Just as the Seeker’s Bill of Rights asserts that Seekers have the right to expect certain treatment. Groups also have the right to believe that participants will adhere to a certain level of responsibility and give to the group in equity. In Willow Dragonstone Community (WDSC) we call this energy equity.
As the group has developed it has become clear that what energy equity means in theory and what it looks like in practice differs from one dedicate to another. Further what some Christian churches expect versus what pagan communities are able to give are vastly different based in large part to the differences in pagan theology versus Christian theology and on the resources a pagan community has available.
After reading several different takes on this issue, I would like to put forth what could be called The Community’s Bill of Rights. What we, as a community, can expect from those who seek to be sheltered and fostered within.
The Right to Verify Credentials: Just as a Seeker (Dedicate in WDSC) has the right to contact people who can substantiate the safety of the group, the group has the right to verify a person’s identity and information supplied on the application. This is not done to violate the rights of an individual. It is done in an effort to dissuade con artists, trouble makers and sexual predators from seeking our group as an easy target.
The Right to Expect Adherence to Policies: We have taken a great deal of time and spent a lot of energy in creating the last section of the application where we discuss expectations of behavior. In order to become a dedicate you have to check the box on-line or sign your initials on the application stating that you have read these policies. We expect that in the reading and acknowledging you will uphold these policies for yourself and others in the group. Don’t acknowledge or sign if you do not intend on behaving in accordance to those simple rules we have listed
The Right to Financial Security: Just as Dedicates and Initiates in WDSC should not be coerced or even required to take on financial burdens for WDSC, neither should other members of WDSC bear the majority of the financial responsibility. Membership means that you are willing to give what is deemed your fair and equitable share toward events and community efforts. WDSC cannot expect that one person in the community be responsible to financially sacrifice when other dedicates and initiates won’t do like wise.
The Right to Expect YOU to take care of YOU: Although WDSC would love to have unlimited resources to provide for every pagan’s need, we do not have those resources. If a dedicate or initiate wants information about the craft and lacks a computer or printing capability it is not the groups responsibility to mend this problem for you. There are libraries with printers to utilize.
You could ask someone to help you and offer compensation for ink, paper and mailing costs. Do not assume that someone else in the group is better off financially to take care of you than you are. Do not make a request for something without offering equal energy exchange.
The Right to Expect YOU to Feed Yourself: This statement isn’t about food. It addresses the idea that paganism and Wicca is not a spoon fed spiritual path. It is unreasonable to think others will give you what you need, tell you what you want to know without expecting that you have already put forth some effort on your behalf. This is not a spiritual path of excuses. It is a spiritual path of doing. If you do not do for yourself you will not learn for yourself and you will not grow. In your stunted growth, you will stunt the growth of community and your long term relationship in any community will be in jeopardy.
The Right to Expect Participation: By Imbolc of 2014, the Facebook group Willow Dragonstone Community will be made of persons who have attended 75% of events available and have been actively participating in the creation of the group. Communities with large “lurkers” especially when those communities meet regularly, do not find long term success. Communities survive when people participate. You must be present to participate. Although, Willow Dragonstone would love to be able to help persons who live out of state or too far to come regularly, this was not what our by-laws ever intended. Of course, we always welcome people to open rituals and sabbats and are happy to offer support as we can through the Gwinnett Area Pagans Facebook page.
The Right to Expect Safety: This means you will not come into WDSC and bring with you things that might expose the group to scrutiny from police or other outside groups. You will not endanger the group legally or physically by your actions. We want to be safe for everyone and the behavior your bring is part of what keeps us safe.
The Right to Consistency: The group has the right to expect consistent behavior from its members. Consistent attendance. Persons who consistently keep their word and follow through when they volunteer.
The Right To Be Left Alone: If you don’t like WDSC policies or if you choose to leave, the group has the right to be left alone. WDSC shouldn’t suffer from malicious gossip any more than someone who leaves should have to suffer WDSC being malicious.
The Right To Anonymity: WDSC has the right to not be exposed by initiates or dedicates. Membership in WDSC does not mean that the persons involved are all out of the broom closet. WDSC is physically represented by Lydia M N Crabtree who is out of the broom closet.