OUR "FAQ" SECTION WILL HELP YOU TO BECOME FAMILIAR WITH LAMPLIGHT CIRCLE POLICIES, AND SHOULD ANSWER ANY OTHER QUESTIONS YOU HAVE.
1. What is Lamplight Circle?
Lamplight Circle is a Pagan-based social activism and discussion group. We are not a tax-exempt organization; however, we are an incorporated non-profit with the state of Louisiana.
2. What do you do?
We meet together and learn about other spiritualities and cultures and learn about our own. Either we learn about a topic and present it, or we invite a guest speaker to join us and share their beliefs. We discuss issues in our day-to-day lives, and issues facing the world. We talk about our beliefs and experiences. We plan and attend social activities, and visit with other Pagan groups in the area. We meet for movie nights and workshops. We discuss books, news, shops in the area, etc. We also do volunteer and charity work to help the city rebuild.
3. How did Lamplight Circle begin?
It began October 11th, 2007. Ty created the meetup group under the original name of "The New Orleans Merry Meet Society." After 2-3 months, we discovered that there was another group in New Orleans with a similar name. It was then changed to Lamplight Circle. It began with 5 members, but membership has waxed and waned since then. We reached a new threshold of 100 members in March 2010.
4. Is Lamplight Circle only for Pagans?
While it is true that the group is Pagan-focused, we are not exclusive. We welcome all people interested in just gaining new knowledge about other beliefs, or people who are in a spiritual "gray area" and are attracted to Paganism, but know little-to-nothing about it. Indeed, we have several members who are Christian, Gnostic, leaning toward Athiest, or unlabeled right now.
5. What are the members like?
Every member is unique, and has a distinct background. This mixture creates rich and in-depth conversations that can open your mind to new vistas that you had never thought about before. We have or have had members who are/were Earth spiritualists, Celtic Pagans, Egyptian Pagans, Sumerian Pagans, Druids, Eclectic Wiccans, Celtic Wiccans, Hoodoo practitioners, Gnostics, Christians, and those who believe in sacred math. But no matter who we are, we come together in the spirit of community, and we honor everyone's belief system and values.
6. How do I know that when I come to a group meeting, I'm not going to be surrounded by a bunch of crazy online weirdos?
To tell you the truth, you won't know. It takes a lot of courage to come to a meetup, especially if you've never attended one before; however, we try to be as open about our practices and people as possible, while protecting ourselves. That's why you can contact the organizer and asst. organizers whenever you like. All of us will do our best to make you feel as comfortable and welcome as possible.
7. Once I join, how do I know that my personal information is safe within the group?
Only the organizer and asst. organizers have access to your contact information. The only way that another member of the group can contact you is through the website, or if you give them your information. No organizer will give out your information unless you're comfortable with it. We will also never post pictures of you on public areas of our website, or social networking sites, without your permission. It is necessary for us to collect personal information so that we can keep an accurate list of members (a necessity of non-profit status), and so that we can contact you for special events, and in cases of event cancellation/carpooling needs. It also allows us to talk with you regarding any questions you have about attending a new group... computers can be cold and impersonal, but a voice allows you to recognize that our groups consists of real, down-to-Earth people.
8. I'm new to Paganism, and I'm interested in learning about a specific path (Wicca, Druidism, Asatru, etc.). What can you do to help me?
We have just begun a group library so that newcomers and those interested in learning more about something specific can borrow books from members without having to spend money at Barnes and Noble. We can also put you in touch with a practitioner in our group, or another in the New Orleans area, depending on your interest. Please understand that while we have a spiritual interest,
we are not a religious group, church, coven, grove, temple, etc
.. The rituals that we do at Sabbats and other holiday gatherings are viewed more as educational tools for those looking for ritual inspiration.
9. Can my family attend meetups?
Your significant other and your children are more than welcome to attend, provided that their presence doesn't disrupt the meetup and/or the presentation at hand. We also do social functions throughout the year that are geared towards families. We do ask that you RSVP on the website to let us know how many people you are bringing with you. If you think that your children might be a disruption, please find a babysitter for them. Also keep in mind that we do set up an adult environment, and you may not want your children exposed to our subject matter and language.
10. What events do you host during the year?
Some of our events are fun, some are serious, and some are inspiring. Below is a list of some of the events we have done:
-Cajun-inspired Beltane celebration and maypole dance.
- Pagan ice cream social.
- Masque-making workshop.
- Samhain banquet
- Permaculture/environmentalism presentations.
- Community panel discussions (with expert speakers).
- Camping trips to Arkansas to mine quartz.
- Pumpkin-picking fieldtrips.
- Wetlands restoration tree planting.
- Bake sales.
- Field trips to local Pagan festivals.
11. Do you charge dues?
It currently costs $19 per month to host the website, which is being paid by the organizer, Ty. If at any point she has a problem making these payments, we would probably ask members to contribute $2 per month. We are also looking for sponsors who can help us pay these fees as well.
12. Who is the leader of New Orleans Lamplight Circle?
The official founder and organizer is Ty Siddiqui, and the co-organizer is Emily Snyder. They are here to answer any questions you may have, to help you if you have volunteered to host an event, to provide a familiar face when we gather in new places, etc.
13. Is there any "in-fighting" or "witch wars" like there are in other cities?
Well, whether we're Wiccan or Gnostic, we are only human. Drama is an inevitability of human interaction. However, we strongly encourage members to work out any disagreements they might have with each other, and ALWAYS in a respectful manner. There is no need for cliques, gossip, or in-fighting in a group like ours. If ever there is an issue that you feel requires mediation, you can always approach Ty or an asst. organizer to help you resolve a conflict.
14. Where and when do you meet?
We alternate our meeting place between an area coffeeshop, a local community center, and occasionally members' homes. We typically don't host meetups on the West Bank or in Metairie... we try to stay somewhat centrally located in the city (between Mid-City and the French Quarter) so everyone has equal access.
15. I'm sort of interested, but don't want to jump into anything and be converted.
We do not believe in conversion, and will never try to push you anywhere you don't want to go. Our group is all about spiritual sharing, not shoving. We also understand that everyone's path is different. Even after joining and enjoying our company, you may find yourself being pulled in another direction. We understand and accept that this group may be a stepping stone to something bigger and better for you.
16. Are you guys treehuggers?
Most of us strive to live an enviro-conscious lifestyle, but not all of us have gotten there yet. I don't think anyone in the group would be opposed to hugging a tree, but I doubt the hugging is habitual (except for a couple of people ;) Some people in the group are vegetarian, some aren't. We somehow learn to co-exist in spite of it.
17. I like the website and the mission statement; unfortunately, I don't live anywhere near New Orleans, and it's impossible for me to travel there. Does that mean I can't join?
We like to keep our membership restricted to people who will actually be able to attend meetups; however, we do have some interesting things posted on our webpage from time to time, and if an out-of-towner joins wants to join just to keep up with local New Orleans Pagan life, we have nothing against that. We will require all of your contact information just the same though.
18. Do your group members do all that typical Pagan stuff, like drugs and orgies?
The very first thing out of my mouth is, of course, that these things aren't typical. Just as the individuals in other cultures/religions have varying personal lives, so do we all. Pagans are no exception. A member may or may not subscribe to this type of lifestyle. It is not our place to judge; however, in meetup and in public, we do not allow for the breaking of the law, be it public intoxication, sexual harassment, or drug use. Such behavior in public group settings can lead to being removed from the group.
19. Are there gay people in your group?
Frankly, yes. We welcome people of all orientations. If this is an issue for you, you may not wish to join the group. We are quite open and accepting of homosexuality. After all, it does have its presence in nature. We are equal opportunity Pagans.
20. Do I have any say in what events the group does?
Absolutely! While it's true that in the beginning days of the group, events were planned for members instead of by members, it is very much the opposite today. We constantly ask for group input for all of our events. We always want members to participate in putting together ideas, and organizing events, and even have calendar planning nights so that we can come together and brainstorm the best possible programs for our group. We regularly set up polls online, message board discussions, and emails all gauged at determining what programs our members are interested in. We have had brand new members volunteer to host Sabbats, and pulled them off with stunning success. Your participation level is up to you, but your input will always be valued.
21. Is devil worship involved in your group practice?
The devil (or Satan) is a Judeo-Christian (and Zoroastrian) concept to explain seemingly-opposing forces of the universe. While it is true that many Pagans choose to embrace both light and dark halves of the universal balance, Paganism existed long before these concepts were put into practice. As such, a worship of "Satan" is not a part of our group practice. Many of our members do incorporate dark gods and goddesses into their personal practices (like Kali or Baron Samedi), but we view these figures as being a part of the totality of divinity. We cannot excise the more "unpleasant" aspects of the divine because we don't wish to acknowledge that sometimes, nature/life is destructive and seemingly cruel. We ask new members to accept this, and ask those who still view this as "devil worship" to keep their distance from our group.
If you have any questions that aren't addressed here, you can always email the organizer or asst. organizers. They are happy to answer any questions you have.