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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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| To Be Honest, Most Of The Pagans I Know Are Leaders. Here's... ||Jan 13th. at 2:17:01 am UTC|
|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 UTC|
|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 UTC|
|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 UTC|
|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 UTC|
|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.
| Personally I Feel There Are Allready Folks Out There Doing The Work... ||Jan 14th. at 3:23:48 pm UTC|
|Eric (columbus) ||Age: 31 - Email |
Personally i feel there are allready folks out there doing the work. do they need the title? Most of the good ones i've run into don't, in fact some of the people i've run into who i feel better qualify for the term leader desperately don't want the responsiblity for being public figure. As far as my personal definition of leader.. it doesn't mean some one telling us how to live our spirituality! I really feel that it is more a matter of someone being a public figure doing good work towards building more harmony and cooperation amongst the community at large. A leader may influence folks by guiding them in directions to help them find thier own spirituality. Or work on public projects for the community as a whole or wherever thier area of expertise may lay. I do feel we have had a number of craft elders pass away over the past few years. how does this leader thing work on a larger level well IMHO we will never nor should we have a single leader but i would like to see more of the craft elders and leaders working together to help smooth some of the ego conflicts that can arise and to help us present a somewhat unified fron't when the political situation requires it. Do i think that the responsibility for those things should fall in the hands of a few folks who happen to be well known ( or even proven wise leaders) NO all of us have a responsibility to work towards goals of improveing our community but it does help smooth the way if we have the help of those folks who have the name recognition to fall into that "leader" catagory
| I Think, Reading Back On The Responses So Far, That There Is... ||Jan 17th. at 3:22:37 pm UTC|
|Charlayne Elizabeth Denney (Houston, Texas US) ||Age: 43 - Email |
I think, reading back on the responses so far, that there is a misunderstanding about what a leader "is". What I got from the responses, most people are thinking that leader equates to "ruler" or head.
I think that's far from the case.
Leadership is working "in front" of a group, leading the way, learning things and passing them on to others. Leadership is stepping out, doing the work and sometimes never getting the glory for it. True leaders work to better those who are coming up behind them, not for self-agrandisement.
I teach leadership workshops at pagan events. What I usually tell the people that attend is that they need to take on leadership as a task from the Goddesses. This is service work in sacrifice to the diety and it needs to be done with the spirit that you're doing it for the Gods you follow. Leaders don't tell others what to do--they show them by doing it themselves. Walking your talk is only half of the committment, the other half is anticipating what needs doing and doing it without pointing to what it is and seeing "see what I'm doing, I'm special".
The pagan community DOES need leaders, those who will step up, do the work, further the causes and anticipate the changes and needs of the future. Leaders show the rest of us (and I have people I look up to as well) how it can be done, where the resources are, and how working to improve one corner of the universe will act to improve the entire universe.
Leadership is not dictatorial. It's actually empathetic. You have to feel what you are putting out and be receptive to how it's being recieved by those you are working with. You cannot be closed off, you have to be open and willing to take the criticisms, rumors, and other "downsides" when you step up to take the lead.
One last thing: leadership can hurt. There are always those who seek to further their own ends who will do most anything to stop a leader. From rumors to outright attacks, most leaders endure the ire of those who want the position, not the job. Leaders have to develop thick skins to be able to be effective.
Yes, the pagan community needs those who will step up and take the world on, learning lessons to pass along to those who come after. We don't need "rulers" but having a leader means not having to grope in the dark for wisdom.
| Pagan Leaders? This Is A Very Hot Topic, And Something I Would... ||Jan 21st. at 2:55:31 am UTC|
|Magus Silverwolf (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania US) ||Age: 33 - Email |
Pagan Leaders? This is a very hot topic, and something I would like to see further discussion on. Personally I feel it is time that all the various forms of Paganism come together to end the discrimination, and to educate the general public and government bodies as to our rights, beliefs, and practices. I think the term "leader" will cause many of us to balk, so how about spokesperson or representative? I feel that groups of individuals should take up a role as a spokesperson or representative, and that there should be local, regional, national, and international persons. This way if a government body needs information on Paganism they can refer to a contact person. I do not want a "leader" meaning a person who sets dogma, rules, or guidelines, but rather a representative with whom to turn to with concerns or issues.
I realize Paganism is a very diverse religion consisting of many different belief systems, but isn't it about time we all worked together to right the many wrongs pagans experience? I have heard the term Pagan Community used often, but have yet to see a true community in existence. And part of any community is a spokesperson or representative, or a leader, just like a village has an elder, who speaks on behalf of the village whenever neccessary.
So yes I feel we need "leaders" for lack of a better term. As for qualifications well knowledge is key, anyone selected to this position must know his/her pagan community its wants, needs, concerns and issues. Also very important is the person must be willing and able to be publicly recognized as a Pagan. Good communication, organizational and people skills are a must as well. Obviously further discussion is needed to determine what duties a Pagan Leader may have, and those duties will also add to the needed qualifications.
This is just my humble opinion.
Peace and Blessings!
| It Certainly Seems To Me, From Reading Over Several Of These Other... ||Jan 21st. at 6:42:38 pm UTC|
|Gregory Nacu (Kingston, Ontario CA) ||Age: 19 - Email |
It certainly seems to me, from Reading over several of these other responses, that most people agree. What a nice surprise. Most people here all want the same thing, They just have different Names for that same thing. Some people have called it, "Defender of the faith", or "park ranger of the Gods", or "representative." And the desired role of each of these different titles is the same. I have to agree, We could as a community, use a representative. One who takes the commonalities of us all and lets them just be. In other words harmonizes us, and Also gives us a person to point to during national or international Political and legal situations. In fact to me, I don't see any problem with having such a representative at all. The Problem is How one, or many representatives would ever be selected. Or how they would be replaced over time, or how we could ever get the masses of Pagans to agree on the methods used to appoint people these roles. These are all challenges that lie ahead. But I am confident that like all things that are good, This will eventually come to be. And Succeed.
| I Like The Idea Of Having A Group Of People To Represent... ||Jan 28th. at 2:50:37 am UTC|
|Raven Wind (Shakopee, Minnesota US) ||Age: 20 - Email |
I like the idea of having a group of people to represent the pagan population in government and in legal issues. Not all of us are in a position to be making legal demands and many of us still fall victim to slander and accusations. We have all hade atleest one experiance where we needed some one to turn to for help but the help we got didn't understand the situation because this person has never experianced some of the problems that you have to deal with when you are openly pagan. We could all use at some pointin time a leader with true political power. The problem with this is that many of us are afraid that if you give some one that kind of power it will eventualy be abused. Many feel that if we elect leaders of this type we are giving up some of our freedoms. I believe that both aspects are true. there is always an up and a down side. I think that alittle moreorganization will bring more good than harm and some political representation will be a large step in the right direction. We can't hide in the woods forever.
| The Answer Is Yes We Do Need Leaders If We Want To... ||Mar 26th. at 1:03:49 pm UTC|
|Levanah (Davie, Florida US) ||Age: 52 - Email |
The answer is yes we do need leaders if we want to take our place back in the world.We have seen other groups gain acceptance even tho grudgingly given by the world. We must come out of our closet. gays and Lesbians have done this with much pain but I believe if you asked them they would say it was worth it. Thier "Leaders" pointed the way of gaining acceptence and acknowledgement by organizing protests and the like not telling them how to be gay or lesbians. It is time we stopped crying about the burning times and remember our heritage which predates the 4 main monotheistic religions. We had the temples then and we should be allowed to have them again if we choose. There is no Pagan Community as I see it if all we do about prejudice against us is cry and do nothing. I remember a time in not so distance past that people brought about the close of a war, a man had a dream , and Ghandi stopped a nation. Yes there is danger in this for there is always the opportunity for corruption, but we are aware of this and we must keep vigilant. So I say lets go and unite for our individual spitituality. THE GODDESS IS ALIVE!!!!
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