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Question of the Week: 113

Pagan Problem Children: What Can We Do About Them?

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97. What Natural Objects Are On Your Altar? - [103]

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 Author:    Posted: Sep. 8, 2002   This Page Viewed: 23,458,856  

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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 

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!

Flowering Desert
Dayton, Nevada

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 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. (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.

Blessed Be,

As Our Belief System(s) Are Considered By The Present Administration To... Sep 24th. at 12:42:52 pm EDT

Starwind Evensong (Fort Lauderdale, Florida US) Age: 49 - Email

As our belief system(s) are considered by the present administration to be invalid, and in light of the dogmatic rhetoric of Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson as well as that of various far right conservatives, I believe that the Pagan community as a whole needs strong voices to make our positions on issues known.

One of the points raised to invalidate our beliefs is our lack of leadership and organization. Talk to virtually any Pagan about organization, and you'll hear the mantra "Herding Pagans is like herding cats." It is time for us to organize and speak out with a loud voice.

As is almost always the situation, Pagans are also somewhat blinded to the need for funding to bring our issues and ideas to the fore. This, I believe, is a direct result of our stubborn refusal to help fund teachers of our path - that thought which states that to learn Paganism one doesn't need to pay. While that concept may have been valid 25, 30 or even 50 years ago, in this information age everything we do has a price tag. It is unfair that we expect Pagan leadership to work unfunded. Given the large amount of contributions raised for disaster relief over the last two weeks, I believe there are many of us in the Pagan community who would contribute to a fund for leadership. Perhaps this week we could resist buying that new drum or athame - and put the money toward our leadership fund instead.

As far as 'elections' go, that's a tough nut to crack. I suspect those to be placed in 'nomination' could be culled from the lists contributed by local Pagan leaders/advocates/facilitators who would know those on a local level who will bring their voices forward to defend and state our rights. Within the current national community there are many in place, too, who might accept positions with funding. Some, such as Starhawk, are already vocal in the world community. Possibly online elections could be held - but are we, as a community prepared to dialog toward this goal? Do we share it? Or are will we continue to be that 'herd of cats?'

To Me, A Leader Is A Person That Steps Forward In Times... Sep 24th. at 12:58:39 pm EDT

Lysander (San Diego, California US) Age: 28 - Email

To me, a leader is a person that steps forward in times of crisis or tragedy and says let me help, let me take control here. I am angered when I hear Pagans crying for the leaders of the community to speak out, why must it be someone that is nationally recognized in the Pagan community, wouldn't it make just as much sense for anyone else to step up and speak? We can't rely on the writers, and web-designers to stand forward, we need to realize that we the people are the leaders. The Pagans named in the text of the email that created this question, were authors, web-designers, activists, not one would I call a true leader. Those men and women that are leaders will stand up when the time comes, do not force it, otherwise the Pagan community will end with leaders that have no ability to be leaders. It is a natural trait to lead, not a forced ability, created by some arbitrary fame derived from the sales of books, or the likeability of a web-site.

I Am Really, Truly, Not Seeing Why This Is So Damned Difficult... Sep 24th. at 1:03:41 pm EDT

Solariswind (South Charleston, West Virginia US) Age: 26 - Email

I am really, truly, not seeing why this is so damned difficult. First of all, you don't necessarily need a "leader", only a person or group of people willing to be representatives. And it doesn't have to be just one person or group that all pagans agree on. There are a number of pagan organizations out there that are more than capable of doing this, and ostensibly WANT to be representatives, according to them. In fact, I continue to be surprised and disappointed at the organizations that have not come forward in this time of tragedy - namely, COG, The Church of All Worlds, CUUPS, The New Reformed Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids (I think I got that right), Circle, just to name a few. What we should be doing is demanding why these organizations haven't been more public, despite their professing otherwise over the years. We as pagans already have representatives; these organizations have made themselves our representatives, and I believe they should be accountable for that. Since they haven't been more public, then perhaps we as pagans can get off our butts, individually, and come together in our communities, and make it happen ourselves. While I still feel many pagan organizations have a responsibility to the pagan community at large, we as pagans are responsible for ourselves, and really, instead of complaining about it, we should all just do something about it.

I'm A Solitary Christo Pagan Still In The Learning Phase. The Main... Sep 24th. at 1:09:33 pm EDT

Ciarrai (Cental NJ, New Jersey US) Age: 34

I'm a Solitary Christo Pagan still in the learning phase. The main attraction to Paganism for me was the fact that there is no leader, there is no Pope, there is no minister that preaches to me. If that's what I wanted, I never would have leaned in this direction. I call myself "Christo Pagan" because every book I've read told me that I do not have to completely abandon the faith in which I was raised. I was such a "cafeteria Catholic" (one that picks and chooses which aspects of the faith I liked the best). Studying Paganism could actually teach me to be a better Catholic if that's what I wanted. But it's nice that I can acknowledge Christ as God and acknowledge Cerrunnos as God because they are all God. I can acknowledge Mary as Goddess as she should be by all as well as Bridget and they are all Goddess. I can look to the Old Testament and appreciate the Psalms, I can look the New Testament and appreciate that Jesus was the Son of Man that certainly treated woman better than the way they were written about by the people that wrote the Bible. Yet I can read a Book of Shadows and feel the same thing. I can cast a circle in my living room or on my balcony outside as I did for the first time on 14 September. I can pray the way I was taught as well as the way that I am learning. It's beautiful and it is amazing therapy for me. Paganism itself is helping me to cope. Don't get me wrong -- I'm glued to the television, and I probably am drinking more than I should (OK, I am drinking more than I should), and smoking tons of cigarettes too. But a lot of people are doing that.

I'm sure it is very hard to find a Coven, but I'm sure that ideally there is much leadership to be found in our High Priest/tesses. I'm sure that they in turn find leadership from the junior members of their Covens.

I was very grateful to see that the Witches' Voice put up the Forum for us without any stipulations about how many times we post (sheesh, I probably posted about 7 times!) Of course they didn't want to have anything negative. That goes against The Rede -- isn't that what it is all about!

If I wanted to be preached or wanted to follow, I would have remained an active Roman Catholic, or joined a fundamentalist church if I wanted to take it to the maximum extreme. But Paganism isn't about that. At least not to me.

There's a lot of people that I look up to and hope to find answers -- my boyfriend, my friends, my family, some co-workers. I'm anxious to see what the Big Name Pagans have to say, of course I am. But I was also interested in what the Pope had to say. I was interested in what Howard Stern had to say! I actually didn't get POed when someone forwarded me what Billy Graham had to say. I'm very interested in what our President has to say. All of the other religious leaders that spoke at Liberty State Park yesterday all had nice things to say. Oprah Winfrey had nice things to say at Yankee Stadium, and Bette Midler gave me comfort by the sound of her voice.

I guess this newbie Pagan is the same old fashioned girl that she was when she was still a full blown Roman Catholic. I don't think we need to change anything. There's plenty to admire in the world. We shouldn't be jealous just because there wasn't a Big Pagan Person sitting next to a Big Jewish Person or a Big Christian Person.

Peace Out & Blessed Be!

PS: Now Isaac Bonewit's spell suggestion, now, there's leadership for you! That's all a newbie like me needs. I'll follow that for sure!

I Think That We Do Not Need A Leader. I Think That... Sep 24th. at 1:12:58 pm EDT

Moonfaery (Albuquerque, New Mexico US) Age: 25 - Email

I think that we do not need a leader. I think that it would make it too hard on those that are solitary. If you are in a coven then you have a leader. I love being solitary and not having someone to lead me. I read the VOX and get all of my information from them and my various stores that I shop at. I could not imagine Pagans having a leader like the Pope. I think that if you were looking for someone to lead you last week then you should have looked inside yourself and to your Gods. We are not a conventional religion like the rest. Last week I wasn't thinking were are our leaders. I was thinking wow look at all of the postings from Pagans all over giving their condolences and making suggestions about vigils and prayers. I was impressed with all of the ideas that came up. I was in awe at all of the organized prayers. I know that I participated in a organized ritual at 7:00pm on the day of the attack. I do not think that the people who were complaining that we didn't have a leader would even participate in elections, dues, and events. I think that they were just angry people looking to blame and vent at someone so they choose us. I love pagans the way that we are. Please don't change anything

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