Image from wizardmagicfantasy.com
At a networking night at the beginning of this month I was in conversation with someone about storytelling. Something, which in her opinion, seemed to be often done badly (going on and on and on, not engaging your audience and telling tales of sexism are NOT the ways to go.) and are popular with ‘Those Pagans’.
After revealing that I am one of ‘ Those Pagans’ and much talking about Pagans in general, I discovered that not only did this person not like Pagans, she had a general disdain for any type of religion or spirituality at all. She told me of how (some years ago) she went to a Pagan Moot, here in Notts, to find it was filled with “lecherous old men and damaged young women.” Tried as I did, I couldn’t piece together which moot she could have gone to. Most of the Moots here certainly have a higher proportion of female members and attendees, it’s not often a Moot here in the East Midlands will have a male majority, rarer still are they ever filled with ‘lecherous old men’.
Although the lady did have a point. We do attract a lot of damaged people, don’t we? I suppose it’s because we’re an accepting lot, many of us are rarely mainstream and quite a lot of us are considered ‘outsiders’ to the social norms… Interesting that.
I like to think it’s because Paganism is as open and diverse in its flavours and themes as well as its members. We are healthy, we are sick, we are entertaining, we are socially awkward, we are wise, we are angry, we are disabled, we have emotional problems, we are every sexuality under the Sun and Moon, we are confident, we are nervous we are…. Everyone. It’s just that we accept our differences as well as everyone else’s. Doesn’t mean we all get on though. Like every group of Human Beings, we have our Dick-heads as well.
I’ve been fortunate to go to quite a few moots in many different places, Hell, I even co-run my own. Each have their own ways of doing things, but here’s a list of do’s and don’ts of attending, running, hosting and behaving in a Moot. These are of my own experiences and from what I have observed in others. And yes, even from some of my own mistakes:
DO be polite and welcoming.
DO consider disabled people coming to your Moot. Not everyone can do stairs.
DO take the time to talk with everyone.
DO be prepared to be able to take the piss out of yourself if you are going to take the piss out of others.
DO be accepting of others paths and points of view, just because theirs might be different from yours it doesn’t mean that they are an enemy.
DO encourage discussion and friendly debate, much can be learned from each other.
DO talk with your Moot friends about any advice you might need. Some people gel together really well and might want to share personal information with each other. And that’s fine, that’s amazing!
DO respect others privacy (see the point above, as some folks might need to separate themselves from the larger group to discuss something private).
DO listen to others.
DO include everyone in any ritual work.
DO explain to first timers what is going on and give them the option of observation if they are not comfortable.
DO call time if a conversation has gone wrong and is getting out of hand. Also if someone is telling their life story in an exercise where it should just be “Hello, my name is Locksley and I’m a Pagan Druid” “Hello I’m Ronnie and I’m a Wiccan” etc, then steer it back!
DO tell everyone in good time about what is happening, where and when.
DO be prepared to explain to outsiders who ask you what’s going on when they see you do a ritual or a meeting…. They might learn something.
DO stop staring at that rather attractive goth witch girl in her early twenties…
I have had the good fortune of going to moots that are well organised but there are always maybe those few attendees who are questionable. And again, some of these points are from my own mistakes:
DON’T go to a Moot demanding respect. Respect is earned.
DON’T go to a Moot thinking it’s ‘all about you’, it really isn’t.
DON’T sit there being ‘mysterious on purpose’ you’ll just come across as a mardy prick.
DON’T try and peddle your wares without permission, especially if your Moot takes place in a shop….
DON’T come out with sarcastic comments after every sentence in a ritual, it might have been funny the first time, but any more after that and you just come across as obnoxious.
DON’T ruin a moment of revelation for a group. Just because YOU might have been privy to a secret rite or poem in your old Coven; and then a special guest speaker reveals it to the group, the worst thing you can say at that moment is “I’ve already heard that!”
DON’T go to a Moot expecting a sex orgy….
DON’T slag off other traditions, you wouldn’t like it if someone slagged yours off now, would you?
DON’T go to a Moot, not talk to anyone and then go to another Moot and slagging off the previous one as being ‘cliqueish’ as they didn’t include you. You got there, make the effort!
DON’T be cliqueish, try and include everyone, especially new comers.
DON’T turn up and start telling everyone about your ‘powers’ discussing abilities is fine, as is sharing your experiences. DON’T start talking about how your Grandmother described how you will be ‘One of the most powerful witches she has ever seen.‘ And even if you are that’s great, wonderful. Terrific! But apart from telling everyone how powerful you are, what have you done to make the world a better place with this power? Yeah. Didn’t think so.
DON’T just turn up to a Moot and sit there reading your mobile phone.
DON’T throw a tantrum if someone questions what you do, questioning is healthy.
DON’T assume everyone knows what you know, take the time to explain.
DON’T give up on your Moot, be prepared to adapt and change it. What does your Moot specialise in?
DON’T be that lecherous old man preying on young damaged women!