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Question of the Week: 113

Pagan Problem Children: What Can We Do About Them?

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1. Who are you going to vote for and why? - [233]

 Author:    Posted: Nov. 17, 2002   This Page Viewed: 12,296,076  

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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. Reverse Sort 

It Ocurred To Me While Reading Some Of The Other Replies To... Sep 25th. at 10:45:09 pm EDT

Kara (Minot, North Dakota US) Age: 34 - Email

It ocurred to me while reading some of the other replies to this question that Pagans are plenty represented. We are people, like one writer, who are at Ground Zero trying to help with the rescue/cleanup, and we are people who are donating time and money to try to raise funds to send to the victim relief programs. We are people who are raising circles and lighting candles and sending as much positive energy as we know how. In short, we are Americans. We are doing everything everyone else is doing, the best we know how, in whatever way we can to help. We are leaders in our communities and in our states and in our country, though most keep a low profile.

But some say we need someone, or some group to represent us Nationally.... Why? Using a person or a group to put our spirituality in the spotlight, especially in a time like this is pure politics, and IMHO, it's the worst thing we can do. What will eventually send Pagans into the spotlight is living life to the best and fullest we can, and being the best people we can be. Pushing ourselves on others makes us just like every other group out there. I am Pagan, in part, because I didn't like belonging to a group that was "out there" and "in your face". Forgive me if I offend, but I really believe that grabbing spotlight time is beneath us and would do more harm in the long run. Let's keep our dignity. Blessings....Kara

Heh... I Suppose It Is Time For Such A Question, And Though... Sep 25th. at 10:37:34 pm EDT

Wolfsinger (Boston, Massachusetts US) Age: 31 - Email

Heh... I suppose it is time for such a question, and though I think we all know what we prefer, it's time to really sit up and listen to what anyone on the other side of the coin (whichever side we happen to be on) has to say with a mind ready to accept that the situation right now might not be ideal, and sacrifices may have to be made for the greater good.

I have had more than one Christian come to me and ask why (or simply state that) Pagans weren't doing anything in the face of such a horrible tragedy. "If you're really so caring and loving, why aren't we hearing about it during this horrible time? What are your contributions?" After explaining for what seems to be the umpteenth time that we don't have a central leadership and that we are doing much but are simply quiet about it, I'm beginning to think maybe we do need some way of conveying to the nation that we, too, are in solidarity with them in so many ways... otherwise, we may be getting the reputation for doing nothing, which couldn't be further from the truth (though I would rather not sing my own praises for what I have done, simply because this isn't the time for any groups or individuals to be tooting their own horns...). So, I do feel that we need some way to make sure that more fallacies like these are not spread. Misunderstanding about us has been growing since our ancestors were first exposed to different believers, and, well, isn't that type of thing half of what is causing the problems we're currently seeing between Islam and the rest of the world?

But honestly, I don't know how I'd go about voting for leaders (yes, a vote would be necessary). It would take time to organize, and in all honesty, many of us solitaires hiding around, though we have read the books of the more established Pagan personalities, may not really know who to look to. Much information would have to be exchanged on both sides, to communicate the qualifications of the potentials, and to express the desires of the elusive solitaries. Much would have to be generalized in order to avoid promoting any stereotypes, since we are such a wonderfully eclectic group. What process would decide exactly what would be said? Or how many traditions would be represented by how many people? And as always, how would we select someone to speak for the solitaires?

This is somewhat of a ramble, as I try to go over these thoughts for myself, so undecided. Would it be effective to elect or appoint folks to just simply say "we're involved" and leave it at that, without any dogmatic contributions? I honestly don't know. Would the media look at it as more than just a sensationalist story? I hope so - though evidence previous to this would suggest that would be difficult.

I do think a voice is needed. There are areas where local leadership either doesn't exist or is kept silent for fear. With a central voice, we can communicate our care and concern to those communities.

Okay, solid suggestions: How would Wren and Fritz feel about using Witchvox to moderate this selection? Would that overtax an already very active and busy website? Witchvox would be the perfect place to disseminate information about candidates (ech, that sounds so impersonal!) to those of us who might not know so much about them. It would also be a great place for any leaders who were chosen to hear from the community about what we want said.

I have yet to read all the other posts, though I have seen a few. Perhaps better ideas are out there. I hope we will find the best solution (so mote it be!) and I look forward to hearing response from Wren and Fritz.

Brightest blessings,

Yes, I Do Feel That We Need Leaders To Represent Us On... Sep 25th. at 10:31:52 pm EDT

Morrigan (Ripley, Mississippi US) Age: 60 - Email

Yes, I do feel that we need leaders to represent us on a national level if our rights are to be considered. Laws may be in place to protect us, but laws are no better that those who enforce them, and in some areas 'freedom of religion' means nothing. I am not suggesting that we need political leaders; most pagans are too independent to be subjected to rules and regulations, myself included. What I am suggesting is a spokesperson to represent us and our interest.

This person should be someone knowledgable and articulate, if possible someone respected both in the pagan community and in society at large. He or she could also comfort us and lead us in times of trouble.

I am a writer and a member of the Horror Writers Association. A friend of mine who is also a close friend of Raymond Buckland has scheduled an interview with him for the near future. Mr Buckland will be addressing the subject of the terrorist attack and what pagans can to to help in this time of national crisis. I would like to suggest that Raymond Buckland, a well-known author and respected pagan in his own right would make a good leader.

I don't know how monies for leaders would be raised, perhaps through contributions and Festivals. And I think that we should be able to vote and elect our leaders. I would like to hear others' suggestions.

I feel the time has come for our voices to be heard. The number of pagans in the US alone are considerable and if we had proper representation, our rights would be respected.

I'm Not Sure That National Pagan Leaders Is A Goal That's Even... Sep 25th. at 10:24:04 pm EDT

Meghann MacMurphy (Arlington, Texas US) Age: 31 - Email

I'm not sure that National Pagan Leaders is a goal that's even attainable at this point in time. In all too many local communities, the conflicts between traditions, groups, and leaders are too bitter and deep-seated to even determine a group that should represent a local community, much less vote on some sort of national level.

I believe the answer lies in more of a coalition type of structure... it's unwieldy, but I don't believe that's insurmountable with today's technology. It has to start with the real leaders in a local community coming together and working together for the good of the community without power struggles and attacks. There has to be common ground for pagans to work from. It's sometimes very small and hard to find, but until we can each find that place and work to make it bigger, the divisiveness will keep any real change in paganism and how it's percieved by the non-pagan public just beyond reach.

If We As Pagans Want To Accepted As A Valued Part Of... Sep 25th. at 10:06:38 pm EDT

Truthseeker ) Tom (Winter Park, Florida US) Age: 52

If we as Pagans want to accepted as a valued part of our communities, nation, and the world at large. Then we need to be seen as taking an active roll on our communities, nation and world. In this case VISIBILITY = CREDIBILITY. Three is some validity to the oft. heard question "where are your hospitals...... etc. Weather we like it or not we live on a world of perception. To those outside our circles, covens, groves and quiet little communities, we are perceived as at best those strange people who take on funny names* to those blood thirsty baby killers. Without some kind of united front we are destined to remain in the shadows.

Although some of us claim to have thousands of years of tradition the fact is we are the newcomers on the block, or at least perceived to be. That being the case; If we are to be take seriously, we need to find away to celebrate our individual uniqueness and present a unified front. We Pagans are at a crossroads we have survived our adolescence we must mature if we are to come from the shadows into the light of acceptance we deserve.

Believe me I value the freedom to view the universe and its workings as I see fit, and I in no-way want to change that. However, I would also like to be taken seriously by those around me.

*Just a note on craft names; To many of us our craft names are of great importance and power. However to those outside the Pagan world they are a mask to hide behind. The argument goes like this "how can you take someone seriously if they are not willing to identify themselves and stand behind their statements." Remember the world of perception we live in.

Well... It Seems As If It Could Be Good Isea For Representation... Sep 25th. at 7:34:50 pm EDT

Kitty Minear (Bountiful, Utah US) Age: 17 - Email

It seems as if it could be good isea for representation, but it's not all that simple! How could "a few" leaders encompass every paan mind and opinion....they are all slightly different. Which is something I thoroughly enjoy about it. There are no set rules and regulations for Pagan hearts and Pagan souls. I like knowing that I have taught myself, thus, growing with and for myself also. It wouldn't be much us after representation, anyway. I like abiding my own morals and ethics, thank you. Paganism has tried to syeer clear of the norm is such areas as this. I think it would be good to stay without any leaders...

Hmmm.... Paganism As A General Rule Has Never Been Institutionalized. I Am... Sep 25th. at 7:11:19 pm EDT

Catherine Pluard (Sarnia, Ontario CA) Age: 28 - Email


Paganism as a general rule has never been institutionalized. I am unsure of just how to broach this question; but opinions are like noses, everyone has one; so here's mine.

I love being a rogue. I love the fact that all I have learned I have learned on my own. I love that I have been given the freedom to chose who and what I believe in, and how I practise my craft. It is my opinion that national leadership would on one hand give pagans a stronger voice politically, and on the other hand could destroy the individuality that the craft has to offer. I am someone who has never been one to work with too many other people and I have tended to shy away from any kind of coven work. I have learned as well that throughout history it has been proven time and time again that politics and religion do not mix. It has been a repetitious mistake that is centuries old, and I would hate to see anything like that happen to our pagan community.

I think that if we as a community find ourselves thinking that we are above this kind of mistake, then it could be a step towards our own self destruction. When politics get mixed with spiritual beliefs, then the very principles we are trying to uphold get lost.

So.....national leadership? I would have to say that I'm not for it.

How Many Times Have Pagans Tried To Represent Themselves In The Media... Sep 25th. at 6:58:28 pm EDT

Holly (St. Petersburg, Florida US) Age: 25 - Email

How many times have Pagans tried to represent themselves in the media, to no avail? I seriously doubt that the people that were called "leaders" were in hiding over the course of the past two weeks. They have been doing magickal workings, sending out healing energy, comforting their own communities. Most of those people are AUTHORS, not self-appointed leaders. Just because someone wrote a book doesn't mean they think they know everything. I would also like to point out, with the exception of Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson's spouting off at the mouth, most of the religious leaders of the country have been pretty quiet since about 24 hours after the attack. All of the clergy at the national memorial service were either local or personal friends of the Bush family (Billy Graham). I think it is wonderful that they are at the moment focusing on Islamic clergy perspectives--they are the ones having to defend their faith right now. If (Goddess forbid) a Pagan ever bombs a major U.S. landmark, I would bet my life we will get ALL the media coverage we could ever want (good or bad). In this imperfect world, realize that George Bush is really trying his best, and he cannot always please everyone. I have not heard him one time since this attack ever say anything that was not all inclusive--always talking about ALL the faiths in this country. I even heard him cite a list one time, and apologize to those he forgot to mention. And his response to Jerry Falwell included a mention of Pagans, and a condemnation of Fallwell's statement, saying that every American is in this together. He knows very little about Paganism, and I bet if someone were to educate him, rather than complain, he just might listen. As politicians go, George W. seems like a pretty down-to-earth kinda guy, willing to look at other viewpoints. He has even admitted to being a little one-sided about things. I have my issues with Dubya, but he has a really heavy burden right now, and is responding to it the best way HE KNOWS HOW. If there is no leadership outside of your community, this is a good time to get to know your community. And quit whining. We will never get anywhere in this country if all we ever do is throw temper tantrums over being ignored in the media for two weeks. EVERY group needs time to be recognized and treated as equal--sure, it sucks, but it will happen. As bad as it is to be woman or a minority in this country, its a LOT better than it used to be. Paganism as an organized movement has only been around for a couple of decades. We cannot expect everything all at once. Bush and the national leaders may not particularly like us, but they're not going to mass execute us or anything. We are getting a voice. We HAVE leadership, but, as of right now, we are NOT an organized religion. So either do something to change that, or shut your pie hole. IF YOU DON'T LIKE THE LEADERS YOU'RE STUCK WITH, BECOME ONE. If we want to show America that we are Americans, too, we cannot sit here and kvetch about how everyone ignores us. We have to be there, giving and not just taking. Do it, and then tell them you are Pagan, not the other way around. Remember, the only way we can ever make a change is to be the change we want to make. If you are so intent on being heard, SPEAK. Im sorry this is full of cliches, but they all seemed to apply

I Don't Think There Should Be A Leader, Per Say, But A... Sep 25th. at 6:33:10 pm EDT

Emily Thomas (Warren, Ohio US) Age: 16 - Email

I don't think there should be a leader, per say, but a representative or two. Someone that can understand and identify with ALL our various opinions and beliefs, someone who can speak for us. A leader runs things, we don't need a leader. We run our lives just fine on our own. We just need someone who can be in tune and state the various opinions of the Pagan world.
Of course, it shouldn't be limitied to just one representative. There's too many of us, too many beliefs to have just one. And of course, if any BNP(Big Name Pagans) want to voice their own opinion, just as well.

In Answer To The Author Of The Open Letter Questioning Where The... Sep 25th. at 6:15:46 pm EDT

Kirsten Rostedt, J.D. (New York, New York US) Age: 34

In answer to the author of the open letter questioning where the Pagan leaders were.

Sorry that you did not see any big name Pagans on television, but leadership is more than getting oneÕs face on television or seeing oneÕs name in print (and btw, if you check the archives of NPR, youÕll note that Margot Adler was reporting on the incident).

Here in New York, many members of our community Ð from famous authors and long-time community leaders to newest dedicants Ð were busy. Some of us were -- and still are -- down at Ground Zero helping in the search and rescue; some of us have been collecting food and supplies for the rescue workers and donating our time to help distribute those supplies. Some of us have been donating blood. Some of us have been helping families find shelter and lost pets. Some of us are protecting the civil liberties and rights of others to practice their religion (whether it is Wiccan, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, etc.) free from fear of harm. Some of us are providing spiritual and grief counseling to those survived the attack and to the families of those who did not Ð regardless of whether they are Pagan (and yes there were Pagans who died in the attack) or not. Some of us have spent countless hours journeying to assist the lost souls of those killed in crossing over. Some of us have led and participated in open circles and have joined in the numerous ecumenical rituals throughout the City.

There is more to leadership than the title of ÒleaderÓ. Many prefer to lead by example. What are you doing in your own community?

I'd Support National Leaders Like A Pagan Congress. But I Would Want... Sep 25th. at 5:59:02 pm EDT

Stormseer (Dallas, Texas US) Age: 46 - Email

I'd support national leaders like a pagan congress. but I would want a say in who gets the job. Too many of our leaders are not leaders at all but hucksters and I don't want them speaking for me. sure we forgive but we don't forget. It ain't the 60s anymore and our leaders need to be accountable to something other than there own egos.

They all say that they are good but what if we say its ok and the ones that are picked suck? How do we pick others fast? I am not for leaders for life.

I want a national voice and would give to someone that has earned the right to speak for me. There are a few that are good. most of what I see out there will never speak for me and they better not try to.


I Belive There Are Many Pagan Leaders, But None Recognized Nationaly By... Sep 25th. at 5:56:36 pm EDT

Ember Heart (Salisbury, Maryland US) Age: 24 - Email

I belive there are many Pagan Leaders, but none recognized nationaly by either a majority of Pagans or by the media. The other issues is that a "mandate from the people" is needed for a national level Pagan leader and, well, Pagans arn't know for agreeing on anything! ;) Pagans are in the process of organizing, in some places only at the local level and in others at the county or state level. Sure we have BNPs (big name pagans) and I think they should speak out whenever they can, but still I bet they feel that they can not speak for the feelings and opinions of all Pagans. So the issues is this, do we want to give up or individuality for a national spokes person or be left voiceless? And who if anyone would get a "mandate from the people"?
As someone involved in leadership at the local level, I understand how dificult it is to want to organize something and yet be discreet. My husband worries about my name in the paper when I lead services at the local UU, and worries about what his very Christian co-workers and boss would do if they found out. Now that I'm about to become a Mother in March, the issue of being a leader and in the public eye is even more serious. Yet, I refuse to live in fear, especialy when I have nothing to hid. Yes I did wear my Born Again Pagan t-shirt to work last Friday, along with my purple ribon...and the only one who said anyone was one of the other pagans I work with who wanted to know where I got the shirt! I continue to work descreetly with the local UU and hope that something solid evolves from that. I stress the importance of suporting the local pagan activities are going on in your area if leadership and comunity are important to you. Leaders need people to support them!
In the service of the Goddess,

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The Witches' Voice carries a 501(c)(3) certificate and a Federal Tax ID.

Mail Us: The Witches' Voice Inc., P.O. Box 341018, Tampa, Florida 33694-1018 U.S.A.