PaganSquare


PaganSquare is a community blog space where Pagans can discuss topics relevant to the life and spiritual practice of all Pagans.

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I am very pleased to announce that the DRAFT Pagan Community Statement on the Environment is available for a period of public comment.  The public comment period will be open until April 21, 2015.  Share your comments at ecopagan.com.

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Effective Feedback: Giving and Receiving (Part 2)

Any leader or rituallist is going to get feedback. In Part 1, I addressed some methods to discern what feedback is useful and what isn't. It's also important to learn how to give good feedback, which is what I'll go into here.

While I love hearing, "That ritual was great!" what this primarily tells me is that this person (or the people telling me this) had a good time. It’s not, however, specific. “I loved the chanting!” or, "I've never experienced a ritual like that, I was able to connect to my ancestors in a way I couldn't ever before," is more specific and thus, more useful. 

I've facilitated rituals where I had an equal number of people tell me, "The energy in that ritual was great!" and, "The energy tonight really kind of sucked." So what makes good feedback?

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Effective Feedback: Giving and Receiving (Part 1)

Just weeks ago I had the honor of leading the main ritual at Paganicon, a Pagan conference in its fifth year taking place in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I felt the main ritual went really well, and over the course of the weekend I received a lot of positive feedback from people who had a deep, transformative experience during the ritual. I also heard from the convention staffers that fully a third of the feedback forms positively mentioned the ritual or one of my other workshops. 

As a teacher and ritual leader, it's always really exciting to hear that my work has had a positive impact!

However, after I returned from the event, I was directed to a blog post from another presenter at Paganicon who really disliked the ritual I facilitated. In fact, this presenter also had some problems with my presence on at east one of the three panels I spoke on. And it made me think a lot about feedback and leadership.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Annika Mongan
    Annika Mongan says #
    This is super helpful, thank you for being so open and sharing this!
  • Shauna Aura Knight
    Shauna Aura Knight says #
    You are most welcome! The issue of feedback is, I think, a crucial one. So often folks go into the knee-jerk place. They're either
  • Sable Aradia
    Sable Aradia says #
    Good article. You and I have a lot in common; similar issues for similar reasons, including our ego issues and their source; and
  • Shauna Aura Knight
    Shauna Aura Knight says #
    Glad the article is of use. I just posted part 2, and I'm thinking of writing another just on how to run a useful feedback session
  • Shauna Aura Knight
    Shauna Aura Knight says #
    Oh, the ball dropping. People have such cool projects and I want to support them...and then I look at my to do list and I weep.

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

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I offer what I offer
I give what I give
I share what I share
I am who I am…

via The Warrior-Priestess

When planning a ritual involving children, I always have to remind myself to keep it short and simple! Just in time for Spring Equinox, I'd like to share the simple ritual of spring welcome that my family and I enjoyed over the weekend with a group of our friends. This ritual is designed to be done at night around a campfire and to be followed by a drum circle...

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Gifts Hidden In Loss

On February 21, 2015 my second son, Galen, was stillborn.

I wrote out the whole traumatic story, then found myself reluctant to share it.  I wish what happened to me would never happen to anyone else.  So I'm not going to share the details in blog form.  Maybe in my next memoir.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Ann Franke
    Ann Franke says #
    Thank you, Ashley, for sharing your wisdom from this truly painful experience. My condolences on your profound loss.
  • Lia Hunter
    Lia Hunter says #
    Thank you for sharing the beautiful lessons you learned from your community and from your son with the name of a healer. Another
  • Ashley Rae
    Ashley Rae says #
    Thank you, Lia.
  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    This has to be one of the bravest, saddest, and more amazing blog posts I have ever read on this or any other site. My heart break
  • Ashley Rae
    Ashley Rae says #
    Thank you, Anne.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Identity and Leadership Failure


So many of the leadership problems that I see in the Pagan community come down to issues of our personal identity. There are leadership techniques for building healthy communities, models for understanding group dynamics, and tools to mediate conflicts. But the truth is…all of that stuff is a house built on a faulty foundation if we don’t also do our personal work.

To do that work, we have to understand identity.

And we also have to admit that all of us need to do this work. Unfortunately, the way identity functions can make it hard to change our own bad behaviors, and ego is pretty good at denial. When a group blows up you’ll often hear, “It’s just too much ego.” They’re sort of right, but it’s a little more complicated.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Charles Harrington
    Charles Harrington says #
    Oh man I have a few things to work on: Not making decisions because I want people to like me Gossip! That turns into... Toxic
  • Shauna Aura Knight
    Shauna Aura Knight says #
    You all have inspired me to do a few posts on gossip. I'm thinking at least one on discerning between information sharing and mali
  • Power Before Wisdom
    Power Before Wisdom says #
    I did the exercise and posted it above. Then I took it to turn into a paper to post over my desk... Here's what it looks like:
  • Irisanya
    Irisanya says #
    Wow. This is timely. I've been engaging in mirror work around this, and have found: 1. Overcommitment, which leads to... 2. Poor
  • Gwion Raven
    Gwion Raven says #
    Over committing is a big one for me and I must admit that I will entertain gossip.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Paganism and Problem Solving

I’m absolutely thrilled to be writing for PaganSquare. My blog here will focus on topics of leadership, community building, and facilitation skills for classes, rituals, and meetings, as well as the personal and spiritual growth work beneath all those skills and tools. My goal is to help more people become the leaders and community builders who can help foster more sustainable groups.

Why do I write about these topics? Once upon a time I realized that I wasn’t a very good leader. I enjoyed the energy of being with a group but when things fell apart, I was intensely frustrated. Since I like organizing events and big projects, I figured I should learn the skills and tools to do that well. I didn’t plan on teaching leadership, but after I began training in the Diana’s Grove leadership and ritual arts program, I noticed how few groups seemed to have access to those tools. I started teaching at local Pagan events, and then at festivals, and then I started writing.

When I went through a painful blow-up of a Pagan group, that further inspired me to teach tools that will hopefully help others from having to go through the same thing I did. When I travel and teach leadership, I hear from so many people who have faced problems in their groups. I want to help people to build stronger communities.

It’s true that these can often be uncomfortable topics, but I feel they are crucial to explore in order to build healthier communities. There are a lot of ways that we can work together to build the kind of magical and spiritually fulfilling groups that will serve us and empower us.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Shauna Aura Knight
    Shauna Aura Knight says #
    Rick, you're very right about that. Volunteer management is absolutely different. I can certainly do a post about that, though I k
  • Rick
    Rick says #
    One of the topics I might suggest is the art of managing volunteers. It is so much different from managing people you are paying!
  • Shauna Aura Knight
    Shauna Aura Knight says #
    Thanks! I've been writing on topics of Pagan leadership and community building for a while, and I hope that these articles offer s
  • Rick
    Rick says #
    So looking forward to more. The problem in our area is relationships between the groups. It has caused a lot of people to go sol
  • Sheilia Canada
    Sheilia Canada says #
    What a great article. I look forward to learning more leadership skills & suggestions. I run an open Pagan Community group & hav

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