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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: 144,998  

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Reponses: 2,666

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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 

Education Not Blaim And Shadows Jun 12th. at 7:33:45 am EDT

jen (england) Age: 15 - Email

children should not be a "scape goat" for problems with people in general young and old. specking from my own view i am not a child who goes about asking for money for my serves and such forth besides aren't the people who are more likely able to get the chance to chon people into giving them there money adults? sure these people might have been what u call "problem children" but it doesn't mean u should point the finger at kids after all everyone's young once,
in my personal belief none should get away with lying or coning people into sex money or anything else for that matter. i know what you say about how people are worried that it'll give Pagan/Heathen communities a bad name but these people must be dealt with. after all the law is there to protect people. why should we be let people take are money and go and take someone else?
the only way to stop people from getting the wrong idea about the Pagan/Heathen communities is to educate them. educate them about what it is and who it is. for too long now the community has been given bad name since the very start of the burning times. isn't it about time we showed people the real Pagan/Heathen community and no let the idea of witches in long pointy hats, green skin and warts go uncritisied. isn't it about time we explain that paganism is an umbrella of religions and taught them about them listed of letting people think were all Satanists or a bunch of people who drink and sacrifice animals and commit suicide.
isn't it about time people learnt what the Pagan/Heathen communities really are?
why just the other day a friend of mine thought that wicca wasn't a "real" religion since we do not believe in god. i couldn't believe people actually though that Wicca's don't. there is too much shadow around the pagan/heathen community. we should deal with those who rip people off and educate people so they know were not all like that. i am not suggesting though about people perching in the streets since personally i do not feel that is the way. i do not like anyone perching in the streets about what they believe in to people who do not wish to hear how they are going to hell or what ever. i do not believe that is the way to educate people at all. personally i believe more like explain this is what we believe in the have some time for people to ask questions.
i can understand not going too deep into talking about some pagan aspects of some pagan religions like the great rite or some aspects of witchcraft like skyclade rituals but we still need to educate people to let them understand about some aspects and how we don't sacrifice animals.
after all unknowing and stupidity causes fear.

Suggestions Jun 12th. at 1:04:32 pm EDT

Magma II (New Milford, CT) Age: 39 - Email

Let me say first off that my experience with covens is nonexistent, but I have attended several large events as a merchant, both before and after I decided that Paganism was the path for me. I have met several "problem children" but managed not to be taken in by any of them. Smart, you say? Perhaps, but mostly I'm just too wary to trust anyone at face value (I've been burned far too many times by the "good Catholics" I was raised with, although never molested) . WHile that may be a safe way to live, it's also sad that it's necessary.

Anyway, since I managed not to get hurt by any of these people, I thought I might pass on my experiences on how I avoided the traps in hopes it will help someone else.

Most important, DO YOUR RESEARCH!! If someone claims to have degrees or training, make them prove it. They should be able to provide you with the name of the person who trained them, or a contact person for the course they took, or a diploma, or even a stack of books and research notes. If they can't, think twice about trusting them. Even if they have no written credentials (and I realize that many covens may not be able to provide such) , they should at least be able to provide references (like for a job interview) or prove that they have done research.

Secondly, if someone has committed an actual crime, REPORT THEM TO LAW ENFORCEMENT!! Don't hide them or hide knowledge of the crime or you could be charged with aiding and abetting. It didn't work for the Catholic church, and the scandal now is making them look VERY bad. Don't push us into the same light. Even if you were not the victim this time, you could be next. Or your children a few years down the road if no one stops the predator now.

If you are afraid to confront the person directly, get the help of someone who can. If you are at an event, talk to the event organizers. If you are in a coven, get the help of the HP or HPS. If it's the HP or HPS, get the help of other coven members, or contact the HP or HPS of another coven in the area (check with the local Pagan store to find one if you don't know one) . You could also get the help of a friend or relative outside Paganism; religion doesn't matter if the crime is against the laws of the land we live in (rape/assault, theft, etc.) .

If a Pagan business has taken your money and not delivered the promised goods, report them to the BBB like you would any other fraudulent business.

Amber K's book Covencraft has some good advice for dealing with problem people in a coven setting, including recognizing the problems, talking to the individual (s) concerned, and possible ways to resolve the issues (and resources for more help) .

BE CAREFUL about "spreading the word" about problem children; you could be sued for defamation of character if you can't prove your claims. That's why it's so important to follow the procedures of reporting to law enforcement or talking to lawyers if a wrong has been committed.

In short, we had bloody well better police ourselves or the "outside world" will police us for us (and ruin all our reputations in the process) .

Responses to some earlier posts:

The word "children" is used figuratively here, not meant to refer to literal children. These are adults we're talking about.

I personally don't know anyone who got into Paganism just for the sex (although I have known a few who went a little wild with it once they found out Paganism doesn't condemn you for having it) . Maybe that's because I was raised on the generally-conservative East Coast. I don't think we should introduce a category of "sexual Paganism" or we're going to encourage that sentiment. It is a valid method of raising power (or so I'm told; I wouldn't know, personally) and apparently has other uses in the Craft, but let it be a separate field of study (like divination) .

I don't see modern law as "Christianized" except where sexual mores are concerned (like the laws against sodomy being used against gays) . Most of them just make good sense to allow large numbers of people to live together in peace (no killing, no stealing, no beating each other up, no raping an unwilling woman, no abuse of children or others unable to defend themselves) . Hence I have no problem resorting to law enforcement if the situation warrants it (someone with a knife threatening others at a gathering should definitely be reported to police and taken away to face charges; the "burly guys" trying to throw him out could be seriously hurt trying, and you have no way of making sure he doesn't come back as soon as you turn away) .

And let's not get caught in the trap of blaming the victim for the crime. Greybeard, you sound like a very bitter man, and I'm sorry for whatever happened to you to make you that way, but you must not assume that all women "really want sex and only want to make trouble for the man who won't give it to them" or that the "really wanted sex even though they say no later". You WILL get into a lot of trouble that way. And you will face a miserable, lonely existence if you can't trust half the population of the world. Please talk to someone about whatever hurt you and try to get past it. May the Goddess help you see what the essence of Woman is really about so that you do not hate us all for the actions of a few. That's not fair to us or to yourself.

Blessings to all.

Magma II

Why Should They Be Any Different? Jun 12th. at 1:21:00 pm EDT

Silver (USA) Age: 45 - Email - Web

Why should these people be treated any differently than their mainstream counterparts? Because we're a minority? What difference does it make if a predator is an evangelist, priest, or HP? He or she is still a predator. Letting it go, sweeping it under the rug, burying our heads and hoping somebody else takes action or that it will all blow over, is worse publicity that facing it an dealing with it head-on.

Report criminal activity to the police. That's what they are there for. In the USA, exploitation (sexual or otherwise) of adults or children can be reported to the CFC as well as the police. Their website has a toll-free number if you are not sure who to call in your satate or locality.

Report bad faith business deals to the proper agencies. I had this happen to me with a non-Pagan business that obtained my credit card info without my permission through another company. After numerous carefully documented attempts to get my money back, I've filed against them with the FTC and the state where they do business. I contacted the BBB. I posted my story at a website that deals with consumer fraud as a warning to others about this company. I also filed a complaint against the company that provided my info without my permission. I don't stop there, either. I follow up periodically to make sure everybody know that this is still a live issue, and I have not forgotten it.

Make sure everyone in your community knows that "Ravenmoonwolfshamanshadowleaper" or whatever his or her name was is no longer part of your coven or group and is no way affiliated with you. You don't have be nasty or to go into details as to why, but if somebody is claiming an affiliation with your group or organization or is promoting themselves with false or revoked credential somehow related to your group, you are perfectly within your rights to say it ain't so.

"Ravenmoonwolfshamanshadowleaper is no longer a member of [blank] and is not affiliated with us in any way. His title as High Priest was revoked at the time of our parting of ways. We cannot therefore endorse or otherwise recommend him based on any past affiliation with us." Truthful to the point, and you haven't slung mud. Just be sure to write a cease-and-desist letter to him politely insisting he stop using credentials from your organization that he no longer holds.

"Problem Children" Need Justice Jun 12th. at 3:19:55 pm EDT

Head Hunter (San Diego, ca.) Age: 20 - Email - Web

I am a trained hunter. I took up training at the age of 6 and continued until age 14. The training includes various training in various weapons, combat styles, battlecasting (not just anyone can cast a spell while under attack by the manifestation of an evil spirit) , and healing. I was part of a coven ( quit when I realized they were just doing it for fun) as an herbologist/healer during part of my training. now, with 10 years active hunting, 6 years with the title Rogue (an honor to the true hunter. this means you are trusted enough to not have the rules that hunters have, you can directly communicate with the hunters council Father chapter, but are not expected to do what they say. It also allows me to tell practitioners of the arts about us.)
Our job is to hunt threats to practitioners around the clock. whether this means physically, or mentally. I traveled to where I was needed before, but now am stuck in charge of a region now because all the elders ditched, and I am the senior hunter in the area now...been the Head hunter for a good 2 days now...
Anyways, we also hunt down people who bring disgrace to the name of the arts, and bring them to the justice of local government (if the broke the law) , or we warn them, they get two warnings, after that, we make sure they do not bring our good name down. to contact me with any leads in the San Diego area, e-mail me at
please include name, and place to contact you. I specialize in the bringing down of dark practitioners, and fakes.

Rerporting Rape Jun 12th. at 5:31:14 pm EDT

Lupa (Pgh) Age: 24 - Email - Web

"Sexual predator? Usually that is a description of the man she couldn't' get to bed fast enough last week, or the man who's taking someone else to bed and not her."

I missed this quote the first time around, but caught it when I went back to re-read some of the posts.

It is this EXACT same attitude that is the reason that most survivors of sexual assault, minors and adults, refuse to report the crime--the assumption that we're just trying to get back at whoever the guy was for some sexual affront. I was assaulted when I was 17--when I went to the police, I felt like *I* was the one who'd done something wrong--they hooked me up to a polygraph machine and asked me about my entire sexual history, then assumed that because the criminal was someone I'd dated over the previous summer that there was no way it could have NOT been consensual. It turned out later, through the grapevine, that I wasn't the only ex of his he'd done this to--but since no one pressed charges he got away with it.

Even as vehement a feminist as I am (and, BTW, feminist does NOT necessarily denote man-hater) if I were to be attacked again, I would be VERY hard-pressed to report it to the authorities--I'd do it in the end, but it would probably be even more difficult than going through the assault itself. I've compromised for this by enrolling in a rather vicious self-defense course, but many women feel the same way--it's not worth being held on trial yourself when you're the one the crime was perpetrated against.

Yes, there ARE cases where a woman cries rape and it's not. However, we have to remember that rape isn't just a guy beating the bejeezus out of a woman and then forcing penetration. A woman can be raped without being hit, or shoved, or held down--emotional and mental abuse are deadly weapons in and of themselves. A woman can be raped by her boyfriend, her husband, her friend. A woman who works as a prostitute or an exotic dancer or even just prefers dressing in little clothing can be raped. Talking to your average police officer, though, reveals that the general law enforcement attitude says otherwise--basically, if she can still walk and the perp was someone she even remotely knew, it was HER fault.

Let The Healing Begin Jun 12th. at 8:17:46 pm EDT

Joy (OK) Age: 30 - Email - Web

I am so glad to see so many people discussing this issue with such passion. This is the best way to handle this kind of thing: bring it out into the open and remove the negative feelings about discussing it and then, don't be afraid to act, whether that action is on your own behalf or someone else's. We are living free by living openly. I truly believe that reading this message board is proving to be a great learning experience for so many people and that those who never really have given any thought to these kinds of issues are learning something new. That is a blessing from the Lady herself. Everyone Be Blessed!

Political Correctness Jun 12th. at 9:27:16 pm EDT

Felicia (Missouri) Age: 36 - Email

I think that one of the reasons why people in the community have problems confronting "problem children" is because of political correctness. I have personally had to experience this problem. I am active in a group, and we have had problems with a couple of members. When we tried to deal with an issue, other members verbally attacked us, stating that we had no right to "speak ill" of the person--despite the fact that everyone agreed that there was a problem. Evidently, wanting to confront the person, and deal with the issue (so as to avoid more problems in the future) is no longer considered appropriate because it offends the person who caused the problem.

Oh, we were also informed that confrontation would be focusing on negativity. The appropriate action would be to just let things slide and focus on the good.

It seems that these do gooders do not realize that they are making the problem worse. "Problem children" often repeat their actions because it is a tactic that works. As a community, if we use peer pressure to keep people from offending those who have done wrong, and so on, we only make it easier for "problem children" to take advantage of people.

Everyone Has Summed It All Up... Jun 12th. at 10:36:43 pm EDT

RavensMask (Hampton, Virginia) Age: 22 - Email

Unfortunately there isn't much that I can add that hasn't already been well said, and I feel no need to repeat things. I'm new to the path of magic and have not encountered such individuals, though it does reaffirm my wish to remain a loner in my practices.

However, I did notice some disturbing things in Greybeard’s post that I'd like to address.

You sound like quite the Anarchist who is using his dislike of Christianity to support his view. I make no judgment on whether you are an Anarchist or not, just pointing out that you sound as such.

Seems you don't much like Christians though. While this is understandable due to Christian actions of the past and present it is not excusable. I find it amusing that any member of a group that was hunted by another group would take up the very practices of hate that was used against them. Just like Israel using the mass punishment in the middle-east today that Hitler used against the Jews years ago, it doesn't help anything.

As a very open-minded Christian (I'd have to be open-minded to go the necromancy path) I find the "Christians bad!" mentality presented by some members of the Pagan community ridiculous. Hate just begets more hate. And I'm proof that not every Christian thinks the same as the vocal members of their religion. Do the acts of Islamic terrorists mean that all Muslims are evil? No it does not and it should never seem that way to anyone.

So our laws are all Christian commandments that serve no purpose? Okay so then you'd rather people go around murdering innocent people (example serial murderers) and get away with it eh? Sorry that doesn't cut it in any civilized society, be it Christian or Pagan. Most laws are an attempt to stop and punish behavior that is universally considered unacceptable - theft, murder, rape, assault, etc. I couldn't care less if a Christian came up with our laws against murder - someone does not have a right to sneak into my home to murder my family and if they think they do and try it, they better out-run a .308 round.

True some laws (and believe me as a pro-gun individual, I know this) aren’t right or fair. However, the broken laws we are discussing here are laws that should not be broken by any individual – such as the theft, murder, rape ones I mentioned, but also child abuse ones as well. There are people out there performing such things, and they should not be allowed to continue no matter what form they take.

To hide behind shadows just because of a dislike of Christianity just doesn't help. And hiding things just to save the group face never works. You have your example with the Catholic Church, would you wish to make the same mistake as a dreaded Christian?

Fact is if an individual breaks laws such as theft, assault or murder - you better report that individual. Because if you try playing musical chairs with the law because of your dislike of Christians, you are going to be out of luck when the music stops.

Victims Of The Paranoid Jun 12th. at 11:46:41 pm EDT

Olorin (Edmond, OK) Age: 28 - Email - Web

I agree wholeheartedly about turning in the criminals and putting the frauds in their place, but what about the "victims of the paranoid" The ones who, altough qerky, and some what just plain weird, and aren't quite the type of people who everyone really wants around, if for no other reason than they are a little lonely and need to talk for a few hours. I have seen and at some piont have been guilty of putting labels on others, who where not guilty of anything. I know we live in a time of sickness among humanity, but never let your self be guilty "witch hunting" people you don't like or *gasp* misunderstand! I remember a man saying "if you would keep busy working on you and yours, you wouldn't have time to see what the joneses are doing". The true "problem children" of the Wiccan/Pagan communities will make themselves known, without too much finger pionting, just don't piont fingers in the wrong direction!

Libel, Slander And Defamation Of Character Jun 13th. at 12:00:54 am EDT

Greybeard (Albuquerque, NM) Age: 57 - Email - Web

This is a very sensitive topic because there are skeletons in the closets of many of our best known leaders.

Odin d'Avalon (Anacortes, WA) wrote:
"3) Is confronting another person for the wrong they are, or have, performed against your person or property, i.e. slander, libel, defamation of character, theft, sexual abuse, etc. a valid reason to label such an action as a Witch Hunt?"

I have been around pagan organizations for several years, served as officers, and on arbitration councils. Over that time I have seen and investigated several accusations of theft, sexual abuse, and worse. In by far the majority of the cases the person making the accusation was doing harm, slander, libel, and defamation of character. Frequently it was pagan leaders with their own jealousy or power play who were responsible for the slander, libel, and/or defamation of character. And that's worse than a "witch hunt."

There are quite a few who have written that any pagan lawbreaker ought to be reported to law enforcement. Well, maybe they should, but maybe the person making the accusation is the one who ought to be shunned by the community. An elder's rap sheet on "bad" people that someone suggested seems to me to be open to all the evils of slander and false accusations. I've seen way too much of that. Show me the blood or broken bones. Otherwise the first thing I'll do is to assume libel or slander until the accusations are proven. Sure, some real harm is done, and remedies need to be used, but no where near as often as harm is alleged.

Under the (pagan) law of Hamarabi anyone making a false accusation (an accusation that wasn't or couldn't be proved) got dumped into the river instead, and the accused got all his property. It's a very old pagan law that we could use more of. Link to More info related to this post -- HERE

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