I joined the Pagan Federation when I was 18. Through the PF’s Pagan Dawn magazine, I had my first encounters with the various paths in modern Paganism, and my first snapshot of the modern Pagan world. In my twenties, I volunteered for the PF, wrote for Pagan Dawn, went to conferences and met a lot of excellent people as a consequence. I left because I found something that I thought needed me more than the PF did at that point.
Like most of the active Pagans I know, I’ve been in and out of various groups, held an array of volunteer posts, fallen out with people, patched up with some of them. Paganism is full of people, and some people are easier to work with than others. Interpersonal politics is a thing, wherever you go. I try not to get too invested in it, but it happens. But even so, events around Druid Camp 2017 left me really questioning whether I had a place at all in the wider Pagan community and whether I should just give up and go away. It certainly didn’t help that in the same time frame, I ran into problems that obliged me to put down my OBOD volunteering as well.
As a consequence, it came as something of a surprise to me to find that I was wanted by the PF for a volunteer role. There’s been some quiet sorting out of this through the summer. I rejoined the Pagan Federation. I signed the paperwork. I’m going to be the Pagan Federation Disabilities Web Elf. I am very happy that I get the gender neutral term of ‘elf’ and the process that got me there was wonderful. In essence this means using the blogging and social media skills I use for other jobs and volunteering work and helping more with online festivals that the disabilities team run.
I’m excited about this as a prospect. It means I can use my skills to help support and empower others. I can make it easier for people who need their issues to be heard, to have a platform for that. There will be space to examine and promote best practice around inclusion, to talk about things that enable people to be more involved. I see lots of ways in which the blog and social media work can help inform, uplift and empower.
It’s also good to be working in a team where I can feel safe about saying ‘sorry, I don’t have the spoons for this’ and know I won’t need to explain and further. To feel able to say ‘I am too close to burnout for this right now’ is a big deal. I’ve talked before about how volunteers can be burned out by never-ending work, and taking mental health and energy levels seriously within work, and volunteer work needs to happen. It’s an opportunity to model and talk about better ways of doing things.