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 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.
| After Posting A Somewhat Ouchy, Lengthy And Personal Diatribe Last Night, I... ||Sep 25th. at 10:13:10 am EDT|
|Luna (Kent, Ohio US) ||Age: 43 - Email |
After posting a somewhat ouchy, lengthy and personal diatribe last night, I humbly returned to my computer this morning, printed out a copy of the Open Letter to Pagans so I could address some more specific complaints.
First and foremost, the question - "Where are Wren and Fritz?" They are working, without pay, using their time and resources to make sure the Pagans, who are too diverse to be represented by any one leader, continue to have a voice, a huge presence on the web, and the opportunity to speak for ourselves.
Where is Starhawk? The last I heard, she was laying it on the line in yet another hotbed of protest, literally fighting through the teargas for the principles she, and many more of us hold dear.
You rail against the pagans who are "sensitive" for not hopping on their personal cell phone into the ether to bring messages from the dead. Where exactly did you get your ideas about this kind of ability? We are all reeling from trying to cope with the fact that so many have disappeared from this plane without even a trace of remains. It is a very difficult thing to come to terms with. I am sorry there are no easy answers for you.
You also take to task those of us who are psychic for not taking out ads letting you know what to brace yourself for. It is a another difficult part of the human condition to be confronted in such a brutal way with the fact that we are not in control. None of us knows what will happen tomorrow. And those who do have clear premonitions, many of which come out of the blue to people who are not considered in any way "psychic", are looked at as kooks if they open their mouths.
As an astrologer, I did a chart for the time the first plane hit the tower. I expected to see Mars, Uranus and Pluto in prominence reflecting the violence, disruption and terror of the moment. Instead, Mercury, the messenger of the Gods, sits exactly on the Ascendant in Libra, the sign of peace, harmony, balance, beauty and diplomacy. Jupiter, the planet of governments, religions, and beneficence, sits exactly on the Midheaven in Cancer, the sign of the Mother, that rules nurturing, personal emotional response, and the emotions of the masses. If this isn't a wake up call to peace and learning to care for each other regardless of religion and politics, I don't know what is. But the point is, if someone had shown me this chart in advance, the last thing I would have read from it is the violence and horror that was the event.
You lay it at the feet of the authors you named to keep us from being "further marginalized." Do you think your comments and accusations help this? I understand your cry for comfort. You are looking for strength and protection from a parent figure, as we all are at this time. But to call the ones who have worked so hard to join us together "hucksters, con artists, preying on people with the need to believe in something" is just plain vicious. As far as I know, none of these people is out there sucking money from the easily deceived.
I'm sure we have all struck out in anger in the past weeks. A loving parent understands that when a child lashes out against a personal hurt, the parent usually feels the sting because they are the one closest, and easiest to reach. I pray that you may understand and move through your anger and grief. I hope that you may find some more productive answers, rather than attacking the very ones that risk their lives and livelihoods so that Paganism may be the burgeoning presence it is now becoming.
| We Cannot Elect A Leader Or Panel Of Leaders. When You Have... ||Sep 25th. at 10:15:03 am EDT|
|Graci (Aberdeen , North Carolina US) ||Age: 37 - Email |
We cannot elect a leader or panel of leaders. When you have religious leaders, you have politics. When you have politics, religion or faith is perverted.
If there needs to be a public "face" to Paganism, it needs to be a council or panel. No single Pagan can adequately represent the thousands (millions?) of individual paths that make up Paganism. While this will still fall woefully short, it is the best option -if- there needs to be a public face to Paganism. The ideal panel would consist of mainstream persons, perhaps already in the media's view in other roles, that can join together and say "Oh, by the way, I am Pagan." Encourage the Academy-Award winning Actress to step up. Let us hear from the News Anchor or Congressperson. Take people who are already IN the public's view and urge them to come forward. Should they not, then let us not have the fringe element spring to the lead. (sorry Ms. Cabot) The face of paganism has to be plain. It has to be Joe, the fireman who has a wife and 3 kids. Susan, the physician's assistant at the local doctor's office. Lisa, the corporate executive at a Fortune 500 company. Bill, the NFL player. It must be people with whom the housewife from Iowa can identify. Not some goth chick that scares the uninformed. Their time in the forefront will come. "Now" simply is not that time.
Should we have a Pagan leader? No. But if we need to show the public who we are, then we need to be the same people they see in the mirror every day.
| Merry Meet! I Have Been A Practicing Pagan For A Few Months... ||Sep 25th. at 11:11:37 am EDT|
|Gwyna Creek (Bethlehem Twp., New Jersey US) ||Age: 13 - Email |
I have been a practicing pagan for a few months now, and I feel totally renewed! The thought of having a Pagan/Wiccan leader is an intersting one. I am not sure whether or not it would be beneficial. Perhaps it would be a good idea if we had leaders for areas, such as, this county/province will have a specific person who is there to guide you, and organize events.
| A Sad Fact Of Our Present Reality, As Pagans, Is The Need... ||Sep 25th. at 11:47:19 am EDT|
|Raven Changing Spirit Moon (Star City, Indiana US) ||Age: 39 - Email |
A sad fact of our present reality, as Pagans, is the need for more politically active Pagans, at a higher level, than, is now present. We need the representation an organized, recognized leadership can provide, but I have questions, doubts. I ask not out of the need to place blame at the feet of any one group, but out of the need to include "all groups" in such an endeavor.
Pagans need a new breed of politician. Ones that, not only know the ropes, but who truly remember the people, all the people they represent.
In a perfect world we as pagans could elect a council to represent all pagan paths. On that council would be people representing a broad spectrum of Pagans, in a broad spectrum of social, and economical situations. Yet we do not live in the perfect world of conjecture, but in the real world, of sometimes harsh realities.
So what do we think constitutes a good candidate for a Pagan council member? Book sales, workshop sales, or choosing a person, on basis the, of the fame this exposure, has gotten, for the chosen few? Do we look towards education records, employment records? Political Science majors are acceptable, while Suzy Home Maker need not apply? Maybe an extensive back ground in religious history would be better?
Do we begin to pick apart those private lives our candidates might have, with our perceptions of the situation, instead of their truth. Do we make a set of rules, that limit, the way each candidate lives their own private lives, to satisfy our inner need for control? Or do we look to those that indeed come from all walks of Pagan life, "including" those famous Pagan that everyone can put a face to. Are we brave enough to look inside of each candidate for their worth, or do we let sales, and fame gear our choices towards the comfortable and the familiar?
Once we have these leaders in place, will the community support them, with more than words? Are our leaders to be self sufficient finically? If yes, do we realize the limits and the implications this places on each Pagan leader candidate? Does this make only those, that are finically successful fit candidates, to run, for our council/leader., etc.? Do we run campaigns to support the finical aspects of election expenses? Are elected Pagan leaders to be paid, where will a salary come from? Not to be paid, once again do we realize the limits and the implications this places on these leaders? If they have to support themselves, does this not make those less fortunate in income a minority within their own Pagan groups, or at least imply it? No matter how much we wish it didn't.
Do we allow stereotypes of any one group, spoil the whole group? Do we blindly follow those stereotypes, without researching the person? How much research, on a person, is allowed, before that research, is considered a breach of privacy?
Oh...between the rock and the hard place!
Or do we continue to see Headlines "Pagan Leaders Meet" without knowing who those leaders are? Did we not have a summit of sorts of what was touted as "Pagan Leaders" within the last year? I find it funny, that I did not know who half, of the people, said to be representing me were? I also never remember giving my ok to be represented by these people. No one even asked my opinion on the matter. I plan to be more diligent in the future about this, I do not like being represented by people self elected. I want to have the choice, to vote, on who represents my interests. Self election, can be called by another name, to discribe the action, of self appointment to power. Whether National, State, or Local, leaders that pratice self appointment/election bring doubts, and resentment, to the people they are representing.
These are some questions I will be asking if I am ever called to vote for any type of pagan leader/spokesperson, etc. They hold no easy answers, but have to be asked, and an answer sought, before I will place a single vote, or endorse a single person.
Raven Changing Spirit Moon Gina M. Baker
| I Personally Feel That I Do Not Want Any "national Leaders." I... ||Sep 25th. at 11:48:23 am EDT|
|Linda/Mina (Laurel, Maryland US) ||Age: 24 |
I personally feel that I do not want any "national leaders." I do not want any one telling me (or other people) what I believe. If I wanted that, I'd have picked a mainstream religion.
I believe that there should not be leaders above coven (or grove, or what-have-you), unless it is in the form of something like the COG, which as I see it is a service organization.
Those Pagans that are well-known are well-know because of their service. Fritz & Wren for their site, which many of us find a touchstone; Starhawk with her activism; Bonewits as a voice for tolerance. These people aren't looking to be Grand High Exalted Muckity Muck of ALL Pagans. Nor do people (that I know of) look to them as Catholics look to the Pope for example.
Anyhow, as far as national leaders, I don't think we need them. I think that we are far more effective at the local level. Also, I would be **VERY** uncomfortable with someone speaking for all Pagans, or even all Wiccans.
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