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CAW Nesting How-To

[from ]

Subject: CAW Nesting How-To

(originally published in GREEN EGG #44; Yule, 1971--revised and updated
June 16, 1994)

We are pleased that you wish to form a Church of All Worlds Nest in your
area. Here are some notes on how one goes about Nesting.  Ultimately,
each Nest should be presided over by a High Priest and/or High
Priestess, but as that is impossible in areas where there are mostly new
members, we have devised two catagories of Nests: Chartered Nests and

A Chartered Nest is an autonomous congregation of the CAW with all the
rights, privileges and responsibilities of a legal Church as stated in
our Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws.  Each Nest will report
quarterly to the Central Board of Directors, both a financial statement
and other items of interest.  A person of at least Scion status serves
as coordinator.  In the absence of ordained clergy, priestly functions
are shared among members.

Proto-Nests are a beginning form designed to give new members a
framework on which to build into a full-fledged Nest.  At least three
people must be CAW members, and they must get together at least once a
month.  A Proto-Nest cannot purchase property, borrow money or otherwise
indemnify the CAW.  They may open a bank account with which to carry on
activities.  Proto-Nests may become full chartered Nests when they have
been in existence for a year and have one Scion.

The details of functioning, emphasis and orientation will always vary
somewhat from Nest to Nest and we encourage this.  Church of All Worlds
lives up to its name, evolving in diverse directions.  We offer here a
general program that works well in many different situations:

Meetings. You might start out with getting together at new and/or full
moons and expand from there.  Our old St. Louis Nest met every Friday
night (for Star Trek), and held dinners, classes, work parties and
discussion groups on other nights.

A place to meet regularly.  It could be members' homes until your group
outgrows it --- as long as you have reasonable privacy and freedom.  We
recommend rotating to avoid burn-out and to give everyone a chance to
host a Nesting.  Hold some Circles outdoors, preferably in some remote
place where no outsiders are likely to be about.  A Pagan is truly a
child of the natural world, and can commune better with the powerful
Nature-forces when out in the open, even better in some place of
wilderness.  When you grow enough to require more space, look into
renting a meeting room at your local Oddfellows Lodge --- which,
incidentally, you should seriously consider joining, as the Oddfellows
are a dying fraternity, eager to pass their very impressive holdings on
to a new generation.  Hereabouts they have been welcoming an influx of
CAW and other Neo-Pagans with open arms.

Work out your own programs for these meetings, whether singing and
playing music, simple rituals, disseminating information, playing
sensitivity games, or whatever the season or times of your lives
siggest.  As in Stranger in a Strange Land, we have always found that
nudity promotes openness and closeness ("And as a sign that ye be truly
free, ye shall be naked in your rites." --Aradia, the Gospel of

A spiral of love (a tight-packed spiral group embrace) with chanting can
be very moving, as can simple ceremonies, such a water sharing, breaking
bread, candle lighting, etc.  Follow your own feelings.  and refer to
some of the books listed in the member's bibliography for specific
rites.  At each meeting, make it an order of business to decide when and
where you will meet the next few times, and themes of meetings (see
"Suggested Nest Topics").

Outings.  Plan special group activities, such as dinners, parties,
campouts, excursions, presentations, study groups, book discussions,
special guests, and bardics (in which everyone brings music, poetry,
short stories, etc. that they have written, and take turns sharing in a

Name your Nest.  Come up with a clever name for your Nest.  Consider
doing a one-or-two page newsletter that summarizes what happened at the
last meeting and gives times, places and themes for the next few
meetings. Send it to everyone on your list, as well as to all other Nests
and to us here at CAW Central.  Solicit enough donations at each meeting
to cover printing and mailing costs ($1 should be a minimum).

Expand by members inviting a sympathetic friend occasionally.  The best
way we've found to allow growth without interrupting the intimacy of the
group, is to allow only one new person to be invited by each member at a
time.  Then, after these new people have been to a couple of meetings,
they may wish to join CAW and your nest and in turn invite someone.  We
encourage diversity and are non-discriminatory regarding race, sex,
sexual orientation/practice, age, etc.  At each meeting record names,
addresses and phone numbers of all those who attend.  When you have a
couple dozen names, distribute the list to everyone, including us here
at CAW Central.

Incorporation.  Check with your Secretary of State to find out what the
legal requirements are for registering as a foreign non-profit/church
corporation in your state or country.  Send us the information so that
we can help you become legally entrenched.  Once you get off the ground,
and are complying with the requirements of our Bylaws and the IRS, we
will issue you an official charter to hang on your wall.

A model for an introductory meeting: People have been told what to
expect, and have been asked to bring munchies or drinks.  After everyone
arrives, they are assembled into a circle, around a small altar.  The
circle is cast deosil.

On the alter are placed: Images of the God and Goddess, a potted plant,
a round mirror, a chambered nautilus or other spiral sea shell (on the
West side), a crystal or fossil (North), a feather (East), a candle
(South), a large chalice of water, and a bowl of Sunshine Cheez-its
(Note: the first heresy declared by the Roman Catholic Church was the
artotyrite heresy; those who ate cheese on their communion bread.  In
the CAW we affirm the right to diversity in sacraments by honoring the
artotyrites with Cheez-its).

In the course of the evening, some of these altar objects can be passed
around the circle, and people are encouraged to say a few appropriate
words as they receive each.
Water sharing: after a few introductory remarks by the leader on the
symbolic significance of water-sharing, the chalice is passed around
clockwise with ritual phrases taken from Stranger in a Strange Land,
such as "May you never thirst," "Thou art God (or Goddess)," "Water
shared is Life shared."  As the chalice passes from each person to the
next, hands are joined.  When it is returned to the host/ess, he/she
then empties the final drops into the potted plant.

This simple ritual can be followed by many other forms of sharing.  For
an introductory gathering, pass the shell and as it comes to each
person, they tell the tale of how they came to be here. At other times,
the candle, crystal, feather, or other objects selected for their
associations may be used, as people free-associate the thoughts that
come to mind upon holding these objects.  After such sharing, the
chalice may refilled with wine, fruit juice, or more water, and passed
around again, followed by Cheez-its (accompanied with an explanation of
the symbolism, jokes: "What a friend we have in Cheez-its;" "Cheez-its
saves," etc.).

The most common phrase to accompany the passing of food is: "May you
never hunger."  Other snacks and drinks may also be shared at this time.

The Sacred Bullshit Session: Eating together stimulates conversation and
comraderie.  Business is discussed, plans are made for the next meeting,
donations are collected, etc. Finally, the mirror is passed around, and
each person looks into it, saying "Thou art God (or Goddess)" into their
reflection.  When it is time for the first people to leave, the circle
is opened with a group hug.  Ritual words of parting are said ("Merry
meet and merry part, and merry meet again!"  "...and merry party
again!"), and farewells are made.

Here are a few bits of ritual poetry that we at CAW have enthusiastically
adopted from allied traditions:

Casting a Circle:
(Mike Fix)      I cast the Circle of ancient lore--
                Waves upon a timeless shore.
                With no beginning, nor an end;
                Always knowing foe from friend.
                Ouroboros, of legends old;
                Rings of power, forged of gold.
                Wheel of life, circle of stones;
                Cycle of creation, birth to bones.
                A ring around the silver moon;
                I cast you now, o ancient rune!

Blessing a meal:
(Moonrose)      Holy Mother Earth, yours is the power
                To grow, to destroy, to give birth.
                We conjure you now
                By seed and by shoot,
                By flower and fruit,
                By light and by love,
                From below and above.
                In your ancient names:
                Kore, Demeter, Hecat
                Grant us the blessings of your body;
                Thank you for the blessings of your body.

Opening a Circle:All from air into air,
(Gwydion)       Let the misty curtains part.
                All is ended, all is done,
                What has been now must be gone.
                What is done by ancient art
                Must merry meet and merry part,
                And merry meet again!

Tailor your rituals to suit your own needs, bearing in mind that it is
always the intent rather than the word which really counts.  Put in your
own ideas, and honor the Goddesses and Gods as you feel deep within your
heart that they should be honored.

Naturally, one important aspect of your meetings will involve
discussions of the philosophies of Paganism and the CAW.  Your Nest
Liason will respond to your personal inquiries with letters, tracts and
recommended reading (please include SASE!).  An important reason for
your continuing study and advancement through the Circles is that people
will expect you know know what it's all about if you take on Nesting.
Add to the Pagan lore which you now possess, drawing from all sources.
Make your own small enclave of Paganism a place of mystery, power and

As your group expands, you can start widening the range of your
activities.  You may, for example, set up workshops and seminars,
promote and sponsor public events such as music festivals, run a
recycling center, throw great feasts and festivals, publish a newspaper
or magazine, promote and sponsor conservation and reforestation projets,
start a wilderness sanctuary or retreat center, open a coffee-house, put
on benefits for appropriate causes, and countless other projects,
limited only by the scope of your imagination, interests and talents.
We here at CAW Central have done nearly all of the above, and can offer
our assistance.

If, after reading this material, you still want to work towards setting
up a CAW Nest in your area, let us know and we will so list you in GREEN
EGG and SCARLET FLAME. When you are ready to have your first open
meeting, contact CAW Central and we will send you a printout of mailing
labels for all the people in our database in your area to send flyers

Keep in close communication with us here, and we'll try to help you
along with suggestions, ideas, etc.  If there are problems or questions,
write us or phone, if you want personal consultation on your nickel!

Membership applications and copies of our Bylaws, Articles of
Incorporation, literature and propaganda, Progressive Involvement
Programs, bibliographies and information on ordination are available
from CAW Central at:
        PO Box 1542, Ukiah, CA 95482
        Phone (707) 485-0481
        FAX (707) 485-8287

And here are some suggestions for Nest meetings:

Suggested Topics for CAW Nest Meetings

1) Introductory meeting (repeat as necessary)-- "How I came to be here,
and where I wish to go."  (Begin with song, "Welcome to a Moon-Filled

2) Ethics vs. morals-- If you don't believe in a judging deity, or
heaven and hell, what make you be an ethical peson?  Issues of freedom
and responsibility.

3) Ethics of Spellcasting-- Love spells; weather working; protection,
etc.  Manipulative magic?

4) Bardic Circle-- everyone bring songs and/or poetry to share in turn.

5) Pagan parenting-- bringing up our kids to make a free and informed
choice of religion; fun and seasonal activities; children blowing our
covers; cowan relatives and co-parents.  How can we pass on our values?
The ethics and politics of teaching children, especially kids of

6) Reincarnation-- Types of reincarnation from different cultures--
transmigration to different species, the ecological view of "material
animism."  Soul survival-- intact, fragmented, or no personal soul at
all.  Ethnic identities.  Experiences with the dying and the dead.

7) New mythologies-- Science fiction & fantasy.  Movies, comics, music,

8) Building Pagan communities-- Urban?  Rural?  How to maximize the
feeling of community and individual choice in lifestyle?  Business,
living arrangements, aesthetics.

9) Paganism & Witchcraft-- In and out of the broom closet.  Handling the
Craft at work and with relatives.  Sharing experiences.

10) Sacrifice & the seasonal round-- Is the continual re-enactment of
the yearly sacrifice a viable mythic model for us?  What mythological
alternatives might we consider?

11) Sexual polarities-- The metaphysics of sex and heterosexism.  What
would gay or straight or bisexual magic be like?  Do the different
rhythms of the year call for different sexualities?  Theories of love
and magnetism, erotic and mystic ecstasy, eternal love.  Sexuality,
polarity, androgyny.

12) Sexuality & relationships-- Open relationships; monogamy vs.
polyamory.  Different models; polyfidelity; the "condom committment."
Dealing with jealousy.  Rules for inclusive relationships.

13) Living a nature religion in an urban/technological world-- Gremlins
and machines; recycling; deep ecology; seasonal awareness in an
urbanized setting (worshipping the moon through glass!).

14) Magic & money-- Our relationship to having and to generosity.  How
we relate to prosperity and how we manifest it.

15) Pagans & community responsibility-- The burnout cycle and group
motivation.  Resistance to our visions; how to change the world if we
can't get ourselves moving?  Varieties of Pagan experience, from
itinerant party-er to persons motivated by strong political or ethical

16) Paganism & politics-- Pagan response to anti-choice lobby, Helms
Amendment, anti-Satanic hysteria, etc.  Preparing position statements,
letter-writing campaigns, petitions, etc.

17) Skills exchange on a variety of topics-- massage, Tarot, geomancy,
dowsing, astrology, divination, etc.

18) Book of Shadows "swap party."

19) Song & chant swap (bring tape recorders!)

20) Shamanic trance techniques.

21) Videos.  Rent a video that has a Pagan theme.  Discussion follows.

22) Relationship of myth to reality.

23) Purpose of existence-- Who are we?  Where are we going?  How will we
get there?  Personal salvation/enlightenment vs. larger mission...

24) Practicing magical techniques-- Sensing auras, using pendulums,
dowsing, etc.  Survey of divination methods.

25) Guest lecturers-- Invite presentations from individual group members
or outside sources.

26) Book study & discussion-- Select a book from the Basic Bibliography
or other; everybody read it and discuss at next meeting.

27) GREEN EGG discussion-- Four times a year, bring the latest copy of
GE and discuss issues raised in articles and letters.

28) Comparative religions-- Invite representatives from different
religions to present their views to Nest; then have Nest attend their
next services.

29) Special events-- Sponsoring and participating in public events;
debriefings from distant journeys to attend Pagan Festivals, magical
mystery tours, etc.

31) Group outings-- Picnics, campouts, dinners, movies, trips to sacred
sites, such as hot springs, the ocean, mountains, caves, etc.

32) Other topics?  Send suggestions from your group to CAW Central, POB
1542, Ukiah, CA 95482.

Don't forget to pass around sign-up sheet for new people.  Decide next
meetings-- dates, places and topics.  Potluck dinner or munchies?
Prepare a calendar of events.  Arrange to contact absent members by
phone or letter.

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