Leadership, Community Building, and Clann-makers

So a a little while back an article  on Witchvox by Juniper asked and answered the question “Where have all the Gardner’s and Crowley’s Gone?(an Answer)”

James French and Brendan Myers have each crafted some responses and I am going to barge my way into this conversation….

Before I grab the soapbox and stand upon it, let me direct your attention to Dr. Myer’s Excellent article and idea of The Clann-Maker.

So here’s the thing…

I like what Juniper has to say.  She comes across a little harsh in the article, but sometimes the truth is harsh.

I had to come to that conclusion AFTER a bit of time and reflection.  See, years ago I had had the realization that I was going to have to start building the Pagan Community I wanted to experience back in Anchorage… well my first reaction to Juniper’s well done article was a hearty…

“Well, Duh!”

The soul of compassion and wisdom, I am not… at least not always.  I have my moments, but,… anyways she’s right.

We need to get off of our own fannies as a movement and create a more interconnected and mature religious community ourselves!   I’ve ranted on this theme a time or two in the past…

Heck it’s kind of how I ended my recent article in Thorn.

We need to be the community and the elder’s we need, and our spiritual and physical descendants will need.  We need to find new and better ways to acknowledge and honor our Elder’s and Leader’s.  (Thus the whole ‘go look at what Brendan said’ part of our intro…check this out too while your at it!)

Now in the past I have said that Paganism is a religious, spiritual, and social movement made up of several overlapping and intertwined religious and regional communities.

I Have also observed that for the different Pagan faiths and paths there seems to be an overall theme of individual and group development into being a better person(s) (personal growth and perhaps enlightenment, although it is not neccesarilly phrased as such) by practicing certain rites, and developing our relationships with the Divine (or the essence of All That Is) and with the Spirits of the World Around Us (Elements and Land Spirits), and living certain intertwining and overlapping virtues and values.

I think that in the area of community building there are certain stages or experience/realizations you go through as a member of the Pagan movement whatever your particular path or practice.

1. Find something lacking within your local Pagan community…

2. Realize that if you aren’t finding what you want out of/in your local community… eventually you have to either do it yourself or shut up about it!

3. Actually engage in the work of building community.  Starting a newsletter, hosting a e-group or a social, or getting involved in the work of some of your local or regional Pagan community organizations.

4. We have the Challenge phase… something causes you to either re-evaluate or pull back from your involvement.

5. Is either : dormancy, you practice your path on you own… eventually your living of the values and your continuing personal evolution causes cautious re-evaluation and on to stage 6… OR in some cases stage 5is purely re-evaluation with no break from involvement in the community (my observations seem to indicate this is the rarer of the 2 forms of stage 5…

6. Re-entry…

I am basing these on my own experiences and observations… I am not sure yet how well these stages translate across the bandwidth of the Pagan movement.

This blog is part of my own stage 6, as is my Building Pagan Community column for Thorn magazine,  along with a renewed involvement in some of my online projects from years past…  including the Pagan Community Builders group on yahoo.

What stage are you in?



3 thoughts on “Leadership, Community Building, and Clann-makers

  1. If that was the point of the article, why raise the ghosts of Crowley and Gardner at all? This changes the entire frame in which the article addresses the topic. Signal vs. noise, people. Signal vs. noise.

  2. Pax


    I am not sure why Juniper chose those two… you’d have to ask her. My theory is that they are each responsible for helping to start and revive/popularize a couple of Pagan religions. Thelema and Wicca respectively.

    (James I realize you already, in all likely-hood, know this but some of the readers might not…thus I engage in informative exposition.)

    I am curious though, whose names would you bring up if you were going to make the point?

    Sybil Leek would be one of mine because her Compleat Art of White Witchcraft and Diary of a Witch were amongst some of the first first-hand accounts I read after begining with Cunningham… ok, Scott Cunningham too… as controverscial as that choice might be…

    Now that I think of it, I do wonder at her lack of mentioning some of the still living Pagan Elders and Leaders…. Starhawk, Bonewits, T. Thorn Coyle, Dagonet Dewr, Steve McNallen, Sannion….

    What about them?!?

    I guess I’ll have to get around to asking her…


  3. Actually, I’ve been asked this a few times. So I thought I’d toss an answer out there.

    There are a couple of reasons why (in no particular order)

    1) I was playing devils advocate and responding to the attitude and growing complaint (especially amongst younger newbies) that there are NO “good” elders out there. And thus, I was responding as if there really are no good elders anymore. I was also responding to the attitude that there is no hope for the younger generations, that we are all Charmed and Buffy junkies.

    2) I didn’t want to enter into a debate or discussion about who are our current ‘good” or “bad” elders and who was worthy of that title or not etc etc etc

    3) Not all pagans live in the city. There are many of us who live in Bumhole Nebraska, or Middle-o-Nowhere Alberta. Plenty of us have to drive 2 or 6 or 16 hours to get to the nearest open Circle, or workshop or Wicca 101 class.
    For many of us, there are no Elders where we live. The only Elders are the ones in the books we order online and pay high shipping costs to get, or on web pages we must look at using slow speed dail-up. And this makes these elders and teachers barely tangible.
    Many pagans, heathens and witches are struggling with the fact that there is no one else with more experience in the faith or Craft than them in their hometowns. Or if there is one or two, they are busy with their Covens or Kindred etc.
    Plenty of us are dealing with the reality that these great elders and teachers do exist, but they are so far away they might as well not.
    You have no idea how frustrating it is to put together a little workshop, sharing what you have learned with the handful of peers you have in your small town (because there is no one else to teach and you guys need to learn from each other then), and along comes some big city witch ranting and raving at you that “how dare any non-elder teach!”
    Well, there might not be any elders where I live!


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