Guess Who’s Coming to Your Spiritual Gathering (or Isn’t) (part 1)
Three of my favorite attendees — click for larger view
Before you start your own spiritual circle, coven, study group, or any other type of gathering, I’ve hosted enough spiritual gatherings in my home now to have a pretty darned good idea of whom to expect in any group. I’m on my fifth circle now–people have come and gone from life and I’ve started and ended groups for different reasons.
My current Sunday night gathering is exactly as I like it–small, intimate, serious about the work, supportive, and just social enough that we have a wonderful eat-and-greet before the lesson begins. That’s specifically what I’ve attracted to me this time around. There are other gatherings available to me where I can mingle with 50 to 1000 people in an evening (or weekend) but it doesn’t have to be in my home on a Sunday evening before a workday. Oh, and did I mention that my gatherings are rather peaceful, relaxing events? Let’s just say, I learned from my past guests…
So before you begin your own gatherings, take heed:
1. The Drama Queen. Yeah, I know: every group has to have one, but my second circle had the drama queen of drama queens. I still remember our first meeting:
Me: Okay, good question! The best angel to work with for protection is–
DQ: I know I should do protection rituals more often. This last week, I hurt myself really bad. Got burned. (rolls up on sleeve to display a huge red blister)
Me: Uh, wow…what happened? Did you spill something on the stove?
DQ: (rolling her sleeve up more) No, it was on purpose. I’m a cutter, too. See these scars?
DQ: But unlike you, I at least have a boyfriend. Of course, he’s suggested sodomizing my toddler–
Me: (jaw on the floor, unable to respond)
Now before you accuse me of trying to be humorous, every word of that is true. And for every time she showed up at a gathering, whatever her problems were –magickal or mundane–she got 100% of the group’s attention. By the way, this wasn’t a spoiled 18-year-old witchy wannabe. This was a 37-year-old mother of four.
Advice? Remove this person from your group or the gathering might as well be named for her or for her problem of the day. You’ll be worshipping neither Queen of Heaven nor Queen of Hel–it’s all about the Drama Queen.
2. The You-Can-Count-Me-but-You-Can’t-Count-on-Me. I’ve never charged a penny for anyone to attend my gatherings. I normally cook or at least have snacks because when they’re really exciting, they go on for quite a while. I used to make lots of lasagna or spaghetti for our initial eat-and-greet before settling down into what would sometimes last from 5 PM until 2 AM. Any leftovers went into the freezer for my family to eat during the week. This wasn’t a problem for the first three circles I hosted. For the fourth circle, a study group where we ate and then talked for hours, I had to plan both space and food considerations. I also had to get special permission from my neighborhood council to have a certain number of guests and make arrangements for parking so I didn’t upset my neighbors. I made some big changes after the first time I bought enough food for 25 attendees, spent days making arrangements with the neighborhood guardians for parking, and then had only 3 people show up–after 25 had RSVP’d yes and confirmed yes the day before. My experience was fairly normal, though. I discovered through this group–which I’d launched through an online announcement–that people don’t seem to understand that RSVP means the host/hostess needs to know if you’re attending so they can plan around you. If you don’t respect your host/hostess’ time, money, or efforts enough to let them know you’re not showing, you won’t get invited back many more times.
Advice? There are always good reasons someone might not make it after saying yes (like their fingers are broken and they can’t dial the phone or they’ve been kidnapped by aliens whose cell phones can’t get a good signal from Sirius). Second chances are okay. After that, either stop inviting them or stop expecting them to show up.
3. The Don’t-Expect-Me-to-Make-an-Effort. This is the attendee who tells you how excited he is about your group and can’t wait to attend. Oh, yeah, but by the way, he doesn’t have a car or a way to the meeting. Would you mind terribly just coming over and picking him up? He lives only 2 miles away. He could ask his neighbor or friend for a ride over, but he doesn’t want to be a bother. But don’t pick him up too early. Say, five minutes before the gathering starts?
These have always been perfectly healthy folks who have no problem walking. Or, even if they did, they have a list of the other attendees driving past their homes and they could easily ask for someone other than the hostess to arrange transportation.
Advice? Don’t offer to provide bus service or even to arrange for someone else to pick them up if they’re aware of other attendees (mine were because we hade a supplementary online announcement list). Let them take responsibility for finding their own transportation. If participation in your group is important enough to them, they will find a way. If they can’t make a phone call to bum a ride with someone already passing their house, they’re not likely to do any extra spiritual work either. Sometimes people just aren’t meant to be part of your group. Let them not be.
Coming up…Part Two.