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Moving On Gracefully: Leaving Your Spiritual Group


While there are alot of warnings and admonishments regarding what to look for in a spiritual community there is very little to rely on when you are contemplating moving on.

Most folk consider leaving after some kind of personal blow up. They feel misunderstood or mistrust the leadership of the group. In a heated discussion they decide to quit. There usually isn't alot of thinking about it, more of a emotional reaction. Their anger or feeling of victimization usually soothes them for quite a while after leaving as well as the stories they sometimes tell of how horrific things were for them. Most of these folk are new, less than 1 year in the organization and its easy to fall back on the cliche that 'it just wasn't right for them'.

But what about the seeker who has devoted a inordinate amount of time to the group, let's say over 5 years? A personal blow up isn't going to cause a dedicated member to lose her cool and quit...At least not right away. She knows disagreements come and go, as well as people, but she's committed to her path and the Deities she serves.

What type of things should she consider? The retreat that she's organized faithfully for the past few years? Or the land that the group purchased with alot of hard work and sweat where she planted a grove dedicated to Diana? Should she continue to work on the newsletter that only she knows how to layout? Or should she stop doing the outreach programs to local schools and media that she does every Samhain?

She is acutely aware of the part she plays in the group and what she will miss as well as all of the things connected to it.

What types of things could she look at to help the decision and resulting transition to move as smoothly as possible?

Here's a several ideas and suggestions to think about when dealing with the decision to leave a coven, circle, temple, or other type of spiritual organization.

These suggestions only work if the organization you are involved with respects and trusts your judgement of what is right for you. This may sound ludicrous for some folk but alot of organizations do not. If you are involved in a organization that doesn't encourage you to review your journey with your spiritual leaders, to sit down and be honest about your thoughts of leaving and why, and doesn't offer you any support during the transition in a healthy manner, these suggestions may not be useful to you as a tool to use with the leadership but to work with in a journal or a supportive friend or counselor.

1. Review your committment to the organization. Before you leave completely consider gently passing on taking on new responsibilities. Perhaps you may find another path of service to the organization as fullfilling as the one you last held.

2. Take a sabbatical. Time away from a situation can lend some clarity to it that being involved cannot.

3. Realize that you may have grown and changed in some ways you aren't completely aware of. For all of the rhetoric of facing your shadowself and the related drama you may have simply reached a point in your life where you are ready to pursue another path of personal growth. If you are fortunate you may be able to maintain your same spiritual family, but then again, you may not.

4. If you are feeling that the group is stagnant, consider organizing a new program with the support of the group. You may feel as if the group isn't growing. After mapping out the work hours and resources needed you may choose to consider a new outreach project or program to pursue within the group.

5. Consider that you could be in resistance to growing in the particular way that this group is supporting you to grow. Sometimes as much as we think we are open minded and flexible our spiritual path can act as a magnifying glass to show us areas where we are not as we see ourselves to be. Instead of quitting be still and realize that the situation you are in just may be something you simply don't want to deal with, not a situation to run from. It may be a challenge to be faced.

6. Review your goals and boundaries within the group. It is possible that you have met your original goals for joining, or perhaps you didn't have any when you joined. Now with new responsibilities and changes in your life you don't have the free time you had before to attend every group function. Look at what your goals are. What are you in the group to do? Why are you in this particular group? If you don't know it is important that you find out. It is easy to feel unfullfilled when you haven't any clue what fullfillment is to you or how to measure it.

7. Look at the role you play within the group. If you are involved in committees that aren't working choose to relinquish that role when your term on the committee is up. Don't have a term? Start encouraging the group to set them. Not just for yourself but for everyone involved. Burnout can be dealt with and avoided with some planning.

Working with these ideas may make the difference between revitalizing a spiritual organization or leaving it altogether.

Meri Tahset is a Spiritual Counselor, Sistaservant of the Spirits, and Aborisha. She is co-founder of the Forces of Nature Metaphysical and Spiritual Center of Seattle WA. More info about her online courses in healing, rootwork, and spiritual studies can be found at http://www.sistahealer.com and you can reach her at forcesofnature@mindspring.com and (206) 781-3565.


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