When I started walking the Goddess path, I was mainly a solitary witch and I had to learn on my own. I was in Argentina where at the time (more than 13 years ago), Goddess was not part of the day to day activities so I was lucky enough to find material on the Internet and be able to understand English. When I moved to the United States, I was able to participate in different groups. Some were small closed covens, some were open circles. Each group has its own dynamics and as I said in the past when I talk about about classes "a teacher can make or break the class" applies to spiritual groups as well. A leader can make or break the circle. A leader has the power to create heaven on earth or to just use his or her position to manipulate others and create hell. It is not surprising that one of my last classes in school deals with group dynamics and group communication. I say it is not surprising because synchronicity has always been present with me in school. I need to learn more about analytical skills for work, then the critical thinking class comes around. I need to polish my writing skills, then the college writing class comes next. There is always a class that fits with my path completely and makes me feel that Goddess has a bigger plan for me. Well, now that I am working on becoming a full time Priestess and have created the Isis Circle of Harmony and Light, I have this small group communication class that is showing me how when we join a group, there are lots of things to take into account. Some of those things are how the leader organizes the group, is the leader there to dominate and control or to support and harmonize the circle? Is the leader power hungry or is she trying to accomplish a higher purpose and working from her devotion to Goddess and this path? There are several theories that talk about why people join groups, some say that people join groups to feel included, others because they need to be able to control others, and then there are the ones that need to give and receive affection. One of the theories that really speaks to me is the Maslow's Theory. This theory talks about human needs and it says that until you meet the needs of the lower levels, you can not reach the higher ones and this theory divides human needs in five categories - physiological needs, safety needs, belonging needs, esteem needs and self-actualization needs. If a person does not have his or her physiological or safety needs met, then they can not start belonging. I think when it comes to spiritual groups, I think most the people that come together have met the first three and they are between the belonging needs and the esteem needs. If a leader does not have a strong and healthy self esteem, he or she will just try to dominate, to control, to manipulate and to build his or her ego out of his or her position in the group. People who need to control, dominate or be the center of attention are just trying to fulfill their esteem needs. Once those needs are met, they can move to the self-actualization needs and come from a place of power and growth. Like one Priestess said "if you find a group that claims to be the only one truth and talks bad about other groups, just run as fast and quickly as you can" because you are about to get into an unhealthy environment. For me, part of being a Priestess is to evaluate myself every day and make sure that my Priestess path comes from my devotion to Isis and Sekhmet and not because I need to feed my ego, grow my esteem, or feel important. I decided to write about this because I have had bad experiences in group dynamics and I have learned how I do NOT want to be and how to determine what group is for me. If you are looking for a community or circle, make sure you do your homework and evaluate how the group is. Pay attention how they treat others, what is the role of money and how the money is used if you pay a fee, how are people who leave the community treated, is the leader the center or does he or she share responsibility with others, if there are other priestesses, do they hold the same level as the leader or is there a hierarchy in place? Everything counts and the signs are there if you want to see them. There are groups for everyone and I am sure you'll find the best for you. Just look around and you'll find it!