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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: 264,207  

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 


Follow The "C"'s... Sep 11th. at 11:49:50 am UTC

Natahalanee (Rock Hill, SC) Age: 23 - Email


Simply put follow the big C's

Confer
Confirm
Confront
Confess&
Confide

Confer- Speak with members that were actively involved in whatever incident has occurred. If you are the lead of a Coven or Close study group, it's your responsibility to make sure no harm comes to your fledglings. Conversations about the incidences, both of the past and in any current situation is of the most importance

Confirm- Make sure that the events did happen if it's a past event that your Conferences brought up. If someone was expelled froma coven or another group because of ethically nasty activities. Talk with the leaders of the other covens/groups, normally teachers are very hush mouthed about their current students, but they'll talk about problem children, especially if it will help your group be less impacted

Confront- After confirming, talk directly to the individual that has done wrong. Ask them about the situation, allow them to share their side

Confess - Be sure after the confrontation, immediately or soon there after, to confess in detail your emotions about the situation to all affected parties. Hold on your final decisions but confess what you think will be next steps.

Confide - Before deciding on the matter, confide in the spirits and gods/esses, or even to a trusted friend. Gain an unafiliated decision. A solitary practicitioner or an individiaul outside the group would be great.

Then all that is left is rendering your decision. If legal action is needed, encourage folks to go to the authorities.

Remember all these are null and void if the situation is a violent act (Rape, Battery, etc) these need to be taken to the correct authorities as they are a matter of the body and not the spirit.


What Can We Do...... Sep 10th. at 11:55:34 pm UTC

jana (charleston, sc) Age: 31 - Email


what can WE do? the same thing we would do if these things happened outside our circle. confront those who lie, but realize we cannot control other people's actions. if what they are doing is illegal, take a stand (easier said than done sometimes, I know) and do something about it...stop it, report it, whatever needs to happen. I don't have the traditional coven experience, so don't really have any ideas on that one. Be aware of those who use the path to lure people in, word of mouth is a very powerful tool. Educate those you know and love, do what you can to keep them from falling into that trap. I am sure most of us have seen news specials, emails, or newspaper/print articles on scams...this is the same principle, just a different format. And as for merchants...the Better Business Bureau is a good tool. It does have some red tape, but I have found that they do look into claims and follow up with the consumer to let them know what their "investigation" has turned up, AND they let you respond to what the merchant has said. There are, unfortunately, people like this in all walks of life and businesses. Knowledge is a powerful weapon against them. Use it and pass it on.
brightest blessings
jana


From A Distance Sep 3rd. at 10:20:49 pm UTC

Rev. Carolyne Kleinman (Round Rock, TX) Age: 45 - Email - Web


Shall we say, that we all look the same - from a distance? Actions do speak louder than words, but - in a group there are times that the words do more damage than actions ever could. How do we stop those that do us so much damage in so many ways?

Honesty is a good platform to begin from. I have read a great deal about "perfect love and perfect trust" - so much so that I truly want to puke when I hear it, because its' usually attached to an antagonist of the First Water. How about "Perfect Honesty" and yes, we have to be able to accept the consequences of receiving the answers.

Next, how about embracing a standard of ethics that we don't just mouth about, but live day to day? I know a few Pagans that have the personal integrity to encompass this challenge, and the courage to "go there" when needed.

Finally (yes - Druids do so love things in threes) what about honoring the True Elders that are still working to keep the Flame of Faith alive? Giving credit where credit is due might just be the turnkey act that flushes the fools out of the bushes.

Food for thought? I hope so.


What Can You Live With? Aug 28th. at 4:17:36 pm UTC

Marcy (Copperas Cove, TX) Age: 49 - Email


Hmmm I guess that would all depend on what you can live with. It seems as if the pagan world is trying to offer to the surrounding world a sense of legitimacy and credibility, so we go through some horrific struggles to "make it so". It means that we like every other system will have our charlatons, our trouble makers our misfits and so on. Why would anybody believe that it would not be so for us as well?

I guess I would let the laws of the land take care of those that break them if and when they get caught and allow peer pressure to take care of the rest that is not illegal. Maturity comes with experience and perhaps what we offer should not be criticism, elitism, and banishment, but perhaps what we should offer is genuine help and assistance in the way of acceptane at another level. I do not mean that you condone activities that make you uncomfortable but that you allow that others have the right to their own ways. I am sadly discovering over the past few years that our people are becoming many of them as intolerant of "outsiders" as the mainstream religions are of us. I suppose it is not surprising since many of the folks in our systems come originally from intolerant systems and it is a learned behavior and possibly an extremely hard habit to break. I believe in strength in diversity and that we should stand on common grounds to utilize that strength. We all have some thing in common, perhaps many things. Let them play their games, play their parts, for parts is what they play. None of the titles, lineages, and so on make any difference in the end. If they get too obnoxious, pass them by and play somewhere else on the playground.

Peace be still.

Marcy


Morals Aug 2nd. at 7:10:01 am UTC

Eldritch (Australia) Age: 22 - Email - Web


Generaly i have always felt that this area should face the same morals and rules as any other area, if someone doesnt something illegal or imoral, they should be treated the same as you would think of anyone else, the worse it is the harsher the punishment.

Rather like your children, if they did something wrong or imoral, your make sure they were punished, but still love them, the same would be similar for others, you may still like them as a friend, but if they do something illegal, imoral or wrong for the craft, then that down mean just cause there still your friend that you have to alow them back into it.

if what they did could or does afect others, they should face like anyone else, the point of not being able to get back in cause they were the one who did it, if they hadnt have then it wouldnt have to be.

E


A Call For Unification/Standards Jul 13th. at 10:07:56 am UTC

Chrissy (Greenville, NC) Age: 18 - Email


My look at legitimate reasons for a person being ejected from a group, include emotional/mental instability that result in forms of abuse upon members of the group (or other illegal activities) , or a general uneasiness of the group members around the particular individual that disturbs the group's effectiveness in performing the task set out in coven/group standards.

When certain unbalanced people resurface, they often have taken on a new group as a reigning 'priest' or 'priestess' tailored specifically to his/her beliefs (whether bigoted, racist or not) However, under the constitution, every person has a freedom of speech, even the ones who promote hate. As long as no law is being broken (including the person claiming to have any official degrees that they have not acquired) , then there is little to be done except to inform/warn others about the particular person or situation.

In terms of people claiming to be "priests" or "priestesses, " I have found very few authentically certified priests or priestesses in the pagan community since there are many nontraditional paths within paganism now. Anyone who so desires can call themselves anything they want as long as they are not illegitimately claiming to have certification from an institute (and I personally don't count any 'put your name in and in three minutes you're a certified minister' groups as official documentation) . We pagans pride ourselves in our diversity in beliefs and people, but the truth is that the lack of organization/unification in our community has caused us great pain in allowing people to lead us who should not be leaders.

I am Not, by any means promoting that all pagans have a unified doctrine of what can and cannot be done and what beliefs/people are and are not allowed, nor that we should only accept legally certified priests and priestesses, But, ultimately, that we need to be more responsible for our community, and how we project our image to the world. None of us wants to have the rest of the world have the image of pagans being "baby killing, pot-smoking, social rejects that can't fit in with normal society so they go chant in the woods somewhere and pretend that they're cool" kind of people.

We pagans need to respect diversity of beliefs and ways of expressing our connection to a power greater than ourselves, but we need to unify in showing and declaring acceptable practices within any belief system. We need to come together to say that we will not accept illegal activities, that we will not except abuse, sexual coersions or power trips that lead any religious group into a cult-like existence.

We need to get off our butts and begin to take care of the community that it seems has been slipping into the exact stereotypes that we fought so hard to break.


Hard Question Jul 3rd. at 1:25:42 pm UTC

RedDusk Hawk (Ohio) Age: 18 - Email


This is a difficult thing to answer for anyone. I mean, Pagan or not, we are all human. We've all made mistakes in our lives and sooner or later, someone is always going to blame us for having made those mistakes. The thing is, are we asking as to if these people deserve to be a part of a Pagan life at all, or if a Pagan lifestyle might help them forgive themselves for what they have done. It's unfair to try to weedle out smething someone may have done (or in fact did do) and tell them "You are not worthy." I can understand that we already have a difficult time getting people to accept us as a legitimate religion, (or at the very least non-Satanic) and we need to be as careful as possible with those we associate ourselves with. But just because we are Pagan does not mean we are flawless. None of us came out of the womb worshiping more than one divinity. For many of us it took time and deliberation before we became a part of the Heathen circle, and many of us have done things we still blame ourselves for. The point is to simply take your time when meeting someone who flaunts their religion like a red banner on a battlefield.


Deeds Not Creeds Jun 14th. at 8:47:31 am UTC

Eric Libra (Egg Harbor City, NJ) Age: 43 - Email


My compliments to Odin d' Avalon of WA for the posting. Too many times I've seen Xtians use their religion to legitimize their hypocracy and "so-called" Pagan Traditionalists use their lineage to justify their immoral behavior. Children mimmick what they see of their elders. We may not think they are watching and listening, but they learn from our examples.


Response Jun 13th. at 11:32:51 pm UTC

RavenMask (Hampton, Va) Age: 22 - Email


Okay this is probably too long and might get chopped, but let's try it.

I never saw a denial of hating Christians in your post. Of course that doesn't mean that you do hate Christians, but I do find it interesting that you never bothered to say anything either way.

I bring up examples of rape and murder and you compare those to something like that? Sorry, that doesn't hold a candle to them and was not what I was talking about. I consider something serious enough to need reporting to the police or banishing to be along the lines of murder, rape, assault and theft (if proven of course) . But here, I'll play regardless.

I have no doubt some of us have made small transgressions on the law, or transgressions that harmed no one. I myself carry a large blade under my coat with me when I walk my dog in the woods near my home. According to law I am illegally carrying a concealed weapon. Does this make me a bad person? Does this mean I should be kicked out of any coven? No. Because I'm not harming anyone by carrying it around since my intentions are only on self-defense. In your example, you are harming no one by taking a bath in a hot spring without clothes.

But just because you're a Pagan, does that mean that no one else of another religion (or indeed no religion at all) could possibly be doing that as well? Obviously if the park officials put a sign there it means more than one person is doing that. Chances are that those people were Christian. Indeed, I'd probably do it as well.

Just because you think its only a Christian influenced law doesn't mean it is. In fact an Atheist might not want you exposing yourself. Exposing yourself in public isn't allowed in China. Guess what? Its not because of Christian influences (in fact I believe the prevailing religion there was Buddhism before the Communist came in and discouraged any religious belief) , they are taught to think that even kissing in public is distasteful due to the way they are raised in their culture. See, not everything you think is wrong is the fault of the nasty Christians.

Now under different conditions of your exposure? Say for instance you decide you want to jog naked in the morning. Sure if you do that where no one is around or where only adults would see you, I don't consider that wrong. If an adult doesn't like it, that is there problem as they are old enough to deal with it in a mature fashion. However, you decide to jog naked through a busy playground and stop to chat with the kiddies with your jewels hanging out - that I consider wrong. I wouldn't want my 3 year old daughter exposed to something like that, and nobody has the right to affect a kid's childhood in such a way. She has rights to, like the right to not have sexuality thrown in her face when she isn't even old enough to understand. Other people have rights as well.

I remember a friend telling me the lyrics to some song that went something like this "If you think you're free, trying walking into a deli and urinating on the cheese". Now some people think of that as being ultimate freedom. I see it as ultimate abuse. You wanted to exercise your right of pissing in cheese, but disregarded the right of the deli owner to not have his inventory that he paid money for destroyed or a mess made in his property. I have an excellent quote, it was made by one of the men who helped in the writing of the Constitution I believe - I can't recall the name, but that is irrelevant. The quote is "The right to swing my fist stops where the other man's nose begins". In layman's terms that means you have the right to do something so long as it does not affect the rights of another person. THAT is the prevailing ideal that drives this country, though some holding the reins lose sight of that.

But then maybe I have more faith in our country's ideals than you do. But if all these laws were only made by a Christian belief system pushing them through like you claim, then why are you able to be a witch in this country? Was not the freedom of religion in the Bill of Rights written by Christians? It would be Salem Witch Trials all over again if what you claimed were true. Heard of something called the ACLU? They defend people’s rights regardless of religion or belief. They've handed everyone their heads before, even Christians. If that law you complain of were not legal and only based on religion, they would take it to court in a heartbeat. It’s called separation of church and state my friend.

My advice to you on that law involving the spring - if you don't like a law don't complain about it and just ignore it, get it changed! Fight for the change. I'm a gunowner and pro-gun activist, do you think I just sit and whine about some of the ridiculous laws they place, written by people who have no clue of what they are even talking about? Nothing will get done if you just sit there.


My Thoughts Jun 13th. at 2:45:17 pm UTC

CiarrahStarFlower (United States) Age: 31 - Email


There are many things one could do really. It's more a choice of ethics of how you deal with the situations. Each situation is unique. However, if we are going to talk in "Generalizations", it is my belief that when dealing with either problems, i.e. sexual predator's & dishonest Pagan merchants, one should seek justice on the physical plane first.

What I mean by this is that when you are not the victim, but someone come's to you and explains their discomforts with a particular teacher or "elder" and believes to have a sexual problem, first the person should be directed to go to the proper authorities. Regardless if the accusation is false is or not. One never knows whom they are dealing with. I would never go to the person accused directly for one reason and one reason only; because if this person is actually doing these things, they could be dangerous and it isn't wise to put oneself in that predicament.

The other issue is, is if this is not happening, and the person is lieing, the investigation usually will clear the accused, and the accuser is then in trouble for filing a false report.

If the accused is beyond a shadow of a doubt a sexual predator, and you know this to be a fact, because you were the victim, or you have seen it with your own eyes, and I am not talking a casual flirty remark, I am talking you heard the person say "If you do not have sex with me during your 3rd degree ritual you will not be able to receive it", which is to me not a way to be incorporating the Great Rite in today's Modern ways of practicing magick in this ritual, then you as an elder or teacher are responsible to go to the authorities yourself. I don't believe in second chances on this one. I really don't.

The thing is, is that there is so many opportunities to take advantage of a true seeker on many different levels. Some of them can be good lessons in life, but others although are needed because they do teach you things that can be brought to a positive aspect (teaching others about sexual misconducts and helping others with their healing) .

I know this, I would be 100% sure beyond any doubts, before I acted thusly.

The other thing to do is to guide these people to getting some counciling if the situation called for such action. But that would be individualistic because there are varying strengths within people and sometimes it takes years to actually come to the place where you want to deal with it.

If you know too, that all on this physical world has been done, and no justice has been brought to someone you KNOW is truly guilty of the crime, then as a Witch, you have the right to Dare. That's right, it's time for a little magick. But be sure you're right.

Secondly, if you wish to not do anything, and wait for the Universe to take care of things, that is always a good positive thing too. Instead of harboring on the negative stuff you can start helping the person to heal. Direct them to a teacher that you know that can teach them what it seems they are seeking or teach them yourself if the student is suited to you.

Or you can do both.

As far as Pagan Business's not honoring their clientale, well that one is much easier. For one, word gets out pretty quickly around the community, and pretty soon the person's business is really struggling. You can also get a hold of the Better Business Bureau, as well as possibly filing a civil suit. Or, you can wait for the Universe to take care of this too... or magick, or all of the above.

The other thing to do, is try to have a council of Elder's in your community whom people can turn to in need. Try to have a representative from each Coven, Group, Circle, etc... Then pick emmissaries to speak for each person and when a council gets called, everyone STOPS speaking of the problem except the people involved to their emmissaries, who then reflect the thoughts, troubles, and worries to the Elder Council the night or day of the meeting. Bannishment is a 8!+ (4 I bet... and it goes hand in hand with all of the above mentioned thoughts. Plus if you knew other community leaders in other parts of the world, you might want to let them know to be on the lookout for this person. But I wouldn't do that unless there was clear prosecution that was sustained in a court of law and the person was found to be truly guilty of their crimes.

There is alot of ugly people in Pagan Communities, but there is many more beautiful people. I say "Desiderata" baby.

Be Well
CiarrahStarFlower


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