So after a lovely afternoon session of discussing ADF and SLG over overpriced Chinese food with a few interested folks, I’m back here at home ready to type this week’s blog entry, only nothing pressing comes to mind to write about. So I think I’ll address a few misconceptions people out there may have about us. None of this silly “we’re not Satanists” misconception that so many pagans think they need to address, because honestly, if you’ve read out Web site and you still think we’re Satanists, nothing I type here is going to change your mind about that anyway. But I have noticed through the years that people sometimes bring their own assumptions about what our Grove is like. Well, heck, pretty much everyone brings some kind of preconception about us, and some of those are right and some are wrong. I can at least hit some of the more common “wrong” ones here.
“Your Grove has lots of members.”
“Your Grove doesn’t have very many members, does it?”
Obviously no one person can hold both of these misconceptions about us. >8) And size is relative, of course. Folks who remember use from ten years ago when we had a membership of over seventy will look at us now and think that we’ve shriveled away to nothingness, while those who have only ever been in small family groups will think we’re enormous. For the record, our paid membership has been hovering around twenty for the last five years. Small compared to what we were, sure, but we’re still one of the largest Groves in ADF.
“You own your own ritual space! That’s so cool!”
It would be very cool, only we kinda sorta don’t own any land. We do have a permanent ritual site set up on a private nature preserve west of Ann Arbor, but we don’t own that land. And the guy who does own it isn’t a member of our Grove, and he does charge us rent to use the space. This is only fair, of course, and we have no issue with the concept of land ownership. But one of the ironies of running this Grove, from a business sense, is that we almost always get more money donated to us at our indoor rites during the winter than at our outdoor rites in the summer, even though the indoor spaces cost us less to rent and we get fewer people showing up to make donations. Talking it over with folks throughout the years, it’s become apparent that new folks give more at the winter rites because it’s obvious we don’t own those buildings, but they assume the outdoor rites cost us less to run because we own the land. Well, let the word be spread far and wide: We don’t own the land, and those rites cost us more. We understand that sometimes folks don’t have the money to donate (especially if they’re paying the current price for gasoline to get to the site), and we’ll never ever ever charge people for our high day rituals, but please don’t hold back because you think we don’t need the money. We do. >8)
“I want to join your coven!”
We’re not a coven. “Coven” is a Wiccan term, and we ain’t a Wiccan group. We call ourselves a Grove. Like a group of trees, only we’re not actually trees, even if sometimes that’s how quickly we get things done. (Ha!) I would also argue that “coven” implies a group with much stronger interpersonal ties between all of the members, like having several different significant others at once. And if you like being in that kind of group, hey, good for you. One significant other is about all I can cope with, and I’m quite happy being in a Grove of friends rather than a coven of intimates. (Hmm, I wonder whether “A Coven of Intimates” would make a good book title? It would have to have a vampire in it, of course. All new books these days seem to have vampires in them somewhere.)
Anyway, those are a few thoughts for the week. Those of you who are going to Wellspring, enjoy! I’ll be staying here working on the Clergy Training Program, and working at the flower store of course!
Rev. Rob Henderson
Senior Druid, Shining Lakes Grove, ADF
The nature preserve where we have our rites doesn’t have a Web site that I can find, but here’s a picture of one of the treehouses on the site, which the owner will happily show off if and when you attend one of our summer ritals!