Not only pagan groups have them, of course. Any group eventually face one or two members that earn the title of ‘troublemaker’ . They are the ones that gossip, form cliques, and create dissension where ever they go. They sow seeds of doubt, jealousy, and ego, yet portraying themselves as loving, intelligent individuals that serve the greater good. Do not be fooled. Let their actions speak louder than their words.
The difficulty is how to handle them. Its the role of the coven leader(s) to handle conflicts amid members. On occasion the issue can be one of the leaders. Quite often when this is the case, you have to weigh the benefits form staying in the group. If a regular member causes issues, then you need to face them directly and voice the problem. Speak up, even if your voice shakes.
When confronting anyone, its important to stay on the topic of ACTION, not on the person. Its not really about them, but what they say or do. Everyone has emotional baggage, and sometimes being understanding can nudge them into growing some maturity. Avoid insults and using the ‘you always’ phrases. You want to focus on the defined words or actions and your reaction to them.
Let them know how the action or words affect you. If they have any sense of empathy, this can end the trouble right here. If not, you might need to speak to the leaders, or consider leaving the group. Unfortunately many wonderful groups have been known to fall apart due to troublemakers and the leaders inability to tackle the problem head on.
As leaders, recognize that although you want to practice ‘love and trust’, this does not mean you let people give other people crap. Sometimes tough love works best, and by asking them to leave until the behavior is corrected solves the problem. Its your responsability towards the rest of the group, to protect them, to handle the troublemakers.
Leaders should also consider including group bonding exercises in the group. This builds trust and opens dialogue between people. I tend to also encourage confrontation exercises so that the members who are too shy and find confrontation difficult a less trial to endure. Its important to know that if you cannot handle the situation, you will lose members. People do not join covens to endure conflicts, but you also lose a valuable lesson-learning experience if you avoid it.
Ask yourself, “Is this person (troublemaker) have the ability to learn from this experience?” What is their intent by their actions? Are they trying to tear others down, build up their fragile egos, or perhaps they carry emotional baggage they haven’t managed yet? If you think there is hope for them, then try to work through the conflict.This means the troublemaker acknowledges the problem and shows some semblance of being sorry. Giving excuses negates the situation- Its important they understand the impact they have on others, and they harm themselves in turn.
If you’ve tried working things out and the person refuses to evolve, or they simply refuse to work things out, then they really have to place in the coven. A study group or coven depend on the trust and love between members. Gossip, slander, and put downs have no place there.