Protogroves in ADF have three years to apply for Provisionally Chartered Grove status, or go defunct. Extensions are available — and routinely granted. Hemlock Vales will reach that three year point around the Ides of March this year.
I do not plan to ask for an extension.
Why? I have many reasons, but perhaps the foremost one is realizing I’m suffering from “Field of Dreams Syndrome.”
“If you build it, they will come” — mysterious voice in “Field of Dreams”
As I submitted my Grove Organizer’s Survey, I had met at least fifty local Pagans personally, and there were more on the county Pagan e-list I ran. There was a student group on Penn State’s campus, reasonably popular with the students and some post-students but without large townie involvement. With this base, I thought I could coax a few out to be part of the Protogrove.
Indeed, I had a few supportive regulars, but their interest was more in regularly held rites than in ADF rites. Some irregular visitors were put off by the structured ADF order of ritual, preferring to be able to do things as they were moved at any point. People would post excitedly to group e-list and then not show up. Many of the local Pagans I knew had outed themselves just to me and were unwilling to join an e-list or Meetup.com.
Going back to “If you build it, they will come,” the “they” I sought were other ADF members willing to help not just with rites, but also with all the other aspects of running a Grove. To be Provisionally Chartered, a Grove needs to have three ADF members (among other requirements). I suspect most Provisionally Chartered Groves have more when they apply. I now suspect that waiting to start a Protogrove with two others is a good idea in an area with a small Pagan community, rather than starting a Protogrove in the hopes of finding others.
In hindsight, I should have looked to find interest in ADF first. My regulars, helpful as they have been, would have been fine with open Wiccan-esque circles; they had no attachment to ADF. I had already been running open rites, and being on ADF’s site was not the advertising coup I imagined.
I will continue to hold open rites after the Protogrove is no longer; it is important to me to make these rites available to others. I lose advertising via ADF’s site, the direct support of the GOC and GCC, and the need to file reports — not the ability to hold rites.
So, then, what of this blog? I anticipate writing a bit more about other mistakes — and perhaps taking it in a new direction.