Groups, Orders, Havens, Sects and Cults

img. source: Complex.com

Ed. Note – Before we begin today I have an apology to make, yes, another one…
In the Editorial “Persona non grata in effect” I initially, incorrectly, attributed the authorship of a certain work quoted in the piece. Fortunately one of our wonderful friends came along and said, “Hey guys…” upon which my esteemed 2IC immediately remedied the situation.

I apologise sincerely for any embarrassment or inconvenience caused by my error and I promise I’ll try not to let it happen again.

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Groups, Orders, Havens, Sects and Cults

Researched, Written, Edited and Presented by 

Tim

We move, in the GVC, in many, many circles simultaneously, we inhabit various organisations both online and offline and we come to recognise, over time, sometimes disastrously, what our chosen associations actually stand for and mean. At that point we have a choice. The choice is whether we can continue calling our chosen “friends” and associates family or whether it has been a product of our hope that there is something that can give us answers we have been searching for or whether we have simply fallen in with an idea, or set of ideas, that seem to give us that integral piece of our personal jigsaw.

So, what do we see when we look around us?

img. source: flingmile

We all know what “Groups” are, collectives of people that come together to discuss ideas, debate ideas – be they the quintessential “heated debates” or sensible, calm and orderly discussions. In general groups, in this sense, contain many different views and opinions and are representative of the general manner of things that give the participants a certain sense of social involvement. Such organised gatherings may, or may not, ascribe to one of several viewpoints or they may be “focus” groups of people who come together for a specific purpose and, in this respect, foster often productive discussion. It’s an ideal that many look for but, unfortunately, don’t always find.

Beyond these “general population” groups we find a strata of gatherings that comprise Havens, Covens, Houses and the like. The change in identification will generally indicate a more secular and focused approach and ideal. The rules become a little more stringent and designed to preserve the peace, calm and order within the body for the benefit of all the members – again an ideal. It’s not a bad idea to have a set of governing regulations which members agree to abide by. This provides for the body to focus more directly on specific ideas and hypotheses, to focus more directly on the welfare of its members and, very often, you will read that the members refer to each other as family, as brother and sister, thereby engendering a closer knit unity between the members which for many can enhance the feeling of actually belonging somewhere in a world that no longer focuses on what’s best for the “family unit”. Again, not a bad thing at all… as long as it doesn’t slide across the next line.

img. source: SlideShare

 

Sect is not a dirty word…!

Sect noun [ C ] UK   /sekt/ US   /sekt/ (usually disapproving)

A religious group that has separated from a larger religion and is considered to have extreme or unusual beliefs or customs.

Hmmm… curious thought. Generally we can find solid reasons for a schism in religious orders… differences of opinion in interpretation, in practice, in application of religious tenets and a whole gamut of others. I would, and do, take the view that everyone talks to their God/s in their own way, in their own time and within their own framework of belief. The thing about that is that there is No One who has the right to tell them otherwise.

The only thing that I do object to, and I think many will agree, is any religious organisation, or institution, that causes harm to anyone in the name of their beliefs. The definition above, from the Cambridge English Dictionary, asserts that these “Sects” have either “extreme” or “unusual” beliefs or customs. Well, the Bantu Tribesmen in Africa have strange and unusual customs and beliefs… DON’T MEAN THEY’RE WRONG… just different to, say, Orthodox Jewish beliefs, Catholicism or the Anglican faith.

Don’t get me wrong here, a “Sect” that does bad things to people is just as bad as a cult but if a sect doesn’t hurt anyone aren’t they allowed to believe that the sky is green if they want?

a 1980’s UFO Cult in California
img. source: Atlas Obscura

Cults… an ugly truth?

In referring to “cults” many people will, automatically, associate the word with likes of Jim Jones and Charles Manson but is this necessarily the case?

I have long held the belief, about any structured belief system, that whatever gets you through the hard times is fine. What about the not hard times? What about the groups, societies and organisations that we choose to belong too? Why are we in them? What do they offer? What do we derive from them? Are they beneficial or toxic to us?

All questions that have been widely raised about a wide range of well-known institutions. The web resource Religious Tolerance.org has an extremely well written discourse on the matter that clearly spells out the differences in both accepted most used terminology and the concepts behind the terms. It is, it seems, a matter of some confusion and discussion when it comes to defining a cult.

I would suggest that a good number of people have seen at least one of the television documentaries that have been made about L. Ron Hubbard’s Church of Scientology, we, on the outside, may see it as a cult but if you talk to anyone from within they will swear up and down that it’s not that at all… it’s only when someone comes out from the controlled “within” that we can begin to get some rational and real perspective on the subject.

One resource that has been widely applied within the Pagan communities is the The Advanced Bonewits’ Cult Danger Evaluation Frame (Version 2.6, 2.7)[1] which can be found at neopagan.net

The evaluation framework clearly defines the questions that need be asked in order to demonstrate whether a group is actually a “cult-like” entity or not. The results are yielded on a sliding score scale with the lowest score possible being 18 and the highest score possible being 180, therefore the mean is 81 – the cutoff point between, say, sect and cult. If we break down the possible range between 18 and 180 we might say that from 18 to 54 is a “group”, 55 to 109 is a “sect” and 110 and above is a “cult”. Of course, you may wish to break it down further but as long as you honestly and accurately evaluate what you’re looking at and apply the evaluation clearly and in a totally unbiased way that’s fine.

Although there is no actual “result table” offered by the framework it tells you how far toward the “danger zone” you are treading.

The biggest problem with utilising this framework is that you can only do it if you have a completely clear, logical and unbiased view of the thing you are assessing… let’s assume, for example, if The Framework had been given to Susan Atkins [2] in 1969 when she aided Manson in the Tate-LaBianca murders would she have returned a clear, logical and unbiased result? Don’t believe so myself…

So, if you were asked to sit down with The Framework and apply it to a group that you are in would you be totally objective, clear and logical about it or would you give the answers that you have led to believe?

Could you take The Framework and apply it, in the same fashion, to a group that you were a member of in the past? If you had good experiences I would suggest that the result might be skewed in that way, if you had bad experiences – which are usually remembered far longer than good ones – could you give an accurate and completely unbiased response?

Let’s look at a couple of examples;

Isaac Bonewits’ Cult Danger Evaluation Framework (Ver. 2.6)

In a nutshell you will see, from the two examples given, that one represents a group with very few cult-like traits whereas the other example, at the “Cult” end of the spectrum, exhibits many of the major characteristics required to identify a cult.

img source: sylvielefrancois.com

What sort of groups are you in?

 

If you can stop for a couple of minutes, sit down, clear your mind of everything else and just think about the group you are in. Think about what happens in the group, how is it run? Who runs it and why? How do you feel when you are interacting within the group? (No matter what medium) Do you feel safe? Unsure? Comforted? Guarded? Is it something you would rather not be involved in but don’t know how to break with the group without losing all your friends?

There are many things that a group should be, controlling, dominating, censoring, disapproving and forceful… well, maybe it’s not a group at all… maybe it’s a “sect” or a “cult” but the ONLY way you’re going to know that is if you are prepared to be open minded, brutally honest and completely unbiased.

In conclusion

Cults, sects, organisations, social groups and specific interest clubs have been around since dawn of mankind pretty much, even though the word “Cult” originated with the ancient tongues, and was defined, early on, and still today, as the worship of a divine being or beings, whether that divinity be accorded by the worshippers or by mythology makes no difference, a “divine being” is not necessarily a mythical being, it can be a person, a psychological construct simply a fixation with someone or something… hell, I know people who pray to the God of Football during the English Premier League Football season… just a quiet word here, there actually isn’t a God of Football but you can find him regularly referred to in the pubs or at Finals time.

Wherever you have a focused and fixated system of recognition of an object or person as being divine you run the risk of finding a Cult. Get informed, stay informed and watch for the danger signs. The Cult Education Institute provides a clear and concise listing of the warning signs.

As I said, the big trick here is to be honest, clear headed, objective and unbiased when you do it. If you think you can do that why not give it a go? See how your “group”, “Order”, or other organisation fares under scrutiny?

Hey, you may not want to believe what comes of it, you may not want to accept what comes out of it but at least you’ll be better informed on what to watch out for in order to avoid coming unstuck and that has to be a good thing – right?

Copyright TB & RVL 2018

  1. The Advanced Bonewits’ Cult Danger Evaluation Frame (Version 2.6) Copyright © 1979, 2008 c.e., Isaac Bonewits.
  2. Oxy Gen Crimetime http://www.oxygen.com/blogs/where-are-the-members-of-charles-mansons-killer-cult-family-nowNB: Where used, quoted portions of other works are reproduced by permission, or under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, wherein allowance is made for “fair use” for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research.This article may be linked to but may not be copied or reproduced, nor redistributed in any manner, including electronic without the express permission of the copyright owners.

    The views and opinions presented in this article are the opinions of the author and/or contributors and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of The Owner/s of RVL, their officers, assigns or agents. RVL and its officers do not personally, individually, or jointly necessarily recommend or condone any of the activities or practices represented.

    For further information please see the RVL Website Disclaimer

     

So, you want your own Empire? Part II

Constantinople
img.source: themadmonarchist.blogspot.com

Researched, edited, written and presented by

Tim

In the first part of this mini-series, “So, you want your own Empire?” I visited some of the basics that I have concluded from years of organising, and leading, various groups, teams and task groups. That’s an important thing to keep in mind I think, I’m not “blowing smoke” here, I’m drawing on professional and non-professional experience to bring this here and none of it is cast in stone tablets. You can pick up texts on “Group and Team Building” everywhere, not to disparage book learning but don’t you think, in many things,  experience, success, and even failures, make better teachers?

Anyway, in this second part I am going to look at the second tier of group building.. mostly the planning and establishing that comes after the heady rush of the brilliant idea.

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So, how’d you get on? Got a plan to go with your brilliant idea? Got some friends all hyped up? Got yourself a web-presence for your “Group”, your fledgling empire?

Now, what ya going to do with it?

Let’s assume, for the sake of the exercise, that you and four friends, tried and true, are in on the plan. Good. Let’s say you have set up “shop” and now you’re looking to attract general members to bolster the ranks, to give the “Empire” impetus and to take it from the “special interest” to the “Focus group” stage. Where are you going to look? What’s your hook? What are you going to offer that no one else does?

In a culture, an online community, where pretty much everything has been “done to death” (or so people would have you believe) what can you do to bring people to your magnificent creation?

Consider this, EVERYONE has to, had to, start someplace… hells bells even President #45 started with a couple of bucks and an idea sometime, do you really think that he is a better person than you? Think about it…

Pic. Credit –
www.nightfoxtechnologies.in

The first consideration you need to make is what type of membership are you going to cater for? Is it going to be strictly “Rock collectors”? “Poetry Lovers”? “Sanguinarians”? “Psi-Vamps”? This is going to determine how you manage membership admissions. Are you going to include “supporters of”? Or, are you going to accept anyone whom has a general interest in the subject/s at your “empire”?

It is a vital part of the plan, at this stage, that you have a. a purpose, b. a plan and c. a method. For without these things you are going to end up with a Friday night crowd at a local bar scenario… general mayhem in other words.

PURPOSE: Make it clearly known, amongst your existing members and to prospective members what your purpose is. Don’t beat around the bush, tell them who you are, what you do and why you have this group. This will help in attracting potential members with “like minds” which is how your empire will become stronger. It’s because of the membership that, ultimately, a group will succeed or fail.

PLAN: How are you going to communicate with your members? How are you going to include your members in the aims and goals? Are you just going to issue newsletters created by an “Editorial Staff”? Are you going to create group created documents, books, pamphlets or some such thing? Are you going to hold simple “Topical” discussions? Are you going to have regular membership meetings?

All of these details need to be together, somehow, in an operational plan because the operational plan is how an organisation measures success and gauges what is benefiting the group as opposed to things which the group aren’t really interested in. You absolutely must, at all times, engage the maximum number of your members as possible. In this way you will find your members will be energised and will find the incentive to become truly and actively involved.

In this you will, hopefully, avoid the curse of the “Periodic membership interest poll/ post”, you will avoid having to send out group messages such as, “Hey, only 13 out of 200 members here lately, who doesn’t want to be a member anymore?

METHOD:
The method for administering the “empire” is a crucial step, and a very necessary tool that must be refined, retuned, coaxed along and reviewed regularly. Not everything you do will work, not everything you propose will be accepted, not everything you wish for will materialise… I still don’t have my $350,000,000 national lottery win in the bank despite all the wishing in the world…!

The “Method” can include such things as, regular staff meetings (chat or meetup) between the admins of the group to discuss how the group is going and/or how it could be improved. It can include putting out regular “newsletters” to the membership about the group and the activities of the group and/or its members – many people undertake benefit work that can inspire others to do similar and in general reflect well on your “empire” – let your general membership know about these things, congratulate your members on their achievements, it will make others want to achieve.

Encourage participation at every turn. Accept each member and acknowledge their strengths and the positives they bring to the group, in this way more members will be encouraged and feel empowered.

Or, just sit on your throne and wait for your members to flock to you and kneel at your feet to worship you… regret to advise but that won’t last too long. If you are going to hold yourself up as some kind of “go to” guy or gal you better get ready for a lot of razzing and a general lack of respect for your over inflated ego. Definitely a trap for young, or old, players.

Pic. credit –
whobuysthisstuff.wordpress.com

MEMBERSHIP PLANNING:
Members, members, members…. Ahhhh yes, members… the people you are doing all this for, the lifeblood of your, and every other, group but how do you KNOW that the person who wants to join is actually going to be comfortable/productive or beneficial to your group?

This is where the first stage of membership planning comes in, the point where you decided whether you are building your group to be a helpful, supportive and vibrant resource for others or a closed society for you to gather only those who agree with you.
Don’t get me wrong here, either way is fine but you need to have some method of assessing membership applications.

Some organisations have lengthy “packages” where you have to answer a hundred questions about yourself, you have to demonstrate why you think you will be an asset and sign all sorts of “I agree to’s”… kinda like going for a new job.

Other groups employ “Recommendation Process”, that is, you can only get in if an existing member is willing to vouch for you.

Still others have come up with a “Three Step” approach, the three steps being,

Step 1. Firstly have the prospective member answer three simple questions such as why they want to be in the group, what do they hope to gain from the group and, perhaps more importantly, what will they be bringing to the group.

Step 2. Review their timeline if they have Facebook. Unless they have a private timeline you can see what they regularly post about, if it’s all about their myriad illnesses and how hard everything is that might raise a red flag, are they looking for a new audience? If they are obviously young and consistently posting about drugs, gangs, guns and Satan then you probably don’t want them in your group. Are they in 1438 other groups and have 3,290 friends? Then they are probably looking for another “Trophy” to hang on their wall for whatever reason and it is seriously doubtful whether they will be a consistent and beneficial member for you.

Step 3. Talk amongst yourselves. Set up a “Chat” that can be used only for communication about group matters between you and your co-owners/administrators. Compare notes, share your instincts and take a vote on whether you think they would be good for the group.

HAVE A PLAN
img. source: Parks Library Preservation on WordPress.com

So, let’s assume you have Purpose, Plan and Method all set and it all looks good on paper – that is after you have applied the K(eep) I(t) S(imple) S(illy) theory. On paper versus in reality… yeahhhhh…sometimes can be a problem, you need to stay flexible and responsive and the more complicated you make something the more time you are going to have to put into it, or the more staff you are going to need to run it… think major manufacturing plant versus ‘Mom-and-Pop’s Deli’.

However, let’s assume your empire has the sound foundations and it’s time to start receiving new members and guests. How do you know if someone is going to fit in with your group? Do you care? Do you think that variety is the spice of life? Do you want a ‘Friday night at the local bar’ scenario?

Most, if not all, the bigger and more successful Houses, Clans, Temples or Organisations have standards that they expect their members to adhere to and this needs to be addressed very early on, how do you want your members to behave? Are you among those whom believe that “Freedom of Speech regardless of consequence” is appropriate? Are you of the school of thought that “Common human decency and polite dignity” is the best way to conduct a group?

If you are of the former belief then, hey, all power…and good luck with that to ya, better get yourself some hard core moderators to keep watch over the crowd… get yourself some “bouncers”.

If you are of the latter school of thought then although you will still need moderators you will be well served by having some sort of pre-vetting method for potential members. I have known of several different methods, worked with a few, and I can’t really say with any assurance that one works better than the other. It all depends on what you feel comfortable with. I have known groups that simply admit members under the banner “Newbie”, “Acolyte”, “Seeker” or whatever other term might be seen as appropriate and then it becomes a probationary period situation where if said member gets three strikes or more in a given time frame – BOOM… bye bye.

I have seen “Membership Applications” ranging between one to twenty pages of statements, questions and affirmations. I have seen groups employ Twin Portals, one is the Main Group, or House and outside of that is another portal where potential full members serve out a specified period of time; a probation, before being accepted as a full member.

Yet others will admit a person then present them with a compendium of the Fifty Rules of House Horrorthon… and tell the newbie that if they break anyone of the rules they will boil in a large vat of communal ridicule before being ejected and having their name slandered all over Facebook.

Establish a common sense method that is to be applied across the board and use it no matter what the circumstances, no matter what. One of the worst errors that any House leadership can do is show favouritism, it alienates other members and then the cracks will start to appear.

 

So, to review,

State your Purpose

Have a Plan in place

Have an established operational Method

Have a Membership plan and requirements detailed.

These are the next stages that build on the foundations and give you the walls to protect, defend and support. Remember, a well-planned and well executed meal will ALWAYS be better than something thrown together and quickly boiled the crap out of…!!!

Copyright TB & RVL, 2018

NEXT: In Part 3, what sort of “Emperor” is your Empire going to have? Common Sense Leadership.

 

NB: Where used, quoted portions of other works are reproduced by permission, or under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, wherein allowance is made for “fair use” for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research.

This article may be linked to but may not be copied or reproduced, nor redistributed in any manner, including electronic without the express permission of the copyright owners.

The views and opinions presented in this article are the opinions of the author and/or contributors and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of The Owner/s of RVL, their officers, assigns or agents. RVL and its officers do not personally, individually, or jointly necessarily recommend or condone any of the activities or practices represented.

For further information please see the RVL Website Disclaimer

 

So, you want your own empire?

img. source: struts.co.uk

In the editorial “Focus Pocus vs. Self-interest, which one’s better?” I introduced what I feel to be the top 5 considerations for forming a “group” that I have used and relied on for over two decades in business and private, those items were made in response to a question that was asked of me about what I felt were the five most important factors in forming a group. The important thing to remember, first off, is that it doesn’t matter what sort of group you are forming, it’s like there’s no difference between selling balloons and perfume, “selling” is “selling”.

Now, anyone reading this is going to be asking themselves, “What qualifies this writer to be saying all this stuff?”

Well, the short version is, he has been involved in, created, managed and facilitated “teams” for specific purposes in industry and commerce since 1985. He has been a hands on manager in the supply chain arena, a workshop scheduler and manager and an assistant to the G.M. in engineering and fabrication. He has studied and qualified in Business and has lead Occupational Health and Safety committees. Since coming to our wonderful and rambunctious cyber-world he has served as administrator and moderator in a number of organisational online presences and has been Owner/Facilitator of his own groups along the way. As far as RVL goes, since coming on board in early 2011 he has led the team that has seen our little e-zine grow from just a couple of hundred views a month in a handful of countries to having an audience of over 3,000 visits per month, regularly and being read in over 120 countries. That’s the short version and if that doesn’t cut it then I suggest you stop reading and go make a cuppa…!

The list for the “Hypothetical Group Project – Top 5 set-up requirements that I proposed read;

1) Balanced and co-ordinated “founder team”. It has been proven, in psychological and workplace studies that a “Focus Group” consisting of individuals of different strengths and specialties makes for the best mix of creation. The one thing that is important above all, each member of the team should, ideally, be in the project for the ‘right’ reasons.

2) Advertise. From day one, a presentation for public consumption. This will thwart the “rumour mill” and the “haters”.

3) Communicate. Create a webpage, not a group, where you can feed regular updates on progress and growth to “followers” and have them see, thus spread the word, that you are NOT hiding anything.

4) Appoint a spokesperson, 1 ONLY. All communications for public consumption should be made by that person only. Extra people, throwing in extra words may seem to be uncoordinated and will, even if unintentionally, provide ammunition to the “haters and critics”.

5) Maintain the flow, growth and development. Appoint more staff if you need to, assign specific tasks and goals to each. DON’T try and go it alone. Any delays will come across to followers as, “Yeah, well, not really THAT interested, just doin’ it for shit’s ‘n’ giggles really…”

So, let’s assume we have our group established, that’s a milestone indeed but the real work comes in now, how to grow, how to develop, how to mature the group into a long term, viable and respectable entity.

“Near Dark”, F/M & Near Dark Joint Venture, 1987.

It is necessary to realise that the visibility, popularity and reputation of the group leaders/owners will undoubtedly influence an initial acceptance or non-acceptance, in broader terms, of the group itself. This is inescapable and the harder one tries to, if necessary, counter the initial perceptions the bigger the problem will become and will create a diversion from the goal and purpose of the project.
You will probably experience an initial “rush” to join which can see your membership numbers reach what appears to be a very respectable number, however, if this “rush” doesn’t translate into involvement and interaction on a steady and continual basis you will find yourself sitting at the head of a list of names, and that’s all.

So, what’s the best way to get people to WANT to get involved?

This is something that’s going to be up to owners and their staff to guide, the staff of the group, the people running it have to realise two things; 1) Rome wasn’t built overnight and 2) You get out of it what you put in. Yeah, I know… two hackneyed and overused old phrases BUT that doesn’t make them untrue. Patience, in the early days, is going to be the key to getting what you want.

There’s another old saying that you’ll hear from time to time, usually reserved for optimistic commercial entities, “Build it and they will come”, unfortunately that’s only true of shopping malls and brothels… anything else needs to be displayed and in order to make that display effective you need “a hook”, you need something unique, something about your group project that no one else has. Better come to terms with the fact, from the get-go, people aren’t, wholesale, stupid and if there’s one thing they are in our modern Vampyre culture, they are spoiled for choice so you have to make your ‘jewel’ shine just a little brighter than the other folks’

The best idea, for promoting your group, is to have a two pronged approach. For this, and much as I do hate to admit it, Facebook is an ideal vehicle for multi-layer marketing, if you will. Create your group on Facebook where you have control over visibility and accessibility. The second step in the establishment, make a Facebook ‘page’, an entirely different thing to group. On the “Page” you can offer teasers, snippets, highlights, quick promos and pretty much any form of short and enticing tid-bit to get people coming to your group. A very good idea is to start with a Statement of Purpose, or Mission Statement.

img.source: coachjudynelson.com

Writing a Mission Statement is not just about saying, “We are a group of fluffy-toed green wiggles and we want to spread word about our great lifestyle as fluffy-toed green wiggles. We don’t want any DRAMA coz’ that upsets ALL fluffy-toed green wiggles and we don’t like being upset.”

Hmmmm…! Doesn’t really make it does it? Get together with your “founder team”, read the mission statements of some of the biggest and longest established Houses, Covens, Groups and Organisations and make practical use of the myriad examples available out there… don’t just cut and paste someone else’s mission statement… that’s gonna get you pegged as “just plain wrong” – be sincere, be succinct and put your idea out there cleanly and clearly.

Once you have the grand opening…

Things are gonna start off slow, that’s a given. It’s going to take time to attract people from there comfortable other 1367 groups… yeah? Don’t laugh just check on people who do come to you to join.

We call these folks “trophy club hunters”, it’s kinda like who can get the most groups. It is NOT humanly possible to keep up with notifications from 1367 groups so notifications get turned off, simple. Doesn’t do you any good though.

Let’s face it, you want people in your group who are going to find/create interest and who are going to generate activity in their interactions with the others in your group. If people are motivated they will start discussions, and I don’t mean just regurgitating old discussions ad nauseum, there’s plenty going on around and within the modern culture to provide food for thought for people and that, ultimately, will be one of the strongest draw cards of your group.

img source: sylvielefrancois.com

Group members – The lifeblood

One of the things that is going to set your group apart from the others is its membership. Any group membership, regardless of its size, needs to be a well-balanced, interested and active membership. People with ideas, people with concepts, people with a little verve otherwise they are just going to sit there and say… well… nothing and that, ultimately, will see your group wither and die as so many others have done.

It is at this point you, and you co-founders, will need to decide how the hierarchy of you group will be set up. In this you have two choices, and here again, it comes back to “focus group” versus “special interest group”.

Consider, if you will, the following question; is your group a “democratic” establishment or an “autocracy”? That is, will you and your co-founders have an equal and equitable say in how the group runs and how the decisions are made for the group or, will your group be under your sole control as owner with your co-founders as administrators? There are equal pros and cons for both models and really, when all is said and done, it comes down to your personal style.

It is going to be very important that your potential members understand what sort of group it is because a set of rules is the one thing that separates an establishment from a rabble.

Img. source: louisdietvorst,wordpress.com

Looking forward, your group’s wider role and appeal

Once your group is off the ground you will be, I assume, deciding a couple of things; will your group be a small body, say you and ten of your closest like-minded friends, or will you be aiming for large membership and, hopefully, some recognition in the wider modern Vampire culture? It’s important that you know where you are going for without goals and aims a group simply founders.

In deciding the course for your fledgling group you may wish to consider establishing a presence with one of the “cooperatives” in play today.

It is here that you have, to my mind, three choices.
1) The Dark Nations, under the stewardship of the renowned Madam X of House of The Dreaming, is a “United Nations” style body that is made up of “Embassies” from different organisations within the modern culture. Each group that is granted membership (by application} maintains a representative embassy at Dark Nations aimed at promoting and facilitating relations between groups and organisations within the culture.

2) The Unity Project, led by King Maven Lore of The House of Lore New Orleans and Queen Gia Ahlia Bathory von Ecsed, Countess of Cachtrice and Queen of The Vampire Court of Memphis, is a unification project with similar aims that has established itself along, loosely, Monarchical lines where a collective of localised “Courts” are joined in a cooperative effort to achieve ongoing harmony and relations between “Courts” across the United States.

3) Independent House/Organisation, where the group/House or Organisation maintains an independent and active presence in the wider modern Vampyre culture.

I suppose it all rather depends, at the end of the day, whether you would rather call yourself Owner, Ambassador or King/Queen. Either way, again, it is by your choice that determines how you will guide your group in interacting with the wider culture.

Regarding Members

This is always, has always been and will always be one of the most difficult of decisions that any group leadership will face, what sort of people do you want in your group and again it comes down to “focus” versus “special interest”. A great deal has been made of the fact that group memberships, being made out of “people” in general, will be prone to all the pitfalls of having disparate ideas, differing ideologies and different philosophies… this is NOT a bad thing, it keeps discussions lively, it provides the widest range of opinion sharing and perception and can, very often, lead to unique and imaginative product, solutions and projects. Having said that however you really don’t want your group to become a seething mass of arguments and sniping… i.e. DRAMA

So, how to keep the “Drama Llama” in the barn?

One solution could be found in the following proposed “Membership Evaluation Framework”. This method has been developed based on the marvellous Bonewits’ Cult Evaluation Framework, developed by Isaac Bonewits, and provides a simple set of observable criteria by which any group owner could be able to determine whether a person is going to be suitable for their group… no, it’s not elitism, it’s common sense… you don’t elect a group of cattle to run a round up now do you?

Group Membership Evaluator

In conclusion

In essence, in forming any group for a purpose or objective, it is important that you establish a solid core of key members who are dedicated to seeing the group thrive and become what you want it to be. These people, including you, need to be willing to “get their hands dirty”. By that, you and your co-founders need to be able to effectively dedicate time to the project – time EACH WEEK, I would suggest a minimum of five hours per person.

You need to have a “hook”, something that is unique and desirable to members of the culture to make them want to get interested and involved in the group.

You need “quality” input… quantity, although it looks good on the surface, might be all potatoes and no meat and that isn’t going to cut it for very long before your group gets consigned to the “Ho Hum, seen it all before!” basket.

Remember, having a thousand members or followers looks good but if they’re not doing anything at all then you’re gonna be a King/Queen on a lonely throne, an ambassador without a tribe or a leader without followers in which case… why did you come here?


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