While this conversation over all must of course be about degrees of authority, I am going to talk about more absolute basics. I've had a great many conversations of people who say this author or that is authoritarian says "this is the way things are done", but that they prefer this other author. Which is fine as far as it goes and is a surprisingly authoritarian perspective to have. Stay with me a moment.
First, an author or lecturer or teacher of any kind must start with the most basic premise; there are either rules or there are not, if not, the conversation is already finished. There is nothing more to say at that point. If there are rules, well first you have to make sure you and the person you are communicating with are talking about the same thing. There is Traditional Wicca, eclectic Wicca, NeoPaganism, Asatru, and so many, many other versions and ideas. So this is actually trickier than you would think at first. many people use the same words, but actually mean very different things. This is also a step that many people have problems with not only writing, but understanding in reading. Scholarly books more often use this technique, but are not nearly as popular with readers.
Second, something I have found fascinating about the countless conversations I have had about this, is the simple fact that what people are really saying, without realizing it is "this author is good because they say what I agree with, but this other author is authoritarian because the way they say things is not what I agree with." Why do I say that? Simple. Every Pagan author I have ever heard of has been described by one person as not authoritarian, but authoritarian by another. They all say this is the way, very few say this is the only way, unless they are saying this is the only way to do what I do, and that is entirely correct. There are individuals who DO take things to extremes, but usually they loose followers on a regular basis. That is hard to maintain over people in the long run.
Third, any time you say "this herb (or stone or what have you) does this" you are speaking from an authoritarian point of view. You are claiming that there are in fact rules and they are this particular way.
Hopefully I will revisit this topic in the future and deal with the more dangerous sort of authoritarianism that crops up with some sorts of individuals.