Leading With Empowerment, Not Shame

Leading With Empowerment, Not Shame December 13, 2021

I’ve worked with a lot of different teachers over the past couple of decades of being in the witchcraft and pagan community.  I’ve found that when ignorance came up with the best teachers, they didn’t shame others for it–they taught from a place of empowerment.

leading or teaching a group of witches through empowerment
Photo by Sierra Koder, Pexels license, cropped.

We are in a momentous time in our community.  This era has been called the Age of Information, and it’s warranted.  There’s information at our fingertips from all over the world.  Marginalized voices have more of a platform, and they’re being heard.

This information allows us to learn new ways of being pagans and witches.  For instance, the simple practice of asking for consent lets people decide how they want to participate.  Not everyone wants a hug or to hold hands, and that’s okay.

We’re also learning how to be most respectful of the people who were marginalized.  This can go a long way toward having more welcoming equality in our spaces, which we desperately need.

Much of the progressive education has occurred recently on the internet and in recently published books.  This flood of new information over the past few years hasn’t been absorbed by everyone.  Some people may not have the internet or the ability to buy new books.  Others don’t have a decent computer or phone.

lead teach empowerment
Pagan celebration of Summer Solstice, 1969. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Some people may not know which websites have the best information.  Other people don’t have time to read all of the articles, or they may not have eyesight that’s good enough to read from a screen.  There’s also the fact that some people stop learning for one reason or another.

Having access to information and time to read and learn is a privilege that not everyone shares.

I believe it’s important to be kind when people are ignorant of the current progressive beliefs.  Although some people certainly are acting from a mindset of hate or willful disregard, most people simply aren’t up-to-date on what’s respectful these days.

Ignorance does not (necessarily) equal hate, purposeful racism/ sexism/ homophobia/ transphobia, or disrespect.  Assuming everyone will read the articles you read and know all of the things you know will cause a lot of misunderstandings.

Unfortunately, the “gotcha” mentality is rampant in our society.  I believe it’s an extension of the fear-based media outlets and people who want to do the right thing and who are afraid of being publicly shamed.

In my experience, most people want to do the right thing.

lead teach empowerment not shame
Photo by Helena Lopez, Pexels license.

Shame rarely teaches people to grow. It teaches them to fear and despise others.  It creates divisions where those people stay with similar people who are not likely to bring up any issues where they may feel shame again.  That’s a recipe for isolation, and in some circles, possibly even hate.

Since I’ve become a leader in this community, I’ve learned how to hold space for education through empowerment.  I share information about the most current thoughts in our community in case those people hadn’t heard them.  I don’t assume people have bad intentions unless they take it a step further.

If you want to be a part of the movement away from division, hate, and fear, I invite you to lead with empowerment and understanding.  Kind dialogues which happen in the moment can bridge understanding and they can form alliances.  Usually, this calls for private communications— so the public doesn’t observe or overhear (which can create fear).

Here are some examples of things you could say:

“I have an idea for an alternative to X. Can I talk with you about it?”

“I read an article that said X.  I don’t know if you read it, but it’s really interesting.  I can send it to you if you want.”

“No thanks, I don’t want a hug (or to hold hands, or to do something in your ritual, etc).”

“I’m trying to be more respectful about X, and I recently learned that it’s better to do Y because of Z. Have you heard about that? I can try to answer questions if you have any.”

While it’s not really anyone’s job to have this kind of conversation, these ways of communicating remove the blame and shame. They open the door for compassionate understanding and ultimately, empowerment.

****

As we get closer to Yule, I have the same wish as I had last year: peace on earth.  Let’s make that dream come true in our interactions every day.

 

More About Astrea
Intuitive Witchcraft (Llewellyn)
About Astrea
Astrea Taylor is the author of Intuitive Witchcraft and Air Magic. You can read more about the author here.
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