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 Not Sure Where I Stand On This, But If We... ||Sep 24th. at 12:10:48 pm EDT|
|Akima (Gorham, Maine US) ||Age: 30 - Email |
I am not sure where I stand on this, but IF we did have a Pagan leader, I think it would be best to have more of a council, not an individual. One problem I see with this though is this; If we had leaders of the Pagan faiths, how could he/she/they possibly represent all Pagans, when the Pagan views are as vast as the amount of Pagans themselves? There are SO many paths that are considered Pagan. Celtic, hellenic, druid, egiptian, eclectic......etc. etc.
Sure we can all agree to peace, freedom, and all other basic morals, but I believe that any one decision made by Pagan leaders FOR and in representation of all Pagans, will without a doubt step on many Pagan toes. Hopefully this is an incorrect thought, but I don't think it is.
One more comment: On the letter, how does one label people such as Wren and Fritz, Laurie Cabot, and anyone else in the community a LEADER? Although they probably posess the credibility and wisdom to be so, I have never heard any of them claim to be or ask to be a leader. These wonderful people are here to help Pagans, not direct them. I myself recently looked into some info n classes offered by Laurie, and another wonderful Pagan that works for Laurie, and the reason is because of my deep respect for Laurie, not because I am looking for a spokesperson or a leader. Indeed these people would probably be the best candidates, but they niether asked for or need the responsibilty. Love and Light
| I Weep, But Not From Shame That None Of The More Famous... ||Sep 24th. at 12:02:14 pm EDT|
|April Patterson (Datyon, Nevada US) ||Age: 35 - Email |
I weep, but not from shame that none of the more famous pagans among us were not seen or mentioned at any national gathering. I weep with pride. Pride that pagans are strong within themselves. Strong enough to focus their energies on their own without having a designated leader tell them that they should do so. Proud, that without the obvious "sight" of a "pagan leader" all of us pray, reach out and do all that is within our own personal power to protect ourselves and our loved ones.
No, there may not have been a single tarot reading, a channeling or a powerful vision to warn us of this hideous act of terrorism. Come to think of it, I don't think anyone had any real warning of any of the crimes that were commited during the Burning Times, either. Sad, tragic, horrible, and a part of reality. Great good and great evil both exist. Not too often do we get a clear cut forcast of either one of those two energies.
No, I do not weep because I didn't see a pagan leader that I recognized, I weep from pride in all humans, no mater their religion, that show compassion, sensitivity and courage at any level. I became pagan because I realized that I am strong, that I do not need a leader to show me the way, that I am responsible for all of my own actions. While I may rejoice in finding other pagans that share some of my views, that speak out or use their talents in some way that benefits all and thence gives them some sort of recognition, I do not need a leader to lead me. I see my path and know well within myself where to find strength, courage, and compassion.
Fritz, Wren, and all the staff of the Witches' Voice, I thank you for the forum you provide us to share our opinions. Bright Blessings to all of you!
| I Believe That If The Pagan Community Is To Be Taken Seriously... ||Sep 24th. at 11:40:27 am EDT|
|Truthseeker (Winter Park, Florida US) ||Age: 52 |
I believe that if the Pagan community is to be taken seriously by the rest of the world we need present some sort of unified front. In this case VISABILITY = CREDITABILTY. If we are to assume our rightful position in society we need to participate in the workings of society. It is very difficult for the world at large to take Paganism seriously when we remain in the shadows. LetÕs face it most people do not even know we exist. The time has come for all of us to come out of the broom closet and make ourselves known.
To give an example of what I mean let us look at the past few weeks. The question has been raised where are our leaders? But, it goes deeper then that. The further question is, where is the Pagan contribution to the relief effort? Now I know that most Pagans are kind and compassionate people (some of the best). However, given our current organization or better yet lack of it, there is no way for the rest of the world to see and understand that. The reality of the situation is that until we have a real presence in our communities, nation and the world we will remain smoke and vapor to others.
As to the second part of this question, how do we go about gaining this presence, it is not something that can be done over-night. One answer may be to form a national council with representatives from the states or regions. However, before this can be accomplished, we must first organize at the local level. Now that does in way mean that we need to standardize our worshiping practices. It does mean that we need to establish community centers, food banks and other such enterprises under the Pagan banner. Local ÒhouseÕs of worshipÓ are not out of the question either. Local covens and circles could share a location (and cost) to be used for meetings and in which to cast circles. Perhaps, taking turns hosting the major holidays. In this manner we will not only show ourselves to the rest of the world but also learn much about each other. Once this local presence is established we can then look to the formation of a National Council and a national presence.
As for funding said council, we do it the same way other religions do it pass the plate. If we are to have a future as an accepted member of society we need to invest in it.
| The Worst Thing We Can Do Is Turn Our Spirituality Into A... ||Sep 24th. at 11:24:13 am EDT|
|Brian Bonner (Farmington, New Mexico US) ||Age: 39 |
The worst thing we can do is turn our spirituality into a political organization. Religion should not be political anymore than ones sexual preference.
| You Are Right About The Practical Problems With Having A Pagan "leader... ||Sep 24th. at 11:23:37 am EDT|
|Bridgite (Cherry Valley, Illinois US) ||Age: 53 - Email |
You are right about the practical problems with having a pagan "leader" to speak for us but as I watched the prayer ceremony yesterday (September 23) on television I longed for any pagan spokesperson. I thought how wonderful it would be to have a gentle comforting soul speak for us and acknowledge our differences within the community (not necessarily as an official spokesperson)but our one heart for the healing we all need. It could have been simple but profound. Maybe a group of "leaders/pagans" within the community could gather (by email?) to write something that one of them would deliver publically. Are we so peevish that it has to be an elected spokesperson. Can't anyone speak? My parents are Catholic and they didn't appoint the person who spoke for Cathoics to speak for them. Did anyone ask if we (pagans) could be included in the Prayer Ceremony yesterday? Would we have been accepted if they had/did? Is it too late to put in front of the public (radio, newspapers, tv) some type of pagan acknowledgment by any gentle soul? I am grateful that we are at least asking the questions. That is the first step toward finding answers.
| Interesting Question. Who Are Our Pagan Leaders, Anyway? They're The People Who... ||Sep 24th. at 11:17:17 am EDT|
|Dagonet Dewr (Indianapolis, Indiana US) ||Age: 33 - Email |
Interesting question. Who are our Pagan leaders, anyway?
They're the people who when someone says 'Somebody oughta do something about that'...
...realizes they're somebody.
Elizabeth Barrette wrote a great essay about making it into the 'inner circle' of leadership in any group. You have to get involved and get working; not just on a local level, but on a national and regional level as well. That's who leaders are. People who get involved, who do things, and who don't waste their time tearing down other people's efforts. (As Walt Kelly said, 'We have met the enemy and they is us'. Paganism's biggest obstacle to greater acceptance, success, and functionality are pagans.)
Leaders aren't elected. Those who hold positions are elected; leaders merely work until someone notices. Leadership is a virus; a true leader enables others to lead. Leaders don't wait for someone else to do it; leaders do it themselves. Leaders put in the hard work, the volunteer time, the miles. Leaders take the idea and run with it.
Leaders ignore the naysayers. Won't and can't rarely, if ever, appear in their speech. Leaders ignore the people accusing them of power-tripping and ego-gratification; most of those people are jealous they didn't think of it first, and can't imagine a mindset where it's not the ego-trip but the satisfaction of a job well done. Leaders are craftsfolk, appreciating good work for the sake of good work.
Leaders can be anyone.
Leaders can be you.
Membership Coordinator, Pagan Pride Project
| The Event Of Tuesday, September 11th Left Me Confused, Hurt, Angry, And... ||Sep 24th. at 10:57:42 am EDT|
|Arthanea (Old Town, Maine US) ||Age: 22 - Email |
The event of Tuesday, September 11th left me confused, hurt, angry, and depressed, much like the rest of the nation. As a Pagan, I was unsure of what to do in such a time of crisis, I had questions and could really have used someone to talk to, some guidance. I even considered going to an open-minded Christian church just to talk to someone. What I really wanted, and have wanted since I became a Pagan over 6 years ago now, was a local "clergy" type person. Maybe someone on the path longer than I, someone a little more spiritually involved than I am with more ritual and leadership experience under their belt, and preferably some training and experience with counseling. This is something that I have always longed for as a solitary, especially during moments of personal crisis.
For me this would have to be someone local, whom I could work with and know well, and someone for whom my respect would grow as I was able to see that they did indeed fulfill this role and were capable of meeting my needs for a spiritual guide. Someone who had a life similar to mine. Maybe they wouldn't have the exact same lifestyle and responsibilities, but it would be very difficult for me to see the benefit in advice from someone who lived a life far removed from mine, as the priests and nuns of Buddhism and Catholicism do.
I don't want a "leader" in the traditional religious sense. Like most Pagans I have met, that is one of the reasons I AM a Pagan and not a Christian or a Hindu or a Buddhist. Not a local leader, and most certainly not a national one. I can't imagine how anyone could speak for the Pagan community, let alone what they could possibly say. With Pagans, anything someone said at the national level would probably drive 98% of the community up the wall, unlike in political situations where it is usually about 49% of the people who are disappointed. I for one would not like to be paying someone to speak for me in any case. I can speak very well for myself (on most days anyway) as I'm sure most other Pagans can too. For me, the Beauty of Paganism is that we are all here and united through a very small similarity of belief and that (for the most part) we all respect our differences and allow ALL of our diverse voices to ring out - that more than anything else is THE true voice of Paganism. I would be horribly disappointed if this were to ever change.
What I would like is a guide, who could be there for me and my spiritual needs locally. Having a good mentor, maybe a High Priest/ess or Clan leader would be plenty for me. Anything beyond that and we begin walking down a road that has led to all sorts of nasty, dark things throughout human history.
Personally, I would fear greatly any one claiming to be a National Pagan Leader as well as anyone who backed and supported such a person. I love most of our little Pagan celebrities - you know who I'm talking about, all those people we refer to, like supermodels, by first name only. But for me, that is all they are; people who have contributed something special to the Pagan community at large, either by writing or speaking or creating an incredible website, etc. To ask them to lead the Pagans of our nation just because they are well known or famous is ridiculous.
To those people who are pushing for National Pagan Leadership, especially the angry and unnecessarily slanderous writer of the email which is now so unhappily circulating the internet, I ask only that you be careful what you wish for, because if you get your wish, you are not the only ones who have to live with the consequences.
An it harm none,
Do as you wilt.
| Be Ye Counted Among The Wise, And Hold Thy Council Lest Thy... ||Sep 24th. at 10:57:27 am EDT|
|Celeborn (Marietta , Georgia US) ||Age: 46 |
ÒBe ye counted among the Wise, and hold thy council Lest thy open thy mouth and remove all doubt.Ó
An opinion express by Lord Celeborn of Pair Dynion Grove And not that of anyone else!
The events of this past month have been earth shattering. We have suffered a great loss in life and property. Mere words cannot express the feelings that each of us feels inside.
The elders of the past have always sought each otherÕs council an let the nature of the situation sort it self out, least we endangered ourselves to exposure to the greater community at large.
A lot of us are still very secretive and cannot afford to be exposed. We are unique in the fact that each one of us sees the value in others beliefs .We hold on to the one Maxims ÒThat not one of us, can speak for the whole.Ó These big Named Pagans that you speak of are Authors and writers of books on witchcraft. They have made their living off of selling their books. They are under the rule of thumb that what they say might be the opinion of their publisher. So I would not want to be waiting too long for an official statement from any of the before mention people. The Elders of the past have always talked about the dawning of the New Age. Well it has come and now we are in it. Who are these elders? They are the ones who by deeds do the work in the shadows. They are the hidden children who have always been there from the dawn of mankind. They look after everyone and give their gifts when needed and without direction from a conscientious of self-styled self imposed politically correct leaders. The task ahead us is a very sensitive matter and those of us who have been around including some of those BNP have the common since not to upset those in control. Face it people .We are not liked by the majority and are looked upon with fear and suspicion. They find comfort in the fact of their one God. We would only expose ourselves to be a target for their Hatred and aggression. Already we were blamed for this happening in the fact that their God has lifted his hand of protection from our nation. Because of our beliefs and lifestyle.
We have a hard time coming together under any circumstances except for a gathering. 5, 000 dead and a Tele psychic is going to help the newly departed over to the Summerland? No one predicted it? I need to give my gift of contacting the dead to the public of New York City?
If there were such a Leader in our realm of magic, fairies, elves, and dragons. I am sure that they would instruct us to be mindful of the suffering that has just happened and that the honor of service in any capacity is to the honor to us all. Give comfort to those who are in morning. Give Blood. Give goods. Give money. Give support. Give energy. Give prayers. Show support for our leaders and elected officials. REMEMBER we are in the race of man, but not of the race of man. We cannot interfere with the lessons of another. And a time to every purpose under heaven.
CELEBORN High Priest PDG
| It Is A Sad Fact That We Do Not Have A Unified... ||Sep 24th. at 10:53:47 am EDT|
|Steve Wright a.k.a Grumbolt (Theresa, New York US) ||Age: 31 - Email |
It is a sad fact that we do not have a unified voice. This is due to our very unique outlooks and views on life. I do not think that at anytime we will be able to maintain a paid position as the "Voice of Paganism" any more then we can get all of paganism to agree on the same things. I do believe that if we are to get beyond the "it is not a real religion" stage, we will need something to represent us to the country and the public.
What kind of leader then? What are the qualifications ? It would be my suggestion that any leader roll be played not by a single individual, but by a council of elders (It worked for thousands of years, why not now?). The requirements would be intelligence, wisdom, and oration.
Doesn't seem to hard and yet the defining of these points is near impossible. .Perhaps we should gather a large number of pagans together and have a debate with someone representing the opinions forced upon us. I have no interest in being represented by either a pagan Oral Roberts or fanatic moron who can not return asnwers.
As for were, center of the US so that everyone must travel an equal distance to get there. How? Vote, each person with one vote. Only those who attend all of the debates may vote. If you can not be that dedicated to give up a week of your life for this, you should not have the option of voting.
| I Am A Solitary Witch , By Choice And The Reason Is I... ||Sep 24th. at 10:45:51 am EDT|
|Rowan Silverhands (Manorville, New York US) ||Age: 35 - Email |
I am a solitary witch , by choice and the reason is I want to be able to worship as i see fit and not dictated to by a group or leader , however wise and benevolent. I look to Wren and Fritz, Starhawk and the others for ideas, challenges and sometimes reaffirmation of my dedication to a beautiful but difficult path, however, I dont want them to be my leaders or to speak for me.
Why must the pagan community have a singled out spokesman? Isnt the reason so many of us have left other paths is for that very reason , we want to be directed by our inner voice that is truly the voice of the Goddess and God ? If we pick a leader or leaders or even several to "speak" for us who will decide what is said or which part of our beliefs are revealed.
We all need comfort in this difficult time and I mourn for all the people killed and the families devastated , but I dont need someone with bigger credentials telling the rest of the country what I believe or feel. It hurts that at least one pagan wasnt included in the group in Yankee stadium but if it means that I have to align myself with someone or group that doesnt represent my true beliefs , than I will forgoe the limelight and continue to send all the energy I can spare to those who need it. Blessed Be )0(
| Problem 1 With National Pagan Leadership: It's About Trying To Go Public... ||Sep 24th. at 10:43:51 am EDT|
|Cat (Asheville, North Carolina US) ||Age: 34 |
Problem 1 with national pagan leadership: It's about trying to go public with a religion whose most profound unspoken tenets, perhaps, are that religion should be a PRIVATE matter and that religion and the state should be separate. When we say, "Where were our leaders? Why hasn't the state recognized our position?", we're letting the (accurate) premise that you have to advertise if you want the world to beat a path to your door take precedence over the equally accurate assessment that our faith is private and personal. Do we want to do that? Christians are prone to saying "where are your hospitals, your charities, your ORGANIZATIONS?" And our general answer is "we prefer to worship, not to organize." That may or may not be the best way to worship; but it seems to be one that en masse we like a lot. Do we want to change that? CAN we change it?
Problem 2: Our "leaders"--that is, as someone said, our authors and personalities--have arisen naturally, a process of which I approve heartily. But are they, with the possible exception of Starhawk, interested in or equipped for political power? How many authors (typically rather retiring souls) run for public office? It seems likely that the political power that come with recognition is not high on most pagans' wish lists, even for those of us who are also activists.
Problem 2.5: someone else already mentioned this, but there is the question of pay. The laborer, as Christ said, is worthy of his hire. A widespread though not universal trend is to suck our priests dry and then wonder why they quit. Myself, I approve of sliding-scale "love offerings" at (good) rituals, and I'd prefer to call them what they are: pay for services, money for good value. (Heck, maybe some fees would help focus the rituals and discourage those who aren't serious.) But a salaried press liaison? How much would that cost? I'd pay my share, I think, but who'd collect the money? Interview the candidates? Arrange the budget when s/he needed to travel? Rather than berating our celebrities for their recent lack of visibility, maybe we should be down on our knees in gratitude that some of them speak publicly at all without our organizational assistance.
Problem 3: Just what would our leaders have said last week? What we really want recognition for is safety: so that we can't be driven more underground than we are now, so that we can't have our rights taken away by other people's ignorance. And maybe a visible pagan leader speaking on the recent terrorism would help us achieve that; but maybe, too, it wouldn't. Think about it a minute: what would our leaders say? Probably the same things Muslim clerics and Christian ministers have been saying over and over. "This sucks. Pagans don't approve. We're sad and angry too." Well, excuse me, but D'UH! Talk about stating the obvious, however much more eloquently it would be said by our very articulate celebrities. As someone said in the thousand-plus messages last week, surely there are bigger problems during this crisis than pagans not being heard while they state the obvious.
Commentary (3A, if anyone's still following the outline): It might even be appropriate that pagans haven't been heard from over the terrorisms. If there's a religious aspect to these attacks, it seems to lie in the long-standing tension between Christians and Muslims (there were those little things called the Crusades, I believe...) We haven't heard from Buddhists (aka pagans) either; we haven't heard from Hindus, or Greek polytheists, or Egyptian polytheists, or a whole lot of religions which are, probably, sad and angry but whose faiths are not immediately at issue. We've heard from Christians because they're dominant here and we always hear from Christians, and from Muslims because Islam may have played a part in the attacks and to further understanding of the hundreds of thousands of Muslims who were innocent of the attacks. I think the latter, at least, is quite appropriate; and I'm not sure, other than the ongoing visibility campaign, what paganism has to do with the attacks at all. (Jerry Falwell, of course, thinks there's a connection, but we all know up which orifice Jerry Falwell's head generally resides.)
So (THESIS STATEMENT): while there might be some political advantages to Official Pagan Leaders, and it's kind of fun to talk about, no. I think we're fooling ourselves to believe either that it's likely to happen or that, in the long run, we really want it to happen.
| Blessed Be All! When We Have A Religion(s) With No Recognized... ||Sep 24th. at 10:32:15 am EDT|
|Kevyn Allen (algonac, Michigan US) ||Age: 38 - Email |
Blessed be all!
When we have a religion(s) with no recognized leaders (then throw mud as soon as one steps forward), we cant really complain when noone is there to represent us. Most every other faith has its elders to arrive upon diplomatic scenes and speak as thier community voice ....sadly the Pagan voice is missing.
Because our arguments range from "we are the religion of the hearths" to "THAT pagan is a ego tripping moron looking for followers"- absolutely NOTHING is ever going to get done.
Perhaps there are just so many faiths being represented when you say the word "pagan", how could anyone even hope to represent such a varied belief structure.
Until we all can stand united and actually AGREE on the most simplest tenets of our faiths we will get absolutely nowhere. It should be interesting to see who the pagan community considers thier "leaders" are...Im not holding my breath lol
Peace in the World!!
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