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NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.
Article Specs |
Article ID: 4940
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 4,100
Times Read: 4,546
Author: Ann Marie
Posted: December 15th. 2002
Times Viewed: 4,546
You've read a few books, studied about this religion called Wicca and have heard the term Paganism. You like what you know so far but all the books tell you finding a teacher or a group is no easy task. How do you go about this? With caution!
Every community has some agreed upon standards and while they vary a bit from group to group there are some pretty basic guidelines for groups that are open for public attendance. Call groups to ask their policy on unaccompanied minors if you are under 18. Generally at open events and festivals children under the age of eighteen are not allowed on site without their parent or legal guardian. Each adult has full responsibility for themselves and minor children in their charge and must be sure they respect all property on the premises, as well as all plants, trees, and animals. Honesty and fairness is a general rule with many Pagans, but we are all human beings not perfect beings, trust is something you give to people after they earn it. Remember that not all Pagans live by the Wiccan Rede and even those that do may have some views that differ from what you consider harm, be careful that you do not blindly give your trust.
Groups come from many diverse backgrounds and you may have customs or traditions that vary, please be tolerant if others do not do things as you would. During ritual please keep your conversation to a minimum, if you have a lot of questions please ask them after the ritual, a leader or the Priest or Priestess of the ritual will be happy to clarify anything they can at that time. For your comfort bring something to sit on, a camp chair, or blanket, bug spray, and a flashlight. Many Sabbats are held outdoors, dress for the current weather condition. Layered clothing is always a good plan especially if you are unsure if the ritual will be held indoors or outdoors.
The following is a list of guidelines that will lead you down a path to finding others of like mind in a safe manner.
- Some groups advertise events in the religious section of the newspaper. You may also go to your local new age or metaphysical store. They are sure to have newsletters or flyers of events, festival and open sabbats or esbats in your area. Some of these stores have classes in introductory Wicca, or other metaphysical subjects. Attending class is a good way to meet like-minded people.
- Attend an open event that is held in a public place and bring a friend. If the group only meets at an individual's home call for more information on what the group will be doing that night and definitely bring a friend! If you do not know of anyone to bring tell a friend or roommate the address and phone number of the place you will be. Many Wiccans hug in greeting people, if you are not comfortable with this simply extend your hand for a handshake.
- If you go to an open event and things seem confusing ask for explanation from one of the planners or Elders and go back a second time, every group can have an off night or two. Open events are held to help groups or individuals get experience in holding public circle, and to provide an opportunity to meet new people therefore ritual style and ability can vary due to the experience or inexperience of the Priest and Priestess who were willing to do the ritual. It is a requirement of some groups degree system to have their student plan and Priest or Priestess a community ritual.
- Following basic circle etiquette is a good way to be asked back. Use the rest room before circle; turn off beepers and phones and leave them locked in your car (if it a necessity of your job or for health reasons to have the beeper on at all times than please put them on vibrate). When you are in circle it is considered inappropriate to just walk off, it is disruptive for the circle participants and the energy of the circle is disturbed. If you must leave after a circle has been cast ask someone to cut a door for you. In many home circles children and animals do come in and out of circle at will and the circle has been cast so that the energy is not disrupted.
- It is always tempting to touch something unique or beautiful but resist the urge. Never touch any person's jewelry, musical instruments or property without their permission, many of these items are sacred to them and it is a courtesy to treat them with respect. It is fine that you ask if you may touch an item but please do not be offended if the person says no.
- If you meet people you connect with be cautious. Email is a good way to stay in contact with people until you get better aquatinted. Get to know the new person for several sabbats or esbats before you give your address or phone number (people can trace where you live by doing reverse searches of your phone number on the Internet). Cell phones are relatively safe but do you want someone you don't know that well too possibly run up your minutes? Always meet in a neutral public place and bring a friend until they have earned your trust.
- If a group or person asks you to do something unfamiliar and you do not understand ask them to explain in more detail.
- If a group or person asks you to do something you feel is wrong do not do it.
- Someone may be attracted to you and express interest in furthering your relationship. Remember that you may say yes or no to these advances. If you say no than make sure that no means no, not maybe or later. If you mean maybe or later than say so. If someone will not take no for an answer seek out a community leader and let them know the situation. The same rules apply to you if you are interested in another person.
- Drugs and alcohol are not part of the Craft, though wine or ale may be used during a ritual for grounding. There are generally non-alcoholic beverages offered as well or you may simply either kiss the cup or hold it up in salute to the Goddess and God if you choose to. There is no smoking or eating and drinking once you have entered the circle unless the Priest or Priestess let you know otherwise.
- Picture taking is generally not permitted and if it is there are usually guidelines given. A good rule of polite behavior is to never take a picture of anyone without his or her permission (even if they are only in the background) and in the case of a minor his or her parent's permission.
- There is frequently a potluck following sabbats or esbats and it is customary to bring food or beverage to share. You will win the hearts of the event planners by offering to assist to set out food or help clean up afterward. You are also guaranteed to meet some of the friendliest Wiccans and Pagans while helping out since it is generally the most involved and enthusiastic people who volunteer to help.
- A follow up call or email thanking the circle host is always a nice gesture and may earn you a return invitation. If you enjoyed the evening and want to join in more ask for the dates of other open events. Larger groups such as a network or a grove have business meetings that are open to all members and frequently encourage non-members to join in as well. Ask the group when open or planning meetings are held and if non- members may attend. Attend an open meeting and if you like what you see and hear volunteer to help on a committee. This is a great way to get to know others.
Location: Pinellas Park, Florida
Bio: Ann Marie is a RN and Wiccan High Priestess, hypnotherapist, and Reiki master. She is an active member of the local Tampa Bay Pagan Community participating as a council member of GreenSong Grove, a Pagan church. She is Vice president of Temple of Earth Gathering, the council who hosts the Florida Pagan Gathering. Ann Marie is a founding mother of Spiral Turtle and Crone's Crossroads, a local Women's groups and High Priestess of Synergy Circle. Her spiritual focus is on community growth, teaching and service to the Pagan and non-Pagan community. She has been a workshop provider at FPG, and other festivals and events. She teaches various Wiccan/metaphysical classes at several local metaphysical stores.
Other Articles: Ann Marie has posted 2 additional articles- View them?
Other Listings: To view ALL of my listings: Click HERE
Email Ann Marie... (Yes! I have opted to receive invites to Pagan events, groups, and commercial sales)
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