The Bad Witch’s Guide to Pagan Moot Etiquette
I am a bad witch. There are a long list of reasons why I am a bad witch. Having been out of the broom closet for some considerable number of years I would on occasion get asked “but you’re a good witch though?” My response to that depending on the person asking but I found I started to say “yes, a very, very good witch” rather darkly as it usually got the point across.
I can only say in this piece my hexperience in British meetings and moots. I go through phases of being able to “people” and then just not. Some of which is my fragile health and some of which is my witches extreme low tolerance for bullsh*t.
I don’t go much to pagan gigs, camps and massive festivals. Not only can I not get to most of them (thank you British public transport), but my health would greatly suffer. That said I’ve gone to local (and non-local) moots or pagan meet ups around Britain since around 2001.
First off and I know this might sound truly bizarre to many pagans, especially as most are in pubs:
Don’t get drunk.
I’m serious. Mixing with a bunch of people whom you sort of know, most of which practice some craft is reckless and idiotic. You might disclose more than you meant to, might sleep with someone you then have to avoid on a semi-regular basis and look well, like a bit of an ass.
This doubly goes if there is a ritual or talk. You don’t want to be trying to do magick drunk (or for that matter high). Being open and let’s say, expanded, can be great magickal experience, however a public moot is not the place to do so. If you “must” drink, keep it slow and steady and alternate between soft drinks and alcohol.
Do pay attention to those who are hitting it hard and look out for them. You don’t have to go over the top, but make sure they are okay.
You might be the greatest magick worker whom ever lived, had 50 years practice and studied with so-and-so, don’t you know, but if that means that you think you can’t learn something from the person/people speaking you don’t know anything. Be it a phrase, an idea, a practical something, everyone has something to teach you. Set down your ego for a minute and you might surprise yourself!
Don’t feed the drama.
If someone is being aggressive, or pushy or bitchy, don’t respond in kind. If they are looking for an enemy or fight, don’t give it to them. While women get a bad rap in my experience the men in pagan circles are the worst for this! This is about them, not you. Taking sides, in turns means factions and so on and so on. Many a moot has been destroyed this way! Apparently there is something about me that makes some people want to challenge me, regardless of how quiet or respectful I am. In my youth I fought like a tiger and as I have aged I just walked away. In coming back to moots, I just decided to see it for what it is. Pointless power play. “Yes dear, you are terribly powerful and important, arrange the seats how you like.” Again this means you might try things different ways than you are accustomed and you might even learn something!
This sort of power hoarding is not just pettiness. It speaks to the condition of the person trying to control. Observe them not just as a moot going but as a witch. People needing to play power politics to feel important are usually miserable, afraid and have some serious issues going on.
If you see someone becoming a regular target or see bullying becoming an issue try and defend that person. You can use magick or otherwise, but don’t hit the bully with a chair, however tempting it is.
Don’t sleep around at a moot.
A moot isn’t your local hook-up spot. There is a certain kind of guy who likes to hit on, leer and such to every young (and not so young) female in the room. It’s uncomfortable, it’s disrespectful and it’s gross. Like-wise shagging about in politics power plays (some women do this too) isn’t “magickal” and therefore allowed. It’s manipulation for petty gain and it’s awful. Sure, hook-ups happen, but, not being drunk helps make better judgement calls. This is your community. For want of a better phrase, don’t sh*t where you eat!
If you see, or know a person is a problem watch out for their targets and if it gets really bad speak to the person running the event. If it is the person running the event, go to their higher ups. This Might be Children of Artemis, the Pagan Federation or such like. If an assault happens to you or someone else, report it to the police. Too often these things go unspoken with the victims disappearing and the predator never being brought to justice. The consequences of not speaking out and not speaking up can be awful.
If there is a jar put in some pennies.
Most moots are run by donation, and speakers are often paid for this way too. It might not be a lot, but funding your local moot can really help. It is not usually a lot of money that is required and paying a little here will mean it keeps it alive and you don’t have to travel miles to the next moot.
Moot when you travel.
If you are going to another city, or town for a visit, check to see if there is a moot while you are there. I was visiting London and went to a moot and had a fabulous time! I even became friends with a nice bloke called Mike, who then became the President of the Pagan Federation U.K. It is always good to see how other folks do stuff and it’s a cheap night out!
Moots are about people. They are wonderful, complicated and terrible creatures. Pagans the same as anyone else. Don’t let a bad experience make you a shut in. Try a camp, or a gig, or festival if that is your jam. Try a moot, then try a different one. You are not going to get along with everyone all the time and some moots won’t be your fit either and that’s fine.