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Open Circles?

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  • Open Circles?

    in the military and overseas, i have a rather unique set of situational assets and challenges when forming a group. there's not enough (never enough) people of similar or same faiths to form a coven, and if there was, our carreers have us moving in and out every two to three years.

    so we (like many others around the world) have built an open circle, a study and practice group open to anyone of any faith. wiccans, witches, eclectics, thelemites, druids, shamans, spirit walkers, faith healers, and even a few christians are on our weekly roster, and those are just the regulars.

    so i want to share some of the successes and failures of this kind of endeavor, and get some advice or help others in the same boat, but the question first is, how many others are in the same boat?

    how many people have ever led, have ever participated in, are currently leading, or are currently participating in an open, multi-faith circle?
    craftsman, green witch, soldier, traveler, wit, and wolf.

    Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting: The soul that rises with us, our life's star, hath had elsewhere its setting, and cometh from afar.

    Not in entire forgetfulness, and not in utter nakedness, but trailing clouds of glory do we come.


  • #2
    In addition to being part of an ADF grove, I'm also a member of an open circle that is closer to home. I'd be interested in talking about it. They have different dynamics than groups of similar faiths, obviously.



    • #3
      Shoot. And here I thought this would be a thread about sleeping with people from other covens, without your first coven getting all needy.

      Oh well.

      I don't practice well with others. People in general get on my nerves.


      • #4
        In addition to a Wiccan coven, I also co-founded a womens witchy open group. Rarely do we circle, and when we get together its usually for fun and conversastion, but like you we have many different faiths in our witchy circle.
        Ivy Artemisia
        Twilight Spiral Coven [Site | Facebook]
        Hearth and Hedgerow [Site | Etsy Shop]


        • #5
          i dont mean to sound like an odd ball here....

          but if a circle is open, its not a circle....

          its a crescent.


          • #6
            By open circle he/she means a group that is not exclusive. Generally anyone can show up to discuss Paganism or do a ritual.

            But I do see the humor in your statement.



            • #7
              I've helped out with and/or led open circles at my university for the past 3 years. Before that, I helped out with open circles at the UU in Amarillo.

              There's a lot of work that goes into it, and it'd be great to have a discussion about how to handle the ins and outs of it.

              Always up for new ideas to use and abuse.
              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
                I've been in, hosted and organized both closed and open circles and each has it's benefits and drawbacks.

                I prefer not to host open circles at this time because I feel like it is a time for me to have a more direct magical focus and open groups tend to raise diffused energy. That said, it has been difficult to find suitable people to have closed circle with so I'm doing mainly fam or solo work for now. I did put a call out to the Universe for a more focused group to work with but it's taking it's good ole time manifesting. That's cool, I can wait.

                The best thing about open circles is you get to experience lots of different energies and hopefully working styles. You get to meet new people all the time and you get a real feel for the flavor of the local magics. You can bring friends who may be just curious. Your circle is able to host reporters and other media people if they so choose to help spread positive PR about Neo Paganism. You can host community events like Psychic Fairs, Pagan Pride etc. You can try out something new each circle if you like without people getting grumpy about it. The energy is usualy big and loose, more celebratory.

                The bad things about open circle are you never know who is gonna show up. You have to have some kind of plan in place for dealing with drunk, disorderly or inappropriate behavior. You have to do more explaining about the process of energy raising and directing. You should be more flexile about whom or what is invoked, often leaving the Deity connection either very open and general or ommitting it altogether. You should be inclusive in your set up and structure and open to change the format if someone shows up that is firmly opposed to what you have planned. This requires a certain androitness and spontonaity that some people find extremely challenging. I don't mind reorganizing on the fly but some people need days to plan their rituals and would feel put upon if they had to make quick changes.

                The actual energy raising can be sorta weird too. if there are a lot diverse paths and ways of working, the energy can get too disfused to do much more than charge up those in the circle. That can be fine but for more focused spell casting unless the open group has a fair amount of core people who are used to working together or at least in the same fashion, the spell can kinda fizzle. That can leave those in it feeling let down and unfinished. Some discussion of how to deal with grounding is usually also necessary when doing open circle. If you host many OC's you may find you feel like you're repeating the basics of ritual over and over to new people each time and you probanly will be. The regulars may get bored with that and with the weird uneveness of the energy in the circle. So then you find yourself hosting two groups but that's another thread...

                The bad things about closed circles is they tend to shrink. You can't bring in a new person without permission. People move, break up, loose interest, change beliefs, etc and your group drops away unless you are in a really large area. They also can get boring because certain people want to do things the same every time. There is a certain power in repetition and tradition that shouldn't be ignored but things can get stale unless efforts are made to recconnect to the reasons behind the trad. Any little thing can get exagerated and turn into a witch war. Unless the group is committed to sharing the duties of hosting and facilitating the organizers can get burned out. Unless the members have good boundaries and plans for dealing with power and responsibilties, the closed group can get really toxic very quickly. The leadership can go on a power trip and you have few recourses unless your group has already thought about and set up ways of dealing with this. Over time the same people usually end up hosting and planning and diffferent but always the same people usually end up complaining about the hosts and their plans. Rotating responsiblities can help but people need to follow through.

                Good planning can help avoid the bad things in both groups. A willingness to listen and compromise is key to working in any group situation, magical or mundane. Ideally, the hosts or leaders have a sense of service that keeps them grounded. Being honest about problems and dealing with them as they occur will really help in keeping any circle running smoothly.

                Good Circling!
                In Her Service,


                • #9
                  I co run a local open group here with two other people. It's a lot of work. Our community is very lazy and no one wants to do any work, which makes it doubly hard on us.

                  We're actually taking a bit of a break because it was becoming less and less fulfilling.

                  “I am a woman who enjoys herself very much; sometimes I lose, sometimes I win.”

                  I blog at Just Another Pagan Blog

                  DID I JUST DISAGREE WITH YOU? OMG, click here as to why.