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 Am A Solitary Witch , By Choice And The Reason Is I... ||Sep 24th. at 10:45:51 am EDT|
|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 EDT|
|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 EDT|
|Celeborn (Marietta , Georgia US) ||Age: 46 |
ÒBe 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 otherÕs 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 ÒThat 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 EDT|
|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 EDT|
|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
| You Are Right About The Practical Problems With Having A Pagan "leader... ||Sep 24th. at 11:23:37 am EDT|
|Bridgite (Cherry Valley, Illinois US) ||Age: 53 - Email |
You are right about the practical problems with having a pagan "leader" to speak for us but as I watched the prayer ceremony yesterday (September 23) on television I longed for any pagan spokesperson. I thought how wonderful it would be to have a gentle comforting soul speak for us and acknowledge our differences within the community (not necessarily as an official spokesperson)but our one heart for the healing we all need. It could have been simple but profound. Maybe a group of "leaders/pagans" within the community could gather (by email?) to write something that one of them would deliver publically. Are we so peevish that it has to be an elected spokesperson. Can't anyone speak? My parents are Catholic and they didn't appoint the person who spoke for Cathoics to speak for them. Did anyone ask if we (pagans) could be included in the Prayer Ceremony yesterday? Would we have been accepted if they had/did? Is it too late to put in front of the public (radio, newspapers, tv) some type of pagan acknowledgment by any gentle soul? I am grateful that we are at least asking the questions. That is the first step toward finding answers.
| The Worst Thing We Can Do Is Turn Our Spirituality Into A... ||Sep 24th. at 11:24:13 am EDT|
|Brian Bonner (Farmington, New Mexico US) ||Age: 39 |
The worst thing we can do is turn our spirituality into a political organization. Religion should not be political anymore than ones sexual preference.
| I Believe That If The Pagan Community Is To Be Taken Seriously... ||Sep 24th. at 11:40:27 am EDT|
|Truthseeker (Winter Park, Florida US) ||Age: 52 |
I believe that if the Pagan community is to be taken seriously by the rest of the world we need present some sort of unified front. In this case VISABILITY = CREDITABILTY. If we are to assume our rightful position in society we need to participate in the workings of society. It is very difficult for the world at large to take Paganism seriously when we remain in the shadows. LetÕs face it most people do not even know we exist. The time has come for all of us to come out of the broom closet and make ourselves known.
To give an example of what I mean let us look at the past few weeks. The question has been raised where are our leaders? But, it goes deeper then that. The further question is, where is the Pagan contribution to the relief effort? Now I know that most Pagans are kind and compassionate people (some of the best). However, given our current organization or better yet lack of it, there is no way for the rest of the world to see and understand that. The reality of the situation is that until we have a real presence in our communities, nation and the world we will remain smoke and vapor to others.
As to the second part of this question, how do we go about gaining this presence, it is not something that can be done over-night. One answer may be to form a national council with representatives from the states or regions. However, before this can be accomplished, we must first organize at the local level. Now that does in way mean that we need to standardize our worshiping practices. It does mean that we need to establish community centers, food banks and other such enterprises under the Pagan banner. Local ÒhouseÕs of worshipÓ are not out of the question either. Local covens and circles could share a location (and cost) to be used for meetings and in which to cast circles. Perhaps, taking turns hosting the major holidays. In this manner we will not only show ourselves to the rest of the world but also learn much about each other. Once this local presence is established we can then look to the formation of a National Council and a national presence.
As for funding said council, we do it the same way other religions do it pass the plate. If we are to have a future as an accepted member of society we need to invest in it.
| I Weep, But Not From Shame That None Of The More Famous... ||Sep 24th. at 12:02:14 pm EDT|
|April Patterson (Datyon, Nevada US) ||Age: 35 - Email |
I weep, but not from shame that none of the more famous pagans among us were not seen or mentioned at any national gathering. I weep with pride. Pride that pagans are strong within themselves. Strong enough to focus their energies on their own without having a designated leader tell them that they should do so. Proud, that without the obvious "sight" of a "pagan leader" all of us pray, reach out and do all that is within our own personal power to protect ourselves and our loved ones.
No, there may not have been a single tarot reading, a channeling or a powerful vision to warn us of this hideous act of terrorism. Come to think of it, I don't think anyone had any real warning of any of the crimes that were commited during the Burning Times, either. Sad, tragic, horrible, and a part of reality. Great good and great evil both exist. Not too often do we get a clear cut forcast of either one of those two energies.
No, I do not weep because I didn't see a pagan leader that I recognized, I weep from pride in all humans, no mater their religion, that show compassion, sensitivity and courage at any level. I became pagan because I realized that I am strong, that I do not need a leader to show me the way, that I am responsible for all of my own actions. While I may rejoice in finding other pagans that share some of my views, that speak out or use their talents in some way that benefits all and thence gives them some sort of recognition, I do not need a leader to lead me. I see my path and know well within myself where to find strength, courage, and compassion.
Fritz, Wren, and all the staff of the Witches' Voice, I thank you for the forum you provide us to share our opinions. Bright Blessings to all of you!
| I Am Not Sure Where I Stand On This, But If We... ||Sep 24th. at 12:10:48 pm EDT|
|Akima (Gorham, Maine US) ||Age: 30 - Email |
I am not sure where I stand on this, but IF we did have a Pagan leader, I think it would be best to have more of a council, not an individual. One problem I see with this though is this; If we had leaders of the Pagan faiths, how could he/she/they possibly represent all Pagans, when the Pagan views are as vast as the amount of Pagans themselves? There are SO many paths that are considered Pagan. Celtic, hellenic, druid, egiptian, eclectic......etc. etc.
Sure we can all agree to peace, freedom, and all other basic morals, but I believe that any one decision made by Pagan leaders FOR and in representation of all Pagans, will without a doubt step on many Pagan toes. Hopefully this is an incorrect thought, but I don't think it is.
One more comment: On the letter, how does one label people such as Wren and Fritz, Laurie Cabot, and anyone else in the community a LEADER? Although they probably posess the credibility and wisdom to be so, I have never heard any of them claim to be or ask to be a leader. These wonderful people are here to help Pagans, not direct them. I myself recently looked into some info n classes offered by Laurie, and another wonderful Pagan that works for Laurie, and the reason is because of my deep respect for Laurie, not because I am looking for a spokesperson or a leader. Indeed these people would probably be the best candidates, but they niether asked for or need the responsibilty. Love and Light
| Considering The Idea Of A Pagan Leader Of Any Sort Opens Up... ||Sep 24th. at 12:31:02 pm EDT|
|Sunfell (Little Rock, Arkansas US) ||Age: 41 - Email |
Considering the idea of a Pagan leader of any sort opens up a whole can of very interesting and very tangled worms. You see, in doing such an unprecedented thing, we would have to face facts that we haven't been able to face or address for the nearly 30 years that Paganism in its various forms has been climbing into the mainstream. Here are some things to consider- housecleaning, if you will:
Opportunistic Ego Surfers. You know who they are. Are they REALLY qualified, or do they see the Craft in its various forms as a quick and easy way to achieve noteriety where there isn't a system of qualification? Think about this: if the mainstream denominations had as 'open' a qualification process, don't you think they'd be there instead?
Qualification. Yes, we have lots of books. And anyone can make themselves High Poobah of anything they want. Just add fancy robes.
Witch Wars. We're going through a very rough adolescence. Historical evidence shows that many mainstream faiths went through such a time also. Many warring sects, many people pointing fingers, many delicate egos getting the air let out of them, predatory people taking advantage of the chaos...it isn't a pretty picture. How can such a fractious bunch of people get along long enough to gel into maturity where leaders can emerge? Go and study the early days of Christianity, if you don't believe me.
Independent people. I can herd my cats. It is as easy as making them believe that I believe that they are the center of the universe. I don't have the time, patience or energy to play that silly game with each person I run into. A mental paradigm shift needs to occur. Yes, we ALL are the 'center of the universe', if we all understand that god/dess is within us all. Either we stand together, or we fall apart.
Credibility. If we publically tear each other down over tiny points of ritual and observance, how the heck are we going to gain the respect of outsiders? It would be like trying to take a playground posse seriously. Put yourself in 'their' shoes. Would you take 'us' seriously if you were 'them'? The Prairie Home Companion made fun of this tendancy to nitpick back in June. http://phc.mpr.org/performances/20010623/index.shtml (1:09:43 after intermission)
Once burned, twice learned. My own experience with the mainstream media 16 years ago taught me to keep a very low profile. Many people who would be qualified as spokespeople or leaders have suffered the slings, arrows, and burns of exposure to the mainstream, and subsequent problems in their own jobs and communities. Anyone setting themselves up as the 'media mouth' had better have a tough hide, quick wit, deep background, a secure job, and a carefully hidden address. There are people out there who hate us for being who we are, and would be more than happy to do us harm.
A pretty grim picture, wouldn't you say? I sincerely believe that we must get out own house(s) in order before we can present a truly united face to the world. In other words, we have a lot of soul searching and growing up to do. Let's get with it.
| My Thoughts On This Issue Are That A Representative Or Small Council... ||Sep 24th. at 12:31:23 pm EDT|
|Jon (Leavenworth, Kansas US) ||Age: 23 - Email |
My thoughts on this issue are that a representative or small council of representatives would be very useful.
We are constantly saying that we want to recognized as a real religion by the government and the communities around us. For this to happen though people need to be able to hear from us as a group, they don't want to hear from a thousand different people saying things a thousand different ways. We need someone to speak our popular opinions. I think one of the main things that hold us back is that we are not organized enough yet. We have organized groups, but many of them and they don't all communicate. Most other religions keep their groups and congregations communicating with each other. People view us as unorganized and that is why we often aren't taken seriously. I don't think I need to get into the benefits of having a national representative, the major issue is how to fund this.
If we all signed up under the representative group and gave a dollar a month it would be funded quite a bit there. If only 10, 000 signed up that is $10, 000 a month for funding I am sure more people would sign up than that and some might donate more. Myself I could send 5 to 10 dollars a month. This would also keep us listed for better contact lists and finding people in the community. We would be able to send our opinions to the rep or reps and they would be able to speak for the popular opinions. Polls could be taken on issues through mail or a website. Communication between groups could be so much better. This is a very small amount of money each month for all the things that would become possible. Most churches expect members to tithe 15 to 30 dollars a month. We don't need to donate quite as much since we don't have churches to maintain. I do think this could be a good thing though.
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