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 Am Only A Very Recent Arrival To The Pagan Way Of... ||Sep 24th. at 3:52:40 pm EDT|
|Karen Jackson (DuPont, Washington US) ||Age: 53 |
I am only a very recent arrival to the Pagan way of life. It has brought tremendous joy and meaning to my life. I am incredibly grateful for the brave, hard working Pagan community that has made so many teachings available to the ordinary seeker. I agree with so many opinions that have already said it better than I can - that no one leader could represent the Pagan community. I have occassionally visited a Unitarian Universalist Sunday service and was thinking maybe if they have a single leader s/he could speak to remind our Nation that the prayers/rituals/magick of many non-mainstream faiths are at work to heal our pain and render futile the acts of hate and fear in all nations. After I found out that my son and his girlfriend were safe (they both work in Manhattan) and was able to tear myself away from the TV I went to my computer. I knew of one place that I could find timely, meaningful comment and that was here at WitchVox. Thank you Fritz and Wren for being here where we could find you.
| One Of The Best Things About Being Pagan Is That It Is... ||Sep 24th. at 3:43:22 pm EDT|
|Lupaluna (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania US) ||Age: 30 - Email |
One of the best things about being Pagan is that it is so openminded. My religious thoughts and feelings are so very personal to me. That is why I am Pagan. Taking on a national leader would be like putting a middle man between me and my spirituality. Adopting a hierarchy will only invite corruption. Just look at every other organized religion. I'd rather not be at the mercy of what someone else thinks. Is there truly a need for national leadership among Pagans? I think our freeness is a major part of what makes us Pagan.
| I Find It Interesting That The Question Is Asked About Where Our... ||Sep 24th. at 3:03:37 pm EDT|
|David O. Norris (Flint, Michigan US) ||Age: 55 - Email |
I find it interesting that the question is asked about where our Pagan leadership has been during this national tragedy. The original question seemed to be aired in irritation as if the people named in that list where somehow inactive, unresponsive or lacking in concern. While I can understand the frustration of the writer, certainly that person must realize that none of the people mentioned in the posting can call Ted Coppell and appear on Nightline, or have David Letterman fly them to New York, or hold a press conference for the media with CNN and the major networks vying for their words. I am particularly glad that our people don't have the kind of lucrative 700 Club image that seems to have attached itself to other faiths, whereby their "leaders" can rip their garments and assign blame. I handle personal appearance arrangements for Silver RavenWolf and you will be saddened to learn that Oprah didn't invite her to be part of the prayer service in New York. Even with the huge increase in our visibility and membership, we don't blip very loud on the national press radar until Halloween.
In regard to Silver RavenWolf and the Black Forest Clan I can tell you exactly what was happening from the moment of the attack. One of Silver's Black Forest Clan elders was on the street near the World Trade Center when the first attack occurred. With explosions, fire and debris showering down on the streets, Lady Mary's first action was to make cell phone calls to other Black Forest Elders, and they in turn to Silver, to conjure protection for as many people as possible. Lady Mary was horrified to continue to see humans falling to their deaths on the streets below even as she spoke to Lady Morgaine, the Clan Mother of Michigan. I found out about the attacks because of Lady Mary's calls. A natural first instinct would be to run. Lady Mary did what she was trained to do, magick.
From the moment of the attacks (on her birthday) Silver and her Black Forest family were in action. I wish someone had put a camera in her face. She would have embodied the Morrigan! I would have loved to see our friends Wren and Fritz on the CBS evening news. I would have been comforted by the power and determination of Lady Laurie Cabot speaking to Connie Chung. StarHawk has confronted major national and international issues, even being jailed for her beliefs, and I have never seen her interviewed on a mainstream national newscast. I would have popped popcorn and put the dog out in order to watch our dear friend Betsy Ashby of Gathering of the Tribes sit on a panel and rip Jerry Falwell and Pat Roberston. My point is that I suspect that all of these people worked their magick in the manner they have been trained and in the manner that they teach, and their workings were seamless, ongoing and direct during this disaster.
Maybe the author of the original question might want to call or email the networks and ask them why there was such an exclusion of opinion from the pagan community. That is where the question should be directed. As for some kind of pagan leadership, I can't imagine what that could be other than the diverse and varied group of dedicated people whose names surface from time to time. I can't speak for any of the others, but I know that Silver never had any intention of becoming a "leader." She would have been perfectly comfortable to sit in the background, teach Witchcraft, write her books and let others get the limelight. I know, because I was one of the people who helped drag her out of Pennsylvania to do her seminars around the country. I can also tell you that Silver would not have dishonored the sacrifice of public service officials and the deaths of thousands of people by putting out a press release that might be interpreted as publicity. Instead she was casting, conjuring and joining her Black Forest Family in the work of protection, healing and recovery.
It is hard to be visible when our society makes alternative faith invisible. Many hundreds of ceremonial fires and rituals were held around the nation this last weekend. I was at one Black Forest sponsored gathering and there were no TV cameras or press handouts. But the work was done, the healing begun, protection established, and justice intoned. I think that is what leadership is all about.
David O. Norris
| I Would Seriously Disagree With The Need For Pagan "leadership" On A... ||Sep 24th. at 2:55:41 pm EDT|
|Jolandra (Gaylord, Michigan US) ||Age: 22 - Email |
I would seriously disagree with the need for Pagan "leadership" on a large scale. How could you possibly find an accurate representative of the majority of Pagans, or even Wiccans? Considering the wonderful level of diversity found here, it is an impossible task to do without high-handed decisions of validity, of getting into the controversial position of declaring what's "correct" and "incorrect". You will never find an individual with whom every Pagan agrees, even on the broader issues. But the reasons why we shouldn't go beyond why we can't. Isn't the desire for leaders just a desire to be led? Why do we need someone else to tell us the correct way to think and act in order to be considered Pagan by the world at large? I don't understand why people are driven by a need to organize and bureaucratize our community. A great deal of our beauty would be lost if we were to be "classified" under an individual. The vast majority of Pagans prefer to work and study alone. If we select a Pagan "leader", it is a blatant refutation of their validity. We are not homogeneous followers of a single religion with similar goals, and we cannot be sectioned off, labeled and herded like sheep. Coven leaders, people who are influential within a geographical area, even authors with their usually limited following are the only source of leadership we need. They lead those who wish to be led, in the direction they need to go. They serve a small portion of the highly individualized needs of the region and group, but even they usually cannot be considered community-wide leaders, even in their geographical area. In my state there are a hundred solitary eclectics, without any need for leadership, for every covener. They do not need a voice to speak for them, and they are so diverse that no voice could speak for them all.
| So Far, Most People Have Writen About Setting Up A National "leader... ||Sep 24th. at 2:51:34 pm EDT|
|Rell (Conyers, Georgia US) ||Age: 22 - Email |
So far, most people have writen about setting up a national "Leader" who speaks for all pagans. That I believe is an impossible task for, as has been said many times before, not one of us believes the exact same thing. We have our individual pagan communities and local groups. We have different paths and organizations. Then there are also plenty of you out there that are solitary, like I am. None of us could ever be spoken for in a single voice with even half of us satisfied.
Though what we need is not a "Leader" but a representative. For a representative there really doesn't need to be political influence, elections, or parties. All of that would destroy the paganism that we all have come to love and thrive in. With a representive though, they could speak their own voice and say so, but it would get pagans more out in the mainstream and, the Lady willing, accepted. I personally think that it would have felt wonderful to have a pagan, even if it was myself, standing with the other religions and under the pagan banner, give a humanitarian speech toward the lose of life and the tragedy that occured without the need for religious overtones or propaganda. The representative wouldn't even have to be a singular person... the ideas for a council makes wonderful sense with the diverse communities that we have. These people don't need to be leaders, or elders of the pagan community, and they wouldn't even really need much funding, just genuine humanity and to be a person. And I stress again, they would not speak for all pagans religiously, they would represent us as humans with the love of life that we feel, which practically all of us do agree on. It would not, if done correctly, create a single voice of paganism wrapping up all our unique beliefs into a tiny pill easy for others to digest.
But we need to really decide if this is what we truly want.
| I Think That We Do Not Need A Leader. I Think That... ||Sep 24th. at 1:12:58 pm EDT|
|Moonfaery (Albuquerque, New Mexico US) ||Age: 25 - Email |
I think that we do not need a leader. I think that it would make it too hard on those that are solitary. If you are in a coven then you have a leader. I love being solitary and not having someone to lead me. I read the VOX and get all of my information from them and my various stores that I shop at. I could not imagine Pagans having a leader like the Pope. I think that if you were looking for someone to lead you last week then you should have looked inside yourself and to your Gods. We are not a conventional religion like the rest. Last week I wasn't thinking were are our leaders. I was thinking wow look at all of the postings from Pagans all over giving their condolences and making suggestions about vigils and prayers. I was impressed with all of the ideas that came up. I was in awe at all of the organized prayers. I know that I participated in a organized ritual at 7:00pm on the day of the attack. I do not think that the people who were complaining that we didn't have a leader would even participate in elections, dues, and events. I think that they were just angry people looking to blame and vent at someone so they choose us. I love pagans the way that we are. Please don't change anything
| I'm A Solitary Christo Pagan Still In The Learning Phase. The Main... ||Sep 24th. at 1:09:33 pm EDT|
|Ciarrai (Cental NJ, New Jersey US) ||Age: 34 |
I'm a Solitary Christo Pagan still in the learning phase. The main attraction to Paganism for me was the fact that there is no leader, there is no Pope, there is no minister that preaches to me. If that's what I wanted, I never would have leaned in this direction. I call myself "Christo Pagan" because every book I've read told me that I do not have to completely abandon the faith in which I was raised. I was such a "cafeteria Catholic" (one that picks and chooses which aspects of the faith I liked the best). Studying Paganism could actually teach me to be a better Catholic if that's what I wanted. But it's nice that I can acknowledge Christ as God and acknowledge Cerrunnos as God because they are all God. I can acknowledge Mary as Goddess as she should be by all as well as Bridget and they are all Goddess. I can look to the Old Testament and appreciate the Psalms, I can look the New Testament and appreciate that Jesus was the Son of Man that certainly treated woman better than the way they were written about by the people that wrote the Bible. Yet I can read a Book of Shadows and feel the same thing. I can cast a circle in my living room or on my balcony outside as I did for the first time on 14 September. I can pray the way I was taught as well as the way that I am learning. It's beautiful and it is amazing therapy for me. Paganism itself is helping me to cope. Don't get me wrong -- I'm glued to the television, and I probably am drinking more than I should (OK, I am drinking more than I should), and smoking tons of cigarettes too. But a lot of people are doing that.
I'm sure it is very hard to find a Coven, but I'm sure that ideally there is much leadership to be found in our High Priest/tesses. I'm sure that they in turn find leadership from the junior members of their Covens.
I was very grateful to see that the Witches' Voice put up the Forum for us without any stipulations about how many times we post (sheesh, I probably posted about 7 times!) Of course they didn't want to have anything negative. That goes against The Rede -- isn't that what it is all about!
If I wanted to be preached or wanted to follow, I would have remained an active Roman Catholic, or joined a fundamentalist church if I wanted to take it to the maximum extreme. But Paganism isn't about that. At least not to me.
There's a lot of people that I look up to and hope to find answers -- my boyfriend, my friends, my family, some co-workers. I'm anxious to see what the Big Name Pagans have to say, of course I am. But I was also interested in what the Pope had to say. I was interested in what Howard Stern had to say! I actually didn't get POed when someone forwarded me what Billy Graham had to say. I'm very interested in what our President has to say. All of the other religious leaders that spoke at Liberty State Park yesterday all had nice things to say. Oprah Winfrey had nice things to say at Yankee Stadium, and Bette Midler gave me comfort by the sound of her voice.
I guess this newbie Pagan is the same old fashioned girl that she was when she was still a full blown Roman Catholic. I don't think we need to change anything. There's plenty to admire in the world. We shouldn't be jealous just because there wasn't a Big Pagan Person sitting next to a Big Jewish Person or a Big Christian Person.
Peace Out & Blessed Be!
PS: Now Isaac Bonewit's spell suggestion, now, there's leadership for you! That's all a newbie like me needs. I'll follow that for sure!
| I Am Really, Truly, Not Seeing Why This Is So Damned Difficult... ||Sep 24th. at 1:03:41 pm EDT|
|Solariswind (South Charleston, West Virginia US) ||Age: 26 - Email |
I am really, truly, not seeing why this is so damned difficult. First of all, you don't necessarily need a "leader", only a person or group of people willing to be representatives. And it doesn't have to be just one person or group that all pagans agree on. There are a number of pagan organizations out there that are more than capable of doing this, and ostensibly WANT to be representatives, according to them. In fact, I continue to be surprised and disappointed at the organizations that have not come forward in this time of tragedy - namely, COG, The Church of All Worlds, CUUPS, The New Reformed Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids (I think I got that right), Circle, just to name a few. What we should be doing is demanding why these organizations haven't been more public, despite their professing otherwise over the years. We as pagans already have representatives; these organizations have made themselves our representatives, and I believe they should be accountable for that. Since they haven't been more public, then perhaps we as pagans can get off our butts, individually, and come together in our communities, and make it happen ourselves. While I still feel many pagan organizations have a responsibility to the pagan community at large, we as pagans are responsible for ourselves, and really, instead of complaining about it, we should all just do something about it.
| To Me, A Leader Is A Person That Steps Forward In Times... ||Sep 24th. at 12:58:39 pm EDT|
|Lysander (San Diego, California US) ||Age: 28 - Email |
To me, a leader is a person that steps forward in times of crisis or tragedy and says let me help, let me take control here. I am angered when I hear Pagans crying for the leaders of the community to speak out, why must it be someone that is nationally recognized in the Pagan community, wouldn't it make just as much sense for anyone else to step up and speak? We can't rely on the writers, and web-designers to stand forward, we need to realize that we the people are the leaders. The Pagans named in the text of the email that created this question, were authors, web-designers, activists, not one would I call a true leader. Those men and women that are leaders will stand up when the time comes, do not force it, otherwise the Pagan community will end with leaders that have no ability to be leaders. It is a natural trait to lead, not a forced ability, created by some arbitrary fame derived from the sales of books, or the likeability of a web-site.
| As Our Belief System(s) Are Considered By The Present Administration To... ||Sep 24th. at 12:42:52 pm EDT|
|Starwind Evensong (Fort Lauderdale, Florida US) ||Age: 49 - Email |
As our belief system(s) are considered by the present administration to be invalid, and in light of the dogmatic rhetoric of Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson as well as that of various far right conservatives, I believe that the Pagan community as a whole needs strong voices to make our positions on issues known.
One of the points raised to invalidate our beliefs is our lack of leadership and organization. Talk to virtually any Pagan about organization, and you'll hear the mantra "Herding Pagans is like herding cats." It is time for us to organize and speak out with a loud voice.
As is almost always the situation, Pagans are also somewhat blinded to the need for funding to bring our issues and ideas to the fore. This, I believe, is a direct result of our stubborn refusal to help fund teachers of our path - that thought which states that to learn Paganism one doesn't need to pay. While that concept may have been valid 25, 30 or even 50 years ago, in this information age everything we do has a price tag. It is unfair that we expect Pagan leadership to work unfunded. Given the large amount of contributions raised for disaster relief over the last two weeks, I believe there are many of us in the Pagan community who would contribute to a fund for leadership. Perhaps this week we could resist buying that new drum or athame - and put the money toward our leadership fund instead.
As far as 'elections' go, that's a tough nut to crack. I suspect those to be placed in 'nomination' could be culled from the lists contributed by local Pagan leaders/advocates/facilitators who would know those on a local level who will bring their voices forward to defend and state our rights. Within the current national community there are many in place, too, who might accept positions with funding. Some, such as Starhawk, are already vocal in the world community. Possibly online elections could be held - but are we, as a community prepared to dialog toward this goal? Do we share it? Or are will we continue to be that 'herd of cats?'
| My Thoughts On This Issue Are That A Representative Or Small Council... ||Sep 24th. at 12:31:23 pm EDT|
|Jon (Leavenworth, Kansas US) ||Age: 23 - Email |
My thoughts on this issue are that a representative or small council of representatives would be very useful.
We are constantly saying that we want to recognized as a real religion by the government and the communities around us. For this to happen though people need to be able to hear from us as a group, they don't want to hear from a thousand different people saying things a thousand different ways. We need someone to speak our popular opinions. I think one of the main things that hold us back is that we are not organized enough yet. We have organized groups, but many of them and they don't all communicate. Most other religions keep their groups and congregations communicating with each other. People view us as unorganized and that is why we often aren't taken seriously. I don't think I need to get into the benefits of having a national representative, the major issue is how to fund this.
If we all signed up under the representative group and gave a dollar a month it would be funded quite a bit there. If only 10, 000 signed up that is $10, 000 a month for funding I am sure more people would sign up than that and some might donate more. Myself I could send 5 to 10 dollars a month. This would also keep us listed for better contact lists and finding people in the community. We would be able to send our opinions to the rep or reps and they would be able to speak for the popular opinions. Polls could be taken on issues through mail or a website. Communication between groups could be so much better. This is a very small amount of money each month for all the things that would become possible. Most churches expect members to tithe 15 to 30 dollars a month. We don't need to donate quite as much since we don't have churches to maintain. I do think this could be a good thing though.
| Considering The Idea Of A Pagan Leader Of Any Sort Opens Up... ||Sep 24th. at 12:31:02 pm EDT|
|Sunfell (Little Rock, Arkansas US) ||Age: 41 - Email |
Considering the idea of a Pagan leader of any sort opens up a whole can of very interesting and very tangled worms. You see, in doing such an unprecedented thing, we would have to face facts that we haven't been able to face or address for the nearly 30 years that Paganism in its various forms has been climbing into the mainstream. Here are some things to consider- housecleaning, if you will:
Opportunistic Ego Surfers. You know who they are. Are they REALLY qualified, or do they see the Craft in its various forms as a quick and easy way to achieve noteriety where there isn't a system of qualification? Think about this: if the mainstream denominations had as 'open' a qualification process, don't you think they'd be there instead?
Qualification. Yes, we have lots of books. And anyone can make themselves High Poobah of anything they want. Just add fancy robes.
Witch Wars. We're going through a very rough adolescence. Historical evidence shows that many mainstream faiths went through such a time also. Many warring sects, many people pointing fingers, many delicate egos getting the air let out of them, predatory people taking advantage of the chaos...it isn't a pretty picture. How can such a fractious bunch of people get along long enough to gel into maturity where leaders can emerge? Go and study the early days of Christianity, if you don't believe me.
Independent people. I can herd my cats. It is as easy as making them believe that I believe that they are the center of the universe. I don't have the time, patience or energy to play that silly game with each person I run into. A mental paradigm shift needs to occur. Yes, we ALL are the 'center of the universe', if we all understand that god/dess is within us all. Either we stand together, or we fall apart.
Credibility. If we publically tear each other down over tiny points of ritual and observance, how the heck are we going to gain the respect of outsiders? It would be like trying to take a playground posse seriously. Put yourself in 'their' shoes. Would you take 'us' seriously if you were 'them'? The Prairie Home Companion made fun of this tendancy to nitpick back in June. http://phc.mpr.org/performances/20010623/index.shtml (1:09:43 after intermission)
Once burned, twice learned. My own experience with the mainstream media 16 years ago taught me to keep a very low profile. Many people who would be qualified as spokespeople or leaders have suffered the slings, arrows, and burns of exposure to the mainstream, and subsequent problems in their own jobs and communities. Anyone setting themselves up as the 'media mouth' had better have a tough hide, quick wit, deep background, a secure job, and a carefully hidden address. There are people out there who hate us for being who we are, and would be more than happy to do us harm.
A pretty grim picture, wouldn't you say? I sincerely believe that we must get out own house(s) in order before we can present a truly united face to the world. In other words, we have a lot of soul searching and growing up to do. Let's get with it.
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