Leaving a Pagan Group Ė Part 1: To Leave or to Stay?
Article ID: 15539
Age Group: Adult
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Author: The Redneck Pagan
Posted: December 1st. 2013
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Finding a Pagan Group/Temple/Grove/Coven/Circle seems to be the Holy Grail for Pagans. In almost every book I read there is at the very least a section, if not a whole chapter, on how to find or form a group. There are websites full of articles on how to find a group, why finding a group is important, how wonderful it is to find a group and how it can become a second family. Many of these people, wisely so, give you warning signs of groups to avoid. They will tell you where to go to met them, ways to petition to join and failing that, how to form your own group. They give awesome rituals for you to use with the group, crafts and spells to work and even chants, prayers and songs to perform together. Finding a group sounds so great that we would do almost anything to find and be part of one!
So, let's say you have found a group to join. Youíre so stoked your significant other has to peel you off the ceiling for weeks on end. You meet them and after a few visits they decide to let you join (or after a few meetings with some people you decide to form a group) . Once again your significant other has to chase you around cloud nine to remind you that itís your turn to do the dishes. You spend weeks studying up, writing down ritual ideas and attending every single group event you can! You even spend hours hanging out with some members, having coffee, going shopping, and watching movies. Life is great... kinda. As time goes on, you notice that you donít have the same enthusiasm. You feel blasť about events. The rituals do not move you and the whole group has gotten under your skin in a bad way. You begin to question why you are even bothering.
So is it time to pack up and move on... maybe, maybe not. Some situations, to me, necessitate an immediate departure! Any form of abuse, emotional, physical or sexual is not acceptable in any context, and is more than ample reason to run away fast! I also strongly recommend, in cases of assault, that you immediately go to your local police department and file charges. It will be the hardest thing you might have to do, but as long as these people hide in the shadows they will keep finding victims to assault. Sunlight is the best disinfectant, as my husband says, and bringing their behaviour to light will help to purge it from our communities. It might even help other victims come forward and seek justice as well.
Other forms of abuse are more subtle but can be just as damaging. If your group leader or other group members are constantly berating you for not being able to come to certain events for medical or family reasons, that is abuse. Now if you are not living up to your commitments in the group, such as never being prepared, just not showing up because you had something better to do, or canceling activities at the last minute, well, they have a right to be ticked off. Iím talking about every time you offer an idea you get told it's dumb. Or you show up to an event fully prepared but everything that goes wrong is blamed on you. If you are berated because you canít make the odd movie night here and there because you don't have a baby sitter, or you canít make a special event because a family member is in hospital, these are still abusive situations and, while not criminal, they are still damaging. Letís face it; life is tough enough without putting up with that sh*t.
If the group or group leaders begin asking for money for materials, building space or lessons, and don't show you where it all goes, they are probably crooks. Any good leader or group worth his/her/their salt has no problems providing receipts for everything and will never ask for more than what is needed. A larger organization that has permanent staff (volunteer or paid) or even a building of their own will have an established bank account and a financial reporting system. If these leaders are vague with their expenses, wonít let the general members see the bank statements and are still demanding annual membership fees, they probably have something to hide and are not worth your time, attention or money.
Any group that tells you that you must do nude rituals when you are very uncomfortable with the idea is not worthy of your trust. If the group leaders say that in order to get to a certain level you must master the Great Rite in Actual with them, even if you are against the idea and have told them upfront that you are not comfortable with it (for any reason at all) , run away. This is a very subtle form of sexual abuse known as duress. Initiation or full membership in exchange for sex is wrong! Another subtle way they will try to pressure you to perform nude rituals and the Great Rite is by ignoring you.
These people will be very interested in you initially. They provide extra training and mentorship. They will listen to what you have to say, will pump up your ego and flatter youÖ until you draw that line and say no sex. Suddenly, these people do not have the time of day for you. They wonít respond to your emails, ignore you at group meeting and wonít tell you why. They hope that this pressure will make you do anything to get them to teach you again, including changing your mind and practicing the Great Rite with them. Did those last few sentences make your skin crawl? Good because it is disgusting what they are doing.
Other reasons to leave a group may not be as serious. One big reason to leave is if the group no longer matches your ethical and moral compass. If the group starts engaging in practices that you are not comfortable with, or that you feel is morally wrong, you have every reason to walk away. These can be big things, like deciding to engage in multiple sexual partners without protection in ritual, or something as simple as calling together different pantheons of Gods in ritual when you firmly believe that you call from all the same pantheon (not saying one way is right or wrong; it is a personal choice) . Or, as another example, the group may change the focus, from say a non-pantheon specific path to an Egyptian path and you are strictly Norse. If this is the case, there is nothing wrong with wishing them well and walking away.
Another reason to walk away is if the group changes its focus. For example, let's say you work a job where you cannot belong to any political activist groups (government employees and military personnel cannot be involved in public political groups due to the fact that they work for the people. They can still vote and write to their political representatives, but cannot be part of anything public) . Now letís say the group you belong to decides to launch into a huge political campaign. If this is the case, your livelihood is at risk and you will have to decide if your group or your job is the more important.
Changing jobs or residence may also be a reason to step away from a group. If your work schedule is such that you cannot go to any meetings or rituals, you may need to step aside since you cannot meet the commitments. Likewise, if you are moving over two hours away you might not be able to be there for all the events due to the travel time (and the road conditions) . It also might be better for you to step down and make a clean exit rather than trying to hold on until somebody else has to ask you to step away.
Major disagreements with group members can also be a reason to leave, but before you do examine the disagreements. The more time we spend with other people the more we notice things about them that drive us crazy! They might have a bad habit, a catchphrase or do something really dumb that just seems to act like nails on the chalkboard to us. In these cases, you may just have to suck it up, buttercupí. Sometimes people do stuff that annoys us, and we can learn to let it go, Ďor let it wreck us. You might be having a disagreement with the group leaders. Find out if itís because you have some actual problems with how they are running things or are you jealous because you wanted their position? If that's the case, then you have some issues to work out, sweetie!
Boredom can drive you to distraction when in a group. After we spend a lot of time with other people we get comfortable and fall into patterns and ruts. This is not a very good reason to leave a group. You may want to bring it up with others in the group; do they feel the same? Maybe the group just needs a good shake Try out new rituals. Read new books. Go on an outing to a local pagan event to get the creative juices flowing again.
There may not be a tangible reason to leave a group though. Sometimes we just grow apart. Your path might take a different direction. You might no longer be getting any spiritual or emotional fulfillment from the group. You may still be on great terms with everyone but just have a very strong urge to move on. Or the group may decide that it is time to move on and close the group. There is nothing wrong with any of these reasons. all good things must eventually come to an end. Just like the rest of the world, groups are born, live, decline and eventually pass on.
So, what do we do when it is time to leave a group? We'll discuss that next time!
The Redneck Pagan
The Redneck Pagan
Location: Alberta, Alberta
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