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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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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| 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.
| I Am Not Sure What We Even Need National Leaders For, I... ||Sep 26th. at 2:54:34 pm EDT|
|Ari Thompson (Detroit, Michigan US) ||Age: 54 |
I am not sure what we even need national leaders for, I think the local groups handle most of what matters at the least they do in our area. if the old thinking pagans have a problem with the "non famous" pagans speaking to press, too bad for them. our groups are different and our local communities are different.
I don't care about hob-nobbing with the other faiths, I only care that I have right to practice my spirituality.
I am sadden to see so many self-serving egos striving for national recognition. Those that say they are national leaders or that are trying to be are the last ones that I'd pick. They need to get over themselves. They need to get to work with the rest of us.
Witchvox has always been a fair and a safe haven for most of us solitaires. In many ways they lead by example, and have been faithful to the community for years. I can't think of any other site that does this week after week. I have grown to trust the staff here.
Good show Witchvox!
| Perhaps I Am Young At Sixteen And Unexperienced But Maybe Leaders Are... ||Sep 26th. at 3:31:33 pm EDT|
|Brittany Meyer (Suffolk, England UK) ||Age: 16 |
Perhaps I am young at sixteen and unexperienced but maybe leaders are not what we need if they are not there. I know there are people praying and comforting those lives which have been lost to the likes of such heartless destruction but if we are such sensitive people we should comfort each other as a whole not as leaders and representatives.
We have here even if the leaders cannot be and maybe should we not be getting together and bring the sunshine out of the rain?
We could organise everyone who visits this site for at the same time and the same hour to have a huge web circle.
Everyone praying at the same time to their deity with the intent of bringing forth happiness. If our leaders can't we can.
We are strong together and should work together it is never too late.
Maybe I am wrong. Maybe our leaders should be there doing it for us showing the world but what if we all held hands through our minds and envisioned every pagan, Wiccan, Durid standing as one and pulling through, not just for the pagans who died but everyone who has felt the rumble of hate.
Everyone can do something. right?
Thats what I have been tought and though I am a beginner in Wicca I would like to think that it has the will to do something.
Others are praying no matter what religion so just because we know the rhythm of magick we don't. If we believe so much that we have healling power lets heal. I am not saying cast on those hurt, that would be wrong but send out our intent to the many millions who need it. Let me know what you are going to do. I want to be part of it. I lived in the states for the first eight years of my life. Those people could have been my family or friends and I do not even want to imagine how that would feel. I am in Britain now, but my heart is still with the states now more than ever.
If we all opened a cirlce at the same time then we would be opening it together, please lets do something.
| As A Practicing Psychic Who Works In The Public And Private Sectors... ||Sep 26th. at 3:38:36 pm EDT|
|Fahrusha (New York, New York US) ||Age: 101 - Email |
As a practicing psychic who works in the public and private sectors, who is an animist and adherent of an Earth-based spiritual path, who lives less than two miles from the tragedy, and who has now lost the public part of her income due to the tragedy, economic factors and encroaching "born again" sentiments, I would personally like to see some famous people "come out of the closet" as pagans. I don't feel as though I need a leader per se, but rather a more public peer group of well known individuals.
| What About Crawling Up The Chain Of Command In The Pagan Community... ||Sep 26th. at 3:56:18 pm EDT|
|Jacqueline (Sacramento, California US) ||Age: 25 - Email |
What about crawling up the chain of command in the Pagan community? Each coven has a leader, who must meet with someone (an equal or someone of higher rank), who goes to another, such and so forth.
Why one leader? There are many forms of Paganism, even in Wicca there are various sects due to all the different aspects of the Goddess and God. Why not a panel? They (most other secular religions) answer to one God, so have one leader, we don't. There are many faces to our Goddess and God, why should there only be one face to represent them?
I am a solitary, have been since I started practicing at about 8 or 9 years old (read about "my" religion when I was 15, even "my" holidays and rules matched so I declared myself wiccan) so I do not really know any leaders.
And on the subject of not hearing about visions/tarot/ect. When I was a teeneager (about ten years ago) I had a dream that I was standing on the upper East coast (exact spot unknown, I just KNEW it was the East coast up north) amid rubble that was once buildings. I new nature didn't cause the destruction, that it was done by man, and would result in war. The only basis I had to go on was that in the dream I had a white stripe down the middle of my hair. At the time I had all dark hair. I guessed this would happen when I was in my thirties. I started going grey at about 19. I now have a solid stripe of silver-white hair, all down the middle of my hair, and am only 25.
You cannot stop what is forseen, you can only accept. You can warn, but premeonitions usually do not have a calander and clock in them, they are general, with an empathic sense of where you are (unless you have already been there and recognize the place)(FYI: I am born, raised, and live in CA). What good does it do to say much after the fact, you look like a nutcase or fraud. I saw 9-11 almost ten years ago, that was my warning, prepmenitions do not always happen the morning of. Only friends from highschool who I told at the time know I am being honest, and they remembered I had seen it before I remembered (I went into shock like most people after seeing the destruction).
| I Feel We Do Not So Much As Need A Leader As... ||Sep 26th. at 4:15:55 pm EDT|
|Perrin (Altamont, Illinois US) ||Age: 36 |
I feel we do not so much as need a leader as a spokesperson. It should be someone who has been published. As far as supporting them financially, other world leaders I am afraid would ask why as a Pagan our spokesperson was not able to support themselves. Because if you look closely at most politicians they are rich (granted they got that way by exploiting their constituency back home/or their fathers money). I do believe we need a strong group of people to act as our special interest leaders who can contact our leaders in DC. Whether this be through phone calls, letters, or trying to actually meet and greet these people. If elections were to be held for Pagan leaders this is the perfect place. Use this forum to try and decide who Pagans would trust to speak for them and allow the people who come here to vote.
| Where Were The Pagan Leaders? Well, Phyllis Currot And Starhawk Did A... ||Sep 26th. at 6:28:21 pm EDT|
|Barbara A. Fisher (Columbia, Maryland US) ||Age: 35 - Email |
Where were the Pagan Leaders?
Well, Phyllis Currot and Starhawk did a public healing ritual in New York City last week or so, and from what my sources tell me, Starhawk is planning a public healing ritual in Washington DC this weekend.
Isaac Bonewits has posted an essay calling for an end of tolerance for fundamentalist belief systems which espouse the murder of others, no matter which religion the fundamentalists claim to uphold.
Wren and Fritz have been busting thier collective hind ends keeping Witchvox up and running and churning out news and healing views for the rest of the Pagan community.
Z. Budapest has been calling for calm and rational action rather than vengeance in the Dianic community.
Those are the "self appointed Pagan leaders" whom I personaly know of, and thier activities of the past few weeks.
What, pray tell, has the author of the email in question, been doing to help the Pagan community and the American community at large? Other than writing an inflammatory email?
For years, there has been debate in the Neo-Pagan community over whether or not we need national Pagan leaders. And how many people have we heard saying that we needed no national hierarchical structure, and we don't need Pagan leaders, and we certainly don't need to pay them.
I hate to tell folks like the author of the email, but other religions -pay- thier religious leaders for thier time and services. If we want national Pagan leaders on a par with the likes of Billy Graham, we have to have a structure and money to support them. As Isaac Bonewits said at this year's Starwood, "If every Pagan in America would give up one piece of silver jewelry, we could have our first permanent Pagan temple and paid clergy for that temple. But, that isn't what Pagans want to spend money on."
Other Pagans, whether they are national "leaders" or not, have been doing thier part in this crisis. They are working with the Red Cross, volunteering, donating blood, donating food and money, holding healing rituals, and organizing a program to match up Pagans in the military with civilians stateside so they can have support from back home. Another Pagan has taken it upon herself to create a network of people to help shelter Islamic neighbors should the need arise.
What I see happening in the Pagan community and in America in general is that people are coming together, and working together to get past this horrendous crisis. With the exception of a few people, such as the author of the email, who feel the need to point fingers, and spew blame, instead of doing something constructive.
I have one other thing to say to this person.
It is a quote from a drag queen friend of mine. "Queens who live in glass houses, just don't throw thier shoes."
| Goodness, So Many Opinions! I Have Enjoyed Reading Them All In The... ||Sep 26th. at 6:30:26 pm EDT|
|Reverend Seneca Silverlight. (Austin, Texas US) ||Age: 43 - Email |
Goodness, so many opinions! I have enjoyed reading them all in the past few days!
I have learned so much from the people that have posted to this list.
In all this I have come to admire the United Nations even more. How do they do it? They are an organization made up of different countries with thousands of different cultures, yet they seem to be able to come together and make decisions in a reasonable and ordered way. Each country has an appointed representative and those representatives are able to have dialogue with their individual countries to carry out the will of those countries in voting. I have even heard rumors that they actually reach consensus on issues from time to time. My what a system!
From what I have read here it seems that the main consensus is that we don't need religious leaders. I agree. Some say we don't need any type of leader, spokesperson, or representatives. We should be content to work out of view, out of the national limelight in our own in a quiet way. I disagree. Others hold to the view that some sort of representation is needed in order to ensure that our needs and views are known on a secular (non-religious) level. I agree as well.
A friend of mine recently made the point that Pagans want their cake and eat it too. He said that we like being the "counter cultural" hippie folks, but we want respect and to be accepted as well. Unfortunately, it seems we can't have it both ways.
The unfortunate thing is that unless we pull together to create an enduring, and meaningful coalition of sorts, we will forever be considered "counter-culture". We will be those hippy folks spouting about love, peace and war and we will never be taken seriously by the folks that really matter. Congressman, Judges, and sometimes our own families.
My personal opinion is that it is time for us to grow up. We need to learn to deal with the real world in a professional way as Pagans. If this were a Pagan country we would be able to go our happy little independent ways without ever thinking about it. Unfortunately, the cold hard truth is that the mundane world is a mean, intolerant place that loves to crunch up anything that it considers different. It takes significant acts of fortitude and steadfastness to survive and deal with it, it takes teamwork and commitment to an ideal. The ideal being that we are here and we are here to stay and will ensure that our needs and rights are kept in tact.
When are we going to start taking care of our brother and sister Pagans? We worry so much about the world, we let our own go hungry, without housing, without help. Magick works, but when a mother is out of her mind with worry on how she will feed her children, how can she focus that will to perform the spell? Who will help her? Most of the groups in pagandom I know will help their own to some extent, but will they help a Pagan mother they don't know? For how long?
Pooling our resources and money, gathering up our own trained professionals to assist and set up meaningful programs might be a good start. How can we do that if the professional is Asatru and the Organization is Wiccan? Will they help? Most likely, but not with the gusto perhaps that he would help his own. Perhaps in an organization that has a committed focus and dedication to helping ALL Pagans, he might.
My point is in all of this, that putting aside our common differences, our egos, and concentrating our will toward the true good of all may be where we should think about heading. Not everyone follows the Rede, but most follow Honor. Not everyone follows the Celtic path, but everyone has their own Gods. In a round about way, this is how the UN does it. Of course, they do consider their own needs, but they also weigh it against the common good. Perhaps we should think about following their example. It is possible for us to create a national system of representation and participation, that pools resources and a tackles the hard issues for all pagans, whatever path we walk.
Maybe, we can help that Mother feed her children, find a job and gather enough strength to stand on her own and perform the prosperity spells that she needs to stand on her own (if her path does this). If not, then she is at least strengthened to help her find her own way.
We need to remember that ot everyone has access to a Coven or Grove or group to help them, so what do we do? Do we throw her to the benevolent state that will send her to a christian charity to help? People that are in some ways completely alien to her and her children now? This is happening now in many, many cases. How about Pagans in Recovery? Should they have to endure Christian based recovery programs because we have nothing Pagan based to help them?
I don't think truly that anyone wishes to build a Pagan empire as has been implied in so many emails here. Authors, Artists and Clergy have traditionally down through time been the the shapers of civilization. I don't think ours are any different. We have wonderful people that have stepped forward and risked their necks for the good of all of us, when are we going to do the same for ourselves? Growing up is hard to do, but we have graduated and it's time to put that suit on and go to work.
Reverend Seneca Silverlight
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