Tag Archives: grove

A Labyrinth in a Jackdaw grove

It wasn’t a well-planned thing. We’d intended to go out to the jackdaw grove for the full moon, and, with my labyrinth obsession well under way, the larger space seemed like a place to try and build one. There were four of us working on it, and we’d allowed an hour. In that time, we managed to forage and lay out enough material for nine concentric circles, with enough space between them for a person to comfortably walk. We needed 12 to make it work, and then there’s the dividing of circles to make the winding path.

As the light dwindled, foraging for twigs and pine cones became more difficult. All the while, the jackdaws were coming into the trees around us, and a pipistrelle bat had come out to feed. It was a wonderful atmosphere to be working in, even though for much of the time we all knew that we weren’t going to make a labyrinth we could walk. I’d not gone in expecting success, just hoping to learn from the process – and I did. We’d found a perfect, welcoming space. We would need more people, and at least a two hour working period. We might be able to give ourselves a head start. Another labyrinth exploring session would be required.

In terms of making a walkable labyrinth, it was a total failure. In terms of being a beautiful, encouraging experience, it was nothing but win. Which strikes me as being consistent with the entire notion of a labyrinth. You don’t go anywhere when you set out to walk one. You just end up back where you started. It’s not about drama, it’s about the process.

By the time the light faded, it was obvious we’d struggle to make a labyrinth to the design I love, with less than a 12 foot radius. Or about Four meters, middle to edge, if you prefer. That rules out doing it in most indoor settings. I had been toying with the idea of doing an indoors one with scarves, but considering the circles in the fading light, I could see that just wouldn’t work.

I have an opportunity next year to get people walking a labyrinth in an indoors setting. I think that’s still possible, and I think (this may seem outrageous) that it can be done without building a physical labyrinth at all. This is something I will need to test, results will be posted here as they come in.

We retreated to the pub, and I drew the labyrinth, and talked about it, and we plotted.


Druid Grove misconceptions

The desire for working groups often exceeds the availability. One of the reasons for this is that all too often people who have not been in a Grove, much less run one, have unrealistic expectations about what that should mean and do not realise they could just dive in and make something happen, or there is a Grove and it doesn’t live up to expectations and that causes discomfort. Today we will be taking pot shots at straw men…

“You need two Druid-Grade Druids to start a Grove.” You don’t. This is an OBOD concept that has accidently been allowed to escape into the wild. To run an OBOD Grove, you need two OBOD Druid grade folk, otherwise you have to call it a seed group, but it still does all the core things a Grove would do. Other Orders have different requirements – you usually need a few Order members to count as a Grove of a given Order and there will be things to uphold. Otherwise, some Druids or proto-Druids who want a Grove, is the only necessity.

“Groves celebrate the wheel of the year.” They can, they don’t have to. They might celebrate lunar cycles, meet on the second Tuesday of the month, or be entirely about study. Unless you’re an ADF Grove – where celebrating the wheel of the year in a publically accessible way is, to the best of my knowledge, a requirement.

“You can learn Druidry by joining a Grove.” A given Grove might or might not offer formal teaching. If you are paying attention, you’ll learn something, but depending on how idiosyncratic the Grove is, and what strikes you as important, that may vary. You don’t need to be able to teach to start one.

“A Grove is the best place to find wise and learned Druids resplendent with knowledge and insight.” It probably isn’t. On the whole a Gove is a good place to find enthusiastic people who are keen to learn, share and get together. This is the social end of Druidry. Longstanding Druids immersed in their paths can sometimes become much more solitary, and are not necessarily attracted to Groves.

“A Grove is a place of peace, love and safety.” It should be, but basically a Grove is a gathering of people and is therefore subject to all the things that can happen when you put groups of people together.

“I can’t set up a Grove because I am not an experienced Druid.” Yes you can, so long as you do not pretend to be other than you are. A Grove can happily be a place of aspiration, learning and sharing, you do not need an ‘expert’ to make it work.

“We must meet in the woods in the dead of night.” Well, you can, but lunchtime is equally fine and if the weather is awful you can meet in your living room, or a cafe. Getting outside is good, breaking your ankle isn’t, and Druid wisdom is all about balance, not masochism.

In short, yes you can and it does not have to be perfect to be worth doing.


Honouring the numbers

Years are numbered in arbitrary human ways, and this is just one of the many points when people have deemed that a solar year has ended and a new one commenced. Still, I am a sucker for culture and traditions, so let’s sweep a bow to the rolling on of those meaningless numbers anyway!

2013 was in many ways better for me than the years before it. Highlights included getting off the narrowboat, and actual warm summer, the joys of Druid camp, starting Auroch Grove, and lots of hill walking. The new luxuries in my life- plentiful hot water, a toaster, reliable internet, have resulted in me being a lot more comfortable and feeling a lot better as a consequence. The sheer joy of a permanent bed has really enhanced my life.

On the downside there have been more political nightmares than I want to have to think about. Bedroom tax, climate change, fracking, the badger cull… so much that is hideous and wrong, that at times I have felt overwhelmed with despair at the state of the world.

I’ve learned a lot about politics in the last six months or so. I’ve read vast reams of political history and current thinking, trying to understand what’s happening and how best to make a positive difference. Alongside that, I’ve made a long study of prayer practice across religions, and started putting together what I know about dreaming. I had a novel come out (Intelligent Designing for Amateurs) and a Pagan Portal book (Spirituality without Structure) and the second volume of Hopeless Maine. There was travel – Doncaster and Scarborough were excellent experiences.

I have more sense of direction than I did this time last year. Back then it was still very much about survival and getting some control over my life. Now I’m thinking a lot more in terms of what I can do. What can I add? Where can I make a difference? Where am I needed? I have a lot of projects underway, and I know that next year is going to be both busy and interesting. I spend more time looking forward than I do looking back, and a lot of time getting on with whatever now has brought me. My days are full, busy and interesting, and I’m spoiled for choice in terms of opportunities to go out and have new and interesting experiences. Sometimes the downside of this is that I end up very tired, which can make me ill, but I’m learning when to stop and how to balance things.

The last year has forged some very strong relationships for me. I have a sense of being part of a community, and a network of people with whom I feel very much engaged, who inspire me, and with whom I am able to share all manner of things. People to walk with, to share music with, to contemplate with and who share creativity with me. There have been a few mistakes on that score too, and a few hard lessons but as I get more confident about who I am and what I want, it gets easier to see where I fit and where I should therefore invest my time and energy.

I’m anticipating that next year there will be Hopeless Maine part three, Professor Elemental the novel, and a book about prayer all in print. I will be at events in Frome and Bristol, and at Druid camp. I mean to try and do the epic Five Valleys Walk, and to sit out overnight on the hills. There will be more music, and more reconnecting with people I lost during the hermit phase. There will be adventures and I am going to attempt a few crazy things (more on that as I do it). I feel more positive about this calendar shift than I have about any other in a long time. I feel like I’m winning, and I think I know what I’m doing, where I’m going and how to achieve my many and curious goals.


Walking with the ancestors

I’m late blogging today because I’ve been out for hours, walking with others from the Auroch Grove. We’ve been walking along a local hill line, which the map shows as having seven or so long barrows and tumuli on it, plus rumours of others, the site of a Celtic or perhaps Romano British Temple, and an earth worked hill fort. One of the tumuli has its top off and can be wandered into, one is intact, and can be crawled into, and the earthwork can be walked. Not all of the burial sites are easy to visit, although I’m going to see if I can get permission to go to them in the future.

It was a very long walk, but a feasible one. That tells me that yes, the odds are that our ancestors of land were walking between these barrows and the hill fort. I can only imagine who, when, or why, but the idea of some kind of pilgrimage between the places of the dead and the living really speaks to me.

The views from those hills are incredible, we can see into Wales, miles in every direction in fact. It is mind expanding, to see so much landscape, to experience the enormity of place and sky.

I have a sense of this land that I did not have before. My body is sore, my mind is tired, tomorrow I will hurt. I do not have any kind of intellectual insight into what I just did, no sense of cerebral comprehension, but at the same time… my body knows this landscape in a different way, feels it, has become part of it. It’s been a profound experience. Perhaps with time to reflect, a more head-centric understanding will come, but I don’t mind if it doesn’t. Today has been a good day.


Starting a Grove

This summer I move off the boat, and one consequence of that is starting to come into focus for me. I’m not in a position to travel much for Druid gatherings, and want there to be something very local. There are things going on in my area – open rituals, moots, and I’ve looked into those a bit, which has got me to the point of feeling that we aren’t over saturated with groups, and that no one is doing what I want to do: Namely to have an experimental and teaching Grove.

I’ve been involved with running groups before, and one thing I’ve learned is the importance of figuring out a few things before-hand. Shape of group, aims, location, frequency of meetings, methods of communication… get these right and the whole thing can flow well and needs little energy to keep it moving. A badly set up group can use up a lot of time to little effect. I have to be careful with my time and energy, so am starting to plan months in advance.

I know I am not going to get into something democratic. In practice it doesn’t work, more time is spent discussing than doing. If I’m running a thing, I will do so as a benevolent dictator, and on my own terms. People can either go along with that, or do some other thing. Groups work better where there’s some maker of final decisions and where it’s clear who holds responsibility. I’m the sort of dictator who isn’t keen to do any more work than is absolutely necessary, so always have space for people who want to do things, and for the ideas of people who come along with good ideas. I’ve learned it’s useful to feel able to say ‘no’ though, and that’s not easy if you’re supposed to be being democratic.

The other thing I know at this stage, is that I’m not going to focus on the usual 8 festivals. Partly because plenty of others in viable striking distance are doing rituals at the eight usual times, so it’s going to be easier to go along to theirs and I don’t want to run in competition to anything local. I spent a lot of years with a group doing the big 8, and felt an increasing need to get away from that, a desire to explore different stories, and to develop a different kind of relationship with the turning year. The desire for experimental Druidry is very much in my mind as I consider how to progress.

I need to find a space. I have a location in mind that should give me accessible open space, ancestral connections and a pub in viable striking distance. I will have to pin it down more precisely, and look at the transport issues. As I’m not yet sure who else might want to show up or where they might be coming from, I’m not sure what to be looking for, but some accessibility by public transport is definitely an issue. I also need to look at the feasibility of access for people who are not so mobile. Child friendliness is a consideration too. I don’t want a setup that automatically excludes anyone.

I need to find a name, but that might be easier once I have a location sorted. Once that comes, I can set up some kind of online space for ease of communication, and open the idea up. I anticipate I’m a good few months away from being able to do any of that. Rather a lot will then depend on who wants to come along, what they bring, and what they ask of me. I’ve spent nearly three years now as something like a hermit, largely out of the loop. I’ve learned a lot, and one of the things I’ve learned is how much I appreciate the rhythms of being part of an active Druid community that gets outside and does stuff.

I’m envisaging something fairly small, and fairly intensive, but we shall see. I’ll blog more about this as it develops. It’s not the only big upheaval I’m anticipating in my Druid Life, as I’m poised to jump with something else that has a lot of potential to be dramatic and interesting too. I’ll post more about that once I know what’s happening. Watch this space.


Belonging not Belonging

Over the years I’ve been through several groves, half a dozen or so moots, various pagan organisations, online gatherings and lose social groupings. There are lots of reasons for moving on – many groups run out of steam and die of natural causes. Moving area cost me a lot of groups I would not have chosen to leave. But there’s also those harder times when you have to recognise that you don’t really fit and aren’t getting much out of an experience. Or it’s made clear to you that you just aren’t wanted.

I’ve wondered, writing the other posts about my history as a druid, how to tackle this thorny issue. I think in all relationships, including group ones, it has to be ok to leave or to express difficulty. People do not always get on, things do not work. I was, for example, entirely open at the time, about leaving www.thepaganandthepen.wordpress.com where I started druidlife as a column. I wanted my own space, I didn’t want to be responsible for anyone else anymore, and I didn’t want to have to worry about how my words impacted on the other folk there.

When I started druidlife as a column, I wondered if it was ok to call it that. I worried people would think I was speaking for druids and druidry in a way that I shouldn’t. I worried that I might accidentally cause conflict or bring druidry into disrepute. I left pagan and pen quietly, for my own reasons, and I left it with plenty of good people at the helm. At the time I was also fragile, exhausted, close to a total emotional breakdown and being fairly public about having escaped from an abusive relationship. Although I was struggling with responsibilities at pagan and pen, no one asked me to leave, nor would they have done for those reasons.

But somewhere else, other people did. I chose, for my own reasons, not to say much about it at the time. I knew I was dangerously close to breaking point and afraid that I was indeed a liability and that I might indeed bring paganism into disrepute just by being me, and being in trouble. I was also in a place of such low self esteem that I accepted the judgement, and felt personal shame over it. For a while I wondered if I had any entitlement at all to call myself a pagan, much less anything more specific.

Then a thing started to happen. One by one, people from my community got in touch with me. They sent words of love and reassurance, and also words of anger over the situation I was in. They rebuilt my sense of community and belonging, and I learned who my true friends are. What had been a personal disaster slowly transformed into a deep process of changing my perceptions, clarifying my beliefs and making me realise who I could depend on, and who I truly care for. Those of you who were there, should know who you are. I hold a deep and abiding love for the people who did not let me become totally isolated during that hard time. For the people who stood up for me, and who kept talking to me, and who did not reject me just because I was in trouble.

However, I came out of that period thinking that I probably wasn’t a group or organisation person after all. I retreated from involvement other places too. I didn’t want to go through anything like that again. I had rather imagined that I would continue with a community of individual friendships, but not seek to belong anywhere. And then life took another twist. When Druidry and Meditation came out, I contacted a few OBOD folk and mentioned that I’d been an OBODie. In the last few weeks I’ve swapped a lot of emails. I’ve got a blog post to write for them, I’ll be joining their celebrants listing, and they will carry my book in their store. Just thinking about this has brought a lump to my throat. I’m not your classic OBOD type, no white robes here, I’m scruffy, chaotic, unscripted… and they still want me. That feeling of being held by an organisation that has seen some worth in what I do, is worth more to me than I know how to express.

The desire to belong is, I think, a fairly basic one. When I first went solitary we talked on this blog about the degree to which solo druidry is a viable thing. There is such a strong community aspect to druidry, that at first I had no idea how to be a grove of one. I have my family unit, but we don’t do formal ritual. So I recognise that all through the last few years, I have wanted a place to fit and feel welcomed, but had come to the point of thinking it wasn’t even worth an ask. I don’t want to be tolerated. I don’t want to be put up with, grudgingly accepted and kept an eye on in case I do something inappropriate. I want a place to be where I’m accepted, warts and all. I can honestly say I never thought that would be OBOD. I thought OBOD too formal and myself too… all those other things. I never thought any organisation would be so positive about me. There’s the lovely folk at Moon Books too, enthusiastic about my work, pleased to include me. It changes my scope for imagining who I am. It will be a while before I stop looking over my shoulder and wondering if it’s really ok, but at least I can hope.


The Lost Bards

At short notice, the Druids around Birmingham some years ago found that the source of open druid ritual was leaving the area. A few of us got together, started an egroup, and started talking. Rapidly, we established a shared belief that open ritual is important and that we wanted to carry on. We hashed out the plan that was to become Bards of the Lost Forest, and at Imbolc that year, started running rituals. We did the usual seasonal 8, non-seasonal rituals, bardic picnics, workshops and kept the egroup going.

 

The Lost Forest, is the forest of Arden which once covered the Midlands. It’s also the inspiration for Tolkien’s Mirkwood. In honouring the lost forests, not just the immediate, geographical one, we embraced a hope of their returning. We honoured the extinct creatures, squared up as best we could to humanity’s impact, shared philosophy and worked towards greener living. Seeking and sharing inspiration was at the heart of everything we did.

 

What I want to do today is just share the underpinning ideas. Bards of the Lost Forest was a big part of my life for a number of years, and I was involved in the running, alongside several others.

 

We had no fixed membership. People joined the egroup if they wanted to be more involved, some only ever came once, plenty were fair weather attendants. Those who tuned up more often, offered to do more and gave more of their energy were the ones with the most influence, but part of the ethos was to include anyone who came. Including the police, on one memorable occasion! (They were lovely). We were druid led, druid inspired but welcomed people of all paths and no path. We welcomed families and there were often children rampaging about, which was never a problem. We shared music, story, inspiration, cake and the elements.

 

It was a space in which I had the joy of watching a lot of people grow and develop. We never used scripts, we’d have a loose plan and people improvised, which made it easier to include unexpected arrivals and respond to conditions on the day. It was always a relaxed circle, with a lot of laughter and playfulness alongside real spiritual intent and depth. People found their own voices, their own words and vision, made commitments, grew more confident on their paths, headed off to start other things, came back with new ideas… it was a thriving community and everything I could ever want a druid grove to be.

 

There was no exclusivity, no dress code, no pressure and very little by way of formal rules or requirements. It flowed beautifully.

 

When I left the Midlands I did so at short notice. It was just before Lugnasadh, and I had to email the group and explain, and apologise. I would not be there. In the weeks that followed I came to realise that I would never be there again in the same way. It was a heartbreaking experience. Messages from the egroup itself made me cry, such that I had to step back from that as well. It looked, at that point, as though the Lost Bards would carry on without me.

 

I’ve been to have a look. It looks like the egroup still exists, but there’s not much to indicate life – although it’s always hard to tell from the outside and with just a few minutes of googling. I do notice that events have returned to Martineau Gardens in Birmingham – someone is doing open gatherings, and that’s the most important bit.

 

The Lost Bards shaped me in so many good ways. I miss all of them.


The wheel of the year

When I started out as a pagan I didn’t do ritual in any group or formal sense. Getting onto the druid path, I discovered not only a local grove and their open rituals, but also the gatherings at Avebury and Stonehenge. An eclectic group started up in my area too, and for some festivals I was out ritualling a lot, for some years.

This last year I’ve not being doing ritual, but here I am, poised to jump back in, and wondering about the whole business.

I love the social aspect of gathering for ritual – not just in a gossipy sense, but the sharing of inspiration and energy. Having the 8 standard festivals to work with makes it easy to grab people for that. However, it ties ritual to a solar narrative in the wheel of the year, and makes it harder to do rituals that aren’t focused on that turning of the agricultural seasons. I do see the point of engaging people with the natural world, but I also think that ‘nature’ is more subtle and complex than this rather simplified story of the rise and fall of the sun allows for. Even the farming it’s supposed to relate to is more complicated.

I live very close to the practical realities of changing seasons – boat life makes nature and the sun (or its absence) very immediate. There is no ignoring what’s going on ‘out there’. I know from working with big groups that for urban folk whose living and employment situations alienate them from the natural world, the wheel of the year aids reconnection. This is undoubtedly a good thing, but it feels like a place to begin, for me, not an end point.

When I’ve been involved in running open ritual, providing that point of connection with nature through the year seemed like an important part of the job. Simply holding ritual was about service to community. But I’m looking at a very different sort of group now, with people in it who are far more connected, who maybe need the shared inspiration angle of ritual, but not the ‘getting outside’ bit.

I’m sure our ancient ancestors would have celebrated the end of harvest, the coming of spring, and done something in the dark days to cheer themselves up. But when you are living day to day with the subtle shifts in season and sun, those big focal points seem less important, I find. I don’t need reminding where we are, I know it in my bones.

I’m thinking about ritual to take me further, to help me connect with the things that aren’t immediately present in my daily life. Which means identifying what those are for a start, and seeing how they correspond, if at all, with what anyone else wants. I’m in the curious, liminal headspace of knowing I’m looking for something and not yet knowing what it is.

As a consequence I’m going back to the absolute fundamentals in some ways, asking, what is ritual for? Who does it serve? What do I want to get out of it? What does ritual mean? How do I want to do it. (More of this pondering to follow, no doubt!)

I feel like I’m going through a big upheaval phase, questioning everything, paring everything back, looking for the essence, the significance. All the things I have ever taken as normal or fixed seem open to negotiation, and that’s an exciting place to be. I always did like the inbetween places.


Druidry and Ritual

Think Druids and you may well be visualising the beardy guys in white out welcoming the dawn at Stonehenge. Ritual is one of the defining elements of Druidry in terms of how it’s perceived from outside. When I blogged at Pagan and Pen last summer about finding myself solitary as a Druid, a friend flagged up that her understanding of Druidry was very much that we ‘hunt in packs’ – the solitary Druid is something else. The more time I spend not with a grove, the more I ponder that.

The Druid rituals we have aren’t ancient, but a legacy from the Druid revivalists, with a dash of things appropriated from the wiccans (or by the wiccans, who can say!) inspiration taken from Native American spirituality, and the innovation of OBOD, Emma Restall Orr and others. We have a form, and we know how to use it. We make a circle. In some order or another, we honour the spirits of place, the four directions (or three worlds) the ancestors, and we make a call for peace. We do something hopefully meaningful, we share bread, cake, mead and the like. Then we repeat the honouring in reverse order on the way out. It’s reliable. Once you know how it goes, you can dive into any group and have a sense of what’s doing, and join in if you wish. That’s the great advantage of having a plan.

Some groups go beyond the plan, and into the realms of script. Fixed words for every occasion. Then everyone knows what’s coming and exactly what they are supposed to do. Or not supposed to do. You either have a bit to say, or you don’t. Which means some people may just be stood about like the proverbial lemons for much of the ritual. I’ve always favoured looser ritual structures, that enable everyone to get involved. They aren’t so vulnerable to going astray if someone is ill on the day, or forgets their bit of paper. Fluffed lines, or lines that can’t be read because the rain took out the ink on the lovely speech about the beautiful midsummer sun, can really ruin the flow. Nature does not reliably stick to the ritual plan, so being able to respond to the conditions on the day is a huge plus.

But that’s still a lot like organised ritual.

What happens if you ditch all the forms, frameworks, safety net and familiarity that is regular Druid ritual? If you start in the heat of the moment, with the taste of awen on your lips, can you make ritual that isn’t ritual, but is something wild, spontaneous, purely of the place and moment? Would it work? And would it be Druidry, or something else?

I’ve done a little experimenting with this wilder kind of expression. Enough to say yes, it can be done, and yes, it feels exactly like Druidry to me. I think it would need far higher levels of trust between participants than regular ritual. I think it needs time to evolve so that it’s not just an exercise in inventing a new form. There is a possibility out there, something unstructured and inspiration led, that can be shared or solitary, that I know feels exactly like Druidry, but may be going to infuriate anyone who is partial to those established forms and structures. But then, I’m not doing this in the hopes of pleasing everyone, only trying to find my own way, taking anyone with me who finds it resonant.

Feral, awen inspired Druidry. I feel like I’m shuffling my feet onto a whole new path here. As I find out where it goes, I’ll blog the journey.


The naming of Druid groups

This week over at Cat’s Druidy blog, she talked about names for pagans. http://druidcat.wordpress.com/2011/03/24/whats-in-a-name/ – it’s an excellent and rather funny post. It got me thinking about a parallel issue – how we name groups. When pagans cluster themselves together to do things, they tend to go for names, but finding the right name to muster under is not the easiest job in the world. So, how do you name a Druid gathering?

Many groups include a tag that says something of what they are, so here’s a quick rundown of those and what they mean, or might mean.

Order – in theory this is a big group with its own way of doing Druidry, likely to have member groves, formal membership. Think The British Druid Order, ADF, OBOD. Every so often someone with big ideas and a small following will call themselves an order too, even if technically they look more like a grove. This can cause confusion. In an Gorder, the founding grove may be called the mother grove.

Grove – a closed Druid group, usually has a defined membership, celebrates the cycles of the year and may meet at other times to study and socialise. May belong to an order, may be independent.

Seed Group – especially in OBOD, a group that aspires to be a grove but dooesn’t feel qualified yet.

Gorsedd – a ritual group meeting to celebrate, it may well not have a formal membership or gather outside of ritual. Again, may be part of something else, may not. Sometimes groves run gorsedd as part of their service.

Moot – a social gathering.

Learning circle – a study group, with a degree of equality and sharing, not formally led teaching.

Clan, tribe, circle – this kind of naming tends to denote a group with a definite identity who for whatever reason don’t feel the word ‘grove’ suits – they may be slightly eclectic, invite extended family, not want to seem to formal

There are other names out there, and they tend to reflect what the group is or does. It might use Bards, Ovates or Druids to designate it as Druidic.

Attached to your title, needs to be something to make the group individual. A significant number of groups will take the name of the geographical area they work in. They might name poetically, based on that, they might use a Celtic tribe name from their area, or something else that connects them to a place. Calling an old place ‘Caer’ is a tradition that certainly goes back to early revivalist Druids, so Avebury becomes Caer Abiri, Bath is Caer Badon – people in the know will know, it creates a dash of secrecy and mysticism.

Other groups draw on nature for their name, finding an emblem that resonates for them. These can be as simple, poetic or pretentious as anyone likes. Combining the two, gives you names like Clan of the Dancing Bears, Whispering Pine Grove, The Ancient and Very Serious Order of the Extremely Floppy Hats, (I may have made those up…).

Naming gives group identity, which is a great help when you’re trying to establish a group and give it a sense of self. It gives people a clue as to whether this might be the place for them. Equally, misnaming can create the wrong connotations, and draw the wrong people. A friend once described her first grove, named in a way that made people feel like it was a safe space that would hold them and mother them, which turned out to not be what she had wanted at all. If you invoke a deity, a creature or any kind of concept in your naming, that will inform the vibe of the group in entirely pragmatic ways, and you might also want to think about the kind of spiritual attention it could get you. Don’t invite other entities along unless you are sure you want them present.

Names matter. They create identity, and we pin a lot to them. It’s well worth taking the time to get them right.