8. I've been studying as a solitary for some time. Now I'm interested in finding a group or circle in my area, but I don't know where to begin. Can you help me?

There are a couple of ways to find groups in your area. One is to find the New Age bookstores, and inquire there about groups that might have openings. Sometimes, there are ongoing "Meet Your Local Witch" events or Public Circles in your area. These will probably be advertised at the store as well, and can be a good place to meet locals who are interested in the same sorts of things that you are.

The second is to find a website hosted by someone in your area. That gives you a chance to see the kinds of things that they do and believe before arranging a meeting. Then you can decide whether you are interested in that group or not. There are a number of places that list pagan/wiccan websites by geographical location. I'd suggest that you start by checking out The Witches' Voice. There are literally thousands of listings there.

The advantage of looking for websites is that if you find one that sounds like a place you would feel at home, and decide that you would like to meet the group that sponsors it, you can begin by corresponding via e-mail. This gives them a chance to see the kinds of things that you do and believe in.

In either case, there is generally a period when you "feel each other out," and discover if your paths are alike enough for everyone to be happy before you actually meet.

(The exception to this is if you have already met them at an "Open Pagan" event. And even then, there is usually a time for exploration of each other's beliefs before you are asked to join a group. If there isn't, you may want to consider that a "red flag." In other words, a group that is too eager to have you join may be in one form of trouble or another. It may be alright, but it never hurts to be careful.)

The first meeting is usually arranged on neutral ground for everyone's safety. This lets you meet face to face, and clears up any questions about age, or manners, or dress, or attitudes that don't always come across on the phone or in an e-mail. We generally refer to these meetings as "ice cream socials" in our tradition, since we usually arrange to meet for desert at a restaurant somewhere.

After that, if you both like each other, the group will let you know what comes next. Sometimes it's a meeting with all of the members of the group. Sometimes it's an open circle. Sometimes it's an invitation to a celebration. It all depends on the group in question, and it's their choice at that point.

Hope this helps!

Good luck and bright blessings as you explore your path!

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