Many of the things I have ended up doing in terms of service, and running activities, has not been sought. I set out to write stuff. Along the way, volunteering jobs plummeted from the air like grand pianos, often having a slow impact when eventually they hit me. I’ve been lured, guilt tripped and, most often, just asked nicely to have a go at things, and so I end up entirely out of my depth, doing things I am in no way qualified or experienced enough to do, because there’s no one any better qualified to do the job.
From what I’ve seen of the Pagan community, this is entirely normal. The new Pagans have always massively outnumbered the experienced teachers. The need for events, rituals and gatherings is always greater than the supply of confident and experienced people able to make them go. The result is a lot of cobbling together, and the person least quick to decline getting the job.
I started running meditation groups years ago because my moot expressed interest in doing meditation sessions. As I’d been meditating for some time, and had been to organised meditation groups so knew roughly what it was supposed to look like, and because I was also young and foolish, I assumed I could do this. My automatic default when faced with a thing I do not know how to do, is to try and find a book about it. Where there are plenty of meditation books out there, I couldn’t find much that was innately Pagan, or about running meditation groups and writing pathworkings. I found Pete Jenning’s Pathworking book and it got me started, but nonetheless I spent a lot of time reinventing the wheel.
There are lots of places to go to learn all kinds of spiritual things. What there aren’t, is resources for dealing with all the practical stuff around finding yourself in charge of a thing. Pagan leadership, running meditation groups, writing pathworkings – much of this isn’t glamorous. There’s a lot of hard slog involved and tons of fairly mundane and tedious things which, if you don’t pay attention to them, will mess up your esoterica. Left the phone on? Got a big enough room? Prepared for the vegans when it comes to the catering? Prepared for the vegans and the dedicated omnivores to get really angry with each other and then expect you to sort it out? You probably aren’t. I mostly wasn’t, and no doubt the peculiar art that is running things will have plenty more surprises in store for me in the future.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned to expect when running Pagan things, it is to be caught off-guard in some way. Not always in a bad way, though. The imaginative, eccentric and innovative nature of Pagans can create some glorious surprises. So, I wrote Druidry and Meditation (cheap on Kindle just now) in the hopes of sparing other people from wheel invention. I’m also teaching a course over at Patheos sharing what I know about the practicalities of trying to run things. I’ve spent a lot of years learning things the slow, hard way – for which read making a lot of mistakes because I didn’t know any better. If I can use that to spare someone else some hassle, that would be a lovely thing!