When I was a kid, paganism was still very much in the broom closet, and gatherings were secretive affairs. However, the last decade or so has seen the rise of The Moot – visible, social and accessible paganism.
Moots are predominantly an urban phenomena because you need a sizeable pagan population to make them work. Cities lend themselves to this. A moot is basically a pagan gathering. They can be purely social, include talks, or debates, or form the public end of working groups. Moots can provide the impetus for practical action – tree planting, litter picking etc. If you want to join a coven or find a grove, then a moot is great way to make contacts.
Most moots are run in pubs in the evening. It means they aren’t very child friendly. If there’s a back room involved, talks and discussions are possible, but pub moots can be more of a social thing.
Coffee moots tend to happen at weekends, favouring cafes and coffee bars. Far more child friendly, but not so widespread.
Walking moots meet outside and go for a ramble, with people talking as they go. Parks in cities are popular venues for these. A very child friendly activity. Their major flaw is that bad weather can make them unviable.
House moots are a bit more complicated because they involve meet ups in a privately owned space. Best to meet up publically first, or take a friend. Most are absolutely fine, but it’s better to err on the side of caution.
The easiest way to find out about local moots is a search online. The odds are there will be gatherings in your nearest city. Pagan magazines also carry listings. If you are a lone pagan and want to find other likeminded people, this is such a good way to start.
My first encounter with moots was about a decade ago. I went to a local one, liked some of the people, didn’t get on with others, was part of a splinter group forming a new moot. Going to some gatherings in Birmingham, I encountered other druids, wrangled some invitations to more open rituals, and worked out that druidry was what I wanted to be doing. Those experiences brought me into contact with folk from the druid network, and it’s all gone from there. Many of the more private circles use the public space moots create to look out for likely souls. They are excellent opportunities.
If you want one and there’s nothing happening in your area, set one up. All you need is a venue and a date, and something posted on the internet where folk local to you might be able to see it.