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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| 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.
| I Believe The Question Of Leadership Is Something That Is A Bit... ||Sep 25th. at 3:54:14 pm EDT|
|Li Nightsong Ferelwing (Houston) ||Age: 24 - Email |
I believe the question of leadership is something that is a bit of a contriversy within Pagan groups. All of us want a voice but we do not want one person speaking for us. The concept of a Council that has people who represent the different traditions ALL traditions seems to me to be a good idea. There are logistics however that would need to be worked out.
First off, I do not know about the rest of you but I would like to get an idea of the person who is speaking for "my" tradition. I think that a National organization should have state organizations and allow ALL of us to meet those on the state AND national level. I do not like the concept of a "leaders only" club because to me that leaves those of us who love to volunteer our time but do not want to get into the depth of constantly being in charge. I have volunteered in many capacities within the community and sometimes it was a good experience and other times I have run into egos. This is not just a small task, if a national Pagan organization began speaking for US as a whole I would like to know that MY words counted. I would want to be certain that if I gave my time to help an organization like this that it would not be an ego trip for the people elected by the various traditions. I would also want to see that it was run by people who have compassion and a love for the Pagan Community, the entire community not just one tradition or the other. There are MANY traditions out there that need to be treated as equal in the pagan community. It can be done I have seen it with my own eyes!
Secondly, there would need to be some important factors involved we would have to be able to trust these people with our voice, how could we ensure that they would not turn into the politicians we have come to distrust... There would be a lot of basic things that would have to be set up to protect OUR interests.
Finally, I want to say that a National Voice is a great idea but we really need to work out how it would work and how to keep it from becoming someone's ego project or corrupted like our own federal government. If we want to have confidence in our leaders we have to KNOW them.
| While I Don't Think That The Wiccan Community Should Have Officially Appointed... ||Sep 25th. at 3:28:31 pm EDT|
|Robin (Hiram, Ohio US) ||Age: 18 - Email |
While I don't think that the Wiccan community should have officially appointed representatives, I do think that we need to be more outspoken. A few individuals, such as Starhawk, have set a fine example, but if we wish for Wicca to be respected and recognized to the degree that it deserves, we need to do more to make ourselves known.
I absolutely agree that there are many who enjoy being "misfits" and revel in sneaking around in the shadows, but this cannot continue. Such individuals must question there true motivation to be Witches: do they truly wish to connect with Mother Earth and bring joy and wonder to the world around them, or simply skulk around in dark clothes chuckling about how mysterious they are?
There is a time to embrace darkness and secrecy, and there is a time to walk in the light and be seen. We have hidden in the shadows long enough.
| It Seems That Many Of Us Are Set Against Any Sort Of... ||Sep 25th. at 3:05:35 pm EDT|
|Faile Drakaina (Florence, Alabama US) ||Age: 25 |
It seems that many of us are set against any sort of "leadership, " and there's certainly nothing wrong with that. We chose our paths because they let us be ourselves, and freed us from the image of the pastor up at the pulpit telling us how to live our lives.
Someone way back at the top of the postings mentioned a PR group. I think that's a terrific idea. We don't want anyone leading us, but I think we certainly need someone to represent us, especially in this most important time of crisis. The questions of religion freedom are going to be debated now more fiercely than ever, and the Pagan path needs to be represented to the public eye.
I can't be an activist at this point in my life. I'm still struggling to get through college. If I had the ways and means, however, I would certainly do my best to make contacts, be publicized, and have the world know that the Pagans do have a voice, and we are valid members of the US society. I know that a lot of us are not in situations where we can do that... but somebody out there has to be.
DCHanna named names in her letter, and they were names that we all recognize as people on the forefront of the Pagan movement. I'm not casting any blame, judgement, or anything else... but seriously, those folks do have a little advantage that the rest of us don't: publicity.
If there is something that I can do from home (writing letters, donating food, sending energy...), I do it. I urge each of the rest of you to do what you can, no more.
We don't need leaders. We only need willing representatives.
| I Have Had A Few More Thoughts On This Subject. I Have... ||Sep 25th. at 2:55:13 pm EDT|
|Reverend Seneca Silverlight (Austin, Texas US) ||Age: 43 - Email |
I have had a few more thoughts on this subject.
I have read all of the responses on this issue here on WitchVox. I note that folks keep talking about not wanting a "leader" to make religious decisions for them.
I would just like to state that there is a huge difference between a "Leader" who makes religious decisions for everyone, and Religious Leaders who make secular decisions for the group based on consensus and elected mandate from the group.
No elected "leader" of an any national level pagan organization should ever be making any religious decisions for anyone. These folks would be working with secular issues that affect Pagans as a whole, with a mandate from their members to do so. Their members have already made their own decisions religiously and rightly so.
In my mental model, it is a fact that Pagans do not want, nor need anyone to make *religious* decisions for them. What many of us would like to see is a conduit for national issues that affect the Pagan (or magickal) lifestyle as a whole. The organizational model that I can envision is not about how you should conduct your personal brand of religion, it would encompass issues about our ability to keep intact our precious right to do so, and being afforded the simple respect that other religions are given by Lawmakers.
I see such an organization telling the world in an unified way that we are here. That we DO exist and that we will stand united against any attempt to erode or degrade our rights to be who we are. That we will have respect because our way of life is worthy of it.
Such a national organization with elected "representatives" could provide a means for us to support each other on a national scale in hundreds of ways. We could provide our own relief funds, scholarship funds, community service initiatives, or whatever the most creative minds in the world can come up with. This could be done through charitable contributions, reibursements for services rendered, and fundraising activities spread all over the country by individual chapters.
Such an organization to me would be about taking charge as individual Pagans of our own destiny and doing it "our" way together as a united people. Our elected spokespersons or representatives would be our voice, and our champions. This should never be an onerous responsibility for them. It should be a position of honor and dignity, with loving support from us. For our elected, we need to realize that they are *our* chosen and give them all the love and support we can. Sure there will be disagreements, but most families do disagree. As long as we are able to agree and reach consensus on the important issues then we will be able to make an impact, and truly become a positive force for pagans everywhere in our country.
We might as well face it, as long as we are factionalized, we will never be taken seriously. We are diverse, and proud of it, but truly, what threatens one of us in the political larger world, threatens all of us.
If we keep allowing ourselves to be victimized because we are so factionalized through petty dispute and arguments, the folks that would love to see us go away as any type of organized political entity will get their wish in the end. As long as we in-fight we will remain weak, and at the mercy of whatever Fundamentalist Congressman comes along and needs a strong platform for their constituents.
Reverend Seneca Silverlight
| I Think The Question Of The Need Of National Pagan Leaders Is... ||Sep 25th. at 2:41:46 pm EDT|
|Arcana, HPS of Starlight Coven (Redding) ||Age: 30 - Email |
I think the question of the need of National Pagan Leaders is something that does need to be re-examined as the Wiccan and Pagan community has grown to be present in nearly every city and state. Yet, I also believe it is a question that requires a lot of serious thought. We all may have ideals, but ideals that aren't manifested have no long lasting impression.
Personally, I think Pagans and Wiccans would benefit from good leaders, especially of clergy, in the U.S. I still hear so many say that the U.S. is a "Christian Nation, " including our president and governement officials. Pagans are just as charitable and patriotic, why does the U.S. have to stand for Christianity when we are so diversified?
I think a National Covention would be good to develop answers to such questions that affect all of us in the Pagan Community, everywhere. Following, perhaps, in the example of the Council of American Witches that gave us our Principles of Belief. Perhaps now would be a good time to try such an endeavor again. And this time, perhaps it would continue to exist and grow for the decades and generations to come.
| In My Most Humble Opinion, There Should Never Be Any Elected/selected... ||Sep 25th. at 2:39:22 pm EDT|
|Edward C. Worden II (Mount Prospect, Illinois US) ||Age: 38 - Email |
In my most humble opinion, there should never be any elected/selected individual or group of individuals to represent all our interests. Yes, it would be nice and convenient for other entities to be able to have a single point of interface, but keeping in mind the old axiom, "Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely, " it is in the best interests of all the diverse communities not to be misrepresented from afar.
When national/international crises dictate some form of action, it is not leaders who need to be doing the direction; it is communication between communities that needs most to be available, a sort of "action clearinghouse, " if you will, that needs to exist, not a national "power structure." Since the Internet was devised primarily as a tool for communication between remote locations, including in times of national emergency, it as well as the World Wide Web are the perfect tools for containing this "clearinghouse."
| The Thing That Draws Many Of Us To The Pagan Path Is... ||Sep 25th. at 2:05:03 pm EDT|
|Shadowcatcher (Cincinnati, Ohio US) ||Age: 54 - Email |
The thing that draws many of us to the Pagan path is the very thing that creates the challenge of identifying and accepting a "Leader". When dealing with a faith which is largely personalized by each follower the concept of some national spokesperson becomes an oxymoron.
There are some existing frames for finding representatives to the general public. The Pagan Community Council of Ohio and Earth Religions Alliance are examples of regional or broader umbrella groups which can step forward and make public statements beyond the annual Halloween news bites. These groups are by definition generalists, but the message would be spoken. These groups also have at least some financial resources to help ease the burdens of travel and lodging.
It might also be a good idea to take a page from the other faiths, and think seriously about some financial support to Pagan organizations. While fundalmentalist Christians make 10% tithes many Pagans take their religion on the cheap. Financial committment is limited to ritual tools, robes and the newest published installment of Wicca 101. Certainly the contributions many of us make to Greenpeace, Nature Conservancy, The Cousteau Society, The Sierra Club and other groups is in the nature of a Christian's envelope in the Sunday collection plate, but membership in organizations like PCCO or Witchvox is an important (and tax deductible) statement of faith as well.
With a President who is openly anti-Pagan any public exposure or recognition from the Rose Garden or National Cathedral is unlikely. We can, however step a bit further out of the broom closets ourselves, and urge others we know with higher profiles to speak out more loudly. We can also ask our local television, radio and print newspeople to find and publish a Pagan perspective.
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