Q: Who can come to your events? Do I have to be a Pagan?
We welcome anyone who is willing and able to behave politely and respectfully. All of our holiday celebrations and nearly all other events we hold are "open circles". No pre-registration or membership is generally required. New folks are always welcome to attend, including those who are just starting to explore Paganism, those who are unsure of their path, and those who have a firm commitment to another path (such as Christianity) but wish to explore certain elements of earth-based spirituality. If you'd like to chat with us before coming in order to get a better idea of what it is that we do, please don't hesitate to contact us.
We do not discriminate by religion, or by race, color, ethnicity, gender, gender expression, sexual preference, relationship status, educational background, socioeconomic status, social aptitude, appearance, psychic development, physical or mental ability, height, weight, hobbies, or taste in clothes. At least, we try very hard not to, and we do what we can to discourage our guests from doing so at events. If you have a problem with anyone's behavior, please talk to anyone on staff, and we will address the issue as best as we can. We take all concerns of this nature seriously.
(We do, however, discriminate by species - any animal companions at events must be supervised and well controlled. Dogs should generally be kept on leash. Any events that are not appropriate for kids are generally not appropriate for pets either. Be aware we have livestock - goats, sheep, chickens, and sometimes rabbits or ducks. Also, we have a beehive near the orchard.)
Q: What about guests under the age of 18?
Anyone under 18 years old needs to come with either their own parent/guardian, or another adult who has written permission from the parents. We've got a Parental Consent Form that you can print out if a parent or legal guardian will not be attending. It needs to be notarized - most banks will do this - just to ensure that everyone is who they say they are. (If a parent or legal guardian is attending, we don't require you bring some sort of proof of legal custody. We'll take your word on it.)
We do not have childcare or kid-specific programming at events, but reasonably behaved kids of all ages are welcome at nearly all events. (Restricted events will be clearly marked in any event announcement.) Small kids may sit in on most classes, provided they aren't a disruption.
Teenagers are invited to participate fully in nearly all events and classes. There are only a small number of classes and very rare events which are strictly 18-and-up. Our "Wild Hunt" ritual is intended for adults, but teens who are past puberty may be allowed to participate if parents and teen both speak with the staff well in advance of the ritual.
We do permit alcohol at potluck after ritual, but we do not permit underage drinking, aside from maybe a token sip of wine or whatever at ritual (with parent permission).
Q: Do I need to be initiated? Do I need to become a member?
No. Asphodel is a non-initiatory tradition. Anyone is welcome to participate in nearly any event, ritual, program or workshop we run without becoming a member or making any commitment to Asphodel. (Occasionally study groups within Asphodel will host private events, but very rarely.) We will help interested people in crafting and performing dedication or initiation rituals of various kinds, but none is required for participation in Asphodel ritual, or for membership. We offer courses of study in a range of pagan and occult topics, but not as part of a set initiation pattern that all members are expected to follow. We require nothing of our members and guests but courteous behavior.
Q: Are there any limitations on who can become a member? Do I have to be a Pagan?
Membership is open to anyone who asks, after they have attended at least three events, provided they are at least 18 years old, or at least 14 with parental permission. This makes sure they have a good idea that Asphodel is something they want to be involved in. If you want to become a member, we'll let you, regardless of who you are or what you believe in. However, this is a Pagan community, and you should have at least some awareness of what that means, and be willing to participate to some extent in Pagan ritual. If you are new to paganism, that's fine. If you don't believe in any of this, that's fine. If our sort of Paganism not your first spiritual allegiance, that's all right too, provided your beliefs do not lead you to disrupt our rituals or treat any member or guest disrespectfully.
Q: Can I be thrown out? Can my membership be revoked?
Yes, theoretically, but to do this you have to tick off a whole lot of Asphodel's members with blatant and unrepentant inappropriate behavior. We don't boot members on mere rumor or accusations of heresy, only their actual behavior at events. We have occasionally prohibited a member from attending an event, or required they have official supervision at events, due to their behavior or concern over an accusation, but we generally do not revoke membership if someone genuinely wants to remain part of the community.
If a complaint is brought against any member, we will hold mediation on the subject. Any member can make a request for mediation if they have a grievance. If you refuse to cooperate with mediation or if there are repeated long-term grievances, we reserve the right to boot you out. Repeat: the only criteria you can be thrown out for is behavior. No one will be removed for holding unpopular opinions or disagreeing on points of theology or politics.
There is very little we can do with anonymous or second-hand complaints against members, but we will do our best to address serious complaints of this sort if they are about someone in a leadership position. Complaints by or against non-members will be mediated at the discretion of the council, and generally only if they are about serious misconduct at an event.
Q: What about priesthood? Can I become a priest or priestess through your group?
Asphodel recognizes a number of different roles that might be considered clergy positions.
A minister is someone officially ordained through Asphodel, and who has specific duties to the church and the congregation. It is a position both of service and leadership. A minister would be expected to provide basic pastoral counseling, teach the fundamentals of Asphodelian theology and worship, fulfill basic administrative duties, and officiate seasonal rituals and rites of passage such as weddings, funerals, births, coming of age, etc. The formal program to become a minister, is still under development. The intent had been that ministers would complete the degree in Pagan Ministry in the College of Brigantia, and be ordained by the approval of the Church Council. To maintain their ordination, ministers would need to meet a minimum service requirement of six hours a week or 24 hours a month to the church and congregation.
There are also what one might call church elders who have been given titles of nobility in recognition of their service and dedication to Asphodel. These are folks who have made a life-long commitment to Asphodel. They are primarily responsible for holding to an appropriate code of honorable behavior, and taking on the burden of manifesting the spiritual archetypal role appropriate to their position.
The roles of a priest or priestess are defined in reference to a specified path, the service of one or more specified deities, or the running of a specified temple or other ritual space. There is no generalized priest or priestess role, only specific ones. No official procedure is required to take on this role. It is a matter of a person's personal calling to serve the divine in the way they feel most appropriate, and thus needs no formal recognition. That said, if a member wishes to have their title of Priest or Priestess formally recognized within Asphodel one may do so by completing a year-long course of study, largely of their own design but approved by the church council, and agreeing to create and run at least one group ritual per year.
Q: Why do you attract so many strange members?
Because we don't turn them away.
As an organization, we are committed to providing spiritual community to all who seek it. Many folks have felt unwelcome in one group or another because they had the wrong politics, the wrong gender identity, the wrong relationship status, the wrong educational background, the wrong social status, and so on. Others have felt they had to hide parts of themselves or parts of their lives in order to be accepted. In Asphodel, many of our core members have been in that position, and we have created Asphodel, in part, as a safe space for the folks who often don't fit in anywhere else. We try, as much as possible, to promote a community welcoming of diversity of all sorts. That is why you will find a disproportionate number of GLBT folks and other sexual minorities in Asphodel, as well as poor folks, folks with mental or physical disabilities, folks with low social skills, and general oddballs of all stripes. No one is too weird (or too normal) to come to our events. We've even got a few Christians. Everyone is welcome.