Advocating for a friend

Hi everyone –

We can’t all be JUST pagan all the time. We’re so much more than our religions, although they may certainly drive us towards certain lifestyles. As such, although this is a blog about pagan stuff, I wanted to share my friend’s endeavor with you. My friend is a scientist who’s trying to get some crowd-funding for her research project, to finish her Ph.D, and save a rare butterfly. If you can, please give her video (below) a watch, and if you’re interested, please donate. Every little bit, even just $5, can help her help these butterflies.

Brightest Blessings,

Lynn

Dying Alone

I know its a weird way to start my actually-here posts, but I returned from my trip to find my leopard gecko had passed away.  Caleb had been doing bad for quite some time, and I think it may have been my fault.  I always gave him food and water, but I think that while I was away at college, though my family gave him the same materials, they did not give him any attention.  I know they never took him out and held him or interacted with him.

As a result, I think my gecko, in part, died because of lack of interaction.  It may have also been his time – he was a rather old gecko.  But leopard geckos are the worst when they get old, because they just stop eating (or all of the ones I have had, have).  They’re desert animals, so it takes forever for them to die.

I cried today.  Not necessarily because of the death of my gecko, because everything has a time to go, but more because the poor creature had to die alone.  I think to an extent that all creatures are as scared of death as we are, although it may resurface and rework itself in many different ways.

Along the bike trip, throughout the day, we would pass by on the roads various roadkill.  From birds (I think there was a hawk at one point) to deer to groundhogs and squirrels, the roadkill we passed counted as objects to avoid riding over.  As a result, our trail markers often marked the area around them – drawing a flourescent pink circle around them (that was the color of the trail paint) – and one particular volunteer would place mardi gras beads on top of them.

It was meant as something to make the riders smile, but it also held a solemn note – we were saying goodbye to the deaths that no one was close enough to, to realize, to mourn, to recognize.

The entire earth is a community.  I don’t mean to make us all cry every day for the many, many animals, plants and other organisms alike that pass on, but an occasional moment of solemn awareness, a recognition of the gravity and importance of death, is a good way to start.

My high priest once knew a woman who would go out and draw or photograph roadkill.  Then she would name it, frame it, or in some other way categorize it.  I think that’s taking it a little too far.  But if no one notices the dead, how are we supposed to truly appreciate the living?

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.