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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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| We Should Emphatically Avoid Electing Or Appointing A "pagan Leadership" At All... ||Sep 26th. at 9:47:57 pm EDT|
|James Kennedy (Northern Cambria, Pennsylvania US) ||Age: 55 - Email |
We should emphatically avoid electing or appointing a "Pagan Leadership" at all costs. We need only to look around us at other religions who have appointed leaders. With leaders come doctrines, and with doctrines come heretics - those who, for whatever reason find themselves in disagreement with those doctrines put in place by the leaders; consider the Martin Luther and the first protestant, or better still, and closer to home, our pagan ancestors of the Middle Ages who were not in compliance with the edicts of the Roman Catholic Church, and later the Church England and the protestants who led the witch hunts of 16th and 17th Century England and America. Take a look at Christianity and all of the faction and denominations therein, too numerous to name, all which grew out of Luther's single action. They can not agree with each other's forms of Christianity, and even within a single denomination there is often dessent and dischord. As you've noted, many Pagans are solitaries, often, as in my own case, by choice. I enjoy the comaradery of other Pagans on the net and through the Witches Voice, but, as yet, I have no desire to join or start a coven. Nor do I want national leaders telling me what the correct doctrine is and when and how to practice it. We Pagans are an eclectic bunch; Sometimes Christians accuse us of making it up as we ago along, and sometimes they could be close to the truth. We call ourselves Wiccans, Witches, Druids, Pagans, and myriad other names; we often disagree on just how things should be done, but we stick together when we are threatened or discriminated against. That, along with the freedom to worship who and what I pleased, in my own way, time and place is what drew me to Paganism in the first place. We are an independent lot and we need to remain that way, with no leaders setting doctrine in place for us to follow. We must be careful not to go down the slippery slope that so many religions before us have taken.
| Where Are The Pagan Leaders? Maybe They're Going On With Their Lives... ||Sep 26th. at 10:54:05 pm EDT|
|Donald Branum (Montgomery, Alabama US) ||Age: 26 - Email |
Where are the Pagan leaders?
Maybe they're going on with their lives. Maybe, instead of posing for the cameras, they're down in the trenches, helping people rebuild after this tragedy. Maybe they're organizing canned food drives, or blood donations. Maybe, just maybe, they have better things to worry about than whose God is blessing America.
Just a theory.
| Perhaps There's A Very Good Reason Why, As Neo-pagans, We Have No... ||Sep 26th. at 11:31:58 pm EDT|
|R. D. Davis (Baltimore, Maryland US) ||Age: 38 - Email |
Perhaps there's a very good reason why, as neo-Pagans, we have no national "leaders:" we have no need for them. Unlike followers of certain other spiritual paths, such as followers of organized religions like Christianity, some of us feel that we've no need for anyone to "lead" us and make decisions for us that interfere with our free will and beliefs, or to interfere with how our beliefs are perceived by others. Our beliefs are diverse, yet we have many beliefs in common. We mould our own spiritual paths in a manner which suits our own indivual needs, in a way that we derive the most spiritual benefit from.
Based on survey results received while conducting a spirituality survey, many of us hold beliefs far too eclectic for a single person, or group of people, to represent. We are truly a community of individuals, with "individuals" being the key word. Hence, is it not impossible for a single person, or even a group of people, to accurately represent all of us, and is that not one of the wonderful aspects of our community, that it allows, and fosters, such individuality, while a strong sense of community is still maintained? Should we not feel a strong sense of satisfaction and comfort in knowing that so many of us are individuals with a great regard for free will and that we're not mindless leader-following clones?
While I've denounced the concept of leadership, all is not as it appears. Certainly some of us, in a way, follow, or have followed, some form of leadership on a smaller scale within the Craft: High Priestesses and High Priests; however, that's still far from centralized leadership, and from what I've observed and read, it serves more of a role of guidance than of leadership. Surely few of us could deny that this form of leadership, which does not seek to impose it's will upon others, is very helpful to many, particularly to those new to the Craft. Hence, can you see that leadership is not always leadership in the same sense, and that it's not leadership in this sense, which is harmless to free will, that's harmful?
Just think: If everyone throughout the world could suddenly believe that leaders representative of large numbers of people, or perhaps all leaders who seek to control the will of others, are unnecessary, and view leadership as an obsolete concept that humanity no longer requires, that we've evolved past the need for, then perhaps wars and attempts to control the free will of others might become relics of the past.
Kindly remember that one of our community's greatest strengths, which is perhaps vital to its own safety, is our individuality, and our lack of organization as well as a lack of centralized leadership. Let's keep it this way, as it makes it much more difficult for those who oppose various forms of neo-Paganism to harm us and makes it impossible for them to use a central leader as an example that they can ridicule, demonize and otherwise find fault with; they'd like someone to make an example of, to vilify, and to vilify us as a result; let's not give them that opportunity.
| It's Not That Paganism Isn't Political. It Is. But To Appoint National... ||Sep 27th. at 6:33:06 am EDT|
|Mnemosyne (Detroit, Michigan US) ||Age: 44 |
It's not that paganism isn't political. It is. But to appoint national leaders to the movement would create more politics within the movement itself. And beauracracy and politics is one of the many reasons I've come to shun the more traditional religions of this country. I agree with the other voices of this forum that have commented on our spiritual diversity and the complications that a national leadership could create. I don't believe anyone that I believe could adequately represent me, would be able to adequately represent the majority of pagans.
Was the lack of visible leadership over the past two weeks a result of no one stepping forward? Or were any offers of involvement by high profile pagans shunned by the christian dominated leadership of this country? It's unfortunate, but a sad truth of this country that freedom tends to be granted more to those that go along with the status quo. As much as things change, they often stay somewhat the same.
| I Think That The Need For Leaders Is A True Thing, Although... ||Sep 27th. at 7:39:11 am EDT|
|Theodore Uecker (Huntsville, Alabama US) ||Age: 26 - Email |
I think that the need for leaders is a true thing, although i am not sure about the idea of having a "national leader". This could have several advantages, a large one being a person / group to lobby in washington for our rights and privliges just like every other large religious group in the country. Another good thing would be a semi-centeralized face to present to the public, to answer all those questions aimed our way on a regular basis, it might just help to clean up some of the misconceptions about our "community". But then there are several distinct disadvantages, a big one for me is the fact that a leader on a large scale tends to represent thier own views, and they are elected in the hope that they agree with a large enough cross section of the people they represent. This worries me 1)for the simple fact that there are so many differant traditions out there (me and my wife are to seperate beliefs), 2)power really does corupt, and i would hate to see some very well meaning people turn this into a back bitting popularity contest remenisent of a presidential race. Yes, I think i might like to see a national representation of my religion one day. But are we as a "community" willing to pay the price asked to get that. I am in the process of inlisting in the army right now, in the hopes of becoming a chaplin (hoping they will allow a pagan chaplin), maybe if more of us did something like this, put ourselves open and forward in our local arenas, the national council would develop in time. but first we need local leaders, at home and in our towns. Maybe one day.
| Perhaps The Real Question Is "who Will Be Best To Represent The... ||Sep 27th. at 8:17:04 am EDT|
|Paige Maiden (Culpeper, Virginia US) ||Age: 35 - Email |
Perhaps the real question is "who will be best to represent the Pagans?" There are many fine Pagan leaders whom are unknown, there are authors, poets, bards whom carry the tale of our struggles and liberties in our communities.
A person whom stands up and volunteers to "lead" our community will not be accepted by the Pagans as I know them. BUT a person whom is to be emulated and respected and recognized as what we are all striving to become would be the most likely "representative" we (the pagan persons) could accept.
Where can we find such a person?
Perhaps a nomination of one would be acceptable? We could be the Pagan republic where we all stand and be counted as one with a representative. A Voice. A Public voice. The nominations could be gathered for a year and a day from the masses on the internet. Just one vote per person please. Country boundaries need not be recognized at this time. Are we up to it?
| I Have Posted On This Subject Once Before. So, I Will Keep... ||Sep 27th. at 9:51:19 am EDT|
|TRUTHSEEKER (Tom) (Winter park , Florida US) ||Age: 52 |
I have posted on this subject once before. So, I will keep this breif. I think that many of those who have commented on this question are missing the point. I don't belive that the call is for nor do we want "leaders" to guide our paths. What is needed is for lack of better words is a unified presence in the community at large. Post after post has stated that Pagans are on the front lines helping. This is true and I woulld expect nothing else. However ask someone on the street what Pagans are doing in this crisis and you will get a blank stare for an answer. If the numbers floating around are true Pagans make up 0.05% (1 in 200) of the population. That is a large group, yet for the most part we are unknown to the community at large. Without sme sort of council or board or call it what you like we will remain in the shadows of socioty and never be taken seriously. Like I stated in my last post VISIABILTY=CREDITABILTY
| I Think It Is Time For Pagan Leaders. We Vote (or Not... ||Sep 27th. at 9:59:32 am EDT|
|Mary Ann Baker (Cuddebackville, New York US) ||Age: 40 - Email |
I think it is time for Pagan Leaders. We vote (or not) for our political leaders
in Washington and a Pagan Leader representing the community is necessary. There
are just too many things going on of which I would like a bit of advanced notice-I would have joined Starhawk in NYC if I had known she was there. I am a solitary, but would definitely become more involved if there was representation at a national level.Also, there would be less chance of the type of finger pointing Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson almost got away with. We can no longer afford to hide. We are not misfits. Strength comes when we show our support for
a national leader. Paganism is not illegal. Witchcraft is not illegal. We must
show others just what beautiful people we are.
| Yes We Do Need Some Leadership To Represent The Pagen Comunity Some... ||Sep 27th. at 11:23:49 am EDT|
|Daniel George Jenkins (norfolk , Virginia US) ||Age: 26 - Email |
Yes we do need some leadership to represent the pagen comunity some way that we all can be heard but it would take time to perfect thats odvious
but first and formost we need to find someone who has the courage to stand up and represent the pagen comunity this is a verry tough job that requires a brave soul with a verry open mind that leader will have to face the most powerfull forces of close minded biggots and hypocrates and for that we will have to provide a panell of represinitives to keep our leading represenitive leader strong and informed not only that but our pagen comunity will need to rally behind who ever we choose to represent us we will all need to unite together in our diversity for we all have at least one thing in common we have all faced what some concider the religious right for countless years we all have faced bigitry and hypocracy if we had somthing or some one to bring us all close together in the past many live might have been spared yes it is pagen lack of leadership that has alowed things like christianity and cathlocism to come into power we have alowed them to take the power of belief from the gulible if it was not for the lack of leadership then the churches would never have had stollen so much power as to murder inocent people in the hundreds of thousands in what was called witch trials
we need to find a way to unite as we face the biggots and hypocrates in day to day life be cause we are all aware that history repeates itself
and without some form of unity we may all find out as pagens painfully that history dose repeat itself and there are manny religious zelots want a return of the burning times will we let them
any one is welcome to comment on what I have said in fact I will give you more than one email address to contact me
| It Would Be Wise For The Pagan Community To Have Some Sort... ||Sep 27th. at 11:30:06 am EDT|
|Troy Stagg (Eunice, Louisiana US) ||Age: 31 - Email |
It would be wise for the pagan community to have some sort of majority "speaker of the house for pagan advancement" (if you will). If we are not heard as a whole or vieable entity, we will eventually lose our gifts of freedom to worship when, where, and how we want. We too must form a coalition or faction to become more than we are, so as to have weight from a political stand point. There can be more freedoms of acceptance in our communities if we were to band together for our own sake. We can win the "rights" to bind and bannish lawful marriages for instance, just by having this structured pagan majority leader. Post emails, contact all major webrings, and get the word out beyond witchvox, that this is not just a want, it will ensure our rights not to be enfringed upon and guide our paths to greater freedoms. The fact that we are allowed to have and elect a common idealist leader, is all the more reason to take advantage of our common right to do such for our own good! Don't you think so too?
| Again, I Am Posting Some Views On This Subject....each Time I... ||Sep 27th. at 12:01:02 pm EDT|
|Crystal...MoonGodessIsis (Johnstown, Pennsylvania US) ||Age: 26 - Email |
Again, I am posting some views on this subject....each time I read other responses, I think of more that needs to be expound upon.
For one thing, there are points being made about the magic of secrecy, and remaining in the back or underground of society...
Have you ever had a dream that was so powerful, vivid and emotionally taxing, that you just knew you'd never forget it. And then, you try to convey your dream to a friend or family member, and although you know how beautiful and fascinating the message was, you just can't come up with the words to express that thought to someone else without sounding loopy or insane? Magnify that by a million and try to convey a feeling, emotional, spiritual, beautiful, ecclectic religion to somebody who has never experienced it for themselves, and see where it gets you.
I think what we really need is resource centers. If we're going to start spending money collectively, then spend it on places where we can go to listen to seminars, learn more about our chosen path, do research and come together in unity.
I have to say once again that the word leader is being mis-used here. It is impossible for us, nor will we ever have leaders in the same sense as other religions do, because of our diversity. But instead of having paid clergy to hover over a ceremony...leave that structure the way it is. Then if we do start building more resource centers, there, of course would be a fee for courses or seminars, and that is how the authors, speakers, clergy will be paid. To get it up and running, you could always incorporate as a not-for-profit organization and begin raising the funds that way. I'm sure there is even somebody somewhere on a board of trustees that could help us get a grant...it's all about research.
But as far as hanging in the background or shadows of the rest of the world, it's not like we have to database every God, Godess, spell, incantation, invocation, Book of Shadows, ritual, etc. for all the world to see. Silence can be powerful, but it can also be deafening. Use your powerful secrecy when it comes to your rituals and circles, but stand up and be proud that you are a Pagan. Once they get over the initial shock, it'll be business as usual. Most people, because of old superstitions already have a little bit of Pagan in them anyway.
And now, I'll tell you a funny story. In the summer of 99' when I was pregnant with my daughter, Dakota, the Jehova's witnessess showed up at my door. It was a girl I went to school with, so I felt bad about turning her away. I ended up studying with her for four months. As she tried to convert me, I had many questions. I needed to know why they didn't celebrate Christian holidays. That was right before I started studying Wicca...and she brought me all of these reports about how all of the Christian holidays were actually old Pagan holidays re-vamped to fit the times....imagine my delight. Here was somebody in a God based religion, teaching me about Paganism.
Did you ever stop to wonder, given the open-mindedness of so many people today, how many more Pagans would there be, if we just explained ourselves, as best we could, and stopped hiding as if we were doing something wrong. No wonder we have such a bad reputation, when things are left to the close-minded imagination, weird things can happen.
| The Nature Of Pagans Has Always Been To Subvert Already-in-place Modes Of... ||Sep 27th. at 1:55:06 pm EDT|
|Rebecca Bostick (Las Vegas, Nevada US) ||Age: 29 - Email |
The nature of pagans has always been to subvert already-in-place modes of hierarchy and dominance. Pagans are organic and their ways of meeting and leading are participatory, not appointed. Still, leaders have emerged (sometimes good, other times not so good). I doubt modern pagans can agree on a spokesperson for their cause any more than they can agree on a tradition. The nuts and bolts are always the same, but the details separate us.
I have always looked to Starhawk, Z Budapest, Carol Christ as leaders in my faith. Fritz and Wren are ambassadors (and they do a damn fine job as such) but being a voice of the community is different than being a voice for the community-- the roles are mutually exclusive. Who, then? Whoever would want such a job, I believe. Leaders emerge naturally-- elections would only hamper this process. Perhaps we ought to let Starhawk know we'd like her to participate in a more visible, national sense as a spokeswoman for the cause. If not her, well, all of us, on every small level, in every community. A leader will emerge.
I expect there were no pagans at the Interfaith service b/c none were invited. In all this kissy-huggy bipartisan spirit (and I welcome it), I haven't forgotten that Dubya disavows us. Perhaps in 10 years, we'll have a leader in the pagan community that will be visible and the point-person for world events. Until then, we all must do our part to be visible on a local level. Go to Interfaith services in your town! Speak on behalf of the pagan faith! Lead!
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