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: Nov. 17, 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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| First Response Didn't Make The List.... Check Out The Military Pagan Network... ||Sep 26th. at 11:07:17 am EDT|
|th (arlington, Virginia US) ||Age: 36 |
first response didn't make the list....
Check out the Military Pagan Network (www.milpagan.org) they've been doing an "adopt a pagan soldier" program that is immensely popular.
The "leaders" are already out there. Some (John Machate of MPN) have already stood up and stepped forward.
| I Feel That The Question Of Electing Or Appointing A Ònational Pagan... ||Sep 26th. at 11:05:48 am EDT|
|Berta A. Daniels (Maynard, Massachusetts US) ||Age: 35 - Email |
I feel that the question of electing or appointing a ÒNational Pagan LeadershipÓ is divisive and destructive to our community. Like it or not, we already have a national spokes council; COG.
When I joined this community, I was taught that everyone is equally special. We all have our own power, and strength, and wisdom and weakness. It does not matter how many books youÕve written, or initiations youÕve acquired, or even how long youÕve been a Pagan. What matters is what is inside of each and every one of us, and what we choose to do with it.
So, when you go to ask; What are our Pagan leaders doing in this time of crisis? Perhaps you should ask; What am I doing? And how can I make a difference?
| I Feel That A Spokesperson Would Be A Better Way To Go... ||Sep 26th. at 10:18:45 am EDT|
|Mooncrowe (Kansas City, Missouri US) ||Age: 30 |
I feel that a spokesperson would be a better way to go.
| First Of All, I Think Anyone Who Has Not Read The Original... ||Sep 26th. at 10:10:36 am EDT|
|Peg Aloi (Cambridge, Massachusetts US) ||Age: 37 - Email |
First of all, I think anyone who has not read the original email that prompted this whole discussion should go and read it. I think that it is a good idea to have this discussion. But the letter which led to this discussion is not one which Witchvox is holding up as being right or representative of how pagans feel about this issue (as far as I know, basedon what Fritz and Wren offered in their commentary). Many have said they doubt this letter was even written by a pagan, since there are some rather naive and simple-minded comments along the lines of "why didn't anyone predict this in their tarot readings?" etc.
I also think the self-centered, narcissistic, media-hounding sentiment expressed by the writer (where are the pagan leaders in this terrible crisis? Well, gee, maybe they are GRIEVING FOR THE DEAD, WORKING MAGIC FOR PEACE, AND TRYING TO HOLD THEMSELVES TOGETHER) is very offensive and it is also my opinion that this letter was intended to irritate the community and cause divisiveness. And clearly it has worked.
If you think about it, we already HAVE national Pagan leaders. Some of them are the people already mentioned; who, through their writing or political or magical activities, have gained our respect and trust and admiration. It doesn't mean they want to be leaders. Nor does it mean they are in a position to tell us what to do or how to behave or what the "policy" should be on any given issue. But if you have any pagans you think of as "leaders" in your life (whether they are in your coven or neighborhood, or are a best-selling Llewellyn author, or have a kick-ass pagan CD out), well, then, you already know what your models are for such leadership.
Sadly, however, I think a lot of people taking part in this discussion are confusing "celebrity" with "leadership." Of course, not all authors write books in order to become well known; but because we are in a sort of microcosmic community, we hold up the names and images of those most of us are familiar with as a way of feeling like we are just like the rest of the country: we don't have movie stars or millionaire athletes, we have witches who have written books or recorded a CD or gotten arrested protesting a nuclear plant or have a popular website. These are all great achievements. But this are WORK being done, because the creators feel it is important; not because they want to "lead."
Ask yourself what one must do to become "well known" as a member of the pagan community. Sometimes it involves creating something useful, as mentioned above. But at other times it involves controversy, even negative publicity. There is no shortage of pagans who want to draw as much attention as possible to themselves, their covens, their websites, etc. and for whom this ATTENTION (or notoriety or fame or popularity) is more important to them than the truth or quality or integrity of their work.
I bet many of you have met such people in your day and probably, like me, shudder at the thought of having them represent us as "national leaders."
Yet I believe this is exactly the sort of pagans who would seek election to national leadership...how else does one nominate potential candidates, besides seeking those MOST WILLING to do the job? And how could suggested nominations by a certain group be met with anything other than suspicious accusations of "playing favorites" or supporting a personal agenda? (We have already seen this) This leaves the "famous" pagans to serve. Some of whom would decline a nomination. Others who would bask in the bright lights and glamour. The word "glamour" has many meanings, and a very specific meaning in working magic. The pagan community has already, I submit, been "glamoured" by a number of these personalities with no clear idea of what it is about them that would actually make them a good leader. They have somehow equated this person's fame or popularity with effective leadership qualities.
Also, the pagan community being what it is, (disparate and separate and diverse and largely based in cyberspace), it is very likely these are the sort of people who would WIN such elections if they were held online...because the vast majority of pagans simply have not been exposed to a whole lot. Many pagans have, for example, never been to a gathering. Many have never worked in a coven. Many have never read any books beyond the colorful, airbrushed, big-selling, recently-penned books with titles like "To Mount a Golden Staff" or what have you. Many have never attended a large public circle. Many have never worked with another human witch, because they are isolated or solitary due to their location or other conditions. None of this is "bad, " but for people to vote for a "national leader" simply because that person's name is familiar to them is a frightening precedent.
Of course many pagans feel they know some of these "famous pagans" well; they have read all their books, met them in person, perhaps taken workshops with them. And this of course gives us a better idea of who they are as people. But it still does not mean they would be good LEADERS.
We already have pagan celebrities, and to some extent, pagan spokespeople (usually the media goes after whoever has recently published a book, or contact the webmaster of a website they find when researching their story). Some of them represent us well; others do not. There is perhaps nothing more frustrating than observing someone who claims to "speak for the pagan community" who doesn't know what they're talking about, or whose mission is to discredit the traditions or personal lives of others.
I attended a workshop at a gathering this summer entitled "Pagan Community." Ordinarily I would guess that people who decide to lead such a workshop would be the sort of people I would consider as having good leadership qualities.Instead I found people who were self-serving, arrogant, condescending, hostile, rude, pretentious, and worst of all, claiming authority in areas they clearly knew VERY little about (like world history, for example). Yet these people were presenting themselves in a public forum, as being somehow knowledgeable about "community." And someone who was reading their credentials would see they had presented such a workshop and would more than likely assume these people might be qualified to be LEADERS.
I offer that little parable as a warning. Those of you clamoring for "national leadership" by election: Careful what you wish for. You will surely get it. And you may be no more happy with who wins that many of us are with our current national political leaders.
Blessings in this extra-long Equinox,
(World Famous and Notorious Media Coordinator, The Witches' Voice)
| I'm Not A Leader...i'm Nobody Important (except In My Own Leonine... ||Sep 26th. at 9:57:26 am EDT|
|Emrys (Ocean County, New Jersey US) ||Age: 38 |
I'm not a leader...I'm nobody important (except in my own leonine mind!)...I haven't written a book...I'm just me. But I am pagan, wiccan, and a Unitarian Universalist.
I am fed up with Falwells comments and heartbroken that the nationally aired ecunemical services were NOT truly ecunemical. I was disappointed that there was no pagan presence, but I thought it was just wishful thinking. I was surprised that there was no UU presence as there have been a few presidents and one spiritual advisor of congress who were UUs.
While I am discouraged with all of this, I think it's worse when it comes from within our own community. None of us can speak for any of the groups (I identify with) completely, but guess what? Something has to be done, something has to be expressed. I'm afraid discussions and debates will take too long. Maybe instead pointing fingers and waiting for someone else to do something and saying "someone should..." maybe, just maybe, each of us should just "do".
I just finished a note to the Oprah show telling them as much and I'm going to contact some newspapers and television stations now. What are YOU gonna do?
BLESSED BE OUR COUNTRY!
| National Spokespersons Yes! National Leaders No Way, Or Not Until They Grow... ||Sep 26th. at 9:41:07 am EDT|
|Thundertara (Portland, Oregon US) ||Age: 19 |
National spokespersons yes! National leaders no way, or not until they grow up. Look at the national leaders we have, or that think they have us. All BNPs have websites, check them out, they are shrines to themselves, no forums, no asking for our points of view, just me me me. Give me a break. A few are good, most of them are greedy and selfserving.
Pointed Hats off to Wren, Fritz, Starhawk, for not abusing their power. Too bad the other bnp can't follow their fine example of community service. I believe these people care about me. I will follow them thank you!
| I Would Have To Agree With Bill's Comments. I Don't Believe That... ||Sep 26th. at 8:10:37 am EDT|
|Colleen (Fort Lauderdale, Florida US) ||Age: 35 |
I would have to agree with Bill's comments. I don't believe that we need national representation. If that were to occur, my belief is that we would then be like other religions. One of the beauties of our Path is that we are allowed to experience our lives the way we should-in freedom. Without a figure head telling us what we should think and feel. We have the right to question and look for answers within our religion(s)without a figure head telling us "No, you must think this way or that way." Because of this experience I have, now more than ever, reached out to people known and unknown. Each of us is our own leader. When we go out into the world everyday, how we act is a representation in some part of our beliefs. To reach out a hand to a stranger in need and ask "How can I help you?" This senseless tragedy has performed one task. It has brought us all closer by showing us that no matter what religion, race, etc. we are one race- the Human Race. Hopefully, this unity in people will continue far into the future and we will never need another reminder.
| There Are Those Who Are Natural Leaders Within Their Own Communities Who... ||Sep 26th. at 7:07:16 am EDT|
|Debra Hoyle (Belfast. Northern Ireland, England UK) ||Age: 34 - Email |
There are those who are natural leaders within their own communities who do a fantastic job, but put them on the international scene and its a different story. It takes a lot of strength, courage, and a sense of humour to stand up in front of complete strangers and speak freely and openly without worrying about the response. There are also some who cannot help but colour their responses with their own ideas which may not be the same as the majority of their community or for the good of their community. You need to be able to see the veiws put forward from all sides and not take offence if someone disagrees with you, and it may not necessarily mean your own veiw gets heard, you need to speak with the community voice not your own. Very few people I know, even though they are great at organising events etc and are wonderful people, can do this. Obviously there would also ensue a long drawn up battle of who's the best speaker and who knows more etc, so who would decide!!!! Could we organise local elections within our own communities and is it fair that only one person should represent a community?, thats an awful lot of responsibility for just one person, and can they represent people they may not even like, without prejudice.???
If it can be done and the right people found then I am for it and would give it my blessing but I believe it will take many years to get right. But then anything worth doing is worth doing right no matter how long it takes.
| Well I Dont Know How The Majority Of Pagans Feel On This... ||Sep 26th. at 3:49:45 am EDT|
|Bill Oram (Mount Holly, New Jersey US) ||Age: 42 - Email |
Well I dont know how the majority of Pagans feel on this, but I will stick my neck out and say we don't need representatiom at the national level. To my way of thinking Pagans are free thinkers and in that sense it doesn't matter what any Would Be Pagan Pope or grand Poopaa might be able to say to give comfort. What matters is how Each individual Pagan deals with these tragedy's if we truely believe in living in a way that harms none, if we believe all in the universe is interconnected and if we believe in reincarnation and the law of threefold return we KNOW that this awful occurance is not the end. I personally
feel that even something this bad has it's possitive aspects. Does this country feel more like a family now? Are we more on the alert for future attacks? Are we asking ourselves "What have we done to make people hate us so"? Perhaps we as a nation need to change some of the ways we deal with others? Some good will inevitably come of this, Painfull though it seems.
When the law of threefold return takes effect and these terrorists bad Karma returns to them they too will learn from this.
I don't see how a national leader will help us. WE ARE OUR LEADER. And our collective voice will be heard when the need arises, especially in the age of the internet. Look at all the fuss over what Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson had to say! Their followers listen to their words and adopt the views of these "Leaders" as their own. It gets them off the intellectual hook, it lets them leave their minds in neutral and KNOW what they believe. They can have ALL of these leaders. That for me is one of the reasons I love being Wiccan, I will choose what I believe for myself.
Love and Light Bill
| I Don't Consider A Lot Of The Folks Mentioned To Be "leaders... ||Sep 26th. at 2:39:51 am EDT|
|Morgan DragonWolf (Hartford, Connecticut US) ||Age: 50 |
I don't consider a lot of the folks mentioned to be "leaders." Laurie Cabot? Silver RavenWolf? They are AUTHORS - not politicians, not public officals, not our cosmic coven leaders. As for Fritz and Wren - lay off! I know how hard it is to find the time to post news - I run a small list for MY community. Each of us does what we can, and we gather in small-med groups because that is the way pagans have done it for centuries.
My personal support groups is C.U.U.PS. If anyone needs a national leadership base, try joining the Unitarians. Please don't sit back and gripe. Instead, try channeling that energy to those who need it most - the grieving, the dazed and confused children, and the innocents who will surely be killed in the coming days, months, years.
In Darkness and in Light,
| On Sep. 26 In Ottumwa Iowa A Local Circle Of Practitioners Of... ||Sep 26th. at 2:24:10 am EDT|
|Douglas S Heisel (Ottumwa , Iowa US) ||Age: 36 - Email |
On sep. 26 In Ottumwa Iowa a local circle of practitioners of various faiths. sent a call out to all their brothers and sisters in the comunity to gather at the Ottuma park for a memorial service and a circle of light and warmth. The event was advrtised in the local newspaper the event was a succes. The Circle of Sacred Ways is a small organization of like minded individuals from differing spiritual paths that have come together seeking a sense of community in which to flurish as Pagans Chiristians New age and wiccan individualists.
| I Think There Is A Need For A General "spokes Person" Of... ||Sep 26th. at 1:55:00 am EDT|
|Patrick (ft. wayne, Indiana US) ||Age: 25 - Email |
I think there is a need for a general "spokes person" of sorts but trying to choose a leader for a diversified religon, a few voices for so many, would be almost impossible.
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