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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| I Don't Think The Major Problem In This Situation Is "where Are... ||Sep 30th. at 1:16:09 pm EDT|
|Heather H (Port Orchard, Washington US) ||Age: 30 |
I don't think the major problem in this situation is "where are the pagan leaders?". They're out there, leading circles and rituals in every city. I think the problem is with the media. We have not been the only religion ignored in the wake of the terrorist attacks. All I see on the news, in the papers and on the radio are representatives of the Judeo-Christian-Islamic trimuverate. No Buddists. No Hindus. No Athetists. No Agnostics. No Pagans. It is as if after the attacks all of the other religions disappeared off of the media's roadmap. Even if we did have chosen representatives for Pagans and Wiccans, they would never get any air time on the news. I'm sure the major authors and speakers for Paganism HAVE tried to get their feelings published or aired but have been whole-heartedly rebuffed. This probably has as much to do with the fact that most of us (but not all) are pacifists as it does with us not being part of the established triumverate. They do not want to hear anything from people who are not part of the Status-Quo, whether they be pacifists, Buddists, Hindus, Atheists or Pagans.
| I Have Been A Member Of The Pagan Community For 10 Years... ||Sep 30th. at 1:24:09 pm EDT|
|Gilgames (Detroit, Michigan US) ||Age: 25 - Email |
I have been a member of the Pagan community for 10 years, and so I speak with only a sophomoric voice, but whatever. Lets face it, crack dealers, the KKK, and NAMBLA are more organized than the Pagan community. That's kind of the way it has to be. The idea of following your own road is what Paganism is all about. Personally, I would be afraid that a national Pagan leader would receive so little support from the Pagan community that s/he would appear a commical figure. I think the best we could hope for would be a "Council of Elders" like thing with a spokes-person, but even a council would be questionable. Bottom line: Without some real support base, a Pagan leader or council would look like a kook / a bunch of kooks. And if our leader looks like a kook, we look like kooks. It is too early for a Pagan leader to emerge, it would cause more harm than good.
| I Think This Could Be A Good Idea, But Find One To... ||Sep 30th. at 2:00:46 pm EDT|
|scott sharp (patchogue, New York US) ||Age: 30 |
I think this could be a good idea, but find one to fit the bill will be hard.
I found that to many have there own reason's for doing thing and not for the good of all. Maybe there is one or more who could do this job but it will take alot.
| I Think That There Should Be People Who Are Standing As The... ||Sep 30th. at 2:59:23 pm EDT|
|Scarlet B. Decker (Jesup, Georgia US) ||Age: 17 - Email |
I think that there should be people who are standing as the representatives of Pagans/Witches/ and Wiccans in a community. I am torn, however. In my town, which is Jesup, GA., almost the entire percentage of people who live here are EXTREME SOUTHERN CHRISTIANS and if anyone exists who thinks differently, they are quick to be deemed as bad people. I have come out to only a coulpe of people. My heart wants to stand on top of the Town Hall and scream out to the world in joy, that I am a witch. And that the God and Goddess are alive and well, and are all around us! Yet in this town, I would be labled as an evil person, and all those who found out would tell their children and friends to stay away from me. I am a senior in High School, that would be hard, and life changing. I am also falling in love with someone who is a Christian, and if he was to find out that I was the way I am, then it would be hard for him to handle the extreme difference, plus his parents would tell him to stay away form him. I am afraid of losing him, thus I keep quiet. Yet, I know that the day will come when he asks me something about religon and I will tell him the truth. I do stand up for witches. When a comment is made that bashes any other religon I say something about it. I then make a powerful statement by leaving the room, when people begin to talk badly about other religons or race, and tell them that that is why I am leaving. I will be a leader in my town, when the time comes, I will be there for those who seek guidence or friendship. I may not know all that there is about the craft, but I will offer up all that I can. I really do support the idea of leaders in the public eye, who are Pagans, and etc. I would love to see a Pagan leader interviewed about what he or she thinks, along with Catholics, Christians, and all the other religous leaders when something happens.
I hope the time is soon.
| Dear Friends, First, Let Me Send Out Blessings To Those Whose Lives... ||Sep 30th. at 4:20:17 pm EDT|
|Jeremey Beasley (Hot Springs, Arkansas US) ||Age: 17 - Email |
First, let me send out blessings to those whose lives now have something missing. I, for one, am deeply troubled by the events of the past two weeks. I'm only 17, and was sitting in my American Studies class at the Arkansas School for Math and Science when I heard the news. Appropriate class, don't you think? My teachers had and do have many thoughts about this tragedy, but one thing that was never mentioned, and has yet to be mentioned, is how pagans are dealing with this. It seems a great tragedy that in our time of need we have no one to turn to. This does push us inward and let us rethink ourselves, but at the same time, we should have someone out there that we can turn to. No doubt, many of you look up to those people mentioned in "An Open Letter to Pagans" and would consider these people the closest thing we have to national leaders. Indeed, these people are the closest we come to having national leaders, but are they enough? We, as American citizens, have rights just as other citizens do, but the few groups that we have to look after those rights (even though they bust their asses constantly. Thanks guys!!) aren't enough to support the growing pagan community.
Now you say to me "what can we do?" "Give us the answers??" The truth is, I do not have the answers. If I did, then I would be a national leader, would I not? I do realize that we need money to run these things, and I do realize that there is a mound of red tape involved here, but isn't it worth it? To those who think that we don't need national leaders please humor me. I am perfectly content with seeking the Goddess and God for my comfort in times like this, but I am still outraged that we have to sit in the background and let the world bypass us. In the larger perspective, we should have people standing up for those of us who can't stand up for ourselves. Why haven't the leaders stepped up for us? I can definitely attest that I would be willing to contribute money to a solution and I'm only 17!!!! A time is coming when more and more people will need these representatives. Yes, it is going to be hard work and it will take a lot of money, time, and effort. Nevertheless, in truth, I believe that this is what being Pagan is all about. Fighting for what is right and for what belongs to us. If we do not do this then we are letting those who would have us wiped from this planet win.
In conclusion, I will say that I cannot blame anyone for this. We, as a community, have come to a stage when growth is required. Now we must see if that growth is possible, or if we should give up. I will not give up. I know there are others like me, others who believe that we can change a totally unacceptable paradigm. I will not point fingers at those people who are prominent in pagan society today; it is not their fault. Why should they have been the ones to step up? They are only trying to help us in the ways that they can and politics may not be for them. Granted that these people would be the most obvious people to elect to the position, but it was never their job to combat something like this. Most of them are only writers. They didn't expect to be thrust into the spotlight, and we shouldn't expect them to take this particular initiative. This is something that we must all do collectively.
Please keep this in mind.
Blessed be to you all
| As Far As Who These Leaders Should Be- I Don't Know. As... ||Sep 30th. at 5:09:25 pm EDT|
|Hawk Firestorm (Jenkintown, Pennsylvania US) ||Age: 24 - Email |
As far as who these leaders should be- I don't know. As to how they should be elected, again, I don't know. I think that the one(s) chosen should be Solitaries, unassosiated with any formal school so as to avoid any claims of 'favoritism', but certianly, there should be someone who is able to serve as a figurehead, if not for us (isn't part of what we are supposed to be not NEEDING a Pope or other analogous person?) then at least for the Rest Of The World to see.
'Mundanes' are not used to accepting a group that doesn't use a structured heirearchy, nor accepted 'leaders', as was illustrated by the 'open letter.' If only for PR reasons, we need to have someone who is quick thinking, but lacking in a personal agenda (no politicians please!) and quite possibly perceived by most people as being about as threatening as a mouse. This person or people also need to have a firm underatanding of the commoon principles of as many pagan paths as possible- WITHOUT beleiving that any is superior to any others. Thus, the Solitary qualification.
I think it waould be nice to have both a male and female figurehead, as that is a relative constant on most paths, as well as having two people making the stress load a little less for either. There is also the bonus of a check-and-balance inherent in the idea. (division of labor and all that)
I know many Pagans will not like the idea of Leaders, but a comprimise must be reaced for our own survival.
| The Whole Base Of "pagan" Is Looking To Nature And Self To... ||Sep 30th. at 6:25:24 pm EDT|
|David and Cassie (Middleburg, Florida US) ||Age: 19 |
The whole base of "Pagan" is looking to nature and self to find truth not the words of man. Who cares about mainstreaming Paganism? What's the point? Look what happened when Christianity became mainstream. Now many people claim to be a Christian and don't even understand what it means.A "leader" would be put in a place of high power, and power too often leads to corruption.Do we really want to be like the Christians?Have some leader out talking to everyone about our religion?That could easily lead to preaching, brainwashing(young kids who aren't old enough to make such decisions would see this leader and want to be like them, Just like what happens in Christianity:Get em while they're young).I don't think this should even be an issue.There shouldn't be a leader.What happens If the leader gets too greedy from all the money, goes against the beliefs, or becomes the target of media hatred?We know how ignorant Christian people can be, and most of the population is Christian.The media would most likely try to make Paganism look negative, all the church people would come out and protest.Do we really need all the trouble?NO.
| It Is Time That The Pagan Community Got Its Act Together. We... ||Sep 30th. at 6:38:56 pm EDT|
|Jim Oakey (nORTHWEST, Oregon US) ||Age: 44 |
It is time that the Pagan Community got its act together. We are the fastest growing religion (spirituality) in the country. I would say we outnumber the fundementalist. BUt we have no economic or political power. That has to stop.
It is up to us to spread earth conciousness, this is not a game we are playing, the fate of our world and that of our children's is at stake. We have to "mainstream our ideas so that Gaia does not get so ill she has to boot us humans off.
| I Find It Very Unlikely That We Would Ever Agree On One... ||Sep 30th. at 6:46:57 pm EDT|
|Danielle .L (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania US) ||Age: 22 |
I find it very unlikely that we would ever agree on one or even a hand full of leaders. I don't think this should stop those who are well known or, even those who aren't, from speaking out and supporting our coumunity. We may be of different traditions, but I know we should let our voice be heard. To do this I don't think we need one or a handfull of leaders to do so. We all need to speak out. Every one of us needs to support those in need, those who hurt.
At some point news stations every where were asking people what they thought or how they felt. If we find that we are not being heard, everyone of us should stand up and make ourselves be heard. We don't need leaders to do this, we all have voices, we need to use them. Everyday people can do amazing things, all we have to do is try. Reach out your hand to the person next to you . That is support. Volunteer if you can , do what you can. That is support. We are our own leaders. We all need to take that step.
| I'm Not Sure About A National Or Even International Leadership. One Of... ||Sep 30th. at 7:22:48 pm EDT|
|Conor (Dublin, Iran) ||Age: 23 |
I'm not sure about a national or even international leadership. One of the reasons that Pagan religions have survived through millenia, amidst constant persecution is that we all have such freedom of belief and practise. It would be difficult for anyone to represent us all as our beliefs vary so much (bar a few core ones). I know for myself anyway (don't know if anyone agrees) not having a leadership is one of the reasons there has never been factions or splits in paganism. Nearly every other faith, all who apparently deplore and forbid violence have at some time been engaged in arguements or Holy wars. Pagans never have because no senior figure has ever tried to set any Dogma or base that we all MUST believe in. We have always lived free of structure and so we are more flexible, I think that is part of our strenght. Lol, just my humble opinion.
As for comforting our brothers and sisters, even solitaries like myself know or can easily find out where the nearest Grove or Coven to us is. We always have and always will support each other. Comfort is only a phonecall/e-mail or drive away.
If it did come electing a Leadership I think the elections would be extremely hard to organise as there is no listing or register of Pagans anywhere. No one knows acurately how many of us there are. They probably couldn't be held anywhere public because so many of us still hide our faith for fear of persecution for our beliefs.
| Leaders? No! Spokespeople/representatives? Yes! After All, Without Any Spokesperson, We Will... ||Sep 30th. at 7:45:47 pm EDT|
|Luinwen (Altamonte Springs, Florida US) ||Age: 46 |
Leaders? No! Spokespeople/representatives? YES! After all, without any spokesperson, we will never be truly heard, and when we are not heard, we are misunderstood. It is important, however, that the "spokespeople" reiterate that pagans subscribe to widely-variant belief structures, and should keep their language accordingly "neutral" in that regard. The really difficult task would lie in how to select those spokespeople who could responsibly speak in a generic-sense for the community at large, without allowing their personal beliefs to taint the bigger picture. With all the wonderful creative energies that I've seen in the pagan world, however, I believe that we could arrive at an equitable solution, if we just work together!
| In Reading The Reactions Posted Here, I See One Thing Pointed At... ||Sep 30th. at 8:46:18 pm EDT|
|Ciaraine (Amarillo, Texas US) ||Age: 24 |
In reading the reactions posted here, I see one thing pointed at repeatedly. The immense difficulty in finding someone appropriate for the position of figurehead. Personally, I like the suggestion someone made of a balanced pair of male and female handling the load. I also agree that this would best be served by a solitary who is well-versed on the diverse paths of Paganism. I'm not sure how we could choose such individuals, after all, most of us are quiet, happy to talk to one another, but rather uncomfortable in exposing ourselves to the ridicule of the ignorant.
The truth is ladies and gents that the reason why there hasn't been any mention of Paganism (outside of those like Falwell) is because most people don't know we exist. Plain and simple. We are quiet, we gather in out of the way places in the wild, have shops that are generally mistaken to belonging to crystal worshippers and other smaller religions, and we don't talk much even when we are seen in the public. The only outward showings of Paganism have occured at the annual DC event around Samhain and when something bad happens. (such as the conflict between Bob Barr and the community a few years ago) Otherwise, we stay hidden. I'm not sure that this is a good thing or not.
I do know that leadership could solve most of the problems facing the Pagan world today. Personally, I would choose a person out of each major tradition and try to balance it with men and women. Form a council and go from there. I would most definitely say that we wouldn't want the obvious choices for leaders. Choosing the quiet the thoughtful, the carefully spoken pagan should take priority over the boisterous. Not because of any superiority of either, but because a thoughtful person would better serve the way that we as a group choose to be represented. Be assured that this person would be forced to field some difficult and odd questions. After all, we've heard some doozies online from people trying to understand.
anyway, My point is that we aren't noticed because we haven't done enough to be known. Yes, we organize Pagan Pride Days and whatnot, but how many of us talk about our beliefs with others on a day-to-day basis? Most of us, simply dodge the issue when it comes up, and that's okay, but someone has to be open about it and be willing to talk thoughtfully with others.
Brightest Blessings upon all,
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