What is a conventicle?
A conventicle is a local or regional get-together of fans of Deborah Harkness and the world of All Souls. Officially established and named in 2017 in response to existing local fan groups who wished to formalize their meet-ups (names matter!), conventicles have grown from smaller meetings in a handful of places to a larger cumulative presence, globally. As the All Souls universe expands, the goal of most conventicles is to allow a space for readers and fans to unite offline as a balance and extension to the relationships many experience online. From brunches and viewing parties to day trips and event attendance, Conventicles aim to be an opportunity for discussion of all things All Souls, and the creation of life-long friendships both inside and outside of the fandom.
The term “conventicle” is a nod to the unlikely gathering of three vampires, three witches and three daemons in A Discovery of Witches whose unity not only becomes an example of the importance of accepting differences, but of the potential for change that occurs when barriers are broken down and people join together with a shared purpose and a positive spirit. Fortunately, real-life conventicles do not require these nine creatures but they’re inspired by similar values of friendship, open dialogue, continued learning, community building and a common desire to make a difference in a world that so desperately needs it. #WeAreAllSouls
“How to conventicle”:
- Click HERE and check to see if a local group exists in your area. If Yes, one does exist, continue to the next point in this list. If No, one does not exist, skip down to the next section titled “Suggestions for how to create a conventicle”
- Join your local conventicle group -or- check for a local conventicle event and join in
- Be involved: conventicles are only as good as their members. Be engaged, help plan, participate in activities and attend events, and enjoy your conventicle!
Suggestions for how to create a conventicle. (Note: There are no official rules and you do not need to register anywhere):
- If you haven’t done so already, check HERE to make sure one does not already exist in your area first.
- Post a query or do a search (if that’s allowed) on any All-Souls-Related fan groups you belong to on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram, and find out if other members live near you, or perhaps have a conventicle that’s flying under the radar a bit.
- If you cannot find any existing conventicles near you, create a conventicle group on your chosen platform for communication. Facebook is a popular choice, but you might decide you prefer to communicate on Slack, Mobilize, or maybe something like Discord. We’re curious to see what you all come up with. With large numbers of members in the fandom, it’s helpful if you have a public face for the group where local people can find you, and communicate easily via their computers or smartphones.
- Once you create your group, have at least one individual willing to serve as a contact for your group, and have established a shared communication space for your conventicle (such as your conventicle’s Facebook group, etc), you can submit the group for listing on Deb’s website by emailing info AT deborahharkness DOT com and putting “new conventicle” in the subject line.
- Post the link to your group in other All Souls groups so people can join.
- Once you have a few members, plan your first event. It’s ok if you are a small group. And you can always ask your members to bring their friends or family along.
- Post photos of your event on Facebook or Instagram with the hashtags #WeAreAllSouls and #Conventicle so people can see the fun you’re having.
- Do not be discouraged if it takes a few tries to get this up and running. Larger conventicles have taken years to establish themselves. Be patient and persistent.
- Have fun!
How to keep your conventicle going (or revive a sleepy one):
- Engage with your existing members between meet-ups
- Hold several meetups each year
- Remind people you have a local conventicle group by posting the link in other groups periodically (if that’s allowed)
- Attend any local All Souls events (like signings) and be sure to invite people at those events to your group
- Talk to other conventicle organizers to discuss ideas and share information.
- Check back with this page periodically for new ideas for activities (see below!)
Ideas for conventicle activities*:
- Choose a favorite chapter to read and then meet to discuss over drinks or a meal
- hold a Saturnalia/Mabon/Full Moon party
- Tour the archives at your local university library
- Go out for drinks on Matthew’s birthday
- Hold a Watch Party for any episode(s) of ADOW tv
- Visit a museum together
- Take a yoga class together or bring in a yoga teacher for a class
- Read a book from one of Deb’s “Further Reading” lists together or something from Matthew’s Science Education (THE WORLD OF ALL SOULS, pp. 270-291) or any of the literature referenced in the books (you can find a bibliography in THE WORLD OF ALL SOULS, pp. 420-467, 479-481).
- Hold a wine-tasting
- Have a tea-tasting
- Make weaver’s cords together
- Have a themed dinner with recipes inspired by the books
- Take an archery or dance lesson
- Have a game night (and include chess as an option)
* If you’ve had other ideas that have been successful for your conventicle and would like to share, please email a description to us at info AT deborahharkness DOT com and put “Ideas for Conventicle Activities” (or something similar) in the subject line. Thank you!
Special thank you to Renee R., fearless leader of the Philadelphia Conventicle, for generously allowing me to share these guidelines and suggestions with you here on the website. We appreciate her insights, generosity, and experience.