BeyondWeird Home
Index  Previous  Next 

                           PAGAN MANNERS OR 

                Are There Any Dead Animals in The Soup? 
                     by Grey Cat, Members Advocate
 I can hear the outraged screams already. there are people out there who
believe that the very idea of "Pagan Manners" is a conflict in terms;
that "manners" are outdated, dishonest and hypocritical. Well,think
again.  Manners constitute the only successful technique ever discovered
by humankind to enable groups and individuals, holding moderately
disparate views, customs or beliefs, to get along together.  There are
things more important than manners; but, without manners,its unlikely
that a discussion will ever go to them.    Pagan manners are fairly
simple and have nothing to do with which fork you use or how to word an
invitation. They have to do with respect for others' feelings and
beliefs. They most specifically have to do with recognition of the fact
that you should "judge not the path of your brother or sister for their
path is sacred." Manners are also the only way of attempting to grant
everyone the personal space which each of us needs.  There have been a
number of attempts to write down a list of "thou shalts" and "thou shalt
nots" which will cover Pagan life. Here are several tries made by four
different people: 
     MY OWN OPINIONS 1. Never assume that you are invited to a ritual or
a non public gathering just because your friend is invited. Have your
friend call the group doing the event and ASK! (or call yourself). 2.
When participating in a ritual led by a group of which you are nota
member, ask ahead of time what will be done. SHould there be something
in the explanation, or in the set-up of the ritual area which bothers
you, just quietly don't participate in the ritual. 3. Ask the person(s)
officiating at a ritual before you place anything in the ritual area;
wear clothing or tools which might be considered unusual; or add private
energy workings to the ritual being done. 4. Never just walk out of a
cast ritual circle. Ask someone in the group sponsoring the ritual to
cit you a door if your really and truly absolutely have to leave. 5.
Don't make comments on the ritual, its leaders or the amount or quality
of the energy raised during the ritual unless such opinions are asked
for by the leaders. Save it for your friends, privately,after the ritual
is over. 6. Vegetarians, Vegans, Strict Carnivores, Diabetics, and any
others with very strong food preferences: no one minds your asking
quietly and politely "Which dishes have meat (sugar, spices, hot pepper,
etc.)in them?" When planning a meal for mixed Pagan/Wiccan groups, it is
strongly suggested that at least some of the dishes be vegetarian, sug-
ar-free, relatively non-spicy etc. At all times, within and without the
ritual context, always provide an alternative to alcoholic beverages. 7.
While many people have become far less secretive about their membership
in a Pagan group, it is never, EVER, permissible to "blow someones
cover".  Do not ever call a friend or acquaintance by their Pagan name
or mention their membership in a mundane situation. It is also bad
manners - and a symptom of social climbing - to call an individual by
his/her mundane name in a Pagan situation. It always reminds me of an
extra calling John Wayne "The Duke" at a local bar. 8. Whether you
drink, take drugs or indulge in other similar behavior is completely
your own business. It is always wrong to urge such behavior on any other
individual. The majority of serious Pagan groups absolutely do NOT allow
anyone under the influence of drugs or alcohol to participate in ritual.
Do not be offended of you are turned away for this reason. If you are
taking a psycho-active drug for a medical reason it is very wise to
check with the ritual leader(s) so they will understand and can advise

you if they feel the ritual might be harmful  to you. 9. Just because
most Pagans/Wiccans are under 40 and in reasonably good physical
condition, never assume that everyone is. Rituals and gatherings should
be planned so that those with physical problems aren't barred totally
from participation. Particularly in ritual, be aware that many more
people than you might think are "mobility disabled." Group ritual should
take place in an accessible area and some thought should be given to
designating a safe place for those not taking part in dancing to stand
or sit. Please be alert to anyone to whom help would be welcome. Help
them to find a campsite which minimizes walking - to the ritual area, to
the privies, to the eating area - whatever. Help them pitch their camp.
Don't make them feel unwelcome - most handicapped people have worked
extra hard on their magickal skills and may be able to add a great deal
to the power in ritual and to the success of the gathering. 10. When at
any sort of gathering, please be thoughtful. Particularly please observe
true quiet after midnight. No one minds if you and others want to stay
up all night talking or whatever. Everyone else minds a great deal if
you stay up talking and laughing loudly and/or drumming. Those hosting
a gathering should take the responsibility of keeping the noise level
very low in at least some of the sleeping areas - and designating it as
a quiet area. 11. Do not allow yourself to get the idea that you know
the One True,Right and Only Path! Even if you really do have the
conviction that what someone else is doing is "wrong", "incorrect",
"Left-hand path"or whatever, just don't talk about it. It is perfectly
permissible to refrain from participating in the activities of those
with whom you cannot feel comfortable.  It is not acceptable to express
the idea that they "shouldn't" be doing it.  This is not to say that if
you know of criminal behavior on the part of a so-called Pagan/Wiccan
group you should not report it. We must also be responsible for cleaning
up our own act.    Paganism is glorified by its diversity. Please do not
allow yourself to express judgement by categories. Whether or not you
like or dislike blacks, Indians, Homosexuals, women, men, or whatever,
keep it to yourself! If you really and truly cannot feel comfortable
taking part in a ritual which isn't conducted according to the tradition
you follow or if you cannot be pleasant in company mixed with groups you
disapprove of, please just stay home.

                 PAGAN/CRAFT ETIQUETTE by Soapbox Sam 
Listed below are not hard and fast rules, but some helpful guidelines
for those who would function smoothly in a craft/Pagan environment. 1.
Should you write to someone for information, always enclose an SASE
(Self-addressed, Stamped Envelope). Many of us receive several inquiries
a day. Sometimes just answering them, much less having to pay the
postage and buy envelopes, is a time-consuming, expensive task! 2.
Should your inquiry be about Pagan/Craft folks in your area, tell about
yourself, and how you came to have our names and wrote to is -after all
the Inquisition is alive and sick here in the heart of the Bible Belt.
Do not expect names and addresses unless they are already"public". Most
of us, even the "public" Pagan/Craft folks prefer to meet people slowly
and carefully over a cup of coffee in a public place, before we start
introducing you to our groups and our friends.Why should we risk when
you have risked nothing?  ((Sometimes I get mail that simply has a name
and address on it and demand that I send the latest copy of my newslet-
ter or the names and addresses/phone numbers of all Craft people in the
writer's areas. One man sent me a letter raising hell because he has
(according to him) sent me $0.33 in the mail and was waiting on the copy
of my newsletter "I owed him"!Sadly, this type of letter is more common
than not... his letter and 33 cents, is ever sent, was never received.

Do I really have to explain to grown mature adults about sending money
through the mails???)) 3. If you are invited to a gathering or festival,
whether by written or oral invitation, before you invite others, get
permission. Because of space, or other considerations, the number of
people that can be accommodated might be limited, or certain individuals
or groups may not be welcome because of personality conflicts and
resulting disharmony. Also, if a weekend gathering is scheduled and you
can only arrive for the ritual and then must leave, ask if that is
OK...sometimes the ritual is the climax of the entire gathering, rather
than an event in itself; in that case to show up only for the ritual not
having been part of the entire event is to 'take-away' from the meaning
of the whole for those who were there! 4. Always inquire what you should
bring to any gathering. If you have received an official invitation, you
should have been told. But,assume nothing! Ask if you need to bring
food, robes, candles, drinks,eating utensils (forks, cups, plates, etc).
It is unreasonable and rude to assume that an invitation to a gathering
means that people just like yourselves, will expect you to come and eat
their food, use their utensils and leave a mess for them to clean up
after you have gone. If you cannot take food, then at least offer the
gatherings sponsors a cash donation to help defray their cost. If you
can't stay to help clean up afterwards, at least be considerate enough
to get your own refuse to a garbage container. 5. To be invited to
participate in another's ritual is NOT your right, but rather a
privilege and an honor. If you are unfamiliar with their tradition,
common courtesy demands that you at least inquire about enough informa-
tion to participate in a positive fashion, and most certainly, make no
assumptions about adding anything to the circle or placing your
"special' crystals, totems, whatever in the circle or at a specific
place within the circle without getting permission. Also, do not remove
anything from a circle even should you feel it doesn't belong, without
explaining why and getting permission. 6. It should not have to be said,
but then neither should any of the above: If these Pagan/Craft rituals
have no meaning in your life, and if you have just come for the fellow-
ship, then enjoy the fellowship and please do not attend the ritual. The
circle is a significant part of our entire way of life, not a reenact-
ment of some past event just for the sake of the pageantry. When we can,
we are pleased to share it with you, and we do so in Love and Light with
Peace and Laughter. 
     IDEAS FROM MERLIN THE ENCHANTER 1. Be Yourself... if you worry
about what others think, then you won't think for yourself... and if you
don't think for yourself, you may as well be dead! 2. Allow all others
to be themselves... just because Joe Blow from kokomo has blue candles
on his altar and you use only white ones, that doesn't mean he is the
son of Satan. We must each one be allowed our own Pagan path in freedom,
for if we cannot do that, then we have no freedom! 3. Let's stop all the
silliness of who is and is not a Witch, and what one must do to be a
witch. 4. Don't ask for someone's opinions unless you really want it!
More Witch wars are started because someone asked for another's views
and didn't like the answer they got! 5. Add a dose of good humor (the
worst Witches are the ones that take everything so S-E-R-I-O-U-S-L-Y!)
     IDEAS FROM BEKET ASER EDITHSDATTERIt is necessary that we learn to
be just plain adult about working together - or even, just existing on
the same planet. 1. If you can't tolerate any slightest deviation from
your own tradition, do not take part in public or cross-cultural rituals
or gatherings. 2. If you have ideas of what should be in the ritual; or
what should not - go to the planning meeting and express your opinions.
3. If you delegate a task to someone else - you have made it their job.
The only thing you have to say is "Thank you". When and how they do it

is their business so long as it is done at the moment it is required. 4.
Appoint somebody to keep notes of the planning meetings - as things are
said, not afterwards, or, inevitably, there will be disagreements about
the ground rules. 5. Gossip : There are a few situations wherein it is
legitimate to pass on "gossip". the following suggestions are not all
inclusive but may serve to give guidelines for judging:   a. When a
major life change definitely is occurring to someone with  whom you and
the person to whom you pass on the information -  frequently work.   b.
When you are acting as resource to help someone decrease a  situation of
disagreement.   c. When you really plan to take positive action to
alleviate the  situation the gossip refers to.   d. (This situation
really does not occur all that often.) When  warning someone about an
individual whose practices are definitely  undesirable for a reason
other than that you don't like them.   e. When you have truly accurate
information to counteract damaging  and inaccurate rumor. 6. When
examining a situation to decide whether or not you, yourself,are under
psychic attack, be sure to ask yourself if it couldn't be because being
under attack makes you feel important. 7. Within the group or group
structure, the High Priest and or High Priestess are generally entitled
to your respect and a certain amount of deference. If they really,
really don't know as much as you do, perhaps it is time that you take a
fond and friendly leave of them/him/her and begin a group of your own. 
  Obviously, group or group affairs are appropriate subjects for
discussion among all the members, and the HP/S definitely should be
willing to listen to reasonable suggestions. However, you joined the
group in order to learn from its leaders; a year or two of study prob-
ably doesn't qualify you to suddenly object to all their teachings,
methods, and beliefs. Above all, it is inappropriate to try to stir up
the whole group and "take over" the group. The leaders have put a good
deal of time, patience, thought and teaching into building the group and
giving it a good name - if you want to be Witch Queen of the Universe,
start your own group from scratch and try to become good enough to earn
status yourself. The goal is not big groups, it is the best possible
groups. For group leaders: They need to be grown-up enough to know that
everydisagreement isn't necessarily a personal attack. They need to
developleadership skills to avoid confrontation and inflexibility. They
needto know how to lead without dominating and they need an inten-
seinterest in the health of the group. The HP/S needs to listen to
theideas of the members and to use their ideas whenever posssible.
Theyshould be able to explain rationally why certain ideas cannot be
used.                                #30#

Next: Planetary Hours (Andrew Kettle)