When I started attending the University of Kansas, I was commuting from out of town, and wasn’t very socially integrated. Most of my social interaction were based around the group I had worked myself into in the local community college, so I was kind of between locations. I wanted to establish myself a bit more, and was looking to meet some pagans or magically-minded folk.
Those familiar with my story will not be surprised when I reveal that my primary motivation was to meet pagan women. (More on how successful that was later.)
So I found a pagan group on campus, and they didn’t reject me outright. We were primarily a discussion group, which actually worked very well. There were students and non-students, experienced and inexperienced. It was a good mix, and our discussions were often lively and informative. Topics were picked ahead of time, and if you didn’t know about it you researched it and found out.
This group also met for the Wiccan Sabbats, which was my first strong experience with this type of ritual. They served mostly to build cohesiveness for the group, and somewhat to emphasize the progression through the year.
This group was another in which most of the people were about on the same level; a bit further than basic magic but still trying to figure out where they fit into the world. The group had a president, but not really a “leader,” and many different viewpoints were available.
Some of the sabbats were held at the Camp Gaea retreat, which marked my introduction to that great land.
But it was a college group. And as with all college groups, people move on to other things.
The long-term president of the group became frustrated with the burden of running things and resigned. No one else wanted to do it, so I stepped up and ran for president.
The fools voted for me.
So I ran the group for a while. That in itself was an interesting and magical experience.
And eventually, the demands of graduate school overwhelmed me, and I decided that I could no longer handle the operation of the group. And a new president was elected as I stepped aside. That in itself was an interesting and magical experience.
And eventually I left the group altogether. Because college groups are best left to college students, and it was time for me to move on.
But something happened while I was in that group. I met a woman. And we got together. And moved in with each other.
My plan worked.
But this group showed me that groups had a lot to offer. And so a while later, I decided to form my own group. Having read Phile Hine’s brief essay on Counting Coup, I decided to start up a group that would focus on magical training exercises. Drawing from people I had met at community college, as well as the University group, and even drawing Jack into it, I founded a group of mostly contemporaries that met regularly to practice exercises meant to increase magical power and sensitivity. It was working pretty well, until one of the participants decided that we should celebrate the sabbats as well. Because I had established the group as non-hierarchical, with no set leader, he was able to assert his designs upon the group, with the apparent goal of creating a coven.
Unfortunately, the line between magical and religious was one that some members, including myself, were reluctant to cross. Add the consideration that my partner was ostensibly Catholic, and we can see why it fell apart.
But religion was at the forefront. And although I was more comfortable with the “pagan” label, I had no real direction. I had no deities; I worshiped no one. So I set out to find some. And eventually, I found some results.