Over the past few months – and its been quite a few of them – I kept hearing the horn of the Hunt in my dreams. Even in dreams where the Hunt would be completely out of place. At first, I took no notice of it, brushing it off as something that just happened. Then it started to be accompanied by a female voice that kept telling me about leadership – and the volume of the horn got louder. It took a while, but I discovered the voice was Fliodhas – Goddess of the Woods. And I began to realize that the point that was being made was that I could no longer hide in the shadows or on the periphery. The perimeter of the crowd was no longer where I needed to be. I had to start stepping out into the sunlight.
Let’s be honest here, I hear a lot about my ability to inspire people. I never thought I was that person, until I started teaching college classes. I listened to my students talk about their own dreams of what they wanted to be doing. I would find myself discussing with them what directions I would take if I were in their shoes with their dreams. And I found myself openly cheering them on to what they wanted to do. But that’s now a year and a half into my past. But I really needed to understand that this IS a form of leadership.
A few weeks back, I reached out to Shauna Aura Knight when I discovered that she was planning on going to Pantheacon. I am attending as well, and thought it would be a chance to grab an interview, if possible. However, her schedule is going to be crowded and busy, but we will definitely touch base with one another during the con. Since that time, we have talked numerous times via Pmail…and one conversation that came up was finding one’s self being thrust into the light, and the roles of leadership. She pointed me to two posts on the Patheos Pagan Channel that she had written entitled “Seeker, Shaman, and Sovereign” which are written in two parts ( Part1) (Part2).
The post – I will treat both parts as a single post – provided me quite a bit of insight into the idea of leadership as a vessel. Where the individual in the position of leadership is there to provide the sustenance for others to move forward in their own quests. That the leader as a vessel is to provide support, lend a hand, add some guidance…not to direct. When I was teaching in the classroom, I did not like the title of “Professor” or “Teacher”. Both had the sounds in my ear of someone who would lay down foundational work that was set in stone. Never to change or transmute into what was necessary.
My subject that I taught in was an Introduction to Business Computer Systems. And if there was one thing I have learned in nearly thirty years in Information Technology, was that you had to be flexible. Technology changes as new methods and machinery are discovered and utilized. Alternately, sometimes you didn’t have the budget to obtain the newest and greatest pieces of technology, so you had to improvise with what you had. Staying still and not innovating was a recipe for the end of your company. This was a major aspect of technology that I tried to impress upon my students. The tools of technology would change, and sometimes in ways you never dreamed possible. You had to work with the tools, the changing environment, the quick pace of technology – and try to maintain your ethical balance throughout it all. I am finding out that this same philosophy holds true, even in our ever-changing, constantly growing Pagan communities.
Most Pagans seem to recoil at the concept of “leaders” and “leadership”. I know this from personal perspective. I was – and to some degree still am – leery of anyone (including me) stepping forward into a mantle of leadership. But I look back, and I have been there. As a college facilitator (I like this title much better), as a Pagan blogger, and as a Pagan podcaster (or podcatser as my misspelled business card states) – each one of these positions relates some degree of leadership. Not be the mere fact that I teach. Not by the mere fact I write blogs. Not by the mere fact that I record podcasts. But by the fact that people listen to my podcasts, read my blogs, and listen to my lectures – and get inspired to DO. I can sit and deny who and what I am all that I want to, but the reality is that there are people who are inspired to action in their own lives by what I have written or what I say.
I can push away the idea of being a recognized in public and continue to hide in the shadows all that I want. The reality is that I am out in the open about who I am – and my words, spoken and written, do happen to inspire people to take action in their own lives. And to that level, I am a leader. Whether I like that or not. Whether I am scared of it or not. Whether I inspire tens of people or many more than that. I’m not there to step up and lead people down the streets. That’s not the kind of leader that I am. But I will be one of the many in that crowd. Helping others continue to have the courage to stand up, and be unafraid of being who and what they are openly.
When I started my first podcast, nearly ten years ago to this very day that I type this, I stated that the podcast was my gift back to the Pagan community. And it was. From the Edge of the Circle was a lot of fun to do. And I met many, many people along the way – many of whom I am still in contact with to this day. Together, we formed a community together. The internet made it possibly to break down the walls of distance, and we managed to find ways to work together. Even the small Pagan Podcast Community discovered a way to do our podcasts together and not compete against one another. We considered each podcast to be a single voice in our community, and those unique, single voices added together to create a beautiful harmony that continues to this day with some of those older voices, along with newer ones that crop up.
There are so many different leaders in the Pagan community. Together we sing the lyrics, and the community joins us on the choruses. Our songs lift up into the air, and reach the ears of the Gods and Goddesses. And the harmonies we bring about solidify who we are, what we will become, and what we have been. Woven together to become our song…our collective song. And there are more voices joining us around our physical and virtual campfires.
Pagan leadership still has a lot of growth to achieve, but I will no longer hide in my shadows. I do the community very little good there. As a podcaster and a blogger, I do my Pagan community little good there. My duty is not to hide, but to be seen. And I may feel its a scary place (indeed it is), and I may have run out of shadows to hide within — but this is certainly to be a year of doing…