Now that you have become a member of the Church of All Worlds, you may be wondering what to do next. In truth, you don’t have to do anything, but enjoy camaraderie with your new community, and pay your yearly dues. We are happy to be of service to you and to welcome you to our community.
Many people who join the Church are looking for a little more than that, however. They are seeking a way to expand their personal and spiritual growth, as well as a way to serve the community and to help CAW expand or maintain its services. Others feel a call to serve more
deeply, as Teachers, Guides or members of the Clergy, and look to us for training and guidance along those lines.
The RING System (originally called the PIP, for Progressive Involvement Program) is a fluid system created to answer these needs. It is a framework designed to create an interwoven network within the CAW community that supports both the individual and the Tribe, as well as contributing to the overall purposes of the Church, as stated in our mission statement.
The concept of life as an interconnected living web is the basis for our internal structure within the church. The RING web is an interconnected, egalitarian support network, utilizing our strengths and addressing our weaknesses. The term RING refers to rings in the
labyrinth of the Divine, the Dearinth, a unique symbol of CAW which incorporates both the Goddess & the God, as well as the path of the Initiate. It is a system of nine concentric interconnected Circles, ever inward, towards the consciousness of the Goddess/God within.
RING also stands for Requirements Invoking Network Growth.
The purpose of the RING System, like the Goddess we serve, is threefold:
1) to encourage personal growth
2) to strengthen and deepen the individual’s connection to and participation in the CAW Tribe
3) to support the individual’s ability to contribute positively and materially to the mission of CAW; i.e., to help equip the individual to contribute to our missions of responsible earth stewardship and a changing consciousness in the world psyche.
In following the labyrinth of the RING System inward, it is important to keep these three holistic goals in mind. It is important to remember that while the RING System is a self-actualization program, it is not merely a program of personal growth. It is also designed to
create community and to support CAW both as a Tribe and as an organization with a Mission.
The Church of All Worlds has evolved this network system to avoid the idea of climbing on a ladder of success to a hierarchical top, wherein one seeks power over others. As systems of hierarchy are the dominant paradigm in our society, it requires a radical change of
thinking to set a net instead of a ladder, where each connection is equally vital to the whole. Together we make a flexible structure capable of holding things gently, yet providing support.
Our community is tribal rather than hierarchical. An individual’s evolution along this path requires a development of power within and a dedication to service. While training and increased knowledge should naturally include growth and greater mastery of the chosen skill sets (in “guild” terminology, one might liken Seekers to Apprentices, Scions to Journeymen and Beacons to Masters in their chosen skill areas), we look to our Scions and Beacons as resources and guides, as advisors and teachers, not as models of “authority.” We are prone to say that they are authoritative, not authoritarian. Those who find their way to become Beacons will have more of a commitment to the community than the free agent who has just joined and they will carry commensurately more responsibility, but if they are expecting
power and prestige they will be sorely disappointed!
It is extremely difficult to set up a structure that is solid enough to hold us together and flexible enough to allow for the high level of individuality that we cherish in our members. There are those who resist any structure at all, yet others complain bitterly if things do not run smoothly. There are still others who want more structure, needing someone to give them very specific guidance. We are not gurus, and would rather foster someone’s inner guidance than tell them what to do. For this reason, we have tried to address issues on many different levels. Some suggestions, such as books to read or tasks to accomplish, are relatively easy to achieve. Other levels, such as an individual’s spiritual growth, creative abilities, and readiness to lead others, are much more subjective. While they may be harder to assess, we attempt to do so anyway; most often through the community’s voice, but also through advisors and sponsors that connect with the individual along their pathway.
CAW also believes strongly in balanced self-actualization (as Heinlein said, “Specialization is for insects”). the RING System also balances requirements holistically and uses associations with the five Elements (Earth, Air, Fire, Water and Spirit) to emphasize this balance.
All members seeking to progress through the RINGS are encouraged to join the Mentoring Council and get to know their fellow journeymen and women, providing support and feedback for others and asking it for themselves. It is not just a matter of fulfilling tasks, but of growing closer and creating community. The Mentoring Council also puts in place a peer review and approval system that addresses challenges such as geographical isolation and an absence of sufficient Scions and Beacons to thoroughly oversee progression.
The emphasis is on the spirit of the RINGS, and flexibility is allowed in most criteria. If the seeker can show, to Lifeways as the supervisory body and to the Mentoring Council as the peer support network, that they have understood the purpose of the requirements and taken steps to fulfill them, it will usually be considered adequate.
When a member wishes to apply to move into the next Circle they should seek recommendation from the Mentoring Council to Lifeways. If someone leaves CAW or is directed to step down from their position, their return should be renegotiated with Lifeways; i.e. if someone
reaches Scion or Beacon status and resigns, they should have to re-connect with the community before resuming such a place.
(Suggestion: The RINGS can seem overwhelming when taken all in one hit. Get a general overview, by all means, but also take it one step at a time. Which ring fits now? What is needed to move to the next one?)