People continue to discuss leadership, either declaring we need no leaders or complaining we have no real leaders.To me, that's like saying explorers don't need to know what other explorers have done. That means it's perfectly possible to approach Central Park as new and explored territory, because of course, you didn't know it's been so explored it's in the middle of a major city, and practically everyone there knows all its nooks and crannies. After all, you've never been there.
Leaders have been there. They know directions, tricks, tips, pitfalls, scenic palces to pause, the best eats, and the worst. They know the customs and expectations, the landscape and the atmosphere.
So, what's the purpose in eschewing what a leader is? Why badmouth people who have been there and are willing to share what they learned?
In Numenism, respect is taught for our leaders. Perhaps that's because we show what it is our leaders are expected to know, and be able to do before they are acknowledged as leaders. Here is a brief outline:
1. Knowledge of our religion
2. Intimate knowledge of our Divinity structure
a. Primary Pantheon
b. Auxiliary Deities
c. Other Spiritual Beings
3. Knowledge of the people in the House
b. Strengths and weakness
4. In-House communication and group dynamic skills
a. Balancing personalities within the group
b. Making sure NO ONE is left out of the loop
c. Handling personality conflicts
a. Essential for designing ritual
b. Essential for planning social events
c. Essential for implementing charity events
6. Knowledge of our Ritual structure
a. Primarily our ritual structure
b. Ritual structure of guests' traditions and religions
c. Ritual structure of other Pagan religions
7. In-House motivational skills
a. Ability to detect and assist flagging spirits
b. Ability to inspire others to participate
8. In-House organizational skills
a. Ability to plan in-House events
b. Inventory skills to keep supplies current
c. Willing and able to secure needed permits and licenses
d. Keeping track of in-House sponsored charities
e. Managing the paperwork
9. In-House counseling and pastoral care skills
a. General spiritual counseling
b. Marriage and divorce counseling
c. Rites of Passage counseling
d. Special Interest education and activities
e. Disaster preparedness
10. Intrafaithing skills within our specific religion
a. Keeping in contact with other groups
b. Sharing information with other groups
c. Assisting in virtual events between groups
d. Maintaining web pages
e. Moderating email group
f. Assisting in physical events between groups
11. Knowledge of our magical system
12. Intrafaithing skills within our broader umbrella religion(s)
a. Communicating with other Pagan groups
b. Sharing information with other Pagan groups
c. Assisting in multi-Pagan social events
d. Assisting in multi-Pagan charity events
13. Interfaithing skills
a. Communicating with the clergy of other religions
b. Sharing information with clergy of other religions
c. Assisting in multi-religious social events
d. Assisting in multi-religious charity events
e. Assisting in disasters with other religions
14. Community Skills (what we consider "Meta-Paganing"
a. Communicating with local authorities
b. Non-religious community participation (parades, community
c. Attending City Council meetings
d. Tracking city, county, state, and federal legislation affecting us
e. Educating local authorities on our specific religion
f. Educating authorities in conjunction with other Pagan
religions about us
g. General chaplaincy to non-co-religionists.
The most important attribute our Pagan leaders should have is identity with their own specific Pagan religion, whether it's Wicca, Numenism, Asatruar, Reconstructionist, Celtic, Shamanic, Eclectic, Dianic, Egyptian, or whatever. The first, most important thing a leader has to have is IDENTITY.
Yes, this involves the often taboo topic of defining who they are,and who their group is, and what their religion entails. Everyone has this bugaboo about not forcing their spirituality on others, so much so, they don't even explore it themselves. They don't know who hey are in relation to teh Gods, themselves, a those about them. How can they expect to lead?
In March, 2001, there was a Pagan Leadership Conference in Indiana. Sadly, it seems the opinion of what constitutes a leader and what the leadership goals of the Pagan community are is focused on finances and legalities. How to meet the Pagan community's financial needs. How to organize a Pagan lobby group. How to hold fund raisers. How to build groups. Sounded a lot like some pyramid scheme and not a religious concern at all. Where were the issues on identity, ethics, religious creeds and definitions? Where was the spirituality and the theological concerns? How do we educate and care for those who enter Paganism, and flounder? Should we let them flounder, or extend a hand? These are what religious leaders should be concerning themselves with.
I see a bit of that same thing throughout the Pagan community. The focus isn't on leading your individual group, building an identity for yourselves, educating your own people about who and what your religion is, defining ethics and morals, encouraging spiritual growth. The focus of leadership seems to be how an individual can present themselves as the leader of their people to the broader community, to be a Meta-Pagan.
We should be providing for our people before we start preaching to the general public, supporting our projects and beliefs before organizing charity campaigns for those outside of our groups, and educating our own before we worry about educating others.
Far too many people seek out Paganism and leave in despair because they have no one to show them the way. Or they decide they prefer being solo, because the local groups are so involved in being Meta-Pagans, they're neglecting one another.
We should first be Pagans, then leaders, then Meta-Pagans.