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Question of the Week: 113

Pagan Problem Children: What Can We Do About Them?

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 Author:    Posted: Sep. 8, 2002   This Page Viewed: 23,395,737  

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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. Reverse Sort 

What? Choosing Pagan Leaders/spokesperson? That Would Never Work. There Would Be... Sep 30th. at 6:40:13 am EDT

Alyssa (witchita , Kansas US) Age: 16

Choosing Pagan leaders/spokesperson?
That would never work. There would be too many minds to feed. So many opinions one person would not be able to live up to our expectaions. There would then be the need for more people one to represent each religion within Paganism, Wicca, celtic. We would become separated from each other and slowly disintergrate. We would sit back waiting for this spokesperson to say what we think and they might not we would lose touch of our own religion.
I have to argue against this idea.
No one know's what we think better than we do and no one can say better than our own mouths.

It Is A Difficult Question. Paganism, As A Spirituality, Is As Varied... Sep 30th. at 9:06:27 am EDT

Debra Douglas Anderson (North Dartmouth, Massachusetts US) Age: 35 - Email

It is a difficult question. Paganism, as a spirituality, is as varied as its practitioners. I think that a Pagan Leader would be a benefit to the community as a whole if it is the right leader. What criteria would qualify someone to be the right leader? I believe a Pagan Leader would have to be able to step outside the paradigm of his/her own path and, on an ongoing public basis, treat his/her spirituality and the spirituality of the American Pagan Community with a broad scope. Pagans can be all inclusive and extremely ecclectic as well as explicitly ritualistic. A Pagan Leader would need to be able to combine Pagan communal links in his/her speeches/writings/interviews/public practices in order to raise community spirit.

What would I expect from that leader? Someone who is predisposed to peaceful and balanced living. A person who addresses Paganism as a whole from Buddism, Shintoism and Hinduism to Wicca, Gardnerianism, Strega....Someone who is able to communicate the Pagans' need for inclusion of both Gods and Goddesses, and who does not qualify Paganism to non-pagans by what it is not but rather by what it is. I would relish a leader as a peaceful warrior on a journey in which each person, pagan and non-pagan alike that he/she meets, the warrior leaves with them an imprint: That all religions and spiritualities have commonalities and that all practitoners are reaching towards the same lessons. It is only the semantics that each path uses that makes its practitioners view life from within different paradigms. I would want a Pagan Leader to be all this as well as be able to use their spokesmanship to invoke Unity and to celebrate Diversity.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
God & Goddess Bless America
May the World Unite in Peace

Interesting Idea. I Don't Understand Those Who Opposite On The Grounds That... Sep 30th. at 9:20:49 am EDT

Winter Wolf (Atlantic City, New Jersey US) Age: 46

Interesting idea. I don't understand those who opposite on the grounds
that there are so many varities of pagans. That hasn't stopped Christianity
from having various leaders and spokespersons, has it? The only criteria
that I would have for pagan leaders/spokespersons is that they be highly
intelligent and well educated. I guess that leaves Silver Ravenwolf out
of the running!

Er, That Was Supposed To Be "opposed" Not "opposite." I Guess That... Sep 30th. at 9:23:33 am EDT

Winter Wolf (Atlantic City, New Jersey US) Age: 46

Er, that was supposed to be "opposed" not "opposite." I guess that leaves
me out of the running also! Hiyo Silver! Away!

I Think That One Spokesperson For The Pagan Community Is Going To... Sep 30th. at 9:41:50 am EDT

Alana (Miami, Florida US) Age: 44 - Email

I think that one spokesperson for the pagan community is going to be hard to agree on. What about a council? I would certainly financially support, to the best of my ability, representatives to our community. The problem with trying to appoint any one individual is that we are a very loosely linked community with often strong opinions and varied beliefs.

Yes, I Support The Idea Of National Leader For Pagan Interests In... Sep 30th. at 10:00:09 am EDT

Richard Seward - Dagon (San Francisco, California US) Age: 49 - Email

Yes, I support the idea of national leader for pagan interests in the USA. but let's be clear about what we are talking about.

We are not talking about a bishop or a pope. We are NOT talking aobut a spiritual leader or anyone with ecumenical or dogmatic or even moral authority vested in him/her by the pagan community.

What we need is a person to advocate within the national religious community, to the press, and at large for the general interests of pagan pepoles - both solitaries, churches, and covens.

I am thinking of an NAACP or a President of the National Council of Churches type of person. A spokesperson for the Jewish anti-defamation league is another role model.

Not someone who dictates - rather someone who advocates for general principals. Not someone who "leads" so much as someone who "speaks out" in a general way. A "spokesperson" against defamation. Someone to remind others that many of us pray to our Fahter AND Mother.

To fund it? Form a 501 (c)(3) and take donations through Paypal or with ongoing regular credit card donations on a monthly basis. I would LOVE to be able to give tax deductable donations to my religion! I would love to see Vox funded as an arm of this 501c3 organization for anti-defamation of all pagans.

But again I think it is important that we NOT think about a pope or bishop model of spiritual leader but more of a spokesperson of an anti-defamation league.

As A "recovering Catholic" , I Have Checked Out The Pagan Pespective. To... Sep 30th. at 10:57:43 am EDT

Americo Ross (Staten Island, New York US) Age: 50 - Email

As a "recovering catholic" , I have checked out the Pagan pespective. To be honest I cannot see any basis for a national leadership.I am not sure that it was a good idea to procliam Paganism as a religion. I believe that
the institution of spirituallity into a religion has given rise to all the oppressive formations of the religious-nation. Maybe it was necessary to be "officially" recognized as a religion so that pagans in the military and in prison would have more freedom to practice .
Why not leave it at that? You ask what
then should be done in times of crisis? Do pagans need the comfort of a "leader" in times of crisis? If seeing a pagan leader up on the stage with all the other religous leaders, making their obligitory statments of tolerance and peace, would give comfort to them, then select your national leadership. Once the leaders forge a new dogma to be followed, the nature will be taken out of essence of paganism. Why, if all the bigtime religions all stand for "peace", as the bigtime religious leaders proclaim, do their followers wage war in the name of God, Allah or Israel?
Yes, show me the path, you can't lead me down it. Tell me of your experiences when you went down the path.That's all . My pagan ancestors,
and I can only speak for myself, have been gone from this planet for centuries. So I take from what is left in the Christian and borrow from other spiritual peoples.Imagine, like John Lennon wanted us to, no religion . I don't believe he meant atheism , but spiritualality replacing the institution of religions.
Thank for providing this forum.

I've Not Clocked In On Any Of These Discussions In The Last... Sep 30th. at 11:34:07 am EDT

Thena (Portland, Oregon US) Age: 28 - Email

I've not clocked in on any of these discussions in the last two weeks. I've been too blessed busy.

Do we need national leaders? In what sense? In an official "I'm wearing the big hat" sort of way?

Probably not.

But it would be nice if, in times of crisis, some of the folks who are already well-respected names happened to take time to stick their heads up and say to the world, hello, yes, the Pagan community (or at least my little wedge of it) is with you. Come to think of it, a nationally-recognized name isn't necessary. Just the calling and the will to persevere.

Electing a leader? Electing -A- leader? Please. Coordinating witchy folks is about like herding cats - three witches in one room means at least five opinions. And as most of us figure out eventually, the ONLY way to herd cats is to convince them all that there's something in ---> that direction ---> that they want.

-You- are our pagan leaders. I'm not just talking to Wren and Fritz here, or any other Big Names who lurk around the Voice. I'm talking to -you-. The fifteen year old high school sophomore. The retired grandmother of five. The environmental activist. The postal employee. The nurse. The airline pilot. The small-businesswoman. YOU.

Never mind that nobody knows your name.

Never mind that most of the people you work with or study with don't know you're pagan.

They don't have to know.

Just get out there, ground, center, and act according to your values. And you and I and all the other kitties will be moving in more or less the same direction.

Blessed be.

We Do Not Need Elected National Pagan Leaders. All That Will Dois... Sep 30th. at 12:01:42 pm EDT

David (Lawrence, Kansas US) Age: 30

We do not need elected national Pagan leaders. All that will dois spawn rebellion and further division in the Pagan Community.
What we NEED is for those who already tout themselves as leaders to be with all of these representatives of other religions and make sure we are heard too.
They also need to speak up. They write books and charge us to attend lectures where they do not hesitate to tell us how to run our lives yet, in this time of crisis, none of them has a word of comfort, understanding or guidance.
I am sure we will all be thinking about this when Ravenwolf's next book comes out or Buckland wants $50 to talk to us.

I Really Don't Think The Pagan Community Needs A Figurehead Such As... Sep 30th. at 12:15:28 pm EDT

Patrick J. Plante (Auburn, Washington US) Age: 25

I really don't think the Pagan community needs a figurehead such as Jesse Jackson for the talk shows and pundits to rip apart. One of the reasons I became a pagan was to get away from these elevated leaders with opinions that are given more weight just because they are on TV; the recent Jerry Falwell/Pat Roberson piece of trash comes to mind.

As my momma always said, "Never argue with an idiot. They drag you down to their level, and beat you with experience"

However, I would advocate that the Pagan community should mobilize those who are already in the public eye, including authors, musicians, and those who are respected within the community (Fritz & Wren?) to speak out on our behalf, and not just within pagan media, but expanding into mainstream media.

Normally, I Do Not Answer Questions Of The Day But This Is... Sep 30th. at 12:28:28 pm EDT

Catherine Burns (Sanford, North Carolina US) Age: 17

Normally, I do not answer questions of the day but this is one topic where I want to voice my opinion. The fact is that over the past few weeks, during crisis in our country, I had no one to turn to, to let me know how to handle this as a pagan. Sure, I knew how to handle this as an american citizen, I was frightened and angry. But, what could I do to heal this gaping wound left inside me. The truth is, I didn't know. I still don't know. As a pagan I didn't feel comfortable going to church services or vigils where choirs and ministers attended. So, here I sit nearly three weeks later and I have yet to mourn for the losses in New York and Washington. I live fifteen miles from one of the largest Military bases in the World. Planes are flying overhead everyday and my best friend has been called to Egypt. I cringe at the sound of planes and cry each night because acording to recent statistics I will never get the chance to see my friend again or my stepfather who is being deployed anyday now. I don't know how to deal with this. I need guidance but I have no where to turn. And, what about pagan family members who have lost their loved ones? Who can they turn to now?
But, how do we decide who is most adept to represent the witches of america? The Craft is so diverse in it's traditions that I don't think there is any way to find leaders who can represent every single witch. And, that is OK. Look at the US Government. At one time or another, we have all felt misrepresented in congress. Yes it is a frustrating thing but it is the best way we know to represent the people. I think a group of people represtenting diverse traditions should form our national pagan leaders. But, pagan leaders do not have to be full time spiritual leaders. Let's face it people, we can not afford for them to be. Why should they be full time guides to the pagan community? Anyother time I would not need spiritual guidance. That is why I chose the craft, so I could find my own way. Only in times of crisis, like the recent tragedy should these people be called upon to give comfort and guidance to frightened pagans.
The internet is a wonderful thing, it will take this letter thousands of miles away in a mater of seconds. Why not let our voting take place here? Computers are easily accesible and anonymos for the broom closet pagans. Ofcourse the internet is not entirely secure but then I suppose no place is. We need pagan leaders, perhaps not everyone does but enough to warrant taking a long hard look at the way things have been going. I can only hope this rant of mine will affect some one other than myself so that the next time something horrid happens, we can grieve with fellow pagans through out the country.

In My Neck Of The Woods, We Are Invisible Presence. As A... Sep 30th. at 12:38:55 pm EDT

BriarRose(Wanda Custance) (Jacksonville, Oregon US) Age: 49 - Email

In my neck of the woods, we are invisible presence. As a solitary witch
I have very little contact with other witches. But I am a member of Circle
If memory serves me right was there not a selected group of representatives
for the Big Congress of World Religions(or something like that) some years
back. Perhaps we could start there. How were those people selected? How
is it that support for a committee of chosen people from different pagan
organisations could be founded. Perhaps each organisation could have a special earmarked donation set-up for expenses for this to sponsor a voted for person
to a committee of pagan leaders. Dogma and traditions are not important here
just our visible leaders chosen by us.
Here in southern oregon, when there has been a gathering of religious
leaders, there is not one pagan, and that is because we are not wanted.
To avoid harrassment no one makes a scene. The only place that witches truly feel that they can show a presence in public are in certain cities like Ashland.
Out here in the country I sit in circles with Buddists, New Age, Native
Americans to pray and meditate. As a pagan minister that is the best I
can do. All of us are out of the mainstream, so we offer comfort to each

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