure about their paths and like to learn about others. (Maybe I like some elements of BTW, how can I find out if people can't even discuss it seriously?!) And I'd really love interreligious dialog, but think that's too idealistic at the moment. Sad

- help and encourage beginners to learn without experienced members acting the know-it-all. Encourage them to find their own way instead of giving 'perfect recipes'. Listening instead of bragging and being condescending. But giving them recipes if they need them for a start. Well, I'd like to have a group doing teaching, but can respect if people I met in a different frame just don't want to give advice to newbies or are not able to do it properly. I wish though they would be more honest about it then so it's more clear for me. Like one witch I asked on a moot about something just refered me to one she knows can explain the topic instead of doing a poor job herself. This was a much better help than I get from people trying to appear competent on every matter or just gloss over it if they aren't.

- inspire each other with different perspectives on a topic instead of only searching to agree or glossing over disagreement. Respect different perspectives and try to find out why they are different instead of saying stuff like 'well, everyone sees that differently - end of topic - start of topic all agree on'.

- transparent group structures: If there's a hierarchy or specific people having specific roles the group should make clear why IMO. If I'm working with the group as a seeker I want to know my expected role and which possibilities I do have. (I find this especially hard in the eclectic non-hierarchical group I'm occassionally working with. There is some group structure I find hard to put my finger on. And I don't really know which role I'm expected to take which is very confusing sometimes).

- this comes together with having a transparent structure about who is distributing what to the group work in general and to specific group events. I've had good experiences with planing and doing specific events so far, what I miss is having a transparent structure of this in general/ in the long run. I miss having a perspective on what I can and am expected to distribute to the group in the long run apart from doing this and that in the next group event.

- transparent decisions: It should be clear how decisions are made. There should be talk about each others needs and wishes, so everyone knows what they can get or can't and why.

- as a beginner I would very appreciate a transparent learning program for me. I haven't yet found a group focusing on learning/teaching. I could see myself studying with a structured tradition for a while (without yet deciding on whether to commit or not) or have a (possibly eclectic) students group working out a program together (self-teaching). At the moment I go to moots, ocassional workshops and group rituals which means I learn by looking at different things, asking people here and there, but I really miss a transparent learning program with a steady group focusing on teaching beginners or self-teaching.

- good personal relationships without clinging together all the time. Everyone should still manage to work with another group with a different focus if the first group isn't fulfilling all his/her needs or he/she's still seeking the right path. For example I enjoy doing seasonal group rituals with the group I did the last two with, but still want to look into other seasonal group rituals or work with another group with a different focus, go to moots and workshops without them so I talk to a lot of different people and learn about different perspectives.


This is all much shaped by my current seeker-status and my need to freely try out different things. I think I would have much more different expectations on some stuff if I was already commited to a specific path or tradition. And it helped me a lot to write about it because I'm a bit disappointed of some of my new experiences. I've just started to search for groups and pagan events a few months ago and I'm not sure I'm on the right trail yet.
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« Reply #2: January 15, 2009, 12:46:25 pm »


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I read your post about what you are looking for.  I am the chairperson of the Adult Religious Education Committee at my Church, and I would like to use your description (slightly reworded to make it inclusive for others) as a topic of discussion at some point.    May I do so?  If so may I use your screen name as the author?
« Last Edit: January 15, 2009, 07:15:53 pm by RandallS, Reason: Quote BBCode corrected » Logged

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« Reply #3: January 16, 2009, 03:33:40 pm »

What do you personally expect of pagan group events and group work? Which goals would you like to achieve in the group/s?

What kind of group events or group work are you enjoying/looking for? (workshops, open circles, moots, covens, etc.)

Do you have experiences with any Pagan group situations? Have they met your expectations?

I have to say I have no particular expectations.  I guess I always assume an open group ritual will be pretty vanilla.

I've had one incredible experience, several neutral experience, and one very bad experience (that actually happened to another person who was participating in a conjure dance, but I was one of the people helping her to recover and pulling the very negative energy out of her).

The one really great experience was a seidh ritual.  Basically, that's a kind of reconstructed Norse ritual in which a seer channels people who have died and, in some cases, gods and goddesses.  The seer at this event was amazing.  I would not have believed it if I hadn't been there to see it.
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« Reply #4: January 16, 2009, 07:53:34 pm »

What do you personally expect of pagan group events and group work? Which goals would you like to achieve in the group/s?
What kind of group events or group work are you enjoying/looking for? (workshops, open circles, moots, covens, etc.)
Do you have experiences with any Pagan group situations? Have they met your expectations?

I start with a few basic assumptions:
- No group is going to be perfect. There will sometimes be glitches, hard places, things that go a direction I wish they hadn't. (This includes my coven, mind you: I don't exempt myself.)

- Not every ritual/meeting/discussion/event will be deep and meaningful and fantastic. My hope is that they will have things of value - but there are lots of different kinds of meaningful experiences, and lots of different moods and tones, and all those things are good, too, even if they aren't big shining moments I look back on specifically years later.

- Coming into the group clear on what I hope (and keeping my expectations reasonable) helps a lot.

- I'm responsible for my own experiences in groups. If something's not working for me, it's my job to figure out what - and what my realistic options are.

Present and past experience and hopes:
As many people here know (but new folks might not), I worked with a training-focused Wiccan-influenced group from late 2001 until March of 2008, when I hived to form the first new coven in the tradition. I spent some time before I joined the training group going to public rituals in my community, and have continued to do so a couple of times a year since then. (I've also been on the board of our Pagan Pride event for the last 3 years.)

My new coven is aiming at being a working-focused group, with a heavy focus on what we do once we've all got a solid practice going together, and on close and emotionally intimate work. We do a lot of introspective and internal work, but within the context of the group, and with a particular focus on music, dance, and other arts in ritual and our personal lives. We've found that certain things are really important to us. Good food and drink. A focus on simplicity and deliberate choices when it comes to the physical objects (especially when it comes to ritual set-up and storage of items: currently, everything but deity statues and our cauldron fits in a single good-sized basket). Scheduling - we have found that we want a mix of weeknight and weekends, so that we can have full weekends without group commitments regularly.

Much as I loved my former group work (and enjoy seeing many of the members when I can), there were also parts that were, over time, extremely frustrating for me. My natural tendencies about advance planning, scheduling, managing of details, etc. were in many ways naturally opposite of many of the other people doing things, and there were times this was really hard for me. (I admit I'm way off on the end of the 'better living through advance planning')

However, I'm also aware that my coven is part of a broader community (both within my local area, and within the broader Pagan communities) and so it's important to me that coven members be able to interact in that broader community if and when they choose. (Which means being familiar with things like common ritual approaches and etiquette, and also some things like bits of local history that they should be aware of.)

And that includes me, too. Besides my Pagan Pride commitments, I have plans of attending a large group event for Imbolc, seeing if I can schedule a visit to my former group (our schedules keep being complicated) and maybe making it to one of the public Beltane rituals, at least in the next few months. And I have friends who keep asking if I'll consider a small weekend festival/focused group event.

I am not naturally inclined towards large public events. I get a lot out of structured ritual (I was Episcopalian and Catholic), and still sometimes miss losing myself in the depths of those traditions. But larger Pagan rituals often don't let me go as deeply into something as I'd like (for all sorts of practical and very sensible reasons) and so I generally go to them focusing on the community connection/networking aspects (seeing what other people are doing, talking to people, etc.) rather than expecting a deep meaningful ritual experience that shakes me to my bones. (And then, if those happen - as they sometimes do - I'm delighted.) Likewise, I like workshops and classes - but I'm at a point that unless they're on a specific topic I don't know much about - I'm going as much for the 'how is this taught' and 'what kind of feeling is there in this class' as the actual content. Still good and meaningful and of interest - but a different focus.
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« Reply #5: January 16, 2009, 08:22:42 pm »

Having finally done my actual response to the thread, a few thoughts here...

Even if no one at the moot is fond of a particular path it does create a bad atmosphere especially for seekers who are unsure about their paths and like to learn about others. (Maybe I like some elements of BTW, how can I find out if people can't even discuss it seriously?!) And I'd really love interreligious dialog, but think that's too idealistic at the moment. Sad

This is definitely one of those 'expect groups to be people' moments for me - I know what you mean, but it's also sort of part of what's going to happen if you have a specific group of people there (unlike, say, a forum, where people can participate even if they aren't free at a particular time/day.) And it's often hard to shape the conversation (i.e. to discourage dismissive comments that aren't productive) in many moot/coffee cauldron/etc. settings, where there's only a nominal person in charge. (Plus, you lose the people like me, who enjoy the intro-level conversation, but who hate leaving their nice cozy home and cat and such to go across town to have it.)

The good thing is that there are other options out there (this is, I think, why the idea of either Seeker classes or other more focused but open discussions has started to catch on - you can have a little more control over the discussion without necessarily pushing a particular agenda.)

Quote
- good personal relationships without clinging together all the time. Everyone should still manage to work with another group with a different focus if the first group isn't fulfilling all his/her needs or he/she's still seeking the right path.

This is a tricky one, too. There are the practical issues (do the events actually conflict?), some 'is this too many rituals for one weekend' (i.e. too many things to process without time to do it in). And then, a number of groups do temporarily restrict attendance at non-group things during part of training (to help make sure there aren't too many confusing things going on.) Personally, I'm going for the "Anything you want to attend outside of our events until we hit X point (probably about 6 months in), we want you to get explicit permission for. There are some excellent community events in my community -but there are also some that would be really challenging and potentially problematic (in the sense of setting back someone's training significantly).

As someone who'd be taking my time to teach, I want a chance to say "Not right now, please." or "Yes, but only if I'm available to come with you, so we can talk in detail about it afterwards." or whatever. Would I do it often? Quite possibly not, but it's important to me that someone who is commiting to learning my tradition and asking for the kind of time from the group that that takes understands there may be some limits. (That said, I would also give a really clear explanation - like "X does some fantastic rituals, but has a history of not doing as much grounding or other related work at the end: things can sometimes get a little overwhelming for people new to ecstatic ritual" for example - that'd be someone specific I'm thinking of ,who does in fact do amazing ritual, but where I wouldn't want to let a newish student go by themselves.)
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« Reply #6: January 17, 2009, 04:08:57 am »

I read your post about what you are looking for.  I am the chairperson of the Adult Religious Education Committee at my Church, and I would like to use your description (slightly reworded to make it inclusive for others) as a topic of discussion at some point.    May I do so?  If so may I use your screen name as the author?
Sorry for taking so long to answer you. Well, I can't forbid you to use it as I've already posted it on the internet, but I'm not an expert and would appreciate it if you'd take something from someone more qualified than me instead. My post was intended for discussion with a lot of people more experienced than me not as a thorough written article.
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« Reply #7: January 17, 2009, 04:34:03 am »

The good thing is that there are other options out there (this is, I think, why the idea of either Seeker classes or other more focused but open discussions has started to catch on - you can have a little more control over the discussion without necessarily pushing a particular agenda.)
Yes, I'd love to attend open seeker classes, but haven't yet found any in my area. But I really enjoy the discussions at TC which gives me some balance when a moot has been a bit contraproductive. It depends a lot on who is there and how the general mood is. I was my usual one yesterday and it was great, while many in November and December have been frustrating.

Quote
This is a tricky one, too. There are the practical issues (do the events actually conflict?), some 'is this too many rituals for one weekend' (i.e. too many things to process without time to do it in). And then, a number of groups do temporarily restrict attendance at non-group things during part of training (to help make sure there aren't too many confusing things going on.) Personally, I'm going for the "Anything you want to attend outside of our events until we hit X point (probably about 6 months in), we want you to get explicit permission for. There are some excellent community events in my community -but there are also some that would be really challenging and potentially problematic (in the sense of setting back someone's training significantly).

As someone who'd be taking my time to teach, I want a chance to say "Not right now, please." or "Yes, but only if I'm available to come with you, so we can talk in detail about it afterwards." or whatever. Would I do it often? Quite possibly not, but it's important to me that someone who is commiting to learning my tradition and asking for the kind of time from the group that that takes understands there may be some limits. (That said, I would also give a really clear explanation - like "X does some fantastic rituals, but has a history of not doing as much grounding or other related work at the end: things can sometimes get a little overwhelming for people new to ecstatic ritual" for example - that'd be someone specific I'm thinking of ,who does in fact do amazing ritual, but where I wouldn't want to let a newish student go by themselves.)
I think for a structured training you are absolutly right.

I'm still struggling to find the right path and group for me, so I feel I need to try out different things before I commit to anything. I sometimes wish I had a structured training program I could concentrate on, but at the moment I'm still looking around attending rituals, workshops and moots where I can find some that might interest me. I'm regularly doing some rituals and stuff with a circle of friends/acquaintances, but I've not found a teacher or any learning program yet. So I just think I have to look around because I'm not learning and doing enough there. I really miss the stable structure I had when I was learning martial arts from a professional teacher. Now I'm just trying to catch some knowledge and ideas here and there. It's a bit confusing sometimes, but I hope to find the center somewhere.

I'm not going to try several rituals at one weekend however. I don't even know enough groups and events to do that.
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« Reply #8: January 17, 2009, 08:52:06 am »

Sorry for taking so long to answer you. Well, I can't forbid you to use it as I've already posted it on the internet, but I'm not an expert and would appreciate it if you'd take something from someone more qualified than me instead. My post was intended for discussion with a lot of people more experienced than me not as a thorough written article.

Thank you.

It's a starting place. I have learned to take and use what is good, while waiting for what is perfect.  I know UU's (Unitarian Universalist's) who have discussed for years if there is enough light in a stairwell. 
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« Reply #9: January 17, 2009, 01:55:44 pm »

What do you personally expect of pagan group events and group work? Which goals would you like to achieve in the group/s?

What kind of group events or group work are you enjoying/looking for? (workshops, open circles, moots, covens, etc.)

Do you have experiences with any Pagan group situations? Have they met your expectations?

I expect to feel something, like I'm not wasting my time by going to a ritual only to be bored or disappointed.  I would like to see the group work being manifested in my life (if it was directed at me) or at least visiable in the world. 

I've only been to a pagan discussion group, which has lead to only one ritual, and I really didn't get anything out of it.  I had a hard time believing it was real.  I don't think that is necessarily a reflection on their efforts, as I tend to be skeptic of the whole thing.  I would like to attend a workshop or get around a regular group of people, but my family has issues with my religion and I don't like asking my friends for rides, especially when they don't want to attend with me.

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Waldfrau
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« Reply #10: January 17, 2009, 03:27:30 pm »

I expect to feel something, like I'm not wasting my time by going to a ritual only to be bored or disappointed.  I would like to see the group work being manifested in my life (if it was directed at me) or at least visiable in the world. 

I've only been to a pagan discussion group, which has lead to only one ritual, and I really didn't get anything out of it.  I had a hard time believing it was real.  I don't think that is necessarily a reflection on their efforts, as I tend to be skeptic of the whole thing.  I would like to attend a workshop or get around a regular group of people, but my family has issues with my religion and I don't like asking my friends for rides, especially when they don't want to attend with me.
Sorry to hear that. Maybe if you know some of the attendees better they can at least pick you up from the next bus stop. I always have the no-car-problem, but have made good experiences with people giving me a ride after an event if they go into my direction anyway. I would get home with bus and train somehow though, the connections are just so bad sometimes that I need 2 hours when it's just half an hour per car.

My first ritual with the group felt great actually, my second one was nice. The energies did definitly feel real and good. I'm just a bit dissatisfied because the group doesn't really train newbies and isn't as open-minded to seeker-topics as I had hoped (like discussing different perspectives and ways to do things). I pick something up here and there and they are patient with me, but I feel some lack and a lot of confusion. Also I often don't know how to fit in socially because they didn't have a new attendee for quite a time and I'm unsure what role to play. Maybe I'm expecting too much and I know I'm not an easy student anyway. I can only find out what I need by trying more and also looking into other settings for comparison.
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