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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| First Of All, I Think We Should Deep-six The Word "leader." That... ||Jan 8th. at 8:00:58 pm EST|
|simona elda (duluth, Minnesota US) ||Age: 30 |
first of all, i think we should deep-six the word "leader." that word connotates that there are followers, and we all know that pagans of any stripe are *definitely not* followers. the word "elder" is more fitting, i think. this word connotates that the person in question has knowledge, and, more importantly, wisdom. the two words are equally important but have completely different meanings. "knowledge" means that you know a tradition. "wisdom" means you know how to counsel and help people when they really need it. i think one can have knowledge without wisdom, likewise can have wisdom without knowledge. i had an english teacher in high school who knew her subject matter *very* well, but she couldn't teach it to 12th grade students. why? she had knowledge, but no wisdom to understand or remember what it was like to have the mind of a seventeen-year-old. wisdom is different. it comes from all sources. i know many, many young people who are wise beyond their years because they listen to the calls of mother earth and father sky. likewise, i know many older people who are as foolish as infants. age has nothing to do with it! in my never to be humble opinion, an elder should have both. prior to coming into the craft, i had attended three methodist churches. not one had a pastor who could give compassion and sound advice in times of trouble. what good does it do for *any* "elder" to know their theology if they can't give true help to the people they are supposed to be feeding? i am not an elder, nor do i belong to any tradition, but people come to me for help when they are hurting because they know that i will listen, give them a hug, and some words guided from the gods if they should ask for it. i'm always very careful about what i tell them (harm none...)if i choose to say anything at all. sometimes physical presence and closeness is all that's needed. any elder of any tradition i would eventually find myself in must at least possess these qualities too, or i won't stick around. blessed be, simona elda
| Like Others Before Me, This Is One Of My Hot-buttons I Too... ||Jan 9th. at 10:38:48 am EST|
|Marea (Niagara Falls, Ontario CA) ||Age: 30 - Email |
Like others before me, this is one of my hot-buttons
I too grow weary of the strange uses and misues to which we put the word "leader". Probably the thing that drives me the most nuts is those who claim a position as leaders acting as some kind of gatekeepers to "the real knowledge", or "being a real witch". I'm not interested in leaders who stand above the rest of the community in judgement or because of some veiled access to some secret knowledge. I think the real leaders are those that have already been described here so elegantly - those who put their heart and soul into education, ministration, counselling, activism, and just plain fulfillment of their responsibilities to ALL people as brethren. The best of these, are those who lead by example.
Oh my goodness, if I didn't know any better, I'd say that I just stole shamelessly from my parents' opinions on what makes a great minister!
| Yes, I Do Think We Need Leaders. My Experience Comes From Both... ||Jan 9th. at 12:23:09 pm EST|
|J. P. DeMeritt (League City, Texas US) ||Age: 43 - Email |
Yes, I do think we need leaders.
My experience comes from both formal and informal organizations, some of which had effective leadership, many of which did not. Those groups which had effective leaders thrived, while those that didn't died. So what makes an effective leader?
Many other people have listed laudable qualities: caring and compassion; wisdom and knowledge; strength and courage; dedication. All of these are important to leaders. But the one quality I seek first is vision: a concrete, compelling, shared image of a highly desirable future. The person who has such an image of the future, whether it be to create a community center serving those who can't get the services they need elsewhere, or creating a world of loving acceptance for all, can motivate many people to work together for a common, worthy goal. The ability to create and communicate such images of the future is essential if we're to create the kind of world we want to live in.
What do leaders do? Leaders help us get to the future by molding the image of the future we want to live in and helping us see how to achieve it. They help us understand how to accomodate each other in meeting our individual needs while pushing the community's desired future forward. They listen. They offer advice. When they direct, they do so knowing that ours is a voluntary community fueled by voluntary commitment. And, most of all, they help us keep the dream alive, even when we're toiling in the midst of despair.
I believe that any community can use such people. We should honor and support them. And we should help others to grow and prepare for leadership -- after all, good leaders, like worthy images of the future, are in far too short a supply!
| Leader Is A Very Bad Term, I Think. I Think We Do... ||Jan 9th. at 2:09:08 pm EST|
|Emerald (Fort Lauderdale, Florida US) ||Age: 19 |
Leader is a very bad term, I think. I think we do need Representatives, in the national/international sense, we're the largest growing religion on earth and as such deserve better treatment and recognition. But, no one in the pagan community should 'lead' you, they may serve as guides along your journey, they may be recognized for their ability to build and/or channel a lot of energy and to connect a group with the divine forces, they may be loved and admired for their compassion and wisdom. But if they start pushing their own way as the one and only way, get away from them. That's what separates us from Christianity, our religion is and hopefully ever shall be built upon the freedom of seeker to decide what they believe instead of the Priesthood. When the Priests/Priestesses and other parishioners start making decisions on what the congregation MUST believe and MUST be taught as if they were a flock of mindless sheep (one famous Christian hymn I know of is named What a Worm Am I), then you know you're heading for serious, serious trouble. Steer clear. Cut your own path, but have wisdom and patience so that you don't get lost on that path, for in a religion where the individual seeker is encouraged, nay required, to find the path that best suits them as individuals, a great deal of responsibility rests on our shoulders, we must be sure to listen to our hearts and spirits and distinguish between what we really believe and what we just think we should believe. The only true 'leaders' in paganism are your heart and soul.
| Take Me To Your Leader!". That's The First Thing I Thought Of... ||Jan 9th. at 3:01:54 pm EST|
|Lori Dake (Chicago, Illinois US) ||Age: 26 - Email |
"Take me to your leader!". That's the first thing I thought of when I saw the topic. And just by looking into a crowded room, how can you point out the "leader" (Pagan or otherwise)? The "Leader" will *not* be the puffed-up pompous one right in the center of the crowd talking about him/herself, even though your first impression may say otherwise. Nope. The *real* person in charge is off in the shadows; organizing, educating, caring, and yet still managing to stop a minute to chat with everyone.
I prefer the term Organizer to Leader in regards to Pagans, unless Elder has been truly earned. And that doesn't mean that the one running the show needs to be a very organized person, either - as long as he or she isn't afraid to ask for help from people who've been there. It's not a fault to admit one can't wear every hat; it's human. But the folks out there who bust their butts every day need to have others to fall back on, which seems to also be in as much short supply as the organizers themselves. Fortunately for me, I seem to have been pretty lucky to have people to help me help others :) But I know other organizers who've needed help and haven't gotten it :(
And with that, I say "Thank You" to the people who have helped me, and I will keep performing my Random Acts of Kindness in return :D
| I Would Have To Say That I Agree With The Opinions Posted... ||Jan 9th. at 4:16:11 pm EST|
|Rhiannon Daughtermoon (Seattle, Washington US) ||Age: 34 |
I would have to say that I agree with the opinions posted thus far, which have been worded better than I can say myself. The title leader, is that...a title, I personally do not like titles! However, I do believe there are leaders, but as has already been said quite well here, those people generally do not claim that title, they are the ones who give of themselves, often quietly an unobtrusively, they do not claim to be absolute authorities. They would instead, offer support, caring, and wisdom when wanted and needed, rather than forcing upon anyone. They organize things like the wonderful gatherings, and these webpages, and that is needed, otherwise the group might all runk amock, but the input of hte group is important as well...Wren and Fritz are wonderful leaders, yet they do not claim this title. That is a leader, to me. And I believe we all have it in us to be this way, maybe we can lead in some things, and not others...maybe we each have a special "area" that we can share. (and I think we all do). It is leading by example, not simply because you say you are "the leader". And as always, is up to the individual if they chose to "follow" or what I LEAD your OWN path. Then, share your experiences with those who want to share it, that is the greatest help, again, IMO. It should never be forced, or "preached". I do however, greatly admire and am thankful, for those souls who are not afraid to be so "out in the open" working for the rights and freedoms of us all. As long we all remember, somtimes the "leaders" don't always hold the same opinons, or paths as we do, and they know that as well, that's a good leader, they acknowledge and accept that.
Love and Laughter,
| If - And I Understand It's A Big If, One Wants To Be... ||Jan 9th. at 7:07:00 pm EST|
|Bal (ferguson, Missouri US) ||Age: 40 - Email |
If - and I understand it's a big if, one wants to be called a leader, or even just thought of as one, one must lead. Brilliant deduction I know. Lead by example, by mandate of the people, by a divine inner voice - just lead. And how does one go about "just leading"? First, one must be approachable. There are a lot of sincere interested folk you, ll come across in this life(and others)so when they mob you with their wide-eyed wet-behind-the-ears eagerness don't let them down. It does not always qualify as a glam job with perks and involves patience and yes self-sacrifice, but in my opinion, only being called a leader doesn't automatically cut it. Instead of being oooh sooo annoyed with "newbies" or "wannabes" or babies or whatever, why not be flattered? This applies to any so-called leader in any religious, political, or business organization. So the next time someone comes to you for help remember - You too can be a leader!
Love and laughter and many happy responses
| Hi!; Thank The Gods I Don't Have To Be A "pagan Leader... ||Jan 9th. at 10:21:38 pm EST|
|Tarostar (Toronto, Ontario CA) ||Age: 58 - Email |
Thank the Gods I don't have to be a "Pagan Leader". I'm a Craft Elder, so I leave all the leading BS to younger people.
Media types who interview various "celebrities" at Pagan meets call them "leaders" in Wicca or whatever. Also, the celebrities do not disabuse the media of such a notion.
Groups like to refere to themselves or their members as "leaders" in Paganism or Wicca.
Committees doing PR for Wicca like to claim they are composed of members seen as "leaders" in the Wiccan communities.
In most instances these "leaders" are self-appointed, as I do not recall ever being asked if I want so-and-so to lead/represent me as a Witch/Wiccan?Pagan.
I have wondered who makes these "leaders"? How did they get a mandate to parade before the media and claim to represent Paganism/Witchcraft/Wicca?
I see such as personal ego-stroking, not as Witches Work.
People have even claimed Old Tarostar as a Wiccan "leader" simply because he voices his opinion prolifically.( I am usually quick to beg off on that.)
I see Pagan High Priesthoods, but they are usually humble and quiet about their activities. They don't claim to speak for the entire group; Wicca/Witchcraft/Paganism as a whole.
So, I tend to shy away from community "leaders" as they, more often than not, turn out to be budding politicians. If they were not into Witchcraft/Wicca/Paganism, they would be on some County Commission somewhere, or school board. BB Tarostar
| I Am A Solitary Eclectic Kitchen Witch By Inclination And By Choice... ||Jan 10th. at 3:45:27 am EST|
|Raindancer (Christchurch, New Zealand) ||Age: 52 - Email |
I am a Solitary Eclectic kitchen witch by inclination and by choice. If someone starts talking about being a "Leader" I walk the other way. If they talk about making me the "Leader" I run. We, as pagans are way too individualistic and varied for "Leaders".
There is a place for "Spokespeople" at the times when someone must speak out on behalf of pagans, but that should never be construed to mean that they also determine what pagans believe or don't believe. We are far too diverse to be contained like that. This diversity is where our strength lies. It certainly is one of the most attractive aspects of paganism for me.
The Lord and Lady made us to be free, to stand tall and strong on our own, beautiful and true, all our brothers and sisters, all od life. No one has the ability or the right to decide what we should or should not believe. We are all family with life, but our hearts and minds are each unique. Our uniqueness compells us, if we have the courage, to walk away from the beliefs of others that we do not share. Those beliefs that they would impell, or compell us to follow. We are each, I believe, our own Priest(ess) we must be the one who finds the path we follow.
But at the same time, we are a community of belief. We are a people. As such, we have activities, nnd other needs, as others have said, someone must take charge and see that the site is found, the word gets out so that we can all enjoy the circle, the being together and the joy we find in being a people. That requires "leaders" note thats with a small "l". If there's ever going to be anything done, somebody has to get it done. But this is not the same as being the "Shepherd of the flock" Thats an image that comes from the Patriarchal belief systems, that suppose that we must all be as a flock of sheep that must follow the "True Way"TM
My first witch teacher, Ishabelle, told me something that had me puzzled at the time, but now makes sense. "Be prepared to lead, be prepared to follow." There are times when others will look to us to share our way, not so that they might slavishly follow it, but so that they may use it as a step toward finding their own way. She told me: "I can't teach you how to be a witch, I can only tell you what I do. You have to find what's right for you, where your path lies" She encouraged me to learn from as many places and people as I felt comfortable with.
Sometimes I find those who have knowledge that I want to have, and sometimes someone pops out of the blue, seeking and wanting to know about Wicca and Witchcraft. I tell them what Ish told me, I can tell you what I do, you must find what path is yours to follow. We are all leaders at times and we are all followers at others.
The key to what I am saying, to those patient enough to get this far in my rambling discourse, is that what makes us different is that we have no fixed "Party Line" believe it and you are a pagan, disbelieve and you aren't. Every major religion talks about Free Will, what makes us different is that we live it. If we ever give that up, we are no different than anyone else. The God and Goddess made us free, we should never surrender that to any Leader, but we should not be afraid to lead when by doing so, we can help another find their own way.
Be prepared to lead, be prepared to follow.
May the Lord and Lady
bring Blessings and Light
and may your feet always
find your path.
| I Believe That Pagan " Leaders" Are Needed, But Not In The Sense... ||Jan 10th. at 9:23:14 am EST|
|Argonis (Conroe, Texas US) ||Age: 36 |
I believe that pagan " leaders" are needed, but not in the sense, of putting the feeling that if you aren't a leader you are a follower. I believe that leaders, and this is basically to those of us who are out as we say, leaders are the ones that newbies, and those struggling with issues no matter how long they have been in the carft, would be able to turn to. A leader, as I think, is more along the lines of an Elder, one who could give guidance if it were requested, one who could help one deal with personal, and magickal issues, who who may be the only other person you may have contact with that is of like mind, so that you do not feel all alone. I also feel the instead of the term " leader" maybe we could use the word representative ( rep ), these would be the voice of a community, or area, that if able would be at public functions, to speak for those who are not able to be there. I feel leaders, should be the hand reaching out to help those caught in the swamp of misinformation, to guide them to the side, and help dispel any doubts, that may be in their minds, and to help guide them or assist them in their workings and on their path.
| Greetings All And Merry Meet... I Believe It Would Be Next To... ||Jan 10th. at 12:35:06 pm EST|
|BlueRainLady (Gerrardstown, West Virginia US) ||Age: 37 - Email |
Greetings all and Merry Meet... I believe it would be next to impossible for one individual to be able to speak for Paganism. Perhaps a council of elders with a membership that sits on a rotational basis and speaks as a whole. It would be nice to be represented in a fair manner on an international basis, but I suppose we're just gonna have to do it as individuals.
Blessings and peace...
| Now, More Than Ever, We Need Pagan "leaders" To Step Up And... ||Jan 10th. at 1:46:47 pm EST|
|Mars (Ft. Lauderdale, Florida US) ||Age: 30 - Email |
Now, more than ever, we need Pagan "leaders" to step up and take the challenge of leading this huge Neo-Pagan movement that is beginning. I'm a newbie who would still be struggling to comprehend everything as a solitaire if it were not for the elders that I have connected with in my area. Our elders are invaluable and their guidance is needed to bring this new age of the Goddess to fruition.
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