A Shining Example: Goddess Luminary Leadership Wheel, by Lynne Sedgmore
Reviewed by Geraldine Charles
Do we need leaders? Quite a few people I’ve come across in the Goddess movement during the last twenty years or so have been strongly opposed to any kind of leadership – but why? I suspect this is a holdover from early second-wave feminism: after all, those pioneer consciousness-raising groups didn’t need much in the way of structure. Unfortunately, however, that led our groups to underestimate what such a lack of framework might mean when we began to move on to activism or, indeed in any direction that required more than listening and the pursuit of insight.
“Going down the waterfall”
I heard the waterfall metaphor many years ago, from a friend who had recently joined a group of women activists. It all felt chaotic to her and for a long time she struggled to understand the group dynamics and even what—if anything!—had been agreed in meetings. Then she became friends with some of the group members and suddenly – whoosh! Kim quickly realised that it was those very friendships that allowed her sudden ability actively to participate in the group and influence decisions. Not every “unofficial” leader ever becomes aware of her power in this way.
I’ve banged on about the problems a lack of structure can cause for decades, so was delighted to see Lynne reference Jo Freeman’s The Tyranny of Structurelessness[*] and go on to concur that denial of any leaders can camouflage where the power really lies in a group, making challenges or changes of direction almost impossible to achieve.
A new paradigm
When I first heard about Lynne’s Luminary Leadership training a couple of years ago it didn’t take much thought to realise what an extraordinary—and necessary—path the training offers, one of many such routes to achieving the end of patriarchy and moving towards the vision of the MotherWorld[†]. And let’s face it, no-one who has been alive and taking notice during the last few years can possibly deny how essential this kind of pioneering work is.
Workplaces, for example, can be truly horrible places right now, with or without Covid-19. Workplaces where bullying is an everyday occurrence. Workplaces where gaslighting is considered a great management tool. Toxic leadership is everywhere I look. Could the new paradigm Lynne describes, this new view of leadership in combination with Goddess spirituality really work?
Lynne’s book helps us to see yet more ways that patriarchy has limited us, not just those we know only too well, but also how we can pursue our own dreams without becoming part of the problem. It also becomes clear that attibutes often seen as “feminine” are of fundamental importance in this new style, with the use of intuition as a prime example. But there is far more to this new paradigm than simply saying we should value such feminine attributes more.
Please don’t be put off if, like me, you don’t think of yourself as a current or aspiring leader! There is plenty in this book for everyone interested in how we move forward towards our goals. Lynne quickly makes it clear that the very word “leader” has meant something quite different within patriarchy to the ideas and suggestions she puts forward here. “Luminary” is Lynne’s preferred term for leader and it’s easy to see why it’s so useful to replace a word with connotations of masculinity with one suggesting, as Lynne writes: “a person who inspires and influences others… also… someone who illuminates”.
I found the Luminary Leadership Wheel fascinating. For me it seems to condense all of Lynne’s teachings to the wheel’s centre, to “Illuminatrix” in that singular point of–I think the only word here is love–but then to explore out in each direction, towards the archetypes with their ways of knowing and of being leaderful. A path far less linear and quite unlike any management training course I’ve ever seen, but one which spirals between possibilities and strategies.
It was also great to see some of Kat Shaw’s wonderful paintings being given the showing they so richly deserve!
This isn’t just a book to read, digest and set aside: a fully interactive guide to excellence in leadership is here, allowing anyone who wishes to follow along the full power of Lynne’s decades of experience and learning. But that isn’t all, there are also links to online resources including videos, songs, chants and even labyrinth drawing instructions!
One of my personal measures of any book of this kind is the bibliography, and Lynne’s first-rate one means I’ve come away not only with a feeling of excitement at the many books I now look forward to reading, but also motivated afresh at the thought that maybe more things can change than I once dared to dream of.