The practice of energy work extends far beyond those of neopagan religious bent, and while neopagans do have a few guidebooks on coven management, and ritual lodges have century-old systems of structure in place, a more mixed group of what Wendy Stokes calls “lightworkers” do not necessarily have such organizational guides. These spiritual people face the same struggles as their magical cousins in organizing groups, establishing purpose and practicing their arts. The Lightworkers’ Circle Guide addresses concerns both practical and spiritual for those who seek a more loosely defined fellowship for esoteric pursuits.
Stokes takes a business-like, direct tone: this book does not embrace New Age conception. She lays down the rules she uses in her own organization: no recently bereaved, turn off all phones, keep it relevant. The concepts seem so simple as to not need saying until you encounter one of the many “let’s get together, and uh, do something magic” groups that rise and fall with the seasons.
Two especially valuable tools contained within this useful guide involve member screening and diplomacy. “A moral life is a good indication of the quality of a person’s spirit guides, and the type of messages they will receive. Truly gifted mediums always have integrity, discipline, a sense of service, and a respect for other people.” Stokes does not go into fine detail on what she considers moral or immoral; this passage suggests more discernment than “just don’t kill anyone,” but perhaps less judgmental than, “you eat BACON????” Even so, one person’s morality is another person’s immorality, and this leaves interpretation just open enough for a person to create his or her own definitions as best befits a given group.
The guide also sets forth simple recommendations for diplomacy, handling members who sometimes misbehave in ways that annoy but do not destroy. Stokes gives the example of a common character in spiritual groups: the advertiser. Her advice suggests a deft way to handle such a person politely and firmly. This advice requires slight adjustment for different regions of the U.S.; Stokes outlook, while addressing universal problems in spiritual groups, does take a British approach to their resolution that would have different results and responses in a group where most people hail from the U.S.
Stokes gives people who want to work with spiritual concepts, including spirit contact, healing work and trance, an excellent set of tools in order to proceed. In the process, she catches that corner of the alternative-spirituality community that does not identify as “pagan” or “ritualistic” and she succeeds in filling an aching gap. While some cultural differences may come into play from U.S. and possibly some Canadian readers, in itself, and within its British context, this book provides all the tools a person needs to run and manage a spiritual group.
~review by Diana Rajchel
Author: Wendy Stokes
O Books, 2010
pp. 149, $19.95