PaganSquare is a community blog space where Pagans can discuss topics relevant to the life and spiritual practice of all Pagans.
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?
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.
I offer what I offer
I give what I give
I share what I share
I am who I am…
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...
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....
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.
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.