A Guide to Alternative Religions

And Their Opponents (Vers. 2.0)

Introduction: II

In the interest of safety, I post this evaluation frame, written by P.E.I. Bonewitz. Most neo-Pagan groups are harmless...but - some - a few (just like any of the mainstream belief systems) may not be so nice.



Rate each from 1 to 10, with 1 being Very Low and 10 being Very High

1- INTERNAL CONTROL: amount of internal political power exercised by leader(s) over members.


2-WISDOM CLAIMED: by leader(s); amount of infallibility declared about decisions.


3-WISDOM CREDITED: to leader(s) by members; amount of trust in decisions made by leaders.


4-DOGMA: rigidity of reality concepts taught; amount of doctrinal inflexibility.


5-RECRUITING: emphasis put on attracting new members; amount of proselytizing.


6-FRONT GROUPS: number of subsidiary groups using different names from that of main group.


7-WEALTH: amount of money and/or property desired or obtained; emphasis on members' donations.


8-POLITICAL POWER: amount of external political influence desired or obtained.


9-SEXUAL MANIPULATION: of members by leader(s); amount of control over sex lives of members.


10-CENSORSHIP: amount of control over members' access to outside opinions on group, its doctrines or leader(s).


11-DROPOUT CONTROL: intensity of efforts directed at preventing or returning dropouts.


12-ENDORSEMENT OF VIOLENCE: when used by or for the group or its leader(s).


13-PARANOIA: amount of fear concerning real or imagined enemies; perceived power of opponents.


14-GRIMNESS: amount of disapproval concerning jokes about the group, its doctrine, or leader(s).


You should probably check the group using these questions too:


1. Who has power in this group? What kind?

2. How much power do I have?

3. How much do our perceptions of power in the group agree? Do those people know they have it?

4. Do some people think they have more than they do?

5. How are decisions made in the group? Who has the power to make them?

6. How is information shared in the group? What information is private who keeps it, how is it make available to others?

7. What skills, knowledge, or experience do I have that can benefit the group?

8. How much of it can I share?

9. What's stopping me?

10. What response do I get? How does it make me feel?

11. What use are we making of each other as resources in the group? Are we squandering our gifts? What might we do differently?

12. What to people need to bring more of their strengths to the group? How can we create the atmosphere that brings them forth?

13. Who do we respect in the group? Do we abdicate power to those people? If so, how?

14. In what ways do we comply, withdraw, manipulate, or rebel?

15. Is this group really safe?

16. What expectations exist in the group? Are they clear?

17. How does someone gain power or respect in this group?

18. If this group is hierarchical, what controls, laws, rules or other factors limit the use of power? Are they effective? If not, can we make them more so?


1. What is the group's primary purpose (stated in one sentence)?

2. What do I want the group's purpose to be?

3. What are my expectations? Disappointments? Satisfactions? Unmet needs?

4. Do we agree on our purpose? On what kind of a group we are?

5. What differences exist? Do they broaden and strengthen the group, or are they dividing us? Are we in transition?

6. What expectations can we and can't we hope to meet? What needs are we meeting? Failing to meet? Do we want to meet them?

7. What kinds of trust do we need in each other?

8. What structure or purpose will best help each of us to realize our visions for the group?

And if the group does -not- follow some form of this checklist, GET OUT!


1. We are clear about our goals and how we intend to achieve them.

2. We know and respect each other well enough to feel very comfortable and attuned working together.

3. Our work is ethical, designed for our growth and fulfillment and the benefit of those who request help, and it never used to harm others.

4. We share the responsibilities of making the group work; every individual's contribution is important.

5. We see each other socially outside the group, and support each other through difficulties.

6. We enjoy. there is fun and laughter at our meetings.

7. We work at learning. We dig deep, compare different sources, try new techniques, ask pointed questions, do it until we get it right.

8. We keep ourselves healthy and fit in order to more readily channel power and receive insight.

9. We keep our ritual area and tools orderly and clean.

10. We constantly seek knowledge from many sources -- people, books, workshops, other paths...

11. We do not make a virtue of authority and obedience, but treat each other as respected equals (regardless of the formal structure of the coven).

12. We raise genuine power and channel it; our rituals are not tame readings or rote gestures, but filled with energy, vitality, will and purpose.


I am a Pagan and I dedicate Myself to channeling the Spiritual Energy of my Inner Self to help and to heal myself and others.

* I know that I am a part of the Whole of Nature. May I grow in understanding of the Unity of all Nature. May I always walk in Balance.

* May I always be mindful of the diversity of Nature as well as its Unity and may I always be tolerant of those whose race, appearance, sex, sexual preference, culture, and other ways differ from my own.

* May I use the Gifts (psychic power) wisely and never use it for aggression nor for malevolent purposes. May I never direct it to curtail the free will of another.

* May I always be mindful that I create my own reality and that I have the power within me to create positivity in my life.

* May I always act in honorable ways: being honest with myself and others, keeping my word whenever I have given it, fulfilling all responsibilities and commitments I have taken on to the best of my ability.

* May I always remember that whatever is sent out always returns magnified to the sender. May the Forces of Karma move swiftly to remind me of these spiritual commitments when I have begin to falter from them, and may I use this Karmic feedback to help myself grow and be more attuned to my Inner Pagan Spirit.

* May I always remain strong and committed to my Spiritual ideals in the face of adversity and negativity. May the Force of my Inner Spirit ground out all malevolence directed my way and transform it into positivity. May my Inner Light shine so strongly that malevolent forces can not even approach my sphere of existence.

* May I always grow in Inner Wisdom & Understanding. May I see every problem that I face as an opportunity to develop myself spiritually in solving it.

* May I always act out of Love to all other beings on this Planet -- to other humans, to plants, to animals, to minerals, to elementals, to spirits, and to other entities.

* May I always be mindful that the Goddess and God in all their forms dwell within me and that this divinity is reflected through my own Inner Self, my Pagan Spirit.

* May I always channel Love and Light from my being. May my Inner Spirit, rather than my ego self, guide all my thoughts, feelings, and actions.