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Group identity vs individual identity

topic posted Thu, December 15, 2005 - 2:45 PM by  Chasmodai
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Have you ever:

Noticed a tension between individual identities and needs, and group identity and needs, within the group you are involved with?

How do you address this tension?

How do you go about defining the boundaries between individual identities and needs, and group identity and needs?

Have you ever noticed that there are differnece between the identities of the group you are currently involved with, and past Pagan/Wiccan groups that you were formerly involved with? Are these differences in group identity subtle, distinct...? or what? What influenced these differences?

Do you ever find any need to define, preserve, assert, defend, or articulate the identity of the group you are currently involved with? Did you ever have any concern that the idenity or agenda of a past group you were involved with had too much influence on the identity of the group you currenlty lead? Can you give examples? (without identifying information of course)

Did the group identity emerge on it's own, or did the group put intentional effort into it? If you put effort into it, what tools did you use?

Can you remember a time when your group didn't seem to have developed it's identity? Did it make a difference in the group's effectiveness?

Would you say that the identity of your group has been greatly influenced by your own identity and desires as the group leader, or do you try to keep yourself "out of the equation?"

What makes up your group's identity? Values, culture, theology, agenda, practices, ideals, etc....?
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  • This is a great post!

    "Noticed a tension between individual identities and needs, and group identity and needs, within the group you are involved with?"

    YES!

    "How do you address this tension?"

    The thing is...I am very clear in the beginning that this is a GROUP thing. That I am not here to make you change (though growth is always encouraged), but I am here to teach you how to work in a group setting and that means sometimes getting down and dirty and having group counseling sessions. It is a neccessity. So, sometimes we call a counsel.

    "How do you go about defining the boundaries between individual identities and needs, and group identity and needs?"

    Again, I teach for group settings. Individuals are not discounted, their needs and what they need to grow in/on is always addressed on an individual and sometimes on a group (encouragement or "calling them on their shit" by other members) level. The group comes first.

    "Have you ever noticed that there are differnece between the identities of the group you are currently involved with, and past Pagan/Wiccan groups that you were formerly involved with? Are these differences in group identity subtle, distinct...? or what? What influenced these differences?"

    As I was a solitary for 12 or so years before I found a group path...I couldn't answer that. I can say that the energies are different when I am "in" a group than when I am a "leader" of a group. Both experiences bring joy and pain in different ways.

    "Do you ever find any need to define, preserve, assert, defend, or articulate the identity of the group you are currently involved with? Did you ever have any concern that the idenity or agenda of a past group you were involved with had too much influence on the identity of the group you currenlty lead? Can you give examples? (without identifying information of course)"

    Again, I am up front...this is a group thing...this is what we do...this is how we teach...I have run a few and they always encompass the individual identities...each has it's own flavor, but the purpose is the same. Again...I am coming from a solitary...to being a student of a particular tradition to being a teacher of that particular tradition...so, yes there is great influence there. I think we always take from our teachers what we like and do the things we wished they had done more of.

    "Did the group identity emerge on it's own, or did the group put intentional effort into it? If you put effort into it, what tools did you use?" There is a delicate balance here. Again, each person is an individual but there are guidelines.

    "Can you remember a time when your group didn't seem to have developed it's identity? Did it make a difference in the group's effectiveness?"

    When person(s) in the group are not in synch, it definitely does have an effect on the group as well as the groups effectiveness...but with gentle (and sometimes not so gentle) intervention and counseling...things can smooth out.

    "Would you say that the identity of your group has been greatly influenced by your own identity and desires as the group leader, or do you try to keep yourself "out of the equation?"

    it is almost impossible to keep me out of the equation....lol...

    What makes up your group's identity? Values, culture, theology, agenda, practices, ideals, etc....?

    hmm....have to think more on that...we are a diverse group with varying educational/professional/magical backgrounds. We have republicans, omnivores and vegetarians. We have those who respect herbs and those who don't use them much..we have ages from early 20's to late 50's...we are diverse!!!

    I have to go now, but thank you for inspiring thought in me!

    Blessings
    Christine
    • You are welcome! I've been thinking about this a lot lately, and it's nice to have someone to discuss it with. I've come to the conclusion that Pagan groups have group identities regardless of whether the members are aware of it. and that identity is an important factor in the groups' functionality. Also, the tension between the individual identity, agenda, needs etc and that of the group can be a real headache if it isn't idenitfied and dealt with effectively.

      There is also the problem of the way the group identity evolves. Obviously groups change, and that can be hard on some of the members. So one question can be, how to encourage healthy change while maintaining the essential aspects so that there is some degree of comfortable "sameness."

      +I would love to hear about the experiences of others, how they dealt with these things, etc.

      blessings,

      Chasmodai
    • It's interesting about group tension. It seems to be part of the whole group gig and sometimes people go solitary because of it.

      Here in Denver there is a Gardenaria group, though not a coven. They have done away with the degree system. They spend five years learning, five years teaching, and five years leading. Yet, there is no heirachy.

      I think that it is good to have a group for support and learning but emphasis on a dual direction of solitary development is essential for personal growth. I think a lot of times, not in my case but from what I've seen, people get caught up in the thought that the group is the boundary of their learning and scope. Tension also seems to arise from who is "right" about a particular practice or method, or "da rules". With a specific system there are rules, but magic does seem to lend itself to creativity more often then not.