The opinions posted on the Pagan Perspective pages are those of individuals and are not neccessarily shared or endorsed by the Witches' Voice inc.
Posted: Sep. 8, 2002
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Question of the Week: 60 - 10/1/2001
What About Those Pagan Leaders Again?
As we mentioned in our homepage introduction, the question of who our 'Pagan Leaders' might be has again been raised. And perhaps that is a good thing as the world situation has changed and perhaps the views of Pagans on the topic have changed as well. We would request that those who continue to support the decades old view that Pagans do not need national leaders also then address the question of what should we do to comfort/represent our own at a national level in times of crisis seeing as most folks in the Pagan community are still solitaries.
We request that those who take the position that national leaders are (or may) be needed to represent the Pagan communities in times such as this also address the question of how these 'leaders' would be supported financially in order that they might afford to work full-time for the communities and/or take emergency/diplomatic trips to seats of political power to represent you.
And finally, just where would the national election for 'Pagan Leaders' be held? Without such an election, any national 'Pagan Leader' would by necessity have to be an 'appointed' one, wouldn't he/she? (Just who does the appointing has always been interesting.) This question is one of a 'national' Pagan leadership and the benefits and/or drawbacks of such. Local and community Pagan leaders/advocates/facilitators are already in place and generally do a wonderful job where they are.
| Reponses: There are 289 responses posted to this question.
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| I Think That If There Is A Leader Or Council Of Leaders... ||Sep 23rd. at 9:46:14 pm EDT|
|Jacob Lewis (Fayetteville, Arkansas US) ||Age: 20 |
I think that if there is a leader or council of leaders, it should try to be as representative as possible. Perhaps it should even be modelled on the American Democratic concept of representation, with councils at local, state, and national levels, each of which is responsible to the other. Perhaps not. I do say this: there should /not/ be a single leader of us all, for we are too diverse
| My Opinion Is Going To Wander A Bit, So Please Bear With... ||Sep 23rd. at 10:14:13 pm EDT|
|RiverGypsy (Wheaton, Illinois US) ||Age: 23 - Email |
My opinion is going to wander a bit, so please bear with me.
First, a word on the "Open Letter to Pagan Leaders." The people named therein are *NOT* leaders. They are simply those we have made famous. They are not responsible for us. They may, because they are open and empthetic people, put up sites, such as this one, or write books, to help us come together, learn, network, or just find a place of comfort. This does not mean they necessarily want to step out onto national TV.
So what do we do? I hopped into a chat room and talked with the first pagan I found. I called my pagan fiancee. I came home and hit witchvox. I did my own ritual. I have no recognized leader to go to, so I did what I've always done; what felt right.
It's almost a chicken and egg question: are most pagans so independent that they don't need leaders; or are they independent because they don't have leaders. I don't know.
Do we need national leaders? I personally don't think so. I think local groups, and powerful networking tools like the internet let us keep our eccletic traditions, our solitaries, our freedom; without feeling hemmed in by the image of a national leader. Let's face it, no one, two, or a dozen people could accurately represent the pagan community. Some would always feel left out.
That's not to say I wouldn't back a national leader. To come out of the broom closet under a recognized figure might make things easier. One can only hope.
And it's not like we can't be united without a leader. We've done that for years, haven't we, in forums like festivals and web sites?
Blessed Be brothers and sisters.
Remember the heros.
| Usually I Look To Vocal Or Public Buddists In A Media Blitz... ||Sep 23rd. at 10:45:12 pm EDT|
|Lynne-Renee (rural STL, Missouri US) ||Age: 29 - Email |
Usually I look to vocal or public Buddists in a media blitz. I was sorrowfully disappointed to not see other faiths represented at the National Memorial service. It hurts to not see anyone with whom I can identify at this time.
I don't want some goof (judgemental, I know) to stand up for Paganism and discredit me to the few who know my faith or especially to society/the future. I mean on TV and broadcast to the millions. Remember the 1980's? Remember the Phil Donahue show? Some are too young; they know the viciousness of some chat shows now but they haven't seen the fervor that was going on with "Witchcraft" then. I'm not sure if I ever saw anyone of Truth speaking then. At best there were egomaniacs on the scene.
How would you pick leaders? Vote? Huh? Who would show up? The Judeo-Christian and other fundamentalists could send out droves to sabatoge an honest effort. Many gentle people would never dream of letting others know what they practice long enough to pick a leader.
I am not a leader-not even locally.
However, if there are industrious souls who want to join an interfaith initiative, please do. Yes, perhaps you wouldn't represent me. If there's enough who do something locally, amongst those active in other religions, we'll get a broader base to show our variety. For the rest of us, it is the small effort which will show "the proof is in the pudding."
I will continue to read for others and do energy work (at no charge) for those who over 5 years have learned of my spirituality from the workplace. There are those who still hate me and say "she worships trees." Eh, not so far off really so why bother with one who has made up her mind? I've shown about 30 people or more that there *is* another way. Many of the staunch "Bible Thumpers" now see me as a great ally. Their beliefs haven't changed within their religion but they recognize that while I'm "strange" I worhip in just about the exact same way that they do. I'm even included in prayer chains.
I cannot see how right now we're ready to "choose" national leaders. Perhaps in a few years after much grassroots efforts, the picture will be different.
| I Do Not Think That A Natioal Leader Is Needed.we Are Muchto... ||Sep 23rd. at 10:45:24 pm EDT|
|earl blackcloud (bear, Delaware US) ||Age: 58 - Email |
I do not think that a natioal leader is needed.We are muchto diverse to be under one leader or group.Such a happening would tend to put us into the realm of other religions.While we may share alot in common, we are still very indiviual even in covens
| Firstly Let Me State My Opinion On Whether I Believe There Should... ||Sep 23rd. at 10:46:24 pm EDT|
|S. John Browne (Pietermaritzburg, South Africa) ||Age: 27 - Email |
Firstly let me state my opinion on whether i believe there should be National Leaders. The answer is No but Yes. No to Leaders, Yes to REPRESENTITIVES. And those Representitives should be Based Nationally and Globally. Why i say this is because choosing Leaders will be near impossible given the number of different Paths (some followed only by one person). The chances of Alienating a portion of Pagans is too great unless you make the Organisation as representitive as possible. Also there must be a balance so it will stop those people who when given leadership positions become Tyrants over the people who gave them those positions. The last thing we need is this to lead to Pagans trying to create the same Dogmatic "one fits all" Religion as other Religions and while it might seem like a good idea now the last thing Americans want to do (Pagan and Non-Pagan) is to isolate themselves from the rest of the world. Believe it or not the great majority of Pagans in Non-American countries feel great empathy for America.
The bigger problem though is that even if such Organisations were created to Represent Pagans in times of great need They Wouldn't Be Invited To such Gatherings. As i mentioned on a newsgroup your own president has stated he doesn't believe that Witchcraft and Wicca are viable religions. One comment often played on CNN has been "There Is ONLY ONE GOD". To change that we are going to have to be Political and we will have to Stop Throwing Insults at Each Other. In the past 2 years i have been accused of everything under the sun and moon and in the deep blue sea whenever i have brought up topics deemed to be too sensitive. It has not been Fundamentalists or Lunatics that have done this but OTHER PAGANS. While Christians might fight amongst themselves they for the most part avoid allowing those fights to get in the way of Political ideas and that is why even those who hate them Have to give them the time of day. As pushy as this sounds We Need To Become Just As Pushy. If CNN, BBC, SABC (or whatever your national tv station is called) does not invite your Bug The Hell Out Of Them Until They Do.
Most importantly it is time for Pagan Paths Worldwide to become more active in creating our own Schools, Libraries, Courses etc and not only for the Adult Pagans but for the children of Pagans or the children of non-Pagan parents whose wish to send their Pagan children to a safe enviroment for them. And we must also become more versed in the discussion of topics that might be seen as too sensitive in an open way in order to confront those issues.
Just my humble opinion.
| I Do Not Believe That Having A Set Group Of Pagan “leaders... ||Sep 23rd. at 10:58:37 pm EDT|
|Nyx (Orange County, California US) ||Age: 20 |
I do not believe that having a set group of pagan “leaders” would be a good idea. The Pagan community, as a whole, is so diverse that no one person, or group of people could accurately represent it. Do we need leaders on a community level? Yes. Should we have a voice in national matters? Yes. But this voice should not come from a council of elders who claims to be the voice of the entire Pagan community. Rather, I believe that is time for every Witch, Wiccan, Pagan, etc... to start standing up and speaking out on a individual level. Write letters, stage gathering, do what it takes to get your opinion out there. We all need to be leaders in this community. There is no better way to represent yourself than with your own words.
| I Watched The Memorial Services In Yankee Stadium This Afternoon. There Were... ||Sep 23rd. at 11:35:31 pm EDT|
|Chris "Stormseer" Taub (Tempe, Arizona US) ||Age: 31 - Email |
I watched the memorial services in Yankee Stadium this afternoon. There were religious leaders from "all faiths", according to those in attendance. I didn't see representatives of our faith sitting with those of Hindu, Islam, Jew, Greek Orthodox, Baptist, Catholic, Protestant, and others.
I'm not complaining about it. I do believe today's services created a special bond that will be shared by all for generations to come. Today, we realized that we are unique individuals with unique ways of looking at the universe. I do, however, think that representatives of the Pagan world should have been there.
How is this accomplished? Utilize people who have played the most active roles in education and outreach. Starhawk, Oberon Zell, Isaac Bonewits, Freya Aswynn, Gavin and Janet, etc. Write them, and ask if they would take up the cause of representing Neo-Pagans in services such as the one we saw at Yankee stadium. Form a council focused on interfaith awareness, outreach, and understanding.
Leadership and representation will not usurp our religious freedoms. I believe it will carry us into the mainstream...allowing us to worship wherever we want, when we want, and how we want, without need for secrecy and fear.
| The Three Words That I Feel Would Best Describe A Pagan « Leader... ||Sep 23rd. at 11:49:40 pm EDT|
|Morgan Ravenwood (Lake Havasu City , Arizona US) ||Age: 43 - Email |
The three words that I feel would best describe a Pagan « leader » is someone who, by their word, deed, and achievement have become known AS a leader in the Pagan community. Some, but certainly not all, of the names that come to mind for me are Starhawk, Isaac Bonewits, Raymond Buckland, Phyllis Curott., and certainly whoever is the current President of the Covenant of the Goddess. Aside from her books, I don’t know of any of Silver Ravenwolf’s achievements or if she even allows her real name to be known, but I think a lot of us would support her if she did choose to take an even more active role within the Pagan community.
Like the writer of the email that was sent to Witchvox, I also feel that the time has come for a little more organization among the Pagan community, and I even wrote an article for TWPT some months back on this subject (which is still available at http://www.twpt.com/aversion.htm). Since the attack on America, it has been almost maddening to see some of the Christian and Jewish leaders practically glorying in the national limelight---and no public word from any Pagan representatives. Perhaps those High Priestesses and Priests in larger cities have attempted to speak for their local communities, but from my perspective of living in a small Southwestern town, I have certainly not heard of any, and since I am still struggling to get even a study group together in my area, I have not felt comfortable enough to completely « come out » and attend the various local Christian assemblies that have met in the wake of the tragedies of Sept. 11.
In keeping with the spirit of individuality within the Pagan community, I certainly do NOT want to see any particular individual be allowed to speak for ALL Pagans. With so many different belief structures residing beneath the « Pagan » blanket, I don’t see how this could ever be. But surely, we could allow enough « organization » to filter through to allow a small number of those whose qualifications meet a basic criteria to at least be able to represent what we as Pagans believe and practice. I don’t feel that this would be unreasonable or contrary to the spirit of Paganism.
I also do not believe that the day has yet come to where we can actually grant a « salary, » travel expenses, etc. to a designated « representative . » And at this point, I don’t know if that day will ever come, or if it will even be necessary. For now, I think that that most of us are content to do the work and will of the Goddess when and where it presents itself with no monetary reward other than from our own circle and coven members for group activities and support. One day, it may be a different story…
| National Pagan Leaders? I Would Be Careful Of Instituting Such An Idea... ||Sep 23rd. at 11:57:26 pm EDT|
|Tarostar (Toronto, Ontario CA) ||Age: 59 - Email |
National Pagan Leaders? I would be careful of instituting such an idea.
Over the years, I have seen so many "celebrity" Pagans making the mistake of speaking for all Pagans to media types.
The beauty of Paganism is that it still is based on the community level. Let each community draw solace from its own Pagan Elders.
Too many of our "celebrity" personalities use the media attention to push their own causes, giving the impression all Pagans adhere to such.
As an example, we had a Pagan Education Network pat itself on the back for
forcing dictionary publishers to define Witchcraft as a Neo-Pagan Religion. They didn't ask us old witches if we agreed. They ignored the fact witchcraft is older than the stones, so could not be "Neo"-anything.
National Leaders would tend to standardize and institutionalize Wicca, perhaps, but Witchcraft won't go along, and would drag its feet, at least my variety of old-time Witchcraft would.
Knowing the general ditz factor among many Wiccans/Llewellyns types and the
social revolutionary agendas of our "political" activists, I would not want any form of election for Pagan Papess or Magus Ipsissimus.
It would result in one Pagan Leader, or another, becoming a hateful little Hitler.
Would we want that? The party line is becoming apparent, already, among the Pagan social revolutionaries. Try criticizing Starhawk and find out.
| I Thought About This For A Little More Than One Week, In... ||Sep 24th. at 12:14:38 am EDT|
|Crystal (Spokane, Washington US) ||Age: 43 - Email |
I thought about this for a little more than one week, in the aftermath of such destruction. I'm an oldtimer, as Pagans are considered, since I've been "in this" philosophical mindset for more than 20 years, (more than 40 years, if you count my unconventional family philosophers). I am an initiate of an Irish-Trad, but not a Wiccan group, yet I felt that "someone" needed to "volunteer" for the leadership role. Since the Chaplains serving the law enforcement arm of the agency for which I work have already "volunteered" as religious leaders, I sent an internal e-mail to the Ombudsman staff member heading the Chaplaincy and instructed her to make available my email address for duotheists or polytheists or Chaplains administering to them, as needed.
| I Was Split As To A National Pagan Spokesperson, Until I Read... ||Sep 24th. at 12:26:57 am EDT|
|Lynne Sylverthorne (Chandler, Arizona US) ||Age: 40 - Email |
I was split as to a national pagan spokesperson, until I read in some of the British press that a national I.D. card could become a reality here, as it is certain to be in the U.K.. One poll taken in the U.K. stated that 67% said that along with all the other info to be included that your RELIGION must be part of the info disclosed.
Given the fact that our current president has verbally attacked all of our beliefs as being invalid, maybe we need to stop squabbling about less important things and unite to ensure we still have a right to practice witchcraft a decade from now.
You need to realize that the card being proposed in U.K. would be required for employment, to obtain government benefits and even to buy gasoline! And it is being called voluntary over there!!!
This is the most serious threat to face us ever. I for one do not want to have to lie about my beliefs.
| None Of The Individuals Named Represent Me, My Tradition, My Beliefs Nor... ||Sep 24th. at 12:58:55 am EDT|
|Gael (Atlanta, Georgia US) ||Age: 47 |
None of the individuals named represent me, my tradition, my beliefs nor would their presence as a spokesperson/leader affect me and the members of my tradition.
People tell the Elders (all of whom have grey in their hair and have been pagans since before the majority of current pagans were even born) that they get everything they need from books or the internet. The mix-n-match belief-systems of the neo-pagan movement have all but eliminated the opportunity for most to get to know a pagan Elder on a personal basis because they have all but been rejected from the current movement.
The "big name" authors are, for the most part, not leaders. The real leaders and teachers are quietly doing the work of service for mankind behind the scenes with no recognition from the pagan community.
If you want leaders to be there for you, then you will need to learn to listen when they speak. None of them is going to hang around and shout at you over the drone of drums and your pre-occupation with breast-beating. They will be quietly sitting under a tree and teaching a small group who want to be still and listen.
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