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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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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| 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,
| Dear Fritz And Wren, Thank You For This Site And Allowing Us... ||Sep 25th. at 5:36:03 pm EDT|
|Cyn Stavros (Lansing, Michigan US) ||Age: 37 |
Dear Fritz and Wren,
Thank you for this site and allowing us to offer our opinion.
I like this idea, and want someone to represent me in Washington and other inter-faith gatherings. What I have a problem with is all those that want the job are not the ones that I'd pick. The ones I am talking about are those that the ones that think they know how I want to be represented but couldn't care less about what ai have to say. There is a big difference between self-appointed leaders (and boy we have no shortage of this type) and those that naturally rise by support of the people.
thank for Witchvox
| Well Now, The Feasibility Of "pagan Leadership" As A Organized Whole, Seems... ||Sep 25th. at 5:33:40 pm EDT|
|Susanna Williamson (Washington, District of Columbia US) ||Age: 44 - Email |
Well now, the feasibility of "Pagan Leadership" as a organized whole, seems a bit oxymoronic. Witches or Pagans, by their very virtue of being such, should be quite capable of leading themselves. Each person is the best example of the Witch/Pagan Community. If you take the workings of the Ways into your hands and deem yourself kindred to them, but then look to another to lead you . . . YOU are the best leader, the best example. Your actions, words, example speak for the Community as a whole and can either bring benefit or detriment.
When the "Open Letter" first hit the eGroup where I read it, I waited before responding. The open letter was further compounded by equally paramount "Calls to Action", etc. as though the great majority of us were sitting upon our hands awaiting the writ of "go ahead"
The Open Letter posed a question, Where are the Leaders? So then, where are we/they? . . . Perhaps we're in the background, working to undo, clear and clean the mess put forth by peoples of "fuzzy thinking" and ill-intent. Perhaps we're giving blood, money, food, clothing, boxing up ear-wash, eye-wash, food for the K-9's, we're offering any help we can.
Perhaps we're in the foreground, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists at the Washington National Cathedral, shaking hands and talking and sharing, our hearts beating as one with our fellow-human, regardless of faith. And all the while, the Pentacle or Talisman of the Goddess clearly visable and gleaming at our throats. And also importantly, helping to let in the Light and to demonstrate that beautiful gnosis.
Where are we? . . . we are working and moving, quietly but surely, firm in our commitment to God and Goddess, ourselves, humanity and our world. We stand in Vigils, alongside our fellow human-beings because we are all one, the only division is in perception.
Where are we? . . . we, who can be "out of the broom-closet" have placed our gauntlets upon the ground and no longer wait for human recognition or validation. We are already recognized by the One or Ones whom we serve.
There are too many movements "whining" their way into recogntion. I truly hope this will not manifest further into this Community. From my position of "Where are We?" We're on the frontlines with our heads held high and doing the good work of the Great God and Goddess.
We are not as powerless as we often presume ourselves as being. Nor do we require an edict to do what is good. We simply need balanced and patient perserverance. We know it's there, we know we aren't "sheep" simply because of the paths we've chosen. The light can shine so brightly within, yet we deny it so profusely and instead await the words of another to give our lives meaning.
Do you look to a Leader to unite what is already in your heart? Represent your community through yourself. Represent the plurality of Traditions. Represent the Masks of Divinity. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and give yourself permission to create change and do good. Take up the gauntlet the Great Goddess has laid at your feet. It won't be easy, but it will be worthwhile.
Through misfortune and terror the country, and perhaps the world has been offered an opportunity to correct and restore balance . . . the country has calmed, its wrath has become more tempered and resolute.
Which will we choose? How will we weave? How can we lead?
"To every thing there is a season . . . "
| National Leaders? No Way. I Say This Because Of What I See... ||Sep 25th. at 5:27:09 pm EDT|
|Greybear (Phoenix, Arizona US) ||Age: 29 |
National leaders? NO WAY.
I say this because of what I see at the top (present website excluded)... Most of our leaders and not about us. they are about them. yes we do notice this.
There are a few that I would follow, but they are too busy working to be available. We have a few qualified folks right here in Arizona.
Perhaps someday we will have folks that should speak at the national level. Those that have earned the right because they care about our tribes. Until then I will just sit back and watch them fight their way to the top actually believing that we are buying it.
| Personally, I'm Of The Belief That Some Form Of National-level Interfaith Pagan... ||Sep 25th. at 5:27:01 pm EDT|
|Jessica Orsini (Columbia, Missouri US) ||Age: 33 - Email |
Personally, I'm of the belief that some form of national-level Interfaith Pagan Council should exist, and that said Council should have some form of P.R. functionality, as well as serve as a general clearinghouse for FAQs and such. I'm not at all certain what form such a Council should take, but it should be able to represent the broad array of Pagan faiths, from Asatru to Wicca to Shamanic to Druidic to what-have-you.
Funding for such would have to come from contributions, both from local Pagan organizations and from individuals. Thankfully, the Internet has made the logistical end of this relatively simple: a PayPal account could be set up to receive said donations via the Web, for those folks who don't want to be bothered with checks, stamps and envelopes.
The election of said leaders could take advantage of the Web as well. A simple webform, with registration required, and with only one vote per registered account (i.e., the system would note that an account had voted, but not how it had voted, with votes being annonymously tallied separately). Many Web discussion forums utilize this sort of system for online polls.
| To Me It's A Matter Of Trust! And I Can See That... ||Sep 25th. at 4:52:55 pm EDT|
|James Conelly (Pittsfield, Massachusetts US) ||Age: 51 |
To me it's a matter of trust! and i can see that many of the posts here don't want national leaders cause they don't trust the famous ones we have to speak for them. Let's face it, it's a self-serving lot for the most part.
Most of our personalities and authors have given me NO reason to trust them. In fact their actions lead me to the opposite. Too many act like rock stars, perpetuating an illusion. You can not contact them, they either don't post their email or don't answer it. They are too busy (they say). They are available but ALWAYS for money. There are exceptions, Silver Raven Wolf (whom I don't care for) DOES answer her email, gets the community involved in her website, and does work for free in her area.
I DO trust Starhawk, because she is very dedicated to what she believes in and is accessable, she is the real deal. I do trust Dorthy Morrison. I do trust Fritz and Wren for showing dedication, fairness, balance and for always being there for the community. I have waited for them to sell out for years and if they have a hidden agenda I haven't seen it yet. so YES they have earned my trust.
Many 'personality' pagans do NOT seem to care about community feedback, they just about all have websites, yet if you surf them you won't see requests for your opinion.
Show ME that you can about more than yourself and I will get glad to work with you and perhaps even let you speak for me. I like that idea, but only with those that have earned my trust. I don't think we are ready to do elections. But I like them being forced to consider our thoughts and needs. Until then it looks like they will just proclaim themselves our national leaders and actually believe that we follow them. Sad really.
Our present national leaders are not accountible for anything but the effectiveness of their own pr packages. We need more Starhawks and wrenses and fritzes. we need more people that have earned our trust.
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