[This issue, we sit down with activist and author, Lynne Sedgmore. Here, she discusses her personal spiritual practices; her new book, Goddess Luminary Leadership Wheel; and her forthcoming projects.]
ev0ke: Which Deity/Deities, spirits, or other powers are honored in your tradition?
Lynne Sedgmore: I experience the Divine in female form through a liberating and embodied path in which I experience Goddess through the natural elements, in the turning of the seasons, in every life form, through other people and in the fullest expression of my female body. For me Goddess is She of 1000 names, and more, appearing in many shapes and forms throughout time, landscapes, cultures and space. I am panentheistic, seeing Goddess inside and beyond me. My direct knowing of Goddess holds paradox, intimacy and deliciousness within the visceral knowing of a loving, benign, creative, birthing universe. I have walked to Goddess, with Goddess and, when fully in flow, as Goddess. All I do is influenced from Goddess experienced as verb, rather than as noun or a separate entity.
As a Priestess of Avalon I have dedicated to Goddess in the form, tradition and lineage of the Lady of Avalon in Glastonbury, England. Having explored a range of faith traditions and spiritual paths I have “come home”, in my sixties, to my Brythonic Celtic heritage.
In my tradition the Brigit-Anna and Avalonian Wheels provide a framework for spiritual expression and practice. Goddess spirituality, for me, is a conscious and disruptive choice to oppose and challenge patriarchy and patriarchal religions.
ev0ke: You have been at the forefront of recognizing and incorporating spirituality into the workplace. Why is this important? How can spirituality be a positive in a work environment?
LS: I have always wanted to bring all of myself into my work life and that included my own spirituality. Since a child my spirituality has always been an important part of who I am.
I loved my 36 years work in Further Education. For many years I kept my work life and spiritual life separate out of fear of being ridicule or not being taken seriously. Much of my spiritual life has been unconventional which was an added factor. My leadership also involves spiritual formation, as I believe the authentic leader needs to know who they truly are and leads through a clear purpose and values that serves the greater good for all involved.
I discovered other people who felt the same, so as I moved into senior leadership positions I offered service through fostering work environments that encourage others to express their own spirituality within the workplace in an open and liberating way. I consciously experimented with this from 1989. Another reason to foster spirituality in the workplace is to co-create leadership and community cultures that function from love rather than fear.
This is important because it offers a more holistic way of being at work for those who value their spirituality. It also allows a deeper meaning to words such as team spirit and high spirited. You can feel the energy of workplaces that encompass and express a myriad of spiritualities in a heathy and respectful way.
ev0ke: You just released Goddess Luminary Leadership Wheel: A Post-Patriarchal Paradigm. First, congratulations! Second, what inspired you to write this book?
LS: It wasn’t a conscious decision or a burning desire to write the book. During the quiet and solitude of COVID isolation it emerged organically. I found myself spending days writing and the book took form. It was a very easeful and enjoyable experience. I wrote as and when I felt inspired to, not to any schedule or deadline. In essence my book is a deep expression of my soul – through a synthesis of my leadership experience and Goddess spirituality. A very different experience from writing poems. The only part I didn’t enjoy writing was comprising the online resource section but I really wanted to include videos and chants. The part I liked best was making the book a relationship and interactive experience between myself and the reader.
The book is of the Goddess Luminary course I created and ran from 2018. The course flowed through me during my Priestess training, following an invitation from Kathy Jones to offer something within the Glastonbury Goddess Temple. Many Luminary students asked me to write the book of the course so the idea was gestating in 2019.
It felt the right time to share how I view leadership differently from how others around me saw it. I could never accept the conventional, hierarchical, patriarchal, power over, controlling, heroic, individualistic and competitive approach of mainstream leadership. Inside I always knew there was a different and better way, a way in which I didn’t have to sell my soul or compromise my values to be an effective leader. The Luminary Wheel and Way is a culmination and synthesis of my life and a way of offering service from my privilege.
ev0ke: Why “luminary” instead of “leader”?
LS: The word ‘Luminary’ resonates with me more than the usual word of ‘leader’. I define a Luminary as someone who births their own fullest potential and the potential of others and is willing and ready to step into leadership. I use the term Luminary to replace the more masculine word of leader and all its associations, and to bring about a radical shift in how leadership can be manifested. Luminary means ‘a person who inspires and influences others, someone prominent in their field’. It also means ‘a natural light-giving body, especially the sun or moon’, someone who illuminates.
For me leadership is relational and collective, and I have always tried to lead in a transformational way that is different from conventional or individualistic leadership. The Luminary journey is for anyone interested in pushing the current boundaries and understanding of leadership in the world. Society mystifies leadership as something belonging only to a few people who are considered better than, or above, everybody else. I view leadership as something that many people have, to varying degrees. Anyone who chooses to can be a leader, especially if they are fostered, supported, and developed. The key question is “What kind of leader do you wish to be?”
ev0ke: How did you go about creating the Wheel itself? Personal experience? Spiritual insight? Discussions with other people in leadership positions?
LS: Initially the teachings came through me in poetic form as the Goddess Charge to Her Luminaries. The Wheel formed out of a mixture of being present to what was arising in the moment and a synthesis of my experience and understanding of over 40 years of being a spiritual seeker and a leader. A cyclical Wheel felt appropriate to me for the non-linear way in which leadership manifests in real time, in any context. I spent time in moonlight, and felt her flowing cyclical energy, so the underpinning framework of the Wheel became moon, her phases and illumination energy. I also walked the land and meditated to foster and allow what needed to come through me. I performed rituals and asked for guidance and inspiration. I reflected on my own leadership journey and what had helped me most in all of my leadership roles. I revisited, synthesised and integrated my leadership and spiritual experience and wisdom.
I work iteratively, with many drafts and constant scribbles. I drew an initial wheel inspired by Kathy Jones’ Brigit-Anna and Avalonian Wheels. I used the same elemental directions within a structure of moon phases. I just kept playing. I cannot draw on a computer so I did it on an A3 paper in pencil, literally cutting and pasting. It was fun.
Goddess Gnosis came through very clearly at the centre, the importance of encouraging a direct and visceral knowing of Goddess, in whatever shape or form she is experienced. Next Illuminatrix appeared, then the other 5 archetypes. Gradually the eight dimensions emerged as a holding frame and the rest of the Wheel flowed from there. All the words arose as non-gendered. I chose blue as the primary colour as it is part of the moon colour spectrum.
In the early stages of development I sought feedback from friends which was really helpful.
ev0ke: You describe the Wheel as “much more than simply placing desirable feminine attributes into existing male or masculine leadership models and practices.” Can you give us an example of a “masculine leadership model” and how the Wheel undermines and replaces it?
LS: The lens through which most mainstream leadership approaches are understood is that of the privileged white male, which can exclude individuals from non-dominant identities, including women. A “masculine leadership model” is one steeped in dominator hierarchy, individualism, materialism and power over. It relies on controlling others as it believes others cannot be trusted and it is motivated from fear. It is designed to favour men over women and negates rather than embraces our personal and spiritual lives. Too many organisations are still functioning with heroic, charismatic or individualistic leadership models. Leadership literature is still dominated by male writers and most leadership constructs are white, male heteronormative and western centric. I feel strongly that conventional male-centred, patriarchal leadership paradigms have failed women, many men and non binary people, and continue to do so. as they fosters the continuation of binary thinking and solutions that don’t challenge or work to remove patriarchy and institutionalised sexism.
I have spent my life simultaneously working within and challenging patriarchal conventions. It’s what I do as an edge-walker and a change agent.
My leadership model is not only spiritual, it is female, Goddess centered and feminist and seeks to achieve gender and racial justice. It is also infused with Leaderful, Teal, post-conventional, integral, embodiment, activist and modern protest perspectives.
I focus less on the differences and more on developing, enhancing, encouraging and fostering the fullest potential of every person, regardless of any gender binary or societal limitations.
I articulate a leadership style that leads from love. Not a “fluffy” kind of love, but a deep, authentic love that can be tough and fierce and challenging as well as kind, embracing, expansive and empowering. I include emotional and spiritual and somatic intelligences, not just the intellect. My leadership development includes questions for reflection, poetry, exercises, embodiment practices, chants, music, movement and the creation of ceremonies, altars and rituals.
ev0ke: You have also released the poetry collection, Crone Times. How did you decide which poems to include? And which poem was the most difficult, but ultimately most satisfying to write?
LS: As I moved into my sixties I became more and more surrounded by people dying, illness and increased awareness of my own ageing. As I explored the Goddess forms of Crone and Callieach new poems began to flow. Ones that celebrated Crone, The beauty, power, wisdom and fabulous juiciness of older women living life to the full with all the aches and pains, as well as good humour and high spirits. I also wanted to acknowledge my experiences of loss, facing death and the depths and suffering of the Crone experience. For me Crone is an important manifestation of the sacred feminine/Goddess, in the later stage of life.
As I looked at the fifty poems I had written I grouped them into the themes of crone, death and dying, bleak, no self and burning.
The most difficult poem to write was “Watching My Mother Die” as it was a literal experience of sitting at her bedside in the hospital after a very severe stroke. It was her second stroke so we had had nearly a year in which to say all the things that needed to be said as the threat of a second stroke always felt imminent. She was 86 and ready to leave the earthly plane.
Composing a poem can involve very different processes. For me, poems are expressions of gratitude or joy, describe nature, help me to work through suffering and grief or simply capture the profundity of a feeling, relationship, event or incident. This poem felt like undertaking a ritual to let my mother go, and to feel deeply into how much I love her.
Although it hurt while writing it, it was also very healing. Her death left me, as the eldest daughter, the oldest in my family of my generation; fully Crone. It is from this poem that I viscerally knew I was now living in my own Crone Times, the title of the collection.
Healing our mother wounding is a significant part of Goddess spirituality, as is working through the death of our mother, as we are all born from our mother’s womb, and return ourselves back to Mother Goddess.
ev0ke: Where can readers find your work?
My website link is here.
My book Goddess Luminary Leadership Wheel can be found at Amazon and at Glastonbury Goddess Temple Gifts.
My two poetry collections Crone Times and Healing through the Goddess are also available at Amazon and Goddess Temple Gifts.
The details of the Goddess Luminary course are here.
ev0ke: What other projects are you working on?
LS: If this book is successful I hope to write a second book which focuses more on collective ways of facilitating and leading as a Luminary, the content of Spiral 2 of the course. My third Spiral 1 Luminary face to face group began in November 2021.
I am always writing poems so a fourth poetry collection may form.
I love the Enneagram and have begun mapping Goddess onto the Enneagram. My coaching and leadership work with charities has grown this year, especially online and I have gone onto two new boards to keep my leadership experience current. I have the privilege of continuing to bridge mainstream and spiritual worlds on the Glastonbury Town Deal Board, an exciting investment of nearly £25 million for Glastonbury Town.