eris_star put it fairly cleanly, though, a lack of spiritual connection. The CUUPS group doesn't feel like a spiritual home. The group meets and discusses on a monthly basis, so, well and good, but it's not satisfying. Particularly for a seeker trying to get out an agnostic rut, like myself.
The Word of Power for Unitarians is "inclusion." When applied to pagans (NOT Wiccans, mind, although as always wiccans are the backbone of any pagan group, this means that a group that's a small percentage of a large body lacks focus. If 300 people are quietly and industriously dithering, it's a community. If seven people are, it becomes six, five, three, none. There's no "seeking" going on, no spiritual development, because we can just about organize a topic for discussion--we got bones, but no meat.
That being said, we're planning a ritual in November and December, but that's four rituals covering the second half of the year, for a total of maybe nine meetings. It's hard to get a spiritual focus with such sporadic meet-ups--it's a community, but not a coven.
I've been thinking that a good way to address this would be to design a ritual that plays up to the Unitarian strengths, and can be performed on a monthly basis, that emphasizes learning and sharing. Here's my basic outline.
Long-time players of Werewolf: The Apocalypse might guess that I've run the Moot Rite a few times. But that was mostly drawn from Wicca, so I figure it's come full circle, with a little fur on it :)
Anyway: Purpose: To draw together disparate pagans and panthiests together, and give them a reason to share their spiritual focus with a group. To help participants learn about other people's gods and goddesses, paths. To build a community.
I. Drawing and Quartering (working title).
1. Opening gathering time: Drums, and if anybody has any songs or chants they'd like to bring, please to do so. 15 minutes or so (say, 7-7:15). If the ritual leader wants to do a specific piece during the later songs and such time, this might be a good time to introduce them.
2. Set up sacred space. Traditional Gardenarian calling the elements, drawing a circle. There should be an "altar" space in the middle--flat enough to hold a double handful of stuff. For the center, something with fire--technically fire is one of the four elements, but it's also the centerpiece of the Unitarian service (the lighting of the torch). Use some of the language from the Lighting prayer here.
3. Inviting our Patrons: This MUST be arranged somewhat beforehand. Participants come forward (or lean forward, if we're not dealing with a big crowd) and bring some food and maybe a small icony thing to the altar. Ultimately, there should be enough food for everyone to eat at least a light meal. This is an invitation for our patrons to come and eat with us, and for others to learn a little bit about another person's path. The general form would be A. bring food and doo-dads, B. invite god/goddess/totem in, C. explain why the doodad or food or both is appropriate, and briefly offer up a little prayer, or read a short paragraph. D. participant and circle should say something along the lines of "we welcome you in peace and community," to defray any unpleasant energy from the more rada aspects of a more ambiguous visitor. Should crib from the Unitarian service here, if possible.
If I, being the Discordian control freak that I am, was inviting Aneris to the circle (in the guise of Constructive Order, not her more destructive side) I might read a few lines from the Principia Discordia concerning balance, and then put a plate of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on the altar (cut along the diagonal, with the crusts cut off.)
Some sort of general benediction over the food is probably appropriate as the last person chimes in. At this point, eating begins.
4. Food and Stories: Once the ritual leader has eaten his or her immediate share, the communal dining time can be used for stories. The ritual leader should prepare, or otherwise bring to the table if they're not by nature a storyteller, a short story, sermonette, discussion, or whatever. They can set the rules for the story-space (traditional native american storytelling allows for questions and answers. A more norsey story might call for drums.) Other people can talk at the end of the leader's storytime. Some sort of speaking stick or conch or something is probably in order here.
5. Centering: Crib from Unitarian service on this one or one of the more rehearsed Wiccan rituals. Some time for songs and chants to get back from the storyteller mindset to the communal energy mindset.
6. Ritual Time: The ritual leader and his/her assistants use some of the raised energy, which hopefully there will be some, to a pre-agreed end (something everybody knows is coming up in the general announcements), in his or her personal path style. Discordians may wish to increase the amount of creative chaos in the local government, and should do something involving gourds and turkeys. Or maybe there's a local need--creative energy for an art show, strength for someone who's sick.
7. Grounding: Standard dispersal of energy--maybe to our patrons that have come to visit us, maybe to sustain us until the month is out and we meet again. Break circle, et cetera. Crib from Unitarian extinguishing the torch and disband the service.
8. More food time and discussion. Drums are probably still appropriate.
Anyway, something like that to give a chance to learn what it means to other people to be pagan, get to know our friends, eat together, focus some energy on a useful goal.
Thoughts are welcome. I'm actually getting a slight downer from the CUUPS group, but don't really have the time to involve myself in any other groups, and not being a Wiccan I dont' feel like I belong in a coven or any established pagan community. With the new year, and the discovery that there are other Unitarian Pagan groups out there, it might be fun to reach out and have a communal Unitarian Pagan gather.