While there are a lot of warnings and admonishments regarding what to look for in a spiritual community
there is very little to rely on when you are contemplating moving on.
Most folk consider leaving after some kind of personal
blow up. They feel misunderstood or mistrust the
leadership of the group. In a heated discussion they
decide to quit. There usually isn’t a lot of thinking
about it, more of a emotional reaction. Their anger
or feeling of victimization usually soothes them for
quite a while after leaving as well as the stories
they sometimes tell of how horrific things were for
them. Most of these folk are new, less than 1 year in
the organization and its easy to fall back on the
cliche that ‘it just wasn’t right for them’.
But what about the seeker who has devoted a inordinate
amount of time to the group, let’s say over 5 years?
A personal blow up isn’t going to cause a dedicated
member to lose her cool and quit…At least not right
away. She knows disagreements come and go, as well as
people, but she’s committed to her path and the
Deities she serves.
What type of things should she consider? The retreat
that she’s organized faithfully for the past few
years? Or the land that the group purchased with a lot
of hard work and sweat where she planted a grove
dedicated to Diana? Should she continue to work on the
newsletter that only she knows how to layout? Or
should she stop doing the outreach programs to local
schools and media that she does every Samhain?
She is acutely aware of the part she plays in the
group and what she will miss as well as all of the
things connected to it.
What types of things could she look at to help the
decision and resulting transition to move as smoothly
Here’s a several ideas and suggestions to think about
when dealing with the decision to leave a coven,
circle, temple, or other type of spiritual
These suggestions only work if the organization you
are involved with respects and trusts your judgement
of what is right for you. This may sound ludicrous
for some folk but a lot of organizations do not. If
you are involved in a organization that doesn’t
encourage you to review your journey with your
spiritual leaders, to sit down and be honest about
your thoughts of leaving and why, and doesn’t offer
you any support during the transition in a healthy
manner, these suggestions may not be useful to you as
a tool to use with the leadership but to work with in
a journal or a supportive friend or counselor.
1. Review your commitment to the organization. Before
you leave completely consider gently passing on taking
on new responsibilities. Perhaps you may find another
path of service to the organization as fulfilling as
the one you last held.
2. Take a sabbatical. Time away from a situation can
lend some clarity to it that being involved cannot.
3. Realize that you may have grown and changed in some
ways you aren’t completely aware of. For all of the
rhetoric of facing your shadow-self and the related
drama you may have simply reached a point in your life
where you are ready to pursue another path of personal
growth. If you are fortunate you may be able to
maintain your same spiritual family, but then again,
you may not.
4. If you are feeling that the group is stagnant,
consider organizing a new program with the support of
the group. You may feel as if the group isn’t
growing. After mapping out the work hours and
resources needed you may choose to consider a new
outreach project or program to pursue within the
5. Consider that you could be in resistance to growing
in the particular way that this group is supporting
you to grow. Sometimes as much as we think we are
open minded and flexible our spiritual path can act as
a magnifying glass to show us areas where we are not
as we see ourselves to be. Instead of quitting be
still and realize that the situation you are in just
may be something you simply don’t want to deal with,
not a situation to run from. It may be a challenge to
6. Review your goals and boundaries within the group.
It is possible that you have met your original goals
for joining, or perhaps you didn’t have any when you
joined. Now with new responsibilities and changes in
your life you don’t have the free time you had before
to attend every group function. Look at what your
goals are. What are you in the group to do? Why are
you in this particular group? If you don’t know it is
important that you find out. It is easy to feel
unfulfilled when you haven’t any clue what
fulfillment is to you or how to measure it.
7. Look at the role you play within the group. If you
are involved in committees that aren’t working choose
to relinquish that role when your term on the
committee is up. Don’t have a term? Start encouraging
the group to set them. Not just for yourself but for
everyone involved. Burnout can be dealt with and
avoided with some planning.
Working with these ideas may make the difference
between revitalizing a spiritual organization or
leaving it altogether.