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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| Greetings, Everyone! I've Been Reading The Various Posts On This Subject And... ||Sep 27th. at 6:17:03 pm EDT|
|Robin D. Kullick (Chicago, Illinois US) ||Age: 35 - Email |
I've been reading the various posts on this subject and I feel I might have something worth saying. Some of the other Questions of the Week have been on Religious Discrimination and the ilk. The question was always, "What can we do about it?" This is my opinion on this: The thing is, we need to play the game that every other "recognized" faith has been doing in this country. We need to be vocal on the local, statewide, regional and national levels. I can safely bet that we all believe strongly in "An it harm none", right? And we can safely state that to a general degree we all abide by the Rule of Three. Right? Isn't this enough of a base to begin with? We do not have to go into all the minutae of our each individual and various faiths. Bt we do need a unified front, so to speak, so that when someone is hit with the accusation of eating Christian babies (yes, I've been accused of that...funny, I'm a vegetarian)we can have a public knowledge that it would be against one of our most basic beliefs. You don't see Christians being accused of eating Jewish babies, now do you? So, I think we do need a Pagan leadership. But not to tell us what to do. Certainly not that. But to help be our voice in the world. More of a representative than Dalai Lama or Pope. A Witch's Voice, so to speak. As to the organization of such, I leave that up to those with more political savvy than I. But let me end this part of my opinion with this: The squeaky wheel gets the grease.
Now "playing the game" is this: Playing completely by their own, established rules and creating those organizations that we're always being asked about. By setting up Pagan-based charity organizations and applying for the faith-based initiative funding. We are a recognised faith in the government's eyes. They said so. As long as we follow the governmental guidelines to the letter whilst setting up these places and operate them in the most sterlingly perfect manner we can, nobody has anything to pooh-pooh anyone about. They cannot legally turn us down for funding if we're opening a food bank for anyone to receive help at, now can they? How about a shelter for battered women? So, why can't we? If the government or whomever tries to block it, we have the legal right to sue them to oblivion because it is a clear-cut case religious descrimination, as long as we follow the established rules, the blocking party won't have a leg to stand on.
Ok, the major problem with all of this is this: a lot of us are still in "the broom closet". I'm marginally in it, myself. At work and socially I'm completely out. Everyone knows. I'm not blatant about it, but it's a known fact. But my family is another matter. I come from a very devout Catholic family and it literally would create WWIII within the family for a variety of reasons. Suffice it to say that I'd like to keep my last name. Does this mean that I can't be involved in getting this whole thing off the ground? No. Stuffing envelopes, volunteering time...stuff folks do in other faiths to make sure all their stuff continues, grows, or just begins. here is a variety of thing that we can all do to make it work. Practical as well as spiritual.
Think about it.
| Where Are The Pagan Leaders? I Have Read Most Of The Opinions... ||Sep 27th. at 6:31:22 pm EDT|
|Rebecca Clontz (unknown, Other Countries) ||Age: 0 - Email |
Where are the Pagan Leaders?
I have read most of the opinions posted here, and I read the original letter that "started" this firestorm. The FIRST thought that came to mind was "Who SAID these people are our leaders?"
Although people like Fritz and Wren, Starhawk, Silver Ravenwolf and Isaac Bonewits are very visible to the community, that doesn't make them our leaders. It makes them committed Pagan folk, out doing what the Gods have called them to do. They write, they teach, they are involved in public rituals and they all try to maintain some semblance of a home life.
If someone stood up and said "I'm the leader of the Pagan Community!" there would such an outcry from people like the letter writer, whining and complaining that they don't "REALLY" practice Paganism, or that their philosophy/religion/belief system is WRONG!
THAT is NOT what I'm about.
Although I'm not into the "white light" fluff bunny, I feel that I HAVE to believe that this tragedy has a deeper meaning. There is something coming, and if we can't as a RACE (I'm talking the HUMAN RACE, here!) do something not only to heal ourselves and our world.. Mama's going to shake us ALL off and start OVER! (Ok... no more Pachamama at bedtime... )
What I DO know, is that our "leaders" can be found by looking in the mirror. See that person looking back? THERE is your leader. Part of a Coven, Circle or group? Look in the mirror... there's your leader.
Most of us BECAME Pagan because we are NOT sheep. So quit acting like sheep. Quit looking for a leader that may or may not come. DO SOMETHING on your OWN, don't wait for someone to tell you what to do! Light a candle, do a ritual, give blood, donate food... DO SOMETHING.
| I Cannot Wait For Someone To Speak For Me, I Must Speak... ||Sep 27th. at 7:12:10 pm EDT|
|SwiftDarkness (Riverside, California US) ||Age: 18 - Email |
I cannot wait for someone to speak for me, I must speak for myself.
I have been silent for most of my life. Why was I quite for so long? I don't know...that's not true I do know...I was afraid. Afriad to lose what I had, to lose my life as I know it. Afriad to be judged by others. Afriad that I would not be able to protect my family. Afriad to lose myself in my own voice.
ENOUGH! I am here, I can help, I will help. I have skills that I can use, even if I don't know how yet. I WILL FIND A WAY.
No one can speak for me but ME. I will raise my voice and sing my own song, I will call to anyone who can hear. I call to you if you can to sing with me.
Many people have already know that they have skills they know how to use but that they just don't know where to use them, I say to you find a place to start.
I have no idea where to begin, and I truly have little more than time to give, but I will give it freely. If anyone knows a good place to start please email me.
The time for waiting is past.
| Why Do We Need A Leader? We Are Leaders In The Faith... ||Sep 27th. at 9:09:36 pm EDT|
|Chris Juarez (kissimmee, Florida US) ||Age: 43 - Email |
Why do we need a leader? We are leaders in the Faith, let us just say our prayers and send our healing energy/love their way, let us help in our humble way, caring without asking for recognition.
| The Question Of Who Is Our Pagan Leaders Is Not So Silly... ||Sep 27th. at 9:47:51 pm EDT|
|Linda Lee Boyce (Kansas City, Missouri US) ||Age: 36 - Email |
The question of who is our Pagan leaders is not so silly as some suppose. Most of us do not need a leader. We are blessed with many who are wise and share their wisdom with any who ask. What the community often lacks is a Voice, a PR person if you will. A spokesperson who can field questions and direct those outside our community to correct information. Consider that almost every city department, every church, every company has a spokesperson who handles the distribution of information during times of crisis. Think of it as a lobbing group. How many of us who are openly Pagen get asked the same questions every Halloween by local media, for example?
I belive that a national Pagan Voice would help with some issues. For example, it would have been nice if a recognized national level Pagan Voice could have issued an offical statement when two infamous Christian preachers suggested that pagan were partially to blame for the attacks of September 11. Also, a national prescence might enable the community to set up some organizations designed to help pagans in need. The other faiths do it and yet we continue to allow our own to either suffer in silence or have to tolerate often being preached at for food, shelter, clothing, etc..
An election would be necessary. Possibly using the internet or maybe at various festivals. With a multi-year term, votes could be cast during a 6 month or more span at festivals through out the States. The Voice decided on should be supported by a national Pagan organization funded with dues and supported with a small percentage from festival admissions. Memberships in the organization would also help fund it.
We live in a national community and we need to have a Voice in how policies are made, laws enacted. I believe we need a national Voice, elected and supported, guard our own interests on the national scene.
| An Interesting Question Has Been Posed - Do We Need Pagan Leaders? Oddly... ||Sep 27th. at 10:59:03 pm EDT|
|Fyrehawk (Tucson, Arizona US) ||Age: 22 |
An interesting question has been posed - do we need Pagan leaders? Oddly, the majority of answers I've read in this wonderful forum have been "Yes! Let's get them! As quick as we can!" But what would these leaders really accomplish? Would they do any more for us than our well-known authors, many of whom were mentioned in the notorious email that sparked this discussion? Would they collectively wave a magic wand and make all the hatred, fear, and misunderstanding built up against the Craft community just disappear with a few public appearances or public rituals, or, better yet, by not holding ritual at all, but adapting the Work of the Goddess to a more orthodox format? What do we think that these chosen leaders would be subjecting themselves to? Obviously, they're already out of the proverbial broom closet, so to speak, but what injuries would they bear representing ALL Pagans? They would be putting themselves at risk, likely with very little monetary compensation...would this be fair to them?
Sadly, I have read many articles on Witchvox discussing arson, vandalism, and other terrible acts commited simply because someone learned that another person was Pagan - what kinds of atrocities would be visited upon our "Appointed Leaders?" Not only that, but who will pay for the appointment of these leaders?
My personal opinion, and please remember that it is ONLY that, is simply this - if we want national Pagan representation, we all need to STAND UP, together, and obtain it for ourselves. Simple as that. If we want to be recognized at an interfaith gathering for the departed - call the organizers of that gathering, explain your viewpoint, and attend, if nothing else. Call on the Goddess, or the God, to visit with you.Be an example of Love and Trust;We must remember that we are ALL our own Clergy, and no person or organization stands between us and the Divine.
The responsibility for national leadership falls to all Pagans, not just Starhawk, or Z Budapest, or Wren and Fritz - I think that is a primary reason why many of us choose this faith. We are our own leaders. It's time for us to start living up to those responsibilities, instead of calling on those more well-known than ourselves to live up to them for us.
In love and light,
| Do We Really Need National Leaders? Well, Maybe, But I Think For... ||Sep 27th. at 11:03:40 pm EDT|
|Lady Chislev (Portland, Oregon US) ||Age: 23 |
Do we really need National Leaders? Well, maybe, but I think for right now, we just need a Pagan presence to help those who need comfort from someone of the same religious belief's.
To start a nation wide Pagan Leader hunt, to find someone (or more than one) person to stand up and take the role of the voice of all Pagan's, I think is like looking before you leap. We all have various belief's and feelings towards different subject that it becomes like an election of the President. The lesser of two evils? Then we have to answer the questions: How do we choose a leader? What would their requirements be? Do we choose someone well known, or do we choose someone who has never written a book, but speaks to us in some other way.
Maybe it's something to look into in the future, but for right now, no. Everyone is coming together regardless of religion, creed, and race as Americans to help those in need for one of the most horrific acts every befalling our country. For now, I think we help those though thoughts, rituals, comfort who need it most, and maybe after everything settles (if it ever will...) we decide if we, as a community, need to have leader.
I think that once we, as a community, figure out what we need or want, then we decide how to move forward.
| Once, Long Ago, For Don't All Fine Parables Begin As Such, There... ||Sep 27th. at 11:04:41 pm EDT|
|Cheyenne Black (Confidential, New Hampshire US) ||Age: 28 - Email |
Once, long ago, for don't all fine parables begin as such, there was a princess. This princess had been arranged by her father to wed a prince from a neighboring kingdom.
The young princess agreed to wed the prince for she was a good and noble daughter all too willing to do whatever she must for the praise of her father. Before the grand and albeit rather pompous wedding, the princess moved to the castle of her soon to be husband.
Raiders one day attacked and the princess was frightened though the raiders were fought back and she was safe and sound. Her prince, however, bore no ill will toward her and so did not wish her dead and also, if the truth were told, had no great wish to raise the ire of her father should he not see to her safety. And so he erected a massive drawbridge and moat around his castle to ensure it.
Now of course the day came when an assassin made his way stealthily inside and mistook a visiting king for the father of the prince, slaughtering him in cold blood right before the bulging eyes of the princess. The assassin was caught and put to death as was their way but alas the prince again feared for her safety.
And so it was that a large wall, complete with watchtowers and armed guards to stand at attention was erected rapidly around the castle.
The day arrived several years later of course that the princess would take her foray into the woods around the castle as would occur at this point in any fine parable.
It was here in these woods that the princess came upon a young man, not a great deal older than she was. She was startled for she had not met anyone new in the years since the great wall around her prince's castle had been built. Warily, they greeted one another but soon they relaxed and began to laugh and talk merrily as all new friends do.
They walked that day and many days after, down the winding paths in the woods and they talked of life and war, royalty and commonality, and everything save one subject, which neither of them ever dared broach. Until one day the young man did broach the forbidden topic and he took her hand in his and looked upon her longingly. With a bold sweep of his arm he fell to one knee and he spoke to her of his love. He told her everything that can be found in a young mans heart with the blush of first love and the truth of his confession shone in his eyes.
The princess fled in terror and ran deeper into the woods. Eventually, her exhaustion deep and her breath long since lost, the princess stopped running and sat down upon the soft wild grasses, tucking her feet beneath her as she began to weep and dropped her face mournfully into her hands.
"Why do you bellow so?" a gentle voice asked.
The princess whirled about and saw for the first time a small squirrel. The squirrel looked expectant, as if it were awaiting an answer yet the princess knew she must be mistaken. The voice however had startled her quite enough to stop her crying and she heaved a deep, weary sigh.
"Why do you sigh as if your heart were breaking princess?" the voice asked this time.
At this the princess looked around more thoroughly and realized where she was at last. She had unknowingly stumbled into the meadow she would come to often as a young child. And in this meadow the princess had befriended a large old willow tree, for is it not always the willow who gives the best advice in a parable?
Smiling, and quite relieved she was not hearing squirrels speak, the princess turned and looked earnestly at her old friend.
"Oh Willow, I am lost and frightened and do not know what to do, " she spoke softly even as she curled up on the roots of her friend.
"You are frightened of your own heart?" the Willow asked.
"I am to wed! I cannot love another!" she cried out.
"But you do, don't you?"
"I am to wed! And what can this poor boy give me? Can he protect me? Can he truly offer what love should be?"
"What should love be then?"
"I don't know! Protection! Safety!"
"My child, " came the gentle reply, "Do not confuse safety and protection with a cage made of stone and guarded by weapons."
"Whatever are you talking about Willow? I am safe there! Why, when he feared for my safety he erected walls that I might be safe! When I was frightened he created a drawbridge that I might feel protected! He placed guards upon the walls with weapons and I have never been safer!"
"No! Never!" the princess screamed in her frustration at the tree.
"Then tell me this, my child, " the Willow spoke softly, gently, lovingly, her tone did not indicate reprisals or admonitions, merely wisdom. "How is it then, that it has been raining for this hour that you have curled yourself upon my roots and yet you have not felt a drop of rain? How is it that the wolf pack that followed you here to this meadow in your fright and lack of attentiveness, has not yet spilled your blood upon the earth?"
Startled, the princess rose up suddenly and looked around, her fright rising anew in her throat.
"I- I don't know! Willow I'm scared!"
"Shhh. Cast your eyes up into my branches my child and the answer will reveal itself."
The princess craned her neck and looked up high into the branches of the Willow. There, hidden only slightly by the leaves, was the young man perched precariously. His feet splayed one to a branch and his hands in a similar fashion as he used every bit of his strength to hold the branches of the willow in the perfect condition so as to overlap and keep the princess beneath them dry enough that she never knew it was raining.
The princess gasped her surprise though the young man was obviously out of earshot for her soft voice and that of the willow.
"You see, there is a vast difference, " the tree explained, "between a safety that seeks to cage you, and a safety that seeks to free you."
I take no credit for this story as it was written by my fiancŽe and I have most assuredly butchered it in the retelling. However I wanted to share it to make my point so I hope you will indulge me.
Leaders are firstly not made, they happen. The truest leaders of any religion, belief, movement, or faction, are not created, they occur. Those leaders that -are- crafted carefully or whose positions are bought or bargained for, are precarious and ill suited for long term leadership, their fall is inevitable.
A leader happens when they are right. Not because they are well spoken or charming or wealthy or in the right place at the right time. Those leaders are the leaders that fall away in time. The truest leaders do not fall out of fashion and they don't lead. They live. It's really that simple. Call it leading by example if you wish to but realize the honest truth is that real leaders don't lead they live.
The very idea of electing or appointing any sort of leader is appalling to me. The thought makes my skin crawl. Gods we can't even manage not to bumble electing a president for the country, we would surely create a true mess if we tried the idea of electing a NPL.
When you seek leaders it is out of fear, and that is understandable but golly, is it not possible that in the cry for leadership you are drowning out the real leaders? Real leaders rarely shout to be heard because often, they understand the wisdom in the fact that their cries may not be necessary for everyone and those who need it will hear it because they will be listening for it. Those leaders who shout loud and fall do not fall because of their volume or because they were "taken down" by an opposing faction, for a true leader never falls, but instead they fell because they were not true leaders. Witness the recent event with Jerry Falwell, a shouting leader if ever there was one. He did not fall because of his volume or his opposition, but rather because he is not a true leader for the Christian faith.
I think it is wiser to ask oneself what you are seeking when you seek a leader. Are you really seeking a leader or is there something else you are chasing instead?
Me, I will take freedom any day, in all of its frightening, feeling exposed, glory. Because to me, the real leaders do show themselves but I know that if I am shouting for them I will never hear them. And I know that if I look too hard I will assign that which I value highly to one unworthy in an hour of self doubt disguised as need. Choose wisely for there are a multitude of types of safety and some are not safety but rather cages.
**Story above in all its mangled fashion copyright Adam Hanson may he forgive me for butchering his story so badly. Please don't use his story elsewhere without permission. Thanks!**
| Ironically, As An Atheist Pagan I Had Been Saying To Myself, "at... ||Sep 27th. at 11:19:15 pm EDT|
|Secular Pagan (Minneapolis, Minnesota US) ||Age: 37 - Email |
Ironically, as an Atheist Pagan I had been saying to myself, "At least those Pagans who believe in deities and prayers won't feel left out of all the 'God bless America' and prayer gatherings." It's not exactly comforting to find that I'm not the only one experiencing a sense of not being part of the Great National Unity; I would rather that our leaders would acknowledge ALL shades of belief. Whether we believe in one god, one goddess, many god/desses, or no deities at all, we all need to be welcomed into the circle of mourning and healing. We need to deal with this tragedy within the framework of our own world views and systems of belief.
Rather than looking to any official "leaders, " I would suggest that the media, government, and other Powers That Be recognize the diversity of belief in their communities, and make room for such local people as wish to be spokespersons for Pagans, Wiccans, Atheists, whatever, to take their places alongside the ministers, priests, and rabbis. Even if we are willing to speak up, it doesn't do any good if our voices aren't given the microphone and our writings are not published in the papers.
| Well Someone Has Hit The Nail On The Preverbial Head. Were Are... ||Sep 28th. at 12:20:44 am EDT|
|Morgana Fagan (Flomaton, Alabama US) ||Age: 40 |
Well someone has hit the nail on the preverbial head. Were are our leaders and why did they not make an apperence to help? It may be as one of my fellow pagans pointed out that they are just in it for the money that can be made from their books. If you so called leaders are what you say you are come out from under your rocks and help your fellow pagans get thier lives back in order. Unless what many out there are saying is true and you are just in it for the money. Ms. Cabot I thought you would be the first to come to the aid of your people, what has happened to the lady that went on national TV to show the world that pagans were good people? And all of you sow called leaders let your people see that you are who you say you are and come out into the open.
| The Wonderful Thing About Wicca And Paganism Is That We Do Not... ||Sep 28th. at 12:21:03 am EDT|
|Tarot Temptress (Novi, Michigan US) ||Age: 36 - Email |
The wonderful thing about wicca and paganism is that we do not have a leader. I am solitary, and that suits me fine. Those who feel the need for a leader join their fellow pagans locally. It would be very hard to have any kind of election and hard to get the word out to all us solitaries. But I do see the point that we need representation. That would surely help in our fight to bring understanding of what we truely stand for to the uninformed. I really don't see any easy way to pick such representation. I am a very traditional kind of person and am happy with the way things are. My vote would be for no leader, but maybe assign a few spokespersons who would be available in different parts of the country for when the occasion arises when we need a voice.
| We Have Screamed For Years That We Do Not Need Them We... ||Sep 28th. at 1:16:29 am EDT|
|JER (Fort Wayne, Indiana US) ||Age: 25 - Email |
We have screamed for years that we do not need them we are not like the other faiths. we are are own leaders!!! now I hear this!!!! Some one Crying that there are no Pagan leaders to be found .....this is what the Pagan community wanted!!! We got it. Now in the midst of this horrific attack you want the leaders??I wish you all would make up your mind do we as a Neo pagan community want or not want leaders?I do not want leaders. One that is why I am not xtian and two I am a faith of one. I am a leader in my faith....and I was talking to the local press as A Group of my friends and I organized a candle light vigil on the local college campus. As a leader in a faith of one I am working to heal my community. My friends are workng to heal our communtiy. I ask you what have you done??? We are all horrified and shoked and angery, and we are working to heal or working for justice. Questions like this are not needed at this time for this is the time to help your neighbors and family and friends deal with this. Let's not backpedal on the way we as Pagans have operated for the one time we as a new cultuer in this nation(relativly speaking) are put to the test. As pagans this is our time to shine, to show the world thatwe are every bit as holy, every bit a part of this nation. Stand up show the world we are not scary satan worshipers drinking blood. THis is our time, each of us to be leaders. Stop this blaming stop the finger pointing and show off the best face of Pagan to the nation help the greiving and start the healing. We are our own leaders, and we will be our own leaders as we continue this process of healing.
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