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Question of the Week: 113

Pagan Problem Children: What Can We Do About Them?

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

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94. Who Would Make Your Pagan/Heathen Who’s Who List? - [91]

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89. Bah-Humbug! Are You Offended by Christmas? - [173]

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53. What is 'Will' or 'Willpower'? - [19]

52. Have you ever been to a Pagan Festival? - [26]

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37. What's On Your Altar? - [45]

36. Should the United States Apologize to China - [32]

35. Pagan Web Surfing Likes/Dislike - [60]

34. What Are Your Views on Abortion, Euthanasia and Suicide? - [95]

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30. What Do You Support and Why Do You Support It? - [21]

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23. Who or What is a "Pagan Leader"? - [61]

22. What More Do You Want To Know About Paganism? - [45]

21. What is/was your New Year's resolution? - [19]

19. What do YOU of our newest entry into the Presidential Political Pool? - [61]

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14. The Unresolved US Election - [263]

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11. Hollywood Hype - [74]

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7. The Ethics of Magick and Spellwork - [43]

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1. Who are you going to vote for and why? - [233]

 Author:    Posted: Sep. 8, 2002   This Page Viewed: 23,395,973  

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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. Reverse Sort 

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.

Brightest blessings,

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.

I Read That Scathing Email And Thought, "either This Was Written In... Sep 25th. at 11:54:36 pm EDT

Magpie (Boulder, Colorado US) Age: 38 - Email

I read that scathing email and thought, "Either this was written in the heat of anger and they'll be sorry later, or this person is not a Pagan."

The special forum that WitchVox set up was so comforting to me. I felt part of a community, and proud of that community as well. And if the forum didn't get up until the day after the disaster, well, Wren and Fritz were going through the same panic and sorrow as the rest of us, and they run this site out of the goodness of their large hearts. We don't pay them jack unless we want to. I don't begrudge them that day.

I was particularly fascinated by the writer's premise that the lack of a public Pagan presence meant that our leaders were "hucksters." Usually hucksterism is associated with public positions, not with quiet, dedicated efforts to help people close to home. My mother doesn't belong to any organization, doesn't give to any organized charity. But she knows everyone in her neighborhood, and helps so many people with time and money, including buying snow tires for a friend who wanted to visit her father for his birthday. Is she less of a person because she's not on TV? My pagan sisters and I were in constant contact with each other during the crisis, and dedicated time to it both at our private altars, and during our Mabon ritual. Is our spirituality meaningless if we don't have tax exempt status?

And as for predicting it with Tarot cards...oh get real. Find me the religious group that says they predicted it and I'll show you a bunch of spittle-emitting loonies with a lot of guns and 15-year-old wives.

Godess Forbid That We Have A Pagan Leader! I Love That I... Sep 26th. at 12:04:15 am EDT

Teresa Sparks (Flagstaff, Arizona US) Age: 29

Godess forbid that we have a Pagan leader! I love that I have no person purporting to embody all MY beliefs and represent MY methods of expressing those beliefs! Organized religion was one reason that most other religions do not fit my spiritual needs. The money, politics and dogma that would be required to support such a leader is a most unappealing thought. I prefer the freedom to experience my religion as I see fit. We do NOT need a leader to speak as one voice for the Pagan community. The Pagan community does not have ONE voice, it has MANY that are all accepted and valid.

I Don't Believe There Is A Need For A "national Leader", As... Sep 26th. at 1:09:21 am EDT

Watcher (Anaheim, California US) Age: 51 - Email

I don't believe there is a need for a "National Leader", as many of the world's religions have. A leader in one of the other churches, etc., seems to be the one directly resposible for creating guidelines and then also has to be the scapegoat for mistakes made by any other member of the religious community associated with them.

One possible suggestion: A national gathering once a year for pagans, witches, and others interested in this type of path in life to share ideas, wares, literature, and come together for a celebration of life.


I Think That A Majority Of The Pagan Faith Uses Witchvox To... Sep 26th. at 1:21:09 am EDT

DeWayne Christy (Pineville, Louisiana US) Age: 42 - Email

I think that a majority of the Pagan faith uses WitchVox to keep abreast of what is going on within our varied communities. Why couldn't the ones named in the 'Open Letter' be contacted and asked if they would care to represent the communities at large, and if they concur, to hold an election through WitchVox?

I personally feel that there should be two people elected. One male, one female. This would stress the duality of our nature, and would give a broader base to what was being done. Owing to the fact that there are so many trads, and different ways of working, any public display, whether printed or spoken, would have to be of a generic nature. We all have the same concept of our faith, just different ways to the same means.

As to support, again, why couldn't a special account be set up on the 'net to accept donations? This account could be set up to accept electronic fund transfers, paypal accounts, credit cards, etc.

The logistics would have to be worked out and through, but I feel that the Pagan community definitely needs some type of representation. Pagan Pride does a fine job, and so do a lot of the PUC chapters. But we need to have some visible, viable spokespeople. Not everyone may agree with everything they say or do, but we have a whole country that runs pretty well no matter who the majority elect. I don't see why this should be any different.

I propose that Pagan Pride, or another group draft a charter governing how such an election could be held, what term limits there may be, what duties a spokesperson could perform, etc., and put the charter up for approval via the means stated above. From there we could go to 'national' election.

If the WitchVox site is not capable of handling electoral forms, couldn't another be set up somewhere? The site could be posted on WitchVox and interested parties could link to it from there.

Yes, We Need Pagan Leaders. At The Very Least, We Need Spokespersons... Sep 26th. at 1:48:17 am EDT

Kecia Lloyd (Seaside, California US) Age: 32 - Email

Yes, we need Pagan leaders. At the very least, we need spokespersons that will come across to the rest of the country as "normal" and be able to vouch for us and give our collective opinions, if needed.

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