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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| How On Goddess' Green Earth Would Such A Diverse Community Even Begin... ||Sep 24th. at 8:45:12 am UTC|
|Garnet Redstone, High Priestess of the Sacred Oak Grove Coven (Charlotte, North Carolina US) ||Age: 44 - Email |
How on Goddess' green Earth would such a diverse community even begin to choose who would represent us and how this would be done? This requires some very serious thought and much guidance from the Divine.
It is very hard to watch all of the memorial services with Christianity, Judaism, Islam and other religions being represented, with not one Pagan, Witch or Wiccan clergy member there to represent us. It is as if we are the black sheep of the family of America, that must be hidden away and not even spoken of!
In the last two weeks, I have received a larger than normal amount of email from solitaries seeking community. I say larger than normal, but then I have to remember that Samhain is on the way and curiosity does tend to peak at this time. But the majority of these emails have mentioned the need to talk to others of "our kind"....to have a sense of community....expressing much sorrow and the need to talk to someone; to receive some form of counselling. My husband, Grian and I, have tried to meet with and talk to as many as we can, but it seems there is never enough time for all the other responsibilities we have!
Grian and I were talking about this last week, as he has been trying to think of a way to get groups and solitaries to pool together....to form a delegation of some sort to represent our interests. But how?
It would only be fair to have some sort of local, regional election, then one at state level. One representative from each state could represent us nationally, choosing a spokesperson from that group. The big turn off here is that this sounds like politics....like government, not religion.
How do we know that the ones who are chosen would be able to keep their personal views out of it? Could a Druid fairly represent Wiccans? Can a Wiccan fairly represent a Santerian? What standards would have to be set and how would be they be set?
We have a dilemna here. One that will be very hard to solve.
Yes...I would love to see us represented on a national level. I would love to see our views right up there with the views of the rest of the world's religions. But no.....I do not want to be represented by someone who has views very different from mine.
Wren Walker, Fritz Jung....the two of you are probably the most well known, most trusted Pagans in the world. You already represent us in the most fair fashion. If we all could help you out finacially, would you do us the honor? God/dess has blessed you with the ability to reach so many. I would be proud and honored to call you our National Representatives!
| Sali Tetreaults Thoughts- One Of The Things That Is Most Notable About... ||Sep 24th. at 9:34:59 am UTC|
|Sali Tetreault (Newark, Vermont US) ||Age: 30 - Email |
Sali Tetreaults thoughts-
One of the things that is most notable about witch's/wiccans/druids/pagans of all types is that we are opinionated. We are not followers, we are the trailblazers willing to take the risk to be true to ourselves. (the risk being discrimination)
I feel that electing one leader or a council of leaders would be a waste of time. How many of us would actually look to them as our leaders. I know that in my own coven we may have similar beliefs, but not the same beliefs. I do however think that we should be doing something to let the masses know we exist and that we are kind, loving human beings. Instead of looking to a leader to represent us we should be representing ourselves. It could be as easy as holding an open circle, or volunteering in your community.
I am fortunate, the area of the country I live in is open minded. As a open-out of the closet witch I have served on my local school board, led a brownie troop and taught about Yule at my childrens school for the last 2 years. I asked about a Yule presentation when I realized that our local school taught about Christmas, Hanakkah, and Kwansa (?sp.). These are but a few ways that the average everyday witch can reach out to their community.
I have found that the best way to represent witch's and pagen-kind is to be yourself. Before I make the announcement to folks that I am a WITCH I show that I am a kind, caring individual. I am not saying I keep it a secret until I feel the coast is clear, I am saying that I let my actions speak for me. This I believe is good advice no matter your religion. Another observation I have made is that if you want others to be tolerant of your beliefs you must first be tolerant of theirs. My sister in law whom I love very much is a deeply committed Christian. She knows that I am a Witch and respects me and my beliefs. The big thing we have found in our beliefs that are the same is Love!
Please remember that those people who feel the need to preach any religion with hatred are not speaking for the masses they are speaking from their own ignorance.
Well now that my long winded view is out. here is the plain and simple of it.
Don't wait for someone to represent you-represent yourself.
| Yes!!! We Do Need Pagan Leaders!!!!! If For No Other Reason Than... ||Sep 24th. at 9:43:33 am UTC|
|BELAKANE (FAYETTEVILLE, North Carolina US) ||Age: 21 - Email |
YES!!! We DO need pagan leaders!!!!! If for no other reason than to represent pagans and show that we ARE good people, and that we DO NOT follow the ways of the stereotypical "Hollywood witch". I, for one, am tired of not being able to find fellow pagans to gather with, as they all seem to be in hiding, or rather, "in the broom closet". I am tired of being a solitary, and my significant other and I are forming our own group. I would be proud to donate my time, effort, and what little money I can spare to help support pagan leaders. Pagans WILL NOT EVER be comfortable coming out if they do not have someone to represent them, and if the "Hollywood witch" myths are not dealt with. We CANNOT expect the views that others have of us to change if we do not change ourselves!!!!!
Love and light, Belakane
| I Nominate Fritz And Wren! Just Kidding. I Think The Amount Of... ||Sep 24th. at 10:23:48 am UTC|
|Peg Aloi (Cambridge, Massachusetts US) ||Age: 37 - Email |
I nominate Fritz and Wren!
I think the amount of animosity and jealousy that has already been generated in our community by the seeming "canonization" of various activists, authors, coven leaders, and starters of magical traditions, shows us that any process to somehow "elect" leaders that everyone would be happy with is an impossibility and a fool's errand.
Then again I did not vote for George Bush either!
I think Anchored Star's comments made a lot of sense: we can look to those pagans IN OUR OWN COMMUNITIES for leadership!
We can also draw inspiration, comfort and courage from the works of great authors who have come and are still working: Janet and Stewart Farrar (and gavin Bone), Leo Louis Martello, Ronald Hutton, Robert Graves, Starhawk, Dion Fortune, William Butler Yeats, Shakespeare, etc etc.
We can become "leaders" ourselves, in our thoughts and prayers and magical workings, as well as what we choose to show others in this time of crisis. Sharing yourself with other humans beings is very important now. We all have wisdom to impart, questions to ask, love and light and righteous anger to express and put forth. There are candles to light, blood to give, checks to write, children to hug, cats to squeeze, bills to pay, food to prepare, circles to dance in (even by ourselves).
But as we are already seeing in these posts, everyone has different ideas about what "leadership" is and how we might select such leaders to lead us.
I am of the mind that our diversity would make it difficult, to say the least. I see it now: different traditions campaigning for their candidates! the Druid Platform! The Wicca Platform! etc etc...
I have a great many other thoughts on this but I have only had one cup of coffee and must go to work now. Perhaps more later; for I AM a pagan leader, you know! ;)
I note a great many wise and wonderful posts here from people aged 23! Hmmm...
love and patience,
| I Have Never Felt As Alone As I Have The Past Two... ||Sep 24th. at 10:27:54 am UTC|
|Melissa (SilverCat) (Boston, Massachusetts US) ||Age: 26 - Email |
I have never felt as alone as I have the past two weeks as our nation grieves. At every interfaith prayer service I've seen, both televised and in person, my presence as a Pagan seems to be as an outsider. We need some sort of figure to be a national representative for us during these times. While I realize that Paganism is a fluid collection of faiths that span a tremendous number of beliefs, at least having someone who is polytheistic would help make me feel like my beliefs were welcome. Because frankly, feeling like a complete outsider during all of these religious vigils that are completely mono-God centered is making me hurt more.
| Blessed Be All! When We Have A Religion(s) With No Recognized... ||Sep 24th. at 10:32:15 am UTC|
|Kevyn Allen (algonac, Michigan US) ||Age: 38 - Email |
Blessed be all!
When we have a religion(s) with no recognized leaders (then throw mud as soon as one steps forward), we cant really complain when noone is there to represent us. Most every other faith has its elders to arrive upon diplomatic scenes and speak as thier community voice ....sadly the Pagan voice is missing.
Because our arguments range from "we are the religion of the hearths" to "THAT pagan is a ego tripping moron looking for followers"- absolutely NOTHING is ever going to get done.
Perhaps there are just so many faiths being represented when you say the word "pagan", how could anyone even hope to represent such a varied belief structure.
Until we all can stand united and actually AGREE on the most simplest tenets of our faiths we will get absolutely nowhere. It should be interesting to see who the pagan community considers thier "leaders" are...Im not holding my breath lol
Peace in the World!!
| Problem 1 With National Pagan Leadership: It's About Trying To Go Public... ||Sep 24th. at 10:43:51 am UTC|
|Cat (Asheville, North Carolina US) ||Age: 34 |
Problem 1 with national pagan leadership: It's about trying to go public with a religion whose most profound unspoken tenets, perhaps, are that religion should be a PRIVATE matter and that religion and the state should be separate. When we say, "Where were our leaders? Why hasn't the state recognized our position?", we're letting the (accurate) premise that you have to advertise if you want the world to beat a path to your door take precedence over the equally accurate assessment that our faith is private and personal. Do we want to do that? Christians are prone to saying "where are your hospitals, your charities, your ORGANIZATIONS?" And our general answer is "we prefer to worship, not to organize." That may or may not be the best way to worship; but it seems to be one that en masse we like a lot. Do we want to change that? CAN we change it?
Problem 2: Our "leaders"--that is, as someone said, our authors and personalities--have arisen naturally, a process of which I approve heartily. But are they, with the possible exception of Starhawk, interested in or equipped for political power? How many authors (typically rather retiring souls) run for public office? It seems likely that the political power that come with recognition is not high on most pagans' wish lists, even for those of us who are also activists.
Problem 2.5: someone else already mentioned this, but there is the question of pay. The laborer, as Christ said, is worthy of his hire. A widespread though not universal trend is to suck our priests dry and then wonder why they quit. Myself, I approve of sliding-scale "love offerings" at (good) rituals, and I'd prefer to call them what they are: pay for services, money for good value. (Heck, maybe some fees would help focus the rituals and discourage those who aren't serious.) But a salaried press liaison? How much would that cost? I'd pay my share, I think, but who'd collect the money? Interview the candidates? Arrange the budget when s/he needed to travel? Rather than berating our celebrities for their recent lack of visibility, maybe we should be down on our knees in gratitude that some of them speak publicly at all without our organizational assistance.
Problem 3: Just what would our leaders have said last week? What we really want recognition for is safety: so that we can't be driven more underground than we are now, so that we can't have our rights taken away by other people's ignorance. And maybe a visible pagan leader speaking on the recent terrorism would help us achieve that; but maybe, too, it wouldn't. Think about it a minute: what would our leaders say? Probably the same things Muslim clerics and Christian ministers have been saying over and over. "This sucks. Pagans don't approve. We're sad and angry too." Well, excuse me, but D'UH! Talk about stating the obvious, however much more eloquently it would be said by our very articulate celebrities. As someone said in the thousand-plus messages last week, surely there are bigger problems during this crisis than pagans not being heard while they state the obvious.
Commentary (3A, if anyone's still following the outline): It might even be appropriate that pagans haven't been heard from over the terrorisms. If there's a religious aspect to these attacks, it seems to lie in the long-standing tension between Christians and Muslims (there were those little things called the Crusades, I believe...) We haven't heard from Buddhists (aka pagans) either; we haven't heard from Hindus, or Greek polytheists, or Egyptian polytheists, or a whole lot of religions which are, probably, sad and angry but whose faiths are not immediately at issue. We've heard from Christians because they're dominant here and we always hear from Christians, and from Muslims because Islam may have played a part in the attacks and to further understanding of the hundreds of thousands of Muslims who were innocent of the attacks. I think the latter, at least, is quite appropriate; and I'm not sure, other than the ongoing visibility campaign, what paganism has to do with the attacks at all. (Jerry Falwell, of course, thinks there's a connection, but we all know up which orifice Jerry Falwell's head generally resides.)
So (THESIS STATEMENT): while there might be some political advantages to Official Pagan Leaders, and it's kind of fun to talk about, no. I think we're fooling ourselves to believe either that it's likely to happen or that, in the long run, we really want it to happen.
| I Am A Solitary Witch , By Choice And The Reason Is I... ||Sep 24th. at 10:45:51 am UTC|
|Rowan Silverhands (Manorville, New York US) ||Age: 35 - Email |
I am a solitary witch , by choice and the reason is I want to be able to worship as i see fit and not dictated to by a group or leader , however wise and benevolent. I look to Wren and Fritz, Starhawk and the others for ideas, challenges and sometimes reaffirmation of my dedication to a beautiful but difficult path, however, I dont want them to be my leaders or to speak for me.
Why must the pagan community have a singled out spokesman? Isnt the reason so many of us have left other paths is for that very reason , we want to be directed by our inner voice that is truly the voice of the Goddess and God ? If we pick a leader or leaders or even several to "speak" for us who will decide what is said or which part of our beliefs are revealed.
We all need comfort in this difficult time and I mourn for all the people killed and the families devastated , but I dont need someone with bigger credentials telling the rest of the country what I believe or feel. It hurts that at least one pagan wasnt included in the group in Yankee stadium but if it means that I have to align myself with someone or group that doesnt represent my true beliefs , than I will forgoe the limelight and continue to send all the energy I can spare to those who need it. Blessed Be )0(
| It Is A Sad Fact That We Do Not Have A Unified... ||Sep 24th. at 10:53:47 am UTC|
|Steve Wright a.k.a Grumbolt (Theresa, New York US) ||Age: 31 - Email |
It is a sad fact that we do not have a unified voice. This is due to our very unique outlooks and views on life. I do not think that at anytime we will be able to maintain a paid position as the "Voice of Paganism" any more then we can get all of paganism to agree on the same things. I do believe that if we are to get beyond the "it is not a real religion" stage, we will need something to represent us to the country and the public.
What kind of leader then? What are the qualifications ? It would be my suggestion that any leader roll be played not by a single individual, but by a council of elders (It worked for thousands of years, why not now?). The requirements would be intelligence, wisdom, and oration.
Doesn't seem to hard and yet the defining of these points is near impossible. .Perhaps we should gather a large number of pagans together and have a debate with someone representing the opinions forced upon us. I have no interest in being represented by either a pagan Oral Roberts or fanatic moron who can not return asnwers.
As for were, center of the US so that everyone must travel an equal distance to get there. How? Vote, each person with one vote. Only those who attend all of the debates may vote. If you can not be that dedicated to give up a week of your life for this, you should not have the option of voting.
| Be Ye Counted Among The Wise, And Hold Thy Council Lest Thy... ||Sep 24th. at 10:57:27 am UTC|
|Celeborn (Marietta , Georgia US) ||Age: 46 |
ŇBe ye counted among the Wise, and hold thy council Lest thy open thy mouth and remove all doubt.Ó
An opinion express by Lord Celeborn of Pair Dynion Grove And not that of anyone else!
The events of this past month have been earth shattering. We have suffered a great loss in life and property. Mere words cannot express the feelings that each of us feels inside.
The elders of the past have always sought each otherŐs council an let the nature of the situation sort it self out, least we endangered ourselves to exposure to the greater community at large.
A lot of us are still very secretive and cannot afford to be exposed. We are unique in the fact that each one of us sees the value in others beliefs .We hold on to the one Maxims ŇThat not one of us, can speak for the whole.Ó These big Named Pagans that you speak of are Authors and writers of books on witchcraft. They have made their living off of selling their books. They are under the rule of thumb that what they say might be the opinion of their publisher. So I would not want to be waiting too long for an official statement from any of the before mention people. The Elders of the past have always talked about the dawning of the New Age. Well it has come and now we are in it. Who are these elders? They are the ones who by deeds do the work in the shadows. They are the hidden children who have always been there from the dawn of mankind. They look after everyone and give their gifts when needed and without direction from a conscientious of self-styled self imposed politically correct leaders. The task ahead us is a very sensitive matter and those of us who have been around including some of those BNP have the common since not to upset those in control. Face it people .We are not liked by the majority and are looked upon with fear and suspicion. They find comfort in the fact of their one God. We would only expose ourselves to be a target for their Hatred and aggression. Already we were blamed for this happening in the fact that their God has lifted his hand of protection from our nation. Because of our beliefs and lifestyle.
We have a hard time coming together under any circumstances except for a gathering. 5, 000 dead and a Tele psychic is going to help the newly departed over to the Summerland? No one predicted it? I need to give my gift of contacting the dead to the public of New York City?
If there were such a Leader in our realm of magic, fairies, elves, and dragons. I am sure that they would instruct us to be mindful of the suffering that has just happened and that the honor of service in any capacity is to the honor to us all. Give comfort to those who are in morning. Give Blood. Give goods. Give money. Give support. Give energy. Give prayers. Show support for our leaders and elected officials. REMEMBER we are in the race of man, but not of the race of man. We cannot interfere with the lessons of another. And a time to every purpose under heaven.
CELEBORN High Priest PDG
| The Event Of Tuesday, September 11th Left Me Confused, Hurt, Angry, And... ||Sep 24th. at 10:57:42 am UTC|
|Arthanea (Old Town, Maine US) ||Age: 22 - Email |
The event of Tuesday, September 11th left me confused, hurt, angry, and depressed, much like the rest of the nation. As a Pagan, I was unsure of what to do in such a time of crisis, I had questions and could really have used someone to talk to, some guidance. I even considered going to an open-minded Christian church just to talk to someone. What I really wanted, and have wanted since I became a Pagan over 6 years ago now, was a local "clergy" type person. Maybe someone on the path longer than I, someone a little more spiritually involved than I am with more ritual and leadership experience under their belt, and preferably some training and experience with counseling. This is something that I have always longed for as a solitary, especially during moments of personal crisis.
For me this would have to be someone local, whom I could work with and know well, and someone for whom my respect would grow as I was able to see that they did indeed fulfill this role and were capable of meeting my needs for a spiritual guide. Someone who had a life similar to mine. Maybe they wouldn't have the exact same lifestyle and responsibilities, but it would be very difficult for me to see the benefit in advice from someone who lived a life far removed from mine, as the priests and nuns of Buddhism and Catholicism do.
I don't want a "leader" in the traditional religious sense. Like most Pagans I have met, that is one of the reasons I AM a Pagan and not a Christian or a Hindu or a Buddhist. Not a local leader, and most certainly not a national one. I can't imagine how anyone could speak for the Pagan community, let alone what they could possibly say. With Pagans, anything someone said at the national level would probably drive 98% of the community up the wall, unlike in political situations where it is usually about 49% of the people who are disappointed. I for one would not like to be paying someone to speak for me in any case. I can speak very well for myself (on most days anyway) as I'm sure most other Pagans can too. For me, the Beauty of Paganism is that we are all here and united through a very small similarity of belief and that (for the most part) we all respect our differences and allow ALL of our diverse voices to ring out - that more than anything else is THE true voice of Paganism. I would be horribly disappointed if this were to ever change.
What I would like is a guide, who could be there for me and my spiritual needs locally. Having a good mentor, maybe a High Priest/ess or Clan leader would be plenty for me. Anything beyond that and we begin walking down a road that has led to all sorts of nasty, dark things throughout human history.
Personally, I would fear greatly any one claiming to be a National Pagan Leader as well as anyone who backed and supported such a person. I love most of our little Pagan celebrities - you know who I'm talking about, all those people we refer to, like supermodels, by first name only. But for me, that is all they are; people who have contributed something special to the Pagan community at large, either by writing or speaking or creating an incredible website, etc. To ask them to lead the Pagans of our nation just because they are well known or famous is ridiculous.
To those people who are pushing for National Pagan Leadership, especially the angry and unnecessarily slanderous writer of the email which is now so unhappily circulating the internet, I ask only that you be careful what you wish for, because if you get your wish, you are not the only ones who have to live with the consequences.
An it harm none,
Do as you wilt.
| Interesting Question. Who Are Our Pagan Leaders, Anyway? They're The People Who... ||Sep 24th. at 11:17:17 am UTC|
|Dagonet Dewr (Indianapolis, Indiana US) ||Age: 33 - Email |
Interesting question. Who are our Pagan leaders, anyway?
They're the people who when someone says 'Somebody oughta do something about that'...
...realizes they're somebody.
Elizabeth Barrette wrote a great essay about making it into the 'inner circle' of leadership in any group. You have to get involved and get working; not just on a local level, but on a national and regional level as well. That's who leaders are. People who get involved, who do things, and who don't waste their time tearing down other people's efforts. (As Walt Kelly said, 'We have met the enemy and they is us'. Paganism's biggest obstacle to greater acceptance, success, and functionality are pagans.)
Leaders aren't elected. Those who hold positions are elected; leaders merely work until someone notices. Leadership is a virus; a true leader enables others to lead. Leaders don't wait for someone else to do it; leaders do it themselves. Leaders put in the hard work, the volunteer time, the miles. Leaders take the idea and run with it.
Leaders ignore the naysayers. Won't and can't rarely, if ever, appear in their speech. Leaders ignore the people accusing them of power-tripping and ego-gratification; most of those people are jealous they didn't think of it first, and can't imagine a mindset where it's not the ego-trip but the satisfaction of a job well done. Leaders are craftsfolk, appreciating good work for the sake of good work.
Leaders can be anyone.
Leaders can be you.
Membership Coordinator, Pagan Pride Project
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