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Creating Your Own Clan, Coven,
Grove, Study Group Or Ritual Gathering

  Gathering Together
Before you begin to think about establishing your own gathering, you should understand what a craft group is. There are two articles I strongly recommend reading first.
- Covens, Groves, Clans and Alike
- Solitary vs. Coven Practices
If you are thinking about creating your own group or gathering you should be fully aware of what you're getting into, as well as, what you need to know. Do you have the talent and knowledge? Do you have the leadership abilities? Do you have the strength and iron spirit to take the criticism that will certainly come with the position. Are there legal and accounting/financial requirements that you must adhere to in your state or locality?
There are many things to think about in starting your own gathering beyond scheduling and setting a calendar. If you haven't taken the time to really think about these things, or research these answers; then you are not ready to start your own group.
Even if you're just looking to create a group of like minded people, to gather together for Esbat or Sabbat rituals. There are issues of planning, management and leadership to consider.
This article is not meant to answer all those questions and set a step by step process for creating your own group. It's designed to give you insight and information to decide if you're ready to take on this type of responsibility not only for your own well being, but also for that of your members, students and parishioners.
  What kind of Organization?
Image Credit - The Druidic TarotThe planning starts with the definition of what you're trying to achieve. Do you want to establish a study group, a group for gatherings such as Esbats and Sabbats, or an organized Coven.
Each one has similar requirements for management and leadership. But the more organized your group is, the more involvement and oversight is required.
A study group is the easiest type of gathering, but it still requires a leading member to organize schedules, locations and topics.
A group for gathering takes on those same requirements, but adds a little more planning for who does what, when and how. Along with financial issues for decorations, food or even just printing scripts for the process of a ritual.
An organization of a Clan is much more than the previous two. It requires the organizing member or members to be willing to take on roles they may not be ready for, or think they'll have to do. Such as being a teacher, counselor, and business person dealing with legal and financial issues.
  Do You Have What It Takes
Regardless of which type of group you're going to create, you need to consider how this new organization will affect you and your life.
First off, do you have the time and dedication to put forth to planning and organizing. To contacting people to join your gathering, and keep in contact with them when schedules change. No matter which of the 3 types of groups you're looking at creating, all 3 take time for planning. And you must stick with it and be dedicated to it, or you will lose interest from anyone who wants to join your group.
Secondly, you need to ask yourself if you're ready, have the knowledge and wisdom to be a spiritual leader of a group of people who are coming to you to learn. And it doesn't matter if we're just talking about a study group or group for gathering for monthly rituals. If you are organizing the group, you are going to be seen as it's leader. So whether you want the responsibility or not, there will be people who look to you to 'lead' them in a variety of ways. Having the title Priest, Priestess or Shaman isn't enough. Especially if that title is from a self dedication.
That's not a put down, it's practical experience. Someone who has not worked within a gathering doesn't necessarily know what it takes to run a gathering. That experience of working with others is part of the process to learning the wisdom of a pagan practioner and especially as a High Priest or Priestess or whatever the title.
Taking on the role of a Coven leader especially is a huge responsibility and requires more than just knowing a few basic concepts of pagan beliefs. And on top of the knowledge is the wisdom to know when and how to share it. How to help those who come to you without interference in their path of learning. You can't learn for others. A teacher doesn't teach until a student is ready to ask a question, because until then, the student may not be ready to learn. Forcing them down a path they are not ready for is a kin to interference, and could do more harm than good. Even if your intention is to help, ease pain or proper guidance. It's not your choice and not the wisdom of leadership. Everyone is in the right place, for their current progression to enlightenment. Don't push people who are not ready to be guided.
As a teacher, do you now how to plan for a class? Do you have the understanding and wisdom to teach the topic you are offering? Have you been a tarot reader for a year and now think you are ready to teach? Each person is different, but a year of study and practice, may not be enough. The same is true for teaching spiritual basics. How can you teach others how to meditate if you have not mastered the ability yourself. How can you guide others to raise their consciousness and walk with their Divine Higher Self, if you don't do this on a daily basis yourself?

You will need to know how to create training material, and class schedules. How to develop a lesson plan or a curriculum for advancement within your gathering. You can't just find a book and hold a class about what's within it's covers. Firstly because there will be someone in the class who knows more than what that book has to offer. And when they ask you a question outside that the purview of that book, you better know the answer. Or have a good idea about what their asking.
It's ok for a teacher to say "I'm not familiar with that" or "I don't know". But if you say this on basic topics, or more than you can provide answers to these questions; you're not ready to teach.
In addition to the teaching, you will be taking on the role of spiritual advisor. Whether you want this responsibility or not, it will come. As the organizer of a group you are putting yourself in the role of advisor. And there are many people who will come to you in that capacity. Do you have the knowledge and more importantly the wisdom to take on this awesome responsibility? You will be looked upon as a spiritual counselor, do you have the understanding of psychology to take on this role? There are organizations around the country who offer counseling training for ministers. I highly recommend them if you are sure this is the path you want to take.
No matter how well trained or experienced you are, there is going to be criticism about what you do and how you organize your group or gathering. Do you have the iron will and self confidence to overcome these criticisms? Can you listen to what others say and take the constructive ideas and implement them? Can you withstand the harsh attacks that come from no where and understand these situations may not really be about you or what you have done? If you have a sensitive spirit, or are hurt easily by what others say; you're not ready to take on the role as creator/teacher/leader of a group.
Everyone has self doubt. No matter how well you know something, or how much experience you have at doing the job, everyone has moments in their life of insecurity. As a teacher and leader you have to be able to over come these times in your life. You have to have a self confidence that can carry you through and allows you to tap into that Divine creative spark within yourself to continue moving forward. If you can do this, you will be successful.
   Setting The Foundation
You will also have to face all the management issues of running an organization. To a coven leader a gathering is also a business, with business issues and demands. The biggest thing that destroys new organizations isn't lack of membership, but rather lack of leadership and planning. Being able to handle the leadership role, conflicts, dramas and responsibilities of a group are all key talents that will be utilized and needed.
Here are a few things you will need to think about.
  1. You must set the foundation of your coven. That starts with the basics.
    • A business plan.
    • A business license or other legal licenses for your county or state.
    • A checking account separate from your personal account.
    • You will have to prepare accounting documents for all donations and or money you take in.
    • You will also have to prepare federal and state tax returns.
  2. Even if you don't bring financial services into your group, you will need to define a Charter for your organization. This will include (and it's not limited to these):
    • Principles Of The Coven
    • Principles Of Belief
    • Clan Troth
    • Dedication and Initiations
    • Code Of Ethics
    • Press Releases
  3. As the leader of a group such as this, you will still face other management issues.
    • Do you have the skills to handle conflict?
    • Do you have the knowledge to execute conflict resolutions between members?
    • Do you have the wisdom to handle conflict when it arises against you as the leader of the group?
    • Do you have the strength to put down discord and help balance or resolve issues or mini-dramas?
    • Do you have the strength to ask someone to leave your group if necessary?
    • Do you have the strength and wisdom to squash petty fights that unjustly become directed at one member of your group?
    • Can you remain above the personal relationships or friendships that can create favoritism from you and create unfairness within your group?
   Community Building
Do you have the knowledge of community building. Regardless of the effort you put into the foundation work, your gathering will not be successful unless you can advertise it's offerings, and be part of your community. You will need to attract members and provide valuable services to those who join you. Not to mention include a bit of fun in the process.
Do you know who your local pagan suppliers and store owners are? Do you know what publications you can advertise in? What about setting up and designing a website to share information about your group and maintain an interactive calendar. All of these things are important to communicating to your group and getting the word out that you exist.
Do you have the knowledge to plan rituals, and direct them with other members. One of the biggest problems with a gathering leader is they often forget that not everyone is on the same level. Even those who have attained the wisdom to run a gathering sometimes forget they need to 'hand hold' new members. This isn't ego or arrogance, it's just part of their nature. They do things by osmosis, because it comes natural to them, and they forget that others may not be aware of those things.
You WILL have to deal with the misconceptions of other groups who may not approve of your ways and create outside conflicts. Are you prepared to handle the insults, and the bigotry that may come your way? Not just from other pagan groups in your area, but also from non-pagan associations and people. Can you accept constructive criticism and new ideas from members? Let's face it, you can't do it all and other people do have some very good ideas and suggestions that can enhance and evolve your gathering. If you're open to listening to them, you can create a very successful group. But you must be able to let your own ego go and even some of your "ownership" of the group may need to be shared.
And how will your group work within your own community? Here is a good example of how pagans can learn from some of the organized religions. Sponsor community events to raise money for children, local organizations, volunteer organizations such as your local fire house and so on. Giving back is just as important as receiving. And creating good will between your group and other spiritual groups in your area can go a long way to helping you be successful.
  It Takes Work!
Starting your own group or coven is not like starting a neighborhood card game that gets together once a month. It takes a lot of work and effort. It takes time and dedication. This isn't something you can do by calling up 3 friends, practicing together and proclaiming yourselves as a coven. That's great for hollywood movies, but it's not practical or successful for planning an organized coven or clan. If you're prepared for the dedication and planning it will take, and ready to put forth the effort, you can make your dream of coven leadership a reality. Keep in mind the key's to success are being organized, planning, dedication and ability (your knowledge and wisdom). If you can do these things, you can be successful.
If you would like an example of a gathering Clan, visit The Forest Moon section of PagansPath.

Sources: 1, 2, m23, m25, o2, o17, o22, c12, c13, c12, c19, n2, n5, n6
Created: 05/08/2004         Updated: 10/07/2009