One of us is the most beautiful of social butterflies. The other is not. The extroverted one walks into a party and jumps right into the center, while the introverted one finds a nice corner to settle into. We are a good balance for each other in this way. The introvert reminds the extrovert to ground and slow down. The extrovert exposes the introvert to new and different experiences, encouraging the introvert to break out of their shell.
We see this every day in our personal relationship, but we also see this played out in our Pagan community. Covens tend to have a mix of extroverts and introverts. Ritual teams and festival organizers, pagan presenters, and festival attendees all have people that fall somewhere on the introvert/extrovert spectrum.
Spectrum is a good word for it too. For sure, there are plenty of people that are clearly and easily identified as being at one end or the other, but research suggests that more folks than you might think fall somewhere in the middle of the scale. This third category of personalities, folks squarely in the middle are called ambiverts.
So rather than falling into the conversation of who has it worse or why being one way is better than another, we started asking ourselves how do both ways (all ways) serve our magic and our relationship.
Gwion – Okay, no surprise here for those of you that know me. I’m the extrovert. I am animated and gregarious. I’ll talk to anyone about anything and I find that opens the doors for lots of unique experiences that we might normally miss. We’ve been invited to places and events just because I showed some interest in what other people were passionate about. When it comes to the Pagan world, I’m often willing to step in and step up in ways that Phoenix might feel less comfortable doing. Actually, to be really clear about that, I’m willing to step in first. My default comfort zone is to get in the middle of something and then see what’s going on. Phoenix tends to step in and up too, she’s just more cautious about it. In community spaces, I think it’s important to recognize that some people will jump in right away and begin planning, start doing, taking on roles, and while that’s admirable sometimes, it is equally valuable for those folks to sit on their hands and listen to what others have to say. Even if that takes a while for those other folks to speak up.
Phoenix – This subject frustrates me to no end. Yes, I am an introvert, but that doesn’t mean I hide away from taking on public roles, stepping into the center stage, or putting myself out there. I do like having these roles, but I can only handle being in the center or being in large groups of people for so long. The bottom line of this issue really comes down to how introverts and extroverts replenish. Extroverts get recharged when they are with other people. Too much time alone isn’t good for extroverted people. This doesn’t mean that they don’t like to have time alone or they aren’t happy to spend time by themselves, but when they are feeling overwhelmed being with other people can help settle them into a more comfortable place. On the other hand, introverts prefer to recharge on their own, by themselves. Too much time in a large group can become overwhelming and they need to take time away to recover from expending all that energy. And let’s be clear these are not hard and fast rules, the lines blur and bend and change.
Gwion – One place it gets sticky for us is when we start associating and overlaying other words on top of extrovert. These words tend to be judgemental – “Egocentric”, “show off”, and “shiny” are often used to describe extroverts and have definitely been used to describe me at certain points in my life. These words make the assumption that extroverts are only out for themselves and are shallow. I’ve worked hard to show Phoenix that being extroverted doesn’t equate with just seeking attention for attention’s sake. In public Priestessing and community work, there’s often a method to my madness. If my actions can empower others to take a risk, or show that occasionally being foolish and silly won’t cause the sky to fall in, and to show vulnerability and then remain open to the consequences of that, it can help create space for others to try something new or difficult. One excruciatingly hard lesson I’ve learned is the important distinction between saying, or being seen to be saying, “Look at me. Follow me” as opposed to “How can we all participate in this together”Phoenix – Introverts in public covens or public ritual planners often find that they don’t get recognition for the work that they do because those jobs aren’t always obvious. Folks who do a lot of the ‘behind the scenes’ work rarely get seen for their hard work. It’s like what happens in popular bands. Everyone knows who the lead singer is, they remember the front man, they are the one that everyone is watching, right? Most people don’t know who the drummer is, or what he even looks like, and what would a band be without a drummer?! Extroverts will often jump in and volunteer without really thinking it through, while introverts need a little more time to make decisions. The meatiest public ritual roles can feel eaten up by extroverts before an introvert has even made up their mind on how they feel about it.
Gwion – As I’ve matured as a partner, a Priestess and a person, I find that I’m less inclined to to extreme extrovertism. Now I use my energy more wisely and tend to be “on 24/7” much less than I used to be. When I do choose to put myself out there, I find it takes me more time to recharge and that re-calibrating tends to require more silence and alone time. In that way, I think I’m becoming more Ambiverted. I’d also say that my daily practice and my understanding of the Iron Pentacle magic has greatly contributed to this. (more on Iron Pentacle in an upcoming blog!)
Phoenix – Over the years I’ve learned to become more extroverted by watching how the extroverts do it. I’m more willing to take risks and speak up without totally thinking it through. Sometimes this is amazing and sometimes I freak out later. But when overwhelmed I would rather stay home and read a book than go out to a party and I can’t imagining that changing much. And just like with all things, knowing how to be balanced and pay attention to the extremes will help create more harmony in group process and relationships.
When dealing with group process or public ritual planning, knowing where your cohorts might be on the introvert/extrovert scale can be really beneficial in navigating the waters. Helping to bring introverts out (or make sure their voices are heard) and encouraging extroverts to make space for others will make your groups, covens, planning committees all the more stronger.
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