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| Article Specs|
Article ID: 4362
Age Group: Adult
Posted: June 30th. 2002
Public Circles & Rituals - Pros / Cons, Stay or Go?
by Patricia Telesco
I recently received an email from someone who had gone to an open Circle and came away very disappointed. It was poorly organized, the songs too complex, and overall it seemed tossed together with no more thought than a green salad. Her question, as a result, was: "how do I avoid this type of disaster in the future -- one that cost both money and time and ruined the holiday."
At first I thought the answer was easy -- but it's not. This group had been doing this ritual for years, so there was a history behind it. My friends couldn't be accused of going to a new event without doing some legwork first. So what was (and is) the key?
Tackling this question from several standpoints, let's begin with attendees. If you've never been to this particular open circle before and don't know the coordinators, ask around. Try to get some word of mouth feedback. In particular call the owners of any metaphysical shops in the area to see if they've heard anything. You'd be amazed at home much praise and grumbling goes on while shopping!
Second, trust the tried and true www.witchvox.com festival section. People post reviews here of various events. If the event in question isn't listed try the group's or event's name on Google or another search engine. One thing on which you can depend in our community is for people to post about their event experiences, both good and bad, somewhere!
If those approaches don't work, you may have to go and take your chances. But, don't forget you've got magick in your pocket too. Try divining about the event, or casting a spell that encourages success before you head out!
For those events to which you do decide to go, come somewhat prepared. Offer to lend a hand if the priest or priest/ess needs extra help. Focus on mingling your energy with the whole. Be good hearted about the occasional goof up that's bound to happen with a lot of people, and after the event offer both your thanks and insights so that on-going improvements can happen (please be diplomatic about the insights).
Finally if you find you're really unhappy with the event you always have the option of talking with your feet. You can (without disruption) take yourself out of the circle and approach the coordinator later with your issues (an open circle really isn't the place for this type of discussion especially if the ritual is still in progress). If the leader listens and makes efforts to change things, then return and see how that Circle goes. If they do not, warn others of the problems you experienced, again so our networking system does what it's intended to do -- protect us, inform us, and keep us connected!
Now let's consider the coordinator's perspective. Running an open circle isn't easy. You're bound to run into people from a wide variety of traditions, all of whom have an opinion on how it "should be done". How do you mix the diversity of Paths into a harmonious whole? I think there are various answers to the equation of what makes for a good public circle or ritual:
planning and practice -- don't expect to pull this off without some time and effort behind it. If you don't have the training, experience, or bodies to pull it off, find a facilitator who does and ask for help. Also if you have any specific information on your atendee's traditions, consider adding minor elements from those to make folks feel at home (do so with gentle respect for those Traditions). Like any ritual, good public ritual depends on a lot of factors all working together for the good of All, but when each individual (both the attendees and the coordinators) does their part, the results are likely to improve geometrically
memorize the material -- crackling paper is very distracting as are halting words because you can't see the paper by candle light. I also truly believe you can put more energy into your words if you're not focused on crib notes.
think simple, symbolic, and sensual -- too much complex material in a large group will dissolve the energy built very quickly. Strong communal symbolism and sensory input improves the overall experience for the attendees
be responsible -- you are about to become a public representative of the Craft and your magickal community to those within and without. Think carefully about what kind of impression you're making
remain sensitive -- a good leader is one who recognizes the dynamics with which they're working. If those dynamics call for a last minute change in plans, honor them. Rigidly adhering to a construct creates "fundamentalist" magick.
Get feedback: after the ritual listen carefully to attendees. What did they like? What bothered them (if anything)? What seemed to fall flat energy wise? This information will help you make changes for the next open Circle, which in turn will be more successful for the effort. Greet ideas with gratitude.
The Witches' Voice
June 29th., 2002
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