Saturday, May 26, 2007

Titles, Schmitles

Off the Shelf:

Composing a Life by Mary Catherine Bateson -
The daughter of Margaret Mead writes about life as an improvisational art form.

Spiritual Mentoring: A Pagan Guide by Judy Harrow -
This guide focuses on spiritual teaching issues within the Pagan community and addresses topics such as good seeker-to-mentor matching, clear communication, religious maturity, and the role of community.

The difference between a flower and a weed
is a judgment

I love this quote. It reminds me that wise Pagans learn to grow where we are planted. At the same time, we each choose the Path that is right for us. We don't let other people do that for us. In other words, we define ourselves.

When people ask me what my Pagan "title" is I don't tell them that I am a High this or Lady that. I tell them I'm a learner. It gets me some odd looks at festivals, but it fits me, it's right for my path.

Some years ago I wrote an essay called Pagan Doers. In there, I said this about titles:

When we do use a title such as "Leader" we have a wyrd way of defining it. A "Leader" at Full Circle is the one you see doing the donkey work.... We think that being in charge of something means that you do the most work of anyone in your group. It means you're the first one to arrive and the last one to leave. You do whatever needs doing. If that means you clean the toilets before an event, then so be it. Don't laugh, I've done that. The closest I've ever gotten to holding a Staff of Office is that toilet brush.

I knew a "titled" Pagan once who had quite the opposite approach. She was so full of herself that she thought her students should stand up whenever she entered a room, even when they were gathered together in a mundane place like a coffee shop. She was very jealous of her perceived prerogatives and status. She was not as concerned with loyalty or ethics, something that became apparent when she skipped town owing a good deal of money to a number of people in the community, many of whom could ill afford the loss. I worry sometimes about our community's need for titles and the extent to which we will worship (bow down to) rather than connect with, the Goddess. As Terry Pratchett has said, "No sooner did Man learn to stand, then he got down on his knees." Speaking for myself, I'd rather face Her, and my brother and sister Pagans, eye to eye. Wouldn't you?

For more on this subject, I recommend reading a wonderful article at Vox by Jenny Shumaker titled Why I'm No Lady.

Is This On The Test?

So if I'm a learner, when do I take the test? The answer is: every day.

Right now, my own test involves choices. Among them: Where do I put my energy and time? Who do I listen to? Who do I counsel? And what do I want in my life's garden five, ten or twenty years from now? There are lots of flowers to choose from, and spring is here; time to get to work.

The Pagan path holds great beauty and meaning. It also holds a great many lessons. Some of these are universal, some are unique to each student. Here's what I know that might be of use to others: The first lesson is that we don't get either beauty or meaning without some hard work. The second lesson is that it's worth it. The third lesson is that we will receive the help we need when we need it. All we need to do it show up, pay attention and tell the truth. Here endth the lesson.


1 comment:

Hecate said...

Great post. Our circle doesn't use titles either. What's the point? We're trying to behave in a non-hierarchial manner, not recreate "new" hierarchies.