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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: 318,656  

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

Problem People Amongst Us Aug 23rd. at 1:50:19 am EDT

Nokomis (alabama) Age: 23 - Email

I can't say what to do about them because I've not had the needed experience. But I can say that we as individuals can show good representations of our faith to the public so that when the time comes that there's a bad story in the news about Pagans there will be some people that will know it to be not indicative of all Pagans. If all would keep that in mind, there'd be no such problems. Maybe I live in a dream world.

"Problem Child" Mar 31st. at 1:41:30 pm EST

Ani (WV) Age: 26 - Email

This is a somewhat emotional topic for me. When what has been tidily termed my 'awakening' began (without my consent) a few years ago, I was immediately labeled a 'problem child' because I have a point of view that makes many people uncomfortable: namely, that Evil both exists and has power to influence our lives. My experience taught me this-- in neon letters three feet tall-- and I still believe it is true.

Of course, people like me aren't the problem children we are talking about. But I would like to make a point about the great deal of distress caused by dismissing people simply because they have a point of view we do not want to hear.

I very nearly forsook my Path altogether because I could not deal with the pain of being told that I was delusional or playing games on top of the fear and pain inflicted by what was happening to me on a spiritual level. Fortunately I found a precious few people who believed me and helped me work with and fight what was going on, and now I am finding my way.

The problem children we are talking about are of several varieties. Some of them are immature people looking for power and attention. I have met a few like this, and I do not know what to do with them except to keep reaching out to them, keep talking to them... because many of them are victims of dysfunctional ideologies and can be helped. They are people who learned about Paganism from the ABC Afterschool Special and see it as an outlet for their internal problems... Our own version of the Screaming Christian Fundamentalist. They are the same people who like to broadcast how 'dark and tormented' they are and see depression as a fashion statement. They need our help and healing; and though they do need to be emphatically and repeatedly told that what they are doing is wrong, they do not need our condemnation.

Some of them are powertrippers, bona-fide cult leaders, people who only want absolute authority, easy money, sex, et cetera. I do not know what to do about these people, as I don't think they can be counseled out of it and the law doesn't allow us to stuff them in a basement somewhere (not that that's terribly ethical anyway, haha) . You certainly cannot appeal to God/dess or ethics, because they actually recognize nothing higher than themselves. The only thing I can think of is that we must not deny that they exist in an effort to 'keep from looking bad.' They are out there, and even if we do not choose to see them the media and the general public certainly will. The only treatment I know is to educate everyone you can about the presence of these people and how to identify them and GET AWAY. I highly recommend the Bonewits Cult Frame, which for those of you who don't already know about it is available at . Its an excellent tool for identifying dangerous situations under all labels, Pagan and otherwise.

And some of them are like the people that, sadly, I found first. They may initially fall into the above categories or not, but what they truly are are the servants of Evil in this world. Most of them KNOW it and WANT to do what they are doing. I know a lot of you will not want to believe this, and before you dismiss me as a paranoid ex-Christian still needing my Satan fix, let me tell you that I believe these people are thankfully quite rare.

What to do about them? Well, like the abusive powertrippers, the first step is to acknowledge that they exist so that you do not become or create easy prey for them. Fight them? That gets into 'gray magick' and is very dangerous... I cannot in good faith recommend that course to anyone because is is dangerous for everyone involved. It is easy to term someone evil simply because their point of view disagrees with yours, and then we have things called 'Inquistions, ' 'Crusades, ' and 'Witch Wars.' I wouldn't want to be the voice that started one of any of those things. It is also very possible to overstep your boundaries and thereby become that which you are trying to fight.

My advice on that one is simply this: If you ever have the misfortune to meet one of these people, GET AWAY. Get your physical body away from them and keep it away from them. Tell someone you trust what is going on, and make use of their support. Should any of you ever need it, I am fully willing to be someone you can trust. I can be reached at GET AWAY from them psychically as well... do not allow them to permeate your thoughts, because they will. Use that support person for this... talking it out keeps you from obsessing about it and giving them power over you. Shield like crazy and put the problem to rest in your own mind as quickly as possible. And leave doing something about their existence to Power. Sad as it is, they have their place in the Balance as much as we do.

Be part of the solution, not part of the problem. Be careful, be smart, and be blessed.

-- Ani

Problem Children Are Just Children Jan 29th. at 7:53:10 pm EST

Tina Keaney (Brockton) Age: 30 - Email

It's hard in these days. People judge us .Much less having a problem children. What we don't see is everyone has one or other problem. So you need to help them out with the problem the best you can.You see children are just young people who are just learning. Problem children are asking for answers and asking for proper dicipline . They need to know the consequences for there actions. For every action there is a equal and opposite reaction.What will happen with there actions.We are adults and have wisdom of being a child. Just stop and look backon how you thought when you where a kid , but also remember your a defferent person.Try to perceive things the way they perceive things.Remember you are still learning also.One song for parents that is good is teach your children will, and teach your parents will. If you have heard this song you will understand what I'm talking about. To me problem children come in any religion. It 's just how you handle the problem


Hmmmm Dec 25th. at 8:26:22 pm EST

Annwyn (Christchurch, New Zealand) Age: 32 - Email

I could well be challenged as being a problem child in the pagan world. I have my name & contact details here on the WOTW pages, and when people do contact me with questions or whatever, I simply give them as much information as I can, or direct them to someone who does, and then say that I'm only interested in maintaining email contact, thank you. I intend to put this on my profile as soon as I'm done with this post. I feel certain I have disappointed a few seekers, and to those of you who have contacted me and have been, I apologise.

By the same token though, I don't lie, represent myself as something I'm not, or prey on the young & inexperienced. It's not my way.

With regard to the other problem children - of all faiths - that are out there, doing exactly what I refuse to do on principle, we should challenge, and if necessary prosecute, those that are playing the powergame. That's what it boils down to, in my opinion, and feel free to disagree with me! :) They are seeking power over people, by seeming to be more knowledgable, more advanced, knowing the one & only true way to salvation etc. Even by discussing them, we give them power. The power of having attention directed at/on them. True, most of it's not good attention, but it's still attention. I'm not advocating we ignore them and hope they go away, but we need to stop them without it becoming national news in 30 countries. When stopping the powergame becomes national news it only gives the (insert your religion here) bashers & detractors more fuel for their oft-misinformed crusades.

ALL paths have their problem children, and to each path's immense disappointment and fear, the probbies are the ones grabbing the attention and making the everyday (insert your religion here) person's life misery. It's time to take the power back from the probbies, and to use that power for the good it was given to each of us by (insert your deity here) for.

Well....... Dec 22nd. at 7:04:17 am EST

Amber (aberdeen scotland) Age: 13 - Email

People seem to tell me that im 1 of those 'Problem children' as u call them because i have a behaving problem but i am also told that i have wisdom over my ages and i understand things that others never will and to me their is no such thing as a Pagan Problem Child because every pagan has a problem about telling the world they r a pagan or on. so to me this is a stupid question because we all have a problem no1 has normal behaving abilities because their is no such thing as a normal person or pagan.

A Quick Word... Dec 16th. at 1:35:27 pm EST

Dameon Martyr (Berlin, WI) Age: 19 - Email

"Negetive people are not raciest. They do not care what color, sexual orientation, religion, wealth (or lack of) or education. Age is not a factor if a person is just plain bad. Culture and interests do not mold people into harming, hurting, lying or stealing."
There really isn't anything we can do, for we cannot raise everybody else's kids. Even with the standard proper enviroment and such does not guarentee that a person will grow up to reflect that immage.
What we need to do is protect our brothers and sisters from this person (s) . We must do this by first finding the cause of the problem. Next, if thier actions are less than ethical, we need to stand up in our community and explain to society that thier behaviour is not acceptable by society as well as Wiccan morals and ethics.
If, by chance, what said negative person did was illegal, it is your responcibility to report them into the appropriate law inforcement agency. I also try to get together with the victim and have a crying time and explain that that is NOT who we are.
Blessed Be!

Problem Pagans, Problem Muslims, Problem Christians... Dec 4th. at 10:29:27 am EST

Sybil DeSoul (Tulsa, Ok) Age: 32 - Email

Every religion has its bad eggs, and no community, religious or not, likes to have them exposed to the world. Residents of Waco, TX probably cringe every time their hear their towns name in the news. Catholics face jokes, slander, and condemnations everyday for the priest scandals. Muslims in many small minded communities throughout America are being harasssed or treated differently because of 9/11. But these communities go on.

If a pagan commits a crime, he/she should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, just like anyone other person would be, for the crime they committed not for being a pagan. And we as a pagan community should support that. Not jump on a soapbox and immediately assume such said Pagan is innocent and only being prosecuted because his or her faith.

As far as the "I'm a third degree Grand Poo Bah, master of celestial bullfrogs, and won the hot dog eating contest at the state fair five years in a row!" people. Treat them like any other jerk or annoying person you would meet. Ignore them. They thrive on attention.


Sybil DeSoul

Are You A Good Witch Or A Bad Witch??? Dec 3rd. at 12:55:03 am EST

Juniper (Wisconsin) Age: 44 - Email

The best we can do is be "good witches" ourselves. Be a "role model" for lack of a better word. Really examine our own motives, drives and morality. Like attracts like and the "bad witches" soon become bored by those they cannot con, charm, impress or otherwise manipulate. As far as public image goes, if your comfortable being "out of the broom closet" share your feelings, ideas and values with others, again be a role model, especially to youth. Let them know that being a pagan means honoring the ideal of "harm none" by living that truth in all aspects of your daily life. There are plenty of good people out there, don't lose faith!!!!

: (: ( Dec 1st. at 10:33:04 pm EST

KIKI (Canada) Age: 16 - Email

I know what some of you guys are tlkin about. I've been a witch for almost 6 yrs now, and I've gotten quite a few lectures and rude comments. I've seen people glare at me, gotten awkward questions and heard very nasty whispers and comments.
However, the same people who seemed to protest the most, have now made other pagans and wiccans for friends, and have either apologized or never said anything like that for over a year and a half.
People just accepted me after putting mr through such a hard time. I guess when i didn't break, and calmly explained to them that it is as much a religon as the one they follow, and that it's not evil. they just decided they didn't want to descriminate.
What bothers me is that people have so many accusations and problems towards witches because of those problem children. There is so much a witch has to go through to be openly pagan/wiccan. and it's because the occassional problem child fits thier childhood discription of a witch.

A Problem *Flutters Eyelashes* Nov 19th. at 8:59:39 am EST

Taenn (England) Age: 17 - Email - Web

Although problem children are very, very real, it's important for people to remember that not all of us under-18's are like that! I made the choice to enter into this religion at a very young age and I've paid the price thourgh that - almost everywhere I go my reputaion preceeds me. I'm emma, taenn, that WITCH.

The problem is that when I arrive at a place, I'm not what people expect. So yes, I wear my fair share of BLACK clothing and I DO wear a pentacle around my neck, but I don't mutter things in latin, carry a magicians wand around with me, have black - or any other coloured - cat tucked under my arm and much to my dismay my broomstick doesn't fly. Add to this he fact that I'm well mannered, well behaved and only recently joined a group of wiccans and I'm a down right disappointment! How dare I?

OKay, being serious now: my age has greatly affected what I can and connot do with regards to the craft. People perceptions of me have always been either 'rebel' or 'fluffy' - there doesn't seem to be anything inbetween. And that's ok with me because I ahve met the rebels and the fluffies - the extremes of every religion who take their beliefs, or the 'cool' values behind them, and create something dangerous to both tyhemselves and those around them.

And even worse, I've met people willing to take advantage of that.

But what can we do? Lock all of us youngsters in the broom closets until we hit 18? Individually screen anyone who wishes to embrace paganism or wicca? No. We can't. All we can do is take everyone in, treat our own people as we would wish to treated. We say that the mdia misprtrays 'the craft' and it does, but by keeping ourselves to ourselves we are only making things worse.

My opinion is this: yes there are predators and problem children in wicca. There are whatever religion you choose. All we have to do is face them.

All we have to do is face oursleves.

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