Ever get stuck figuring out how to introduce yourself to a new group or community? Here’s some guidance on things you might want to include in a new Pagan setting.
There are a number of times when we end up needing a way to introduce ourselves to new people. Sometimes there’s a chance for a sentence or two at a public ritual, or a few sentences when we join a Discord channel, or maybe a paragraph or three on other discussion forums. We might even need or want to introduce ourselves to a group we’re interested in.
Doing an introduction is easiest if you plan ahead a bit. If you know you want to explore talking to other Pagans, figuring out a couple of variations of a brief introduction in advance will make your life a lot easier.
I recommend the following. (Tip: if you’re job hunting or looking for other kinds of positions, this approach works well there too.)
1) One to two sentences, suitable for a quick introduction at a public event (or the online equivalent) where conversation is moving along promptly. You can probably also use this one on Twitter or other short-form conversations.
2) Three to four sentences, suitable for a slightly longer introduction at an event, a Discord server, a Facebook thread, or somewhere with a bit more space (but where you don’t want to take up paragraphs of space or room.)
3) Two to four paragraphs, suitable for an introduction to a group you’re hoping to work with long-term, an introduction on a forum (or other online space where a longer post is fine). Also anywhere you’re asking for a bit of advice and your background and general situation are relevant to your question.
When you’re going to be in a situation, pull out the appropriate introduction that you’ve already mostly figured out. Adapt if you need to for the situation. Much easier than coming up with something on the spot. How do you build one to start with? Read on.
Look for examples
It helps to have a model to base your own intro on.
If it’s a public event and someone is facilitating the event, usually they’ll start things off or give you some guidance. Something like “Let’s go around, share our names, one thing we’re hoping for today, and whether this is our first time at the event.” is pretty common.
If someone gives you that model, do your best to stick to something about that length and complexity – it’ll help the whole introductions part go more smoothly.
I recommend finding a spot about half way around the circle from the main altar (or the equivalent) if you’re brand new to an event or group.
This should give you a good chance to see how things are done there, and figure out how you want to handle it. For example, during introductions, or passing cakes and ale, or participating in sharing ideas in ritual, that will probably start with the people at the altar, and move clockwise for most witchy rituals.
A lot of spaces will either have other people’s introductions, or they’ll have a post or other information explaining what kinds of things people might want to include. Do’t feel you have to include something just because most other people do (especially if you’d rather be more private about that.) IF there’s a mandatory piece of information you aren’t sure about, see if you can ask one of the forum staff or community moderators for help.
What do you include?
The bones of an introduction are basically the same every time.
1) What people should call you.
This can be a first name, a nickname, a public Craft name, whatever you’re comfortable with. For privacy reasons, I suggest not giving your full legal name. Don’t worry too much about remembering everyone else’s names, but having an initial chance to learn names never hurts.
It’s getting very common to include your pronouns. (“I’m Jenett, and my pronouns are she/her”, for example.) Not every event does this routinely, so you may want to play it by ear.
2) Why you’re in that particular place right now. (optional)
This doesn’t need to be long or super complicated, but it helps people get a sense of context for you. Possible answers include “This is my first time at a Pagan event” or “I’ve been really interested in ancestral work for years.” or “This is my favourite park, and I love the idea of doing ritual with other people here.” Usually this part is a sentence or so, even in longer introductions.
3) A bit about your personal background, focusing on what’s relevant to the event you’re at.
You don’t need to go into detail about everything you’ve read or done (that isn’t short!) But a general sense of where you fit under the larger umbrella is really helpful. If you’re new, saying “I’m a seeker” or “I’m new to this and curious.” or something like that are fine ways to introduce yourself here.
4) Anything it’s important for most people at the ritual to know.
For example, if it is your first event or ritual, make sure you mention that – it will help other people know to give you a bit more guidance or help if you need it or check in with you. This is also where you should mention any key accessibility needs, like “I read lips, so if I can’t see your mouth, I can’t hear you.”
Different intros for different needs
The different lengths of introductions vary how much detail you go into.
Focus on the information that’s going to be immediately relevant to the people you’re meeting.
If you’re in person, that’s a name they can call you, and whether you’re new to events like the one you’re at (or the topic), or have done this before. If you’re online, it’s more about helping people who are interested in similar things know you might be up for talking about those.
It’s fine to not share a lot of personal information. The basics are ‘give people a name to call you’ and ‘make sure they have any critical information that will help you participate in the event’. Everything else is optional.
For a brief introduction, it’s about a sentence (or less) for each of those four points. Keeping it short is key. You use a brief introduction when you’re going around a room of ten or twenty people with everyone introducing themselves. If someone goes on for a full paragraph, that’s a good 5 minutes or so for 10-15 people.
I might say: “Hi, I’m Jenett – my pronouns are she/her. I’ve been a witch for ages, but I just moved back to Boston and I’m looking to make connections here.” (Notice how I answered points 2 and 3 in the same sentence.)
“Hi, I’m Rowan. I’m new to exploring this, and this is my first ritual. I picked this ritual because I’m really excited to learn more about Artemis.”
“Hello, I’m Dave. I’ve been studying witchcraft and Wicca from books, and been to a few rituals. I’m at the stage where I’m considering joining a group and I’m curious about how group ritual works.”
“Hi, I’m Gabbie, I love coming to these rituals. I can’t stand up for long, so I’ll be here with the chair – let me know if you need me to move.”
Note how Rowan’s intro let people know they are new to ritual, and how Dave has let people who have groups know he might be interested in talking to them. And Gabbie’s gave some useful accessibility info (she’s presumably already checked with the people running the ritual to figure out a good place for that chair…)
For a short introduction, expand the second and third parts to a couple of sentences, and maybe add some more social pleasantries. Your goal here is to offer some more hooks for future conversation. If you need some inspiration, check out the ideas under the long introduction section, and include a sentence or two from that.
I might say: “Hi, I’m Jenett (she/her). Thanks for letting me join this group – I’m really excited to discuss ancestor work in more detail. I’m a priestess and witch in a small religious witchcraft tradition. My kind of witchcraft includes books, cooking, music, crafting, and figuring out why something makes me uncomfortable. This is my first time here at ritual with this group.”
“Hi, I’m Rowan. I’m new to exploring witchcraft. I’ve been checking out groups and resources, but I’d love to hear about which ones you’ve found particularly helpful. I’m interested in this group because it seemed friendly and with lots of different kinds of information that goes a bit deeper than the summaries I see other places.”
Add some additional details. Usually in this case, 2-3 paragraphs is a great starting length. If you’re introducing yourself to a group or something else structured, check and see if they have any guidance or things they want you to include. These ideas are here just in case you need some inspiration.
Most important: It’s probably a good idea to include stuff you know you’re going to want to talk about. For example, I’m a librarian, and the way I think about things and talk about things, it’s going to come up. That’s a good thing to put in my bio.
On the other hand, I’m single (and have been since my divorce back in 2005), but I don’t generally bother to put that in, because that’s not the emphasis I want to have. (Though it’s sometimes implied, as in my example below.)
Where you are if that’s not obvious from the interaction so far. (If you’re at a regularly scheduled public ritual, you probably live within driving distance. Online, you could be lots of places.)
A general sense of your life. Depending on what you’re comfortable sharing, this might include your age (common online, where people may not have a visual impression), your general family situation, what you do with your time (job, category of job, that you’re in school, or whatever you spend your time doing.) Don’t feel you need to share something if you’re comfortable with it, though – just ignore those parts.
What you enjoy doing (either Pagan-specific or generally). For example, if you enjoy cooking, crafting, or other hobbies, you might find other people who enjoy that thing if you mention it. Mentioning things that are part of your magical or ritual practice will help people get a sense of what kinds of other things you might find interesting.
Where you’ve been. If you’ve moved around a lot physically, or tried a bunch of different paths or approaches, mentioning a little of your history can give people context for where you are now. A sentence or two is usually plenty here. I sometimes say “I apparently live in states that start with M and get a lot of snow in the winter – well, I don’t really care about trying Montana, but I’ve lived in Massachusetts, Minnesota, Michigan, and Maine at different points.”
Things you’d love to talk about more: If there are particular topics you want to highlight, especially relevant to a class or topic-focused group, your intro is a good place to bring that up. “I’m really excited about getting to look at purple elephants in the context of this class.” for example.
Particular challenges: Maybe that’s an accessibility thing, but it might also be “I have three kids under eight, and I almost never get a minute to myself until they’re in bed – maybe not even then. I’m hoping for some ideas to keep my life magical even when. I don’t have much quiet time.”
An intro I might write now, on a new forum or longer discussion space might go like this:
Hi, I’m Jenett (she/her). I’m in my mid-40s and live with my cat and a bunch of books in Massachusetts. By day I’m a librarian at an unusual special library.
On the witchcraft front, I’m a priestess and witch in a small initiatory religious witchcraft tradition founded in Minnesota in the mid-90s, with a particular focus on transformation (lots of phoenix stuff).
I’m cheerfully polytheistic, and I’ve got an ongoing interest in ancestor and psychopomp work. I’m priestess of a small coven, and I particularly love teaching and talking to people about what the sources they’re finding don’t explain well, or what kinds of information is hard to find.
As well as my witchery, I write and self-publish romance novels (1920s with magic). I enjoy cooking, reading anything that sits still enough, knitting and spinning (including for ritual purposes), and occasional dabbling in other crafts.
I’m always looking for more places with good discussion about witchcraft and magic – I’ve liked the conversations I’ve seen here, so I figure it’s time to say hi.
You notice I’ve given a general sense of my life, so people can put it in context, but I haven’t given out a ton of private information.
I’ve been general about my age (mid-40s), my location (a fairly populous state), and a general sense of what I do (because I know I will talk about library stuff a lot), but not where I work (which in my case is super identifying.) I’ve also focused on things in the witchcraft part of my life that are most relevant to people I might want to talk to more.
Posted on October 10, 2020