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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: 143,643  

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

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

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 We Do...... Sep 10th. at 11:55:34 pm EDT

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

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

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

Simply put follow the big C's


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.

Whats A Witch To Do? Sep 13th. at 12:10:52 am EDT

Kat (GA) Age: 14 - Email

Well, now, that is a hard one. How do we, as honest creatures of the Earth, rid ourselves of these posers and con artists without leaving the borders of our pagan morals and values? Well, what did the some countries do to them? Make examples, hang them, show what happens to you when you do this. In one way, this sounds almost good, but in so many ways is it wrong. It presents fear to anyone who truly wishes to follow the ways, and also presents brutality. We could do what America does, banish them from one place and warn other places of them. One way that would help us, I think, is to warn pagans of these kind, allow them to regonize them before it's too late. When they are found and brought publicly, we could forbid them to ever come back and warn other places and people of them. Since many other religions are already afraid of us, It may not be wise to drag them into something large, like court. But if the wrongdoer should do something that bad, maybe, maybe. As a child we are taught there is good in everyone, which is sending out teh wrong message to everyone. Though I am peace lover and one of nature, I cannot erase facts simply because I ignore them. Teach us to recognize these people, maybe I can stop it before it's too late, or maybe I can warn others. One cannot jump to conclusions about everyone though. Wow, this is confusing....I think is best to keep your wits about you and though you do look down upon those who exploit us in these ways, keep a civil tounge and try mediating for a while.....that is advice, though not good advice, it is advice.

Two Cents (or Is It Worth More?) Sep 14th. at 11:49:19 am EDT

Jenna (Northern Virginia) Age: 30 - Email

(Time to stop lurking)

I have been a solitary for years. The reason why I am is because one of those said 'problem children' defrauded me out of the copyright of several of my poems, and defrauded other members of the internet networking circle she ran out of literary and musical copyrights and a total amount of money into six figures. This person then vanished, changing her name and has not been caught.

What do you do about somebody like that? First, if you want to 'follow' somebody, make sure you check, know and confirm who they are. Trust me...this kind of fraud does not just cost money, it also costs trust. There's a reason people like this are called /confidence/ artists. For a while, I went around warning everyone I met about this person.

Then I realized something important. People can change. Some people, perhaps, are hardened criminals...I know this person has run scam after scam after scam and, perhaps, she is lost to us. But although I would never suggest to fully trust somebody who has run a scam (And certainly not somebody who's a sexual predator) , the only way people like this will change is if they have the motivation, and the motivation can come best from the attitude of 'If you want to change, we will help you, if you truly do change, we will accept you.' But the person has to /want/ to change, they have to come back with humility and the recognition that they were wrong. They have to be willing, perhaps, to go back to the bottom of the totem pole and start over. They have to be willing to tell the truth. They have to be willing to accept their knocks from what they did. I have seen in other communities people be 'branded' forever as wrongdoers, sometimes over the stupidest things. We have to be careful not to do that. And, when necessary, we have to be ready to forgive. Because if somebody is 'branded', then they have no reason to change.

What A Good Way To Come Back Sep 21st. at 12:45:54 am EDT

Perrin (5th circle of Hades) Age: 26 - Email

Merry Met,
I see that the "bad apple" question has reared its' ugly head again. There are a large number of ways to deal with this type of problem, but most do not work. The basic problem is that there are lots of people whoose only point to life is to break all the rules. In all my travels I have not stumbled upon a way to deal with this problem, but at least our little corner is not the only one with this problem. We can not ignore the "bad apples", but we might be able to limit the damage they do. Stripping the titles is not perfect, but provided it is enforced in some limited situations it night work. A method that might work is to put all the "bad apples" on an involentuarily donor card, where their organs could be donated to a "normal" person. I hope it never comes to that, but who knows. In the meantime remeber that what goes around comes around.
Blessed Be,

Today Sep 24th. at 10:25:08 am EDT

kathy (kentucky) Age: 43 - Email

the world today plays an important part on how we get
these bad apples, theres always one that make another and etc .be there for your apple and teach them right they will grow up to be a find apple

Smack Them Down? Oct 9th. at 8:50:06 pm EDT

Cassandra Avallon (New Orleans) Age: 15 - Email - Web

I do think the Pagan community ought to expose and discredit people who are using Paganism to profit in less-than-pleasant ways or who "give Pagans a bad name."
However, try a moment's reflection, or even meditate for a while, on just how you should accomplish ending the problem of a renegade Pagan. Leaping into the fray without a thought for what may or may not happen is pretty much guaranteed to go badly.

Here We Go Again... Oct 19th. at 11:04:06 am EDT

Lansana (Leeds) Age: 16 - Email

The 'bad apple' and 'people who give paganism a bad name' argument is back again. I personally cannot stand people like this but we mustn't forget that every religion is blighted with them. We aren't alone in this hate of people who give our chosen religion a bad rep.

These people wouldn't be so bad if others would stop looking at things on face value and look behind this curtain of people and look into the real people who are truthful in there religion and feel no need to lie about their lineage or experience. I personally think that half the problem lies with the people who are quite prepared to glance at something and from that quick image that they capture label something good or bad.

Most of these people who blight Paganism and its fight to become a religion in its own right not just a belief or alternative something-or-other etc (as anyone who buys a Pagan Book at any mainstream store will know...Mind Body and Spirit?!...why can't they go under religion?!) will eventually grow tired of their games but when one leaves there is always someone else ready to jump into their shoes and start the whole thing again. These people will never be completely got rid of but it we can make people look properly and see the fakes among us before making a judgement then things would be so much easier.

My Thoughts.. Oct 21st. at 12:59:04 pm EDT

Mathair Cat (Clarksville, TN USA) Age: 30 - Email

I've had a run in with what I preceive to be a "bad apple." There was a lot of mulipitation and power play. It was a rude awakening, and it has me jaded when it comes to approaching pagans in my area or pagans in general. I wish I could offer up helpful information to weed out the so call "bad apples, " but since I didn't do a good job myself. I don't know what to say...except listen to your instincts (which I ignored mine for what I thought was the better for others.") Trust your instincts on not just the pagans you meet and greet, but everyone.
Take Care
Mathair Cat

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