I’m very excited to announce the release of the Pagan Leadership Anthology. Taylor Ellwood invited me to co-edit this anthology with him almost two years ago, and it has finally come to fruition! Helping grow more resources for Pagan leaders is a passion of mine, and this anthology is priceless for all the collected wisdom it offers from many different leaders, many different traditions, and many different perspectives. Continue reading
My own 5-10-year plan is to have land of my own outside of Chicago; a seminary/monastery/temple/farm/cooperative living space. I want to help offer leadership training to Pagans who are looking for that, as well as have self-sustaining land.
But there’s a few challenges to building that infrastructure, and to fundraising for that. Some challenges are easier to overcome than others.
One of my great regrets as a Pagan organizer is that when I run an event, I’m often asking people to present or perform for free. Granted–I’m often presenting for free myself. But I still feel that people offering up a professional skill should be paid for their work.
Yet, I know how much most regular Pagan events pull in financially. I know that an event without a big name will probably bring in just enough to pay expenses.
On the other hand, I meet a lot of people, including Pagan organizers, that assume that any Pagan should offer their skills and talents for free, and I’m not ok with that. But how do we negotiate the gray area on this?
I’d be very interested in hearing about other fundraising options that have worked for you and your group in the past–perhaps I’ll feature those ideas in a future blog post.
Should Pagan teachers charge? How are we going to pay for all the Pagan events and initiatives out there? I see those questions come up a lot. I also see some Pagans viciously attack anyone who charges for classes or events.
Context is important, and I’d offer that there’s a range of what we mean when we say, charging for classes and services.
I charge for what I do. I travel and teach, I host events. There’s a cost–a hard cost (venue rental, gas money) and a soft cost (time).
I charge for readings too. But, I also do rather a lot for free. In fact, most of the time even when I’m charging, I’d say I ultimately end up at a financial loss.
Many Pagan groups have a story, a myth. “Pagans are broke,” Pagans will tell me sagely. And…they are right and they are wrong. I’ve run Pagan events that make money. And, I’ve run Pagan events that didn’t break even.
I’ve posted about Pagans, money, and paying for community events before, but it’s a topic that begs further exploration. As an event planner, and as a traveling teacher, this is quite honestly a maddening process.
I really, really hate this phrase. Every time I tell people I teach Pagan leadership, they think it’s so funny to bring up the old joke. “Pagan leadership is just like herding cats,” they say with a nod or a smirk.
Like I haven’t heard the joke a thousand times before.
And if you’re one of the folks that has done this–don’t worry, I’m not mad at you. I’m mad that our community in general continues to perpetuate this very unhelpful phrase, this unhelpful story.
This is Part 4 of a series on leadership, so you might want to check those for additional context. I completely reject the “myth” that Pagan leadership is like “herding cats.” Yes, sometime it comes to pass that Pagan leadership is frustrating. Why is it like that? Because we keep saying it is. We make that reality happen. You know–words have power. Words have a lot of power. Words shape reality.
It’s not a Witch War. Let’s get that out of the way. In fact, let’s get rid of that term completely, because it aggrandizes conflict and makes it sound magical, powerful, cool. What is a witch war? It’s a fancy-schmancy word for an interpersonal conflict.
Why do we need the cool word for it? Well…put bluntly, and making a lot of assumptions, I’m going to stick my neck out and say that many Pagans out there have poor self esteem. Heck, a lot of people have poor self confidence.
Drama is a coping mechanism to feel better about yourself. Think about this; if you have another Witch who is gunning for you, hexing you, psychically attacking you…that must make you pretty important, huh?
I think about leadership rather a lot, and I have people ask me for leadership advice with some frequency. I’ve been working up a series of posts exploring the deep challenges with leadership in the Pagan community, because I unfortunately get to see a lot of its seedy underbelly.
Though, these aren’t just issues of Pagan communities…those are just the communities I’m most deeply involved in. Other subcultural groups have these same problems through what I’d call “It’s a Small World” syndrome. Any time there are humans, these problems crop up; corporations, politicians, church leaders…any group could have these challenges. They are just exacerbated in grassroots groups without a big overarching structure.
What I see over and over is the problem of people in leadership positions who are absolutely unsuitable to be leaders. What we have are people who are unstable and mentally ill, or egotistical, or jerks…or even people who genuinely mean well but have no training in group leadership.
Over here on my Pagan/leadership/ritual blog, I thought I’d post my “Acknowledgments” from my book Werewolves in the Kitchen.
What does a smutty werewolf romance have to do with Pagan leadership and community?
There’s a few reasons. The first is that my story takes place at a Pagan retreat center, and the characters are all Pagan. While I don’t go in-depth into that in the book, I find myself fortunate to live in a time–and to be working with a Pagan-owned publisher–where my characters being Pagan doesn’t mean I can’t get published. Or for that matter, me being Pagan and out doesn’t mean I can’t get my fiction published.