Tips for Building a Public Program

   Posted by: aurora   in weavers

Presented by Full Circle Weavers Of Annapolis, MD
at Beltane 2010 Mt. Mysteries and
Summer Solstice Chester River UU Church

In this article you will find the answers to the following questions:
What is Full Circle?
Who are the Weavers?
How is Full Circle different from a coven?
What can participants expect at a public ritual?
History of Full Circle
Tips for Running a Successful Public Program
How to Create a Ritual

What is Full Circle?
Full Circle is a participatory, spiritual practice program of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Annapolis (UUCA) that integrates a variety of earth-based traditions with the principles of Unitarian Universalism. UUCA’s Full Circle hosts a variety of public programs each year including solar circles for men, women and children; full moon circles for women; and children’s workshops.

Who are the Weavers?
Weavers is a component of Full Circle and can be thought of as the program’s steering committee. We are a closed group who meet on new moons to plan public rituals. Weavers is an opportunity for these women to delve into their souls, and find their voices, explore and release their own power. A main goal for Weavers is to empower strong women to enjoy power with—rather than over—other women and to develop ways to create welcoming, safe, and sacred space for all ritual: personal, public and private. Weavers is a diverse group coming from several faith traditions both in- and outside of pagan/earth-based spirituality. A non-hierarchical group, all members take on leadership roles. The group opens periodically to welcome new members.

How is Full Circle different from a coven?
We are non-hierarchical, so we do not have a high priest or priestess. We share leadership roles and rotate the role of HPE-High Priestess of the Evening.
Our events are open to the public and we maintain an active public online archive.
We are a diverse group. Each participant has his or her own spiritual tradition: from Wicca and Druidism to Native American spirituality (we even have had Catholic lay-minister in our group!) We view each individual’s tradition as an asset to the group and these traditions become woven into our shared tradition.
We do not have any set curriculum for training and we do not recognize “levels” of training within our tradition.

What can participants expect at a public ritual?
Most of our rituals explore the playful and whimsical side of ritual and magick. Full Moon and Solar Circles are experiential programs involving singing, dancing, drumming, meditation, laughing, and artwork. We have excessive amounts of fun, creating spiritual experiences for ourselves and others, sharing what’s happening in our lives, and deepening our connections to the cycles of nature. Rituals typically last for one hour with time for socializing and feasting afterward.
A key component of our tradition is “guilt-free religion” and each individual attendee is free to choose his or her own level of participation in activities.

History of Full Circle
Full Circle was begun in 1995 by Nutmeg who desired an earth-based spiritual practice group as part of UUCA’s programming. Full Circle hosted its first solar holiday on June 21 (Yule) 1995 and the first full moon series led by a shared-leadership group ran from September to May 1996-1997. The program became an official UUCA spiritual practice group in Summer of 1997 and continued to host public rituals. In 1999 the circle closed for one year for members to enter a year of reflection in completing deep personal spiritual journey led by a curriculum called “The Box”. In 2000 the group re-opened and again hosted public rituals. From January 2001 to June of 2002, Full Circle was led by its second-generation leaders Earthkat and Raven who helped to form the Full Circle Council-a group of men and women-who took on the task of planning public solar rituals. In 2003 Weavers was started to empower a new generation of leaders to plan full moon rituals. In 2005, after the passing one of its members, a young and energetic young woman named Foxglove, Weavers closed for a period of mourning and the Full Circle Council dissolved. In September of 2006 Weavers re-opened and in 2007 began Spinners-a four-month closed group study on building personal spiritual practices and empowering future leaders. Spinners was offered again in 2008. In 2009 Full Circle began regularly designing children’s workshops as a part of its tradition. In 2010 Full Circle is a thriving multi-faceted program led by shared leadership. Full Circle’s future goals are expanding family and men’s programming, and continuing to support children and youth programming.

Tips for Running a Successful Public Program
Our tradition is a living growing entity. Each new or full moon and each turning of the wheel we find we grow and know a little bit more. The following is a series of helpful hints we have found along our journey.
1) Set an intention. Figure out what your group’s mission is. Envision your goals. Put into words what your goals are, so if you get lost along the way you can find your way back. Revisit the mission statement often and revise as necessary.
2) Be inclusive. View differences as strengths. Allow each participant and leader to grow at his or her own pace. Find ways to capitalize on each individual’s gifts.
3) Keep it simple. Let go of trying to impress. If the ritual is meaningful, easy to follow and participatory, it will have a greater impact than smoke and mirrors.
4) Be consistent. Have regular meeting times if possible so people can plan ahead to be there and ritual becomes a part of their natural routines.
5) Build community among your leaders. It is worth the time and energy investment to build supportive relationships among all members. A group that trusts each other to be open, honest and supportive can accomplish more. Start an email listserv or conference call each other.
6) Plan long-term. Pick a theme for rituals and set the duration for the theme. This helps to keep clear intentions for ritual planning. For instance, select the elements and plan for four consecutive rituals: earth, air, fire, water.
7) Have a back-up plan. Always have a few activities that every leader knows how to facilitate in case there is lag-time or energy highs/lows or in case another leader cannot attend an event.
8) Think sustainability. If you want your group to last long-term, it can’t rely on you for survival. Set standards for how you will gain new leaders and share responsibility with these people.
9) Bring your own damn eggs! This is a phrase we say jokingly, but essentially it means that you cannot make everyone happy all of the time. If ritual becomes a chore and not an expression of spirituality, then it no longer serves its purpose. Be gentle with yourself and your group. Do not overextend.
10) Grow, grow, grow! There is a UU hymn whose lyrics state: “Be willing to be changed by what you’ve started”. One of the beautiful things about public ritual is that everyone learns-even the leaders. You are a participant, too. Be ready to question your own beliefs and practices. Be willing to try new things. Support others in trying new things.

How to Create a Ritual
The purpose of Full Circle Rituals is to provide a safe space for women to experience earth based women’s spirituality.  Often times this is a haven for women to have time for themselves with out the demands of family or work.  The importance of these moon celebration is that we have them, not necessarily the content.  No matter what the level of experience, we all should feel comfortable in setting up a ritual.  This page is designed to show you how simple it can be!
There are 10 steps, of which only one (#6) needs to be unique and changes from month to month. For the rest of the steps, it is good practice to have a “standard” procedure and then create variations as appropriate to  your level of energy/time/needs.
Here are the 10 steps:
1- Cleanse the area and participants:  “Smudge” with sage, perfumed- or salt water. Cleanse with sound (bell or a chime); air (a fan); touch (fur or feather); sweep with broom
2- Cast Circle: Visualization (a shared meditation); sound (humming), passing a squeeze from hand-to hand, placing objects on the floor, etc.
3- Call quarters: We suggest aligning quarter calls to the theme and archiving quarter calls for future use with similar themes
4- Call Deity: Goddess and/or God or spiritual guidance for intention; Recognize Center as an element.
5- Checking in (omitted for public or seasonal celebrations): We use a set of questions: Name; Magickal Name; Matriarchal lineage; Day of cycle (to get in tune with our body cycles in relation to the cycles of nature); and a question that aligns to the intention. We use a talking-piece that aligns to the theme and signifies the person who “has the floor” during check-in.  At any time participants are welcome to “pass”.
*6- Ritual Observance: Get creative! Meditations; arts and crafts; ritual eating; singing; dancing; story-telling; potion-making; etc. etc. etc.
7- Thank quarters: It’s easiest to replace the “welcome” remarks from the quarter call with “farewell” language.
8- Thank Deity: This can be done as in #7 or by symbolically giving “gifts” like pouring water from ritual onto the ground
9- Open Circle: Typically un-cast the same way the circle was cast, except in backwards-order. We suggest having a set of words to use to formally mark the end of ritual. We sing a song, but you may also state “So it is” or “Merry meet and merry part and merry meet again”, etc.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010 at 8:28 am and is filed under weavers. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

2 comments so far

Anita Luna (Morse)

I moved from MD to NC in late 2007. I will be coming back to MD next month. Living in the South has been spiritually restrictive to say he least. I am wondering if I will still be able to participate with the group when I come home. I saw Susan’s name. I don’t know if you remember me. I am longing to participate and read somewhere that you are not allowing new members. Is that true? I hope not!

December 28th, 2010 at 2:55 am

Great to have you back! We are open to the public, it will be great to see you again.
Cheers, Kay (aka Earthkat)

December 30th, 2010 at 1:26 am

One Trackback/Ping

  1. Full Circle – UUCA » Blog Archive » April Moon – Pink Peeper Moon    Jun 28 2010 / 8am:

    […] event was rescheduled because half of the supporting Weavers members were giving a presentation at Mountain Mysteries during the Beltane […]

Leave a reply

Name (*)
Mail (will not be published) (*)