Re-Envisioning the OTO in a pandemic – part 2

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

On Oct 25, 2020 e.v. 12 local leaders gathered together to work to figuring out how to navigate member needs in the midst of a pandemic that is spread by social contact.

Part 1 gave a description of how we structured our conversation and the problems we identified.

As anyone should expect, there are no magical answers within the constraints of current conditions. The real solutions will happen based on advances in medicine (vaccines, treatments, etc.)

The solutions that are easiest to reach for, are those that feed the mind. Classes can be consumed in person or online. Online may even have better reach due to lack of commute time.

But spiritual and emotional nourishment are harder to figure out in a socially distanced world. Full sensory experiences are also limited to mostly sound and sight.

Yet, some local bodies are finding ways to navigate within the current constraints. Some are finding ways to thrive. And others are trying to find a path forward.

This article is a collection of ideas, and includes the solutions and ideas generated in our workshop, as well as some things that some bodies are already doing.

In this article, we will share the solutions and ideas we generated.

Nourishing social connections

Social distancing has left many people feeling profoundly alone and isolated. This isn’t limited to our membership, but in an organization built on fraternity, distancing chips away at some of what is at our core.

Webinars and spending time with others on Google Meet, can often feel like a cheap facsimile that barely touches our human needs to connect with like minded others.

Many local bodies are exploring ways to spend outdoor time together in ways that are in accord with health department guidelines.

Some of these things may not seem to be directly related to O.T.O. in a core way, but each of them helps facilitate contact and fraternity.

  1. Outdoor campfire (perhaps with marshmallow roasting)
  2. Camping with social distancing
  3. Check in calls to members (asking if members would like to opt in to such may be helpful for some people but others may prefer to not participate)
  4. Watching a movie together, each in their own homes, but with side chat (press the start button around the same time)
  5. Watching magick oriented youtube videos together with side chat is similar but more focused

Facilitating play

We think of play as being something for children. But the power and pleasure of play can help strengthen a sense of connection and well being. Few things in life are better than sharing laughter.

Some of our local bodies are already doing activities like the following:

  1. Geocaching
  2. Snowball fight
  3. Sledding
  4. Croquet (no shared mallets and easy ability to maintain distance)
  5. Cemetery walk
  6. Scavenger hunt

Inspiring each other

  1. Art exchange (either local with centralized drop off or by mail)

Spiritual nourishment

This one gets closest to some of what is at the core of our existence. And without mass or initiations or even group ritual, it’s deeply impacted.

  1. Local bodies could send Cake of Light by mail or geographically smaller Valleys, may be able to leverage a centralized pickup place
  2. Participants identified a need for new eucharistic rituals that may have resonances with Liber XV: O.T.O. Ecclesiæ Gnosticæ Catholicæ Canon Missæ Perhaps these eucharists could be shared via Google Meet in order to commune together while socially distanced.

Intimate connection

  1. Some local leaders have found that when only 1 person shows up for a class, something unexpectedly positive can happen. That 1:1 conversation can nurture new members or potential members, and provides opportunities for personal conversations in addition to mentoring.

Support

Food insecurity and substance abuse are both up within the United States. Our members are not immune to these nationwide changes.

  1. Golden Thread Oasis is running a food bank where people in need can come and pick up food. (This may become its own blog post if there is interest.)
  2. Dove and Serpent hosts a Pagans in Recovery weekly meeting. You can find it every Friday, posted on the U.S.G.L’s shared calendar hosted by the Education Committee.

Ideas that are beyond individual local bodies

Some of the ideas and asks would require Grand Lodge support. Stay tuned for follow up on these items.

  1. Centralized place to find speakers for Google Meet calls. This is partially fulfilled by the Education Committee’s list of traveling lecturers. In 2020, “travel” could mean hopping on to a meeting with others.
    If you are a member in good standing and want to be added to the list, contact the committee directly.
  2. Crowd sourcing course content. This is central to the Education Committee mission but local leaders may not know enough about the program. Courses that are available are listed here. Contact the Education Secretary if you have ideas you’d like to contribute.
  3. Centralized place for rituals. There is a desire to have a repository that may help inspire people in their practices. Any rituals optimized for a Google Meet call would be especially valuable.
  4. Centralized Discord or Slack channel for all members in good standing.
    (Order wide social media has always been tricky. If you have a proposal, feel free to run it by the Electoral College).

Love is the law, love under will.

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