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'm Not A Leader...i'm Nobody Important (except In My Own Leonine... ||Sep 26th. at 9:57:26 am EDT|
|Emrys (Ocean County, New Jersey US) ||Age: 38 |
I'm not a leader...I'm nobody important (except in my own leonine mind!)...I haven't written a book...I'm just me. But I am pagan, wiccan, and a Unitarian Universalist.
I am fed up with Falwells comments and heartbroken that the nationally aired ecunemical services were NOT truly ecunemical. I was disappointed that there was no pagan presence, but I thought it was just wishful thinking. I was surprised that there was no UU presence as there have been a few presidents and one spiritual advisor of congress who were UUs.
While I am discouraged with all of this, I think it's worse when it comes from within our own community. None of us can speak for any of the groups (I identify with) completely, but guess what? Something has to be done, something has to be expressed. I'm afraid discussions and debates will take too long. Maybe instead pointing fingers and waiting for someone else to do something and saying "someone should..." maybe, just maybe, each of us should just "do".
I just finished a note to the Oprah show telling them as much and I'm going to contact some newspapers and television stations now. What are YOU gonna do?
BLESSED BE OUR COUNTRY!
| First Of All, I Think Anyone Who Has Not Read The Original... ||Sep 26th. at 10:10:36 am EDT|
|Peg Aloi (Cambridge, Massachusetts US) ||Age: 37 - Email |
First of all, I think anyone who has not read the original email that prompted this whole discussion should go and read it. I think that it is a good idea to have this discussion. But the letter which led to this discussion is not one which Witchvox is holding up as being right or representative of how pagans feel about this issue (as far as I know, basedon what Fritz and Wren offered in their commentary). Many have said they doubt this letter was even written by a pagan, since there are some rather naive and simple-minded comments along the lines of "why didn't anyone predict this in their tarot readings?" etc.
I also think the self-centered, narcissistic, media-hounding sentiment expressed by the writer (where are the pagan leaders in this terrible crisis? Well, gee, maybe they are GRIEVING FOR THE DEAD, WORKING MAGIC FOR PEACE, AND TRYING TO HOLD THEMSELVES TOGETHER) is very offensive and it is also my opinion that this letter was intended to irritate the community and cause divisiveness. And clearly it has worked.
If you think about it, we already HAVE national Pagan leaders. Some of them are the people already mentioned; who, through their writing or political or magical activities, have gained our respect and trust and admiration. It doesn't mean they want to be leaders. Nor does it mean they are in a position to tell us what to do or how to behave or what the "policy" should be on any given issue. But if you have any pagans you think of as "leaders" in your life (whether they are in your coven or neighborhood, or are a best-selling Llewellyn author, or have a kick-ass pagan CD out), well, then, you already know what your models are for such leadership.
Sadly, however, I think a lot of people taking part in this discussion are confusing "celebrity" with "leadership." Of course, not all authors write books in order to become well known; but because we are in a sort of microcosmic community, we hold up the names and images of those most of us are familiar with as a way of feeling like we are just like the rest of the country: we don't have movie stars or millionaire athletes, we have witches who have written books or recorded a CD or gotten arrested protesting a nuclear plant or have a popular website. These are all great achievements. But this are WORK being done, because the creators feel it is important; not because they want to "lead."
Ask yourself what one must do to become "well known" as a member of the pagan community. Sometimes it involves creating something useful, as mentioned above. But at other times it involves controversy, even negative publicity. There is no shortage of pagans who want to draw as much attention as possible to themselves, their covens, their websites, etc. and for whom this ATTENTION (or notoriety or fame or popularity) is more important to them than the truth or quality or integrity of their work.
I bet many of you have met such people in your day and probably, like me, shudder at the thought of having them represent us as "national leaders."
Yet I believe this is exactly the sort of pagans who would seek election to national leadership...how else does one nominate potential candidates, besides seeking those MOST WILLING to do the job? And how could suggested nominations by a certain group be met with anything other than suspicious accusations of "playing favorites" or supporting a personal agenda? (We have already seen this) This leaves the "famous" pagans to serve. Some of whom would decline a nomination. Others who would bask in the bright lights and glamour. The word "glamour" has many meanings, and a very specific meaning in working magic. The pagan community has already, I submit, been "glamoured" by a number of these personalities with no clear idea of what it is about them that would actually make them a good leader. They have somehow equated this person's fame or popularity with effective leadership qualities.
Also, the pagan community being what it is, (disparate and separate and diverse and largely based in cyberspace), it is very likely these are the sort of people who would WIN such elections if they were held online...because the vast majority of pagans simply have not been exposed to a whole lot. Many pagans have, for example, never been to a gathering. Many have never worked in a coven. Many have never read any books beyond the colorful, airbrushed, big-selling, recently-penned books with titles like "To Mount a Golden Staff" or what have you. Many have never attended a large public circle. Many have never worked with another human witch, because they are isolated or solitary due to their location or other conditions. None of this is "bad, " but for people to vote for a "national leader" simply because that person's name is familiar to them is a frightening precedent.
Of course many pagans feel they know some of these "famous pagans" well; they have read all their books, met them in person, perhaps taken workshops with them. And this of course gives us a better idea of who they are as people. But it still does not mean they would be good LEADERS.
We already have pagan celebrities, and to some extent, pagan spokespeople (usually the media goes after whoever has recently published a book, or contact the webmaster of a website they find when researching their story). Some of them represent us well; others do not. There is perhaps nothing more frustrating than observing someone who claims to "speak for the pagan community" who doesn't know what they're talking about, or whose mission is to discredit the traditions or personal lives of others.
I attended a workshop at a gathering this summer entitled "Pagan Community." Ordinarily I would guess that people who decide to lead such a workshop would be the sort of people I would consider as having good leadership qualities.Instead I found people who were self-serving, arrogant, condescending, hostile, rude, pretentious, and worst of all, claiming authority in areas they clearly knew VERY little about (like world history, for example). Yet these people were presenting themselves in a public forum, as being somehow knowledgeable about "community." And someone who was reading their credentials would see they had presented such a workshop and would more than likely assume these people might be qualified to be LEADERS.
I offer that little parable as a warning. Those of you clamoring for "national leadership" by election: Careful what you wish for. You will surely get it. And you may be no more happy with who wins that many of us are with our current national political leaders.
Blessings in this extra-long Equinox,
(World Famous and Notorious Media Coordinator, The Witches' Voice)
| I Feel That A Spokesperson Would Be A Better Way To Go... ||Sep 26th. at 10:18:45 am EDT|
|Mooncrowe (Kansas City, Missouri US) ||Age: 30 |
I feel that a spokesperson would be a better way to go.
| I Feel That The Question Of Electing Or Appointing A Ònational Pagan... ||Sep 26th. at 11:05:48 am EDT|
|Berta A. Daniels (Maynard, Massachusetts US) ||Age: 35 - Email |
I feel that the question of electing or appointing a ÒNational Pagan LeadershipÓ is divisive and destructive to our community. Like it or not, we already have a national spokes council; COG.
When I joined this community, I was taught that everyone is equally special. We all have our own power, and strength, and wisdom and weakness. It does not matter how many books youÕve written, or initiations youÕve acquired, or even how long youÕve been a Pagan. What matters is what is inside of each and every one of us, and what we choose to do with it.
So, when you go to ask; What are our Pagan leaders doing in this time of crisis? Perhaps you should ask; What am I doing? And how can I make a difference?
| First Response Didn't Make The List.... Check Out The Military Pagan Network... ||Sep 26th. at 11:07:17 am EDT|
|th (arlington, Virginia US) ||Age: 36 |
first response didn't make the list....
Check out the Military Pagan Network (www.milpagan.org) they've been doing an "adopt a pagan soldier" program that is immensely popular.
The "leaders" are already out there. Some (John Machate of MPN) have already stood up and stepped forward.
| I Like The Idea Of A Coalition Of Pagans To Represent Everyone... ||Sep 26th. at 11:13:38 am EDT|
|KaliTime Camaralzman (Baltimore City, Maryland US) ||Age: 20 - Email |
I like the idea of a coalition of Pagans to represent everyone. Rather than trying to pick one person, have one or two from each Tradition if practical. It could also be done along regional lines. For instance, using the States as a model, we could have say, two representatives from each state and territory to represent the Pagan communities on a national level. They could meet once or several times a year to discuss things affecting the Pagan community like education, healthcare, charity, etc. It could be expanded or contracted to fit the given range of people/traditions/regions involved.
*Of the Drooling Alphaphile Farve Tribe*
| No Matter How It Is Done, I Think Something Along The Lines... ||Sep 26th. at 11:35:08 am EDT|
|Leim Silverbranch/Rev William Elmore (Minot, North Dakota US) ||Age: 27 - Email |
no matter how it is done, i think something along the lines of national leadership for pagans is in order. and regardless of how it is done it is obvious that such leadership would never be able to speak for all pagans. this is one of those things that is perfectly acceptable to most i would think. it would have to be a membership based voting system that each state and/or region should develope on their own. each member could have the opportunity to vote on different issues which would come up, like leadership roles. this would require the effort of having someone who could distribute the information to be voted on. there would obviously have to be meetings from time to time; again this would have to be determined by each area of people. there would have to be a consensus on how things should be done financially. most likely it would usually be best to have things such as finances done on a donation basis and each individual group would have to decide if there is a minimum donation base. i am completely for having such a body of leaders. we already have many folks who try to get communites online up n running and different groups in regions and states so folks can know who is in the pagan community where they live. let's see if some can take it to a larger level and get a centralized body of leaders to bring all these regional and/or state groups together. i, for one, am willing to do my part in such an effort as are many in my area who wish to have more of a close nit pagan community. hopefully, i have helped to get something started in the area around Minot, ND and some in the state of ND. i am willing to approach these people in my area with such a possibility, and most would probably love the idea. light n shadows.
| Leader....somebody Who Guides Or Directs Others By Showing Them The Way... ||Sep 26th. at 12:10:28 pm EDT|
|Crystal....MoonGodessIsis (Johnstown, Pennsylvania US) ||Age: 26 - Email |
Leader....somebody who guides or directs others by showing them the way or telling them how to behave.
Spokesperson...somebody authorized to speak on behalf of another person or people.
Representative...typical of something, especially a class or kind;including a complete range of examples of something.
I already posted some of my thoughts on this question, but at the time, I'm afraid that I wasn't thinking very clearly, and could not find the phrases or words to express my thoughts to you.
After reading a bunch of the posts to this question, I realized that as Pagans do, we've gone off in a bunch of different directions on this issue. Taking from the context of the actual question at hand and the original letter, I would have to say no, the Pagan community does not need, want or would not benefit from any established LEADERSHIP.
So then we must ask ourselves, if we want somebody to represent Paganism as a whole, do we elect representatives or spokespeople? And, if we did so, would we all have a 'voice' in the messages conveyed to the population of non-Pagans?
If everyone put their heads together, funding and establishing a structured system would not be a big issue. It's been done before from the family structure, to small businesses, to corporations and non-profit organizations, (not to mention the democracies, heirarchies, etc...). And, of course, you can't please everybody all the time.
I don't think that any of us want LEADERS telling us what to do, because the backbone of who we are as Pagans relies on our individuality. I would hope that if it came down to an election of sorts, that we, as Pagans, and knowing and living by the Rede and Threefold Law, would realize that if we did not do our homework and look into who we were voting for, it would really come back to haunt us. And I hope that the so called elders of this community would not steer our opinions, rather inform us, so that we may make wise decisions.
I believe this issue at hand is not whether we should have some board suddenly bombarding us with the do's and don't of Paganism, rather a group of well-spoken, informed individuals, representing all walks of Paganism, who will relay our message to non-Pagans, and do it in a positive light. I don't believe anything was ever mentioned about anybody telling us WHAT to do, rather us telling them what we want the rest of the world to know.
It really saddens me when I see certain people condemning the authors, musicians, elders, priests and priestesses who have become famous. Do we not all have to make a living? Does anybody condemn Rosie O'Donnell, Brittany Spears, Madonna, Tom Cruise, and the many others who have used their celebrity to raise money for the cause? I say if we can name drop to get a little recognition among the rest of the World, then by all means, do it. Because, in my opinion, part of the reason we are becoming vast in numbers is because of these people. I, myself, may have never ventured into Paganism if it hadn't been for Raven Grimassi, Silver RavenWolf, Llewellyn, etc...because as I have stated before, when you're new to this, it seems like everyone tells you to keep on reading!
| To Whom It May Concern: Now More Than Ever, We (pagans) Need... ||Sep 26th. at 1:26:53 pm EDT|
|Mike Lindorff (Indianapolis, Indiana US) ||Age: 42 - Email |
To Whom It May Concern:
Now more than ever, we (Pagans) need a voice that can be heard across the world, throughout the media, in the chambers of every government, in the streets of cities, within and throughout every religious organization, in our schools and in our homes. Crimes against humanity such as those most recently in NYC and D.C., and the need to be heard collectively on such subjects, only underscores a much greater reason for a common and resounding voice --- that in many ways our very existence is at stake without it.
That organizations from our government to our school systems can treat our beliefs as though they are without merit should concern everyone. That people like Falwell (sp?) can say what he did without much more than a media slap on the wrist. If the object of his hateful comment was Christianity, it would have made the covers of everything from TIME to your local paper. That elected officials (including GWB), those whose salaries come out of my pocket, can say Wicca is not a religion, is unacceptable.
But that have no ONE VOICE to fight back. No organization that can rally the political clout necessary to stop it. It is time we act together and make them notice us.
How do we do it? I don't suggest that I have all the answers, but here's a suggestion. Someone needs to take the lead. This leader does not need to be elected --- only supported. The lead should be taken by an organization --- like WVOX) --- whose reach extends to as many of the pagan community as possible. A Republic of sorts --- where the collective voice can be heard and then re-broadcast to the world. As pagans, we will not always agree individually, but as a group, we can claim consensus. This group can then build collaborations with other groups that share the same position on individual issues. And, though many might not [initially] agree, it needs to be political.
I personally would contribute to such a movement, and more so than any other political group or action group I currently support, as none of those I currently support do anything to support my Pagan beliefs.
| Remember Our Past, And Do Not Think ... Under Any Circumstace, That We... ||Sep 26th. at 1:31:27 pm EDT|
|Jasmin Butterfly Byzantine (Los Angeles) ||Age: 22 - Email |
Remember our past, and do not think ... under any circumstace, that we are even close to being that public. There is power in secrecy. The Crones would advise against this.
Considering how eclectic we are, how could you see to it that these leaders would represent us as a whole?
And Are we creating a Dogma that resembles , I dunno Christianity?
| On September 11th, I Thought In A Panic, "where Are My Spiritual... ||Sep 26th. at 1:51:48 pm EDT|
|Shanan (Phoenix, Arizona US) ||Age: 28 - Email |
On September 11th, I thought in a panic, "Where are my spiritual leaders? Where do I turn?" Then I got a call from a friend who is Catholic. She invited my husband and I to attend a Mass service with them that night. We went, mainly because we needed to be out in the community, to realize that there were still people out there, alive and well, and that life would go on. I had to take the service into my own perspective, and apply my own beliefs to the message... but the message was one of peace, love and forgiveness. The priest had a hard time giving us that message on September 11th, because he was filled with as much anger as the rest of us. But by the end of the service, I could feel the love-energy building in the room. I had a beautiful spiritual vision where a dove came to me to show me a path to forgiveness.
For as much as that service helped me personally, I did not agree with many things that the priest said. The underlying message was wonderful, but how he got there was not the path that I would have taken. Of course, I could apply my own parallels and find my way to the same destination. And that is the beauty of an eclectic path. I don't need someone to define the path, but sometimes I might feel the need for a push in the right direction, so that we can reach the desired destination.
The problem with Pagan leaders is that our own diversity does not allow for one person or group to represent us as a whole. I differ with my own current teacher on a lot of ideals and beliefs. But there are places that Pagans can turn. This website is one such place (I find Wren's essays to be insightful and inspiring). Local shops and open circles are another place. And when it comes right down to it, the underlying message of other religions is very analogous to our own, and we can learn much by listening, thinking, and applying it to our lives in our own context.
| I Am Disgusted By The Words Of People Such As Jerry Falwell... ||Sep 26th. at 2:48:24 pm EDT|
|Star Raven (Coventry, Rhode Island US) ||Age: 18 - Email |
I am disgusted by the words of people such as Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson. Just this past week while I was waiting at a bus stop a Chistian woman came up to me with a flyer. On the front the words "God Bless America" and inside it had to be some of the most slanderous words against homosexuals that I have ever seen. All this is doing is breeding more hate than is needed in an already very trying time. Countless people fell the pain due to the attacks. Pagans, homosexuals, and others all mourn for this horrendous loss of life just as every one else does. We all ned unity and support right now; not this.
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