To Return to Gaming…

Within almost any MMORPG(mass multiplayer online role playing game) there exists groups of real, live people, with real live problems and real life moods and motivations.  Sometimes, depending on the game, you’re able to organize yourselves into guilds or groups or clubs.

Now, if you’re going to run a group or a club or any sort of people-based thing,  you’ll find the same basic problems anywhere you go.  As it is just before the launch of my own group/guild/order/program/people-place, I think it may be wise to touch on some of these issues.  For pagans, it is easy to draw this connection to covens – for Christians, their churches.

We all seek to answer the same basic questions.

  • How do I recruit people to my group?
  • How do I get people active in my group?
  • How do I fulfill the purposes of my group?
  • How do I deal with expanding hierarchy within a group?

How do I recruit people to my group?

It is best to determine what sort of people you want for your group.  This question only deals with quantity, not quality.  I’ve found through trial and error – and I may be wrong -that by getting a base pool of “maybes” who are allowed to infiltrate, you avoid elitist thinking which will leave your group with a population of one.

So, beyond the intelligence requirement, which every group should have but not every group can, let us determine a set of rules which will enable candidates to know where they stand.  Will your group be single sexed or kept to a specific age group(like over 18)?  Must your group all own something similar(Like a videogame)?  Must your group be of all the same faith(The “generic” Wicca vs Gardnerian Wicca vs Faery Wicca) ?

How do I fulfill the purposes of my group?

Action plan!  I know I’m going out of order, but the two questions I have left are the most often dealt with.  You really need to lay out exactly what you want out of a group in order for it to happen.  Beyond that, you have to come up with practical means of meeting those goals.  If you want to build a library of fanfiction, that’s great – but you can’t expect your ten members to write a library’s worth of fanfiction.  I’d suggest creating some form of mission statement document.  The Order of the Gecko’s is rather long and deals not only with what we want to do with the group, but also member expectations, roles, administrative expectations and roles….you get the point.

How do I get people active in my group?

If your group has a “home” in which smooth conversation cannot be obtained (like a forum…or a blog) – activity tends to waver.  This is reasonable and expected.  The best you can do in that situation is to offer a mend to the problem – allow anonymous posting or super-simple registration.  Allow a place for people to introduce themselves so that they feel comfortable just hopping right in.  The worst enemy there is spam.  But, we all bow low to the spam god’s ingenuity…and its not something we can fix at this moment.

If your group has a “home” in which smooth conversation can be obtained – such as face-to-face contact, or a chat room – then ways to promote participation do become slightly easier.  Group activities like meet-n-greet are great – for chat rooms, benefits(like ice cream) are harder to come by, but a topic-choice for a night may serve as a good incentive for participation.  Guided conversations can always spawn some interesting threads that can be followed up on later.  Arming yourself as a group leader with pen and paper (or notepad) and writing down what could be followed up later when conversation dies is a great way to keep activity going a very long time.

How do I deal with expanding hierarchy in my group?

Let’s face it.  When your group gets big enough, separation occurs.  The key is to make sure that you, as the leader, do not allow too much room for “members” to have more power or position than others.  Exerting favor is easily noticed and easily resented.  Some ways to allow for separation and an expanding structure are harder to use than others, but the easiest strategy I’ve found to employ is that of racism and discrimination, “Separate, but equal.”

This is to mean that the people writing the newsletter are different, but no more important than those people who participate a lot or who run some other aspect of your group.  In the end, the basic group structure may end up looking like this:

  • King/Queen/God/dess (1-5 people on top)
  • Advisors (The people that are closest to the King/Queen person(s))
  • Separate, but Equal rays (Managers, greeters, organizers, cooks, writers, etc)
  • Standard members (No exceptional power)
  • Neophytes/Initiates/Newbies (Whether or not this is used as an initial group is up to you)

The path to the SbE (Separate/Equal) should not be hard.  Members should be easily initiated to play a larger role.  This allows them some personal investment into the organization.  With those SbE’s though, you will have to give them some power to influence you.  Whether this is done in a democratic way with a vote, or an unofficial way with intentional conversation with those people by you and your advisors to foster intra-upper-division peace, is up to you.

The Conclusion

In the end, people are greedy.  We want power and responsibility and a say in what is going on.  Denying that or not fulfilling the needs of your members will cause rifts and strife.  But careful consideration and communication do wonders – in a coven, a guild, an order, or any sort of gathering and smattering of people.

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Imbolc: Part Two

Expressing your spirituality.  What an odd concept for those of us who have been hiding in closets all of our lives.  I’ll skip the moaning and groaning about not being mainstream for now – we’ve all done our share, and we have all heard it before.  On a brand new college campus, I haven’t really scoped out the existence of any of “us”.  As far as I can see, its mostly “them”, though I’ve heard there are a few of “us”.  In any case, here are some ideas for some nice, calming, non-boisterous attempts at connecting with the Great Mother and her aspect, Brigid on the upcoming sacred day.

  • Walk – simple?  Absolutely.  But taking a walk – a walk designed purposely for observation and intentional connection with the world around you – that is a walk that can be full of spiritual implications.  Look up, look down.  Do you see the ants’ nest you almost stepped on?  Look for plants or animals that stick out – does it mean something?  The skies and seas and in between are full of signs just waiting for you to interpret.
  • Sunrise – Watching the sunrise can be exceptionally poignant on Imbolc, the time when the sun is finally beginning to make some progress in the wintery world.  If you live in the North or far from the equator, it may be difficult – don’t put yourself in a dangerous or uncomfortable situation on snow or ice.
  • Make Something – pick a goal – and then make a representative of it – be it an amulet or something else.  Brigid is the ruling goddess, the goddess of the smithy – you may find your hands work better than normal or you experience a creative surge as you go about your day.  Don’t be afraid to pick up a piece of wood and start carving it.  If you have a rare opportunity to visit a metalworker – go for it!
  • Action – the most important part of this holiday is taking an action, symbolic or useful, towards creating change within your life.  The power well is there, *USE* it!  Take a run, if you want to lose weight.  Begin your meditations on dance, if you want to learn about the subject.  Take the time to create that positive change in your life, and you may find that the rest of the days within this year flow easier.

Remember as a witch, or a pagan, not to get down when others go about their days and you want to shout at the top of your lungs, “It’s Imbolc!  Time to Celebrate!”  You can tell people, invite them to acquire the knowledge about our sacred day.  But a lot of times, at least, I find myself with a secret smile as I go about my day – today is a day which I have decided to set aside, make special.  Its that secret joy harbored within which has driven us solitaries for the duration of our lives, that sense of secrecy which has allowed to craft to survive and flourish.

Enjoy!!!