The opinions posted on the Pagan Perspective pages are those of individuals and are not neccessarily shared or endorsed by the Witches' Voice inc.
Posted: Sep. 8, 2002
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Question of the Week: 60 - 10/1/2001
What About Those Pagan Leaders Again?
As we mentioned in our homepage introduction, the question of who our 'Pagan Leaders' might be has again been raised. And perhaps that is a good thing as the world situation has changed and perhaps the views of Pagans on the topic have changed as well. We would request that those who continue to support the decades old view that Pagans do not need national leaders also then address the question of what should we do to comfort/represent our own at a national level in times of crisis seeing as most folks in the Pagan community are still solitaries.
We request that those who take the position that national leaders are (or may) be needed to represent the Pagan communities in times such as this also address the question of how these 'leaders' would be supported financially in order that they might afford to work full-time for the communities and/or take emergency/diplomatic trips to seats of political power to represent you.
And finally, just where would the national election for 'Pagan Leaders' be held? Without such an election, any national 'Pagan Leader' would by necessity have to be an 'appointed' one, wouldn't he/she? (Just who does the appointing has always been interesting.) This question is one of a 'national' Pagan leadership and the benefits and/or drawbacks of such. Local and community Pagan leaders/advocates/facilitators are already in place and generally do a wonderful job where they are.
| Reponses: There are 289 responses posted to this question.
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| I'm Wondering If This Person Is Even Really A Pagan. Why? Well... ||Sep 25th. at 12:45:52 am EDT|
|Ally (New York, New York US) ||Age: 25 |
I'm wondering if this person is even really a Pagan. Why? Well first of all, she asks why no one was able to predict this tragedy, which sounds like the kind of idiotic thing that a person hostile to Paganism would say...not something you expect to hear from a Pagan. By her logic, why did *she* not glance at her crystal ball and scamper off to call the FBI? That section of the letter makes me very suspicious of this person's true motives in writing it.
I think I'm most offended, though, by the remark about all the leaders of the Pagan community being at a breakfast meeting at the top of the Towers. For those of you who don't know, the famous restaraunt Windows on the World was at the top of the World Trade Center. It normally was not open in the morning, but a company was holding a breakfast meeting on the morning of September 11, and it's estimated that about two hundred diners and staff were there at the time of the attack. On a personal note, my best friend heard a couple of years ago that an old friend with whom she'd lost touch was working as a chef at Windows on the World. She hasn't yet learned whether he was still working there, and if he was at work on the day of the attack. This was her first love, back in high school, and if she were a Pagan and came across this letter, what would it do to her?
This person professes to be concerned for the victims who may have been Pagans, and for their families. Does she care that some of these survivors may have seen her letter and been further upset by it? As others have pointed out, we don't see gays and lesbians, or Orthodox Jews, or Latinos, or Civil Libertarians breaking off into seperate groups to grieve. Our pain is not segregated. And yes, I'm positive that there were Pagans at many of the prayer services and vigils held these past two weeks. I was one of them. When I handed out candles and held people's hands, I didn't ask their religion first. I caught some of the televised interfaith prayer service that was held in Yankee Stadium this past Sunday, and I admit that I waited in vain to see a Wiccan High Priestess step up to the podium, somewhere between the cardinal, the archbishop, several rabbis, mullahs, and a sikh clergyman (don't know the term). But I didn't get too upset. I found the chanted Sikh and Muslim prayers incredibly beautiful, and when the Harlem Boys and Girls Choir sang "We Shall Overcome" and the camera panned across hands of every possible shade clasped in love and support, I didn't check to see if any of them were wearing Pentacle rings.
So to this letter-writer, this so-called Pagan, I say: put down your bullhorn and step down off your soapbox. Go check on your neighbors and see if they need your help, your support, your shoulder to cry on. If you are so hungry for leadership, then lead. Just please try to do it with more compassion and grace than you had when you wrote this letter.
| Many Associations Have Newsletters Or Journals Keeping Members Apprised Of Action And... ||Sep 25th. at 1:48:46 am EDT|
|Dia Griene (Hemet, California US) ||Age: 43 |
Many associations have newsletters or journals keeping members apprised of action and elections. An association could include solitaries easily. News about the association could be dessiminated through the many paper and net Pagan publications. Many associations do not have full-time staff, but dues for association members who would receive the newletter would help offset costs. Leaders would not have to be full-time, and a group or sitting counsel could spread responsibilities among themselves. Elections could take place by write in or e-mail in ballot through the newletter or web-site and could be advertised by the same afore mentioned Pagan publications. One of the things Pagan value the most is our independence, and membership in an association could be open to all without having to subscribe to a particular creed. The association could be a place for an open forum on the many threads of Paganism and help unite our tapestry without homogenizing us.
| Pagan Leaders? Who Here Presumes To Speak With One Voice On The... ||Sep 25th. at 2:24:21 am EDT|
|Alaska_Raven (Anchorage, Alaska US) ||Age: 45 - Email |
Pagan leaders? Who here presumes to speak with one voice on the ecletic mix we call "Pagans"? The fact is that our community is as fractured as the christian and muslim ones. We can't agree on beliefs, rituals, gods, goddesses, etc. I am sick of hearing that I must join a coven to "truly understand", or I must follow the Crowley or Gardnerian path. If I wanted organized religion with a goddess feel, I'd go back to roman catholicism and it's adoration of Mary.
And who here wants the ridicule and pressure of the american press? Do you really want the inane questions, the constant badgering, and the harassment that comes with being a high profile pagan? Hell my own family does not know my path, much less the narrow mided citizens with whom I work. Why should we add the pressure of a hostile press? Heed the example of the Freemasons. Lots of bad press, but they refuse to answer it. The profane will never understand.
Bottomline, I go my own way. I make my own path. I answer to no "higher authority" than the Creator when it comces to my religion. I have no Pagan leader.
| In My Humble Opinion ,i Believe The Pagan Community As A Whole... ||Sep 25th. at 3:46:44 am EDT|
|Brandy Z. (Fort Myers, Florida US) ||Age: 25 - Email |
In my humble opinion , I believe the Pagan community as a whole needs some sort of representation . I think that some feel choosing leaders would be chosing someone to answer to. Its not that we need someone to answer to, we do need someone that can speak for us. Leaders who can be taken seriously that can express the feelings of our community. If we want to be taken seriously it has to be done.Setting up a coalition of Pagan leaders from all traditions , then voting for two leaders that represent a majority.A male and a female representative.
I do think an election process would work , through either the net or through local gatherings, book stores, and pagan merchants.Or all of the above.
If you don't want someone to represent you in the media and society as a whole , then don't complain about your voice falling on deaf ears.
Its about time we are taken seriously , and not as a group of hippies that have nothing better to do than sit around wearing sequined capes beating on drums.
| I Think The Idea Of Pagan Representatives Is A Great One, However... ||Sep 25th. at 3:56:03 am EDT|
|Gwen Gardner (Kalispell, Montana US) ||Age: 33 - Email |
I think the idea of Pagan Representatives is a great one, however I think we need to start smaller than that. We need to work on coming together locally, as small communities and then larger communities. Our "leaders" will show up naturally, as the people who coordinate the festivals, lead open circles, start up charity food drives, ect. Many people are already doing these things and more. They have cultivated media contacts and are working at putting a human and humanitarian face on Paganism. As more and more people attend these rituals, festivals and open circles it helps all of us by educating the general public to the fact that there are many people out there with a wide variety of religious beliefs. Eventually, I think our different religions will become more recognized and perhaps that invitation from Oprah will be extended the next time something tragic occurs. Until then, be a local leader, help out at a homeless shelter, give blood, organize a public circle, clean up a section of the hiway near your town. There are literally hundreds of ways that you can be a Representative of Paganism right in your own small town. Making a difference in your community will lead to change in the larger community, which will lead to change throughout the world.
| I Am A Solitary With Few Spiritual Contacts. I Keep Myself Informed... ||Sep 25th. at 4:52:49 am EDT|
|Zoe (San Luis Obispo, California US) ||Age: 24 - Email |
I am a solitary with few spiritual contacts. I keep myself informed of local, national, and global Pagan happenings as I am sure many do -- through the internet. When the September 11th attack happened, wondering where the Pagan leaders are and what they were going to do to comfort the victims or myself was the last thing on my mind. Once the initial panic for me was past I did what many people did, watch the news and surf the internet looking for prayer vigils and healing circles. By midnight on that tragic Tuesday I was already participating in a national, if not global healing network.
I do not personally think that I need a a Pagan leader, spokesperson, or figurehead to tell me what needs to be done or to comfort me in times of crisis. I have friends, family, and the gods. I am never alone or without comfort. I do not need televised speeches or prayer services to know that. Pagans will do what we have always done; whether alone or gathered together in varying sized groups, we will do the work that needs to be done. In this case donate time, money, or blood. Pray. Cast healing and protections spells. I don't need a spokesperson to tell me to do this. Do you?
To specifically address the open letter's question about where the leaders were when all this happened, honestly I don't know. I think it would be a safe bet to guess that they were doing everything they could do to help. I don't believe that true leaders need to be in the spotlight telling people about what they are doing. I believe that they are out doing it. So in that way, I guess, that makes us all our own leaders.
| I've Been Reading Many Of The Posts Here And Finally Decided To... ||Sep 25th. at 6:39:02 am EDT|
|lunaea maris (central valley, California US) ||Age: 39 |
I've been reading many of the posts here and finally decided to throw my own 2 1/2 cents in. It seems that individuals who are against the idea of a 'leader' took that to mean someone who would be the head of the pagan community, literally a leader, such as can be seen in most mainstream organizations. This of course is contrary to what pagans find attractive about their faith: the freedom to follow a personal spiritual path without being told who, when, where and how to practice. I think that the idea of a pagan representative is more feasible and might be a first step in bringing attention to paganism as a bonafide religion.
We as pagans seem to be mirroring much of what our country is challenged with: as Americans we want to hold on to the many freedoms that, until the last few days, have been taken for granted. We expect security without sacrificing convenience. We want to be thoroughly informed yet we wish to maintain our privacy. As pagans we relish the freedom of personal expression, of answering to no appointed leader, only to the goddesses and gods we honor. Yet many of us want to be heard and be taken seriously by our national leaders. To be recognized as a valid religion with followers that are as varied as those of any other religion. But that would involve 'organizing' to some extent and maybe embodying some of the traits of our mainstream counterparts. I think many pagans would take issue with that and for very valid reasons. So how do we reconcile these two opposing ideals?
Like many of you I waited to see if any representatives from the pagan communities would be taking part in the 'multi-faith' services held the last few days. I increasingly found myself feeling left out amidst all the chants of 'God Bless America'. A part of me kept saying 'hey, don't assume we all say God!' But after reading a number of the posts here I think I've come to realize that I didn't really need to see someone representing pagans during those services to validate my faith. The healing energies that I send forth from my home are no less effective than the prayers spoken at those gatherings. Paganism celebrates our personal connection with nature and the divine. Having the freedom to experience this in a sacred space which I've created myself is at the essence of why I chose paganism in the first place. Whether others see that as a valid expression of faith or some 'kooky new-agey thing' really doesn't matter to me. Whatever help I can offer I do so not because I'm Pagan or even American, but just because I'm human.
| Want A National Spokesperson For Pagans? Here Are Some Thoughts.. Who Would... ||Sep 25th. at 8:23:58 am EDT|
|Penrath (Austin, Texas US) ||Age: 32 - Email |
Want a national Spokesperson for Pagans?
Here are some thoughts..
Who would best represent the Pagan community as a whole? without the tendancy to lean towards thier own personal path?
Should it be a council of more than one? Maybe a council of 13?(I'll leave that special number to the numerologists!**grin**)
What kind of responsibilities woud they have? Lobbying at the Capitol? Holding press conferences?
What effect would this have on the nation as a whole? How much attendtion do we need?
With all the attention, what kind of people would come forward, expressing they were pagan, but had altered views (much like terriost groups who kill in the name of Allah). Are we strong enough to tempt that kind of exposure?
These things are just ideas thrown out there for you to munch and mull over. Most likey "National Pagan Leaders" will never come around. Which would be fine, since drawing attention to ourselves on a national level could be a bad thing. Educating the Masses on Who and what we are and what we stand for is a much more difficult thing then simply having a discussion with someone who asks you with genuine curiosity what that star around your neck means.
Consider this, Fundamentalists see Pagans getting national exposure, they get "green eyed" and think that we are "stealing the spotlight" from them and a mini "Holy-war" ensues within our country. The Pagans against the Fundies(Fundies can be any other "religion"..remember it is not confined to Christians).
The thing that concerns me most about all of this is the looming danger that certain amendments may be made "temporarily" to the Constitution. The IRS was a "Temporary" institution(yet I still pay my taxes faithfully, this is not a slam to the IRS) and you see that it is still around!
This is a Holy-War...only difference is "Fundies" of the faith of Islam...think about that for a moment..
Well enough of my rambling..this was a work of a Quad espresso at 7am Central time..
Please pardon my rablings!
| Even Though All Pagans Are Very Different, I Do Think It Is... ||Sep 25th. at 8:28:19 am EDT|
|Esmeralda (Perth, Western Australia AU) ||Age: 17 - Email |
Even though all pagans are very different, I do think it is high time we have a group of leaders, not from just one sect, but maybe from a whole range of them, for instance, one Wiccan, one Druid, one from CAW and one from the fellowship of Isis, maybe? I know this may seem at bit over the top, but in order for people to accept us, they first have to SEE us in public, actually recognising other relgions!
| That Is A Tricky Question... Paganism Is Not Some Kind Of Monolithic... ||Sep 25th. at 9:38:06 am EDT|
|Raindancer (Christchurch, New Zealand) ||Age: 53 - Email |
That is a tricky question... Paganism is not some kind of monolithic "ONE WAY" TM religion but one with many traditions, beliefs, and viewpoints. Then there are us Solitaries who are so, in large part because we don't particularly want or feel the need for a "Leader".
Yet it may be true that spokespeople on a national or even international level may be needed. So what do we do? I think that part of the problem people may have in wrapping their heads around this, is because perhaps Leadership in a religion is thought of in a spiritual sense as well as a politico-social sense. People think of the Pope who is leader of the Catholic Church both spiritually as well as temporally. People think of that, and vote with their feet.
We aren't Christians, we don't have to equate one with the other. While we may have a wide variety of paths, and ways of connecting with the infinite, we also have as a people certain core beliefs and needs as people that we share. While keeping their noses out of peoples'beliefs, I don't see why they can't focus on the overall needs of the Pagan community that transcend individual traditions or variants. As long as we keep them separate, there should be no problem.
Who should those leaders be? Beats the heck out of me... Maybe some people might suggest some of the prominent writers like Starhawk, Silver Ravenwolf, an others. Maybe... maybe not... articulating religious beliefs well may be useful, but a Pagan Community leader will need a great deal more than that.
They will require huge amounts of People skills, ability to transcend any particular Tradition and be able to understand and communicate the broad pagan themes and core beliefs to a people who know little if anything about what and who we really are, and who may view us with deep suspicion if not hatred and fear. Some of these people might well be writers, but others may yet be unknown and will bubble up to the surface as the issue is hashed out.
The key element to doing it right, I think, is to keep what you might call "Church and State" separate. Articulate our common beliefs, educate the public, go face to face with the world for us, but stay out of our religion.
Maybe the best way is through a Council that includes a spectrum of pagan belief, rather than one or a few charismatic Leaders, and a party line. I feel suspicious of "Leaders", I like accessible "spokespeople" better.
Blessings and Light
| I Don't Know About Anyone Else, But As One Who Considers Himself... ||Sep 25th. at 9:41:03 am EDT|
|Daven (Nashville, Tennessee US) ||Age: 33 - Email |
I don't know about anyone else, but as one who considers himself a "leader" of one sort or another (I'm not sure what capacity I'm supposed to act in yet), I was doing the same thing I would have been doing had it been any other country that had had this happen to them. I have been working to help those who died come to some kind of closure and move on.
As to the topic of "where were we?", all those I know of, from the Big Name Pagans, right down to the rank and file were working like dogs to keep calm and calm the hysteria that happened after the 11th. There were many people who were screaming for blood, and all of us that I know of were trying to calm those fears. We know that fanaticism and religion are not the same thing, and we were pointing out that we could not go out and kill all the Muslims simply because they shared a religion with the terrorists. There were many good leaders or BNPs who were being the voice of reason, and more often than not, being reviled for it.
While we were not on TV making statements on how the Christians were responsible for this because now Kali was mad at this nation, and we weren't pointing fingers, we WERE helping the healing process by our counsel and our presence, through our websites, discussion lists, sharing and talking druing personal email sessions and direct phone calls when necessessary. Just because we weren't in the public eye doing our work didn't mean that it wasn't being done.
No, we did not have a huge presence in the National Chapel to commemorate the Dead, nor did we go on TV to state that we are all brothers and we should not kill all the Muslims out there, but we were doing this on a one on one basis. It sounds to me like the author of that email has a case of sour grapes. I'm not going to say that I know their motivation for writing it, but usually you have to share your pain in order to get healing for it.
You go to a doctor and say, I have an injury, in order to get the attention to cure that injury and the medication necessesary. You go to the psychologist and tell them you have problems in your head to get those cured. You go to the priest (or to the community in the case of the Pagans) and say "I'm hurting, please help me" in order to get the counseling and help necessary to go on with a life. The Clergy, whomever they are, don't come to you and say "Are you hurting? Let me help." That would be a colossial waste of time, and no one has that time and energy to waste any longer.
I am a proponent of a Pagan Clergy for times like this, when the media and people can go to them and say "what do you think?" and get some kind of authoritative response that 90% of the community will agree with. There will always be discenters, and those for whom blanket statements won't be good enough, but that's them.
In my oppinion, there needs to be some kind of orginization created as a clearing house for these kind of situations. It's what CoG was supposed to be, as well as many others. However, those efforts failed to gain the popularity and momentum needed for this kind of situations. So, perhaps some enterprising Pagan out there will set up something that will allow the Pagans to vote for their leaders and to be a point of contact for other religions and the media. However, knowing how hard it is classically to orginize pagans, It's probably not likely.
| In Response To The Letter Asking Where All Of The Pagan Leaders... ||Sep 25th. at 10:06:18 am EDT|
|Randy Lawson (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania US) ||Age: 42 - Email |
In response to the letter asking where all of the Pagan leaders are, I need to point out that being Pagan for me is a very individual and personal experience of the spiritual. Part of the reason I left "organized" religion and wholeheartedly embraced Paganism is the ability to decide for myself what is right and to take responsibility for my own actions. I don't need a Pagan "Leader" to tell me what to think as a group because I am not a group. That is the beauty of being able to call myself a Pagan. I am an individual with my own thoughts and needs that are different from everybody else in the world. I can understand having Famous Pagans being representatives of the Pagan community but I would have to stress that they are not Pagan leaders in the same way that the Pope is the leader of the Catholic Christian faith. I personally will not acknowledge any of these self appointed "leaders" and "elders" of the Pagan community as such because that goes against all that I believe as a Pagan. Being Pagan is an individual spiritual journey. Being Pagan for me, is NOT "living in the shadows because I like being a misfit" either. It is knowing the true meaning of our existence in this physical world, that physical life is transient and that our true being lives forever to experience many different lifetimes on the physical plane of existence.
I was affected deeply by the terrible events that occurred on September 11th, but as a Pagan I have to step back and realize that in the greater scheme of things, life is here for us to experience, that there ultimately is no good or evil, everything just is. That does not mean that I am not ready to take up arms to defend myself and my family and fellow countrymen against this threat if called upon to do so, but I realize that this is an event that all of the souls of our country and the world needed to, or chose to, experience at this time for some reason.
It is not important for me whether I see a representative of the Pagan community rubbing elbows with the representatives of other religions. That is not what this is all about. It won't change my spiritual path one bit one way or another. Being Pagan is so much more than that. It doesn't need front page coverage or national television coverage to validate it as my religion.
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