New pages!

Yesterday, as I mentioned, I got an email asking me about book suggestions. This turned out to be a surprisingly good motivator to get something done I’d been meaning to do for several months, which was to actually write up commentary on books I’d generally recommend.

There are four pages:

  • Book Suggestions talks about how I approach the whole process. Go read it first.
  • Books: Introductory Works highlights the intro books I think are generally solid starting points (but read more than one! Read many! You get better perspective that way.)
  • Books with more details covers those books that go deeper into a particular topic.
  • Other books worth reading includes those books which have other specific merits (and includes relevant fiction.)

I’ve added these links to the index page, as well.

Lots of updates

I finally finished (to the point I feel they should be posted) two long essays I was working on. They are:

Finding Others: Where to start looking:
This essay is based on a post I did a short while ago, when someone was frustrated by a group search: I’d been meaning to pull together a large portion of my standard advice when group seeking. It’s focused more on finding smaller groups or those focused on a specific defined path, but there’s useful ideas in there for most people seeking group Pagan interaction.

Questions when searching for a group:
Related to the above post, this is a list of questions (practical, practices, approaches, etc.) that might be useful for people who are looking for a group, but not quite sure what they’re looking for.

Please let me know if anything’s confusing or if you have other comments/things to include.

They’re both linked from the ‘pages’ tab at the top of the page, as well.

Seekers paying attention

Part four of my thoughts about seekers and what I pay attention to is attention to detail.

This is the one I wanted to talk about last (go see the others over here, earliest stuff at the bottom) because it’s the hardest to talk about. Sometimes, when someone starts talking about this particular aspect, it’s really easy to get locked into minutiae and details, and people feel oppressed and crabby because they don’t match up to some standard that’s not clearly defined.

So, first of all, I want to say: I do not expect anyone – not seeker, not friend, not covenmate I’ve been working with for 6+ years – to get all of this right. I do not expect myself to get every detail right. People are human, our memories are flawed, we have other things going on in our lives, and we will forget details every so often. Someone messing up on one is generally not the end of the world.

On the other hand, I don’t think that’s any excuse not to try.

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Seekers and responsibility, part 2

I mentioned in my previous post on this topic that I wanted to follow up and talk some more about it.

Responsibility and follow-through are things I pay early attention to because they continue to be important later. It’s not that I expect people to be perfect (and a recent, wonderfully illustrating story follows about that), but that over time, I want to be around people who take their interactions with others seriously, who recognise that time can be a precious commodity, and so on. There’s a couple of reasons for this.

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Seekers: Responsibility and follow-through

The next thing I look for is something I call ‘responsibility and follow-through’.

I taught the short series of intro/Seeker classes (a very general ‘What is Wicca/what is ritual/community etiquette/really basic daily practice ideas series of 5 classes) for the group I trained with for about 3 years (and I’ve helped on and off since then.) I also answered the group email.

A look at the numbers:

For every 25 people who email, at least 15 of them never reply again, never make contact again, etc. This is totally normal: they inquire, we send some more info, it’s not what they’re looking for. That part’s fine. What has always interested me is the next stages.

Of those 10, about half explicitly say “Oh, I’m interested in [next class series]. I’ll be there!” – we’d ask for an RSVP to make sure we had enough copies/chairs/etc. We’ve traditionally sent out a reminder email a week or so beforehand, and sometimes another one closer in. Less than half of those who replied show up. (And I’ve been at several classes where *no one* who RSVPed showed up, and we had new people we knew nothing about there.)

On one hand, this is no big deal in that setting. But it makes me wonder. Some of them do try again later – but you know, none of those people has turned out to be a fit for the group. It’s hard not to wonder if those things go together.

(This also explains why most experienced group leaders don’t put a lot of emotional investment in someone until they’ve continued to follow-through for a bit: the drop-off rate is *so* large that doing otherwise is a fast route to burnout and bitterness.)

This is where stories from other Pagans come in. I’ve heard story after story from priests and priestesses who arrange to meet a prospective member at a coffee shop for an initial meeting, where the interested prospective member never shows. (And not only doesn’t show, but doesn’t call, email, or otherwise apologise.)

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