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 Are The Boundaries?
Different Pagan groups and schools have different concepts of accountability and boundaries of behavior. Some may feel that they are only accountable for what they do to themselves alone or to their family/group and perhaps to their Gods. Others perceive that they are accountable for their actions to the larger Pagan community and society in general. There ARE abusers out there whom probably no one would defend. But what do we DO about them? Anything? Nothing? Some groups have personal internal 'blacklists' and others seem willing to support a public listing of this sort. How could we ever agree on just what should not be tolerated under the name of Pagan beliefs? Should we just 'live and let live' and 'let the buyer beware'? Or do we have a greater obligation to somehow defend and protect the reputation and good name of the Pagan communities by drawing the boundary line at some point?
| Reponses: There are 26 responses posted to this question.
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| It's People Like You That Help The World Open Its Eyes To... ||Jan 28th. at 7:30:48 pm EST|
|Andrew Blocher (highland springs, Virginia US) ||Age: 16 - Email |
it's people like you that help the world open its eyes to the truth on witchcraft. and i just wanted to say thank you
| It Was Asked...should We Just 'live And Let Live' And 'let... ||Jan 28th. at 8:44:32 pm EST|
|Elizabeth (Springfield, Missouri US) ||Age: 36 |
It was asked...Should we just 'live and let live' and 'let the buyer beware'?
It appears to me that the majority of the concern about abuse and protecting others centers on newbies and seekers. The incredible variety of Paths that all name themselves 'Pagan' seem to have at least one point in common; Self-knowledge, which leads to Self-confidence. IMO, those that are vulnerable to the most common predators do not posess these invaluable resources.
The vast proportion of abuse that I have heard of involves a person being 'burned, ' in a variety of ways, within the first few months of joining up with an abusive teacher or group. The threat to the larger pagan community, IMO, is that these poor individuals often leave all pagan paths and run scurrying back to their 'original' faith, bearing tales of "what paganism is REALLY like."
The problem then is to protect the ignorant from their folly and the experienced from joining them in paying for it. To provide a platform that is fair to all and "Gets The Info Out!" I would suggest something along the lines of the Better Business Bureau, where individuals report to the Bureau their 'personal' experiences, good AND bad, and the groups are rated accordingly. This would allow for all opinions to be heard and no single point of view to prevail. As a previous poster stated, if you hear 100 people from all over warning about a particular individual and very few defending, then that would be a good indication of a potential problem.
Of course this could lead to larger organizations sending out lists to their members to call in as a group without having personal experiences themselves, thus burying some poor soul under a huge number of "personal complaints." Think of the mass hand-written mailings of the organized religious right on specific campaign issues. ANY system that can be thought up will be vulnerable to those to whom power and influence is all. We can't do much about that.
No matter how many warnings though, some people are too desperate to "Belong" to heed anything. I have seen with my own eyes teens sucked in to abusive groups with FULL knowledge of what was in store. They are often so lonely and afraid and confused that being 'In' is all they care about. I have to assume that some of them come from home lives that make these problems seem trivial. These people are over 18 and, often, have been warned; they still go ahead and that is THEIR choice. Is it an abusive situation? Yes, IMO. What do we have "the right" to do about it? Nothing, IMO.
The long term solution is the further growth of availabe, stable and healthy groups to give alternatives to those desperate people. I don't think that that can be rushed. Time will help ease the crush. In the short term - almost every group out there is already doing a tremendous service in offering beginning classes to all comers. Most such classes plant just the characteristics needed, Self-Knowledge and Self-Confidence. There is only so much we can do as independent individuals.
BTW, I do not wish to appear to be down on teens, and teens are by no means the only ones vulnerable to abuse. Any one who has lost their Self is vulnerable.
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