I’ve been struggling to write here for the past few weeks; my mind has been wrapped up with other things.
As some of you know, I entered therapy about a month ago. I’ve had three meetings with my therapist now and I am already beginning to do a lot better. My confidence has begun to return and though I still have low moods, I’ve had more good days than bad of late. I consider that progress, and something to celebrate.
Now, normally, I wouldn’t mention any of this, at least not here. I try to keep my personal, non-religious life out of this blog as much as I can, but in this case, the two things intertwine.
At my last meeting with my therapist, we discussed the responsibilities of people in “authority and power.” While I was at uni, I ran my school’s Pagan student group (and a number of other school organizations). We had discussed this before, my therapist and I, but Friday we went a little further about it. And, by the end of the meeting, we had roughly agreed on this idea:
When you’re in a position of authority like that, running an organization, you should technically no longer exist within that organization except for a name on paper. At that point, you should be comfortable enough with what you’ve gotten out of the group, organization, whatever that you’re able to do without what you, personally, want out of meetings and discussion topics. The group does not exist for you in that time period, at least not as a place of personal development. Instead, you exist to serve the members of the group and the group as a whole.
Something that I’ve noticed a lot in my time in the Pagan communities I’ve been involved in is a disturbing amount of ego in the minds of those who run a group. They begin to believe themselves infallible and perfect. Their ego begins to get in the way of group progress. Drama and tensions between members begins to arise – friends of the leader(s) feel they deserve a little more than the others, simply because they’re drinking buddies or play video games together on the weekend. And it shouldn’t work like that. Not in a community like Pagandom.
Most of this discussion with my therapist arose out of the frustrations I feel having learned about dramas with my old Pagan group at uni. Some of the members are viewing their positions as an ego trip: instead of serving the group, they are using it to serve their own ego. Cracks are beginning to form, members are leaving and not coming back – even members who had been there for years. New folks attend one meeting and then are never seen again, driven away by the intensifying hierarchy in just this one little group.
And it’s not just there, either. I have seen a growing number of Pagan leaders, “Big Name Pagans,” popular folks, etc. in the community – both online and off – who have exhibited this same ego trip and begun a destructive path in the community, challenging others over personal practice and initiating drama, as if to only serve their own interests.
Honestly, it needs to stop.
There is so much growing that our community needs to do, that our community should do. But I think we’re approaching a point where we, as Pagans, as Polytheists, as Reconstructionists, as Witches, as whatever else you identify as within this community, need to decide: are we going to come together as a community, or would we rather break off ties now and pursue our lives individually and as small collectives?