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Author Topic: Choosing a Neo-Druid Group: Some Thoughts  (Read 1334 times)

Asch

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Choosing a Neo-Druid Group: Some Thoughts
« on: August 23, 2013, 06:04:37 am »
Greetings!

So as a casual glance will show a lot of of the posts to this SIG regard various neo-Druid organizations. To assist in this I've gathered up some of my own thoughts and should've / would've advice for seeking out groups. Please feel free to add your own thoughts and suggestions. These are just things I thought of or in some cases wish I'd thought of when I was seeking groups myself.

Things to Consider
:
  • Are you more interested in joining a fellowship or receiving training / knowledge?
Not all groups are social many are geared more toward training and education. Some are more like informal churches with like minded and like formatted rituals while others are more focused on training.
  • Are you interested in being a solitary member or are you seeking the fellowship of a physical group?
Not all organizations will be geographically convenient to you. Most will have an internet presence (though the efficacy and frequency of their activity will vary)but not all will be available to you for physical interaction.
  • Do you want to / can you spend money on the group?
Many groups are free or request a nominal fee to join. Others may request a fairly sizable monetary commitment. Not having the funding available doesn't mean the group isn't for you but it may mean there are better options in the near term and your ideal group will need to wait.
  • What can / will you contribute to a group without harming yourself?
This is an aspect often overlooked. It's important to determine if you're willing to be an equitable member or partner in a group if necessary. Are you in the right physical, emotional, and mental state to join a group? Could you be  an unintentionally destructive force? Is enduring the emotional and mental effort of in person or online participation more than you're willing or able to commit to? Remember work / life balance doesn't necessarily always apply to an occupation.

Research

There are some awesome resources available for various organizations. The SIG's own Neo-Druid-Organizations sticky is a great starting point for an overview of some more well known groups.

  • Review published material
Most organizations will at least have a homepage with a FAQ for newcomers. Make use of these resources, copy and save relevant information or items you'd like to do further research on. This is a great way to get a feel for the group's guiding principles and goals.
  • Get the opinions of others
Many organizations will have someone within their ranks dedicated to answering the questions of seekers and potential members. Usually a method of contact is listed on the organization's site. Some will even have publicly accessible forums or mailing lists. Review the past posts here regarding an organization, create a new thread or revive an interesting older thread. Seek out other boards and chat rooms. It can be very useful and telling to find out what the greater pagan public thinks of an organization before you sink much more time or energy into researching it.
  • Get your questions answered
If you have a misgiving or or are curious about an important aspect of an organization track down an answer. If you don't like the answer feel free to walk away. Not all groups are going to be a good fit for everyone. You're under no obligation to join. If you get a bad vibe or have a hard time with a core aspect or attitude among the group feel free to leave.

Joining

Joining a physical group is going to be a very different experience from a strictly online group. Always be safe, most legitimate groups will have a fairly established presence, meet in public locations, and be comfortable answering any questions you may have regarding safety guidelines (age limits, the presence of alcohol, etc.) For online groups be cautious about providing any of your personal information.
  • Engage with and (when possible/practical) visit the group before making any commitment
This is a no brainer but it's very easy to be so caught up in the excitement of joining a new group and being invited into an interesting new world with like-thinking people and potential new friends that we get ahead of ourselves.

You don't want to write a check or swear an oath without time to think. Any group that pressures you to do so is worth a second hard look. It could be a case of their own excitement at meeting you getting ahead of their good sense or it could signal that they're more interested in increasing the group's coffers or membership list than they are in you.
  • Not all groups are a true representation of a larger organization
A seed group, grove, study group etc. may be an unpleasant or even toxic environment. That doesn't necessarily mean that group is a true example of the greater organization (though, obviously it could).

If you visit a local group and are repulsed by it in a way that makes you think it's falsely representing the parent organization you may want to table your interest or restrict it to online only interaction with the greater group. You may even wish to notify the parent organization of your experience. Any worthwhile organization would like to know if a potential member has a disturbing experience with an affiliated group.

In extreme cases (abuse or other illegal activity) alerting the organization's governing body (often this can be done anonymously) or even law enforcement is certainly justified.
  • Be willing to walk away
Not every group will work for you. It's okay to walk away. Generally you can return at another time or keep in touch with members outside the group should you choose to. Don't feel obligated to spend energy and other resources in a group that isn't helpful or you're not comfortable with.
« Last Edit: August 23, 2013, 06:07:25 am by Asch »

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