Thursday, August 11, 2016
Proper Etiquette for Attending Pagan Moots, Sabbats, Gatherings and Events
Good Afternoon Magickal Reader,
Today's discussion allows me to act as a witchy Miss Manners. As you walk along the path of the magickal ones and get to know more like minded people and attend more gatherings, there are some rules of etiquette one must be aware of.
Whether you are attending a Moot (which is a Pagan gathering, usually held outdoors), a Sabbat or Esbat ceremony, one needs to be on their best Pagan behavior. I, myself, have been in the Pagan community for over 30 years now and have attended countless events from very small to quite large. Unfortunately, not everyone polishes up their best behavior and as such this can adversely affect others. As these events are spiritual in nature, on one level or another, we must be certain that our behavior does not take away from others enjoyment of the moment.
When we come together at these events, they become mini Pagan communities, where we all come together for a moment, to enjoy, share, worship and socialize with each other and these occasions should be as wonderful as we can make them for ourselves and each other.
For those who resist following any etiquette or rules of polite behavior, they have the option of practicing solitary, as they should. That's one of the best parts about being a witch or pagan, we can practice alone or with a group. For those who wish to practice with a group please be sure to observe the following rules. Also know, I have come up with these from my 30 plus years of attending celebrations and my observation of these events and the people attending.
1.) First and foremost. BE ON TIME! And do not give me that tired nonsense of "Pagan Time". It is simply disrespectful, and rude to show up late, especially when you are given a month or more notice in advance. Also, if you say you are going to come, show up! If you can't come, please let the organizers know. Events like these always require a head count for cakes and ale or other things, perhaps party ritual favors and the like. Please let your hosts know if you will be attending and then, unless you are on fire, show up!
Also, and I mention this from experience, because it has happened. If you cannot make it, a simple "thank you but I will not be able to attend" is all that needs to be said. To tell someone who has invited you, "I'd really like to come, but I prefer to sleep in" or "I just can't get motivated enough, but have fun without me!" Well, comments like this emphasis that your event, no matter how nice and well planned, just isn't of interest enough for the person, . . . no party planner needs to hear that.
So, RSVP promptly, and stick with your RSVP and show up if you said you would. Of course, emergencies happen, but people that bow out tend to do so often and it becomes expected and so no one believes all of these emergencies any longer. Then you do not get to have an attitude because you are no longer welcome or included. This is your worship and your fellowship, if you desire it and the Goddess presents you with it, take it and be grateful. Remember that time, not too long ago, when you so very much wished for others of like mind to share this path with?
2.) DO NOT/NEVER/NO HOW! EVER bring someone to an event without the permission of the High Priest or High Priestess and they are those who run the covenstead (the home the event is held at), especially if they haven't met everyone yet. Just because someone is interested, don't bring them along without permission. Many witches and pagans are still in 'the broom closet' as it were and don't wish to be 'outed' to a stranger. Also, it is so inappropriate to bring someone who is NOT like minded to prove to them it is not what they think. This is never the time or place to try to educate or convince people we aren't devil worshipers.
Also, never bring small children without express permission. With rituals having flames, smoke, sharp metal blades and the like, it can be a dangerous place and if you get permission to bring small children, be absolutely sure you keep a close watch over them. It is not a time where "the whole village" will watch them. Each person is there for their own experience, they do not want to watch your child. And if you have a child so young that it may interrupt the ritual or a meditation with fussing or crying, even if you have been given permission, DO NOT bring them. Again, this is not just your spiritual experience but everyone's present. Hire a babysitter and enjoy the event fully.
3.) Never bring your own alcoholic drinks to an event. If the organizers wish to provide wine or mead for cakes an ale or offer some wine with the feast that is their prerogative. If the event organizers have asked someone to bring wine or such, that's fine also, but you do not get to bring your own just because that is what you want to drink. Despite legendary lore, witches gatherings and Sabbats are NOT drunken orgies. (I will wait a moment while the disappointment sinks in)
And, getting drunk at an event is beyond rude and completely unacceptable and you are dishonoring your coven and your hosts, and you shouldn't be surprised if you are not invited back again. When you become inebriated you not only risk your hosts getting in serious trouble if you get in an accident or arrested for DWI, you also put other's lives at stake by driving drunk. That is unacceptable for anyone. And it needs to be said, if you cannot go to an event like this and not drink alcohol, well you have a serious problem and should focus on dealing with that and leave magick alone entirely, until you become sober and can regain control of the energies around you.
4.) Always ask if you can bring a dish to share with others. You may ask if there are any dietary restrictions and if your dish cannot abide by these restrictions, please mark the dish clearly that it contains various ingredients that some people may wish to avoid. Just screaming out that the casserole has nuts in it, while standing by the buffet table, and hoping everyone hears you, especially at a large, loud, excited gathering is not acceptable. Clearly label the dish or put a marked index card in front of it warning of the ingredients.
If you bring a dish that is pre-wrapped like a fruit tray or a dip, be sure, when the feast begins, that you attend to your feast offering by opening it up and making it available to the other people. When someone has a plate in their hands and they come across a tightly wrapped and sealed food tray they will simply pass on by and at the end of the event it will remain unopened.
Also, please make sure you know your host's desires for left over food. If they wish for you to leave it, make sure it is in a disposable container they do not have to try to get back to you. Also if your hosts or event organizers ask that any left over foods be taken back, please do so graciously. Arguing that you really won't eat it, you don't want it, etc is not polite. Even if you decide to throw it out, you do so, do not make your hosts do so.
5.) Usually an event will have a start time and an end time. Be courteous and if all the clean up is done (and always offer to clean up) and it is time to leave, do so. Remember that your hosts have put a lot of energy, work and effort into this event, much more so than the participants and to over-stay your welcome just makes it harder for them. They are tired and want to go to sleep. If you want to be all pagan and watch the sunrise you can do it in your car or at your house.
6.) Also being thankful and grateful to your hosts is so important. I personally have known covens, groups, large and small that have disbanded, all because of the lackadaisical attitude of some of the coven members, the expectation that there will be a Sabbat or event miraculously appear and created just for them and no appreciating all for all the work that goes into it.
Showing appreciation can happen in so many meaningful but small ways. Helping set up the altar, or break down the altar set up. Making sure the candles are lit or extinguished, picking up of any and all trash that may have found its way to the ground. (this last one you wouldn't think would need to be pointed out to pagans and magickal people, but sadly it does.) Welcoming newcomers who are invited but may be feeling a bit unsure and left out, shy and nervous. Asking the High Priest or Priestess if there is anything you can do and then promptly doing it and not getting in the way.
Also bringing an offering for the altar, a bouquet of fresh flowers, or a gift for future rituals like a container of sea salt, or a small bag of sand, or a cylinder of charcoal. Any of the items you know are gone through quickly when having rituals. These would all be graciously received and appreciated.
Please leave in depth questions and talks of philosophy, or personal or spiritual problems aside until a better time. Trying to bend the High Priest/ess' ear while they are trying to get the gathering started is distracting and you won't get all of their attention. Wait for a more appropriate time to ask your questions or discuss your problems.
7.) It is also important to know the dress requirements for a ritual. Wearing a cloak is usually accepted but stripping bare because you like to do your rituals sky clad is not acceptable. Some very large gatherings will have designated areas where sky clad worshipers may congregate, but find out about that before hand.
8.) This is a new rule of etiquette. One I have never had to instruct on before, but times, . . . they are a changin'. When you get to the event, do not look at your phone, except to check on the time so you do not overstay your welcome. Sitting on the couch or with others, totally immersed in your phone, game playing or checking your stock accounts, it really doesn't matter, it is the height of rudeness. And you run the risk of an old high priestess like me telling you, in front of everyone, to knock it off! You are there for the fellowship, the socializing, the camaraderie and the spiritual experience, and NONE of those things are to be found in your phone.
Maybe you are well versed in all of these, maybe you learned of one or two you hadn't thought of. But, when going to an event, whether at a person's private home or in a huge field in nature, be very careful that your attitude and behavior doesn't impede on any others. And have a great time!
Peace and Happiness!
© 2010-2016 Faith M. McCann. Portions of this blog posting may include materials from my book “Enchantments School for the Magickal Arts First Year Magickal Studies.” For more information, see www.enchantmentsschool.com or go to the title of tonight's discussion and click, it will link you to my school's website. Please note that the copying and/or further distribution of this work without express written permission is prohibited.
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at Thursday, August 11, 2016