17 August 2017

Thoughts on The Witch's Journey - A Review of Sorts

When Elaanie S reached out to me about her new book and offered to let me read it, I was stoked. The title alone, The Witch's Jouney: Cutting the Cords of Christian Dogma, likely wouldn't have caught my attention right away. Sounds interesting, but my To-Read list grows ever longer everyday and I'm not a particularly quick reader (not to mention the downside to being multi-passionate means breaking down each of my passions into smaller, crunched-time segments). But she gave me a synopsis and I knew I needed to read it; Especially as a Witch in the South who is not from the South and still acclimating socially.

I'm going to start out with saying that this is a must-read for anyone. If you are a Witch coming from a Christian background or family in particular. But also if you are a Pagan or anyone of a non-Christian religion or spirituality. Even if you are atheist or consider yourself to be secular in your way of thinking and moving about the world. Simply living in a Christian-dominated society, makes this an important read. But I extend this reading suggestion to all.

I absolutely do recommend this book to any Christians who want to understand why anyone would ever choose a non-Christian path beyond an over-simplified and vague Christian-based answer. Who may have questions about their own faith and not knowing how to go about getting answers. Who may have friends or family who are Witches and want to understand where they are coming from. Not to discard your faith, but to know it and understand it personally. To answer the frustrating question of why a non-Christian may have animosity toward Christianity or the Bible or scripture. To challenge your beliefs, connect deeper with God, and strengthen your faith with the clearest of sight.

Bottom line, check this book out. Definitely. (And if you're thinking I'm saying all this just because I was asked to read it, I'll have you know that several of my reviews on Messages in the Moonlight over the years were books I was asked to review and a couple of them, well, let's just say I did not help with sales on those titles!)

Before I tell you about the reasons why this book was a phenomenal read for me, I'm going to point out some flaws. And by "flaws" I mean I had pet-peeves triggered. Elaanie did an amazing job relieving those triggers.

The first was right in the opening. Like so many books on the topic of Wicca and Witchcraft in recent decades, there's the heavily implied "lineage of Witchcraft tradition spanning back to the beginning of man, surviving underground through persecution of Witches in which so many Witches died" thing going on. I had to take care not to let this personal pet peeve get in the way of taking in what's in front of me, though. See, when it comes to this particular area, I tend to acknowledge--with hypersensitivity--that the average reader does not (yet) possess enough detailed knowledge on the subject to understand that Elaanie isn't making fantastical claims. It could be easily misunderstood by someone hearing of it for the first time, but no big foul. Especially considering that this lasts for all of about a page. (Yes. Meaning I am making a big stink out of a whole lot of not-a-big-deal.)

But as I read it, it made me flip to the bibliography so I could find where she was coming from. Looking at it, I could feel my eye twitching on the verge of having its own stroke. While there's great sources in there, I was freaking out by the list of Wikipedia entries. Wikipedia is a great "quick look-up, remember anyone can edit it, answer a simple question" resource. Scholarly, it is not. (Note: "Can be" is not the same as "is.") But I wanted to read this book, and so I did. If a bibliography referencing Wikipedia is a petpeeve for you, Elaanie will ease your anxieties as you read The Witch's Journey all the way through. It's obvious she has spent a lot of time researching over the years to come to her conclusions. What she shares with you is legit. It can be a pain in the ass hunting down and referencing every single source you originally heard or learned something from. (I've totally been there!) It's much easier to use a source like Wikipedia as a refresher to help with sharing the information.

The only other eyebrow raiser is the occasional "Witches believe" or "Witchcraft is" moment that I know several Witches who would be ready to argue is not representative of all Witches and forms of Witchcraft. I'm not going to say much about this point, because, if you're paying attention while reading The Witch's Journey, Elaanie makes it painfully clear again and again that nothing is 100% "this or that" and that there's a whole lot of grey. (Plus other books can cover such topics more in-depth.)

And now for how I really feel about this book:

Elaanie starts off by telling her story. Throughout the book, she does not tell the story in perfect "time is linear" chronlogical fashion. Instead, her "naturally Witchiness" shows as a more circular or cyclical timeline is presented. I admit, I had a little trouble relating at first, because her story is so very different from my own. But not an unfamiliar story to me. Once you put everything into the context of culture during the time and where it took place, it all makes total sense why Elaanie's path presented and manifested in the way that it did. Each of our stories unfolded the way they did because that's how they needed to.

As I followed along, I found myself struggling personally. I had a little sleeplessness the first night when I began to read The Witch's Journey. My thoughts were spinning and looping memories of experiences in churches, various denominations, heated conversations with friends, insulting moments of invalidation from loved ones. (In hindsight, I maybe should have picked a better stopping point right before going to bed!) Elaanie's story may be personal and specific to her, but in sharing her experiences with us, she manages to drag out all the things we've left buried. You might think that's not a selling point, but I assure you: Dredging up the past and old hurts is exactly what has to happen if you are to find healing. And that's what I experienced.

As her story-telling moved onto her catalyst that led her to her true path, I cried. It's not common to feel a sense of real, unspoken connection with someone you've never met to such a degree. I was floored. Thank you, Elaanie, for sharing that moment of pain, confusion, and awakening with us.

After that moment, her story begins to resemble a common history. It's a pattern I would say most Witches are all too familiar with having gone through it ourselves. From this point on in the book, we are all on the same wavelength and sharing an experience long past for some, more recent for others, and currently or soon-to-be for still other Witches.

I absolutely loved the way Elaanie breaks down hang-ups in Christianity. Breaking into digestible pieces of questions with answers and the understanding that the answers will go even deeper, but different for each individual. She also ties these things with how they impact our society outside of the practice of Christian faith. And that, makes this book invaluable in our day and age in this society. The book covers history/mythology briefly as well as components of Witchcraft-related beliefs, practices, and worldview all while addressing the Christian perspective and how it hinders or helps in our understanding.

And Elaanie never fails to point out indisbutable science! Anyone who knows me personally knows I'm a huge nerd and have a tendency of snapping into textbook mode; explaining Witch, Pagan, and other beliefs in terms of or in relation to science. I'm so tickled when I see someone else do the same! I was especially ecstatic as I read my own theory of the Universe when explaining the Witch view of the Divine. It's so beautiful knowing this is a conclusion other Witches have come to. (And I suppose I should stop referring to it as "my own theory.")

Throughout The Witch's Journey, the concept of sin is brought up. For the most part, I enjoyed Elaanie's tackling of the subject. Although I have to argue to some degree, if only to carry on the conversation. A friend once put my feelings on sin perfectly. My friend explained to me that the original meaning for the word "sin" was simply "missing the mark." While reading this book, I took time to reflect on that again. I've been criticized by fellow Witches for holding onto the concept of sin. But for me, I take all the dogma and theology out of it. I see it like this:

In living our lives, we are shooting arrows at a target. Where our arrows land is who we are (or presenting to be) in the moment. At the center of our target is our true, authentic selves. Now, we aren't all the best of shots. And even the best among us occasionally miss our mark. Outside influences, someone nudging our arms as we let the arrow loose, random wind burst, intoxication, etc. are contributing factors. When we miss the center, I would call that sin. But what's wrong with missing the center of the target? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. No harm, no need for judgment. It's a learning opportunity. Try again.

It's when we miss the center and leave it at that or start firing randomly or giving up and just accepting that we'll never hit the center that sin becomes a problem. When we give up living as our true authentic selves, no matter the reason, that is when sin becomes worth noting. But calling oneself a sinner (or begging for forgiveness) alone is fruitless. It's a wake-up call to nock the next arrow and try again. Keep trying and you get closer to the center. And before long (okay, so it feels like a long time, and can feel fucking infuriating) you will hit the center again.

For me, the way The Witch's Journey covers the subject of sin shows where the concept got lost and how it isn't helpful. So much dogma and attempts to define the Divine in limited terms results in striving for a "perfect" way of being and living. It is a false "authentic self" because it does not take into account the individual selves as, they are meant to be. If you are aiming at a very specific way of being that is not in alignment with your personal, unique authentic self, you aren't aiming at the center of your target. You're aiming at someone else's. And that doesn't help anyone.

Perhaps one of the best things about this book is that it covers a wealth of information, but does so concisely. It won't take you months to get through. And it took me two weeks only because I took my time with it and dragged it out as I absorbed (and healed). Elaanie provides a great starting point to do your own research if you want to know more. But even as a standalone, you will be more knowledgeable with it than without.

Bottom line, this book is fantastic. As the subtitle says: "Cutting the Cords of Christian Dogma." At the end of the day, no matter how you feel about Christianity in part or whole, whether you are Christian or not, the Christian religion—and most certainly a Christian faith—is not the problem; Christian Dogma is. And if you are trying to force it to fit you and denying your authentic self in the process, well, now, you're just sinning, aren't you? And hey, we've all been there. Take a deep breath, open your eyes, and find the target you and you alone were meant to reach.

Wishing you bright blessings whatever your path,

13 August 2017

Books That Got Me Through

I've been pretty blessed during my 17 years of practice in Paganism and Witchcraft and the changes my path has gone through. Even though the county I lived in growing up was notorious for their KKK population and it wasn't always the wisest to be "loud and proud," it was still relatively safe. Many held an attitude of it being a phase or just silliness, which is insulting, but not entirely unwelcoming.

It wasn't too different of a story in the Army. My training in Texas opened up with the usual sleep-inducing orientation speeches and death-by-PowerPoint presentations. But among them was the chaplain who started off with a question: "So where are my Wiccans?" And being open was never an issue again. There may not have been as much awareness in Alaska, but no one was threatening to come break down my door either.

And Colorado was as safe a haven as I could have hoped for. For all the drama, misinformation, and pseudoscience to be found in that state, the worst in the way of prejudice was a silent, non-confrontational kind that didn't overly interfere with my life. (Yes, there were exceptions, but none that I personally went through.)

But then I found myself in Virginia. Not just any part of Virginia. Falwell City, er, I mean, Lynchburg, VA. Nothing could prepare me for the culture shock. While my ex mother-in-law's severe prejudice, bigotry, and declarations of "you'll never get any blessings in your life..." were blatant and undeniable (kind of hard to miss given the volume of hate speech heard clearly down the block), the prejudice was everywhere, even among some of the most caring and giving people I've ever met.

I had to be very careful about who I said what to. Discussions that would normally have brought me peace and comfort were turned into a verbal form of Chess as I tried to stay true to me while choosing my words very carefully to not trigger an odd sense of attack ingrained in those who grew up in that area. Even among the more open-minded and accepting, I had to focus solely on the common ground and do my best to work through the language of a faith that hasn't fit me my whole life. (To highlight how difficult this was, my background in Christianity is Catholicism. Unless Catholic themselves, Catholicism is not well-received in Lynchburg. I'm fairly certain you're safer a witch than a Catholic in that city.) I even had to get really creative in small-talk where the common question is "Which church do you go to?" (Yeah, do NOT answer with "nature" because you will "hurt" the person asking.)

Spiritually, this was a devastating experience. Had all been well and good in other matters, I could have breezed through it. But everything else was shit. I was in a shelter, dependent on the people around me for every kind of support anyone could need. I was fighting for the best interests of my baby son. I had eaten up every penny to my name just trying to get back to the east coast. It was a time where being myself, someone who doesn't fit into the local culture at all, was a danger to myself and my son's future. I had to avoid my practice. I even went so far as to find ways to reword the Bible to suite my personal beliefs. All for the sake of conforming. How did I feel? Like I was going through spiritual death. I hated myself for it, but I did my best to connect with the positive energy and essence that was not out of tune with my beliefs.

Even after I was able to get a little bit of a hold on things and started the climb back up the ridiculously steep mountain that makes the Incline in Manitou Springs look like a joke, I kept having one thing after another pop up; Threats to collapse all the progress I had made and destroy all hope of a future. Those words of my ex mother-in-law rang through my ears, and I began to question. I knew what she said was wrong in the most absurdly, bigoted way it could be. But I did stumble in wondering why, on a spiritual level, I was still meeting so much resistance to getting my life back. And so I questioned. And prayed.

To make it short, my answer started as a dream that bothered me, and I'm certain it was an internal method of sorting through the spiritual madness. Which led me to journey for guidance. And I got it. In the least expected way possible for me. I may share the details of that dream and journey in a later post, but for right now, suffice it to say I am and always will be a Witch. It is my nature and the only choice in the matter is to accept it (and thrive) or not (and struggle).

Up until this point, the Bible and other Biblical-related readings I had been given during and since the shelter had gotten me through the hardships. Okay. Don't let me lie. Reading them didn't get me through. But revisiting them helped fill in some gaps to form bridges with people I very much needed at the time. They had filled a need and in that sense helped me through. But spiritually, I was wasting away. Which is why the dream-journey combo experience was so powerfully moving and motivating. It answered the spiritually-focused question of what was getting in my way. I was closing myself off from being who I was meant to be.

The following year would be quite the journey to getting back on track. And there are three very important books that helped me through it:

The first was The Witch's Bag of Tricks: Personalize Your Magick & Kickstart Your Craft by Melanie Marquis. This book had me look back at what first drew me into Witchcraft and analyze then-and-now beliefs, understandings, and be okay with what does and doesn't work. This was also a really great start because I hadn't yet started therapy. I was able to remember better times, happier times, even sad but powerful times in my life. Things I could draw from to help me with the emotional and anxiety-ridden circumstances I was going through until I could get started on my therapy. I suspect this isn't what Marquis was aiming for when she wrote it, but I'm so glad that she did and I am so very grateful that of all the things I let go of and lost leading up to me reading it, that I managed to hold onto this book.

The next book was given to me late last year, but I didn't actually begin reading it until early this year. Recovery of Your Self-Esteem: A Guide for Women by Carolynn Hillman, C.S.W. This book, just as my friend said it was, is a life-changer. Despite having been written over twenty years ago, it's still relevant for women today. (I would argue anyone, but the language is geared toward women specifically. Except maybe the chapter on Nurturing Yourself While Making Love. Everyone should read that one. Just saying.) It helped me to understand and find a way to explain things to my therapist and helped to really narrow down and prioritize my goals. This book was my wake-up call to realizing I am my own worst enemy and give my power away... a lot.

The third book was Jacki Smith and Patty Shaw's Do It Yourself Akashic Wisdom: Access the Library of Your Soul. I remember years ago, when I was still a newbie "Wiccan," reading about the Akashic Records. At the time, I decided not to pursue it. Partly because I was skeptical of the online sources and stories I was reading, and probably also because I was a 15 year old still in the process of learning critical thinking skills and spent a lot of time pursuing topics that turned out to not be relevant to my path back then. So when I had a chance to meet Jacki at the 2014 INATS in Denver and she told me about the book, I was super excited. I've always meant to revisit some of those topics I had written off as low priority. Given all that occurred, I didn't actually get around to reading it until two years later (sorry, Jacki!). I didn't get too far into it, because, again circumstances. But it helped answer a couple questions and bring clarity to some issues.

Earlier this year, however, I picked Akashic Wisdom back up and got into the "meat" of it. I am so grateful I did! If the first couple chapters brought clarity last year, the full book gave me super vision! Admittedly, I still struggle to fully implement the practices into daily life, but I broke free of some huge roadblocks (one of which I hope all the females in my family on my mother's side alive today felt), and I plan to clear more of it as I continue my healing. I am more at peace with myself and many of the things I've gone through involving other people because of this book.

Now these three books got me through when I still felt little to no hope and I was very much in danger of a cycle repeat. Currently, I am reading two books worth a huge mention on the topic of books to get you through.

One of these is Warrior Goddess Training: Become the Woman You are Meant to Be by Heatherash Amara. Where Recovery of Your Self-Esteem woke me up to the realization that I had never had real and lasting self-esteem before, Warrior Goddess Training is helping me to carry on the work of building it and maintaining it. The spiritual focus and spin on the material found in this book brings purpose. So when that "negative self-talk monster" (as I call it) wants to play devil's advocate by saying things like, "Why do I even bother? Is this even important? I have other people I need to focus on more," my calling as a Witch provides the answer.

Speaking of one's calling as a Witch, the other book I am reading right now is The Witch's Journey: Cutting the Cords of Christian Dogma by Elaanie S. (I'm almost all wrapped up with this one, so expect to see a full review post because this book deserves it!) I actually started writing this post before Elaanie's book reached my hand almost two weeks ago, so the timing couldn't be more perfect. I put this post on hold while I dived in. And oh, my goodness! Sometimes we think we're over things. But we're not. So even if you feel like you've cut the cords on dogma, read this book. Because chances are good you haven't. Not fully.

Now, in my case, some of my wounds were cut open by the more recent experiences I talked about above. So I've had to take my time reading through the first half of The Witch's Journey because it forced me to process a lot of things bugging me under the surface. And let's not forget my wonderful Lammas experience with a local Pagan group I talked about in my last post. I'm feeling way more at ease about being an open Witch and Pagan in a not-so-Pagan-friendly part of the country. The experience of reading this book is shedding the spiritual pain and healing the hurts caused by prejudice.

These are the books that got or are getting me through my hardships. What books have helped you through difficult times in your life?


01 August 2017

Roanoke Witches & Pagans Anti-Children?

Normally I keep this kind of stuff to myself and only share it with people who know me outside of the internet, but having the privilege of living in and exposure to Pagan communities outside of this area, I can tell you right now, there's some serious red flags going up, and I'm not keeping quiet about that. For privacy reasons, I'm masking the details. But for those in the local area and community who may stumble upon this, it won't be hard to connect dots and you'll be able to decide for yourselves.

So as Pagans and Witches, my son and I have had a hard time of it in Virginia. Lynchburg was, well, Lynchburg. Roanoke is far more accepting and we aren't getting visits and leaflets in our door on a weekly basis. There's definitely way more Pagans and like-minded folk in the area. But trying to find anyone close by to meet up with regularly and be family-friendly has been fruitless so far. Most of the groups are very upfront about this, specifically stating they are for adults only or the group guidelines and/or descriptions make it clear that the activities taking place are not conducive to the wild abandon and lack of attention span so prominent in two year olds.

So imagine my sheer joy when, very recently, a brand new MeetUp group formed, local, all Witches & Pagans, and described as a "social group" where "We can meet in public places for social interaction, study/discussion, and networking to build communities/covens/temples outside of this meetup." I don't know about you, but what I just heard was safe, family-friendly, and an opportunity to meet with the local religious and spiritual community with the sole intent of finding people of both like-mind and similar circumstances so that we can build our own group.

So.... I could meet wonderful local Pagans, interact with other Witches who are single parents, parents in general, or otherwise part of a family involving small children? We could totally branch off to form a group of Pagans and Witches who participate in family-friendly activities and rituals. This group is not only perfect for me as a full-time single parent, it's a much, much needed resource in this area. I signed up instantly.

Out of the 30+ members who joined in it's first weeks, I was member #3. (I may have actually been #2 as I can recall looking the group up and it was just the organizer, but after I was all signed up, there was at least one other.) When I signed up, I was very forthcoming about the fact that I have a toddler and would only be able to make meetings within specific time-frames and shared those times. I did not hide anything. When the first meetups were announced on July 12th, I went ahead and put in my RSVP with a plus one for my son for the first one that was within my needed time-frame (which is to be the group's second meeting).

That was three weeks ago. Fast-forward to today. I have been eagerly waiting for this get-together and to finally network with the local community who is so very quiet and hidden compared to what I was accustomed to back in Colorado. I've been looking at my calendar the past couple days, happy and excited like a kid knowing the Disneyland trip is coming up. I was ready! So at my lunch today, I see this (minus the whole "blocked" box at the time):

The full message reads:
Hi Evylyn!
I am looking forward to meeting you, and hope you can still attend this Saturday's meeting! 
I saw that you are bringing a plus one, and mentioned your son in your answer to the group questions. I just wanted to let you know in the case that your son is a minor we do discuss some adult topics. At the first meeting there were very frank discussions about sexuality, substance use, and practices involving darker entities or tools such as bones and blood. There was also a bit of swearing, not as drunken sailors, but as adults sometimes do when excited or making a powerful point. 
That being said, 90% of the adult topics were directly related to magic and the practice of those in the group. I am certainly not saying it is inappropriate to bring your child. I just wanted to let you know in advance rather than you finding yourself in a situation that you don't want him to experience. Every person has different maturity levels, and every parent different ideas of what they find acceptable for their children. I wanted you to be informed, as I would never want a minor corrupted by this meetup. So please use your discretion and do what you think is best. 
All of that being said, it is a great group of very diverse people, that all found at least something in common with the other. It promises to be a great resource for knowledge sharing and fellowship. So, I hope you will join us, and if you are comfortable, bring your son as well!
Blessings to you and yours!
I'd like to point out to you that, as the organizer clearly states, the meeting he is referring to was the group's very first ever meeting. Anyone who has ever participated in the first meeting of a startup group knows full well that you cannot base the group itself and all it's forthcoming meetings on the first, not well-attended meeting alone. Especially when you consider the organizer has made it a very special point to ensure I am fully aware that both my son and I are welcome so long as I feel comfortable as a parent in bringing him with me.

I (and my phone that was being a particular ass today with only minutes before the end of my lunch left) sent this response:
I have to admit I'm a bit disappointed. One of the first things I noticed about the Pagan community here, aside from being hard to find, is that it's not kid friendly. I was immediately excited to see your group because it's the first I've come across that sounded even remotely family friendly.
Personally, I'd rather my son be exposed to the discussions. (And trust me, as the offspring of two Army vets, he'll pick up the adult language from his parents before anyone else can take credit for the blame.) So we'll still attend. It'll be right before his naptime, so chances are good that if anything gets out of hand, it'll be one of his tantrums, in which case I can always take him home. Worst case, the group won't be for us
But we'll at least started networking.
Even though I'm certain it's obvious that I was having issues with my phone and that last bit was meant to read "But we'll at least get to start networking" (plus more I could not get my phone to cooperate in sending at that moment), I planned to follow up this evening just to be sure. After all, this is someone just as excited to meet me as I am to meet him and the new group. None of them have met me and this was my first direct interaction.

But I wouldn't get to. Because this is what I received next:

Again, the full text reads:
You have been removed from [...]
The person who removed you said:
Hello again, Evylyn, I read your email and some concerns were raised. I consulted with my moderators and several founding members and we do not feel comfortable discussing our craft in front of such a young child. If it was a teenager we might be more comfortable, but to avoid legal trouble, and future potential members from joining with the intent of bringing minors, we are going to change our group to be 18+. We took a vote and are putting it into effect tonight. I am sorry that we are not the group for you, and hope you find others for fellowship.
If you find yourself saying "what" and pronouncing the silent "h," yes. I feel it, too.

So again, the brief history of this group: Started up a few weeks ago on MeetUp.com. This group, a "social group," has the sole purpose of linking like-minded individuals for the intention to network and build groups outside of this one. The group has approx. 30 members, a single organizer and no moderators. I was among the very first to join the group. No group discussions have taken place. What messages I received were from individuals who seemed to be excited about the group the same as me. No notice whatsoever was ever made or implied that there was any sort of team or council of moderators or "founding members." In the group's description it was (and still remains) worded as "I" which implies this group was founded, is run, and all decisions made by a single entity. (I admit this conclusion could be wrong, but it is the logical conclusion given the description of the group and the first message with the organizer.)

The organizer did, in fact, update the group. The description is entirely the same with brand new "Group Rules" to include #1:
Firstly, this group will discuss adult topics in a very frank manner. For legal purposes and the comfort of many members the group is 18+. Absolutely no minors are allowed to join, or be brought to a meeting as a +1 by any member. This will be a zero tolerance policy, and breaking this rule will result in expulsion from the group.
There's only one other rule which is long and drawn out but can be summarized as, don't miss more than 3 meetings and you best show up at least once within the first 6 weeks of joining. (Guess he had to get that one in before the group hit 6 weeks old and he starts removing members without notice...)

He follows these rules up with:
I apologize if these rules seem draconian, or unfair. This meetup is meant to be full of active members, and it is only fair that spaces remain free for those that attend meetings.
Apparently, he's only sorry about Rule #2. And why is there no mention of removing and blocking the single parent with no notice and immediately following a reassurance that we were totally welcome to stay?

I readily admit that I am venting right now. The anti-minor attitude is incredibly uncalled for (immaturity present? or just stereotyping?) and the mention of "legal problems" demonstrates ignorance at best. (Fun note: upcoming meetings involve the topics of crystals, plants, and divination. Oh, Gods! The "adult" conversations will kill our babies!) But that's also my perception.

What isn't perception are the observable facts mentioned above and the fact that a member was removed from the group without warning and blocked from all communications with the organizer and the group without any explanation. Consider this: given the initial correspondence, the next logical step (assuming concerns were in fact raised with real-but-unseen moderators and founding members) would have been to contact me, explain what happened, and then provide the option to either continue as a member of the group and not bring my child to meetups or leave the group.

Personally, the ultimatum wouldn't have set off red flags. Because, truthfully, the real issue here isn't that the group went from totally family-friendly to strictly 18+ in a matter of hours in its early days. This, however, does reek of unhealthy group dynamics. So much so, I ranked it as a 40 on the Advanced Bonewits' Cult Danger Evaluation Frame (ABCDEF). Out of 180 possible, that's low. So, dangerous? Most likely not. But given that the response to many of the 18 factors is a big "unknown" as someone who was booted out before having the opportunity to speak with and meet any of the group members and leaders in person, that's enough for me to be hesitant (especially considering that what factors I could rate, a couple of them scored as 10s). More likely, this "social group"—in all its one month of existence—is an example of poor planning, faulty communication, and failed team dynamics. We'll see.

So on that note, I'll end with one last quote. The group's description begins:
I have tried to set up a few meetups over the years with varying success in different occult spheres. In the past the meetups were too specific to build a community of a reasonable size...
I see the trend continues.

In a mood,

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