In my last Heathen Networking 101, I discussed finding other Heathens. Now, I am going to go a bit more in depth with the idea I touched on at the end – starting a group. The very idea of starting a group strikes fear into the heart of even the most outgoing person. What if no one shows up? What if they are all crazy racist asshats? These are thoughts we have all had. The truth of the matter is that both of these may happen, but it’s not likely if you put in a bit of work in promoting and building your group.
The first step is to decide what kind of group you want to form. If there are others involved in this process, it can be good to get together, have a few drinks, and brainstorm. Having a strong focus will ensure you will attract the kind of people who are interested in what you want to do. Do you want to form a social group? Study group? Do you have certain theological stances you won’t bend on? Be up front with this from the beginning.
Whatever you do, do not immediately try to start a kindred or tribe unless you already have a close knit group established. The oaths that bind an intentional tribe are similar to marriage, and it is not wise to enter into these bonds lightly. It’s a recipe for disaster that will likely lead to a kindred that has fractured in 2-3 years. I’ve seen it happen far too many times.
Now that you have an idea, let’s talk about promotion. In my previous post, I put forward a few places to find Heathens. These are the same places to recruit Heathens. Email folks who coordinate regional and state events in your area. There have been many groups that have been successful with Meetup.com. One such group is Tyr’s Good Hand in New York. It started as an “Asatru Study Group,” but has grown into a full-fledged kindred. To get to this point, Jenna has worked very hard with promoting her group, and it shows.
There are a few other places that might also help you find other Heathens. If you have a local metaphysical shop, they often have an announcement board. You can also post the event to local calendars. Here in Arkansas, one TV station has a local event calendar and a church calendar that both accept posts for events, and our local alternative weekly newspaper does as well.
When you decide on meeting up, don’t forget the rules of sanity and safety. Meet up in a public place like a park or pub. If you don’t have to, don’t go alone. If you do go alone, let someone know where you are going and have an arranged check in time that you will call or text someone just in case. If you get in a situation that makes you uncomfortable, you have the right to leave or to ask someone to leave if you are the host.
Next week, we will talk about maintaining groups and group dynamics.
Photo courtesy of the Boulder Heathen Meetup and Jack Castellano