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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| In Answer To The Author Of The Open Letter Questioning Where The... ||Sep 25th. at 6:15:46 pm EDT|
|Kirsten Rostedt, J.D. (New York, New York US) ||Age: 34 |
In answer to the author of the open letter questioning where the Pagan leaders were.
Sorry that you did not see any big name Pagans on television, but leadership is more than getting oneÕs face on television or seeing oneÕs name in print (and btw, if you check the archives of NPR, youÕll note that Margot Adler was reporting on the incident).
Here in New York, many members of our community Ð from famous authors and long-time community leaders to newest dedicants Ð were busy. Some of us were -- and still are -- down at Ground Zero helping in the search and rescue; some of us have been collecting food and supplies for the rescue workers and donating our time to help distribute those supplies. Some of us have been donating blood. Some of us have been helping families find shelter and lost pets. Some of us are protecting the civil liberties and rights of others to practice their religion (whether it is Wiccan, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, etc.) free from fear of harm. Some of us are providing spiritual and grief counseling to those survived the attack and to the families of those who did not Ð regardless of whether they are Pagan (and yes there were Pagans who died in the attack) or not. Some of us have spent countless hours journeying to assist the lost souls of those killed in crossing over. Some of us have led and participated in open circles and have joined in the numerous ecumenical rituals throughout the City.
There is more to leadership than the title of ÒleaderÓ. Many prefer to lead by example. What are you doing in your own community?
| I Don't Think There Should Be A Leader, Per Say, But A... ||Sep 25th. at 6:33:10 pm EDT|
|Emily Thomas (Warren, Ohio US) ||Age: 16 - Email |
I don't think there should be a leader, per say, but a representative or two. Someone that can understand and identify with ALL our various opinions and beliefs, someone who can speak for us. A leader runs things, we don't need a leader. We run our lives just fine on our own. We just need someone who can be in tune and state the various opinions of the Pagan world.
Of course, it shouldn't be limitied to just one representative. There's too many of us, too many beliefs to have just one. And of course, if any BNP(Big Name Pagans) want to voice their own opinion, just as well.
| How Many Times Have Pagans Tried To Represent Themselves In The Media... ||Sep 25th. at 6:58:28 pm EDT|
|Holly (St. Petersburg, Florida US) ||Age: 25 - Email |
How many times have Pagans tried to represent themselves in the media, to no avail? I seriously doubt that the people that were called "leaders" were in hiding over the course of the past two weeks. They have been doing magickal workings, sending out healing energy, comforting their own communities. Most of those people are AUTHORS, not self-appointed leaders. Just because someone wrote a book doesn't mean they think they know everything. I would also like to point out, with the exception of Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson's spouting off at the mouth, most of the religious leaders of the country have been pretty quiet since about 24 hours after the attack. All of the clergy at the national memorial service were either local or personal friends of the Bush family (Billy Graham). I think it is wonderful that they are at the moment focusing on Islamic clergy perspectives--they are the ones having to defend their faith right now. If (Goddess forbid) a Pagan ever bombs a major U.S. landmark, I would bet my life we will get ALL the media coverage we could ever want (good or bad). In this imperfect world, realize that George Bush is really trying his best, and he cannot always please everyone. I have not heard him one time since this attack ever say anything that was not all inclusive--always talking about ALL the faiths in this country. I even heard him cite a list one time, and apologize to those he forgot to mention. And his response to Jerry Falwell included a mention of Pagans, and a condemnation of Fallwell's statement, saying that every American is in this together. He knows very little about Paganism, and I bet if someone were to educate him, rather than complain, he just might listen. As politicians go, George W. seems like a pretty down-to-earth kinda guy, willing to look at other viewpoints. He has even admitted to being a little one-sided about things. I have my issues with Dubya, but he has a really heavy burden right now, and is responding to it the best way HE KNOWS HOW. If there is no leadership outside of your community, this is a good time to get to know your community. And quit whining. We will never get anywhere in this country if all we ever do is throw temper tantrums over being ignored in the media for two weeks. EVERY group needs time to be recognized and treated as equal--sure, it sucks, but it will happen. As bad as it is to be woman or a minority in this country, its a LOT better than it used to be. Paganism as an organized movement has only been around for a couple of decades. We cannot expect everything all at once. Bush and the national leaders may not particularly like us, but they're not going to mass execute us or anything. We are getting a voice. We HAVE leadership, but, as of right now, we are NOT an organized religion. So either do something to change that, or shut your pie hole. IF YOU DON'T LIKE THE LEADERS YOU'RE STUCK WITH, BECOME ONE. If we want to show America that we are Americans, too, we cannot sit here and kvetch about how everyone ignores us. We have to be there, giving and not just taking. Do it, and then tell them you are Pagan, not the other way around. Remember, the only way we can ever make a change is to be the change we want to make. If you are so intent on being heard, SPEAK. Im sorry this is full of cliches, but they all seemed to apply
| Hmmm.... Paganism As A General Rule Has Never Been Institutionalized. I Am... ||Sep 25th. at 7:11:19 pm EDT|
|Catherine Pluard (Sarnia, Ontario CA) ||Age: 28 - Email |
Paganism as a general rule has never been institutionalized. I am unsure of just how to broach this question; but opinions are like noses, everyone has one; so here's mine.
I love being a rogue. I love the fact that all I have learned I have learned on my own. I love that I have been given the freedom to chose who and what I believe in, and how I practise my craft. It is my opinion that national leadership would on one hand give pagans a stronger voice politically, and on the other hand could destroy the individuality that the craft has to offer. I am someone who has never been one to work with too many other people and I have tended to shy away from any kind of coven work. I have learned as well that throughout history it has been proven time and time again that politics and religion do not mix. It has been a repetitious mistake that is centuries old, and I would hate to see anything like that happen to our pagan community.
I think that if we as a community find ourselves thinking that we are above this kind of mistake, then it could be a step towards our own self destruction. When politics get mixed with spiritual beliefs, then the very principles we are trying to uphold get lost.
So.....national leadership? I would have to say that I'm not for it.
| Well... It Seems As If It Could Be Good Isea For Representation... ||Sep 25th. at 7:34:50 pm EDT|
|Kitty Minear (Bountiful, Utah US) ||Age: 17 - Email |
It seems as if it could be good isea for representation, but it's not all that simple! How could "a few" leaders encompass every paan mind and opinion....they are all slightly different. Which is something I thoroughly enjoy about it. There are no set rules and regulations for Pagan hearts and Pagan souls. I like knowing that I have taught myself, thus, growing with and for myself also. It wouldn't be much us after representation, anyway. I like abiding my own morals and ethics, thank you. Paganism has tried to syeer clear of the norm is such areas as this. I think it would be good to stay without any leaders...
| If We As Pagans Want To Accepted As A Valued Part Of... ||Sep 25th. at 10:06:38 pm EDT|
|Truthseeker ) Tom (Winter Park, Florida US) ||Age: 52 |
If we as Pagans want to accepted as a valued part of our communities, nation, and the world at large. Then we need to be seen as taking an active roll on our communities, nation and world. In this case VISIBILITY = CREDIBILITY. Three is some validity to the oft. heard question "where are your hospitals...... etc. Weather we like it or not we live on a world of perception. To those outside our circles, covens, groves and quiet little communities, we are perceived as at best those strange people who take on funny names* to those blood thirsty baby killers. Without some kind of united front we are destined to remain in the shadows.
Although some of us claim to have thousands of years of tradition the fact is we are the newcomers on the block, or at least perceived to be. That being the case; If we are to be take seriously, we need to find away to celebrate our individual uniqueness and present a unified front. We Pagans are at a crossroads we have survived our adolescence we must mature if we are to come from the shadows into the light of acceptance we deserve.
Believe me I value the freedom to view the universe and its workings as I see fit, and I in no-way want to change that. However, I would also like to be taken seriously by those around me.
*Just a note on craft names; To many of us our craft names are of great importance and power. However to those outside the Pagan world they are a mask to hide behind. The argument goes like this "how can you take someone seriously if they are not willing to identify themselves and stand behind their statements." Remember the world of perception we live in.
| I'm Not Sure That National Pagan Leaders Is A Goal That's Even... ||Sep 25th. at 10:24:04 pm EDT|
|Meghann MacMurphy (Arlington, Texas US) ||Age: 31 - Email |
I'm not sure that National Pagan Leaders is a goal that's even attainable at this point in time. In all too many local communities, the conflicts between traditions, groups, and leaders are too bitter and deep-seated to even determine a group that should represent a local community, much less vote on some sort of national level.
I believe the answer lies in more of a coalition type of structure... it's unwieldy, but I don't believe that's insurmountable with today's technology. It has to start with the real leaders in a local community coming together and working together for the good of the community without power struggles and attacks. There has to be common ground for pagans to work from. It's sometimes very small and hard to find, but until we can each find that place and work to make it bigger, the divisiveness will keep any real change in paganism and how it's percieved by the non-pagan public just beyond reach.
| Yes, I Do Feel That We Need Leaders To Represent Us On... ||Sep 25th. at 10:31:52 pm EDT|
|Morrigan (Ripley, Mississippi US) ||Age: 60 - Email |
Yes, I do feel that we need leaders to represent us on a national level if our rights are to be considered. Laws may be in place to protect us, but laws are no better that those who enforce them, and in some areas 'freedom of religion' means nothing. I am not suggesting that we need political leaders; most pagans are too independent to be subjected to rules and regulations, myself included. What I am suggesting is a spokesperson to represent us and our interest.
This person should be someone knowledgable and articulate, if possible someone respected both in the pagan community and in society at large. He or she could also comfort us and lead us in times of trouble.
I am a writer and a member of the Horror Writers Association. A friend of mine who is also a close friend of Raymond Buckland has scheduled an interview with him for the near future. Mr Buckland will be addressing the subject of the terrorist attack and what pagans can to to help in this time of national crisis. I would like to suggest that Raymond Buckland, a well-known author and respected pagan in his own right would make a good leader.
I don't know how monies for leaders would be raised, perhaps through contributions and Festivals. And I think that we should be able to vote and elect our leaders. I would like to hear others' suggestions.
I feel the time has come for our voices to be heard. The number of pagans in the US alone are considerable and if we had proper representation, our rights would be respected.
| Heh... I Suppose It Is Time For Such A Question, And Though... ||Sep 25th. at 10:37:34 pm EDT|
|Wolfsinger (Boston, Massachusetts US) ||Age: 31 - Email |
Heh... I suppose it is time for such a question, and though I think we all know what we prefer, it's time to really sit up and listen to what anyone on the other side of the coin (whichever side we happen to be on) has to say with a mind ready to accept that the situation right now might not be ideal, and sacrifices may have to be made for the greater good.
I have had more than one Christian come to me and ask why (or simply state that) Pagans weren't doing anything in the face of such a horrible tragedy. "If you're really so caring and loving, why aren't we hearing about it during this horrible time? What are your contributions?" After explaining for what seems to be the umpteenth time that we don't have a central leadership and that we are doing much but are simply quiet about it, I'm beginning to think maybe we do need some way of conveying to the nation that we, too, are in solidarity with them in so many ways... otherwise, we may be getting the reputation for doing nothing, which couldn't be further from the truth (though I would rather not sing my own praises for what I have done, simply because this isn't the time for any groups or individuals to be tooting their own horns...). So, I do feel that we need some way to make sure that more fallacies like these are not spread. Misunderstanding about us has been growing since our ancestors were first exposed to different believers, and, well, isn't that type of thing half of what is causing the problems we're currently seeing between Islam and the rest of the world?
But honestly, I don't know how I'd go about voting for leaders (yes, a vote would be necessary). It would take time to organize, and in all honesty, many of us solitaires hiding around, though we have read the books of the more established Pagan personalities, may not really know who to look to. Much information would have to be exchanged on both sides, to communicate the qualifications of the potentials, and to express the desires of the elusive solitaries. Much would have to be generalized in order to avoid promoting any stereotypes, since we are such a wonderfully eclectic group. What process would decide exactly what would be said? Or how many traditions would be represented by how many people? And as always, how would we select someone to speak for the solitaires?
This is somewhat of a ramble, as I try to go over these thoughts for myself, so undecided. Would it be effective to elect or appoint folks to just simply say "we're involved" and leave it at that, without any dogmatic contributions? I honestly don't know. Would the media look at it as more than just a sensationalist story? I hope so - though evidence previous to this would suggest that would be difficult.
I do think a voice is needed. There are areas where local leadership either doesn't exist or is kept silent for fear. With a central voice, we can communicate our care and concern to those communities.
Okay, solid suggestions: How would Wren and Fritz feel about using Witchvox to moderate this selection? Would that overtax an already very active and busy website? Witchvox would be the perfect place to disseminate information about candidates (ech, that sounds so impersonal!) to those of us who might not know so much about them. It would also be a great place for any leaders who were chosen to hear from the community about what we want said.
I have yet to read all the other posts, though I have seen a few. Perhaps better ideas are out there. I hope we will find the best solution (so mote it be!) and I look forward to hearing response from Wren and Fritz.
| It Ocurred To Me While Reading Some Of The Other Replies To... ||Sep 25th. at 10:45:09 pm EDT|
|Kara (Minot, North Dakota US) ||Age: 34 - Email |
It ocurred to me while reading some of the other replies to this question that Pagans are plenty represented. We are people, like one writer, who are at Ground Zero trying to help with the rescue/cleanup, and we are people who are donating time and money to try to raise funds to send to the victim relief programs. We are people who are raising circles and lighting candles and sending as much positive energy as we know how. In short, we are Americans. We are doing everything everyone else is doing, the best we know how, in whatever way we can to help. We are leaders in our communities and in our states and in our country, though most keep a low profile.
But some say we need someone, or some group to represent us Nationally.... Why? Using a person or a group to put our spirituality in the spotlight, especially in a time like this is pure politics, and IMHO, it's the worst thing we can do. What will eventually send Pagans into the spotlight is living life to the best and fullest we can, and being the best people we can be. Pushing ourselves on others makes us just like every other group out there. I am Pagan, in part, because I didn't like belonging to a group that was "out there" and "in your face". Forgive me if I offend, but I really believe that grabbing spotlight time is beneath us and would do more harm in the long run. Let's keep our dignity. Blessings....Kara
| I Am Against Appointing Pagan Leadership. I Am From A Catholic Background... ||Sep 25th. at 11:16:38 pm EDT|
|MoonJackal Lady (Ellicott City, Maryland US) ||Age: 17 - Email |
I am against appointing Pagan Leadership. I am from a Catholic background (I am even a confirmed Catholic 0.0) and whenever the church said something like " is Bad, " I would look at it, and come up with my own opinion, and see that unless I agreed, there was no voice standing up for what I decided was in tune with my morals. I kinda have this belief that those who are appointed usually do what the majority wants so that they can keep their posistion, instead of doing what they believe is right. I know that's a rather negative viewpoint, and the Pagan community is generally much more open-minded and cooler and stuff, but the element of power and human nature also come into play as well.
I would be willing to donate money to help pay for Pagan leadership. I might not be able to pay much, but I think that if the community was asked to help raise money, they would do so. That's how churches work--they donate money, which goes to pay for the priest's salaries, etc. That works because the members of the church believe that the priests deserve the money, and I think the same thing would happen with the Pagan community as well.
I think an election would be the best way to get Pagan leadership. Maybe online?
I think maybe a good way to set up Pagan leadership would be to divide areas up (like central Maryland, New York City, etc.) and have a group of people in charge of it. If you're familiar with the structure of Girl Scouts--lots of little groups, some individuals, and a big organization (council) who is in charge of an area, helps provide resources, etc. There could be smaller groups between the individual covens and solitaries and a larger organization to help with networking and whatnot as well, but I'm not sure if that's nessacary (I'm still not very familiar with that kinda stuff--how different covens interact, etc., as I'm still 17).
Ok, that was rather rambling-ish, and maybe I should go get some sleep before school. Yeah, that's it. ^_^
| You Want Thoughts? Ok... Here Goes: First Off, Many Of The People... ||Sep 25th. at 11:17:02 pm EDT|
|Kriselda Jarnsaxa (ThorsWitch) (Kansas City, Kansas US) ||Age: 36 - Email |
You want thoughts? Ok... here goes:
First off, many of the people mentioned in the list are not "self-styled" anything - Wren & Fritz, Gavin & Yvonne Frost, Phyllis Currott, Z Budapest, Starhawk, and most of the rest have actually EARNED the respect that they are given by sharing their knowledge, time, spirits, and more, with the Pagan community. They've DONE things, they've made serious contributions, and they're well-known because Pagans who know of them frequently refer new Pagans (or other Pagans who are, for whatever reason, not already familiar with them) to them for the quality of information and the type of spirit they have to offer. I may not like or respect all of them equally, but I know many people will respect those I think "less" of as highly as I respect the others, and vice versa. (It should also be noted that not all of the people mentioned - not even the majority of them - write for Llewellyn. In any regard, whatever you may think of Llewellyn, you can't deny that that HAVE been the most successful in getting their books into wide circulation.... I know a great many people who have discovered Paganism through Llewellyn books. They may not be the best books out there, always, but they DO serve a purpose, eh?)
Given that I have, in essence, founded a new Tradition and have an incorporated Pagan church (membership, 1) and a chartered Fellowship of Isis Iseum (membership, 1), I could sign self-designated, high-sounding titles (Rev. Kriselda Jarnsaxa, ULC; Founder and High Priestess, Heidenhexerei Tradition of Wicca; High Priestess, Hexenhaus Church of Isis and Thor; and Founder, Charioteer's Iseum of the Ankh and Hammer - wouldn't that look spiffy on a letterhead?), send out press releases and issues statements and proclamations, but that doesn't mean anyone would listen to me, because the things that I have done don't yet warrant HAVING anyone listen to me, or promoting myself as a "Pagan leader".
Ok. As to "self-styled psychics" not knowing anything about this... the FBI and CIA, who are supposed to have more to go on than dreams, feelings, visions, tarot cards, runes and the like, apparently knew nothing about this.... nothing in Christian, Jewish or Muslim prophecy mentions anything about it, and, really, even Nostradamus didn't have anything to say about it.... perhaps Divinity, for whatever reason, didn't WANT there to be any warning, so none was given. As tragic as this is, there may well be some purpose in this horror - something we cannot, now, see and may not ever really comprehend. I really hope that there is a purpose in this -- that all of those lives ended when they did for some actual reason and not just as a twist of fate. I don't want people to think I'm saying that Divinity "caused" this to happen as some kind of act of evil or Divine punishment - but I do believe that things happen for a reason, and this may well be part of whatever plan Divinity has for this world - just as other tragic situations may also be.
Next. Why aren't we hearing from the leaders in the media. It may seem that EVERYONE is being interviewed, but there really is a finite amount of space in both broadcasting and in print. There are SO many stories out there, so many concerns, so many messages that people are trying to get out, so many groups looking for a sliver of time or line on a page, so many, in fact, that they actually have to choose who and what will get air time. It may well be that these leaders HAVE made themselves available to the media, or have sent out messages, press releases and such like, and that because we are such a small minority of people in the US, we're just not getting any of that precious space. It may not be fair, but it is how the news business works. Right now, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs and other Middle Eastern religions are going to get the most attention because they have the greatest need to clarify what it is their faith really is all about and why their people shouldn't be harassed, hurt or killed. While there are Pagans who are affected by this - certainly some who are affected quite personally and directly, lets be honest - except for Falwell, this isn't affecting Pagans as a group in any kind of a PR sense. Personally, I'd MUCH rather let the Muslims, etc., have the time & space, because right now they have an immediate need to educate people about their faith. Our time will come - hopefully not in such a horrifying way - but we can be patient.
As for offering spiritual comfort, I know that many Pagan clergy in the Northeast (and I'm sure others from elsewhere, as well) ARE available and giving aid and care to the victims and to their own coven mates or fellow group members. Doing so doesn't have to be done in public for it to be real OR for it to count. That it is being done is all that matters. Do we believe that the Divine will care for Its own? If so, then we don't need to worry about how much publicity is being gotten for efforts on behalf of the Pagan community - those that need the help will be given it.
Now don't get me wrong - I'm not saying that I oppose Pagans getting more positive publicity. I think it would be great if we could. I DO, however, feel quite strongly that using - exploiting - this tragedy for PR would be beyond dishonourable. It isn't necessary. If we were to start jumping out of the woodwork right now, waving our arms and yelling "Yoo-hoo! Look at us!! Look at us!!", it isn't going to help de-marginalize us any at all. We'll be seen as shameless opportunists who are trying to take a horrific tragedy and turn it to our advantage, just as Falwell and Robertson are viewed as exploiting the attack in order to try and reinforce their own pronouncements.
That certainly isn't what we need.
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