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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| This Is A Subject I Have Pondered Ever Sense I Tryed To... ||Sep 29th. at 2:29:40 pm EDT|
|The Seperoth (Lake Charles, Louisiana US) ||Age: 29 - Email |
This is a subject i have pondered ever sense I tryed to start a grove in my area. To unite the different pagan groups in our area, a tough job but someone has to do it. Understand, if this happens, our religen as we know it will change. Not so much as how we worship, but the freedom or percecution we will recieve for comming out. I think we should try to unite our local groups and form councils to repersent people from different areas. Then we can start looking at the bigger picture, moving into government for a voice. One final thing, we all have to stop fighting among ourselves. too much energy is used to put other covens, groups and orginazations down. The local pagan chat board, that is all they do. It saddens my heart to read it. We have to respect ourselves, other sects of paganism, and even the christians, catholics, jews, and muselms. Untill we can respect each other, we can't come together.
| To Have A National Leader Per Se, I Feel Would Put The... ||Sep 29th. at 2:43:22 pm EDT|
|Thomas Fisher Sr. (Erlanger, Kentucky US) ||Age: 36 - Email |
To have a national leader per se, I feel would put the Pagan/Wiccan religeon in the same class as those being led by those such as Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson and others. I feel that a council of the most highly respected persons of the Craft would be best suited to represent our people. There are different groups within the Craft, such as Seax-Wiccan, the Gardnerians, Druidism, etc. Each sect could appoint a spokesperson to speak in behalf of our faith. It is time that the people of our country realize that we are not the evil, God-forsaking, bloodthirsty animals that so-called other religeons lead their people to believe that we are. We have already changed two of our friends to the Pagan belief after teaching them just that. One was so uptight and nervous when we first spoke about it, now he starts asking questions about it when we meet.
Back to the topic at hand, I think a national coven would be best to represent all of us.
| ... ||Sep 29th. at 3:28:46 pm EDT|
|Mary (New York, New York US) ||Age: 40 |
| I Have Myself Wondered Where Any Pagan Speaking About What Happened Might... ||Sep 29th. at 3:43:36 pm EDT|
|Mary (New York, New York US) ||Age: 40 |
I have myself wondered where any Pagan speaking about what happened might be. I have read all the books by all the authors, study always, keep great practice of my religion and beliefs. I looked at Witchvox, on the web and through out NYC for answers. There was no one. There weren't even any emergency open rituals or people helping the 6000 dead cross over. Where are the mediums to do that job? I have worked on this myself but the task of 6000 or more souls...well I am frankly not that strong. The feeling of death permeiated the air in this city, still does as a huge funeral pyre still burns only blocks from my house. Were is the support? Not only for me but for my city and nevermid if the people died in there were Pagan or not. What was that nonsense I just read about 25 dead Pagans? Who cares what their faith was. Isn't it all Gods are one God and all Goddesses one Goddess? Where are the open minded of my faith wailing to Allah for help? I do it. Does anyone join me? Where are the posts or the e mails from Starhawk who wrote a book I keep close these das called "The Pagan Book of Living and Dying". Where is she? Where is Ravenwolf who has been one of my best teachers? Where are they? Let's not forget Z. Budapest who I am sure has loads to say about the male fource of the universe going astray. OK...where for that matter are the Dianic witches reaching us and teaching us how to balance male agression (which the abhore) with feminine power? I think I know how...how about some words from them. I have always been told that in times of great strife one's faith gets you through. How is it that mine is invisable? I wonder. Were there Pagans at Yankee Stadium praying to the Goddess (Our mother/father who art in heaven works real nice) on Mabon last week? I did it. Anyone else or were we too busy living in La la fairy land. Where were you all? Speak up. Write, talk. Where are you? I need guidance, teaching and leadership. Or....just maybe....it is my call to action...which honestly I will take up with open arms. Maybe many others feel the same as I do and worry about prejudice (ask any Mouslem about that especially in NYC)or maybe we are just afraid that our own community will attack us and call us fakes and liars and money hungry idiots. Time to band together my sisters and brothers. We can as (it is rumored) save our world, our cities, our children and our land as the witches in England did during WW II. Time to come out and dust off the Goddess and show her to the world. Time to show our Witches Rede in action...an it harm none in action. Time to teach the karmic lesson the WTC represents to America. Time to stop it. Time to get involved in helping the women in those countries in the Middle East. Time to wake up and realize that any nation that kills women and disrespects and seperates them from their boy children will raise deadly killers raised only in the male principal. Time to elect more female leaders. Time to revere the goddess, revitalize her and show her to the rest of the world. Are we really goijng to have Yahweh against Allah? Oh please...two male gods duking it out for the rest of us....come on PAGANS>>>>>rise up. Invoke the goddess....invoke the Gods who respect life and peace. Invoke the Morrigan for protection and Hecate for the lost souls killed (do you know children and women died there too....are you aware of that....3 11 year olds and more on the other planes) and help them find the Summerlands. I am working it...are you? Are we?
Please wake up, rise up and put into practice your beliefs. Time, time is now. The Goddess has enjoyed a resurgance in the past 50- 60 years. There is a reason for that. We must we must we must....we must. MOVE>
| Honestly I Believe That The Whole Idea Of Pagan Leaders Is Outright... ||Sep 29th. at 5:18:37 pm EDT|
|Ravyn WyntrWolfe (Los Alamos, New Mexico US) ||Age: 19 - Email |
Honestly I believe that the whole idea of Pagan leaders is outright silly. Mind you, it's nice to have those who are authors or otherwise known to the public, speak up. All of us have such diverse beliefs that to represent them all fairly just doesn't seem a likely reality. But to be fair, we all need to speak up when we know we need to. We need to say something when people are attacking our community and not just stand by and allow it to continue (though we all know it goes in one ear and out the other). To just hang back and push a few people up to the front to speak for all of us doesn't seem right.
| I Too Found Myself Looking Outwardly For Faith Inspired Words Of Comfort... ||Sep 29th. at 5:56:19 pm EDT|
|Valari (Cleveland, Ohio US) ||Age: 33 - Email |
I too found myself looking outwardly for faith inspired words of comfort and connection on September 11th and subsequent days. I wasn't looking for a leader per se to tell me how to react, interpret the situation or show me what to do. I wasn't looking for someone to follow. I very simply needed (and still do) to hear the collective voices of the pagan community. I was not looking for a leader to step forth and speak for me- I needed someone in a more public position (Starhawk, Z., Silver, Selena, Phyllis, etc.) to step forth and speak for OUR faith. I needed to hear someone publically say "God might bless America- but Goddess bless the Earth". I'm sure this will happen in the days to come. I'm certain our more public repesentatives are not cowering somewhere- they're tough and bright. Yes, those of us who walk the path of the Goddess have a unique and intimate relationship with our spirituality - but in times of great crisis the operative word must be C-O-M-M-U-N-I-T-Y. I have been doing ritual, I have been doing my part to aid in the transitioning of the dead and healing our global wounds, I have been doing the important inner work of holding space in my own heart for peace and strength. I have consulted my faith for perspective and insight and I have found great tranquility in all this. But this is just me and although that counts for something I want to do more. I need to do more within the context of the Pagan community. I propose we all become leaders without followers. I propose we grasp our hands across the world to cast a circle the likes of which have never been seen. How does the next full moon look for everyone? Maybe we can get together and do the work we are here to do.
| This Is A Tricky Situation Since Paganism Is Comprised Of Loosely Tied... ||Sep 29th. at 6:11:05 pm EDT|
|Rebecca Piche (West Palm Beach, Florida US) ||Age: 37 - Email |
This is a tricky situation since Paganism is comprised of loosely tied small groups. I do think that the recent events do show that we do need some sort of national voice, however. We are in a perfect situation to dispell the myths surrounding Paganism and we should not let this opportunity slip by.
A list of criteria should be established and then those people meeting this criteria could put their name on a ballot or be nominated by someone else. This could be done through a forum such as TWV. The criteria could be something along the lines of being a published author, scholar, a HP or HPS for a certain length of time, etc. The most important thing, in my opinion, is that these "Leaders" or "Spokespeople" be articulate and well versed in the history of Paganism, as well as other religions so that they could answer questions and fend off any atagonistic remarks with intelligence and poise.
When a list of nominees has been established, then the general Pagan population could log on and vote, or mail in their votes.
As far as the financial end of this - maybe a non-profit group could be formed and when festivals or events are held around the country, the sponsoring groups could be encouraged to donate a portion of the funds to this organization. Plus, private donations could be made as well.
I think the time has come and we should now take the next steps to becoming an accepted religious path.
| Whose Viewpoint Would The Pagan Leader Represent. We Are A Diverse Group... ||Sep 29th. at 6:15:22 pm EDT|
|Wes Shepherd (Toronto, Ontario CA) ||Age: 42 - Email |
Whose viewpoint would the Pagan leader represent. We are a diverse group with many and varied beliefs. I myself enjoy the Pagan philosophy because it does not require us to believe in the words of a leader (I had enough of that with the Pope) but allows us to choose the path that best fits.
So, no, I would prefer not to have someone speak for me; I'll do it for myself, thanks. The opinions I express with my own voice may not be recognized on a national or international scale, but they will be my own.
| In Answer To The Question(where Are Our Pagan Leaders?), I Question... ||Sep 29th. at 6:36:38 pm EDT|
|One pissed off Pagan! (Brockton, Massachusetts US) ||Age: 50 |
In answer to the question(where are our pagan leaders?), I question this myself, there seems to be no better time than now for them to step forward and bring neo-paganism to the forefront! I personally will be there if they ever step forward and give my support! Unfortunately it seems that too many of them are more interested in being adored by their fans as well as selling merchandise! This however does not shake my belief in the God/Goddess to heal anyone whether they be Pagan or not! Here's the challenge then, STEP FORWARD LIKE OUR ANCESTORS AND SHOW THE WORLD WHAT WE HAVE TO OFFER!
| Who Needs A Group Leader When We All Stand Side By Side... ||Sep 29th. at 9:05:35 pm EDT|
|Thomas MacFie (Asheville, North Carolina US) ||Age: 22 - Email |
who needs a group leader when we all stand side by side?
| I Am Not In Favor Of Designating Pagan Leaders. I Think That... ||Sep 29th. at 9:06:49 pm EDT|
|Victoria Ziemer (Leominster, Massachusetts US) ||Age: 54 |
I am not in favor of designating Pagan Leaders. I think that there are plenty of leaders that just naturally evolve, as in the case of Starhawk, or Selena Fox, for example. One of the many beauties of Paganism is the lack of organization. Although there are beginning to be many "rules" depending on what kind of Paganism one practices, there is no real Dogma. If certain people want a more organized ritual, it is available, but no one thinks that they are right and everyone else is wrong.
I feel that designating leaders is a slippery slope that could lead to more and more rules, control, and an attitude of being a little above or superior to the rest of us. I prefer it to be just as it is.
I would like to have a little more visibility or presence during times like this, but I think that can be accomplished by the people that we have already. I think that we should think long and hard before we take this step that could have repercussions that none of us want. Vicki
| Like Many, I Looked To The Media For A Figure To Stand... ||Sep 29th. at 9:09:05 pm EDT|
|Jonobie (Austin, Texas US) ||Age: 25 |
Like many, I looked to the media for a figure to stand up and speak to my beliefs. And then I realized that this was silly; I logged onto my computer and started reading my email lists and wandered over to Witchvox to look for words of comfort from Wren & Fritz. What I found shouldn't have surprised me - everywhere, people were grappling with the tragedy, writing their thoughts, writing poetry and prayers. It filled any void the lack of a "national voice" created.
Do I think we need national leaders who can be called up in times of national tragedy and can serve as spokespersons for our faiths? Yes, but not yet. Our religion is so new, so young -- we can't even define ourselves (witness the numerous times discussions about the meaning of the word "witch" or "pagan" appear on various email or chat lists), let alone find the proper people to represent our diversity.
Add to this the problem that Neopagans are *not* accustomed to the notion of tithing or financially supporting a church or elected leaders. If you doubt this, ask the WitchVox staff if they could live off of the donations to this site, and recall that Isaac Bonewits' site went offline earlier this year due to lack of funding. Would each Neopagan be willing to spend even 5% of their annual income to support either their national leaders, their local grove, or both? I doubt it. If you want a national voice, but you vehemently disagree with what your elected offical is saying, would you financially support the process and person anyhow? I bet many wouldn't. We, as a community, are not yet ready to pay for our leaders -- and a national voice that does it on a part-time unpaid basis is likely going to burn out quickly or do a poor job. They need to be free to do it as their sole means of livelihood.
On another note, I've read many comments here that seem to worry that a national spokesperson would be akin to the Pope. I think this is inaccurate. What I envision a national Neopagan leader doing includes the following:
o Educating those who give public prayers on language changes that would make the prayers and services more acceptable to Neopagans.
o In times of need, leading public (televised) interfaith Neopagan rituals. Also, any other public ministering that can be done in times of great need.
o Being available for public statements for the media, either as an educational resource or for issuing comforting statements to Neopagans.
o Activism in government - lobbying or educating officals about our religions.
This, as many others have pointed out, requires sensitivity to and knowledge of the numerous religions that fall under the Neopagan umbrella.
We're starting towards a national presence, though. For each member of clergy who attends interfaith meetings, for every newspaper article that's written about us that emphasizes the beliefs of our various religions instead of the trappings, for each Neopagan who presents a kind and intelligent face to an outsider, we move closer towards national recognition and a good climate for national spokespersons.
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