What follows is a brief outline of an approach to forming a new working group. I have deliberately attempted to make it general and not path, stream, or tradition specific. These are mostly off the top of my head, so their usefulness for others might or might not be significant. I’ve tried to include all the things I see as necessary and essential, and encourage the reader to think about these and determine what is useful and what isn’t. Adapt it, re-work it, expand it, prune it. I put it out for anyone to work with, as is. Your mileage may vary and use it at your own risk. I may later expand this into a more substantial work, I’m not certain. I’ve given an attempt at defining a few terms at the end.
- The Virtue, the essence, the stream should be present first. This is the guiding force on where the group goes and is essential for focus and success. Those seeking to form a group need to establish this first. The Virtue includes the lore, ethics, methods, spirits, and members, both living and dead, depending on the age of the group, and more than these things. Without those elements, the Virtue is demonstrably absent, though the details will vary for each group.
- The Call, the sending out of the draw to bring those needed to the group, should be performed early, after the Virtue is present but before trying to get started. The specifics of this will be specific to the stream and Virtue, and involve the spirits and the lore, and all the founding members of the new group.
- A vetting process, a way to weed out those that are called from those that are curious, those that meld well with the Virtue from those that do not, is necessary before taking in members. Those starting the group should determine how they want to approach this. This of course requires the Sight, decrement, and observation. This should point toward an approach, as each of those seeking to form the group, presuming there isn’t just one, will have different skills.
- Clear goals for the group, what is the intent, and how to approach it, is necessary before inviting those called into the group, as these should be clearly described and enumerated to those coming in. This does not mean those who are still in the vetting process, which could be quick or over time depending on the skills and needs of the group, don’t necessarily need this knowledge. It should be clear to those starting the group, however, before that vetting process begins, so should be outlined prior, even if there is no one yet to share it with. These should flow out of the Virtue, and relate to how the Call is conducted.
- The ethics of the group, stemming from the Virtue and consistent with the goals, should be clear and known to all members, possibly even those in the vetting process. Their willingness to conform to these ethics should be part of that process, and should also connect with the way the Call is conducted.
- Commitment and dedication are necessary. The bringing of new people into the group should include some type of agreement both on the group’s responsibility to the new member and the new member’s responsibility to the group. This may take different forms, depending on the makeup of the group, the Virtue involved, and the cultural context the group exists within. This should be outlined and refined before it is needed, based on the vetting process, ethics, goals, Call, and Virtue.
- Evolving methods are important. The group should have an initial basis for working, built on the Virtue, Call, goals, and ethics. This should be flexible and adaptable enough to begin to grow and evolve with the group needs, not set in stone. To begin with, this is a framework, a skeleton, a place to start working from.
- The Initiation or Ordeal should be outlines. This will vary greatly depending on stream and region, and should be based on spirit guidance and the lore. It should not be something easy for the new member, should provide a clear transition into the group, include opportunity for the spirits to contribute, and be impactful, something not easily forgotten. This doesn’t have to be the same for each new member, but there should be clear connections with different types of initiations and ordeals to each other, the lore, and the Virtue.
- The Pact or Oath should be defined. This may or may not include an actual oath, depending on the stream, tradition, background, and ethics of those forming the group, and is different from the commitment and dedication, as this isn’t a pact or oath with the group, but with the spirits tied to the Virtue and participating in the Call. This is the agreement between the spirits and the new member of the group. This is important because you are not looking for, in the forming of a group, a clergy and a laity. You want each member to have their own connection to the spirits, and thereby to the stream and Virtue. This doesn’t need to be defined as an exact agreement or oath, the form should be defined, the purpose should be defined, but the specifics typically are better the new member’s own words unless the stream already has predefined words, as this makes it the new member’s own. The Pact or Oath can be part of the Initiation or Ordeal, or immediately following it, or as part of a ceremony or ritual later. I favor the idea of during.
These last two parts aren’t just for new members, part of the receiving of Virtue involves Ordeal and Pact as well, and the new members are being connected to the existing Virtue through the act.
A few definitions that might or might not help:
- Call – The sending out of a beacon, basically, to draw those that resonate with the group to the group, or to the founding member or members. It both draws those that need to come to come, and establishes the group in the place it is performed. The details and methods will vary based on tradition.
- Initiation – The beginning of things, the rite or experience that brings a new member into the group, and, more importantly, introduces them to the spirits and the lore. Often the same as an Ordeal, but can be separate.
- Oath – A sworn agreement with the spirits or with the spirits as witness, with major consequences on breaking them. Different from a Pact in that the one swearing is bound by the Oath, not the other party, whereas a Pact is mutually. An Oath says, this is my commitment, a Pact says, if you will do thus, I will do thus. In some cases, both will be present, in others one or the other.
- Ordeal – An experience that has to be passed through, suffered, or survived in order to join the group. Often the same as an Initiation, but can be separate.
- Pact – An agreement between a person and the spirits, for mutual benefit, usually with both conditions for ending the Pact (if possible) and with the results of breaking the agreement.
- Virtue – the essence and sum total of the group, stream, or tradition, including the lore and spirits, the Thread of Fate making up said stream, those that came before, are present, and will be part of it. This is the life force or egregore of the group, but more than these.