A priest, as a type of minister, is generally called upon in life to do just that, minister to a congregation. Advice, rites, and in some cultures social services when needed. Leadership is not something that happens naturally, and some of us are called in a variety of ways to lead in our spiritual community. Some of us become teachers, some become counselors, and some become ministers. This is just as true in the pagan community as in any other spiritual community, but in many cases Priest or Priestess is seen merely as a level of practice and nothing more.

It’s been a long time since I’ve considered joining a new community, but I’ve mentioned before my dedicatino this year to my practice and my spirit, and this was a hang up I’ve actively begun to try and move past. Last week the family attended Pantheacon, a pagan spiritual event at which I knew I’d encounter some of the founders of my last community, and they were leading one of my favourite rituals. There was no way I could miss it, so before we even walked ito the hotel I had prepared myself for whatever energy would be between us when I eventually ran into them.

You see, the issues I had in my last coven were never with them, and whether or not they knew the extent of the problems I was having I will never know. For all I know they were told we merely left. I never fought the decision. It just wasn’t in me at the time. With an entire assembly of covens to oversee, people fall through the cracks. I get it. The main issues I had were with my direct High Priest and Priestess, both so immersed in their own lives and the dramatic shifts therein that their focus was drastically affected and their own biased opinions ruled their judgment of us.

We were young, and there were things happening in our lives, our marriage, and our souls that neither of us was equipped or experienced enough to deal with. We both reached out numerous times only to be told we were wrong. The beginning of the end came when I went to my Priestess for solid advice and was told to divorce my husband because there was no hope for us. When I told her it deserved a chance, and I was willing to fight for my marriage, things began to change. Siultanously I was experienceing the onset of what would later be diagnosed as fibromyalgia and some serious adrenaline disorders, ad as we tried to navigate those new and frightening places, facing eviction because of them, and feeling powerless, all we were told was that we’d better make things better immediately or be ejected from the only family we had. So we tried to fix it ourselves, and failed…repeatedly.
Now that I’m older I see where I could have asked for help in other ways, gone to other leaders, tried to do something, but at the time I was more and more lost every time I reached out and was told I was “dark”, “bad”, or “not dedicated enough”. I was chastised for not having a license, for not being peppy and sociable before rituals, and for not being able to commit to roles in meetings because my work schedule was ever changing. Sometimes just getting to them took a lot of sacrifice and paying people money we didn’t have to take shifts from me.
I never expected things to be fixed for me, but this is where I feel my leadership failed me. Not once did anyone ask me what was going on in my life. As I felt I mattered less and less to them I became more and more afraid of losing my community, and I panicked.
Last weekend, after an empowering ritual and a lot of soul searching, I got over that panic.

I greeted my old friends, we shared a hug, and I very calmly asked if after the weekend was over we might have a talk. They agreed, and I don’t know when that talk will happen or what it will look like, but I feel like I’ve already made some progress. I miss my family there, and while I may never be a part of that commuity again, I don’t want to feel cast out anymore, because I didn’t deserve it to begin with. I deserved the leadership I’d been told would be there when I joined the coven, when I put my faith and spirit in their care and trusted them with all the vulnerability that comes with change and growth.
This is what leaders minister to their community. Safety, security, and understanding even when we falter. When we were accepted we opened ourselves knowing it would be an awakening, a painful yet beautiful awakening, and it was, but babies wake up crying for a reason. It can be a scary thing to be born anew, and we rely on our leadership to be there to guide us.  Otherwise, we would read a book and do the work on our own.

Our community faces enough judgment, bias, and castignation.  We shouldn’t have to worry about it coming from within, from the exact people called to lead us.  Think about this before you consider a position in coven leadership.  Is it responsibility you can handle?



Go now….Lead.