We are founding the Ring of *Ghosti- with a vision and the structure to become a large organization. We are trying to learn from the issues that have arisen in multiple Neopagan groups throughout the many years of our decades of experience. We hope that addressing these issues will make us stronger and attractive to those looking for a home worshiping the Indo-European deities and spirits.
The biggest reasons why the Ring of *Ghosti- is being formed is because of poor responses to crises, activism, cronyism and nepotism, transparency, and just listening to the members and taking their suggestions into account in other organizations. Many of these things are structural. When it comes to crises, we need to have clear policies in place that are followed, without favoritism to anyone. We also need to have a small board of directors that empower someone to speak up quickly and clearly when the need arises. Often just being up front and saying that something is happening, we’re investigating, and if you have anything that can help us come to a decision please let us know, is enough to calm the membership.
While we may be forming because of these reasons, there have been plenty of experiences that we do desire to re-create. We want to develop a tight knit community of members that are able to freely exchange ideas and scholarship. We desire to bring our members together in friendship and fellowship through our rituals and celebrations. We expect to build an organization that gives back to their local community.
Activism is another thing that we need to be open to, within certain areas. The IRS and the maintenance of a non-profit tax exempt status is the biggest limit to this. We cannot specifically speak out in favor of, or against any specific politician, or say go vote X party. As an organization, we can champion specific causes and promote activism based on those causes. Being Neopagans, we should be able to agree on promoting pro-environment causes. As an inclusive organization, we should be able to agree on fighting for equal rights for everyone. So, activism in the environmental and human rights arenas are things we should expect, and expect statements from our leadership.
Cronyism and Nepotism is a major issue that is found in every organization. Those in leadership tend to maintain a small circle of friends that tend to all be in leadership positions. There is also a tendency of people in an organization to look at those that are either older, or have been in the organization longest, as those who should be the leaders. This is just human nature, and changing that would be a huge task. Instead, we should keep the leaders closer to the members with a flatter organizational structure. We also need to have firm term limits that force people to step out of leadership. Those that have been forced to sit out have often found that spending time not being in a leadership position has been nothing but a positive effect on their lives.
We also need to actively combat the idea that any clergy we eventually ordain are any better or more important than the other members. Earning ordination does not mean that the person is qualified to be a leader, especially if any future training program does not include training in leadership. Instead, we should expect our clergy to be liturgists, ritualists, and repositories of the lore. Let's work from the start to keep the clergy as close to the membership with as few, and preferably no, extra privileges as possible.
Transparency is fundamental to preventing many of the abuses seen in many organizations. If the officers who run the organization work with the expectation that everything they do is able to be audited by the membership, then they will be less likely to do things that don’t benefit that membership as a whole. At minimum, we should expect that any board meetings will be open to all the membership to watch. It would be even better if there was allowed participation by the members during the meetings. We also need to have prompt reporting of all meetings and if possible, sharing of the raw recordings of the meetings. The technology exists to do this, we should expect us to use it.
We need to also keep the membership first. This means that the leadership needs to actively engage with the membership. There is a tendency to close yourself off and only talk to others leading the organization when you are in leadership. The expectation then becomes that the members need to approach you, and if they don’t, they are happy. This is usually farthest from the truth. Our leaders need to be continuously interacting with the members. Ideally this would be in person, but with limits on vacation time and funds for travel this is not always possible. The leadership needs to be engaging the membership nonetheless. If this means using electronic means instead of in person, so be it. Seeing an offering like a video-conference based moon ritual every new or full moon would be a good place to start.
These are the areas where other organizations have failed and we hope to avoid. There are plenty of places where other organizations succeed, and there is no reason why we couldn’t too. The biggest thing we can continue doing is to keep the quality of the scholarship high. We need to be willing to change our thoughts and practice when the scholarship changes. We should be willing to create new practices and admit that they are new, but yet justify why we are doing things in this way. We should also focus on providing good rituals that fulfill the spiritual needs of the members. We finally need to focus on forming friendship and fellowship among all our members.
So, while we will start small, and know that we may never grow beyond a local group, we are going to organize to be a large, international organization. The principles outlined above should work well to make us a lasting organization be us thousands of people or only dozens of people. We hope that in 10 or 20 years, we have local congregations thriving around the world.