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Called to Lead: Three Steps to Creating a Magickal Group That Lasts

As a co-founder of JaguarMoon, a coven I helped manifest in May 2000, I’ve witnessed its evolution through various stages. It hasn’t always been a smooth journey, and there were moments when I questioned its longevity. Yet, here we stand, stronger than ever, as we embark on our 25th year together.

You feel an urge, a nudge, hear a voice in your mind that says, “It’s time to find a group to practice with.” But, try as you may, there’s nothing suitable where you live. Or you’ve tried a number of possibilities and none of them are quite right. Maybe you are a member of a group already, but you feel it is time to step out on your own. Or perhaps your friends are urging you to form your own group. Are you ready? What if something goes wrong? Is it arrogant for you to think you can lead?

The decision to form a magickal group can be difficult. It may begin with a desire for social interaction, education, or even just the chance at an ego boost. But most of us who consider such a step will feel doubt about it – are we the best person to lead the group? Is it going to be too much effort to maintain? Once it’s been started, what will we do? In the end, creating a healthy magickal group depends on three factors: defining your purpose, building connections to others, and creating a group mind.

copyright 2012, Lisa McSherry

Defining: Your Role & The Group’s Purpose

The job description for the leader of a magickal group might read something like this: Leader needed to train a group of people in the mysteries of magick and divinity. Must have extensive personal knowledge of subject and a desire to work long hours without financial rewards. Teaching ability, counseling skills, and an intimate understanding of energy patterns are required; having a calm and centered personality is advisable. Now that’s a tall order! (Even after all of these years, I still have trouble with the final qualification.) Although many people believe that the ultimate honor is to be called High Priest/ ess ( or whatever exalted title your group uses), the prestige, respect, and (especially) remuneration accorded to Pagan leaders can be easily overstated That said, if you “feel the call” to lead, it can be a wonderful feeling of validation and excitement to begin planning to put your ideas into action.

The first step to making your dreams into reality is a hearty dose of self-examination. Leading a group does not require that you hold a degree granted by an outside authority; in some cases, you may not even have a great deal of previous magickal training (although it is very useful.) What is probably the most important thing to think about is what you want to see the magickal group do, and where you hope to see it go. The Motivation Worksheet (see below) is an excellent place to begin this process. Being at the head of any magickal group requires a combination of leadership, administration, teaching, counseling, and group facilitation; think of it as the job description of the faculty of an entire high school rolled into one person. Most people are very good in half or more of these specialties, can manage okay in some others, and are woefully lacking at least one. You do not have to excel in every area but you do want to recognize where you are weak and look for others who will balance your abilities. (The “Leadership Roles Exercise,” below, will help you discover your strengths and weakness.)

And you’ll need to consider the group’s primary purpose. There are magickal groups that meet primarily to do rituals, share information, or explore the complexities of magic. Still others are primarily social in nature, gathering in a community of eclectic celebrations. Some focus on one aspect of the God/dess, derive their knowledge/practice from a particular mythological source or historical period, or explicitly mix traditions. As the leader, your definition of the group’s purpose will affect its structure and the nature of the people you choose as members – or, conversely, those who choose you. If it is to be a teaching group, you may wish to invite people who have little or no previous knowledge of magick, while if your focus is on a specific historical period or ethnicity, you’ll want to choose people who show interest in those areas. The group could be one in which expanding personal growth is a primary focus, or perhaps one of activists sharing stories, providing support for one another’s exploits. There’s a near-infinite number of reasons for starting a magickal group: make sure you and your participants are clear (and in agreement) about your goals.

Motivation Worksheet
The following questions answered honestly, will help you decide whether being a High Priest/ess and leading a magickal group is your vocation. I recommend answering them periodically: before starting, after a year, after five years, and any time you
are feeling “burnt out:”

  • What is your basic motivation for doing this?
  • What are your skills?
  • What is your level of commitment? (How much of your life are you willing to commit?)
  • What kind of satisfaction are you expecting? (What’s your reward?)
  • What information will you transmit?
  • What is the group’s core purpose? Its secondary purpose(s)?
  • What are the group’s goals?

Leadership Roles Exercise
This exercise requires great self-honesty but is a wonderfully visual way to see yourself. Gather colored pens, pencils, or other writing materials and a blank sheet of paper. Light a candle and some meditative incense.
On the paper, draw a large circle and divide it into five sections. Around the edges, label the five sections as: “leadership,” “administration,” “teaching,” “counseling,” and “facilitating.” Now, color each area lighter or darker according to how weak or strong you feel in that area.
When finished, contemplate the mandala of your skills. Look for patterns indicating areas where you need help. Write notes, questions, concerns, and comments where appropriate. Often, the form in which you need help becomes clear. There might be another person with skills greater than your own in some areas or a class to take to expand your skills. In any case, look for the resources to bring you the knowledge and skills you need to be a better leader and be sure to take action based on what you have learned.

copyright 2012, Lisa McSherry

Create Connections

People looking for community are generally looking for a warm, friendly group, intimate enough that everyone knows everyone else, but large enough to keep fresh. What many don’t realize is that the satisfaction of being a member of any community often depends less on the group itself and more on your role in it. That said, there are steps that any leader can take to bolster the feeling of community in a new group. The first step is deciding when and how often to actually meet. Check with your members ( and remember your goals) to decide the frequency, timing, and nature of meetings; too often, and you’ll likely put off some people and burn out others; too infrequent, and your group won’t spend enough time together to “jell.” Also, you need to decide if you’ll have a ritual or magickal element as a part of every meeting or if some will be purely social; in my experience, well-bonded magickal groups spend time both sharing personal information and working with group energy at each meeting.
There are a variety of exercises that your new magickal group can use; begin by keeping the focus on fun and getting to know one another, although some exercises can help you gauge each member’s level of magickal knowledge and perceptions. (In a business setting, these exercises are called “icebreakers.”) There is a powerful magick in telling a story and having it heard by an audience, knowing you have imparted a piece of yourself to another. Establish the beginning of a group identity by leading your fledglings in exercises that will help them become friends, and your work is half-done.

to be continued in part 2 . . .

Called to Lead: Three Steps to Creating a Magickal Group That Lasts

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