One of the most rewarding things I’ve done as a Pagan is co-found a local moot.
Myself and the other Gravesham Pagans are really pleased with how things are going with the moot. Attendees appear to be growing in number, as do members of our Facebook group, and all the moots have gone well so far.
There are many challenges in starting and maintaining a moot. So I thought I’d share a few thoughts to help others who are considering starting a moot of their own. In this blog, I’ll talk about what is perhaps the most important part of any moot: a venue.
Believe me, a good venue is vital for a successful moot. Ourselves at Gravesham Pagans are extremely lucky; our venue, the Old Prince of Orange pub, is just perfect, with fantastic facilities and wonderful people.
But finding the ideal venue can be difficult. You’ll probably find yourself having to visit a number of different places in your quest. To help out, I’ve created a list of some important questions to ask the owners and managers of potential venues…
- Are you OK with Pagans meeting here?
This is the most important question! The venue must be completely aware of the nature of your moot. Make them aware that you are a spiritual group. You don’t want to be grudgingly accepted in a place that would rather you weren’t there – you want all your members to feel welcome after all. In my own experience, this hasn’t been a problem at all. Most managers and staff have been extremely positive and curious to learn all about the moots.It’s also very important to make sure that the venue is OK with you holding rituals, if that’s what you intend to do. Venue owners might have a problem with you holding rituals not because they mistrust or fear Pagans in particular, but because they have a policy prohibiting the use of the venue for religious worship. If this is the case, you must respect this and move on. Also make sure you and the venue agree on the nature of rituals. They’ll probably be fine with most standard rituals, but they probably won’t be fine with skyclad, for example.
- Do you have a private area we can use?
If you’re planning on doing anything more than simply meeting and talking, for example rituals, talks or workshops, you will probably want a private space where you have exclusive use so you don’t disturb other patrons and they don’t disturb you.
- What costs are involved?
Particularly if you need a private space, it’s likely there will be some room rental costs involved. You’ll have to factor this in to your moot planning; if the room costs money, you’ll need to charge a fee to attendees. At Gravesham Pagans, our room hire costs £10, and we charge attendees £1 each. This is almost always more than enough; any leftover cash is used to pay honoraria to guest speakers, or as emergency funds in case attendance is low one month.
- Do you have an outdoor area we can use?
- What times can we use the venue?
Remember to stick to agreed opening hours. Make sure you get all moot attendees kicked out, and all tidying up done, by closing time.
- Can we burn candles/incense?
Always check this before you do it! If you do want to burn things, there may be a policy about what kind of holders you are allowed to use. I generally burn candles in jars so there’s no naked flame, reducing fire risk. Many venues are pretty chilled about this; one venue used by Medway Pagans would allow us to have bonfires in their garden!
- Can we play music?
You might want to have music (either live or recorded) as part of a ritual. Just check to make sure the venue is OK with this, especially if there’s a chance it might disturb other patrons.
- Can we bring in food/drink?
Again, an important point because simple food and drink items are often important parts of Pagan rituals. You should check this even if the venue serves food itself – in fact, it’s even more important to do so, as pubs and restaurants that serve food and drink might prohibit people bringing their own in. The Prince of Orange pub lets us bring in our own very simple food for offerings, and out of courtesy we always buy the drink for libations at the bar.
- What should we do with rubbish?
Rituals and workshops generate more waste than you think! Make sure you agree with the venue about how to dispose of it. Many venues will take care of this for you, but in some cases you might have to bring some rubbish bags and take the rubbish home with you.
- Can we change the layout of the room?
You’ll probably find you’ll want to have tables and chairs in a set way for moots, but this may not always be possible so you should check. You should also check what can and can’t be moved, and if you need to put things back again after you’ve moved them.
- Can we bring in ritual knives/swords?
Do not terrify the venue by turning up with a sword without forewarning them! Clear this with the management first. If I take my athame to a ritual I always make sure it’s sheathed and wrapped up before and after use, and I never bring my sword. It’s too heavy anyway.
- Are children welcome?
You might want to restrict attendees to 16+ or 18+ year olds only. But if you want a more inclusive moot open to all ages, make sure you get a venue that’s happy for children to be there. Some pubs don’t allow children, especially in the evening. On the subject of inclusivity, you may also want to check how accessible the venue is for disabled attendees. If there are stairs involved, this will make things difficult for members with mobility issues.
- What kind of facilities do you have for talks and presentations?
If you want to have a moot with guest speakers and presentations, you might want to see if the venue can accommodate this. See if they have any screens/projectors, or at least a plain white wall you can project on to. They may also have mics and a PA system.You might also want to check the arrangements regarding lighting. If you want to do rituals by candlelight, or group meditations, you might want the lights switched out. See if that’s possible with the management, and find out where the light switches are if not obvious.
Do you have any other suggestions for good questions to ask potential moot venues? If so, please share them in the comments!