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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: 9,877,677  

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Question of the Week: 38 - 4/23/2001

What Are The Greatest Challenges That Pagans Face Today?

We've come a long way, babies, but we still have far to go. What do you see as the greatest EXTERNAL challenges that Pagans face today? Intolerance? Lack of exposure? (No skyclad jokes, please!) Lack of a public Voice in politics or society? That said, what do you think are the biggest INTERNAL challenges to Paganism? The search for identity? Lack of leadership or training? Interpath squabbles? Questionable or tenuous religious history? Is there a serious lack of consensus as to the definition of Pagan/Wiccan/Witch/Heathen throughout the Pagan communities which has us mired down in semantics--or is there simply a lack of tolerance amongst ourselves for the differences that we do have? Have we "met the enemy and he/she is us"?

 Reponses:   There are 35 responses posted to this question. Reverse Sort 


The Biggest Challenge Is To Start Playing On The Political Ballfield. People... Apr 23rd. at 3:35:35 pm UTC

sphinxring (Snoqualmie, Washington US) Age: 48 - Email


The biggest challenge is to start playing on the political ballfield.
People are afraid of the power the religious right has over politicians, but do you know how they get it? Lobbying.
Yes, the ugly side of the political system. One on one meetings between a lobbyist and the legislator, congress person, senator, or whatever where the politician can talk frankly off the record.
Where the (tarot?) cards are on the table and we explain in a non-threatening way what out political issues are, and how we vote.
Few politicians are interested in the rage of the regligious right by being forced to commit to pagan causes in public, but they may be more sympathetic to a nice lunch and calm conversation.
Kind of scary, but that is how it's done.


What Are The Greatest Challenges That Pagans Face Today? Well, For Me... Apr 23rd. at 6:16:49 pm UTC

Ben "Globbet Skunge" Grapes (Great Yarmouth, England UK) Age: 19 - Email


What Are The Greatest Challenges That Pagans Face Today?

Well, for me the problem was the reaction of those around me, my family. My mum, best mum ever, stands by me no matter what, but for my dad, well it's all "go get a job son", "get ya car licience so u can work for me", "Son get out of this dream world your in boy" work, work, work. It's all i hear. Coming from a family that doesn't really have a house religion i guess i'm the first.

It would be a good time here to state what it is i believe, i study shamanism & runology. Been researching the areas for about 2 years now and now feel ready to start practicing.

As i was sayin my main problem is family reaction and as for friends thay might make fun and stuff but i know that they just don't understand where i'm coming from. So i take no notice of them and just get on and if they are willing to listen i will give them an insight into my belief's. As for my family they kind of stay off the subject, it depresses me but i find its better not to start a family brawl. And that why i love the net so i can chat to u guys :)

But as it goes for the people in general and the area i live in i find it best to just keep it all to myself. When i meet new people i don't flaunt that i study shamanism or anything. i try to make good impressions get them to like me and who i am and in time they will discover what i believe, if they leave because of it its there bad, hopefuly they are strong minded and take a lesson from the occassion, coz the way i see it there is a lesson in everything that takes place in our short lives.

some people find my view sometimes a bit harsh and by all means i except there opinions. when it comes down to it we are all different we should meet new people with no expectations and be opened minded at all times.

For me i follow 4 virtues....Wisdom, Generosity, Fortitude & Bravery

BE YOUR SELF & NOTHING LESS
SHOW YOUR TRUE COLOURS


I Personally Think The Biggest Challenges That Face The Pagan Community Today... Apr 23rd. at 8:06:35 pm UTC

Bronze Serpent (Manchester, UK, England UK) Age: 19 - Email


I personally think the biggest challenges that face the Pagan community today are the "cliques" we sometimes make for ourselves. I've seen it all:

"I'm a Druid. As my faith has older roots than yours, I'm simply more Pagan you." - a Pagan

"I was *born* into a family of Witches, therefore, I'm simply Witchier than thou." - a Pagan

"Have you read such-and-such a book? No?! Then how can you call yourself a Pagan?" - a Pagan

"Wicca is a silly Neo-Pagan faith, it's newer than most, therefore, isn't as valid as the rest of the Pagan community." - a Pagan

"I happen to be a 34th generation Witch - bow before my omnipotent power and give due respect!" - a Pagan

...I'm sure you've all come across at least one of them in your time as a Pagan. Sometimes it seems as if you're being judged on the number of books you've read, the amount of time you spent on your thesis on Crowley, the average size of your multiple Athames - one for each day of the week. Untill you're "in the club" you're not actually considered a Pagan in some areas.

This problem isn't rooted outside of the Pagan community, but at the very core of it, rotting away. This "ego trip" that some Pagans like to send them selves on doesn't *really* get them anywhere at the end of the day, besides having made for themselves personas they have no hope of living up to. It's sad to say, but in some groups, if you can "talk the talk" and have a multitude of quotes up your sleeve, you are then elevated above the next person. To put it simply - there are some Pagans that bear the title because of the "awe" they think they hold in others eyes.

How do we battle the problem? Well, when we can all stop bringing up the 'age old' story of our 45th generation gread grandma - she who founde "The Coven of the Blah-Blah-Blah." When we can stop asking how many volumes of Magickal thesis they read before starting to actually practice, before actually asking their name and greeting them with a warm smile. When we can stop putting so-and-so upon a pedestal because they can simply debate theology better than that other so-and-so. When we can actually ask a Pagans name before the quesion "What path do you follow and for how long?" When we can put down the egos that surrounds some Pagans, and simply stand back and look from the other side of the window.

...When we can actually LAUGH at ourselves, and the silly things that we Pagans do at times.

Then, and only then, will we all be in the same 'clique'.

)O( Blessings )O(


External The Seem To Be Growing Ingnorance Of The Existence And Actual... Apr 23rd. at 8:55:53 pm UTC

Eoduin (Edmonton, Alberta CA) Age: 18 - Email


External
The seem to be growing ingnorance of the existence and actual religious aspect of paganism. More and more youth are clueless about paganism and assume it is christianity's satanism. Intolerance is a major one. I don't have problems with adults, it's youth. Young people who sneer and look down upon you. People shouting at you that they want to save your soul, or that your too lost to be saved. I'm sick of it. And of course George W. Bush....I don't think I need to mention the signifigance of him.

Internal
Clique almost elitist attitudes towards younger pagans or new pagans. Especially over the internet, there is always the occasional gripe about "fluffy bunnies" and how no one wants to be one, newsflash, you are one. Or the whineing about how non-traditional pagans are suddenly not real pagans or some bs like that. Squabbles between different wiccan trads, like those whom are just wiccan aren't good enough to hold the label pagan, or witch. There is a large lack of tolerance within, it's almost pathetic, how can we be worthy to be tolerated by other faiths if we wont tolerate our own ranks.


Hmmm, It Is An Interesting Question. I Think We Are At A... Apr 23rd. at 10:07:30 pm UTC

Aedh Rua (Prophetstown, Illinois US) Age: 35 - Email


Hmmm, it is an interesting question. I think we are at a critical time, when we are facing a great deal of external threat, and a great deal of growth. I am not sure that we are ready for either one. It is all happening a little too early, though things are very far from hopeless. So, here are the challenges:

EXTERNAL:
1. The Fundies are the main one. It sounds cliched but it is true. Dealing with them so that we are neither exterminated nor having to do to them what they want to do to us is going to be a real challenge, and one which will not go away soon. On the other hand, it is one we have dealt with before, for decades.
2. The sudden new identification between Pagans and White Supremists. This is a major PR problem. About the only groups more consistantly hated by the American public are serial killers and maybe Communists. I can't help but think it will all be traced to the Fundies somehow, maybe a Fundie "trojan horse" staffer at the SPLC. This kind of press could undo all that we have tried to do in the area of police-relations.

INTERNAL:
1. Apathy. In my area, there are at least eight or nine Pagans. I have tried to get them together, just for a coffee hour, or something like that, but I can't. No one appears to be interested. As a result, it is as if there were no Pagans here at all. When we don't show ourselves, at least to one another, we undermine ourselves.
2. Unstable groups. How long does the average coven last? What happens when it breaks up? We need longer lasting and stabler institutions and groups, if we are to absorb the influx of people, and stand against the Fundies.
3. Poor scholarship. A lot of the Great Wiccan myth is bunk, and it doesn't do much for making us look "real" in the eyes of the general public. Now, we can't do much about what Gardner wrote, but we can present our own diversity, and our own intellectual successes. On the other hand, I am afraid that the American Establishment has closed ranks against us, so this may be a waste of time. For more details see that Atlantic Monthly article. Of course, even if the Establishment embraces us, we could still undermine ourselves with a couple more bunches of Atlantean Crystal Druids.
4. "Geek Factor". This is a problem which has gradually gotten better. May it continue to do so! Essentially, there are people out there speaking for Paganism and Wicca, almost always on the local level, who are not exactly really respectable types. I don't have lack of charisma or money in mind, with this, but rather serious sexual, fiscal, or other misconduct. How many "high priests" are there out there out there who are essentially sexual predators who prey on newbies? Luckily, fewer than in the past.
5. Witch wars. A serious issue. When will "perfect love and perfect trust" actually mean something? Everytime people who used to be friends turn on each other, it proves these words hollow.
6. Lack of legal and political muscle. We need to be able to kick some ass in court, if we wish to convince the fundies to leave us alone. There have been some cases lately, for example, which would have resulted in multi-million dollar settlements had they happened to Jews, Natives, or Christians. Why isn't Tempest Smith's mother rich? After what happened to her daughter, she sure the hel should be, even if it can never bring Tempest back. We need to organize Pagan legal defense funds, groups of concerned Pagan attorneys, and similar institutions.
7. Clergy accreditation. Wouldn't it be nice to know which HPS or HP was trained in what? This is something that could be done privately, with a sort of "Association of Pagan Clergy". Heck, if I get time, I may do some of it with Celtic/Irish based stuff myself. Don't expect anything soon, which brings us to #8, money.
8. Money. The Big Need, which no one will admit. Why don't we have Pagan charities? Why don't we have Pagan seminaries? Why don't we have more political power? Why don't I have time to organize an Irish Pagan Clergy Rating Program? It's because we ain't got the cash, that's why. As Randy Neumann said "It's money that matters, in the USA". Now, in moral terms, this is not true, of course, but in power-political terms, it is. When you consider that the Fundies who hate us so much get to fulminate against us full time, and get paid for it, you can see my point. We do pretty well for a movement with full-time clergy so rare that the ones which exist are famous. If we all gave ten percent, what would that come to? And where can I send it? Wren, does Witchvox have a bank account? Expect a check from me soon, you Witchvox perfessionals, and hopefully from every other Pagan, Heathen, or whoever who reads this message, because we are going to need to spend BILLIONS of dollars just to earn the right not to be the victims of genocide.


I Can Only State What I've Seen As What We Pagans Face... Apr 23rd. at 10:14:28 pm UTC

Rjamdragon (Flint, Michigan US) Age: 28 - Email


I can only state what I've seen as what we Pagans face externally. Since my love and I found our path, we've been quite aware of many disturbing things. One, first and foremost is the secrecy our Pagan children have to face here and in the future. This of which may be good in some ways for traditional reasons, but I see the child-like, and very comon typical teasing, of a pagan child. I find it very distressful seeing Pagan children growing up in a christian society where everything but christian beliefs are evil and of no significance. I'm sure that I speak for many who might think that it would be for the benefit of all women, men and children to have complete religeous freedom, without persecution of another god that says that we don't belong in life. We should all feel that whatever path leads one, or many to enlightenment should be respected. Our Pagan paths are chosen and I feel as many do that we might all hold the hand of a person leading a different path of faith if we were allowed to. I say allowed because if one of us were to do so, we might "devil worshippers of satinists".

I see that we have still to be respected by our governments. Our own president does not respect the Wiccan or Pagan paths. It is sad that a man who can sell unity to the people in an election can be so vain. Could we ever be formally respected and not just recognized? Not any time soon in my opinion.

An my final opinion is this-We as Wiccans and Pagans NEED to respect the fact that this is a very self wayed path. Many covens and groups celebrate and worship in different ways. We have our own spells, ideas, magick, etc. I see that those among us need to teach others when they inquire. Some of the greatest experiences I've had were attending different coven and group sessions , there LEARNING their ways and not condeming them as the world condems us as a whole.


I Think That The Challenges That Pagans Face Today Are Really A... Apr 24th. at 12:54:21 am UTC

Angela McMullen (Montoursville, Pennsylvania US) Age: 22 - Email


I think that the challenges that Pagans face today are really a bit of everything.

Intolerance from outside groups is a big one. Especially with the usual use of the term "satan worshipper" before they know anything about it. As another post mentioned about Pagan children being teased for their religion. However if it's not one thing, children always find a way to make fun of another. Children make fun of hair color, size, how quiet a child is, etc. not just religion. But it's just one more thing. Adult Pagans face job loss, losing their children, among other things because of their spiritual preference.

Second intolerance from each other. The my spirituality is older than yours and I'm more Pagan than thou seems to popup occasionally. We need to transcend this and not become like some mainstream religions before we can expect acceptance from outside groups.

Thirdly we need to be more public. People expect what they see on television when they meet a Pagan, Wiccan or Witch. Granted, I do enjoy a couple of t.v. shows which portray witchcraft, but what people, especially the young, need to realize is that magick doesn't go up in fireworks and that it isn't all spells. That's one thing I've noticed, people ask about spells when first encountering a Witch not about environmentalism or morality or anything other mainstream religions get asked about. Spells are just a part of it just like prayer is a part of Christianity. Being Pagan is a reverence for life and Earth Mother. They need to realize that it's a religion like any other and that we're just normal people like anyone else.

That's the main thing. We are just normal everyday people with jobs and families. That's what people need to see and realize.

I'm done ranting ;)

Blessed Be
~Autumn:)
Autumn SilverFerret


From A Christian Point Of View It Sounds Like You Spend More... Apr 24th. at 5:31:02 am UTC

Ellehcar (elf name) (Houston, Texas US) Age: 26 - Email


From a Christian Point of View

It sounds like you spend more time fighting amongust your selves. A single sheet of paper is easy to tear, but a whole phone book is almost impossible to tear. The paper is the phone book is organized into different sections, and each sheet is an individual. Yet the entire book is bound together with a spine, a single thing that unites all the pages. The papers do not fight amoung them selves. Until you can accept your brothers and sisters, you CAN NOT fight the outside world and have a chanse at winning. Just think of what the world would be like if all the Christians accepted one another with out the bickering and fighting, and we are organized with strong comunity roots.

Unity is the key.

All things happen for a reason. In the end, the people who unite will have the final say. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could both get along. I know that most Christians have things incommon with the Nature Worshipers.


External: People That Immediately Become "freaked Out" When They Hear The Word... Apr 24th. at 11:46:05 am UTC

Kerry Marie McGrath (Warren, New Jersey US) Age: 33


EXTERNAL: People that immediately become "freaked out" when they hear the word, "Witch, Wiccan, Wittan, Pagan." And of course, these same people that feel that you're "dancing with the devil" and that they must SAVE you from something. Even if you're just trying to sit down and STUDY.

INTERNAL: People that are "Pagan-y than thou?" Make sense? Need I say more? I have enough of that with the rest of the world.

People, please, let's hear it for John and Yoko, and "give peace a chance."

Peace - Out

Bright Blessings - KMcG


I Agree With So Many Things I Have Read Here. Personally, The... Apr 24th. at 12:43:44 pm UTC

ƒowyn Forestchilde (Western, Massachusetts US) Age: 28 - Email


I agree with so many things I have read here. Personally, the biggest challenge that we face is intolerance ... and it comes from both fronts.

The Bible teaches that belief in anything other that its representation of god is incorrect and should not be tolerated. It teaches that followers of any other god should be either taught the light and way of its god or suffer at the hands of its believers. "Thou shall not suffer a witch to live" is something that is expounded upon greatly and is at the heart of the vast majority of the intolerance from society at large. (Of course, we all know that this particular quote was misinterpreted by King James on purpose to support his own personal political agenda, but I digress) We cannot change 2000 years of propaganda in only 70 years ... but we can start. (Please notice that there is no description of the devil in early Christian teachings. They "borrowed" Pan later as a model). Tolerance can only be taught with time and patience (and an attitude that does not include "scaring the normals") ... that and the acceptance of self, which brings me to point number 2.

How can we expect the outside world to tolerate us when we can't even tolerate each other?!?!? I identify as a Solitary, Eclectic Pagan and I get more distain hurled at me because I am not a descendant of the path of So & So or the tradition of Such & Such. Give me a break! Why do we constantly play these "My Gods are better than your Gods" games? Does it matter if one person is a Shaman and another is a Santero? By definition we are all Pagan, whatever the differences. Worse yet are the "Witchier that Thou" types. What gives them that right? Experience? Training? Ego? They believe that it is their Divine Auspice to reign supreme over the clutch. I've got news for you ... we ALL put our pants on one leg at a time. Get over yourselves.

If we want to beat the challenges that we face, we have to do it together. Let's get our collective heads back on our shoulders and when we can tolerate and accept each other only then we will be strong enough to take on the rest of it.


The Biggest Challenge We Have To Face From The Outside Or Inside... Apr 24th. at 4:07:20 pm UTC

Iko. And its my birthday today! (Chicago, Illinois US) Age: 37 - Email


The biggest challenge we have to face from the outside or inside is fear. Christianity and some of the other "mainstream" religions did (and many still do) a really good job of linking the term "witch" or "pagan" with all things evil. (Oh, I know there are those who cry "quit Christian bashing" I am not bashing, I merely state the truth.) Christians and their related "mainstream" religious ilk have had 2000 years (give or take a few millennia) to spread disinformation for their own agendas (i.e. power, land, money - the sex, drugs and rock and roll of the dark and many other ages). We as Pagans have had a fraction of that time to stand up for ourselves without whatever government that might currently be in charge burning, hanging or killing us in some other rather unpleasant fashion. Gods, there are parts of this world where "witches" are still murdered and the governments turn a blind eye. There are parts of the US where I for one would not want to hold a ritual in the town square for fear of being stoned (or beer canned) to death. Will we change the public perception? Sure we will. It will take time and really good press. But it will happen. Which leads me to our biggest internal problem fear and our missed opportunities at really good press. Why is press our biggest problem? Well, if we knew how to keep it good that would mean we knew how to control ourselves and get along. Witchcraft and paganism are for now and a long time to come going to be easy targets for the press. The topics SELL. We are the ones that can either make that press good, or feed the fires that cause the age old lies to be written about us. Attempts at power grabbing are always done (and I do mean ALWAYS) by an individual with more need of a short term ego boost than common, karmic or any other type of sense. The 'witchier than thou attitude' is a great indication of the type of individual who will lead not only to internal Pagan strife, but also a person who will very likely cause us bad Pagan press, which is a very bad circle. The religions that fall under the umbrella term of "Pagan" tend to attract those who already are "marching to a different drummer." This is a great thing. And I in no way am saying this should not be celebrated. No great art, music or literature was created by those who just plod along with the rest of the herd of humanity. However, our groups often appear as wolf packs encountering other wolf packs. We revert in these instances to the Christian and other mainstream idea and ideal that there can only be one alpha male and one alpha female, and that all others must be subservient. Other "packs" are feared and the solitary Witch or Pagan is seen by many of these "established" Pagan groups as the "lone wolf" and is feared: will that "outsider" or "new comer" somehow dethrone the alpha male or female? Will she or he steal away the rest of the pack or the food? This fear inevitably leads to bad press. How do we fix this internal problem of fear of the "other?" The answer is really simple and hard to swallow at the same time, as the answer is time. I truly believe we are in our Pagan infancy, and we will evolve and grow up with the world around us. There are individuals out there (and I have met many personally) who have an "in-your-face" attitude regarding how they want the world to view their Paganism. Common sense goes a long way here - and boy I bet I am going to get mail on this one but I would say that if you are in a position of public "trust" (such as being a school teacher for grade schoolers) it would probably be best if you don't publish sky-clad photos of you and your coven on the internet. This is one example of in-your-paganism that just might be better left to the coven scrap book. Of course it is your call and your legal right but actions such as those effect all of us. The world will get more comfortable with us as the world realizes the stuff they have been fed by "mainstream" religions for all these millennia is basically bunk (and for those who think I am Christian bashing - I am pretty darn sure if he were here today Christ would agree with me). We by our very natures are the kids who were the "different" ones growing up. We may have felt things more deeply and profoundly than those around us. We likely saw the world in an entirely different way than did most of our peers. Many of us through hard learned experience found it can be better and easier to be secretive, to keep to ourselves and to jealously guard what we consider "ours." These can be hard guards to let down. My biggest suggestion to those of us who do somehow find ourselves as having a public Pagan voice is to first tell the world what we are not. Before we even begin to start on the whole "we are not devil worshipping baby killers" we need to say that we are not representing anyone but ourselves (or our coven or small organization). We need to acknowledge the vast Pagan majority, our sisters and brothers who would prefer not to have anyone speak "for" them - but are more than happy to have you give them good press. This can be a tough tight ropewalk. Truth is a wonderful thing. Slowly the outside will see that we are not to be feared and that we are not anything like what they have been told. As we grow up too, we will find our footing and hopefully the internal battles will die away and we will become as accepting of each other as we want the "outside" world to be us.


I Feel That The Only Thing That Keeps Us From Moving Up... Apr 24th. at 11:12:15 pm UTC

Shadow Walker (bronx, New York US) Age: 19 - Email


I feel that the only thing that keeps us from moving up in this grand ol' world
we live in is our total lack of unity. Witch wars run rampant, egos blow sky
high, and those of us with no intrest in those things remian in the shadows.
And yes the thought of orginized religion is out of the question, and ludicrous.
But we as a people should be orginized, nae we must be orginized. It seems the pagan community, at lest those in my area, has given up. My loves, the Goddess
needs a voice in this country, and I alone can't give it to her. I say we need
to stop the petty sqabbling, for the Gods alone can not preserve the Caft, what ever you definition of Craft may be. Envoke the Tidal Force Of Thy Soul!


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