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Question of the Week: 113

Pagan Problem Children: What Can We Do About Them?

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 Author:    Posted: Sep. 8, 2002   This Page Viewed: 10,077,050  

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Times Viewed: 32,767

Reponses: 26

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Question of the Week: 25 - 1/22/2001

What Are The Boundaries?

Different Pagan groups and schools have different concepts of accountability and boundaries of behavior. Some may feel that they are only accountable for what they do to themselves alone or to their family/group and perhaps to their Gods. Others perceive that they are accountable for their actions to the larger Pagan community and society in general. There ARE abusers out there whom probably no one would defend. But what do we DO about them? Anything? Nothing? Some groups have personal internal 'blacklists' and others seem willing to support a public listing of this sort. How could we ever agree on just what should not be tolerated under the name of Pagan beliefs? Should we just 'live and let live' and 'let the buyer beware'? Or do we have a greater obligation to somehow defend and protect the reputation and good name of the Pagan communities by drawing the boundary line at some point?

 Reponses:   There are 26 responses posted to this question. Reverse Sort 


Our Community's Ability To Flourish Depends On Each Individual Doing His/her... Jan 22nd. at 5:09:12 pm UTC

Dragon Hawk (Mesa, Arizona US) Age: 24 - Email


Our community's ability to flourish depends on each individual doing his/her part to create a safe atmosphere in which we can express our unique spirituality.

Who's to decide that one person is a danger to novices, our public image, or our work toward building a cohesive community? We all know the answer: no one. Not one person or group of people should be able to determine an individual's acceptance status within the entire community unless the person in question threatens the physical safety of him/herself or the safety of others in the group. When physical safety is involved, no questions or stipulations can be asked; we must act for the protection of self and those around us. There will be charlatans and manipulators who always take advantage of other people, but who am I to say that this is the case with one particular person? People who cause damage to us in other ways, emotionally, mentally, magickally, have their own black tidal wave of karma to deal with.

At the same time, this does not mean that we need to sit idly by. Of course we should be vocal about people who violate our Rede, and we need to guide the members of our community with compassion, safety, and clarity of purpose. We throw a banquet for our novices, and they weave among the tables looking at the food that is most appealing to them. They love cakes, but they're diabetic. They drool over fried chicken, but they have dangerously high cholestorol. Ultimately, it is up to each individual to accumulate the information presented and make an informed decision on his/her own. Decision making is essential when walking the spiritual path, and as long as there are people ready to manipulate someone into traveling a dark road, there will be people at the side lines prepared to lead the wayfaring stranger back into the light.


An Ye Harm None, Do What Ye Will... What Other Boundry Is... Jan 22nd. at 10:05:54 pm UTC

Winter Wind (Dover, Delaware US) Age: 46 - Email


An ye harm none, do what ye will... What other boundry is there? Should anyone, who takes the Rede to heart feel that there is a need for other boundries? Two of us could sit down and write a list of what we think is moral and what is immoral and likely our list will be differant. Maybe, through discussion we would come to terms on some of our differances. Maybe not.

But as a people, as Pagans, as witches we know when we have hurt others and when we do we should make amends as quickly as possible. I, would also hope that forgiveness would be as quickly forthcoming. But, who can blame a person offended for being slow to cool off.

When I was a christian I found that my simplest thoughts could be enough for some to damn me to hell. I guess that really, it was my fault for thinking that I was a christian. You see, they had all these personel rules and boundries that I quite naively tended to cross. Well, maybe some of them were not personel. Some of them the church actually taught. You have no idea how relieved I was on the day I discovered that I was not a christian.

What I am getting at is, for this reason I have a tendency to fear too many boundries. (An ye harm none, do what ye will...)

What other boundry is there? Cross this one, and you deserve what you get.


I Once Knew Someone Long Ago, Who Said That They Went To... Jan 23rd. at 7:56:25 am UTC

Raindancer (Christchurch, New Zealand) Age: 52 - Email


I once knew someone long ago, who said that they went to witches circles because it was a good way to get laid. There are people out there who prey on us and on one another. There are users and abusers. What is the solution? Its a hard one to say. But any solution that we collectively arrive at will have a lot to do with shaping who we are in the future.

In some ways, we are in a similar position that Christians were 1800 years ago. They were still underground, but were growing. The real test came when they were no longer undergound and had temporal power. When they finally had it, they set about using it to crush out opposing viewpoints that differed from their agreed upon "Party Line".

If we are to cope with the unfortunate existence of these people, but not destroy that beautiful and liberating diversity that is our real strength, we must take great care how we resolve this dilemma. There is a vast difference between being few and without the power to physically restrain and punish wrongdoers, and being many and having a police force to back us up.

If the power exists, there will be the possibility of its being used and abused. To me, this would be a great argument for continued separation of church and state. I know that it can't always be done, but in extreme cases, such as rape, and behavior that is disruptive, harmful to others, and which persists despite all efforts to stop it, there should be no hesitation to call the cops.

Its a secular crime, so the enforcement should be secular as well. Otherwise, if we're talking about allowing people to follow their own paths, we have to also consider how they interact. If my path prevents you from following your path, then who has priority?

Many have said that its covered by The Rede. It works for me, although thats not why I wouldn't harm anyone intentionally, I wouldn't because I know pain all too well, but the Rede is Wicca, and not all pagans are Wicca, and would never want not necessarily subscribe to it.

So its a dilemma. What do we do? How do we protect ourselves without destroying the way we are? From what I can tell, people's problems with others seem to arise at public events. When I'm alone with Goddess and God in my Sacred Space, I don't have problems with interruptions or people trying to take advantage of me. I've never been in a coven, but I would hope that if a person didn't like the vibes in one they were part of, they could go away, join another, start their own if they desire.

So, its public events. What I would suggest for that case, would be to consider who we are. If we subscribe to The Rede, then when a circle is held, or some other celebration or ritual, then it could be made known from the outset that its taking place within the Rede. ( Like the medieval idea of Sanctuary) If anyone does not feel that they can honor that, then they should go to another place where it is not the order of the day.

We would not be comfortable having outsiders watching or disrupting a religious ceremony, and if someone won't abide by the Rede, then they are, by definition, an outsider. That individual has a right to his or her path, but so have we a right to ours, ours may not always be open to someone who won't honor it.

I am particularly concerned by the incident that Simona Elda posted, of the sexually aggressive young man. He was abusing and creating harm to others through disregarding their right to their own persoanl space, and to be left alone. I don't like the idea and precedent of excommunication, but do feel that our actions are a big part of what we are. When that person forced himself, he violated the Rede, and became an outsider.

If someone enters an event, knowing what standard of behavior is expected of them, and agree to abide that, then break their word, they are violating the space of the rest of the people who are honoring the "rules" and in a secular sense, thats trespassing. If they continue to disrupt and refuse to stop or leave, then there is a secular remedy to that.

We don't want to harm, but we do have a right to protect ourselves. The trick is to do that and not harm ourselves as a people in the long run. If this has been too much waffling, then I apologise. Its more of a tricky question than first meets the eye, and the answers the pagan community arrives at have a lot to do about who we are, and what we want to be. How do we solve the puzzle without losing ourselves in the process? May the Lord and Lady guide us to wisdom.

Blessed Be
Raindancer


Word Of Warning! I Am Dyslexic, So Please Bear With My Mistakes... Jan 23rd. at 11:29:51 am UTC

Satai (Dublin, Ireland) Age: 21 - Email


Word of warning! I am dyslexic, so please bear with my mistakes - I'm not being lazy.
~~~~
This is a question of anarchy vs. order in many ways. I have to admit to being pro-anarchy (not that I can spell it!) where anarchy is defined as being harmony without law. However, most of the world doesn't agree with me and as they are very often pro-democracy anyway, they get what they (the majority) wants!

Realistically, the human race still seems (to me) to be in their adolescence. We won't be ready for true anarchy until we collectively do an awful lot of maturing. We are all too often too cliquey, too judgemental. Even those of us who recognise this (by asking themselves the above or similar questions) don't have a perfect solution. And maybe we are trying too hard. Anyone who has younger siblings will know that despite our warnings and experience they will still go out and make the same huge mistakes we cried ourselves to sleep over.

But aside from letting the problem 'fix itself' - slowly and with some guidance here and there, what can we do?

I don't know. I can only give you the answer I came up with when I first took up the pagan path and the ideals of the third age.

If I act anarchicly - and allow others to do so, to permit them to be free to do *anything*, to make *any* choices, what happens when one of them decides to hurt me or someone else? Well I am also free, by this logic, to do anything and make any choice - and free to try to stop them.

Its far from perfect, but to my way of thinking, I am allowing them the same freedom I expect for myself, and giving myself the same permission I allow them.

Personally, I do think we have a responsiblity to each other to try and prevent harm. Not necessarily by a black list - its too dogmatic and very often people (let us remember that most people think that they are nice people, tolerant people) make judgements based on, or for, belief systems they hold too but don't necessarily really understand.

I don't think its wrong to warn others away from people we think are dangerous - if we geniunely believe that, it would be callous and irresponsible not too - but I think our warnings need to be clear. Clear enough that the reciepent knows you are not joking, but also so that they know that it is your belief, and that there exist others who don't agree. Let them know that they have to make choices for themselves - the more informed the better.

The way I see it, this is only way we will all ever truly be free.


What A Broad Topic! Pagan After All Means Any Religion Not Of... Jan 23rd. at 10:42:57 pm UTC

Nighttiger (Liverpool, New York US) Age: 16 - Email


What a broad topic! Pagan after all means any religion not of which are of the top 7. Not too mention, with so many pagans still "in the broom closet", so many different traditions of beliefs, and everything else how are we supposed to put out "blacklists" on people. There will always be abusers in society. They are in every religion, every city, every family... There are things we can do about them, but not through blacklists. Warn friends and family possibly. If you see something, report it. There are many public and federal organizations set up to help with different types of people who abuse others. There are types of magicks which will seperate you from a person or ask for their due karma to come onto them quicker which leaves no repercussion on the caster. Honestly we have to accept that humans have free will to choose if they wish to be abusers. I feel there isn't much more we can do but keep our eyes out. Bright Blessings all


This Is A Very Grey Area Really... In Reading The Responses Already... Jan 24th. at 11:16:11 am UTC

Rhiannon Daughtermoon (Seattle, Washington US) Age: 34


This is a very grey area really...
In reading the responses already posted, I find myself nodding at all of them. As for myself, I certainly wouldn't want to stand by and allow someone to harm another, yet blacklisting is something I'm not certain I agree with. Obviously it could depend on the situation and reasons why it was done, but I tend to think, if it was a bad enough offense to be blacklisted, then perhaps there should have been legal action instead. You'd have to ask yourself, why am I really putting them on this list....
As with anything, it is very easy to abuse this list. Are they on the list because they didn't fit in the group, had an argument, or perhaps you were suspicious of something but have no proof? Then they should be allowed the freedom to find another group or situation that suits them, allowed to defend themselves, without being on a list. As someone said below, I agree that giving information presented in as unbiased manner as possible is a good idea, the receiver of said information is then free to decide, there are always two sides (sometimes three)hopefully one would seek the "other side's" position as well.
As for live and let live, generally I'm all for that. What some apparently tend to forget is your right to do whatever you wish, tends to end, per say, when it infringes on my rights. Obviously one can't just do anything they want when it involves others, or in a public situation. Definitely we all have to be responsible for ourselves, use our intuitions and common sense, and certainly speak up if we think someone is crossing the line. That's the first place to start, calling them on their actions and perhaps they will cease whatever it is. If they persist, then sooner or later others are going to see them for what they are anyway.
As you can see, I'm getting grey in my response! LOL It's not a yes or no question, each case is so individual. In the end, it's difficult to answer definitively unless confronted with an actual situation.
So I end my rambling here.

Love and Laughter,
Rhiannon


Who Shall Throw The First Stone? Wrong Religion, I Know, But Still... Jan 24th. at 1:30:10 pm UTC

arielle (Seattle, Washington US) Age: 42 - Email


Who shall throw the first stone? Wrong religion, I know, but still... If the situation calls for legal response, then go for it. Otherwise, well, then we are getting subjective. When my husband of 14 years decided he no longer wanted to be a responsible adult memeber of a nuclear family and walked out the door, I tried not to bad mouth him. I didn't want to turn our children against him, and there was still many years when the marriage was good to remember. Then my daughter started coming back from visits where she'd met the girlfriend of the week. Apparently he was telling these women all sorts of fabrications (many so far fetched that, when asked by the girlfriend, my daughter laughed out right) designed to make me look so horrible that he couldn't have possibly stayed in the marriage. Blacklisting can lead to the same thing. When you are angry with someone it is difficult to remain objective and tell only the bald truth. We all want to look good, and it is not unusual to try to make the other party in a fight look much worse than they really are. Not every one can just say it didn't work. Or we grew apart. Or our paths went different directions. Remember Joe McCarthy in the 50's.


Greetings Pagans, Why Not Try An Eccentric Idea And Allow Each Group... Jan 24th. at 3:45:53 pm UTC

Nightstar (Joplin, Missouri US) Age: 29 - Email


Greetings Pagans,

Why not try an eccentric idea and allow each group/solitary to fry its own fish and not broadcast it to the world, as some have done. The Fundamentalists love it! Perhaps Pagans are just a group of Baptists at heart?

Blessings,
Nightstar


I Dislike A Notion Of "a Few Bad Apples.." Of Course The... Jan 24th. at 3:56:32 pm UTC

Bal (Ferguson, Missouri US) Age: 40 - Email


I dislike a notion of "a few bad apples.." Of course The Rede should be followed and I don't like violence anyway. However, I also think being afraid of "looking bad" is for the spinally-challenged and inherently unpagan. If I have a problem with a person I like to deal with that person - personally. I don't need the mob backing me up.(covens, naturally, may be the exception)
I think We're misleading ourselves in light of the latest coup - I mean election - that We're ever going to appease the far right or complacent middle. We need each other now more than ever.(or since the 1600s anyway) I don't think witches should join in on witchhunts, unless we want another iffy episode of Judging Amy.
Light, Laughter and Blessings
Bal


In Addition To The Rede, We Should Consider The Rule Of 3... Jan 24th. at 5:47:20 pm UTC

Webweaver (Clyde, New York US) Age: 52


In addition to the Rede, we should consider the rule of 3--What ever the alleged abuser does returns to that one three-fold. Whatever we do in spreading the word, black listing, discrediting, warning returns to us 3-fold. I am proud of the responses here which show a shared value of personal responsibility, openness and trust. I would not want to set myself up as judge and jury, and then find myself there in the seat of the accused (x3) at some point in the future.

I also do not believe we are paralyzed by the thought of our words and deeds coming back to haunt us. If I intervene on a 1 to 1 basis because I responsibly own my beliefs or feelings and reflect them back to someone I think is messing up than I accept that someone, perhaps the same someone will return the favor. Feedback is a good thing, even when it says you screwed up. So a vigorous disagreement is welcome.

However, it is important to speak our truth so it can be heard, not accusatory, nor cruel, nor cold. We are each others teachers, lovers, friends in this life. Who would the enemy be? Just some one playing a role for us to bounce off of and learn something from. Something like personal shielding, protection of our loved ones, better dream interpretation, quicker reflexes. Please. no more witch wars.


I Believe This Question Can Best Be Answered In The Words Of... Jan 24th. at 6:38:03 pm UTC

Emerald (Fort Lauderdale, Florida US) Age: 19


I believe this question can best be answered in the words of Aleister Crowley, "And love shall be the whole of the law." Love. Therein lies the entire answer. Love usually is not too difficult to spot, so when you encounter a certain person or group within the pagan community, be sure to recognize the love in their words and deeds, or the lack thereof. The so-called "blacklists" can serve a purpose, for instance to warn followers of the Norse Tradition about certain Neo-Nazi-dominated Asatru groups they should probably steer clear of, but the only people or groups who should appear on these lists are those who lack love in their hearts and in their words and deeds and spiritual practices. I think we do have a responsibility to defend the reputation of the pagan community, to counteract any sociological slide back towards the mentality of the persecution era, and to battle the massive unspoken conspiracy to establish the Christian Church as the foremost and only religion in this nation. We must indeed draw the line within our own religious movement, by saying that those values we embody shall be prerequisite, and we shall not associate ourselves with anybody who calls themselves by our name yet represents everything we decry and struggle against.


Jeez, This Is A Hard One. I Mean, A Single Person Cannot... Jan 25th. at 11:22:54 am UTC

Kaicielia BlueDragon (Madison, Wisconsin US) Age: 24 - Email


Jeez, this is a hard one. I mean, a single person cannot control what others do, and so they should have no personal responsibility for the actions of others. However, sitting around and doing nothing while someone else is hurting others or defaming what you believe, that is not acceptable either.
I don't know how I would handle this one. Having a blacklist may be a good idea in some respects, but then how can we have the right to tell others not to believe what they say because we think it is wrong? Isn't this type of thinking the very thing we are trying to do away with. Of course, if you are charged with the care of others, your own children or anyone else, you have more discretion in this area.
I suppose all we can do is encourage people to do a lot of soul searching when we see someone getting mixed up in something that may be destructive. Provide them with enough information to make their own, informed decisions, and there is nothing else much we can do.


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