HOSTING A MEET
(The following represents a concise and compact explanation of one aspect of the ASOv. As complex as this requirement is, it represents only the most basic step of a members requirements. As skills and abilities are demonstrated, developed or improved the dynamic changes with focus moving to one or another aspects of THEM’s Tradition. For THEM practices the Law of Escalation.).
What is a Meet?
A Meet is an event hosted by one member of the ASOv to test organization and leadership and the ability to teach, instruct and enhance practical, magical, mental, skill-sets. A Meet can be a blitzkrieg affair that lasts for at least 12 hours or continue for 3-4 days. These events, (often themed in accordance with the Hosters current or desire) hosted and structured by one chosen member, allow other members to participate in a major magical rite and to showcase and teach skills to others via workshops that involve discussions on theory and/or practical demonstrations.
How much planning does a Meet require?
A Meet can be over-planned but such hyper attention to detail only results in worry for the individual – while a meet that is under-planned can be disastrous, a waste of time, money and resources, boring and/or embarrassing. A Host needs to be adaptable, flexible and forgiving of themselves and others – but there must be considerable effort and determination behind the Meet if it is to go well. Often months of preparation should go into making sure there is a timetable, adequate training either martial or magical, food, transport and amenities are sorted out, the location is properly scouted and appropriate to the demands of the Meet. We say, “Expect things to go wrong – they will almost certainly go wrong – but don’t let it get on top of you, solve any problems and show why you deserve to be among the members of the ASOv.”
What is expected of a Workshop?
A workshop involves teaching others about a particular skill with which the member is familiar, or passing on information about a new skill they have researched or are researching. It requires communicating clearly and comprehensively to others about a topic and a solid grasp of the subject matter involved. A workshop might go for 20 mins or an hour but generally involves speaking to a group. It begins with an overview introduction to the topic covering the main points and then a practical demonstration and/or exercises that accompany the theory and/or that involve others in demonstrating their understanding of the material. It is expected that if a member does not have anything to teach, that they choose a topic to research in between Meets, explore it, and teach what they have learned to the others. Public speaking aids the cohesion of the group and builds the confidence of those talking and listening. It is a large part of hosting such a magical group. Whereas our initial workshops involved magical skills and topics such as star gazing and the procession of the Equinox, they also covered various martial arts, bush craft and shared talks. Future workshops will involve teaching each other trades such as silver-smithing, carpentry, sewing and anything else required to provide for ourselves the materials and skills we need to continue the aims and agenda of the organization including obtain land on which to build a literal Temple to THEM.
How are workshops structured within a meet?
The Host is responsible for following a basic time-line of co-ordinating activities for each day. The day is broken down into blocks (usually hourly or half-hourly) that cover when (approximately) things are to take place and who is leading them. i.e. mealtimes, workshops, the major rite. An example might be:
- 9 am breakfast.
- 10 am Tarot talk. Steve
- 11 am Ba Dua Jin slow martial arts below cliffs. Alex
- 12 pm lunch.
- 1 pm Collecting Rune-stones. Ernie
- 1:30 pm hike along headland. Frank
- 3 pm making incense. Steve
- 4 pm Chaos Magic and the IOT. Genna
- 5 pm Dinner
- 6:30 pm Major Rite Preparation. Grant.
- 9 pm Thrasz Charging.
- 9:30 pm Major Rite to Take Place.
- 11 pm drinks and damper by the fire.
The Host follows this basic guideline, predetermined by the group collectively, allowing workshops to run over time if necessary and adjusting time-frames as needed. Problem Solving is perhaps the greatest necessity for a Host who will be required to keep things running smoothly, ensure everyone is entertained and feels like they are part of a dynamic event that introduces them as the day progresses to an exciting array of new activities, topics and things to take part in. It should be obvious that this is not an easy thing to execute. Running a successful Meet that others enjoy taking part in is a difficult process – but it is made less difficult by paying close attention to the matter of logistics and resource management.
The Appropriate Attitude
Hosting a Meet is the equivalent of inviting guests over to your home. Certainly they are adults who can fend for themselves but where a Meet is concerned you have a duty to feed them, entertain them, educate them, shelter and look after them. Just as you would ensure everyone was comfortable, had enough food, wasn’t too hot at your house, so it is with Meets. If these considerations are not met, a Meet can feel like the equivalent of being invited over and plopped in front of a TV while the owner goes out. It can get very boring and frustrating for others if they are not engaged with a suitable dynamic of activities to participate in, whether physical, magical or mental or if there is simply no structure to the day and there is confusion about what is happening when. Shade, tide times, ants, exposure, distance to water, food, location of food supplies, distance from cars to camp ground, camp ground suitability, proper equipment for the elements, ingenuity, attention to detail, weight of cargo, terrain, suitability of location for cars, do cars have to be left, is there parking, packing light, economic supplies, where to get food, organization, timeline, the unexpected, safety, petrol, water need per person, dehydration, first aid, privacy, interruption, noise level, hazards, lighting are just some of the considerations that require planning.
The most important is putting in place measures for disposing of the rubbish brought to the Meet. Cans, bottles, wrappers, plastics. We are essentially pagan and there is no excuse for leaving litter in nature unless it is biodegradable food such as fruit/vegetables. All Australian Meets by the ASOv expect any areas utilized to be spotless and void of any rubbish or litter before leaving and we ensure garbage bags and/or bins are employed to assist in this task.
Shade. Australia is hostile. We have extreme temperatures. A location needs to have shade. Naturally provided such as trees, hills, rocks, gullies – or artificially such as a lean-to, tarpaulins, tents, or constructed sun-shades/gazebo. Check your location over the course of a day, does the sun pass right over head and burn everything from sun-up to sun-down or does it create shade by going behind some hills, tree-line or some other obstacle? If there is no shade, then you will have to think of some way to provide it. Take tarps and rope and rig something up with poles, weights and or chairs. Or find branches, driftwood to put something together. Know the movements of the sun and that what is shaded for a few hours might need to be adjusted as the sun moves overhead. Find branches at the location if possible for this. DO NOT ignore the ferocity of the Australian Sun at your Meet. One of our Meets took place in 41 degree heat. Remind people to bring hats, sunscreen.
Shelter. Australia is hostile. Do the same above for Rain. Several of our meets took place in the middle of Winter and on top of a cold mountain. Assess the environment and expected weather and dress / build a plan accordingly.
Tide Times: If you are having your Meet at a beach, research and check tide times. If you are to be cut-off from the mainland or access to your vehicles, location, amenities such as BBQ, toilet, roads for example – plan accordingly. Inform everyone when tides go in and out for the days you hold your meet so that food and resources can be brought down in time safely and emergency departure can be undertaken if there are special needs such as one member needing to leave the meet at short or no notice.
Ants/Insects: Choosing your location requires some serious diligence on your part, including observation and common sense. Look down at the ground. If there are a lot of ants, camping there is a bad idea. If you are in a valley with lots of scrub/bush and gullies with stones then snakes might be a problem.
Choosing your location. What do you need? Read signs. Protection from the elements. An environment that is relatively safe during the Day AND the Night. If the ground is uneven for instance, and there are drops into ditches, it might be fine when you can see these during the day, but when nightfalls, they become leg-breakingly perilous. Think about what you require from the location. Shade. Safety (don’t camp under trees, loose stones, cliffs). Reasonably flat ground. Privacy. Your location should be away from people, roads, and making noise should not be a problem. Are you allowed to set up a tent there? Will you be moved on? Where will you go if so? Will the wind be a problem? Will the rising sea? Is the ground soft enough to drive tent pegs in, or rocky? Is the ground too soft to hold a tent, i.e. sandy? Is there enough room for everyone with tents/swags comfortably? Are there amenities such as public toilets, BBQ (what kind, plate or button-push?), fresh water, parking for vehicles? What are the restrictions on fire, dogs, camping, does the location have hazards? How far is it from where you arrive (park the cars) to where you have to go to set up? How much equipment will be carried, how far? Can the ritual you want to perform be done here? Can the workshops others intend to do be done here? The danger in ignoring asking any of these and many other questions is an expensive ineffectual meet that damages morale, and even personal relationships. You are trying to show your mastery to organize, to plan, to run an event – and it requires taking on a lot of responsibility. Some people are naturals at this, some need work, some have no business taking people out anywhere.
Cooking / meals times. Someone has to cook. Great if you have a volunteer, if not, step up. If you are host, then cook without being asked and/or delegate so you don’t do all the cooking. Know where to get food. Organize when food will be brought, where it will be stored, what will be brought (either through asking what people want to eat or taking charge and cooking what you want.), and the cooking of it. Research the Location to which you are going. Know where the nearest supermarket is, how to get there by car or on foot, how long it takes to get there, what time the supermarket opens/closes, and build suitable shade and buy ice for an esky to store the food in. Let the driver(s) in the group know these details well in advance. You will need to factor this into petrol and/or time costs. Set regular meal times but be prepared to move them around a little to accommodate what’s happening. Keep everyone fed. Muesli and muesli bars are good additions, coffee/tea and long life milk as well as a kettle should be on hand. Make sure the kettle can be handled when hot, i.e. it has a handle that doesn’t heat up or you have a glove to remove it from the heat. Don’t assume. Test it before you go away. Nuts. Tinned fruit. Damper. It is vital to keep people well fed not overfed. It is also important not to pamper people at the same time – if someone has dietary requirements, let them bring their own food, do not make a separate dish for someone else, they either eat what is made or make their own food. Its that simple.
Meals need not be complicated: a simple portable gas stove (1 element) is all that need be used to create enough food to feed 4-6 people. A tin of corn spears ($1) tiny taters ($3) crushed tomatoes ($1) whole peeled tomatoes ($1) a zucchini ($1.50) 2 brown onions (83c) a meatball sauce sachet (Tuscan for example) ($2) and meatballs ($5 for beef) ($6 for roo) = $21 to feed 4. Fry off the meatballs til brown add sauce sachet. Then cook all the rest of ingredients in a pot. Cook for 15 to 20 mins then add meatballs, mix and cook for another 5 mins and you have a good meal of veggies, proteins, carbs and nutrients at $5 a portion per person. Add a loaf of bread ($2) to make it go even further.
Another good meal is the steak sandwich. A loaf of bread ($2), sizzle steak ($6), 2 brown onions (83c) a tomato (50c) sauce ($1.50) makes a good feed.
Meals need not be elaborate or expensive They just need to be cooked well. Cooking food is a skill that you will need to develop well – if you are no good then practice before you go away. Ingredients such as mince/steak/chicken, tinned and/or fresh veggies, tomato-based additives, bread can be bought fairly cheaply: it is not difficult to throw everything into a pot and put together stews, soups, rice dishes, gumbo (combination of various veggies and meat in stock), and other hearty meals to keep everyone’s energy and enthusiasm up.
Finally – when you have finished with your food, scrape the plates AWAY from the camp-site, and place all dirty dishes and implements AWAY from the camp to prevent wild animals, ants, and other hungry creatures from descending on the centre point of your camp-site. You can clean them in the morning. Many of these considerations are common-sense, especially to anyone who camps often or has had some involvement in group magic or even outdoors groups. But it never fails to surprise that crucial things (even life-threatening) are forgotten by someone inexperienced in the complex matter of getting people together for an event.
First Aid: Keep an eye on all members and pay attention to their comments on any injuries they mention. After vigorous exercise or activity ask if anyone has injuries. Keep a first aid kit with band-aids, antiseptic, tweezers, bandages, Detox (or equivalent anti-septic), Stinting (for insect bites), burn-cream, deep-heat, alcohol-swabs on hand and know how to administer assistance to stop bleeding, clean wounds, call for help. Does anyone look sore, fatigued, dehydrated, lethargic, pained? Be watchful. Know where the nearest Hospital is, payphone (have coins ready) and or have a mobile charged to make an emergency call. Check before the Meet that the location is not a dead zone for phones.
Water: The average person needs 2-4 litres of water a day. Possibly more if it is hotter. When storing water in ice, ensure an entire salt shaker (large, $1 or so) is poured into the esky to help the ice stay solid. Buy bags of water (similar to wine flasks) – for 4 people over 3 days you will require at least 40 litres. Keeping it cool will require shade.
Camp site. Place down a sheet and have everything stacked on it. Try not to have this that and the other strewn from one place to the next, as when darkness falls, it can be a chore to find what you need. Make sure what you need at night is within easy reach, torches, food, implements and so on. Let someone know where you are going and when you expect to leave that location so that if something happens or you are gone too long, people know where to find you.
Do vehicles have to be left unguarded? Or far away from the location? Can supplies/people be drive to the location or is there a walk – how far? Is the parking free? Can it accommodate all the vehicles going? How much petrol is needed to get to the location – prices fluctuate, but get some idea of how much it will cost split between members.
Travel Arrangements. Ensure well ahead of time you know who is arriving & when and where and check to make sure arrangements have not changed for anyone closer to the Meet.
Ideally, a night and day should be spent at the location testing these things out. Thus will the nature of the location reveal itself and many particulars be experienced first hand. Do not assume – Check. Go through the motions. Try to have as many of these details sorted as possible, early on, so when asked, you can provide the appropriate information. And remember, these Meets are designed to test your leadership, organizational skills and initiative. Don’t wait for others to do things, identify what needs to be done, take the reins and lead by example. Be patient and help your members to develop themselves. A meet acts as a testing ground. Each member should perform an Initial Meet to give a base understanding of their skills and leadership, strengths and weaknesses and overall organizational abilities. It also allows trust (and skill) to build and group dynamics (including clashes) to make themselves known.
The ASOv holds meets 3-4 months apart. Following the performance of a Meet by everyone (during which some limited help is given), each member is then expected to host a second meet improving on anything lacking in the Initial attempt (without assistance). This entire process done on a tri-monthly basis by 4-6 members can take up to two years. It is not a short-term investment to create a magical group.
If this second attempt is not adequate, if there are glaring problems that remain unidentified and unfixed that member is considered unable to meet the ASOvs requirements and no longer participates in the Meets or activities of the ASOv. Effectively indicating an inability to attain the level or practice or resourcefulness required to remain part of it.
As any of our members will attest, holding a Meet, ensuring everyone is appropriately trained to perform a given major rite, that all props, food, incense, location, times, workshops and so on are worked out in the lead up to the Meet is a very challenging task that tests many skills in many ways.
Despite all this – it represents only a fragment of what will be required to organize should you wish to create a cohesive group. Teaching Group Ritual, i.e. Chant, Complex Rites, Synchronicity with one another, is an entirely other subject.