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Who is “in” your group?

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  • Who is “in” your group?

    This subforum is geared towards a wide variety of groups. From small closed Covens to churches/temples to community gatherings. I am hoping to get feedback from any of these :-)

    Let me know which type of group you lead or belong to and how you define who is in or not. Some examples are: In a closed Coven those who join might be initated. In a lodge folks might start attending as guests and then pay dues when they join. In a networking group whoever shows up that night is in, no obligation. And when hosting a public ritual or gathering it might be very confusing who is creating vs who is attending it.

    I ask because I think my group is suffering from no distinction between members and guests LOL I think they want it this way so it’s all inclusive but there are side effects when things are so casual.

    The group is an official nonprofit women’s Temple which has a board of directors and many committees you can join. No fees to join but donations always accepted. Women are encourage to use the Temple space and Yahoo group to host any type of Pagan event (potluck, classes, divination night, meditation…) Women can come and go from the committees, the most active one being Ritual planning. The Temple hosts 8 public rituals funded by donations. Some of the Rituals have huge turnout, but the amount of commited folks who do most of the work is small. When calling for help or volunteers, sometimes nobody responds. I wonder if this happens partially because most people think they are the “guests” and not actually “in” the group.

    I wonder if things would better if we had an official way to join as a member. Not in a way to make someone pay dues, but just as an official sign up. Members would get certain perks but be required to help out with time, energy or good ol cashola. Maybe perks could be access to a special events or lending library or something.

    I am comtemplating bringing this up with the board but I feel they really like the open, all inclusive idea. I think part of draw of this group is to do things in a more feminine based way and avoid the feeling of a typical club or lodge.

    What is your group like? Anyone have this issue?

    Attached Mama to Brendan, born 11/18/03. Loving Wife to Dennis, handfasted 9/7/02.

  • #2
    Well currently I'm just running a public coffee night basically you are "in" if you show up. That said, I'm working on fostering a membership that wants to be active participants and I've made this VERY obvious from the word go. I'll let you know how that works out in a month or two ~_^

    Originally posted by Rhianna813 View Post
    I am comtemplating bringing this up with the board but I feel they really like the open, all inclusive idea. I think part of draw of this group is to do things in a more feminine based way and avoid the feeling of a typical club or lodge.

    What is your group like? Anyone have this issue?
    You can have your cake and eat it too with this one. You can have an all inclusive outer court and then have a more intensive "members" Inner Court. As for how to denote the difference between members and guests here are the things that pop into my head:

    Dedication (NOT initiation) ritual to the purpose of the group with a pledge to help further that purpose. This could be a public or private (members only) affair depending on what feels best. You could also hand out tokens (pendents or crystals of a specific type for example) to denote who has made that commitment.

    As for the probably of getting people involved. Learn the way of "Volountelling" people what to do. A lot of the time, people ARE willing to be involved but don't feel competent enough to take something on by themselves. However if it's delegated to them and they know that they can get help from others if they get stuck, people are far more likely to get involved.

    So there's my two cents Your group sounds wonderful.
    The Sexy Heathen Babe


    • #3
      we are pretty strickly family only....but we would entrtain the admission of friends on a case by case 'do you make us feel comfortable around you naked' basis.
      Mitakuye Oyasin


      • #4
        my group is a Coven, rituals are private{members only} guests are allowed at potlucks or certain events on some sabbats but they have to be invited by someone "in" the Coven we do not hold open/public circles
        I do teach classes and anyone can come to those with my approval of course.
        Being powerful is like being a lady If you have to tell people you are, you aren't

        Advanced Paganism, Meditation
        and Books Forum Guide
        and also a writer for MW Magazine

        Serenity is not freedom from the is peace during the storm

        :fpraise: many thanks to Patriciaj for great banner

        Its your it as you like

        my covens site


        • #5
          I am a member of a tribe. We are very outdoorsy and perform outdoor rituals and camp a lot. We tend to have picnics and spend time in parks for fun. We have a number of members and generally someone who wishes to join the group has to meet the existing members who will then decide by general consensus whether they feel comfortable with that person becoming a part of the tribe. We do hold open rituals and socials to which anyone is welcome to come and members can bring their friends, partners etc. We also have an online group so that we can keep in touch with each other.
          Imagine a beautiful meadow in a forest with many paths leading to it. It doesn't matter how you get to the meadow so long as you get there without harming anyone or anything along the way.


          • #6
            I lead a small womens coven. We are hierarchal, and are very different from your group. We have an inner court (intiates) and an outer court (dedicants), and we also have aspirants and guests from time to time. We have open circles and open meeting from time to time, but you know where you stand. All of this is clearly identified in our bylaws- it explains the groups, and how one moves through them. You can check em out at if you want. (I know you didn't really ask for advice perse, but I thought about it, and now I've written a LONG post)

            I think that a problem with a large fluid group, like the one you belong to, is that there aren't really responsibilities that are assigned. Sure, people can move through committees, but there really isn't a lot of constant dedication given by the members. This leads to leader burnout. When the responsibilities aren't shared, too much falls on the leaders' shoulders, and it sucks. In a 'feminine' based group, the members would all share responsibilities- I would think. But, in a society like we have today, its just not possible. It would be nice, but most women work, many take care of kids, and cook, and keep up the house.... the level of 'home responsibility' depends on the home, relationship and kids in each family. A working woman with four kids, might be able to give less time/money to the temple than a single woman who works part time. But yet, the working mama probably needs the spiritual fellowship more than others.

            The problem is- you don't want to ask for dues, and you don't want to limit the in-circle to only the people who can contribute money- since many people who don't have money to spare could be major assets when it comes to rituals and helping out. You want responsible people in the in-circle who will dedicate time and energy. But you have to think- whats it in for them? In order to get people to sign on for your in-circle, you'll have to have some incentive to make them feel special and want to continue helping. I would be interested in learning how well the committees work- because thats where you should be able to pull your volunteers from. I have no experience in non-profits, and I don't know the rules about structure, but the following is what I would suggest to your BOD. Sorry, that this is long, but its what Id do if I was in your shoes. For some reason, I am not good at giving vague advice. Sorry!

            I would create an in-circle. These "temple priestesses" would be a group of volunteers (would probably include the BOD- if they are very active in temple activities) who would share responsibilities.

            ~These would be your go-to women when it comes to planning events and rituals- and they would need to expect that going in.
            ~They would help set-up and clean-up. Instead of asking for dues, you can ask them to pick up a white ritual cloth, or apples, or a silver candle, etc.
            ~When calling for volunteers, these women would already be accounted for, but you could always add more volunteers from the general community.
            ~They could head up the committees, if you wanted them to, and could help in organizing fundraisers, etc.
            ~You could have temple priestess meetings, and by doing this, make them comfortable around the tools, drums, scarves, whatever you have in the temple- this way they won't feel weird about just jumping in to help because they don't know where things go, or how things are done.
            ~You can have fun special outings like movie nights/ wine tasting nights, etc. for the temple priestesses- or appreciation nights
            ~You could use their strengths and varying degrees of experience to help you in SO many ways.

            The cool thing about an in-group like that is if you have 5 or 20- it will still work. The thing is, you get emotional-buy in and make them want to help and be part of the temple family. I would create a periodic temple priestess dedication (and rededication) ceremony. You would need to have a head priestess who facilitates and organizes the meetings, but everyone would be created equal.

            To your BOD, I would make the point about shared responsibilities being part of the feminine community, but explain that its not working like it could be. With this idea, you would still be sharing responsibilities, including the greater community of women- but the weight of the scheduled rituals wouldn't fall on just a few already overloaded shoulders. You'd still be involving the greater community by including them in the call for volunteers, use of the temple space, and on temple committees. You'd just be finding a catalyst to make sure the the responsibilites are indeed shared.

            I don't know- I hope I gave you a couple of ideas or maybe some inspiration to help you find a solution to your problem. Good luck!
            Ivy Artemisia
            Twilight Spiral Coven [Site | Facebook]
            Hearth and Hedgerow [Site | Etsy Shop]


            • #7
              The only thing I lead at the moment is a rather exclusive study group - we meet once a week and everyone has to agree to inviting any guests or whatnot. We aren't a coven, but talk about books together and are going to be working on a collage project together over the next several weeks - the idea is to collage who you are, how you see a Deity, a goal, etc.

              Its mostly about sitting together and enjoying time.

              When I was president of the Pagan Student Alliance, the group was required to be open and fluid by the school regulations. We had a semblance of order but nothing concrete - it took time, but eventually those who were willing to consistently contribute have settled in and are reliable now. Those in charge now have inherited a fairly stable group that gets new faces every semester.
              Each man performs his service to the Holy according to what he is, not according to what he is not; after all, the sacrifice must not surpass the proper measure of the worshiper. - Iamblichus


              • #8
                Sadly, (or not so much since I fear human contact and people knowing I am pagan...) my only group is MW... And besides, out here in the boonies you don't meet many Pagans. Lots of Christians, lots of fair weather Christians (yes I seperate the two because there is a distinct difference), but very few Pagans...
                I've been ghosted by RavenStars... boo...

                "Coward, I see what is in your heart.
                Be careful what you sow there,
                for it may prove to be your only harvest, and a bitter one at that."

                Official "I have too many family members to fit in this space, yes, immediate..." club member...
                for those who's family exceeds the given amount of space.

                Honestly... does it have a face?


                • #9
                  I'm part of a "group".....basically, whoever shows up consistently to the Sabbats & planning meetings is "in". That number has gone from three to five to ten, back down to two, up to four and down to three over the past two years. It's very informal and I like that, but sometimes I wish it was more structured. Basically, for a year, I was the only one keeping it together because I would initiate meetings, I would plan the rituals, etc. Finally, I found another couple who was willing to do the work with me, but then they broke up so now it's just me and the girl from the former couple, but we also all live quite a ways from each other. It can be a hassle, but I feel it's worth it when we come together and have a really meaningful ritual.
                  Pagan Tart, High Priestess of the Soli-Tarty Path

                  My heroes have always been cowboys, and they still are, it seems
                  Always in search of, and one step in back of,
                  Themselves and their slow-movin' dreams
                  ~Willie Nelson~