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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Pagan leadership

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 The Lion's Roar - Facing Your Fears | Kathleen Ann Thompson

A Lesson in Leadership


It once so happened that an orphaned lion cub was reared by a pack of dogs. One day the lion, now fully grown, came to the leader of the pack.

“You look troubled,” said the dog. “What's the problem?”

“Respect,” said the lion. “I get no respect from anyone.”

“I'll tell you why you get no respect,” said the dog. “You're a lion, but you act like a dog. What's the first thing you do when you meet someone? You schniff im tukhis, just like everyone else.”

“What should I do instead?” asks the lion.

“Here's what you do,” says the dog. “When you meet someone, you throw out your chest, you lift up your head, and you let out a roar.”

The lion decides to give it a try. Sure enough, it works. Whenever he meets someone, he lets out a roar, and pretty soon, he's getting plenty of respect.

A few days later, he runs into the leader of the pack again.

“So, how's the respect coming along?” asks the dog.

“RRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!” roars the lion.

The dog grins and sidles up next to him.

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ATC State of the Church Address 2021

Merry Meet and Blessings to you, Witches, Pagans, Kindred, and to all my relatives. I am Lady Belladonna LaVeau, the Matriarch of the Aquarian Tabernacle Church. Thank you for your interest in the state of the Church and thank you for listening. 

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Trouble With Gurus

My pagan identity was already fully formed when, in 1988, I visited New Vrindaban, a rural Hare Krishna community in West Virginia, so I never had any intention of joining or staying. I went, rather, to learn about temple ritual and Indian cooking, and I did. This learning turned out to be formative and, years later, I'm still grateful for the experience.

I learned a few other valuable things too.

While I was there, I heard a lot about the NV guru, Kirtanananda Swami ( Keith Ham).

Guru-ji stands in the place of 'God.'

Guru-ji knows everything.

Guru-ji knows you better than you know yourself.

I saw people prostrate themselves when KS drove by. I saw them kiss his 'lotus' feet.

During my visit, I stayed in the men's dorm along with the other unmarried guys of the community. One day I went with them to a meeting at Guru-ji's office. There I learned something interesting about Kirtanananda.

While describing the community's next building project, he was eyeing me over.

He wasn't just noticing a fresh new face, that much was obvious. Every young gay guy gets this look from older men, and knows what it means.

Well, I thought, and got out of there as quickly as I could.

Keith Ham liked young guys, and later got in trouble with the law over it. I'm sure that he had some sort of religious excuse justifying his exploitation of all those young men, probably along the lines of Krishna's love-play with the gopis. Some guru.

Pagans don't do gurus. Guru-ship, along with its accompanying lack of accountability, is a system crying out—pleading—for abuse.

Pagans have teachers; we have elders. They don't stand in the place of the gods; they don't know everything. They certainly don't know you better than you know yourself.

Over the years, a few have tried to give me the guru treatment. I've always been careful to throttle such attempts at birth. Any pagan leader with any integrity will do the same. Nobody deserves that degree of trust. Nobody.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Public Abusers in Paganism

Yesterday I heard the news about Susun Weed: that she was arrested for choking one of her students, that her abusive behavior is apparently nothing new. I've never really followed her work, so I didn't know about her reputation for hostility; when I followed the news and read all the accounts, old and new, of her mistreatment of students--when I saw that behavior justified and rationalized on her very own website--I immediately thought of other abusers in witchcraft, pagan, and earth-based communities. (Ahem.)

Some abusers are very good at crafting public personalities that mask their behavior in private. "What?" people claim when the allegations come out. "So-and-so would NEVER do that! They're so warm and kind and gentle!" Other abusers, though, lack that skill. They can't help but engage in very public, very visible abusive behavior: lashing out when they're challenged, screaming at people in rituals and classes, belittling their followers, enforcing corrosive hierarchies. Yet what should be obvious red flags are explained away. "Well, she's very passionate about her work." "He's calling someone out because he cares about justice." "They've got a warrior's spirit!" "Oh, she's a crone, don't take it personally." And here's the thing: even if, for some reason, you're okay with violent behavior in public, public abuse is usually only a taste of the abuse that's occurring in private, where power dynamics can be twisted in the abuser's favor. Think of 45: was anyone really shocked to learn that he's a violent rapist when we all heard him bragging openly about grabbing pussies?

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Virginia Carper
    Virginia Carper says #
    One more comment, this was discussed in another forum which featured a writing from Weed. In it, she compared herself to Baba Yaga
  • Asa West
    Asa West says #
    Working with "dark" deities can be a really transformative experience if you undertake that work mindfully and with a commitment t
  • Virginia Carper
    Virginia Carper says #
    What struck me was why put it on her website and have people focus on it? It is a red flag to a casual observer that this person i
  • Cristina Potmesil
    Cristina Potmesil says #
    All abusers have to justify their behavior. Most often it is by projecting blame onto the other person for a baffling assortment o
  • Virginia Carper
    Virginia Carper says #
    As a parent, I was told to never yell at my children. Yelling was useless. It was also a sign that the adult gave up. Yelling was

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Thing About Leadership

The priest-in-residence of our regional pagan land sanctuary was taking us to see the sacred spring.

Never having been that way before, we kept stopping to look, for indeed, there was much to see.

The priest kept going. He never looked back. Eventually we lost him.

In time we found his trail, and he brought us into the secret valley where, among its lost orchard, the Ancient Tree bears its golden apples, and the Hidden Spring flows sweet and pure.

In this Season of the Ancestors, I remember my teacher, Tony Kelly (1943-1997).*

He, too, led without looking back.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • James H. McCoy
    James H. McCoy says #
    I agree with Tasha. And I found out by accident... and first-hand... you keep doing lead by example - it can be a tad scary if you
  • Tasha Halpert
    Tasha Halpert says #
    Interesting observation. I prefer to lead by example rather than any other way. That way you don't have to worry about losing sigh
Sacrificing Perfection for Excellence


Some of us are haunted by the idea of perfection. It holds us back from our creative work; from any of our important work, for that matter. We fear we won't be able to do justice to the idea in our head. We've tried writing or painting or dancing, and somehow the brilliance of what we envision becomes corrupted as soon as we try to make it manifest. And there's that nagging voice in the back of our heads telling us what we have always known...that we're not good enough. That we will never have the skill to create what we dream of. That if it's not perfect, they'll deride us, they'll tease us. They'll reject us. Nobody will like us.

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