Once again the Web in my little corner of the Wyrd has dramatically unraveled and is reweaving itself anew. The last time my Wyrd shifted this much I had just come home from Iraq to find my family, my marriage and my home in complete ruin.
But the brutal truth is that my life really wasn't all the great, and the that secret to the success of my marriage was that I was always gone. In hindsight I realize that all the critical life changing events were just the "Labor Pains" necessary to give birth to a whole new life.
This one. The one that I have been living for the past thirteen years. But as I said, it's being renovating, again. But rather than just skipping forward to where I am now, I want to continue telling the story of how I got here in my own Forrest Gump-ish way.
So. A late last fall my Friend and Kinsmen drafted a new set of bylaws for our Kindred. The Mason in me took a special interest in the topic and great pleasure in fruits of his labor.
One of the biggest ironies in Paganism has always been the Pagan community's desire for recognition; to be taken seriously, despite the fact that the majority of them don't take themselves seriously. A good gauge of any organization is its legal documents, and the bylaws are always a good place to start.
Does it read like a Stoned-Hippie-Manifesto? Or does it read like an authentic and mature legal document? Is it appropriately framed and formatted? Does it contain the common core legal vernacular? Does it focus on the legal issues which define its actual purpose? Or does it hyper-focus on establishing the identity of the group and its fervent dedication to "the gods?"
My Kinsmen's draft was designed to meet legal necessity and only contains the criteria necessary to meet those needs. Among the various pleasantries it contained, I found one particular facet to be a revelation.
The division of authority.
Most Pagan groups operate under the authority of a Supreme Leader, usually a High Priest or Priestess or some other "Grand Poobah" like title. This usually happens for one of two or more reasons; 1. the Grand Poobah (GP) established and maintains absolute control, or 2. the GP can't get anyone else to step up and share in the responsibility.
As a former cult leader myself, I can say from personal experience that brainwashing people into thinking for themselves is hard as fuck because most people are lazy and prefer to be spoon fed. They are quick to turn over personal authority, and responsibility, to a spiritual leader like the GP and in return the GP has an obligation to meet their spiritual needs.
Yeah, fuck that.
These bylaws took the standardize Heathen GP Gothi leadership construct and divided the church from the state. A chief and a gothi, each with their own areas of authority and responsibilities. One to lead the group, one to provide religious services.
There is a distinction to be made.
One hat per head. Because religious training, experience and credentials does not quality someone in any or all other roles. Anyone who has been a Grand Poobah knows how draining it can be doing the work of Priest, President, Secretary, Treasurer, Organizer, Host and Custodian.
Also because being in an organizational dictatorship with a less-than-grand-poobah can really suck ass.
The Kinnish community organizational structure is a Commonwealth, like a republic. Our Commonwealth is composed of citizens who represent and/or are affiliated with a Hof (house).
The commonwealth is governed by an Althing, a board of directors composed of citizens who have been elected for a limited-term to serve as leaders in key areas of responsibility similar to a president, chaplain, secretary, treasurer, sergeant at arms, etc.
The people are the leadership. Not the person.