This is an introduction to the pattern designated WOC. Neither this book, nor the words in it are WOC. WOC is constantly becoming and continuously recreated. WOC is a pattern embodied by the people who perceive it. WOC is an extension of the nervous system intended to act as a resource network for information and techniques to foster the survival, development, and sophistication of people. One purpose of this pattern might be to allow you to decide how you wish to perceive it.

This article is a guide, and only a guide, to perceiving and creating WOC. WOC can be transmitted and received totally without this paper, members of WOC, or even language. All that is necessary is one to perceive it. Only you can decide what WOC does and does not mean to you.

Many people seem to expect to receive some mysterious benefit from WOC simply by deciding to become a part of it. This is like expecting to have built a house just because you have purchased a new hammer. WOC is a tool. Participation is important. There is no such thing as a free lunch.

WOC can be viewed as an extension of each individual member. The more one learns to operate and improve it, the more useful it becomes. WOC is designed to be synergetic. This means that the individual’s energy extends farther when in conjunction with WOC than when expended individually.

As a pattern designed and operated by co-operating individuals, it returns more benefit, more energy, to each member than that individual extends to support it. It is entirely non-centralized and has no power structure, at least in the sense of any hierarchy/authority/control over its members. There is no authority in the organization. There is only the respect and consideration given to the skill, learning, and spirit of another member. Those who attain power with WOC obtain it from within themselves.

The group is structured like a crystal or a virus. A virus is the bridge between animate and inanimate matter. A virus is inert until it comes in contact with the type of cell it matches. It cannot reproduce or move on its own as such, but by its pattern causes the cell it attacks to produce more virus units. This does not mean that you should view WOC as an infection, but simply that WOC is a latticework of individuals, each able to reproduce and utilize the structures and ideas in WOC. As various members of the organization meet people they believe could benefit by participation in the system and who, in turn, could further evolve and develop the pattern, the group and the culture grow and flower. There is no government (in the sense of people in charge) or fixed seats of power.

WOC is an organizing structure, not a controlling structure. WOC is open to anyone who is sponsored by a member of WOC, and who agrees to respect the WOC social contract.

Knowledge is power from within. Knowledge grows from communication. Communication is only possible between free equals.


Shifgrethor is a word which people in WOC use to refer to several related concepts.

The word comes from Ursula K. LeGuin’s novel, The Left Hand of Darkness. In this novel, shifgrethor is a system of honor and social custom. This system involved the weight of one’s word, the avoidance of unasked advice, and generally minding one’s own business. Shifgrethor is translated literally as “shadow”.

In WOC, we have taken the word to mean the weight of your word, the influence of your acts, and the respect you give another person’s decisions, property, opinions, and SELF. But most of all, shifgrethor means power-from-within or integrity. Integrity means consistency; We act in accordance with our thoughts, our images, our speech; We keep our commitments.

Many of the institutions and patterns of our society are based on the concept of power-over. There are laws to be enFORCED and penalties for lawbreakers, regardless of whether an individual was actually harmed by the violation of the law.

Power-over can be wielded without integrity, but power-from-within cannot. For power-from-within is the power to direct energy—and energy is directed by the images in our minds and speech, as well as by our actions. If these are consistent, energy flows freely in the direction we choose, and we have power. If what we do is at odds with what we say and think, then energy gets blocked or mis-channeled. Directed energy causes change. To have integrity, we must recognize that our choices bring about consequences, and that we cannot escape responsibility for the consequences, not because they are imposed by some external authority, but because they are inherent in the choices themselves.

The ethics of integrity are choices based on internal consistency and inherent consequences. They are not based on absolutes imposed upon chaotic nature, but upon the ordering principles inherent in nature. Nor are they based on rules that can be taken out of context. They recognize that there are no things separate from context.

There is no external authority, no set of absolute truths, that can tell us precisely how to determine the meaning of our personal commitment. Shifgrethor can become longer or shorter, it can become more solid or more insubstantial. Each of your acts determines the quality of your shadow.

As a WOC social custom, observance of shifgrethor is equivalent to respect for the autonomy of each individual and that individual’s sphere of influence. The quality of each member’s shifgrethor is based on that individual’s degree of responsibility for their own actions and commitments, and upon the quality of the respect given the shifgrethor of others.

It is up to each individual to maintain their own shifgrethor. Taking responsibility for yourself and your acts means communicating clearly if you believe that another is violating your shifgrethor. The concept of shifgrethor is intended to promote personal freedom, not to create differences.


Membership in WOC and the quality of shifgrethor both hinge on respect for the WOC social contract. This is a voluntary agreement between members of WOC. The contract consists of eight statements:

    • “I will act with honor, keeping the commitments I choose to make, maintaining integrity and truth.”
    • “I will take responsibility for my acts, realizing that I am connected to all the world.”
    • “I will speak and act for WOC or members of WOC only with the consent and consensus of those I affect.”
    • “I will act out of love to all other beings, fostering life and spirit.”
    • “I will only transmit the symbols and identification systems of WOC through sponsorship, taking full responsibility for their use.”
    • “I will use my knowledge and powers with love seeking power from within instead of power over others.”
    • “I will preserve the function of places, objects, or systems connected with WOC.”
    • “I understand that WOC is a spiritual and social contract made by choice, and that to break my bond with WOC is to break WOC’s bond with me.”

WOC is only a name, a term of convenience, which is empty without the respect and integrity described in this pamphlet.

To formally join WOC requires the sponsorship of someone who is already a member.

To informally participate in WOC, simply affirm the statements of the WOC social contract, and live life that way. That’s all there is to it. Remember, like attracts like. Go for it!

This is version 2.3 of this pamphlet, issued 23 July, 1996. It is substantially the same as the WOC 1.0 pamphlet agreed upon by consensus of active WOCquistas in 1982. This is not an official WOC document, however, because there are no “official” documents in WOC. This pamphlet has no special authority.

Members of WOC are welcome (and encouraged) to revise or write their own versions of what these patterns mean to them. A later version of a pamphlet is not necessarily better than earlier versions, only different.

For WOC to remain a living, dynamic thing, each individual should re-create it in his or her own way, within the heart.