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 Would Like To Say That I Think We Pagans Would Benifit... ||Sep 24th. at 5:41:55 pm EDT|
|j.hunter (near Santa Cruz, California US) ||Age: 50 - Email |
I would like to say that I think we Pagans would benifit from having NATIONAL SPOKESPEOPLE (instead of NATIONAL LEADERS) that were chosen through a widely circulately forum. We already have many Witches who spend large amounts of their time and energy reaching outside of their Witch communities to educate, inform and share spirit with those of other faiths. Much of this work is currently being promoted by CoG (Covenant of the Goddess), an international organization founded more than 23 years ago. As I understand it, CoG was founded with the intent to provide connection, community, inter-faith outreach and legal protection for all Witches. I understand that CoG also has created a leadership group over the years that could provide us with some those SPOKESPEOPLE I have mentioned. CoG has a well-defined and careful fashion in which Elders are designated. It also occationally goes through times of 'unrest', as any large organization will, however the charter of this group is seems solid to me and for those who know not of it...please take a look at www.cog.org as this may be a place to find some of the answers to our leadership questions.
I would also like to suggest that any Witch who campaigns heavily and "really wants the job" be disqualified from the postion based on the concept that anyone who wants it that badly may be operating from a desire for power rather than a desire to serve. Perhaps establishing a large group of SPOKESWITCHES through a huge forum vote and then creating a smaller core group of three *rotating* postions of SPEAKER within the SPOKESWITCHES group might serve us well. Just a thought...
| I Am Not Sure We Need "pagan Leaders" As Much As "pagan... ||Sep 24th. at 5:48:43 pm EDT|
|KatSai (Newark, Delaware US) ||Age: 39 |
I am not sure we need "Pagan Leaders" as much as "Pagan Voices" which are heard beyond the confines of forums such as TWV. We have prominent voices in our community, but we cannot depend on them to carry the rest of us. Who among the anonymous masses approached the media to express a Pagan perspective? I confess that I did not.
And do we know if any of our more public, prominent voices offered to speak, but were cast aside or shut out by the media or the government?
I do not have ready solutions for establishing an acknowledged national or global presence. Perhaps we should look at other groups (religious and secular) to see how they have handled their diversity - the Unitarian Universalist Association comes to mind immediately as an outstanding example.
Until (and unless) we do establish a central voice (or leadership), each one of us must strive to ensure Pagan voices are heard. Write to the media, write to the government, speak at open-minded churches or other public venues (and yes, I have done the latter). One voice, joined by another, and another, and another, will soon raise a sound that cannot be ignored. If you cannot be public (and having a friend whose lawn was set alight by a KKK cross-burning, I fully understand and appreciate this), perform your rituals and spells, write letters anonymously, give whatever financial support you can to open Pagan organizations . . . lend any help you safely can.
More than anything else, however, we must recognize that change does not come overnight, and the larger the scale, the longer it takes, and the more patient we must be. In order to gain widespread recognition, we may need to give a little on our rampant individuality. An advocate, a "Voice" for Pagans cannot be only at our convenience - it must be constant and consistent, or not at all.
| I Dont Have Too Much To Say On The Topic Except That... ||Sep 24th. at 6:12:55 pm EDT|
|Shane (Dublin, Ireland, Ireland) ||Age: 20 - Email |
I dont have too much to say on the topic except that i disagree with any form of broad national pagan leadership. Wicca has always prided itself on the fact that it's not autoritarian or structured, and hence clostraphobia-inducing and overbearing (ie Catholic Church-style). We have always been proud of the fact that each pagan is his or her own priest/ess, empowered by their own connection to the Gods. It's understandable that the the writer of the open letter regarding Pagan Leadership during the attacks would feel this way at this time, but i feel the author is obviously missing the whole point of the individuality of paganism. It's all very well during "peace time" to spout on about not needing leadership and all that, but all that comes to nothing when at a time of crisis your beliefs concerning this issue are put to the test and found lacking. What's the point in being proud about the pagan dislike for national leadership when as soon as something happens that challenges this you find yourself too weak-minded to be your OWN spiritual leader? The reason we've heard so much of other faiths' leaders on the airwaves is because they are trying to get their followers through these days using the methods of their own faiths, by talking to them, showing them their strenght and leadership. Pagans are supposed to be getting through these days too, using the methods of THEIR own faith. We're not supposed to rely on leaders, we rely on ourselves. Sure, by all means band together as individuals for support, but dont rally around some pagan author and placing them on a high stool above you and start expecting them to show you guidance. Pagans are supposed to be intelligent people. Find your *own* guidance and dont bother about what other faiths think of the lack of authorititative pagan voices, we deal with things our own unique way.
| Right. These Well Known "name" Pagans Are The Same People Who Can't... ||Sep 24th. at 6:17:33 pm EDT|
|LadyHawke, the Mythmaker (Central NY, New York US) ||Age: 39 - Email |
Right. These well known "name" Pagans are the same people who can't even publish a book or an article without dozens of fellow Pagans bashing the hell out of them in every conceivable forum, the more public, the better. They call for boycotts of their work (threatening their very livelihood, ) accuse them of "selling out" and rip them to shreds.
These are the "leaders" who are supposed to come running to fore when disaster strikes? Let's assume they DID get invited by the press to comment on the disaster. (Which we all know didn't happen.) If any one of them had even hinted that their thoughts represented those of the Pagan Community, certain segments of said Pagan Community would have crucified them. =Joyfully= crucified them, relishing every bloody moment of it, if past crucifixions are anything to judge by.
Yeah. I'd come running claiming to represent those who so enjoy flaying me alive if I were them. NOT.
| I Am A Solitary. I Am So By Choice Because When I... ||Sep 24th. at 7:09:14 pm EDT|
|Michaelthe9 (Torrance, California US) ||Age: 44 |
I am a solitary. I am so by choice because when I disagree with decisions that are made at some kind of an organizational level I feel that I should be up there participating in the decisions. It is like, "If you think you can do a better job, step on up." I don't want to step on up. Politics in our path can be erosive. I do not need erosion. I have seen enough of what power does to otherwise beautiful relationships. I feel that we do not need a National Pagan Leader. I feel that it would be fantastic if some pagans went to certain events and made it known that they are coming as pagans. That is not to say that they would be representing the pagan community as self-appointed representatives. Rather, they would providing their silent strength simply by being there. There is no need in my eyes to join the pissing contest.
What about solitary's comfort/representation? As a solitary, it is my responsibility to have as much networking as I see necessary to keep conected. If I don't feel "Represented" in some fashion, maybe I should not be a solitary. Maybe I should join a coven to have a greater sense of representation. My choice. No one need feel that they need to represent me. Solitary means simply that: alone and without companions. My Choice. I know that the Lord and Lady are with me. Silent courage is what it takes to work from behind the scenes. No recognition and no representation. It is okay with me. As far as comfort goes, I feel comfort in my path and connection with others that share the same and similar paths.
| Pagan Leader?....i Believe The Concept Of "spokesperson" Has Been Mentioned. We... ||Sep 24th. at 7:28:04 pm EDT|
|Cameron MacLaren (Pensacola, Florida US) ||Age: 36 - Email |
Pagan Leader?....I believe the concept of "spokesperson" has been mentioned. We, as a whole, do seem to need some type of visible voice, both for the benefit of the Pagan community, but also, to let it be known that Christians do not have a monopoly on opinions, charity, or compassion. Living where I do, I have a fear of fundamentalist Christians using (purposefully or not), the current feeling of "God and Country" to radically diminish or eliminate our current "freedom" of religion, not necesarily through legal means, but rather through widespread public censure. I think that a visible voice, would be helpful to curtail this. A spokesperson would be ideal, however, so far as an election process, I have no real suggestions, also, finding someone who would be willing, and also have a good public presence would be a daunting task.
| I Am Angry About The E-mail Calling For “our National Leaders” To... ||Sep 24th. at 7:55:53 pm EDT|
|Dyan (Mendocino County, California US) ||Age: 41 - Email |
I am angry about the e-mail calling for “our national leaders” to step up into the spotlight as formal representatives of Pagan religions. One of the most attractive aspects of Paganism is the importance of the individual and the lack of hierarchy – that each of us can be a representative fully, both to our goddesses and gods, to ourselves and to others. I see no need for formalized “leaders” – it would be a deviation of the belief system to install such. I respect those who’s wisdom and good work has earned them the regard due of Elders, or Teachers, but I do not think we need to create the political role of “leader.”
I do, on the other hand, note the fact that representatives of Pagan religions were excluded from the high-publicity services and prayer meetings that were so prominently displayed by the media. Just because we were not there on television, does not mean that Pagans all over the world were not conducting their rituals for the healing and strength for the United States and all peoples. Does being on television make a prayer for peace more powerful? Is it not a religion, if it doesn’t have a representative seated in the front row? I don’t care if someone conducts a ritual in the name of my religion for the public – what matters is if I conduct a ritual, sending my own powers to join with the others. Paganism is a religion that grows from a belief in self. Do what thou will, can also be interpreted as “you have the power of will.” It is not something that some elected official can do for you.
Perhaps no Pagans asked to be included in the high-profile publicity acts? Would we have been refused if we had asked to be included? Did local groups who conducted rituals for healing contact the media in their area to secure coverage?
Paganism is an individual belief system. Rather than lay blame on someone else for not leaping to the podium, why not offer to participate oneself? And who is to say that the “leaders”, chosen or assumed, were not doing what they believed they should do at this time, or that by not being televised, their works were not valid?
And on a personal level, some of us did have premonition of the terrible events. On Monday, September 10, I had a sudden sadness, a break in what was an otherwise normal day, when I looked up into a clear blue sky and thought, the world is so peaceful now, but it will change and never be the same. That thought haunted me the rest of the day, but I am young in the craft, and a solitary, and did not have anyone to share or explore that vision with at that time. I did not know what it meant until the next morning. What was I to do? I can do only what I will.
| Pagan Leaders? Wow, Fritz, That's A Loaded Question. I Think There Are... ||Sep 24th. at 8:15:34 pm EDT|
|Steve Coslett (Clovis, New Mexico US) ||Age: 47 - Email |
Pagan Leaders? Wow, Fritz, that's a loaded question.
I think there are probably some well known folks among the Pagan Community and many of them could be, and possibly should be, considered Pagan Leaders. The problem as I see it is the factionalization among Pagans. While many of us talk the talk of being persecuted there are many who still engage in internal disputes that do nothing but divide us as a community.
Yes, I am aware that my words are not the most positive words, and perhaps they will even be seen as some as being rather down on many of my fellow Pagans. All they have to do is look around themselves and cruise around the net to see if my words do not ring to a truth. This is not necessarily an absolute truth, but a truth none the less.
It would be my wish to see a greater forum of Pagan Leaders in the World. My mix of leaders would include people from avenues that many Pagans may not necessarily see as Pagan. Too many folks self identify Paganism with WitchCraft, but Witchcraft is only a part of Paganism and there are many "denominations" of Witchcraft.
I can think of a few folks who would be good resources or leaders, if anyone is inquiring:
Ashlynn from Ashlynn's Grove
Fritz & Wren from Witchvox
Selena Fox from the Circle
Those three are the ones who immediately come to mind because they cover a broad spectrum of views and ideaologies. I have the pleasure of knowing one of these folks in real life and would not trade my love or friendship with her for anything.
Well that is my answer.
So Be It
| I Too Noticed The Large Dearth Of Any Cohesive Statements From The... ||Sep 24th. at 8:20:52 pm EDT|
|Reverend Seneca Silverlight (Austin, Texas US) ||Age: 43 - Email |
I too noticed the large dearth of any cohesive statements from the pagan community in general outside of our "insider" areas. We weren't invited to speak at any of the National, or State Observances during this crisis. No one wanted nor even cared about our point of view on anything. Most of us hopefully had support systems to turn to with our own Covens, Kindreds, Tribes etc. Hopefully, we were all able to find friends or family that we could turn to in this distressful time.
To me, this speaks of a woeful lack. We have worked for years to be taken seriously, to be given the same respect as "mainstream" religions. In the end, however, at the time of crisis, we were inconsequentially swept to the wayside to let the "real"leaders speak and bring comfort to the masses. At least, that is how it appeared to me. I wondered where our leaders were to speak comfort to us? Sure, Pagans are pretty self sufficient, but after fifteen years of working for the Federal Government I know that the government is most responsive to a well organized, united initiative.
Many Pagans say "I don't want or need anyone to represent me". Speaking for myself, I wholeheartedly, respectfully and fundamentally disagree. I guess the question for me is do I want someone that I don't know representing me politically? Or, would I rather choose my representation? Would I prefer dialog with a representative that I have have helped to choose? Or would I rather that self-appointed representatives be chosen for me and to speak on my behalf without ever knowing my thoughts?
The answer for me is that I want to elect my own representatives and spokespersons. I want to have a voice as an individual pagan in the issues and for there to be an effective pipeline to carry my voice. Whatever happens there will always be large group of self appointed "leaders" to speak for us, but oddly enough, I don't know those people. Do I want them to speak for me?
Personally, speaking for myself, I would rather elect someone to represent me in national political forums than to have folks speaking on my behalf randomly without even gaining a consensus from me on my thoughts or feelings.
I would rather see the Pagan Community be taken seriously with a cohesive, unified movement than being branded "eccentric few" by our lawmakers. How do you think the Christian coalition and other Christian political organizations came to be such a force with our lawmakers? They aren't in agreement with each other on many fundamental religious questions, but they are in agreement on political agenda's for Christians. They hold elections and their chosen leaders speak to lawmakers. Their leaders reach consensus with their Christian Communities through open forums, newsletters, and through the Churches themselves they are constantly inundated with a flood of data from the people that they represent. It is easy for them to reach consensus and to activate plans of actions for their political objectives. The effect has made for a powerful lobby for Christians, and they are taken seriously by Lawmakers everywhere.
I want us to be taken seriously. I WANT someone that *I* have a voice in choosing to represent me on a national level. I want to be able to discuss rationally with those elected someones the issues that we all face as pagans, and I want my thoughts carried in the most effective and meaningful way to our lawmakers.
My path may not be the same as yours, but if my rights are violated, then yours are too. Laws that affect our freedom of religion, the right to practice religion, and our basic constitutional amendments affect all of us no matter the path, no matter the religious practice.
Laws that favor one religion over others affect all of us regardless of belief or practice, and I personally would like to see us have an effective means of taking our case to the court system, Congress or the President for that matter.
Use our Legislators you say? Sure, if they are Pagan! Otherwise, you get a nice photocopy letter with a photocopy signature. "Thanks for writing" etc. Or, better yet, the famous "Aide" letter, you know, the one that the "Aide" writes "for" your Congressman?
I want to see the Pagan Community become a true force to be reckoned with on Capitol hill with our own Leaders who know without a doubt the opinions of those that they represent, and whom are accountable to the folks that elected them.
How to set it up? As a way to get things rolling, why not use a model we already have. Start county/parish levels, have a state level, and then finally a national level. Have a yearly Convocation on a rotating basis in different parts of the country or in Washinton DC yearly. I would base the National HQ out of Washington if possible, but it may not be feasible to do so right away. I recommend "neutral" territory in any event. Just a couple of suggestions for implementation.
Blessings, Reverend Seneca SilverLight
| I Do Not Feel That One Person Alone Can Represent All Pagans... ||Sep 24th. at 8:54:28 pm EDT|
|Mirae (redmond, Washington US) ||Age: 26 - Email |
I do not feel that one person alone can represent all pagans. One of the great things about paganism is that we do not have someone whom dictates what we should believe or how we should live. There is no supreme authority that may determine that you are or are not pagan because of any prerequisite belief or social affiliation.
What would a national leader do? The President, the Catholic Pontiff, Kings and Queens, leaders of religious sects, covens, clubs, schools of discipline and charities all have one common denominator; they establish rules and guidelines which define their own Law, dictating what is or isn’t acceptable or condemnable as well as the appropriate recourse upon making such a decision. The ability to make such decisions and decrees provides one with power, corruptible power, and that is decidedly unsuitable for us, as Pagans, for we prefer to think for ourselves.
I feel, that rather than have a single guiding entity, that we should instead enable a journalistic body that represents our opinions and concerns as a collaborative effort. A public relations organization bereft of any sort of governing ability. A single unified voice.
They would work on the public image of pagans in general with things such as the ‘I Am’ campaign; whereby pagans were and currently are encouraged to send postcards to there government officials, stating ‘I am a pagan’; as well as their occupation. There is also a campaign to send birthday cards to these officials as well. Both of these campaigns were organized by the PUC PAC (Pagan Unity Campaign Political Action Committee). It would provide assistance with damage control when paganism is accused because of the acts of individuals rather than the society as a whole, as we are indeed a society. They would also coordinate local spokes people with the press in the manor that Witchvox mentioned they currently do.
This organization would be run like most non-profit organizations through volunteers, donations and fund raising. There are many types of fund raising an organization like this can utilize, Psychic fairs, Holiday celebrations, the sale of products such as t-shirts, hats, bags, candles, incense, ritual soaps etc. If they are a well respected organization then it is possible that artists and writers might contribute a small portion of the profits from their sales. Also if the organization had a website there are many companies like Amazon.com that will contribute a portion of sales generated directly from that site.
| I Do Not Think That Pagans Need National Leaders. What I Think... ||Sep 24th. at 9:09:05 pm EDT|
|Lindsy Untied (Zanesville, Ohio US) ||Age: 19 - Email |
I do not think that Pagans need national leaders. What I think Pagans need to do is simply stand up and be seen. There are good people out there who also happen to be pagan. Some of the best people I know are pagan. We really need to take smaller steps than simply appointing a "Pagan Leader". I know all of us are very touchy on the "broomcloset" subject but if we keep hiding people will keep rejecting us.
| I Feel That We Aught To Have Official Elected Leaders. I Have... ||Sep 24th. at 9:17:11 pm EDT|
|Chris G. (Binghamton, New York US) ||Age: 34 - Email |
I feel that we aught to have official elected leaders.
I have been active in a Pagan Community in my area for allmost 7 years. Our group is leaderless, and we love to call ourselves a disorganized organization. However, we have learned that in order to get anything done, we need to formally organize at least just a little.
In the mundane world, most of the world's religions are respected because they have a set of leaders and advocates. When Pat Robertson popped his cork, he had to grudgingly apologize because these organized leaders gathered together in response to the threat his hate message conveyed.
Notice that he did not apologize dieectly to us Pagans. He doesen't have to. We have no power, no leaders to defend us against such a major attack.
But we do have some spokespeople. I cringe whenever it gets to be October, and the Witch stories come out. Our major spokesperson is usually Laurie Cabot, who has a lot of good things to say, but she wears more makeup than Tanny Faye would even dream of, and ends up looking to the mundane corprate world that we must reach like a freak.
We could use an organized Council or something. It would have to be elected by us, but how we'd hold the elections, and who can vote, I just don't have any ideas at this time.
Three things are clear to me, though. One is that if we wish to be taken seriously, we need respected representation. It would be nice to have Pagan leaders out there responding to crisises like the recent one. Then we could have a strong response if attacked, and two, they'd have to look quite normal ststus quo, at least for the first few decades. The rest of the world just won't take us seriously if our leaders dress in what they may take as a Halloween costume. And, third, we need to walk our talk on respect for all religions. None of that Christian bashing.
We would also have to draw up a kind of constitution or charter to gaurentee that the system won't be abused. Too many control freaks and power trippers will try to apply. Free voting, and possibly a campaign system could help us understand our perspective leaders. And how much power can they have?
Not so much that they get to be dictators, that's for certian.
To sum up, I just don't think we have a chance of being taken very seriously unless we can put together some form of representation, and if we don't, we can be sitting ducks for hate groups.
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