[Lady Sheherazahde's Wiccan Ways : The Braided Wheel Tradition]

Ms. Manners Guide to Neopagan Etiquette

The Neopagan Community conforms to a strictly nonconformist view of rules. But, these bits of advice may help. This section owes a great deal to an uncredited flyer that was circulated at "Rites of Spring" a festival sponsored by Earth Spirit Community out of Boston, Massachusetts.

ALCOHOL, DRUGS. Within the Neopagan community, there are many different views on the use of mind altering substances. Those who have planned the ritual may or may not specify guidelines about this. In general, don't use them during the ritual unless the ritual calls for them. Don't bring anything illegal with you to a public ritual. It is considered rude to endanger innocent bystanders either physically or legally.

CIRCLE. Do not enter or leave once a Wiccan Circle is cast without honoring the Circle boundary (cutting a gate). Once the Circle is cast no one should enter or leave without good reason; even then a gate should be cut in the Circle and closed when the person has passed through.

CONFIDENTIALITY. Because of the widespread prejudice against people of different religions many Neopagans fear loss of their jobs or housing if their religious affiliation is made public. So, treat all names as confidential information unless told otherwise. Many Pagans are not "out of the broom closet".

CONSENT. If something happens in ritual that feels wrong or that feels uncomfortable you do not have to do it. In fact you are morally obligated not to participate in any activity you do not condone.

DEOSIL. Deosil means clockwise (E-S-W-N-E). Always go clockwise around a Wiccan Circle unless told otherwise. In Wiccan rituals when in doubt go deosil.

DRUMS. Drums are often ritual tools. See "Tools, Ritual". Drums are very popular among Neopagans and are usually welcome. But keep in mind that people are more likely to appreciate your druming if you appreciate their singing and quiet conversation.

FIRE, THE RITUAL. The ritual fire is sacred. Please do not throw litter into it or light your cigarettes with it. Libations are not litter.

FOOD. Doing Magic makes most people hungry so a feast is usually part of the schedule. It is always polite to bring food or drink to share after the ritual

GUESTS. Guest policies vary to be safe always check with the people organizing the ritual before inviting guests. If you are bringing someone new, please be accountable for them. Tell them what to expect, help them feel comfortable, and answer their questions. Check them during the ritual and be respectful of their needs, and of the needs of the community. Any one who hears about the ritual from you is your guest and you will be held responsible for their behavior. All regular members of the group hosting the ritual are responsible for the needs of guest and should take the initiative to make anyone they do not know feel welcome.

HOMOPHOBIA. Homophobia is a social disease. An open mind is the best cure. The Charge of the Goddess states "...for behold, all acts of love and pleasure are my rituals"(For more information on the Charge see "A Witches Bible Compleat" by Janet and Stewart Farrar).

HUMOR. Life is too important to take seriously. Laughter is an important asset to any community; it is a powerful tool for both good and evil, use it wisely and consult the Principia Discordia for more information on constructive Erisian energy.

MONEY. Big community rituals are a public service we all benefit from. And it is a burden that we should share to make lighter. Neopagan groups are rarely wealthy and most costs come out of the pockets of the hosting group. Make a donation to help cover costs. If you do not have any money offer to do some of the work. The clean up crew can always use a hand.

NUDITY. Some people prefer to do ritual "skyclad" (nude). If no one told you about it beforehand it should not be mandatory. If it is mandatory you have the right to leave. Nudity does not mean sex. If you choose to go skyclad don't be afraid to defend your personal space. Among Neopagans, nudity is not an invitation to have sex.

SMOKING. Do not smoke during ritual unless the High Priestess or High Priest does.

SPECIAL NEEDS. If you have any special needs, such as dietary restrictions or physical restrictions, please tell the person in charge of a ritual before the ritual begins, so that your needs can be accommodated.

TALKING. Please refrain from conversations during the ritual. We are supposed to be focusing on the ceremony not socializing. Do not chit-chat during ritual.

TOOLS, RITUAL. For many Pagans, their ritual tools are very special items that, in some cases, have never been touched by any one else. If you see something interesting lying around, please ask before handling it. Never touch anyones ritual tools (wands, athames, drums, Tarot cards, anything that looks interesting) without the owners permissions.

TOUCHING. Many Pagans can be touchy-feely in a loving, caring way. This can be immensely comforting. However, each of us has a different comfort level for this. If someone is touching you in a way that makes you uncomfortable, please don't hesitate to tell them to stop. If you need help with this, please ask someone. Communication is very important.

WELCOMING. Regular members of the group should act as hosts and be responsible for making new people feel comfortable. If you see someone you do not know at a community event make an effort to welcome them. Someone needs to make the first move. Let it be you.

Distribution is welcome if this notice is included.
For more information contact: sheherazahde@yahoo.com

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