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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| 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.
| I Feel That A National Pagan Leadership Is A Good Idea. I... ||Sep 24th. at 9:24:05 pm EDT|
|Anthony Sisbarro (Trenton, New Jersey US) ||Age: 38 - Email |
I feel that a national pagan leadership is a good idea. I am solitary and often find it hard to know what to do. Maybe a national leader could set up a league for forming covens for solitaires that would like that sort of thing.
| National Pagan Leaders? In My Humble Opinion ... Absolutely Not! What Makes A... ||Sep 24th. at 9:38:19 pm EDT|
|Flavius X (Woodbridge, Virginia US) ||Age: 38 - Email |
National Pagan leaders? In my humble opinion ... ABSOLUTELY NOT!
What makes a Pagan a Pagan? The practice of a religion that is individual. Pagan religions are not based on creed but are based on experience, the experience of Connection, the union of Self and World.
I'd say that the idea of National Pagan *religious* leaders ranks right up there with the notion of establishing Pagan scriptures. Once someone writes the One True Book, then what follows is the endless struggle of words and definitions and arguements and the insidious need to prove that someone else is wrong so you can be right. And so one mistakes the map for the mountain.
Pagan religions are not doctrinaire, nor are they hierachical. Yes we form groups and yes we form and follow traditions, but we form groups to experience community, not to sit and listen to someone preach. And we follow traditions as a means of sharing and passing on our experiences, and feeling the joy of walking the same path that was worn by the feet of those who came before us. We don't (or at least most of us don't) participate in a tradition so we can have someone tell us what to do and what to think.
Every pagan is their own priest/ess.
So while I have no problem with and even support the notion of seeing national-level figures presenting a public face for Pagans, I can't see how *anyone* can do more than be an Example, rather than a Leader in the conventional religious sense. This will no doubt be in incredibly difficult notion for the General Public, but just because World Famous Pagan Author Lady Moonbeam is, in fact, a World Famous Pagan Author, that still only means that she speaks for Lady Moonbeam, not necessarily for me. I speak for me. There is no Pope of Wicca, for example, nor should there be unless we want to give up what has made Neo-Paganism work for so many of us.
And to come back to where I began, Paganism is a religion mode that's based on Connection. What others look for when they go to church or read their scriptures or listen to words from their priest or rabbi or imam, we experience when we touch our loved ones (whether they're Pagans like us or not), when we lean back against a tree, when we join hands in a circle, and yes, even when we chat back and forth on message boards. We are all about Connection, and so we are all about Community. We serve our Communities, from the smallest circles of friends and covens and family, to neighborhoods and cities and planets. Our communities may be harder to see for the General Public, who may be used to the traditional hierarchical structures where power descends from the peak of the pyramid down to the base. We're a bit different. We are networks and webs. And so what comforts and serves us best is what touches us most immediately. So no, we don't really need National Pagan Leaders in times of crisis, or any other time. We have each other.
| I Do Think We Should Have Pagan Leaders. It Would Be A... ||Sep 24th. at 9:48:01 pm EDT|
|Robert Lee Abbott (sealevel, North Carolina US) ||Age: 16 - Email |
I do think we should have Pagan leaders. It would be a great spiritual boon to all of the Pagan community. Just think of all the change that could be brought about if we too had leaders in some measure of power. We may fund them with generous donations which I agree will be hard to come by but will be supported by those honorable Pagans I know and you do too. I can't wait for the day that we actually set up a Wiccan coven/church, it could be a collection gathered together by groups (sort of like a 4 or 5 member coven) if they so chose, and may be sent to a central fund, and as proof of using the money for the right cause they could see it first hand, if the leaders dow well, we might actually get rid of prejudice against all pagans.
| No, I Don't Beleive We Need Elected Leaders, Although We Could Use... ||Sep 24th. at 10:14:01 pm EDT|
|LeaLea (Lawton, Oklahoma US) ||Age: 31 |
No, I don't beleive we need elected leaders, although we could use a communial voice. Together our voices could be heard. From my proverbial Broom Closet I have been seeking my voice, and am being sent back to tradition to find it. We have spoken in many voices, in many languages. I keep being led back to the traditional poets and bards, readers and writers. I can speak for no one else's heart any more than they can speak for mine. Although with pen in hand I can write of my own truth.
My heart is my elected leader, and it is the only leader I will follow.
Peace, Love & Harmony to all
| Hail And Greetings, Until And Unless The Greater "pagan Community" Can Narrow... ||Sep 24th. at 10:30:31 pm EDT|
|Rev. David L. Oringderff, Ph.D. (Converse, Texas US) ||Age: 52 - Email |
Hail and Greetings,
Until and unless the greater "pagan community" can narrow its focus to a clearly defined set of tenets and practices, the notion of a "National Pagan Leadership" is untenable. Even in the subset of the "Wiccan" community, there is as much diversity and division as there is in the various Christian denominations. While a Mormon may respect and honor the Catholic Pope, he would never acknowledge the Pope as his spiritual or temporal leader. Hence when we organized the Sacred Well Congregation, we placed in our Covenant of Faith and Practice the following:
"The Sacred Well Congregation is unfettered and independent, and while it may conjoin with other groups, traditions, or religious bodies for certain Celebrations and Rites, it recognizes no religious authority, and owes no allegiance to any group, body, or organization beyond its autonomous membership."
The Sacred Well Congregation is a large, well organized international Wiccan Church and fellowship. While I am authorized to speak for the Congregation, I would not presume to speak for any individual or group outside of our own membership. Nor would we allow any individual or group outside of our own membership to speak for us. This is not to say that we would not align with other individuals, groups or organizations for common purposes of celebration, condolence or advocacy (not political activism). We have done so in the past, and will continue to do so in the future when the action is in the best interests of all concerned. We are a Wiccan fellowship organized solely for the pursuit of religious practices and endeavors. That being said, our members can and do engage in political and even "activist" activities as individuals, but not as representatives of the Congregation. Our approach works for us. We have spanned some chasms that have not been spanned before, and in doing so have benefited the "greater" pagan community. So we will continue to do as we do without the benefit of a "National Pagan Leadership."
Rev. David L. Oringderff, Ph.D.
Sacred Well Congregation
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