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: 23 - 1/8/2001
Who or What is a "Pagan Leader"?
We hear this term bounced back and forth around the Pagan communities and some either claim to hold such a position themselves or others have labeled them as such. What qualities/qualifications do YOU think a 'Pagan leader' should possess? Do we even need Pagan leaders in the national/international sense? Does the very term 'leader' set your Pagan teeth on edge? What do Pagan leaders really DO anyway?
| Reponses: There are 61 responses posted to this question.
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| I'm Going To Answer This Question In The Broader Sense Than That... ||Jan 12th. at 7:07:17 pm EST|
|Iko (Chicago, Illinois US) ||Age: 36 - Email |
I'm going to answer this question in the broader sense than that of "who should lead my coven?" Because, quite frankly, I don't care who leads or does not lead your coven. That question is best answered by those personally involved. Play nice. I am going to answer this question in the broader sense of leadership of the Pagan community as a whole.
We do have Pagan leaders whether we like to acknowledge that fact or not. I suppose it might be easier to think of Pagan leaders as representatives. If we throw out the notion of somebody 'being in charge' and replace it with the notion of 'somebody to represent my views and interests to the greater world' it may be easier for most of us to take. One thing all of these individuals or groups (the leaders) have in common is a whole lot of selflessness. I believe this website, The Witches' Voice, is one such leader. So leadership can be in the form of an entity as well as in the form of the individuals who make up that entity. I do not think that anybody involved with the Witches' Voice said "hey lets start a website and become leaders in the Pagan community." Their leadership is a byproduct of creating such a great site. A great site, like a great leader, cannot have a hidden agenda that will survive undiscovered for long. We have leaders in our authors. Cunningham, Starhawk et al., are leaders in the sense that they wrote books that countless numbers of us have read, digested and applied to our lives and paths. None of these people wrote saying that "my way is the only way." We are free to disagree with them if we wish. Some who call themselves leaders we dislike (I have a list of so-called Pagan leaders that I wish would move to another planet) and some leaders we love (I wished they lived next door). I am sure my list of those I love and those I dislike would not exactly match up with anyone else's list, but I think there is a core of leaders (representatives) that most would agree upon. Who should not be leaders? I would say that anybody who starts out a sentence by saying, "you should listen to me because I am a Pagan leader" is somebody who should not be a leader. You can add to that list with those who call themselves leaders solely to make money, or worse those who call themselves a leader (including Witch Queen, Priestess or Priest) because they get some ego-trip from the title. Do we need leaders? I guess I can answer that question with a question: Are we better off now with the GOOD leadership (representation) that we have than we would have been without it? I do not think that anybody can truly say we are worse off. I would be one to argue that we are much better off. Who should be leaders? I think that question answers itself through the leaders we have in the community that are respected and loved by a majority of us. Of course we are all free to say so-and-so is not MY leader. Of course we are all free to attempt to become leaders if that is what we want to do. Do we need leaders? Of course we do, because we all benefit from representation. However, I worry about those who are involved with Paganism and their all-consuming day-to-day worries involve the notion that somebody out there may or may not be calling themselves a leader. These folks really need to re-think why they want to be involved with Paganism in the first place - as they at the very least are missing the point. I am sure, though I do not claim to have any first hand knowledge, that the Goddess and God really are not impressed with many of the so-called Pagan leaders out there. I am sure, though again no first hand knowledge, that They really don't give a rat's a** as to what these so-called leaders call themselves. In the end, isn't that what matters? Blessed Be.
| Hmmn... Can't Say As I Much Like To Term "pagan Leader"... A... ||Jan 12th. at 7:13:10 pm EST|
|jswolfe (worcester, Massachusetts US) ||Age: 27 |
Hmmn... Can't say as I much like to term "Pagan Leader"... a representative voice, maybe... a leader though? I wouldn't want any person "leading" my spirituality...
| Fritz And Wren Are Excellent Examples Of Pagan Leaders, Even Though I... ||Jan 12th. at 7:57:28 pm EST|
|kaelyn (Sacramento, California US) ||Age: 35 - Email |
Fritz and Wren are excellent examples of pagan leaders, even though I really dislike the term "leaders". We must each follow our own path, and I don't want anyone telling me how to do it. I think most of us feel this way. the fact of the matter is that we do need individuals who can speak effectively and articulately to the public at large. Those who can say, "These are the general principles we live by, but each of us follows our own path." I think most of us follow the Golden Rule, with a few variations here and there. It works very well. We need people who can speak publicly without getting flustered or letting some asshole push their hot buttons. I don't want these people to say they speak for all of us, or to say that their path is the "one true way", but face it our society is opening up. This is great but, with more public information comes more MIS-INFORMATION as well. It helps to have some very patient and articulate soul willing to speak about the reality of paganism without glamourizing or trivializing it. An individual who can speak in terms the general public understands, in a non-threatening manner. Do I want to appoint these people? No WAY! We do have leaders, the good ones don't have ego trips or anything else. They'll give advice, but unless they see serious danger you'll need to ask for it. Good leaders lead by example. Walk the talk. They inspire people to examine their lives and make changes for the better, all of this without being preachy. It's a tall order. But the one thing any public speaker needs to be able to communicate, we are all different. Being different, with different wants and needs is not a bad thing. Being different doesn't make right or wrong, just different.
| Do We, As A Community, Need Leaders? Yes, As A Community We... ||Jan 12th. at 8:58:11 pm EST|
|Deborah (Baltimore, Maryland US) ||Age: 22 - Email |
Do we, as a community, need leaders? Yes, as a community we need leaders. I don't believe that these leaders need a long list of qualifications or even be good public speakers. All that you need to be a leader in your community (be it pagan or not) is a strong desire to help your community and actions to back it up. Our leaders, I personally believe, SHOULD NOT be our moral or religious leaders. To attempt to do so is perhaps the biggest insult to our community that could ever be made.
I would personally say that a pagan leader is a pagan that upholds their personal belief system (wiccan or otherwise) and is active in their community at large. I think that as a community we're here to help each other and to ensure that the Earth's health improves. It would only make sense if our community leaders did the same.
| While The Idea Of A Leader Might Sound Terrible To Some, We... ||Jan 12th. at 10:39:49 pm EST|
|Aidan Odinson (Collingdale, Pennsylvania US) ||Age: 52 - Email |
While the idea of a leader might sound terrible to some, we already have them. The only one in the Craft who has never had a leader would be someone coming into the Craft already knowing everything they would need to know. And while some of us can think of some folks who might come close to meeting that description, all of us had teachers of some form, even if theteachers were authors of the books we studied. And, teachers are leaders.
But what of leaders on the national/international scale? The Roman Catholics probably find it handy to have a Pope. In addition to the Pope, there are Cardinals, Archbishops and Bishops. If George W. Bush tries to cross the path of the Roman Catholics, he knows the names of specific people who would be knocking on his door speaking for America's Roman Catholics. The same can be said for most of the mainstream religious paths. When Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, the head of the Southern Baptist Convention or the Dahlai Lama speak, people know that they are not speaking just for themselves.
The problem for us is that each of those people represent a heirarchical form of leadership which we don't have. For most of us, the local coven is what we have and that's it other than perhaps the High Priestess and High Priest of a mother coven, and even then that might not be as heirarchical as is found elsewhere.
In the same manner as we don't have a "bald guy at the pulpit, telling us what to think", we don't have bishops or superintendents "keeping us in line". And we don't need or want to be led that way!
Leaders on a national or international level would be very useful. They would also be useful at the regional, state and municipal level. But in order to have leaders, they must be leaders of something so that they can be recognized. And, the models we have to use as examples won't work for us on that scale. The existing models won't work because to use them, we would have to lose something that we can't afford to lose - like the sovereignty of the individual coven and the sovereignty of the individual solitary.
Before we can have leaders on the national or international scale, we need a new model of a structure which they can lead without shackling those they are leading.
| I Think We Do Need A Pagan Political Leader. I Don't Intend... ||Jan 12th. at 11:52:04 pm EST|
|Ryan (North of Toronto, Ontario CA) ||Age: 20 - Email |
I think we do need a Pagan political leader. I don't intend to speak for everybody but I believe that a leader of this eclectic sort, should be socially liberal while economically conservative. I like the last question, "what do they `do' anyway?" I would like to think of it this way: what have "normal" politicians done and why would our "leader" be different?
| I Guess It Would Be A Good Idea.....maybe....if You're A... ||Jan 13th. at 1:14:11 am EST|
|Winck (Breezewood, Pennsylvania US) ||Age: 25 - Email |
I guess it would be a good idea.....maybe....if you're a wiccan. When your weak minded and have no will of your own... you need a leader. I believe if you're a true Pagan you have your own path to follow not one of a leader.
| To Be Honest, Most Of The Pagans I Know Are Leaders. Here's... ||Jan 13th. at 2:17:01 am EST|
|Sia: Council Leader, Full Circle Events (Santa Clara , California US) ||Age: 42 - Email |
To be honest, most of the Pagans I know are Leaders. Here's why:
The folks here at Full Circle Events had to create the kind of group we were looking for. We started with five people who did all the work. By the end of our first year we had 30 volunteers; all hardworking, good hearted people.
By working together, we organized and hosted several great events in our first year, including a Witches Ball to benefit the Humane Society, a Solar Celebration and MUSE Camp.
Going into our second year we now know who we can count on (and, sadly, who we can't) and we've been able to expand our events list. Our Council is now able to delegate many leadership tasks to our Committee Chairs and to others in our community who possess particular skills (like our Web Builders, our Operations Staff, our Arts and Crafts teachers, our Bards and our Nature Guides). These people were often our earliest volunteers. By working closely with them we were able to assess their leadership abilities. We gave them more responsibility as time went on. We have found to our delight that we have a lot of quality people out here and that they have the talents and work ethic needed to do things well.
Nowadays, when someone says "You should do this", I say, "Great! And how are you going to help us make that happen?" Nine times out of ten, people walk away - they didn't want to be empowered or to work with others. It seems they wanted someone else to do it all for them. But the 10th person often has a great idea and the skills to pull it off. This is the person we end up working with.
We want to work with people who are responsible enough to take a project from beginning to end and who believe in giving back to our community. Most of our events are "gatherings" (we don't do rituals) and they are attended by all ages and Traditions. This means that we have to listen very carefully to what Pagans in our area want and need. If you want to be a leader you have to listen - to other people and most importantly, to your own, best instincts.
These days I am surrounded by "Leaders" and by that I mean "Doers". I love this because it takes much of the burden off of me and my Council. Our job in 2001 is to offer direction, ideas and management, to do the heavy lifting where needed and to network with others in our area. We also keep a sharp eye on the quality of our events so that our good reputation is maintained.
A word to the wise: A good Pagan leader is always willing to do the dirty, unglamorous and difficult jobs. They never ask someone to do a task that they wouldn't be willing to do themselves.
The hardest thing for FCE right now is to decide where and how we want to use our energy and to avoid being seen (or used) as "Gurus".
Thank you for asking the question - writing this answer has helped to clarify some of the thoughts I had on this subject.
| Do We As Pagans Need A Leader? I Personally Don't Think We... ||Jan 13th. at 5:35:26 pm EST|
|Callum (LYONS, New York US) ||Age: 16 - Email |
Do we as Pagans need a leader? I personally don't think we do. Besides the normal Priests and Priestesses that covens and groves have, politically I don't feel the Pagan community should have or needs a "leader". What we do need is a pagan supporter that has national/political power to help the Pagan community. Someone to help get who we are and what we do out there and in the public and government arenas. But not a person who would hold a title as a "Pagan Leader". No one needs a leader, listen to what your inner self is telling you, then do things for yourself. But if there were a person out there with power to help us in certain issues, I say find them, elect them, and communicate our concerns to them. If they need a cute little title, I'm sure government big wigs would come up with something politically correct like "Religious and Civil Rights Leiason".
| The Term "pagan Leader" Does Set My Teeth On Edge. In A... ||Jan 13th. at 6:32:55 pm EST|
|Greg Clemmer (Covington, Washington US) ||Age: 44 - Email |
The term "Pagan Leader" does set my teeth on edge. In a community where we are all in touch with our spiritual source. There is not a need for a leader. A better term would be "Defender of the Faith". Those who are respected most in the Pagan community are people who stand up for the rights of us all. They are the people who you generaly see in the public eye. As a solitary, I may not agree with the ins and outs of their specific tradition. I do hold a lot of respect for them in the pursuit of acceptance by the general community though. They are individuals who have basicaly said, " That is enough of that, I respect your path, but my Gods are as real to me, as yours are to you." I think with the coming years, we will see more and more pagans coming to that point. There are more and more of us coming out of the closet, and standing up to be counted. It is the only way we will become accepted. I came out of the closet last fall, and yes, it does have its problems. Even in an area where pagans are more accepted. But if anything, it did bring me closer to the Goddess. I fully understand why some cannot, bigotry is still rampant in some parts of this free country of ours.
| I Have No Problem With Having Pagan Leaders.any Civil Cause Is Furthered... ||Jan 13th. at 8:14:24 pm EST|
|ALR (Mentor, Ohio US) ||Age: 32 |
I have no problem with having Pagan Leaders.Any civil cause is furthered by organization with high profile leaders.It's required to be taken seriously in the political arena.This doesn't have to mean that our spirituality be organized.Only that our voice and intent in politics be a strong and mostly unified one.There are many issues that can for the most part be agreed upon. For instance anti-discrimination or environmentalism.I think it's a very strong message to ourselves and others to have consistency in political players and media contacts to convey our views and our determination to be respected as well as being an effectual group.
| Leadership Is A "hot Word" For Most Pagans, Because Our Definitions Are... ||Jan 13th. at 10:57:02 pm EST|
|Liath, Clanmother (Fairfax, Virginia US) ||Age: 29 |
Leadership is a "Hot Word" for most Pagans, because our definitions are so different on a personal level. Do we need a person telling us how to live our spirituality? Absolutely not. Do we need to be blessed, handed a map and sent merrily down a paved path? Absolutely not. Yet do we need friends and companions, with skills to help us find our way, to open paths for others, and provide safety and access for those who need it? I believe we do. I wouldn't limit the word "leader" to mean Pope or Godhead or any other narrow patriarchal reference, but rather as a "Park Ranger of the Gods" making it safe to walk our paths through the land, and lending a hand when needed. Sound silly? Perhaps. But I would rather have us lending one another a hand, than wander alone in a time of need.
We all have it in us to be leaders, and team players, even as we do our different things. I hope to do my best to lead and work as a member of our "Team" to the best of my ability.
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