Before spending some posting time talking about what my plans are for hiving, I realised it makes sense for me to talk about *why* I want to hive. This is that post.
Where I’ve been:
(A quick note: I don’t normally mention the name of the group I work with online, because I’m the one of us who is most active online, and I default to preserving confidentiality and other people’s affiliations when possible, which means avoiding online-searchable mentions. If you’re in the area, or otherwise curious, feel free to send me an email. You can reach me at Jenett at this domain name, and if you don’t hear back in 2-3 days, feel free to email again because it probably got lost.)
I’ve been working since May of 2001 with a group in the Twin Cities. We’re primarily set up as a teaching focus. People can do a year-and-a-day training. Some stay, and continue to work through the degrees, work with the group, and take on other responsibilities. Some go off and become well-grounded solitaries. Some come back for the rituals they can, but have other obligations or desires that mean they stay as first degrees.
There are some things that are fantastic about this set-up. I’ve learned a tremendous amount from the regular influx of new people, from questions, and from being part of the teaching side of the equation, as well as (obviously) from the student side.
Things I’ve learned about me:
I’m an introvert. I recharge energy spending time on my own, and interaction with lots of people, no matter how much I like them, tends to be tiring. I’m working in a very people-intensive job right now (My desk is out in the main library area. Teenagers have lots of energy.)
Even if I get the kind of library job I would most like (which would either have a quieter environment in general or an office I could retreat to for focused work), I’m still going to continue dealing with a lot of people in the course of a day. It’s especially true if I want to consider taking on some professional leadership/committee type work in the future.
I also do far better with emotionally intimate relationships if I can spend one-on-one time with people. One of the things I’ve found this year is that I really want to do that with people I’m in a coven setting with – and our existing group is getting too big for me to do that. (We’re at 15 people for most rituals.)
My goal with whatever this new group becomes is to keep it small enough that I can comfortably spend an hour or two with each member one-on-one every two months (I might well spend more, or spend a lot more time with them in larger groups, too, but that’s my minimum.) My guess is that this comes out to 8 people, give or take 2, but that much over 10 is too many for me, unless some of them are close friends I already see regularly on their own.
I also – as much as I’ve enjoyed the new energy and thoughts and questions that we get from new students – want to go deeper than a group that’s taking in new members regularly can really do. Much of our current ritual scheduling varies depending on where our students are in training.
I still am deeply committed to the tradition as a tradition (which is new territory, as I’m the first person to hive off and not use my training to go do my own thing, so there is much discussion). But I also see some places for some differentiation.
1) Music in magical and ritual practice.
I’d like to develop methods that integrate even more of this than we currently do. (For example, I’ve been a guest at a Blue Star circle, where they used a sung circle cast.) In my current group, we use music for various parts of the circle, but I’d like to experiment with an entirely sung/played circle, and with developing music for other segments, as well as the use of specific types (meter, mode, etc.) of chants and drum beats for meditation, energy raising, and other uses.
2) Series of rituals.
One of the things I’ve most enjoyed are when we can link rituals together in a series that build and develop layers in each other. We’ve done this a few times for 3-4 ritual segments in my current group: I’d like to find ways to do that more regularly.
One of my ideas is to have a 4-6 month cycle for full moon rituals, where each ritual focuses on a related topic. If the cycle was focusing on elements, the first moon might be air, the second fire, and so on.) Other themes/cycles I’m interested in include folk or fairytales, myths, the Witch’s Pyramid, various tools of the Craft, etc.
I’d build in some flexibility for times other things were needed, and *how* the topic was addressed might be in very different forms from one ritual to another. (One might be a meditation, the next a magical working, the next a ‘Witchy Craft’ project and charging of the object, etc.) For example, we might pick one cycle theme for every 6 months, but only pick 4 specific things to focus on: the other 2 could be left open to adapt at need or shorter notice or specific ideas we wanted to work with soon, but that didn’t fit the current series.
3) Preparation and New Moons:
Closely related to #2, I’d like to explore what it’s like to have everyone have a general idea what the ritual will be about before they enter (for at least some rituals, like most moons).
The model above would let us do that: people would be able to spend the month before the moon knowing that the next moon would relate to Air, or to Persephone, or to the Chalice, or whatever, and could incorporate that into their daily practice if they wish. Perhaps the person writing the moon might give some suggestions.
My current group work does not include New Moons (except once a quarter, as part of our initiate-only work).While I don’t want to add another group ritual date to the calendar, necessarily, I’d love to come up with New Moon ideas that group members could work on on their own at that time, perhaps with everyone comparing their experiences next time we met. (Divination, scrying, dream work, a particular ritual technique, a focus on the upcoming full moon topic, etc.)
4) Deeper ritual work.
I’ve already mentioned my desire for deeper and more focused group work.
Obviously, the group will likely have students *sometimes* (after all, we’re an independent tradition: anyone not trained in my current group will, at a minimum, need to learn specifics of the tradition’s practices). If I end up moving for a new job (aware from the one existing group in the tradition), that’s even more true. This is not the post to talk about my thoughts on that, but it’s on my list of things to discuss in the nearer future. I do think deeper work is possible with students – it does, however, probably indicate a different model than I’ve been used to (and fewer students active at a given time.)
5) Further discussion of personal work.
We’re sometimes curiously reticent to discuss our personal work. There are some good reasons for that, of course – but at the same time, sometimes sharing brings us new insights or ideas. One of the things I’d like to do is build a setting where some sharing of individual personal work can take place (whether that’s in ritual, or through a different format, I don’t know.)
One of the exercises I’ve most enjoyed in my training has been when people have cast their personal circle (i.e. as if they set up for their personal ritual work) for the group. Getting to spend time inside their circle, with the deities they work with on a personal level, has been really powerful. I don’t want to do that all the time (it removes it from the group experience in some ways) – but every so often, that kind of thing is really neat.
One of my current frustrations is that there are group events on many weekends – usually not both days, but on one or the other. This both makes it hard to take a weekend away, and it has made it hard for me to find time to work on other long-term Craft related projects (writing/editing, in my case.) that require a several-hour stint of focus. (After I get other things done, like my laundry and errands and housecleaning.)
I’m curious what it would be like to have a schedule where we kept more weekends totally free – perhaps by having discussion or even full moon meetings at another time (Friday night, ideally, to allow time without people needing to go to work in the morning.) The actual choices will depend a lot on other members of the group, but I am committed to the idea of keeping 2-3 weekends open and free, and maybe have time for optional outings to museums, events, or other activities that weren’t directly Craft related.
So, there you are…
These are but a few of the things I’m kicking around. I’m sure there are other important ones I’ve left out here. As you can see, none of my reasons are “I can’t stand my current group” – it’s far more about a specific kind of focus, and about some practical details. (And, of course, if I move outside of driving range, hiving would be the only way to have a group in my tradition where I lived… that one’s the simple answer.)
In a future post, commentary on my plans A (staying in the Twin Cities) and B (moving somewhere outside the metro for whatever new job I get.)