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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| I Think This Could Be A Good Idea, But Find One To... ||Sep 30th. at 2:00:46 pm EDT|
|scott sharp (patchogue, New York US) ||Age: 30 |
I think this could be a good idea, but find one to fit the bill will be hard.
I found that to many have there own reason's for doing thing and not for the good of all. Maybe there is one or more who could do this job but it will take alot.
| I Have Been A Member Of The Pagan Community For 10 Years... ||Sep 30th. at 1:24:09 pm EDT|
|Gilgames (Detroit, Michigan US) ||Age: 25 - Email |
I have been a member of the Pagan community for 10 years, and so I speak with only a sophomoric voice, but whatever. Lets face it, crack dealers, the KKK, and NAMBLA are more organized than the Pagan community. That's kind of the way it has to be. The idea of following your own road is what Paganism is all about. Personally, I would be afraid that a national Pagan leader would receive so little support from the Pagan community that s/he would appear a commical figure. I think the best we could hope for would be a "Council of Elders" like thing with a spokes-person, but even a council would be questionable. Bottom line: Without some real support base, a Pagan leader or council would look like a kook / a bunch of kooks. And if our leader looks like a kook, we look like kooks. It is too early for a Pagan leader to emerge, it would cause more harm than good.
| I Don't Think The Major Problem In This Situation Is "where Are... ||Sep 30th. at 1:16:09 pm EDT|
|Heather H (Port Orchard, Washington US) ||Age: 30 |
I don't think the major problem in this situation is "where are the pagan leaders?". They're out there, leading circles and rituals in every city. I think the problem is with the media. We have not been the only religion ignored in the wake of the terrorist attacks. All I see on the news, in the papers and on the radio are representatives of the Judeo-Christian-Islamic trimuverate. No Buddists. No Hindus. No Athetists. No Agnostics. No Pagans. It is as if after the attacks all of the other religions disappeared off of the media's roadmap. Even if we did have chosen representatives for Pagans and Wiccans, they would never get any air time on the news. I'm sure the major authors and speakers for Paganism HAVE tried to get their feelings published or aired but have been whole-heartedly rebuffed. This probably has as much to do with the fact that most of us (but not all) are pacifists as it does with us not being part of the established triumverate. They do not want to hear anything from people who are not part of the Status-Quo, whether they be pacifists, Buddists, Hindus, Atheists or Pagans.
| One Thing We Need To Keep In Mind Here Is That Alot... ||Sep 30th. at 1:05:22 pm EDT|
|Mavelle (Garland, Texas US) ||Age: 26 - Email |
One thing we need to keep in mind here is that alot of the religious representatives shown recently are not just ministers, but they are hosts or correspondants among radio shows in our metropolitan areas.
These people aren't higher-ups. I didn't see Billy Graham, for example, coming onto a news show to talk. Sure, the Pope and the Dalai Lama both have issued statements, but again, they are representative of their faith.
We shouldn't have to take literally the example for our representatives. Some belief systems follow a Master of sorts, which is fine for them. I don't think we will over-react to a representative.
Also, paganism.. even Wicca, is as diverse and different as possible. From one pagan to another, the beliefs can be quite different from each other. I don't think we need to have one person from Asatru, one Dianic, ect ect.
I would have been happy to see a UU minister in the representation of faith viewpoints. I must note that I personally only saw monotheistic faiths represented on news shows, save a local commentary on a spiritual gathering of Native Americans for healing. Seeing that calmed me a bit.
One thing I would also like to see is a chaplin represented for all our military people.
The key to remember is that we all are representatives of our faith. I urge each of us to be ready to step up to the plate if contacted by a local newsgroup.
I do have a question from those out there. ARE there pagan radio personalities within your locale? If so, contact them. Find out if they have made an attempt to talk with the national media. Getting someone on the news is a two-way street. For all we know, Ravenwolf or someone else may have asked to be on a show, and then denied.
Whatever the case, isn't it good that we can come out and express our beliefs without the fear of being imprisoned or setup for a public stoning? There are still Americans stuck in Afghanistan, and I think they need our prayers right now.
| Blessings All, I Think This Letter Raises Some Very Very Important Issues... ||Sep 30th. at 12:41:24 pm EDT|
|myst (santa maria, California US) ||Age: 45 |
i think this letter raises some very very important issues here and not just concerning who the national leaders might be or how they get to be one, but also about the issue of faith.
the individuals mentioned in the letter have been and are perceived as at least the most nationally prominent pagans and more than a few have published their credentials in such a way as to be logically perceived as a "leader" or at least a "spokesperson" at the national level.
i do not beleieve pagans will ever elect leaders....rather, in the pagan style they will just "rise to the occasion".
but , for me , the most important issue raised in the letter is where were the warnings? and since there were none evidently, is this panel of pagans prominent only because they have been fortunate enough to have a book deal (or several)? and if so, this speaks pretty loudly that maybe thses people aren't in fact leaders at all. maybe they are just famous. if we take the position that coven and grove leaders must meet certain qualifications and requirements, certainly we should expect at least the same level of responsibility from those more prominent at the national level, especially since they are the ones who will most likely be interviewed by national level media...and in that sense be speaking for us.
most of us are solitary for a reason. we work alone because its less messy that way. i don't have to wonder if my coven leader is "for real". i work in the shadows...in the background. so, am i upset there was no national display of paganism? no, i didn't expect one....and would have been horrified to see a ritual where thousands cast a circle on t.v. to me, that is not what my religion is about.
this is a path of self responsibility....i don't feel a need for a national "grand mama silver" up there setting us all up as targets for the mainstream swimmers. but thats my personal opinion.
blessings to us all,
| In My Neck Of The Woods, We Are Invisible Presence. As A... ||Sep 30th. at 12:38:55 pm EDT|
|BriarRose(Wanda Custance) (Jacksonville, Oregon US) ||Age: 49 - Email |
In my neck of the woods, we are invisible presence. As a solitary witch
I have very little contact with other witches. But I am a member of Circle
If memory serves me right was there not a selected group of representatives
for the Big Congress of World Religions(or something like that) some years
back. Perhaps we could start there. How were those people selected? How
is it that support for a committee of chosen people from different pagan
organisations could be founded. Perhaps each organisation could have a special earmarked donation set-up for expenses for this to sponsor a voted for person
to a committee of pagan leaders. Dogma and traditions are not important here
just our visible leaders chosen by us.
Here in southern oregon, when there has been a gathering of religious
leaders, there is not one pagan, and that is because we are not wanted.
To avoid harrassment no one makes a scene. The only place that witches truly feel that they can show a presence in public are in certain cities like Ashland.
Out here in the country I sit in circles with Buddists, New Age, Native
Americans to pray and meditate. As a pagan minister that is the best I
can do. All of us are out of the mainstream, so we offer comfort to each
| Normally, I Do Not Answer Questions Of The Day But This Is... ||Sep 30th. at 12:28:28 pm EDT|
|Catherine Burns (Sanford, North Carolina US) ||Age: 17 |
Normally, I do not answer questions of the day but this is one topic where I want to voice my opinion. The fact is that over the past few weeks, during crisis in our country, I had no one to turn to, to let me know how to handle this as a pagan. Sure, I knew how to handle this as an american citizen, I was frightened and angry. But, what could I do to heal this gaping wound left inside me. The truth is, I didn't know. I still don't know. As a pagan I didn't feel comfortable going to church services or vigils where choirs and ministers attended. So, here I sit nearly three weeks later and I have yet to mourn for the losses in New York and Washington. I live fifteen miles from one of the largest Military bases in the World. Planes are flying overhead everyday and my best friend has been called to Egypt. I cringe at the sound of planes and cry each night because acording to recent statistics I will never get the chance to see my friend again or my stepfather who is being deployed anyday now. I don't know how to deal with this. I need guidance but I have no where to turn. And, what about pagan family members who have lost their loved ones? Who can they turn to now?
But, how do we decide who is most adept to represent the witches of america? The Craft is so diverse in it's traditions that I don't think there is any way to find leaders who can represent every single witch. And, that is OK. Look at the US Government. At one time or another, we have all felt misrepresented in congress. Yes it is a frustrating thing but it is the best way we know to represent the people. I think a group of people represtenting diverse traditions should form our national pagan leaders. But, pagan leaders do not have to be full time spiritual leaders. Let's face it people, we can not afford for them to be. Why should they be full time guides to the pagan community? Anyother time I would not need spiritual guidance. That is why I chose the craft, so I could find my own way. Only in times of crisis, like the recent tragedy should these people be called upon to give comfort and guidance to frightened pagans.
The internet is a wonderful thing, it will take this letter thousands of miles away in a mater of seconds. Why not let our voting take place here? Computers are easily accesible and anonymos for the broom closet pagans. Ofcourse the internet is not entirely secure but then I suppose no place is. We need pagan leaders, perhaps not everyone does but enough to warrant taking a long hard look at the way things have been going. I can only hope this rant of mine will affect some one other than myself so that the next time something horrid happens, we can grieve with fellow pagans through out the country.
| I Really Don't Think The Pagan Community Needs A Figurehead Such As... ||Sep 30th. at 12:15:28 pm EDT|
|Patrick J. Plante (Auburn, Washington US) ||Age: 25 |
I really don't think the Pagan community needs a figurehead such as Jesse Jackson for the talk shows and pundits to rip apart. One of the reasons I became a pagan was to get away from these elevated leaders with opinions that are given more weight just because they are on TV; the recent Jerry Falwell/Pat Roberson piece of trash comes to mind.
As my momma always said, "Never argue with an idiot. They drag you down to their level, and beat you with experience"
However, I would advocate that the Pagan community should mobilize those who are already in the public eye, including authors, musicians, and those who are respected within the community (Fritz & Wren?) to speak out on our behalf, and not just within pagan media, but expanding into mainstream media.
| We Do Not Need Elected National Pagan Leaders. All That Will Dois... ||Sep 30th. at 12:01:42 pm EDT|
|David (Lawrence, Kansas US) ||Age: 30 |
We do not need elected national Pagan leaders. All that will dois spawn rebellion and further division in the Pagan Community.
What we NEED is for those who already tout themselves as leaders to be with all of these representatives of other religions and make sure we are heard too.
They also need to speak up. They write books and charge us to attend lectures where they do not hesitate to tell us how to run our lives yet, in this time of crisis, none of them has a word of comfort, understanding or guidance.
I am sure we will all be thinking about this when Ravenwolf's next book comes out or Buckland wants $50 to talk to us.
| I've Not Clocked In On Any Of These Discussions In The Last... ||Sep 30th. at 11:34:07 am EDT|
|Thena (Portland, Oregon US) ||Age: 28 - Email |
I've not clocked in on any of these discussions in the last two weeks. I've been too blessed busy.
Do we need national leaders? In what sense? In an official "I'm wearing the big hat" sort of way?
But it would be nice if, in times of crisis, some of the folks who are already well-respected names happened to take time to stick their heads up and say to the world, hello, yes, the Pagan community (or at least my little wedge of it) is with you. Come to think of it, a nationally-recognized name isn't necessary. Just the calling and the will to persevere.
Electing a leader? Electing -A- leader? Please. Coordinating witchy folks is about like herding cats - three witches in one room means at least five opinions. And as most of us figure out eventually, the ONLY way to herd cats is to convince them all that there's something in ---> that direction ---> that they want.
-You- are our pagan leaders. I'm not just talking to Wren and Fritz here, or any other Big Names who lurk around the Voice. I'm talking to -you-. The fifteen year old high school sophomore. The retired grandmother of five. The environmental activist. The postal employee. The nurse. The airline pilot. The small-businesswoman. YOU.
Never mind that nobody knows your name.
Never mind that most of the people you work with or study with don't know you're pagan.
They don't have to know.
Just get out there, ground, center, and act according to your values. And you and I and all the other kitties will be moving in more or less the same direction.
| As A "recovering Catholic" , I Have Checked Out The Pagan Pespective. To... ||Sep 30th. at 10:57:43 am EDT|
|Americo Ross (Staten Island, New York US) ||Age: 50 - Email |
As a "recovering catholic" , I have checked out the Pagan pespective. To be honest I cannot see any basis for a national leadership.I am not sure that it was a good idea to procliam Paganism as a religion. I believe that
the institution of spirituallity into a religion has given rise to all the oppressive formations of the religious-nation. Maybe it was necessary to be "officially" recognized as a religion so that pagans in the military and in prison would have more freedom to practice .
Why not leave it at that? You ask what
then should be done in times of crisis? Do pagans need the comfort of a "leader" in times of crisis? If seeing a pagan leader up on the stage with all the other religous leaders, making their obligitory statments of tolerance and peace, would give comfort to them, then select your national leadership. Once the leaders forge a new dogma to be followed, the nature will be taken out of essence of paganism. Why, if all the bigtime religions all stand for "peace", as the bigtime religious leaders proclaim, do their followers wage war in the name of God, Allah or Israel?
Yes, show me the path, you can't lead me down it. Tell me of your experiences when you went down the path.That's all . My pagan ancestors,
and I can only speak for myself, have been gone from this planet for centuries. So I take from what is left in the Christian and borrow from other spiritual peoples.Imagine, like John Lennon wanted us to, no religion . I don't believe he meant atheism , but spiritualality replacing the institution of religions.
Thank for providing this forum.
| Yes, I Support The Idea Of National Leader For Pagan Interests In... ||Sep 30th. at 10:00:09 am EDT|
|Richard Seward - Dagon (San Francisco, California US) ||Age: 49 - Email |
Yes, I support the idea of national leader for pagan interests in the USA. but let's be clear about what we are talking about.
We are not talking about a bishop or a pope. We are NOT talking aobut a spiritual leader or anyone with ecumenical or dogmatic or even moral authority vested in him/her by the pagan community.
What we need is a person to advocate within the national religious community, to the press, and at large for the general interests of pagan pepoles - both solitaries, churches, and covens.
I am thinking of an NAACP or a President of the National Council of Churches type of person. A spokesperson for the Jewish anti-defamation league is another role model.
Not someone who dictates - rather someone who advocates for general principals. Not someone who "leads" so much as someone who "speaks out" in a general way. A "spokesperson" against defamation. Someone to remind others that many of us pray to our Fahter AND Mother.
To fund it? Form a 501 (c)(3) and take donations through Paypal or with ongoing regular credit card donations on a monthly basis. I would LOVE to be able to give tax deductable donations to my religion! I would love to see Vox funded as an arm of this 501c3 organization for anti-defamation of all pagans.
But again I think it is important that we NOT think about a pope or bishop model of spiritual leader but more of a spokesperson of an anti-defamation league.
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