Leadership. Yeah, I have been talking about this for a bit now. That is mostly due to the concept being on my mind. Particularly within the Pagan community. What can be considered an ideal “Leader” within a Pagan community? is there such a thing as an “ideal” leader? What traits should such a leader have? Does the Pagan community even need a leader?? Well, none of these are easy questions to contemplate, but let’s give it a little bit of a tug, shall we?
The “Ideal” Leader
What makes a leader, ideal? Well, this is tackling the hardest of all the concepts first. However, this is a bit necessary to start with since all the perspectives will potentially be shaped from this one. Now, disclaimer time, this will come from my own point of view, so please don’t confuse this as being a mandate that every Pagan should have. Others may have different and extremely varying opinions. An ideal leader is someone who has a passion to do what is best for the community, not just what is best for their own personal Path or Tradition. Patience, understanding, the ability to listen, capable of working with others to get decisions and results – fairly typical stuff. Essentially, a person that can bend rules but not break those rules. Someone that sees fairness and equality above all else. Someone that can make those same rules rigid and unbending where necessary.
Is a Leader Necessary?
As a solo Pagan, this is a tough one to really answer. My response to this is “no”. Its not necessary to have anyone else as a leader, other than yourself – at least in my own estimation. But let’s remember – I’m by myself as a choice. I do things better on my own, at least in my opinion. But for others, group dynamics is a must-have in their Spiritual Path. And within group dynamics, there is always that single individual that is looked at as a leader. So, for group dynamics, my response would be “yes”.
Now, does the Pagan community, as a whole, need a leader? Or maybe even several leaders, depending on Tradition or Path? For this, my response is a definite no. However, the Pagan community does have various Pagan folk that are looked upon as “an example”. Not necessarily a leader, but as a kind of template, if you will allow me the reference. How should we as Pagans respond to the dramatic examples that are made of Samhain by evangelical Christian leaders? Well, as an individual I am outraged by the blatant falsehoods that get presented, but for a more appropriate response, I might look to the people that I have admiration and respect to see how that response might look like. I can take my tips and cues from that. if I think their responses are a bit more milquetoast than I believe it should be, I might disregard their perspective and continue to be openly outraged on my own. But those folks that are out there openly, the so-called “Big Name Pagans” that everyone reads (I’m not one of them, honestly), or that everyone listens to, can be gauges by which we can check our own responses against. Particularly, if our perspectives and opinions tend to line up with theirs. There is, honestly, nothing wrong with checking your emotional response against others. That always provides a different perspective.
Does there need to be some kind of Pagan Pope out there? Someone who speaks for the entire Pagan community? Nine Hells, no! I can trust some folks to make generic, bland statements about the overall temperature of the Pagan community as they observe it, but there is no one that can speak for all other Pagans. I have found Pagans to be individualistic enough to speak for themselves…well, for the most part. There is no need for a singular Pagan mouthpiece in the world. At least not in my own estimation.
So, What is Leadership About Within Paganism?
Well. ::taking a big deep breath:: Leadership, from I stand, is about good mentoring of a group of people. Helping others to learn and grow on their own individual Path, even within the confines of a group. Leadership is not about empirical statements of how others should or should not act. Leadership is about being there to point people in the right direction, to provide focus to a group of people moving towards a particular perspective or foundation. Leadership is about growing others to be capable of doing the same thing for the generations to come. Leadership is being the rock solid example of what should be done or how people should roll up their sleeves and help – even when the cause being championed is not their own. For me, that is what makes a leader.
Does the Pagan community need leaders? Certainly. But leaders also need to understand the power that others place into their hands. Those people are looking to you as the example. It is not because they are weak, but because they are needing an example to follow. They are looking for that template pattern to build from. They will add their own twist and kink to it, in time. But that beginning mold is the first building block. It is not that they think you are infallible, every human being makes mistakes. But is is that they trust you. And that power should never be given away lightly nor should it be abused by you. It is a measure of trust being given to you, and that trust has tremendous responsibility with it. Do not abuse that trust.
I’m no leader. I do what I have to do. Sometimes, people come with me. –Edgar Friendly in the movie ‘Demolition Man’