I wanted share an article I found most worthy of reading:
The Real Magick of the Golden Dawn
In this article, Donald Michael Kraig makes a very good point of what a magickal group offers - the opportunity to learn how to do something -- and even the chance to learn how NOT to do something. Sometimes, that last sentence is even more important than the first.
It's become the norm in magick today, to poo-poo being in a group. Secret Societies, magick covens, and even sosyetes like ours are often maligned as being a waste of time. That they offer nothing of value, as they are old fashioned, stuffy and full of self-aggrandizing fools who don't couldn't tell real magick from stage fluff.
While that may be true sometimes in magickal groups, it is often in a group where the real lessons of magick are taught. Groups teach more than how to invoke a god form or where to call the Watchtowers. In a group, you learn the dynamics of power - both real and imagined.
My first step into a magical group was a Servants of the Light ritual led by my teacher, Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki. We were working with the Black Goddess and as was her style, Dolores had us all up and on our feet, singing and moving in multiple circles. The idea was to chant until the trance held and then the Goddess would speak through one of the participants. At least, it sounded like a good idea at the time.
What really ensued was little more than magical mayhem. Each circle couldn't seem to get the beat of the chant, thus some moved faster while other lagged behind. The women were looser and more willing to just 'let go' and sing, while the guys seemed terribly self conscious, and couldn't carry the tune, remember the words or move properly without stepping on one of us. Finally, in frustration, Dolores called a halt to the proceedings and simply glared at all of us. We felt terrible. We were contrite. We begged to try again. Dolores consented but only just. We began again, this time with renewed vigor and energy. The circles formed and reformed, the men bellowed their lines with gusto and the women sang with full hearts (or with thanks for not being stepped on). In any event, it worked -- the Dark Goddess descended upon the smallest woman present, with a fury that was stunning to behold. She verbally lashed out at some, stormed about the room with others and left quite of a few of us in a heap of quivers. With a final few words of warning, She grabbed one of the guys and gave him a solid tongue lashing of another kind and then - pop, She was gone, leaving the vessel in her own quivering heap of tears. We stood/sat/laid in silent awe for a moment. Dolores stood up dramatically from her throne and spoke en voce - "now That is how it's done, people." And with a floruish, turned and went out of the room. I was smitten and have never been the same since.
My experience of being in the Servants of the Light was a delight. I spent ten years at the knee of my teacher, soaking up everything I could about being a magician, learning the craft, working with others and developing a magical practice. When the time came for me to leave, she gave me her blessing to send me on my way.
I probably could have done it alone, through books. But it was way more fun in the group. Yes, there were spats and squabbles. What family doesn't have them? But I learned something else as well, something you can't get as a solo magician. I learned about the magic that is Love. I learned that Love can defuse the hottest argument. Love can bind you for life to people who were strangers at the first meeting. Love makes you stay up all night fixing robes so your brother/sister/husband/friend/Magus can look their best at the ritual. And that Love can repair, repaint, cook, mend, uphold, laugh and cry over bad rituals, broken wands and burning altars, often at the same time.
Being in the SoL was a life changer for me. It taught me how to make magic in the circle and outside of it. It showed me how strangers can unite behind an idea and bring it forth in shining ways to manifest in our lives. Being in the SoL also showed me how not to do certain things in magic. To not step on another person's invocation, because yours is less than ideal. To balance the energies in the room before hand, so the work isn't one sided. Sometimes, learning what did not work, was just as important as learning what did. And that all of it wasn't worth even attempting, if you all weren't on the same page, at the same time, doing your level best so the effort would be worth the final finish.
So to those who say that groups don't work, I offer my own experiences in both the SoL and the Sosyete as proof that they do. I believe that Magickal groups are about to make a renaissance in the world today. We need some old fashioned magick to balance all this electronic and Internet who-ha. Who's with me?
Give me a moment to get the brazier smoking and let's invoke the gods for a party on the astral.