I've been in a bit of a weird headspace lately. I have too much to think and worry about and that is never good for a person. Some of the things I have been pondering are control, power and who has it. A couple of months ago I blogged cryptically about a situation in my life where power had been taken from me. Unfortunately, this situation still remains and it's costing me a lot of money, time and stress to endure through the extended waiting period. I have no power what-so-ever in this situation and it's a terrible feeling. One I tend to repress.

As Pagans, we are in a unique religious position. Instead of a top-down hierarchy, we have a... well... a circle-hierarchy. Everyone tries to teach someone something else--wether they find that lack of knowledge a lack or not--and thus we are all teachers. And thus, we all have power which we need to be aware of. It's easy to spot faults in someone else's practice but with knowledge and power comes responsibility and sometimes, letting others follow their own path is the best use of that power.

I have had students in the past. My involvement with them ranged from answering a few questions every now and again to regular teaching and training sessions. I much enjoyed both but I was always aware of the position of power I was in. I try to let students pick their own pace, topics and methods. I try to give information on a single topic from a few different standpoints and let the student sort out for themselves what he or she is comfortable working with. Whatever I teach, I try to give a  'why'. This can all be very annoying to people who would just like to learn one thing and do it. I'm not that kind of teacher.

Of course, this teaching was in Eclectic Witchcraft. I haven't been Hellenic long enough to qualify for a proper teaching position. But I do teach, don't I? I write blog posts on a multitude of topics and those who read them, assume (correctly) that I have done my homework. I'm influencing minds, just by writing. That puts me in a position of power.

Within Paganism, there are a lot of power positions. This may be due to a circle-hierarchy or a hidden top-down hierarchy, I am not sure. Teachers, bloggers, Elders, writers, festival organizers, clergy, organization board members, you name it; all of them have power over others.

Power is not a bad thing, per se. Once acknowledged by both sides, non-magickal power is simply a social dynamic. Power can be allowed to switch from one person to the other without damaging the relationship. It is when those in power forget they have it or become convinced of their absolute power, things to awry. You see this in the Pagan community but also outside of the Pagan circles--like in the situation I am now in.

I try to teach my students about power. I remind them to think about their own power position when they start informing others about their faith. Allowing others to shape their own needs and experiences is very important to me and I try to teach that. Ironically, this is also an abuse of power. It's the 'harm none'-principle; no matter how hard you try, you will always hurt someone along the way. What matters is being aware of your actions so you can take responsibility for them. That is the crux of power abuse; if you use your power without thought or without taking responsibility for the consequences, you're not using your power, you are abusing it.

So for all who are--like most of us--in a position of power; please be aware of your influence on those your message reaches. Power, as they say, corrupts. It's easy to become complacent and forgetful. The best teachers, Elders, and other authority figures are the ones who never forget. Those who never allow themselves to feel above others. These are the authority figures we respect most.