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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: Nov. 17, 2002   This Page Viewed: 107,724  

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 


Thanks RuneWolf Jun 11th. at 7:11:33 am UTC

Dan Magick (Québec City) Age: 44 - Email


That was one of the best thought out postings I have read on the internet.


Why Are We All Surprised? Jun 11th. at 8:45:47 am UTC

Deb Hall (Yorkshire England) Age: 42 - Email


I agree with most of what has been said, but I still sit back scratching my head and wondering why all the surprise. We are all still individual people. We all belong to society with social tendencies and the lure to what is common within the human nature were are all born with. Just because we choose to follow a different belief then our neighbours does not make each of us immune to human natures traps. Some of us use what most of us hold sacred for personal gain and to destroy those that we believe have turned their backs on us. We are all children and some tend to act more the child then those of us that have grown and moved on to that higher plain within ourselves. We can do nothing about those amongst us that rebell other then continue in our ways and cast our prayers to the winds that protect us against them. We remain true to ourselves and our followings. To act out against them in public would only draw attention and make it seem that we are all (bad witches) rather then those that bring good and life to those around us. I for one feel sorry for those that have lost the light, for they are like abandoned children with no hope of finding their way.


Educate Without Coercion Jun 11th. at 12:46:10 pm UTC

Isabel Pinenut (Bloomfield, NJ) Age: 49 - Email


I am a public librarian. This gives me the opportunity to suggest the purchase of quality books on witchcraft and paganism. I also try to steer questioners away from the sensationalistic junk and toward accurate information. Recently, a young man asked questions that indicated an interest in pagan subjects, so I recommended several books and websites. Later, a co-worker mentioned that this boy had been caught trying to steal some of the books! The next time he came in to use the Internet, I suggested he research the Rule of Three and emphasized that it was VERY important for anyone studying the craft to understand the principles involved. He still comes in, but he hasn't spoken to me since! Did I reach him? Did I convince him to be a better pagan? Did I help him understand that the craft was not his true path? Or did I fail to provide leadership? I may never know in this lifetime. All we can do is try.


Protecting Those Around You Jun 11th. at 2:08:14 pm UTC

mark (us army) Age: 26 - Email


Sad to say, this does happen, before I re-entered Paganism, or the army for that matter, I was a pastoral assistant for a christian organization. Saddly enough this was something we dealt with. This is where politics enters religion. As far as sexual predators, If they left your circle and you think they may enter another, 1) Alert the police and warn people in that area (discretely) of where they may be going if to another county or state (if you dont know...the FBI.
Protect yourself...do not council anyone alone in a closed room...ask if you can tape record the session...if not take hand notes-nothing is unimportant...IF YOU ARE A VICTIM YOU ARE NOT GUILTY-HELP STOP THEM-REPORT IT... PART 2-False titles...regardless of what someone says check references. Keep files containig family, work, other personal data that may help in the future, not just tracking, this is just a good administrative procedure. Interview those who were previously involved. DO NOT Give leadership positions at first-have them teach a class, do research, put projects together etc. until you can fully vouche for them (would you trust them with a loaded gun, your home, a 13yo daughter, your car, (those in your circle are all these and more. Youre responsible for their welbeing like it or not. If they are starting a coven from the ground up, ask about their mentors and guides, research what they say, do they give names you can verify? ask if you can meet them. It is ok to be cautious.
What does your inner-self tell you? Trust your insticts, do some tarot spreads, scrying, runes, any form of divination that suits you. Seek the guidance of others. These steps wont guarntee, but they will reduce the chances. IF media gets involved express that this person will not go unpunished and that its a disgrace, for which it is. I hope that this is of some benefit. Its sad that we have to look at things like this. I ask the Gods that whoever needs this sees it and may it help them, along with stopping those who intend harm. SO MOTE IT BE.


It Happens.... Jun 11th. at 2:12:45 pm UTC

Ardeith Carter (Zephyrhills, Florida) Age: 60 - Email


Yes, it happens. Someone "uses" Paganism in one flavor or
another to get laid. "Come to my tent, and I'll teach you
sex-magic, " or "Your problem is that your Spirit Guide is
a female cougar and she's in heat. My Guide is a male
cougar . . . I can help!" I've heard both lines used at
Gatherings, and have always been surprised that they worked.
My personal opinion is that such people are just using Paganism
as a "meat-market."

What happens freely, between consenting adults, is no one's
business but theirs. But the innocent newbies (pardon that
word, but I don't know a better) must be at the very least
advised about such manipulations. Then, if they decide to
play, anyway, they are informed. And, yes, I will step in
and inform such persons. I don't really care if the
predator gets mad at me.

But the predator that really makes my blood boil is the
pedophile. If we don't protect our children from such,
we are making a serious mistake. I speak from experience
here. We had such a predatory pedophile, and after warning
him three times to stop such behavior, we "divorced" him,
and sent letters to the leaders of local groups about why
we did so.

If we want our Circles and Gatherings and Celebrations to
be safe places for our children, we must be ever mindful
of such predatory persons. And if we are not working to
make our Pagan Paths lasting traditions and havens for
our children and grandchildren, we are just spinning our
wheels. The children are our future......
Ardy


Let Me Try Odin D'Avalon Jun 11th. at 4:48:50 pm UTC

Dan Magick (Québec City) Age: 44 - Email


While I can't speak for everyone, as a recent victim of religious persecution I would like to answer you personaly the best I can.
To all of your questions I say hell yes if the reason for
the negativity is because of our or any other religious belief.
As pagans we are all subject to the fear and hatred of not only the ignorant but also of people who set out to hate us.
At the same time we have to remain true to our beliefs on non-violence and therefore we need to find new and magickal
means of defending ourselves.


Some Insight On "problem Children" Jun 11th. at 7:57:41 pm UTC

Morning Dove (Salisbury, MD) Age: 25 - Email


I have found some good sites with great advice on this issue and trust me it's not just a problem for Pagans.

How To Keep Your Coven From Being Destroyed
http://www.wargoddess.net/essay/troll.html

Dealing with Religious Jerks
http://www.neopagan.net/HaugkReview.html

I also find the best thing to do is not participate in gossip and to stay positive. For example, a woman at work gossips all the time and I keep telling her that I don't want to hear it, and that it's none of my buisness.

I have three rules I try to follow...

1) If you can't say something nice don't say anything at all. (Unless it is truely constructive criticism)
2) You have to be a friend to have friends.
3) You get more friends with honey than vinegar.

In short mean people suck....

As far as pagans who comitt criminal acts, I wouldn't hesitate to press charges no mater what their religion. It would realy look bad if we were hiding something. I mean look at what the catholic church is going threw!

Dove Link to More info related to this post -- HERE


* Jun 11th. at 11:54:20 pm UTC

freya (nc) Age: 28 - Email


This is why I felt glad to be a solitary.

I wouldn't have wanted the "betrayal" of a spiritual mentor/group early on. It would've nearly destroyed me...or set me back a few steps on my path at best. I see now more clearly why it is devastating this issue of sacred religious practice and boundaries, i.e. a child molested. It is because the child didn't have freewill to make the decision... The pure spirit energy of a child was taken over by a very weak willed wounded soul, etc. This like others here have said, is of utmost importance to address and protect;

As an adult, You are only a victim once and never again; after that the role is by choice, sorry to say...

BBe


Regarding Reluctance To Confront Jun 12th. at 3:38:42 am UTC

Sunflower (Calgary AB) Age: 41 - Email


The theory I finally arrived at about people who'd rather backbite than confront, is that our culture and upbringing often teaches us that confrontation equates to conflict, and is rude - many people would -far- rather "vent" to a close friend than be so impolite as to tell someone s/he has offended them. That's not unreasonable (provided they take responsibility for not having taken direct action) , but in a Pagan community, that can turn into venting to a whole bunch of friends, i.e., the whole community - and there ya go, gossip and backbiting. These folks don't intend to backstab, and aren't consciously seeking power (subconsciously, it's as much a power move as passive-aggressive behavior usually is) ; they're just choosing what, by all they've been taught, -feels- less rude. Don't get me wrong; I'm not condoning their choice - I feel they're especially culpable, as Pagans, for being so un-centred as to select their action by feeling alone.
This is not to say all backbiters are merely avoidant; the ones who seek, quite intentionally, to drag someone down, or who are plotting to reach a position of power, certainly exist. This is just my two cents on the subject of non-confrontation.
As for the matter of Problem Children per se - I have no answers (wish I did!!) and since I have a pronounced tendency to favor illustrative anecdotes (I'm able to be much more concise using them, than trying to explain my thoughts on a purely theoretical level) , I doubt my ability to say anything really constructive without coming a bit too close to finger-pointing... "no names, no pack drill" only goes so far.

Sunflower


Abuse In The Pagan Community Jun 12th. at 4:29:05 am UTC

Reverend Christine Ames HPS Three Bright Moons Coven (Tooele, Utah) Age: 44 - Email - Web


There are many people out there in the world who will use any means possible to attain what they desire ie... sex, money, fame only to name a few and unfortunantly the pagan community is often a prime target for those people. I have run several covens during my years as a high priestess and even I have ran across these people from time to time. At first they usually seem sincere enough but actions speak louder than words and if you take your time and really get to know someone they will inevitably show there true colors. The best advice I have for covens is make no exceptions to the year and a day rule also when you dismiss someone who has violated there oaths make sure that you discreetly inform the pagan community around you that this person is an undisirable.This can be done tactfully and without violating your own oaths. When someone tells you they have experience check it out. We are a teaching coven and run open classes every year none of us mind giving our credentials and or references to a new student. For those seeking a teacher ask around at open pagan events about covens or teachers that take new students and don't just ask one person ask everyone you can and see whos name comes up most then ask for a refferal from someone in contact with that teacher or organization and be ready to answer their questions truthfully. You will not impress anyone with falsehoods. As elders of the pagan community I think we need to start a newsletter for pagan clergy containing information on undesirable people. Not so that we can start a witch hunt but only so that we can protect our own. Especially when someone has been convicted of a crime against another pagan or group. Also somtimes in their desire to slap another pagan group in the face figuratively speaking other groups will take someone who has been banned from another group. I have experienced this kind of idiocy. I have never banned someone from this group unless they have commited a serious infraction but because I don't feel the need to defend my decisions in the pagan community some of these people have gone on to lie to other groups and be accepted and gone on to use or hurt others all I can say is if you know someone has been banned assume it was for a good reason.


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