Failing Your Community

You know when you screw up big.  You screw up so monumentally huge that you barely see it coming.  You’re stuck in your own consensus-trance, convinced you’re doing fine and doing right be people.  Reality slaps you in the face like a sledgehammer.  I’m writing this because the community I belong to hold me to standards.  I’m writing this because I hold myself, and any Pagan leader to standards.  I failed that community through hubris, stepping on people, and making them feel small.  I failed that community by letting my insecurity and emotion rule, rather than stick to what I should have been doing: serving others.  I failed as a shaman, as a Pagan, as a friend, and even as a lover.  This community, rather than saying “Don’t ever come back” is being generous, and willing enough to give me a second chance.  Part of my deal with them, in seeing me through this transformation process from where I am, to where I am better, is to chronicle it.

It may seem odd that they would want to chronicle it, or that I would be willing to write about it.  As I’ve said here many times, I’ve hoped this blog would help people.  Perhaps by writing about what I’ve done, how I’ve hurt people, and how I hope to correct it, I can help other people avoid the mistakes, negligence, and poor choices I’ve made.  Perhaps by writing about what I’ve done, what I’m doing, and what I’ll do, I can help myself heal and make myself a better person.  It may not make everything better; the kinds of hurt I’ve given to people through my action don’t just spontaneously heal.

I’ll be blunt: I’ve damaged my hamingja, my group luck or spiritual force, if not outright destroyed it.  I did trance-possession work on a regular basis with my group.  That eventually became tainted with my ego, and people have seen more of me than the Gods especially lately in that work.  I did trance-possession work for my lover on a regular basis and she feels betrayed by this.  I can hardly blame her; I was supposed to step out of the way, facilitate a true and honest connection to deity.  I’ve failed.  I’ve hurt people, made them suspicious of my motives, and may have damaged peoples’ perspectives of the practice.  To the spirit-workers, shamans, and others out there who have struggled to make a good name for this incredible spiritual work, I apologize, and know that the apology is not enough.  I hope through my work to fix at least some of the damage I’ve done.  I say the same to those whose materials and training I’ve used in my work.  I have also made people feel inferior, hurt peoples feelings needlessly, and demonstrated a lack of caring toward people who, given I am in a leadership position, should be serving and taking care of before my inferiority issues or wants.  Over the next six or so months I’ll be doing a lot of introspection, healing, personal work, and whatever other work I need to do to fix this so it won’t happen again.

I don’t really look to my Gods to forgive me.  Odin, and most of my Gods and spirit allies don’t really deal in forgiveness.  Most of my Gods deal in doing, in action.  Redeeming myself is more important than forgiveness, which, as the Merriam-Webster dictionary points out means “to give up resentment of or claim to requital” and “forgive a debt”.   So these posts will be more geared toward these ideas, thoughts, and actions.  I’ll reach out for commentary from the community around me, as well as the Gods and spirits, to help me do better and be more.

I cannot go onto public forums and cry out about how we need to hold leaders to a higher standard without holding myself, or being held, to a higher standard myself.  As time goes on, I hope to rise to that standard again.  Perhaps in the meantime I will be an example of what not to do.  I hope in the meantime I’ll be an example of healing, not just of myself, but especially of a community with a single leader with his head in the wrong place.