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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| Not Only Do I Support The Decades Old View That Pagans Do... ||Sep 24th. at 2:08:38 am EDT|
|Myrddin (san jose, California US) ||Age: 33 - Email |
Not only do I support the decades old view that Pagans do not -need- national leaders, I submit that our position would likely be harmed by having such. One of the moral strengths of the pagan community is that no such central 'leadership' exists: an aspiring pagan practitioner can feel comfortable seeing the mountain of spirituality from their own unique vantage point without the worry that their view differs slightly (or perhaps more so) than the 'Pagan Leadership' and more established pagans won't be thrust into the discomfort of watching a minority leadership present an image to the public that they themselves feel is not representative of them or their group. Indeed, with a minority leadership presenting a narrowed scope of pagan 'reality' to the general public, the danger of misrepresentation is very real, unintional though it may be.
We don't need to have a comforting or representation on the national level in the face of crisis like September 11th, nor am I convinced we'd benefit from them. In my particular area, there were no small number of local gatherings wherein pagan's openly invited any willing pagans into their living rooms, power spots or favorite outdoor ritual locations to assemble, discuss, do ritual, readings, and healings. When the world had been turned on its head, pagans provided the comfort and consolation they required in local, personal settings; much truer to the pagan philosophy than having a single Pagan Leader attempt to represent our own in front of CNN. Regardless of her or his best intentions, the face put on paganism by that leader would not only be inevitably incomplete and erred, but would be viewed by the general public as the 'whole and complete pagan picture'. I'm not sure we'd be helped by that. ;-)
In short, ignoring the fact that establishing a 'Pagan Leadership' involves its own set of significantly non-trivial challenges, such a leadership would provide little benefit to pagans, and would only serve as further confusion not only to the largely uninformed public, but to potentially new pagans as well.
May the sun shine upon your path,
| Ah, Once Again The Urge To Copy The Major Faiths Rears It's... ||Sep 24th. at 1:39:47 am EDT|
|"Vivienne" (Sydney, New South Wales AU) ||Age: 37 |
Ah, once again the urge to copy the major faiths rears it's ugly head.
No Pagan "Leaders" have emerged to speak for the dead victims of this ugly terrorist attack on the US, and suddenly everyone wants to elect a "leader" and worse, start paying them.
May I firstly ask, which branch of Paganism did you plan to elect this "leader" from? Asatru? the Lucifarians? the Wiccans? How can you possibly expect a "Pagan Leader" to represent anyone? They would need to be specific to the tradition they represent, or useless as a spokesperson.
Let me illustrate this more clearly; I am a witch. I believe in the sight, I believe it is hereditary (like the old Scots and the original British witches) and I don't believe that just anyone is or can be a witch. I also believe that hexing can sometimes be justifiable. In both these beliefs, I'm in direct conflict with most Wiccans, even though much of their philosophy is compatible with mine. Although I have much respect for the Wiccans, I could NOT allow a Wiccan "leader" to speak for me. Infact, it galls me to see someone calling themselves a witch speaking for other witches on any subject, often what they say doesn't agree with my own belief, and I think to myself "how arrogant that person is, claiming to speak for witches as though we are all the same".
A major element of modern paganism, across many traditions, is our independence. We have no "priest" or other authority figure to tell us what to do. Some have elders who's knowledge is respected, but they are not our "leaders". Many of us practice our faith alone.
How can we maintain this, and also have a "leadership"?
I understand what the letter which triggered this debate is trying to say; why were there no Pagan "leaders" speaking words of comfort to us, as they were to the Christians and other major religious groups?
My comment is, do you need a leader to speak for you? If so, perhaps the freedom inherent in modern paganism is not for you.
The comment that the pagans "did nothing" however, is offensive and absurd. How many pagans do you think did NOT "do something" after tuesday 12th? How many did NOT light candles and call on their gods to make peace, pray for the dead, work magic for Peace on this earth and protection for their loved ones? I'd hazard a guess that not many true pagans would have failed to at least light a candle, with intent. When I did so, I could envisage hundreds, perhaps thousands of Pagans world-wide doing the same thing. People like me, people quite unlike me. In their own homes or hearths, for their own reasons and with no prompting required from a "leader". Such a thing is powerful beyond the words of preachers.
| Dear Fritz, Wren, And Anybody Else Who Actually Cares Enough To Raise... ||Sep 24th. at 1:08:40 am EDT|
|Diane McDonough, HPs and Elder, BFC (carlisle, Pennsylvania US) ||Age: 46 - Email |
Dear Fritz, Wren, and anybody else who actually cares enough to raise the question, Okay. Mea Culpa. As a local "Pagan leader", let me tell you what I will have to do to hold an open circle for healing in my local community. First, I have to find a place here in sunny SouthCentral PA that will allow a Pagan gathering. Then I have to flash my ordination papers all over the place so that I can stand up with the other ministers. Then, I have to herd the cats...er, I mean local Pagans into agreeing on site, ritual protocol, and who gets to open the West Gate.
What am I doing? now that I'm over the little "ego fart" of not being recognized as clergy along with the Methodist, Baptist and other guys with their vengeful God?
I'm fighting for recognition. I attend, as a non-traditional (read little old witchy in tennis shoes)student, a branch campus of a Big Ten school. I'm organizing an open healing circle on campus. To do this, I must present my clergy papers to the Dean of Student Services. Then I must prepare for the attacks. Our fundamental brothers and sisters do not want there to be any other approach to that which is Divine, don't ya' know. Since I have already dealt with a variety of slurs and attacks, it will be exciting, if nothing else.
The point is, that even as "we" collectively, bemoan our lack of representation, we fail to recognize that until we start making more noise about our sincere and deep commitment to our religious beliefs, we will continue to be voices in the wilderness. And until we can support each other, regardless of whether we be Alexandrian, Gardnerian, or whatever, we will continue to have to ask permission to be at the table. We as a group must perceive that being in the closet, while safer, is not helping us gain legitimacy.
And, as to the question of why nobody with their deep psychic abilities saw this coming? I can only say that as a reader, this is beyond comprehension. This is beyond seeing. I did readings the weekend before this event and many of the readings indicated chaos and disruption for many people, I read for people, not the country. My goal as a reader is to help people with their own lives. Interestingly, checking various astrological sites has shown that we should have had a heads up--but they also point to the conclusion that this "enemy" had access to some pretty amazing astrological information, too. While I can appreciate the anger and pain of the correspondent to Witchvox, I can only say that, like the government and the rest of the world, we were blindsided by an evil too big to comprehend.
If we are going to have an organized voice, we are going to need a leader, yes. Finding that leader among the prominent Pagans of today is going to be way beyond difficult. We, as Pagans, by definition, have difficulty accepting the concept that any one of us is prepared or capable of representing the rest of us. We don't want a national leader. To have one would mean giving up Witch Wars, conceding the imperfections of the Degree system, and looking beyond the bestsellers' list. It would require wisdom, grace and compassion beyond the bickering so frequent within the community. It would require organizing on any Standard Time beyond Pagan Standard Time.
To quote the immortal Pogo, "We have met the enemy and it is us." (BTW, if you don't know who Pogo is, you're too young) (oh, s**t, I just did it) To become a force to be reckoned with, we have to stop the arguments within ourselves and our groups, stop arguing lineage, degrees, Traditions and agree that we have a right to be seen and heard regardless of any of the above and that anybody who purports to be "one of us", solitary, initiated, or whatever, has the right to the services of Clergy and the right for that Cleric to be recognized as such. But we have to be willing to give that recognition first.
| I'm Not Exactly Sure That This Is On The Subject. Personally, I... ||Sep 24th. at 1:05:07 am EDT|
|kari andrews (tuscaloosa, Alabama US) ||Age: 23 |
I'm not exactly sure that this is on the subject. Personally, I do have mixed feelings about being represented by one person that more than likely I will not know. What I have been wondering about since the tragedies that occurred on Sept. 11, is why nothing has been said in the media about what Pagans are doing as far as prayer, rituals, etc. for the victims and their families. So far, the only things I have heard reports about are Christian, Jewish and Moslem worship services being held both in my state and around the country. For example, the radio stations in my town announced that people should call their churches to find out about extra memorial services, but nothing was said about what followers of the non-christian religions here were doing. I think it's time we stood up and made it known that we care and also lost loved ones just like everybody else.
| All, "where Have The Pagan Leaders Been?" Though My Clann Is Small... ||Sep 24th. at 12:59:35 am EDT|
|Croman mac Nessa (Waldron, Arkansas US) ||Age: 36 - Email |
"Where have the Pagan leaders been?" Though my Clann is small and still a somewhat young "Tradition, " I consider myself a Pagan "leader, " and I believe I have been here online with you for most of this time. I sent an email to George W. Bush with some of my opinions, and included my legal name, phone number, home address, and email addy. I emailed Diane Sawyer about Falwell's message of hate. I posted messages to my site and several lists calling for blood donations and calm and patience and courage. I wrote posts calling for Americans to not take this too far and persecute innocent Muslims in America or innocent Arabic persons in America. I have been a leader present for you and for my Clann. I have been threatened with a beating for being a Pagan Priest, just last week, undoubtedly due in part to the asinine comments of Jerry Falwell.
My medical history prevents me myself from donating blood, but I have been here from the 11th calling on you and others to donate blood (credit to Fern of Mugwort Grove for suggesting to me that we do such a thing, and there's another Pagan leader, Fern, who has been involved in the Pagan leadership's call to help, and even kept her sh-- together enough to be able to lead a Fall Equinox Rite). I've seen Saille sending out posts and asking them to be forwarded. Now, Fern and I may not be as well known in the Pagan community as Saille and Isaac and Ray and some others, but we are still Pagan leaders, and I believe we've been doing what we felt was appropriate. I've been to check on the two young Aspirants in town several times (they were also threatened with a beating for being Pagan religious leaders, and in fact, the threat, as I noted in a previous post to some of you, was most likely directed at them and not at me) to make sure they are alright. I had to go to the Sheriff's Office to file a report on the threat. In the midst of all this, I continued to work on the Clann Nessa's Online Community site and began preparing Rites that will be distinctly ours (the Clann Nessa's) rather than Keltria's or Whiteoak's or Herman Slater's or whoever's.
I don't know about Fern or Saille or Isaac or Tony & Wren or Wren or Ray or any of the other Pagan leaders, but I myself was not invited to the National Cathedral, and would not have been able to afford the trip anyway. And seriously, when was the last time a tv reporter came and asked me my opinion on something? Have they ever? Has Time or Newsweek called on me for my opinion? No. But do they call the gluttonous hatemonger Jerry Falwell? Do they talk to Billy Graham's son? You betcha. Ok, so I am going to be writing a letter to the editor of my local paper about the threats issued to the local Pagan clergy, which will let everyone in the area know who and what I am and what I believe and practice, but will that letter reach the New York Times? From The Waldron News? Hah. Send me a reporter; I'll talk.
One of the young men in the Clann Nessa saw fit to enlist following the attacks. He will be shipping out to Korea following Basic Training and who knows where he will be sent after that. It's a done deal, and though I wish he were not going into such a dangerous situation, there is nothing I can do about it now except bless, encourage, and counsel him, and invoke protection for him.
The dead are dead. The living remain. I think it's a little more important that the living stay alive and sane in this time. Sure, I've seen Pagan leaders talking about helping the dead Pass on to the next life, and suggesting rituals for the purpose, and mentioning that they are going to be doing their ritual at such and such a time and would we please join in, etc., and I've burned my candles for the living and the dead, so the claim that we have done nothing for those who lost their lives so tragically is simply false.
Besides, all those other clergy have salaries (and in the case of Falwell and his ilk, rather fat salaries). I don't get paid for being a Druid. Contrary to Celtic tradition (which holds that the people should provide the Druid with his/her needs simply because he/she is a Druid) though it is, it is still the way my situation currently stands. I suspect that most if not all Pagan leaders are unpaid in regard to their ministries. What we do we do because we *must*, not because we get paid for it. And like I said, though I have the highest Honour for the Ancestors, there are Druids in the Ancestral World who can help the newly departed, and I am here with the ones who are left behind. Those who are left behind (you and I) have all been very uncertain, frightened, sad, hurt, and confused by all that has happened recently, and they need our care for their psyches in this and in the "ordinary" uncertainty, fear, sadness, pain, and confusion they have experienced in their typical days.
I've been here for my Clann and for those around me in the physical world. I bet most of the other Pagan leaders have also been very busy, and I'm sure some of them have been even busier than I (as hard as that seems for me to believe, since I've been swamped).
I've seen the letter that was forwarded here twice before. It is no more true today than it was last week.
Beannachd Brďghide leibh (Blessing of Brďghid with y'all).
Falbhaibh le Ghliocas
(Walk With Wisdom),
*Croman mac Nessa*
/| * Chief Druid * /|
- of the Clann Nessa -
=*~-*~-*~ /| ~*-~*-~*=
23 September 2001
| None Of The Individuals Named Represent Me, My Tradition, My Beliefs Nor... ||Sep 24th. at 12:58:55 am EDT|
|Gael (Atlanta, Georgia US) ||Age: 47 |
None of the individuals named represent me, my tradition, my beliefs nor would their presence as a spokesperson/leader affect me and the members of my tradition.
People tell the Elders (all of whom have grey in their hair and have been pagans since before the majority of current pagans were even born) that they get everything they need from books or the internet. The mix-n-match belief-systems of the neo-pagan movement have all but eliminated the opportunity for most to get to know a pagan Elder on a personal basis because they have all but been rejected from the current movement.
The "big name" authors are, for the most part, not leaders. The real leaders and teachers are quietly doing the work of service for mankind behind the scenes with no recognition from the pagan community.
If you want leaders to be there for you, then you will need to learn to listen when they speak. None of them is going to hang around and shout at you over the drone of drums and your pre-occupation with breast-beating. They will be quietly sitting under a tree and teaching a small group who want to be still and listen.
| I Was Split As To A National Pagan Spokesperson, Until I Read... ||Sep 24th. at 12:26:57 am EDT|
|Lynne Sylverthorne (Chandler, Arizona US) ||Age: 40 - Email |
I was split as to a national pagan spokesperson, until I read in some of the British press that a national I.D. card could become a reality here, as it is certain to be in the U.K.. One poll taken in the U.K. stated that 67% said that along with all the other info to be included that your RELIGION must be part of the info disclosed.
Given the fact that our current president has verbally attacked all of our beliefs as being invalid, maybe we need to stop squabbling about less important things and unite to ensure we still have a right to practice witchcraft a decade from now.
You need to realize that the card being proposed in U.K. would be required for employment, to obtain government benefits and even to buy gasoline! And it is being called voluntary over there!!!
This is the most serious threat to face us ever. I for one do not want to have to lie about my beliefs.
| I Thought About This For A Little More Than One Week, In... ||Sep 24th. at 12:14:38 am EDT|
|Crystal (Spokane, Washington US) ||Age: 43 - Email |
I thought about this for a little more than one week, in the aftermath of such destruction. I'm an oldtimer, as Pagans are considered, since I've been "in this" philosophical mindset for more than 20 years, (more than 40 years, if you count my unconventional family philosophers). I am an initiate of an Irish-Trad, but not a Wiccan group, yet I felt that "someone" needed to "volunteer" for the leadership role. Since the Chaplains serving the law enforcement arm of the agency for which I work have already "volunteered" as religious leaders, I sent an internal e-mail to the Ombudsman staff member heading the Chaplaincy and instructed her to make available my email address for duotheists or polytheists or Chaplains administering to them, as needed.
| National Pagan Leaders? I Would Be Careful Of Instituting Such An Idea... ||Sep 23rd. at 11:57:26 pm EDT|
|Tarostar (Toronto, Ontario CA) ||Age: 59 - Email |
National Pagan Leaders? I would be careful of instituting such an idea.
Over the years, I have seen so many "celebrity" Pagans making the mistake of speaking for all Pagans to media types.
The beauty of Paganism is that it still is based on the community level. Let each community draw solace from its own Pagan Elders.
Too many of our "celebrity" personalities use the media attention to push their own causes, giving the impression all Pagans adhere to such.
As an example, we had a Pagan Education Network pat itself on the back for
forcing dictionary publishers to define Witchcraft as a Neo-Pagan Religion. They didn't ask us old witches if we agreed. They ignored the fact witchcraft is older than the stones, so could not be "Neo"-anything.
National Leaders would tend to standardize and institutionalize Wicca, perhaps, but Witchcraft won't go along, and would drag its feet, at least my variety of old-time Witchcraft would.
Knowing the general ditz factor among many Wiccans/Llewellyns types and the
social revolutionary agendas of our "political" activists, I would not want any form of election for Pagan Papess or Magus Ipsissimus.
It would result in one Pagan Leader, or another, becoming a hateful little Hitler.
Would we want that? The party line is becoming apparent, already, among the Pagan social revolutionaries. Try criticizing Starhawk and find out.
| The Three Words That I Feel Would Best Describe A Pagan « Leader... ||Sep 23rd. at 11:49:40 pm EDT|
|Morgan Ravenwood (Lake Havasu City , Arizona US) ||Age: 43 - Email |
The three words that I feel would best describe a Pagan « leader » is someone who, by their word, deed, and achievement have become known AS a leader in the Pagan community. Some, but certainly not all, of the names that come to mind for me are Starhawk, Isaac Bonewits, Raymond Buckland, Phyllis Curott., and certainly whoever is the current President of the Covenant of the Goddess. Aside from her books, I don’t know of any of Silver Ravenwolf’s achievements or if she even allows her real name to be known, but I think a lot of us would support her if she did choose to take an even more active role within the Pagan community.
Like the writer of the email that was sent to Witchvox, I also feel that the time has come for a little more organization among the Pagan community, and I even wrote an article for TWPT some months back on this subject (which is still available at http://www.twpt.com/aversion.htm). Since the attack on America, it has been almost maddening to see some of the Christian and Jewish leaders practically glorying in the national limelight---and no public word from any Pagan representatives. Perhaps those High Priestesses and Priests in larger cities have attempted to speak for their local communities, but from my perspective of living in a small Southwestern town, I have certainly not heard of any, and since I am still struggling to get even a study group together in my area, I have not felt comfortable enough to completely « come out » and attend the various local Christian assemblies that have met in the wake of the tragedies of Sept. 11.
In keeping with the spirit of individuality within the Pagan community, I certainly do NOT want to see any particular individual be allowed to speak for ALL Pagans. With so many different belief structures residing beneath the « Pagan » blanket, I don’t see how this could ever be. But surely, we could allow enough « organization » to filter through to allow a small number of those whose qualifications meet a basic criteria to at least be able to represent what we as Pagans believe and practice. I don’t feel that this would be unreasonable or contrary to the spirit of Paganism.
I also do not believe that the day has yet come to where we can actually grant a « salary, » travel expenses, etc. to a designated « representative . » And at this point, I don’t know if that day will ever come, or if it will even be necessary. For now, I think that that most of us are content to do the work and will of the Goddess when and where it presents itself with no monetary reward other than from our own circle and coven members for group activities and support. One day, it may be a different story…
| I Watched The Memorial Services In Yankee Stadium This Afternoon. There Were... ||Sep 23rd. at 11:35:31 pm EDT|
|Chris "Stormseer" Taub (Tempe, Arizona US) ||Age: 31 - Email |
I watched the memorial services in Yankee Stadium this afternoon. There were religious leaders from "all faiths", according to those in attendance. I didn't see representatives of our faith sitting with those of Hindu, Islam, Jew, Greek Orthodox, Baptist, Catholic, Protestant, and others.
I'm not complaining about it. I do believe today's services created a special bond that will be shared by all for generations to come. Today, we realized that we are unique individuals with unique ways of looking at the universe. I do, however, think that representatives of the Pagan world should have been there.
How is this accomplished? Utilize people who have played the most active roles in education and outreach. Starhawk, Oberon Zell, Isaac Bonewits, Freya Aswynn, Gavin and Janet, etc. Write them, and ask if they would take up the cause of representing Neo-Pagans in services such as the one we saw at Yankee stadium. Form a council focused on interfaith awareness, outreach, and understanding.
Leadership and representation will not usurp our religious freedoms. I believe it will carry us into the mainstream...allowing us to worship wherever we want, when we want, and how we want, without need for secrecy and fear.
| I Do Not Believe That Having A Set Group Of Pagan “leaders... ||Sep 23rd. at 10:58:37 pm EDT|
|Nyx (Orange County, California US) ||Age: 20 |
I do not believe that having a set group of pagan “leaders” would be a good idea. The Pagan community, as a whole, is so diverse that no one person, or group of people could accurately represent it. Do we need leaders on a community level? Yes. Should we have a voice in national matters? Yes. But this voice should not come from a council of elders who claims to be the voice of the entire Pagan community. Rather, I believe that is time for every Witch, Wiccan, Pagan, etc... to start standing up and speaking out on a individual level. Write letters, stage gathering, do what it takes to get your opinion out there. We all need to be leaders in this community. There is no better way to represent yourself than with your own words.
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