Forming Atheopagan Affinity Groups
Recently, it was brought to the attention of the Atheopagan Society Council (including me) that some folks in the Atheopagan community are interested in starting their own Atheopagan affinity groups, which—at least during the pandemic—can meet by Zoom or Discord (or whatever platform they wish) and share fellowship, create rituals, kick around discussion topics, and support one another in their practices and in their lives. If the members live close enough to one another, perhaps after COVID has left us they could meet in person.
An affinity group is a small group organized for a particular purpose. These groups might orient around particular areas of interest or study: moon rituals, for instance, or Tarot, or astronomy. Or they may be from a particular city or region, or share an identity like being BIPOC or of the LGBTQ community. Or they may just be folk from all over who want to develop rituals and practices together and get to know one another better. You can promote your group (or idea for a group) in Discord, the Facebook group, etc.
I think the prospect of these groups forming is exciting! They will give Atheopagans more opportunities to connect with one another, learn, practice and share.
As Atheopagan groups, though, whose conduct will reflect on that name, and since they will be self-moderated, it is important that they formally commit to the ideas that define the Atheopagan path: a naturalistic cosmology, the Four Sacred Pillars, and the Thirteen Principles.
Accordingly, with input from the community we have created the Atheopagan Affinity Group Charter which can be downloaded, filled out, printed and signed (by hand or typed) as a founding document for your affinity group (Google doc downloadable as Word document; legal-sized paper). It includes the Atheopagan Community Conduct Guidelines, as well as some guidance on how to manage your group.
You don’t need to send it anywhere to “register”; it’s just meant to serve as a touchstone of root values for your group as you work and grow together, and to give you something solid to point to if someone in your group starts behaving badly. If everyone in your group has agreed to uphold Atheopagan values and conduct standards, it’s much clearer how to proceed if someone violates them. Good boundaries make for good relationships.
To keep a list of Atheopagan affinity groups, there is a shared Google Doc directory. Groups who choose to may add themselves with a contact email. This will create the opportunity for groups to contact one another to share information or rituals, or for joint meetings, and give fellow Atheopagans a chance to look up existing groups to which they may want to apply for membership.
Forming affinity groups will allow members of our community to practice, discuss and experiment together, and to build friendships.
If you have a particular subject matter, geographical area or just general interest area you would like to form an affinity group around, by all means announce this on the Facebook and/or Discord platforms with a call for folks to join you! Here is a guide to Founding an Atheopagan Affinity Group to walk you through the process:
How to Form an Atheopagan Affinity Group
Have a particular Atheopagan subject matter you would like to study or practice with others? Perhaps a ritual group, or book club, or Tarot group, or group for your local area?
Now you can form your own Atheopagan group: an Affinity Group.
Affinity groups are self-managed. They aren’t moderated by the admins or moderators of the Atheopagan Facebook or Discord communities. Accordingly, in order to ensure that those operating under the umbrella of Atheopaganism reflect well on the community, we ask that those forming affinity groups fill out and sign an Affinity Group Charter, which has the community conduct standards appended to it.
It’s a simple process:
- What’s the idea? What is your concept for your group: the topic, practice or area you would like to share with others. Be specific. It’s okay if your group branches out into other areas later, but having a clear mission statement makes it much easier to get a group going.
- How will you meet? Zoom, Discord, a Facebook group, Mastodon, in person?
- Recruit your members. You can put out the word through the various Atheopagan channels that you are looking for members who reflect the interest or geographical area you want to join you. A good number to start a group is at least 6: enough for critical mass even if one or two don’t show up sometimes. Get both names and email addresses so you can invite them to events.
- Choose a name for your group. This can be the first order of business for your new group. Be creative!
- Fill out and have members add their names to the Affinity Group Charter. This document lays out what it means to be an Atheopagan and how we choose to treat one another. It protects the affinity group in the case of any future problems by making it clear that harassment and abuse are contrary to the affinity group’s values. Members joining later should also confirm that they endorse the charter to ensure everyone understands the agreements.
You don’t have to register your Charter with the Atheopagan Society. It’s just meant to be a touchstone for the values and conduct we would like for our community to reflect.
- If you wish, you may add your group to the Atheopagan Affinity Group Directory. This is optional, but it can be useful if you hope to recruit more members. Atheopagans can look at the directory, choose a group they think they’d fit well in, and then get in touch to inquire about joining. Your membership policies are up to you (barring discrimination, of course). You don’t have to accept an applicant if you don’t want to.
- If you are on Facebook, please join the Atheopagan: Affinity Group Admin Support group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/632888007946317. This will allow us to support one another, share information and troubleshoot problems. If you are not on Facebook, please use the Affinity-Groups-Discussion channel in the Discord server for support and information sharing.
- You can download an Atheopagan Affinity Group Guidebook by clicking here. This contains information on how to start and manage your group, and tips on conflict resolution should you need them.
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