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We had a newcomer come to our Samhain ritual the other week. He was polite and respectful during the ceremony and in the open conversation that usually buzzes around the attendees afterwards someone asked him what he thought. He said He didnt know know because not having any experience of this sort of thing. He was reserving judgment. I said to him that I thought that this was a healthy response. It got me thinking about how one goes about checking that a group/teaching is actually authentic. And what authetic actually means. Visiting different groups of a similar nature and going to moots is a way to compare what is on offer. Also articles and books provide a variety of reference points. But someone offering niche Shamanic work for example will be hard assess for the non experienced. And also appealing to common opinion/views doesnt guarantee validity. Then I got to thinking of the importance of outcome based judgments. That is - what does the experience/s on offer actually do for a person regardless of the concept of authenticity? And then there are the areas that lay inbetween. Being a memeber if a tradituonal Druid Grove I am used views being given that an unbroken line of teaching spanning many generations is nonsense. Nowadays I tend to think "what does it matter" which isnt to say I dont hold to my oral tradition either. There are other factors such as communion with ancestors and deity which come to fore in this context as well. As a related piece of food for thought I read the final letter from Gabriel Garcia Marquez, as was published in a local parish magazine, to an inspirational friend who has since passed away. It was a most elevating piece of writing and Bill and myself had a most thought provoking and memorable discussion of it. I later found that it was in fact written by someone else and had been falsely credited to Marquez. It was nice to know this and was a bit of a surprise and dissapointment but for me it has not affected the effect that the writing has had on me or the discussion afterwards. It was the writing not the credited author that was important. ED