Just finished reading Sacred Circles: A Guide To Creating Your Own Women’s Spirituality Group by Canes and Craig.
This is a really great book for anyone who is trying to create a small, earth centered group. The authors teach workshops on forming small groups, dynamics between people, and how to keep the focus on the spiritual and away from the drama. They have worked a lot with UU congregations, Wiccan circles, Jewish groups, and drumming and dance groups.
Since a few of us at our UU congregation are trying to formalize our pagan committee, bought the book used and found it quite useful. We will have men in our circle, but much of the advice can be translated to a men’s circle or mixed circle. I recomend this book to everyone who does group workings and rituals, and for those who participate in pagan book clubs and formal covens.
The book has a section which helps create your own rituals– it lays out a structure for rituals (similar to a Toastmaster’s speech– there is a topic or “Intention”, an introduction, a body and a closing) and offers questions for you to think about so you can better flush out your rituals. There are also some sample rituals from the groups they visited and from their own practices. They talk about what a ritual is, about an altar and how to set one up, etc.
Another group of sections is about discussion sessions. They think that each session should be led by two members of the circle, and that it should rotate periodically so everyone gets a turn. They also bring up the idea of the talking stick (we use this in RE for the kids)– where the person with the “stick” is the one who will share, and everyone else will ACTIVELY listen. They offer some sample topics for discussion– most are gender neutral (like money, death, ancestors, childhood faith, food) but some are more women focused (childbirth, menopause, women’s health concerns). For each topic, there are some sample activities (they like crafts as a way to bond the members) , questions and altar decoration.
Finally, there is a lot of discussion about interpersonal issues and conflict management.