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Question of the Week: 113

Pagan Problem Children: What Can We Do About Them?

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 Author: Pagan Community    Posted: Sep. 7, 2002   This Page Viewed: 263,554  

Vox Q Stats

Times Viewed: 32,767

Reponses: 2,666

Lurk/Post Ratio: 12 to 1

Question of the Week: 113 - 6/8/2003

Pagan Problem Children: What Can We Do About Them?

Let’s be honest. There are some people who inhabit our Pagan/Heathen communities who are clearly ‘problem children’. They may lie about their experience, lineage, credentials or intentions. They have been banned, banished or fired and yet they resurface and unabashedly continue on their merry ways. Worse even, we may have sexual predators, charlatans, thieves or con artists working their scams amongst us.

It seems that we are reluctant to confront them (or even to prosecute those who exhibit actual criminal behaviors) lest ‘it make us all look bad’. Well, they DO make us all look bad and we won’t look any prettier if they are eventually exposed (or indicted) by those outside of our own communities. But what can WE really do?

What does a Traditional coven or group do about former members who resurface still claiming to be a ‘priest or priestess of such-and-such degree’ after they have been banished by that group? What if these folks never earned or were stripped of those same degrees that they claim to hold?

What should we do about those known to use the lure of ‘teaching witchcraft’ in order to take advantage of others or coerce them into sexual relationships? What about Pagan merchants who take our money and then never produce the product?

CAUTION! This is a hot topic and so this is where I start placing notes of caution and related disclaimers all over the darn place: Please do not name names or point fingers at any specific person, persons or group here. {If a person committed a crime (sexual assault, theft, fraud, etc.) against you, please report him/her to the proper legal authorities. And yes, we know that this is a very difficult thing to do.} This is not the official Pagan Hit List. We are not the Pagan Police.

What we are looking for here (Help us, O Wise Elders/Leaders/Guides from all Traditions, Paths and Religions!) are examples of successful techniques or procedures from those who have experienced the ‘Pagan Problem Children’ or ideas about how the Pagan/Heathen communities can better cope with -- and reduce the havoc resulting from -- the actions of the ‘problem children’ amongst us -- and do so without resorting to ‘witch-hunts’ ourselves.
POST YOUR Response to This Question

 Reponses:   There are 2,666 responses posted to this question. Reverse Sort 


Problem Children Are Our Problem Aug 6th. at 3:25:15 am UTC

Lutra (Hattiesburg, MS) Age: 47 - Email


I’m new to this path when I picked up a book at a military store in Japan last April. I’ve been reading ever since. Granted, this like studying the road map prior to making the trip and don’t think for a second that the concern of this question hasn’t crossed my mind. This is because everyone has these ‘problem children.’ It is just a matter of identifying the types of problems they create. You find them at your school, your work, and in their churches too.

Here I need to refer you to ‘You Have To Pick Your Battles’ posted Apr 25th. at 11:50:18 pm EDT by Dryada (Auburn) for sound common sense advice. But for the most part (criminal behavior aside) these concerns seem trite at present. Now I ask you check out the good folks in Iraq. Not just our brothers and sister fighting for the Shrub’s way of democratic life, but the poor children of Allah that have inherited this ‘legal government’ and the bag of doo left behind by their predecessor. And you thought you have problems. Well, guess what? We will.

I have felt for a long time that our K-12 educational system has been lacking for some time now. It seems to be more geared to weeding out those that are not the self-starters that our society seems to demand. There is just not enough effort on the part of the educators to help those that really need the help. Too many times I hear of kids left behind because they can't keep up with the status quo. I see it everywhere. In the navy I saw too many times the 'problem child' just passed off to be someone else's problem. The adage of fixing the symptom is easier than fixing the problem... in medicine, school and the workplace, it is becoming too much of the norm. The squeaky wheel doesn't get the grease as often as it gets replaced these days. Our youth is not a disposable commodity our society can toss out with the rest of the trash when it does not function as advertised, nor is it a resource that can be ravened gluttonously to satisfy our mundane desires. Our youth is our future.

Putting the blame on our society seems the easiest way out. We go to our job (sometimes two or more) to pay off a debit for a way life that is fun filled with entertainment. We may count ourselves luck if we have a spouse that can enter the work force too. Now our children won’t be left to their own devices for as long as the single parent’s might. We expect a socially responsible and ethically moral up-bringing from our busted down educational system. Our kids learn nothing of ethics, only the desire for immediate gratification. The simple fact is, we don’t raise our own kids; society does with all her entertainments… and we go to work to pay for it.

There really is much more to it than just the above; but even this morsel of thought food is enough to give one indigestion. Really the bottom line may be easier to say than to do because I feel that if we don’t want our children to grow up to be ‘problem children, ’ we must make the effort to set the example ourselves by displaying ethically moral social behavior in our every day lives, and not leave the burden to an institution.


Do Not Tollerate It Anymore Apr 26th. at 8:21:01 pm UTC

Vanyanka (North Carolina ,) Age: 23 - Email


When we allow those type of people in our midst it does several things. One, it gives us all a bad name and makes us look like we are all that way to the uninformed masses. Which causes us more problems with the others giving us a hard time. Two, it allows predators to attack over and over again. Which in turn harms us all. Three, It makes those who are new to the faith that see that get a "bad taste" in there mouth for all of us. As it is human nature to generalize things. And Four, it allows for criminals to go unchecked so that they may repeat the offense and potentially do worse.
We need to not allow this to happen and to remove them from our sight. For goodness sake isn't one of the main forms of the goddes a WARRIOR!!!!!! Duh


You Have To Pick Your Battles Apr 25th. at 11:50:18 pm UTC

Dryada (Auburn) Age: 51 - Email


There are several issues here, wildly subsumed under a broad ranging topic. Not everything should have the same approach.

If you have a criminal (i.e., a crime against persons or by extension, as in theft) , call the police. And YES, name names and repeat the names in public and in circle, in blogs and in zines! Let's not make ourselves easy targets, people! We will call this OPTION 1 and refer to it often...

There will be some disagreements in certain cases as to facts, etc. Be rational. I know this is asking a lot sometimes, sometimes rationality is exactly what the more sensitive members of our community can't handle. If you don't think the police would be interested, well then, we probably shouldn't assume we know what's going on either.

If someone is pressuring adult group members into sexual relationships via "cult leadership" or simply "oh, I'm a priest (or priestess) and I think this should be part of your initiation" (or 2nd or 3rd degree, or whatever) .....well, guess what. Sometimes it's true. Really. Though I suspect it is less common than it used to be in the current disease climate.

Now, there are tons of groups that don't work that way and at minimum I would expect people to be a little extra picky about who they are initiated by if they wish to advance in a group that genuinely worked that way, but sometimes people are vulnerable, and sometimes they are stupid. If someone is doing this to people under 18, please refer back to the solution for criminal behavior. If someone 18 or older thinks they have to be initiated by a wiccan group with sexual requirements, please let them know that there are plenty of other options. But you can't give someone a backbone. I would say that what we really need to do in this instance is make it clear there are plenty of ther options! Perhaps we should ALERT people to reports of sexual behavior requirements for certain groups, and be OPEN and not secretive about this occuring, so we can make sure people know there are other options and they are walking into such situations with eyes open. We can call this OPTION 2, kiss and tell.

I will kiss and tell right now, and TELL you that a significant number of Gardnerian and Gardnerian style groups at least in the past maintained sexual interaction requirements for higher level initiations. 20 years ago this was not considered all that weird, and most people considering higher level initiations in such groups were emotionally mature enough to handle this. But then, we didn't have AIDS just yet.

You said:

"They may lie about their experience, lineage, credentials or intentions. They have been banned, banished or fired and yet they resurface and unabashedly continue on their merry ways."

Banishment, whatever that is, doesn't necessarily remove someone's credentials, just (I gather) their access to that group. If, for example, someone is claiming to be a Third Degree whatever (like...Pagan Way, Gardnerian, or British Tradition, or OTO...) then I am not aware of any way that any of these groups have of removing their right to call themselves a Third Degree. However, member of the group can say that so-and-so is not a member in good standing, of say, the Northwestern Council, if there is such a thing for that tradition. (I am new to the Northwest and have not been active for a while.) It seems to me that MOST such falling outs are only relevant to the internal group, however, that may not apply if there is criminal behavior (see option 1 above...) or the person appears to be a sexual predator (see option 2, kiss and tell..) .

If someone LIES about their experience and credentials, and you can't tell, then, hey, they must be reincarnated! If you can tell and you don't say the Emperor Has No Clothes, well, I now bring you to OPTION 3. SAY the "Emperor Has No Clothes." Hey, give them enough rope and let them hang themselves, but do point it out. I cannot prove one way or the other and I really don't care if someone is "lying" about credentials. I care about results, and I WILL say something if someone is significantly bogus.

If you are a member of a group with strict requirements for your members, hey, you can say if someone has been removed from that group, but be prepared to say why, and be prepared to ACCEPT that most people WON'T CARE that they had a fight with the head priestess of your circle, for example. In instances such as this, THEY ARE ALLOWED to "continue on their merry way, " with other players, of course. In fact, many Wiccan style groups used to consider it a REQUIREMENT that a person headed for leadership (priest or priestess) have a significant difference of opinion and show themselves to be questioning the current priest and/or priestess. Just because you didn't get along with them doesn't mean no one else will.

And I will hear "well, this isn't perfect love and perfect trust."

Hmm..

Maybe, maybe not. I can love someone as part of all the Goddess' creatures, and still trust them to be themselves. Being themselves may or may not work for me, and I need to know myself, and I need honest information about other people in order to determine with whom I can work.

So I would say, what we need to do is to be honest and open with each other, and limit what we consider "internal secrets, " but also to grow up about group disagreements that are neither criminal nor predatory, and move on.

Oh, and lineage. I don't know of anyone to speak of who has a real Wiccan lineage longer than 2 or 3 or MAYBE 4 generations, but I guess we have people with Native American heritage, people who may really be a descendant of some important name in Pagan history, and then the always exciting claim of reincarnation. Many people have Native American heritage, including me. That doesn't mean that they have real info on Native American traditional religion. Many people claim to be a reincarnation of someone important, sometimes it seems to be true. You'll have to figure that one out for yourself, but don't forget your salt when you go out...

Love, and Balance,

Dryada
@}->-- Love is the Law, Love under Will
....You can do what you want....
...You will get what you create....
@}->-@}->-@}->-@}->-
@}->-@}->-@}->-@}->-


There Are Bad Apples In Every Community Jan 21st. at 3:59:30 pm UTC

Stella Draconis (California) Age: 21 - Email


There are bad apples in every community that makes everyone gnash their teeth, true we aren't all a bunch of drug addicted, perverse loonies, but there are plenty of people in every communtiy that are. I think all we have to do is try to be more aware of them.


Problem Children? Dec 6th. at 3:28:10 am UTC

LadyMoonDragon (USA) Age: 24 - Email


I think that we have *problem* adults in our community if anything! Lying about one's supposed lineage to the craft is just stupid because only a small minority of us actually have true lineage to the craft. The rest of you just pretend you have lineage when you don't. As far as trying to have someone teach you, it usually is not a good idea. You have to question their basic knowledge as well as your personal safety with them. You are better off studying by yourself. Personally I don't pay much attention to titles or who has what degree of learning. That is stupid because for one thing whether a person is just a beginner, intermediate, or advanced everybody continues to learn throughout life. In the pagan paths we are already a Priest or Priestess as seen by the God and Goddess.


AIIIEEEEYAHK!!!! Nov 10th. at 4:30:55 am UTC

Nokomis (alabama) Age: 23 - Email


I repeated MYSELF!!! geez, I guess I shoulda taken the time to read some of the posts.


I Don't Have Time To Read All The Posts... Nov 10th. at 4:27:11 am UTC

Nokomis (Alabama) Age: 23 - Email


so I may repeat something already stated. I think the best way of portraying ourselves to the public to disspell the effect of "problem children" on public view is to be model people ourselves. Show them that not all of us are drug-crazed, perverse, child-sacrificing nutz. Prove to them that most of us are law abiding if not convicts on the rehab (like some of us) . Live up to what it is that we want to teach the public.
Yeah, we're gonna have some nutz that'll get all the publicity and put us back a few steps. But, being a rather scattered and diverse group we can hardly band together under a single banner and publish pamphlets to hand out Friday nights on the corner in front of the movie theater as people walk out (*goes back to childhood encounters with Jehovah's Witnesses after seeing horror movies at the local theater*) . Yeah, let us each be a living example of what we want to tell the public.


As It Has Always Been: The Good, The Bad And The Ugly. Oct 29th. at 12:14:05 pm UTC

Marie-Louise Frier (UK) Age: 21 - Email


This is why I am so firmly in support of keeping Wicca for those who follow Wicca because it leaves the gate wide open for the ignorant to make claims about something which they know little about.
As someone whom worked on a Wicca website and currently owning a Wicca community I know these trouble children well, most are generally considered harmless, however being within Paganism as long as I have I can safely say that these troubled children may seem harmless enough but in the long term it just adds to a much larger problem. To be honest I don’t think there is much that can be done except keep up a strong front against them, never dropping your principles in keeping them right and keeping them out, but even then it’s a hard path to take, often I find myself under a great deal of stress and criticism, often wanting to give up – when they outnumber you it’s hard to keep your principles without turning into some sort of monster.
I’ve seen the evil side too, my own tutor when I was considering going into Wicca, before turning to Neo-Wicca was a sexual predator. I was not harmed however many friends found them to be the victim of his verbal abuse and I saw the evidence from online perversions involving young boys, along with perversion of others faith, he gave us a bad name. This gentleman was a PF member, in fact the local co-ordinator, when reported to the PF someone decided it was not our fight, informed him of the situation and he promptly quit the next day without any action taken against him. Even now when warning others in the area that this man is still very much active in our community I get people arguing otherwise, online users who somehow seem to know me and do their best to discredit my claims.
There is little we can do to deal with our troubled children, keep fighting the good fight, but in the end like the wider society as a whole we are greatly outnumbered, we just have to protect ourselves and others the best we can by networking, moderating of our communities and being sure to know who it is we join.


Who Are You Anyway? Oct 8th. at 7:26:05 pm UTC

Rev. Toby Nixon (Arcata California) Age: 25 - Email - Web


It seems to me that if monoculture is your goal...
Go for it.
Do not say anything to me if you don't agree with me.
For in the end it is not you who gets to judge me.
I mean, I don't like Celtic practices, I don't like Druidic practices, and I sure as hell do not like the Wiccan Practice of authoritarianism.

What is your problem anyway, you can deal with Christians all day, yet when it comes to people who are Pagan and have different views than you, you ask should we press charges, should we kill them, what should we do?

I can tell you what you can do with it.
You can just shove it, and you know exactly where.
Up your ***ing ass, and if you don't like it, well I've already told you where to stick it don't make me tell you again!

I hear it alot, but, you won't get me, I, and my brothers and sisters will ride with the Valkyries to Val Halla!

This is why I founded the Church of Pagan Power.
Cannabis Pagans, Pagan Power Social, Pagans for Gay Marriage, and Toby Nixon Enterprises.

So Shut up and leave me alone, go spy on, authoritize and prostyltize someone else. Link to More info related to this post -- HERE


Problem Children.. Aug 26th. at 11:55:40 am UTC

Ravenwillow (Lynnwood, WA) Age: 27 - Email


When I first read the title to this, I thought it was quite directly referring to 'problem pagan children' as opposed to the euphamistic 'problem children.'. Perhaps the first should be addressed as well, but this is certainly a good question.
So I will address the question as issued.. Pagan Problem Children. If they are doing something illegal, 'CALL THE POLICE, Press Charges', and if its a sexual predator, anonymously alert the parents, or the individual if you are not comfortable approaching them with your suspicions.
Cult leaders? Stay away from them, advise others to stay away from them as well, and back up your advice with reasons that are based in available evidence.
Those who claim false degrees, have been banished or banned from a particular group, and other such? Really there is nothing we *CAN* do for these people. In the case of lineage, its usually difficult to debunk, in the case of false degrees, we don't register, so its rather difficult to prove or disprove. If its someone local and you actually know the story, first, speak with them to get their side of the story, and then be tell people. Otherwise, they'll reap what they sow, and since we've no legal recourse, that must be what we let happen.
In a community like ours, we really need to openly communicate about predators and nutjobs, and be self policing. I'm a member of the SCA, and while they're a much more closeknit organization then we are, the art of self-policing works amazingly well for them, even when its based on reputation. Perhaps we should follow their lead?
And since I didn't address this above, I'll address it now. Yes.. Using magick to defend yourself, to stop another from hurting others, or, in rare rare instances, purely offensive magick is completely acceptable in my book. (Just remember you're going to reap what you dish out, I prefer the more karmically-friendly version of binding) . I know this will greatly offend some people, and I would be quick to point out I've never come into a situation where that last measure has *EVER* been used by me or anyone I know. I simply don't refute it as a viable option if no other angle seems appropriate.

A comment on 'Evil'.

Yes.. I firmly believe there is evil in the world, in all of them in fact. I am not a 'fluffy' pagan, I believe that just as there are helpful and benign critters between the worlds, so are there not-so-helpful and baneful creatures between the worlds. This is part of the reason we cast a circle that everyone seems to play down, to protect ourselves from whats between. But thats another soapbox, and I'll stay off of that one today.


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