In this last week of post-Pantheacon decompression, I’ve discovered a few things about myself.
First, as much as I am invested in my online work, either through blogging or social networking, nothing compares to real-life, skin and sweat, handshakes and hugs interaction. You can imagine all you want about how great it would feel to dance, but that isn’t the same as dancing.
And, I love to dance.
Pantheacon, my first large Pagan gathering, provided me with the opportunity to embody my spiritual practice, and to present myself as a spiritual and religious person. I wore my little “Druid” nameplate, a keepsake of Uncle Isaac, I introduced myself proudly to everyone I met, and I became at different moments a student, an inquisitor, a historian and a kid in a candy store. I had permission to engage in dialogue about complicated, esoteric ideas with a number of great thinkers, not because that permission was explicitly given to me by someone else, but because I gave it to myself. It was kind of self-liberation. I highly recommend it.
Second, I’ve learned that I have an easier time investing in my religious practice if I’m given — or, again, if I give myself — a more active role. If I’m left to watch from the sidelines I may be more inclined to criticize, analyze, and generally keep a distance between me and what’s actually going on. Skills of observation are useful to a writer, but observation doesn’t always trump experience. Sometimes it’s better to get your hands dirty.
And, I love dirt.
As I wrote about in my last post, I’ve been consistent in approaching my altar each morning for the better part of the last month. No matter how groggy I feel, I perform a short ceremony to honor Those who I honor, and then I start my day. I do what’s worked for me before, and open myself to whatever happens. Sometimes I improvise, and other times I follow my simple liturgy. Regardless of what transpires, the regularity of the ritual is proving to be very nourishing.
With my daily ritual firmly in place, I’ve decided to return to the Dedicant Path, an ADF study program which seeks to develop one’s own personal religion (Neopagan Druidism), while deepening one’s knowledge about the Indo-European cultures of antiquity. I feel that ADF has something very valuable to offer me, and this was confirmed by my experience in ritual and in fellowship with the ADF members I met at Pantheacon.
I’ve also decided to return to University and seek a degree in religious studies. This decision requires much more planning and preparation, and it probably won’t come to pass for another 12 or 18 months. But, I feel that if I’m going to take myself seriously as a writer on religious matters, not to mention if I’m going to ask anyone else to do the same, I have to put in the work.
When I commented on my Facebook page about looking into applying to Marylhurst University for further study, an ADF Druid who I met in San Jose replied,
“Do it, brother. You were called to lead.”
If he’s right, then I have a lot of work to do. And, if he’s right, I have a lot thinking to do about what it means to be a leader.
There have been great discussions on blogs and in podcasts about Pagan leadership, and I’d like to continue that dialogue here at Bishop in the Grove. My readership is so diverse, and so willing to engage in deep thinking about practice, tradition, philosophy, and belief, that it would be foolish of me not to ask you what you think about leadership.
What does effective religious leadership look like to you? Do you expect leaders to be well-educated? Charismatic? Inspirational? Instructive?
When you think about leadership in the Pagan community, where do you think we’ve gotten it right, and where do we have room for improvement?
Please, lend me your insights into what leadership means. And then, if you know someone who might have a valuable perspective on this subject, pass along this post.