I’m usually in the habit of carrying a book or two with me when I travel and recently I went to Dublin for the weekend to visit friends. I had Nick Farrell’s book called ‘Gathering The Magic’ which is a book outlining group dynamics as they are often expressed in magickal and esoteric circles. During my reading of this book I realised that my aims for a Healing Circle in Limerick would need to placed on hold for now as I develop ideas regarding the form of group mind I wish to help formulate.
One of the reasons I enjoyed reading Nick’s book was because I could relate to a lot of what he spoke of. 3 years ago I took part in Training for Success, a course for people with epilepsy. The course promised to help me learn more about my epilepsy and develop methods by which I could cope with it. Naturally my family and I rejoiced at the prospect of taking part in this course and we discussed it and I deferred my place in College for a year since Training for Success took 12 months to complete. Gathered there were 12 people all with various forms of epilepsy. I was nominated Class Rep which in this course took on more roles than it ought to have. Between members threatening suicide and harassing one another it wasn’t long until I developed some conflict resolution skills. I also learned then that just because people share some common traits it doesn’t make them alike.
Since TFS ended a resumed my 3rd Level course and also began to explore my spirituality more. I’d resigned myself to working as a solitary (in the full sense of the word) until a night out and bumped into someone I knew and his friend spotted my pentacle. Since then I’ve been blessed to take part a few share rituals with friends. Though I focused on forums and building my reservoir of information. I noticed a tendancy to build online communities on forums which I have addressed in other blog entries but reading Nick’s book reminded me of again. One such forum was born from a desire to share specific ideas and yet events such as global Esbats and Sabbats were scheduled and aims for a school were discussed. The forum became very closely needed that it was at times surprising that so many individuals were experiencing things together. Reading Nick’s book made me wonder whether it would be possible for a pagan forum to develop an egregore. If so, it would explain a lot of what went on that and other forums I visited.
My course is in part aimed at sociology of the media and I have actually wondered about how group dynamics tend to play out while on forums. On the aforementioned forum one of the admin was in the habit of becoming personally involved with members personal lives and often shared aspects of her own personal life that left members feeling very conflicted and helpless. If I were to assign a role to her now I would assign that of the mother figure, but like most mother-figures the importance of not projecting or living vicariously through the children. It was interesting the said admin ought and often continues to seek out male counterparts as co-admin which follows the Wiccan coven template.
One thing I learned in sociology and cultural theory modules in college was a term called counter-culture. This refers to elements of a specific culture or sub-culture that do not fit in with the socially accepted patterns of behaviour. Many people that frequent forums and do not conform to the expectations of the group mind are often chased off by the majority and banned. Nick’s book discussed the tendancy for group leaders to expell dissenters from the group where as many dissenters can be constructive to the group mind. I think this is helpful for all forum admins in future to be a little slower banning members that aren’t bots because the name “troll” is tossed about. Eventually what will happen is that ‘troll’ will be used by some following a counter-culture mentality. This is in my opinion what has happened with the term “psychic vampire”. We’ve used it so much and to readily that people not use it to describe their way of life.
I find myself challenged by Nick’s book to first examine myself as I plan to organise Healing Circles. I realize that it will have to formal structure for the benefit of the group and the group mind. One of my thoughts on setting up the Healing Circle is that at least I could avoid the need for a “lineage” and rely simply on mine and other group member’s experience and input. Indeed that the Healing Circle would be more egalitarian. Now, I realize that because of the structure and function it will be a magnet for people seeking a coven structure and a guru as this is only natural. I’ve done it myself. Looking forward to people’s thoughts on this.