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Pagan Perspectives

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Question of the Week: 113

Pagan Problem Children: What Can We Do About Them?

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112. Elders: Who Are They and Do We Really Need Them? - [74]

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104. Have You Changed Your Mind About the War in Iraq? - [258]

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98. Would You Live In A Haunted House? - [166]

97. What Natural Objects Are On Your Altar? - [103]

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 Author:    Posted: Sep. 8, 2002   This Page Viewed: 28,343,984  

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Question of the Week: 38 - 4/23/2001

What Are The Greatest Challenges That Pagans Face Today?

We've come a long way, babies, but we still have far to go. What do you see as the greatest EXTERNAL challenges that Pagans face today? Intolerance? Lack of exposure? (No skyclad jokes, please!) Lack of a public Voice in politics or society? That said, what do you think are the biggest INTERNAL challenges to Paganism? The search for identity? Lack of leadership or training? Interpath squabbles? Questionable or tenuous religious history? Is there a serious lack of consensus as to the definition of Pagan/Wiccan/Witch/Heathen throughout the Pagan communities which has us mired down in semantics--or is there simply a lack of tolerance amongst ourselves for the differences that we do have? Have we "met the enemy and he/she is us"?

 Reponses:   There are 35 responses posted to this question. Reverse Sort 

I Think That The Biggest Challenges Is Ignorance From Other Religions. Christianity... Apr 22nd. at 11:02:24 pm UTC

Gyspy Rhiannon (Oshkosh, Wisconsin US) Age: 20

I think that the biggest challenges is ignorance from other religions. Christianity and catholosism are the most ignorant. I hate it when people label me as a satanist when I don't even believe in him. Go figure when people see an upsidedown cross they know it is still a cross, but the pentacle either way is still both viewed as satanic by the ignorant. The other is lack of covens in areas of smaller states, such as my own in Wi I have to go 60 miles one way for the nearest coven celebrations most of the time.

What Is The "greatest" Challenge Faced By Paganism, Today? I See From... Apr 22nd. at 11:13:43 pm UTC

Tarostar (Toronto, Ontario CA) Age: 59 - Email

What is the "greatest" challenge faced by Paganism, today?

I see from general religious talk boards, there seems to be an understanding
that the recent Republican victory at the polls gives some sort of a mandate
for the religious right to push their agendas.

I see denegration of Jews and other non-xtian religions spewed from xtians, who don't leave a name or email on their posts.

Pagans need to be concerned, as usually, Pagans try to be tolerant of misguided religious nuts.

That, I feel is the wrong way to respond.

If we allow them to go unchallenged in denegration of other belief systems,
even those not directly seen as "Pagan", will anyone speak for us, when the new nazis brandishing crosses come around?

I think it behooves Pagans to be knowldgable in the inherent xtian antisemitism
one hears from the mouths of xtians.

I would suggest Pagans read CONSTANTINE'S SWORD; Carroll, James; Houghton Mifflin; 01, ISBN# 0-395-77927-8.

Pagans should be able to inject History into any discussion with xtians about
the validity of non-xtian religions. But also about the Pagan origins of xtian theology, itself.

This new wave of right-wing religious superiority needs be confronted and nipped in the bud.

I Think The Greatest Challenge We, As Pagans/neo-pagans, Face Today Is... Apr 22nd. at 11:44:40 pm UTC

Medusa @ Dawn (Arvada, Colorado US) Age: 29 - Email

I think the greatest challenge we, as Pagans/Neo-Pagans, face today is our community itself. It feels as if few are willing to work together for the greater good of the community. Instead, everybody wants their own group to be better than the others out there and individuals are willing to talk trash to secure that position. Each group and individual have their good points and the community should be focusing on those instead of trying to eliminate the competition.

I'm proud that this weekend the Denver, Colorado community overcame some of those challenges by combining efforts of SpiralScouts International, ECO-Pagans, PUC-PAC, and the City of Arvada by putting together a program to plant a tree and clean up Memorial Park. If the weather had been better we could have painted the skate park but for now that needs to be rescheduled.

The Greatest Challenges Are Those We Make Ourselves. Some People Think That... Apr 23rd. at 1:16:03 am UTC

Perrin (Dennvr, Colorado US) Age: 24

The Greatest Challenges are those we make ourselves. Some people think that simply because we're different means that we should be removed, the majority luckily does not see us that way yet, however, give them a clear view of us, and that will change. That is the main reason there are few "Pagaan leaders", no one is willing to risk thousands of years of the majority "...Burn the witches/heretics..." rule. Take a lesson from the indians, they had no religion that the "Christians" liked, so the "Christians" wiped out a lot of indians. The "Christians" will not hesitate to do the same to us. Unless we can produce five or six generations of full pagans into crowded "Bible Belt" areas, then we do not dare stick our heads out the sand. I only speak in caution, as I have studied Earths history, and without a large group of at least one thousand or more souls behind any group, then we all just painted target signs on our collective asses. We might also want to quell a few internal disputes prior to us showing ourselves to the general public. little things, like who is technically a pagan? Is ir some one who happens to like torturing people, or some one who has more mundane hobbies? Should we exclude former "Christians", as they might be spies, or should we include them in the vague hopes we can convert them? I don't reccomend the latter, but we should know before we go public, which I think we should have done long since now.

Until we do public then our best hope of survival is secrecy, like always. Once we go public we will not be allowed to go back to our hidden holes.

Wow You Mentioned Really Good Ones, But Among Them I'd Say Our... Apr 23rd. at 7:17:55 am UTC

Trish Telesco (western, New York US) Age: 40 - Email

Wow you mentioned really good ones, but among them I'd say our need for organization (which many neopagans run from like cats near water) so we can have a viable public voice in politics/society. While we understand our looseness, the world as a whole looks for coherancy and the "bottom line" to define a group. While we might not need the black and white outlines in our coloring book - the world DOES. Once we create those we can use whatever crayons we want (and even color outside the lines if we want) but at least it gives people a place to look to and say "this is them". Beyond that I wholly agree we desperately need more leaders who have sound training as the clergy of so man other paths. Our community is growing geometrically meaning our need for leaders is likewise growing (but that, of course, gets into the topic of paid clergy ... and we know what a can of worms that is!)

Yes, our history is a bit tenuous, but if we take down our golden calves and accept them for what they are then we'll be fine. The power of myth should not be underestimated here - we are going to have our mythic foundations like any other religion, we just need to recognize them and get on with it. Which brings us to the point of pagan tolerance and common sense (which isn't common). We do get just as hung up on "my way or the highway" thinking as any other faith because it's so important to us. BUT we need to get down off our ivory towers long enough to realize what our internal squabbles sound like to outsiders - petty, rude, and certainly not a good reflection of "walking the walk". It's ok to agree to disagree! It's ok to be different and we don't have to prove to everyone we meet that our path is viable (it is if it works for you).


I Recognize The Pagan Community. That Said, It Must Be Remembered First... Apr 23rd. at 10:48:31 am UTC

Faramir (Farmville, Virginia US) Age: 30 - Email

I recognize the pagan community.

That said, it must be remembered first and foremost that one of the only beliefs that hold us all together is our strongly held respect for and insistence upon personal responsibility. So how could any challenge, external or internal, possibly be greater than that presented to each and every individual to live up to that ideal of personal responsibility? Should we not as a group focus less on the group and more on our own selves?

It takes a lot of courage and fortitude to really, truly, believe in oneself to the point where one can honestly say that their self-esteem comes not from without, but within. It takes a lot of effort to stop worrying about what other people are going to say about, or do to, us--and instead try to focus all our energies on what we do to and for ourselves. It takes a special person to reach down inside and say, with utter conviction, This is what I believe, This is who I am, And I don't need your validation or acceptance to know that I am doing what is best for me.

But the really cool thing is...we all have it within ourselves to be that special person.

This then is what I see as the biggest challenge facing pagans today: To really live the credo of personal responsibility, and put the "community" behind our own individual developmental needs; to realize that acceptance by the outside world is only a temporary condition at best that has nothing at all to do with who we are inside; and to remember that "personal responsibility" is something that must be allowed and encouraged in others as well.

In short, it's time to walk the walk of personal responsibility.

Many Pagans, Especially The Youngish (& W/folks Popping Out Of The Broom-closet... Apr 23rd. at 1:25:50 pm UTC

Blue Coyote (St Paul, Minnesota US) Age: 22 - Email

Many Pagans, especially the youngish (& w/folks popping out of the broom-closet @ 13 these days it's rather cheeky to include myself!), r perceived as in a "phase, " doing this because it's "trendy;" & someday we'll return to the "correct way" (aside to fellow queer Pagans: sound familiar?).

People need to understand that we r serious, & that if Paganism has become trendy it's because people r fed up w/religions that deny humans' connection to nature & the flow of energies. We should talk about our practice as people of other religions do--not proselytizing, but mentioning rituals & festivals we attend, the same way they say, "I'm going 2 church Sunday." By making our religion seem boring to non-Pagans, we tell them we believe it & incorporate it into our lives like they have.

On to internal challenges. While it's great that there r many solitaries; that people don't think, "I can't find a coven so I can't practice, " many solitaries lack a clear idea of what they're doing & would love guidance. U can look on the internet or in Pagan-friendly coffeehouses & stores, but learning about the people u find b4 u commit is hard, & not doing so is reckless.

We must get 2 know each other better. There is no end of the advice we can share about resources & teachers who will mesh w/what each person is looking for. Because the greatest challenge any individual Pagan faces is figuring out who or what we r & what path the Goddess & God have marked out for us. May the ancient ones grant us strength & joy on our journey!

The Biggest Challenge Is To Start Playing On The Political Ballfield. People... Apr 23rd. at 3:35:35 pm UTC

sphinxring (Snoqualmie, Washington US) Age: 48 - Email

The biggest challenge is to start playing on the political ballfield.
People are afraid of the power the religious right has over politicians, but do you know how they get it? Lobbying.
Yes, the ugly side of the political system. One on one meetings between a lobbyist and the legislator, congress person, senator, or whatever where the politician can talk frankly off the record.
Where the (tarot?) cards are on the table and we explain in a non-threatening way what out political issues are, and how we vote.
Few politicians are interested in the rage of the regligious right by being forced to commit to pagan causes in public, but they may be more sympathetic to a nice lunch and calm conversation.
Kind of scary, but that is how it's done.

What Are The Greatest Challenges That Pagans Face Today? Well, For Me... Apr 23rd. at 6:16:49 pm UTC

Ben "Globbet Skunge" Grapes (Great Yarmouth, England UK) Age: 19 - Email

What Are The Greatest Challenges That Pagans Face Today?

Well, for me the problem was the reaction of those around me, my family. My mum, best mum ever, stands by me no matter what, but for my dad, well it's all "go get a job son", "get ya car licience so u can work for me", "Son get out of this dream world your in boy" work, work, work. It's all i hear. Coming from a family that doesn't really have a house religion i guess i'm the first.

It would be a good time here to state what it is i believe, i study shamanism & runology. Been researching the areas for about 2 years now and now feel ready to start practicing.

As i was sayin my main problem is family reaction and as for friends thay might make fun and stuff but i know that they just don't understand where i'm coming from. So i take no notice of them and just get on and if they are willing to listen i will give them an insight into my belief's. As for my family they kind of stay off the subject, it depresses me but i find its better not to start a family brawl. And that why i love the net so i can chat to u guys :)

But as it goes for the people in general and the area i live in i find it best to just keep it all to myself. When i meet new people i don't flaunt that i study shamanism or anything. i try to make good impressions get them to like me and who i am and in time they will discover what i believe, if they leave because of it its there bad, hopefuly they are strong minded and take a lesson from the occassion, coz the way i see it there is a lesson in everything that takes place in our short lives.

some people find my view sometimes a bit harsh and by all means i except there opinions. when it comes down to it we are all different we should meet new people with no expectations and be opened minded at all times.

For me i follow 4 virtues....Wisdom, Generosity, Fortitude & Bravery


I Personally Think The Biggest Challenges That Face The Pagan Community Today... Apr 23rd. at 8:06:35 pm UTC

Bronze Serpent (Manchester, UK, England UK) Age: 19 - Email

I personally think the biggest challenges that face the Pagan community today are the "cliques" we sometimes make for ourselves. I've seen it all:

"I'm a Druid. As my faith has older roots than yours, I'm simply more Pagan you." - a Pagan

"I was *born* into a family of Witches, therefore, I'm simply Witchier than thou." - a Pagan

"Have you read such-and-such a book? No?! Then how can you call yourself a Pagan?" - a Pagan

"Wicca is a silly Neo-Pagan faith, it's newer than most, therefore, isn't as valid as the rest of the Pagan community." - a Pagan

"I happen to be a 34th generation Witch - bow before my omnipotent power and give due respect!" - a Pagan

...I'm sure you've all come across at least one of them in your time as a Pagan. Sometimes it seems as if you're being judged on the number of books you've read, the amount of time you spent on your thesis on Crowley, the average size of your multiple Athames - one for each day of the week. Untill you're "in the club" you're not actually considered a Pagan in some areas.

This problem isn't rooted outside of the Pagan community, but at the very core of it, rotting away. This "ego trip" that some Pagans like to send them selves on doesn't *really* get them anywhere at the end of the day, besides having made for themselves personas they have no hope of living up to. It's sad to say, but in some groups, if you can "talk the talk" and have a multitude of quotes up your sleeve, you are then elevated above the next person. To put it simply - there are some Pagans that bear the title because of the "awe" they think they hold in others eyes.

How do we battle the problem? Well, when we can all stop bringing up the 'age old' story of our 45th generation gread grandma - she who founde "The Coven of the Blah-Blah-Blah." When we can stop asking how many volumes of Magickal thesis they read before starting to actually practice, before actually asking their name and greeting them with a warm smile. When we can stop putting so-and-so upon a pedestal because they can simply debate theology better than that other so-and-so. When we can actually ask a Pagans name before the quesion "What path do you follow and for how long?" When we can put down the egos that surrounds some Pagans, and simply stand back and look from the other side of the window.

...When we can actually LAUGH at ourselves, and the silly things that we Pagans do at times.

Then, and only then, will we all be in the same 'clique'.

)O( Blessings )O(

External The Seem To Be Growing Ingnorance Of The Existence And Actual... Apr 23rd. at 8:55:53 pm UTC

Eoduin (Edmonton, Alberta CA) Age: 18 - Email

The seem to be growing ingnorance of the existence and actual religious aspect of paganism. More and more youth are clueless about paganism and assume it is christianity's satanism. Intolerance is a major one. I don't have problems with adults, it's youth. Young people who sneer and look down upon you. People shouting at you that they want to save your soul, or that your too lost to be saved. I'm sick of it. And of course George W. Bush....I don't think I need to mention the signifigance of him.

Clique almost elitist attitudes towards younger pagans or new pagans. Especially over the internet, there is always the occasional gripe about "fluffy bunnies" and how no one wants to be one, newsflash, you are one. Or the whineing about how non-traditional pagans are suddenly not real pagans or some bs like that. Squabbles between different wiccan trads, like those whom are just wiccan aren't good enough to hold the label pagan, or witch. There is a large lack of tolerance within, it's almost pathetic, how can we be worthy to be tolerated by other faiths if we wont tolerate our own ranks.

Hmmm, It Is An Interesting Question. I Think We Are At A... Apr 23rd. at 10:07:30 pm UTC

Aedh Rua (Prophetstown, Illinois US) Age: 35 - Email

Hmmm, it is an interesting question. I think we are at a critical time, when we are facing a great deal of external threat, and a great deal of growth. I am not sure that we are ready for either one. It is all happening a little too early, though things are very far from hopeless. So, here are the challenges:

1. The Fundies are the main one. It sounds cliched but it is true. Dealing with them so that we are neither exterminated nor having to do to them what they want to do to us is going to be a real challenge, and one which will not go away soon. On the other hand, it is one we have dealt with before, for decades.
2. The sudden new identification between Pagans and White Supremists. This is a major PR problem. About the only groups more consistantly hated by the American public are serial killers and maybe Communists. I can't help but think it will all be traced to the Fundies somehow, maybe a Fundie "trojan horse" staffer at the SPLC. This kind of press could undo all that we have tried to do in the area of police-relations.

1. Apathy. In my area, there are at least eight or nine Pagans. I have tried to get them together, just for a coffee hour, or something like that, but I can't. No one appears to be interested. As a result, it is as if there were no Pagans here at all. When we don't show ourselves, at least to one another, we undermine ourselves.
2. Unstable groups. How long does the average coven last? What happens when it breaks up? We need longer lasting and stabler institutions and groups, if we are to absorb the influx of people, and stand against the Fundies.
3. Poor scholarship. A lot of the Great Wiccan myth is bunk, and it doesn't do much for making us look "real" in the eyes of the general public. Now, we can't do much about what Gardner wrote, but we can present our own diversity, and our own intellectual successes. On the other hand, I am afraid that the American Establishment has closed ranks against us, so this may be a waste of time. For more details see that Atlantic Monthly article. Of course, even if the Establishment embraces us, we could still undermine ourselves with a couple more bunches of Atlantean Crystal Druids.
4. "Geek Factor". This is a problem which has gradually gotten better. May it continue to do so! Essentially, there are people out there speaking for Paganism and Wicca, almost always on the local level, who are not exactly really respectable types. I don't have lack of charisma or money in mind, with this, but rather serious sexual, fiscal, or other misconduct. How many "high priests" are there out there out there who are essentially sexual predators who prey on newbies? Luckily, fewer than in the past.
5. Witch wars. A serious issue. When will "perfect love and perfect trust" actually mean something? Everytime people who used to be friends turn on each other, it proves these words hollow.
6. Lack of legal and political muscle. We need to be able to kick some ass in court, if we wish to convince the fundies to leave us alone. There have been some cases lately, for example, which would have resulted in multi-million dollar settlements had they happened to Jews, Natives, or Christians. Why isn't Tempest Smith's mother rich? After what happened to her daughter, she sure the hel should be, even if it can never bring Tempest back. We need to organize Pagan legal defense funds, groups of concerned Pagan attorneys, and similar institutions.
7. Clergy accreditation. Wouldn't it be nice to know which HPS or HP was trained in what? This is something that could be done privately, with a sort of "Association of Pagan Clergy". Heck, if I get time, I may do some of it with Celtic/Irish based stuff myself. Don't expect anything soon, which brings us to #8, money.
8. Money. The Big Need, which no one will admit. Why don't we have Pagan charities? Why don't we have Pagan seminaries? Why don't we have more political power? Why don't I have time to organize an Irish Pagan Clergy Rating Program? It's because we ain't got the cash, that's why. As Randy Neumann said "It's money that matters, in the USA". Now, in moral terms, this is not true, of course, but in power-political terms, it is. When you consider that the Fundies who hate us so much get to fulminate against us full time, and get paid for it, you can see my point. We do pretty well for a movement with full-time clergy so rare that the ones which exist are famous. If we all gave ten percent, what would that come to? And where can I send it? Wren, does Witchvox have a bank account? Expect a check from me soon, you Witchvox perfessionals, and hopefully from every other Pagan, Heathen, or whoever who reads this message, because we are going to need to spend BILLIONS of dollars just to earn the right not to be the victims of genocide.

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