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Posted: Nov. 17, 2002
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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.
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| Well, Every Issue You've Offered As A Suggestion In Your Question Is... ||Apr 29th. at 6:51:21 pm EDT|
|Corvus Magus (somewhere, Washington US) ||Age: 35 - Email |
Well, every issue you've offered as a suggestion in your question is truly valid. However, as a teacher and counselor in the Pagan world, I'm always amazed at the intolerance, offensiveness, combativeness, lack of knowledge, and superiority complexes within our own community. I often find intelligent debate with Christians to be far more educational and stimulating that discussing a certain ritual with a group of varied-path Pagans. How then, can we ever hope to be a voice of power for rights, if among ourselves we can not agree to disagree and yet stand together for what we believe in common? Until Pagans realize that we are all of the same spirit, if not the same mind, then yes indeed "we have met the enemy and he/she is us". Nuff said.
| I Think The Biggest External Challenge Pagans Face Today Is That People... ||Apr 29th. at 1:28:34 am EDT|
|Lonely Cat (Somewherein, Texas US) ||Age: 20 - Email |
I think the biggest external challenge pagans face today is that people don't really know what pagans are like. There's too much stuff about how it's not a real religion, or that it's some kind of cult, or it's a bunch of melodramatic loonies who want an excuse to run around naked, or the worst thing of all, that it's somehow dangerous. Ignorance is really a big problem, and it's up to the pagans themselves to educate people and show them that most of us really aren't that bad after all, and paganism can be just as spiritual as any other religion.
The biggest internal problem pagans have is definately that whole "I'm a real pagan and you're not" thing. That really irritates me. I have person experience of that stuff with my boyfriend, who got me interested in the whole Wiccan thing to begin with. He's not TOO bad about it, but he's still got an attitude because his dad was a Wiccan, and he was in a coven and trained and initiated by other Wiccans and has been a Wiccan all his life. Then here I am getting all my information from books from Barnes and Noble and off the internet. I ask him about stuff but he just goes on about all these mystic secrets that he's sworn to keep, that aren't found in any books, and besides all those books are wrong and don't know what they're talking about.
Anyway, it's very discouraging sometimes, and doesn't make me feel that welcome into the Wiccan community. I'm sure there are dozens of other people like me that have felt the same way when talking to an experienced Wiccan. I think that if Pagans want non-Pagans to accept us, we have to accept other pagans first. If we don't, we're being just as bad as them.
| Our Greatest External Problem Is, Of Course, Ignorance. There Are Those Who... ||Apr 28th. at 2:42:50 pm EDT|
|Filomena Sophia (Duluth, Minnesota US) ||Age: 30 |
our greatest external problem is, of course, ignorance. there are those who cease to even acknowledge our existance. i find this *much* more infuriating than those who would even say to me "i hate witches." recently, i had a conversation at work (with fundamentalist christians) about the movie "ruby bridges." one co-worker stated how "they still treat them (black) people down there (in the south) horribly." i said, "yes, but at least in the south you know who hates you and who doesn't. up here, people are much more subtle with their bigotry." well, this of course, was met with silent shock. but, alas, it's true. as far as they are concerned, witches only exist in fairy tales as evil old hags. i'd rather have them look upon me with scorn than to pretend i don't even exist...as far as i am concerned, tho, i really don't care what they want to think about me as long as they leave me and mine alone.
out greatest internal problem, IMHO, is the constant squabbling. those who claim to know for someone else who is a witch/wiccan/pagan and who is not. i don't need another witch to tell me that i am a witch. i have always been a witch, even when i didn't have language for what i was doing. granted, it would have been *a lot* easier for me growing up if i had had a teacher back then to give me language for things. but, ce sera sera. the fact that i came to this as a grown woman...it blows me out of the water that so many egos are involved in what should be open-minded and accepting religions. of course, i understand it takes a certain amount of ego to practice magick, divination and the like, but COME ON, PEOPLE! we are *not* gods, after all...and yes, i understand that a lot of this stems from having so many younger people come into paganism. but, in the 60s, i believe the majority of people to come into it *were* young people seeking alternatives from the mainstream revealed religions. as far as "fluffy bunnies" go, there is joy in finding this path, and often many start out that way...it's kind of like falling in love. you're all drunk at first and then eventually you come down off the high and become more realistic. at least most do. those who don't tend to be "fluffy bunny" people in general. i am not, and so i've never *been* a "fluffy bunny" witch. granted, i was a little fluffier at the beginning, but that was good for me as that was a side of myself that i needed to get in touch with after years of knowing the "darker, more bitchy" side. i understand the need to guard secrets, but i think we should welcome newbies with open arms if they are really serious.
anyway, off my high-horse as they say
blessings of light,
| Going On The Theory That The Greatest External Challenge Is Widespread Acceptance... ||Apr 27th. at 10:32:39 pm EDT|
|Eldritch (Saint Paris, Ohio US) ||Age: 17 |
Going on the theory that the greatest external challenge is widespread acceptance, I made a rather interesting observation. All other religions have holy places, and CHURCHES. Perhaps having an edifice socially influences the stability of a religion. Of course, it could be diffucult to get a church for us, with such varying beleifs. It's not really a suggestion anyway, just an observation.
| I Think The Greatest External Challenge That Faces Pagans Today Is Not... ||Apr 27th. at 6:02:29 pm EDT|
|Moonlight Morgan (Windsor, Ontario CA) ||Age: 17 - Email |
I think the Greatest External challenge that faces pagans today is not intolerance but lack of exposure. There are actually a lot of people who have never seen a pentacle and don't know the word Pagan or Wiccan. We are also not taken seriously.
The greatest internal challenge is interpath squabbles. Most of us have realized that Paganism isn't the only true way, yet we argue that OUR Paganism is the only true Pagan way. Isn't that hypocrisy??
Yeah, there's a lack of consensus on the definition of Pagan/Wiccan/Witch/Heathen throughout the Pagan communities, but so what.
I think that if we want to "cure" the external challenge, we need to start with the internal challenge.
| I Think Our Main Problem Is Not Having Enough Mainstream Information About... ||Apr 27th. at 12:35:00 pm EDT|
|Sheene (Abbeville, Georgia US) ||Age: 19 - Email |
I think our main problem is not having enough mainstream information about our Pagan religions. I watch the news for at least an hour or two every day and never have seen any type of news about Pagans, Pagan organizations, or anything else. The only Pagan news I see is on the web. Also, instead of everybody being quiet and "in the closet" about their religion, everyone should open up and say, "Yes, I'm Pagan, I'm proud of it. Ask me what you want. I will not change, so don't try to convert me." Whenever the subject of religion comes up around my friends or family, I tell my beliefs, don't bash them, and tell them not to bash me. I am the only openly Pagan person I know of in about a 100 mile range. I don't have the support of any group, and have to defend myself. I live in South Georgia, the Bible Belt. I was went to Baptist churches as a child. Now that I'm in college, I have the freedom to express my opinion. Too many Pagans don't do that. They're afraid to come out. They're afraid of being criticized for their religion. My mom got me started by giving me books about Wicca and such, but she won't convert from Christianity because she's afraid of going to Hell. Now, she says my beliefs are wrong. There are too many people afraid of the mainstream Christianity. The first amendment protects our rights as well as theirs. I suggest that everyone should be open about their beliefs, and if they experience discrimination, find a lawyer and fight for your rights. That is all we can do. That's what we have to do. ALL PAGANS SHOULD FIGHT FOR THEIR RIGHTS INSTEAD OF HIDING IN THEIR CLOSETS.
| Humans As A Race Need To Stop Fighting Amongst One Another. It... ||Apr 27th. at 11:00:09 am EDT|
|Galena (Glen Burnie, Maryland US) ||Age: 22 - Email |
Humans as a race need to stop fighting amongst one another. It is a human error that we, as a race completely disreguarding color, religion or heritage have to overcome.
I think the biggest challenge that we have is to better ourselves and actually live the way you believe. I don't mean as a group. but each person, if you believe that it is wrong to lie, wrong to steal, cheat, kill slander or act out of predjuidice then don't do it. I know that is not easy. but we can't change other's opinions of us. We have the power to change ourselves. If we all walked the walk, and were the best little people we could be then we wouldn't have to argue or fight to prove/defend ourselves as a religion. Just the way we are would stand up for itself. And doing it that way we would not be guilty of the same things that we are blaming other religions and people for.
Every group has the good the bad (and the ugly...yes I know). WE have to strive to remember that about others....even the christians. Most of them are not trying to condemn or hurt us. They might not even know anything about us. It is just the ones with big mouths that we do not like, or that make us so angry that we want to slander them. But they should look at us in the same way.
We are different. Everyone is. But if we cannot accept that of eachother or others then how should we expect them to do the same for us?
Work on changing yourself and being the best human that you can be.
(anyone who wants to talk, feel free to email)
| Hi Peops. What Are Our Greatest Challenges External And Internal? I Think... ||Apr 26th. at 3:40:33 pm EDT|
|mik63033 (Ferguson, Missouri US) ||Age: 40 - Email |
Hi peops. What are our greatest challenges external and internal? I think the external ones are all too obvious and need to be addressed seperately and catagorized in order of urgency. The more insidious (and ironic) challenge comes from within. On the Pagan 'net you'll find plenty of voices, a variety of opinions, and invariably one or two who appoint themselves experts. Translation: I am the ONLY one who knows what I'm talking about. Flakes need not apply. Or reply. Or breathe. Or exist. Oh and by the way, this gos for the unwashed masses too. Then you have the anal retentive, super self-conscious "Pagan" who's afraid to be associated with "those" "fruitcakes", "nutcases", "wackos"...insert your own played-out Archie Bunkerism. These are the Uncle Toms of Neopaganism. They put me in mind of a middle class black who's ashamed of those "niggers" who give "us normal" blacks a "bad name". tsk..tsk.
#?%! that. First of all, if you're soooo concerned with image and afraid of how you come off to the "mainstream", just give up the pretense and go back to your Catholic, Baptist, whatever church where you're obviously more comfortable. I know if I liked closed-minded, clueless, judgemental types, I'd still be going to Catholic mass, and surfin' the Pagan net too often seems like I am. Rolled eyes and gasps included. There are those who call themselves Neopagan while at the same time stereotype and insult our own. Again, they like to distance themselves from the "wierdos" 'cause they're afraid of how "they" make them look to Xtians, Jews, Moslems, you know, the "legitimate", "official", Big 3. If you don't talk and act white/normal/mainstream, you're a "bad" example. ooooh....
To those I would say get a life. Any life. For example. There are some Neopagan elements who have a problem with NatureSpirits or reincarnation. fine. whatever. Remember though that just because YOU can't make the pieces fit doesn't mean the pieces don't fit. I've never been to the sun but I know it's hot. And I'd rather cast my lot with the likes of that "wierdo" General Patton than with paganposeurs who sit around making pronouncements on the real deal. yeah, We're REAL openminded, individual, and nonjudgemental. Being openminded doesn't make you stupid. Insulting things you don't understand does. Being skeptical doesn't mean you have to be a jerk. It's been said again and again so I might as well say it. Again. Who needs a "Them" when we have "us"? As long as we're not making live sacrifices OOPS! oh no...I just implied I work Majick!
uh oh - I also happen to know reincarnation is real! YIPES! I guess that makes me a nutbar too. So mote it be baby. I'll take a "nutbar" over a too tightly wrapped pseudopagan anyday. Watch out for these bohunk boonie bullies: you know the ones;the kind that likes to sit around and box people into one dimensional groups that are easily accessible for their little minds, and, if you're sitting next to someone who sounds more like a washed up redneck comic trying to do observational humor about your fellow Pagans, don't walk, don't run, FLY, on the nearest broomstick, staff, walking stick as far away as you can. This person is low-minded, mentally lazy, and using lame material. Internal challenges? The internal challenge is us.
Blessed Be the Witches of the world
| I Think That Our Biggest External Challenge Is One Of Perception. Most... ||Apr 26th. at 1:10:11 pm EDT|
|Richard Gant (Northern Kentucky University, Kentucky US) ||Age: 29 - Email |
I think that our biggest external challenge is one of perception. Most people form their impressions of wiccans, witches, and neo-pagans from the news and from popular "literature", where we are treated as either flakes or Satanists. Neither view is correct (much of the time, anyway), but it is all that is known. Until we can find some way to overcome these perceptions, this will continue to be our greatest external challenge.Our greatest internal challenge? A lack of tolerance for different beliefs, both inside and outside the pagan "community". We talk a good talk about equal rights and allowing everyone the freedom to believe as the wish. But it seems much rarer that we are willing to back that up; inter-tradition conflict, animosity between covens, and mutual hatred between Pagans and Christians have helped to prevent that talk from becoming a reality. "We have met the enemy, and he is us" as Pogo said.
| Our Selves. This Is The Biggest Challenge. We Can Face The World... ||Apr 26th. at 3:02:24 am EDT|
|Riki Crosado (Christchurch, New Zealand) ||Age: 34 - Email |
Our selves. This is the biggest challenge. We can face the world stronger if we can improve, and better our selves. We all have problems, and the cycle of life is here to help use grow.
| I Think That One Of The Biggest External Problems In The Pagan... ||Apr 26th. at 2:10:57 am EDT|
|Nick (twin cities, Minnesota US) ||Age: 20 |
I think that one of the biggest external problems in the pagan comunity is acceptance, but not in the way you may be thinking. One of the most common things I hear when flipping through web pages is that everyone wants their religion to be accepted by their community. The second most common thing that I see on webpages are pagans slandering the people who they are trying to gain acceptance from. Most of this is directed twards Christians and family. I know that the pagan community would love for other religions to stop saying you're evil. I know that you're sick of your parants throwing out your books, tarrot deck and anything else that looks like it might be used in witchcraft. I know that you're sick of everyone in your town looking at you like you should be in a psyc ward. I don't think that the best way to get these people to take you seriously is to call them closed minded, unimagionative, ignorant, ect. I know that I tend not to listen to people who are flinging insults in my face. I don't realy expect anyone to sit through that and afterwards say "Hey, Lets be friends." I know that alot of what is said isn't meant to be insulting and that alot more horrable things are said about pagans but it is the pagans that are trying to make an impression, not the people who are considered the "norm" of society.
One of the biggest internal problems in the pagan community is one that is talked about alot but nothing is ever done about it. When a person first shows some interest in paganism there is an enormous amount of information to be found. In just about every book store there is a new age or occult section. These sections of the book store aren't smal either. There are a million and one webpages out there that you can learn from, and websites like witchvox where you can search enormouse archives for what you are looking for. These are all wonderful things but they do pose one problem. The problem is that the ones who have been studdying and practicing a pagan religion for some time now seem to believe that these books and all the information on the internet is alls a newbie needs. Now you don't have to teach anything to the next generation of pagans. I tend to agree to a certaint extent. people get a better understanding of there beliefs if they learn things for them selves. It also weeds out the people who want to understand magick with out first doing the work. Unfortunatly the elders are now ignoring the newbies and the newbies who are doing the work and feel that finaly they have found a religion that suits there spiritual needs feel rejected. In every religion there should be a sence of belonging. In every religion that I have experianced the people will do every thing possible to make the new members feal welcome and at home. You don't find this alot in the neopagan religions. There are no pagan rolemodles. Pagan discussion groups are centralized around collages, and it is difficult to find anyone who will meet with you outside one of these groups. New seekers are ignored. When they ask for help they are turned away, mostly told to read some more. This leaves the new guy fealing rejected and without that sence of belonging that s/he should be fealing.
| I'm Fairly New To Paganism So I Can't Really Comment On Internal... ||Apr 26th. at 1:31:45 am EDT|
|Big John (South Amboy, New Jersey US) ||Age: 40 |
I'm fairly new to paganism so I can't really comment on internal challenges. But, I believe that I've seen enough to make some comments on the external challenges.
It seems obvious that the Christian Fundimentalists are a dangerous group not because they disagree with our various paths, but because of their closed minded intolerance for any ideas not their own. Fortunately, more and more people are seeing their "I'm right and anyone who doesn't agree is evil" attitude for what it is.
What concerns me more is corporate greed and the political lust for power. While there are many different pagans and different paths I feel comfortable in saying that as a group pagans tend to be liberal, free thinking, politically outspoken, and value the Earth and the environment. All things that stand in the way of big money and political power. Our history is full of cases of an outspoken minority being silenced because they stood in the way of a church, government, or corporation.
In a lot of ways it would be wonderful to have a greater voice in the political world, but it comes with a price - we would lose our anonymity. A dangerous thing in the world that we live in. Perhaps it's not time to come out of the broom closet just yet.
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