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Question of the Week: 113

Pagan Problem Children: What Can We Do About Them?

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Responses: [2,666]

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 Author:    Posted: Nov. 17, 2002   This Page Viewed: 12,946,264  

Vox Q Stats

Times Viewed: 32,767

Reponses: 289

Lurker/Post Ratio: 113 to 1

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. Reverse Sort 

I Think That One Spokesperson For The Pagan Community Is Going To... Sep 30th. at 9:41:50 am EDT

Alana (Miami, Florida US) Age: 44 - Email

I think that one spokesperson for the pagan community is going to be hard to agree on. What about a council? I would certainly financially support, to the best of my ability, representatives to our community. The problem with trying to appoint any one individual is that we are a very loosely linked community with often strong opinions and varied beliefs.

Er, That Was Supposed To Be "opposed" Not "opposite." I Guess That... Sep 30th. at 9:23:33 am EDT

Winter Wolf (Atlantic City, New Jersey US) Age: 46

Er, that was supposed to be "opposed" not "opposite." I guess that leaves
me out of the running also! Hiyo Silver! Away!

Interesting Idea. I Don't Understand Those Who Opposite On The Grounds That... Sep 30th. at 9:20:49 am EDT

Winter Wolf (Atlantic City, New Jersey US) Age: 46

Interesting idea. I don't understand those who opposite on the grounds
that there are so many varities of pagans. That hasn't stopped Christianity
from having various leaders and spokespersons, has it? The only criteria
that I would have for pagan leaders/spokespersons is that they be highly
intelligent and well educated. I guess that leaves Silver Ravenwolf out
of the running!

It Is A Difficult Question. Paganism, As A Spirituality, Is As Varied... Sep 30th. at 9:06:27 am EDT

Debra Douglas Anderson (North Dartmouth, Massachusetts US) Age: 35 - Email

It is a difficult question. Paganism, as a spirituality, is as varied as its practitioners. I think that a Pagan Leader would be a benefit to the community as a whole if it is the right leader. What criteria would qualify someone to be the right leader? I believe a Pagan Leader would have to be able to step outside the paradigm of his/her own path and, on an ongoing public basis, treat his/her spirituality and the spirituality of the American Pagan Community with a broad scope. Pagans can be all inclusive and extremely ecclectic as well as explicitly ritualistic. A Pagan Leader would need to be able to combine Pagan communal links in his/her speeches/writings/interviews/public practices in order to raise community spirit.

What would I expect from that leader? Someone who is predisposed to peaceful and balanced living. A person who addresses Paganism as a whole from Buddism, Shintoism and Hinduism to Wicca, Gardnerianism, Strega....Someone who is able to communicate the Pagans' need for inclusion of both Gods and Goddesses, and who does not qualify Paganism to non-pagans by what it is not but rather by what it is. I would relish a leader as a peaceful warrior on a journey in which each person, pagan and non-pagan alike that he/she meets, the warrior leaves with them an imprint: That all religions and spiritualities have commonalities and that all practitoners are reaching towards the same lessons. It is only the semantics that each path uses that makes its practitioners view life from within different paradigms. I would want a Pagan Leader to be all this as well as be able to use their spokesmanship to invoke Unity and to celebrate Diversity.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
God & Goddess Bless America
May the World Unite in Peace

What? Choosing Pagan Leaders/spokesperson? That Would Never Work. There Would Be... Sep 30th. at 6:40:13 am EDT

Alyssa (witchita , Kansas US) Age: 16

Choosing Pagan leaders/spokesperson?
That would never work. There would be too many minds to feed. So many opinions one person would not be able to live up to our expectaions. There would then be the need for more people one to represent each religion within Paganism, Wicca, celtic. We would become separated from each other and slowly disintergrate. We would sit back waiting for this spokesperson to say what we think and they might not we would lose touch of our own religion.
I have to argue against this idea.
No one know's what we think better than we do and no one can say better than our own mouths.

Praise The Goddess !!!!! I Have Long Been Pondering In My Head The... Sep 30th. at 5:33:45 am EDT

andy (kansas city, Missouri US) Age: 28 - Email

Praise the Goddess !!!!!

I have long been pondering in my head the idea of a national pagan organization.

I want to call it PBN Pagan Broadcasting Network...kind of like CBN only better cause its pagan and it wont be drippign with dogma and stupidity

pagans CAN become united and not let small differences tear them apart...we can keep our basic message and principals....we all have a common goal as pagans....
and I am getting more and more annoyed by this general ignorance when it comes to my "religion" (always gotta used quotes ;) we need to stand together and share our message and do it the "rigth" living doing it....not by the other popular methods i won't get into....

well im starting to sound like a preacher....i better quite...

blessed be ;)


I Would Love To Have A "generic" (if Such A Thing Could... Sep 30th. at 12:48:18 am EDT

Karen (Denver, Colorado US) Age: 29

I would LOVE to have a "generic" (if such a thing could exist...??!!??)
Flag for all Pagans...sometimes I feel patriotic not just to the country
but also to the religion - and I don't have a very effective way of showing
that - at least, waving the national flag doesn't quite do it "all" for me!

Would love to see suggestions for a Pagan Flag...

I'm Not Sure If I Can Speak For Other Pagans Or Their... Sep 30th. at 12:39:25 am EDT

Calypso (Billings, Montana US) Age: 30

I'm not sure if I can speak for other Pagans or their communities or groups...but I can at least say that the HPS of my circle has opened up the circle's online group posting to quite a few ideas and discussions which were, at least initially, against her own personal feelings. If she is at all indicative of Pagan leadership, the simple act on her part, of providing an open forum for the circle participants, and providing her own support to them as needed, is as much leadership as I've needed. The email mentioned in the witchvox homepage sounded very much as if the writer was acting out from feeling very alone and isolated, and very full of pain. While I think it is always good to re-evaluate whether a system is working optimally, I am not sure whether or not such evaluation should be spurred by one person possibly acting out from feelings barely under control. Perhaps that is actually the PERFECT time to re-evaluate, but I don't know how rationally such evaluation can be conducted. As one therapist has said, right now while we are grieving is not the time to be making life decisions - wait until the worst pain has passed and we can regain some perspective again...

Finally, until the Pagan community can more fully succeed at gaining respect from the majority of the society we live in, I suspect that the political consequences of any Pagan attempt to be included in national events may prove at this time to be an inappropriate distraction from the national intention. I would love to be wrong on this point, but with as much resistance as I see daily, I don't know that we could have been involved in the national memorial service. If we had been refused involvement, how far, in that particular situation, would we have wanted to push our equality? Would it have been appropriate, in the middle of national mourning, to push the "side" issues involved? At your own family's funeral, would it have been appropriate for a guest to argue loudly about getting to sit with the family? That's where to me it seems we are at right now.

In an ideal world, it would have been great - and I would have been far more interested in watching the service - had there been a Pagan rep at the national memorial service. Did I think about it? No: the point of the service was not whether a HP/S was up front or not.

I have had to work a lot at "reconciling" (sometimes it feels more like 'resigning' or 'conceding'!) with the majority Xian system. Spirit is Spirit, whether we call it God, Allah, Buddha, Quan Yin, Diana, Jesus, Lugh, or the universe. Sometimes when dealing with the health of our own communities it is more important to start there (and *then* work our way forward). I work in a church office (no, they don't know), and I simply felt grateful that with all the flag-waving I've been able to wear my pentagrams...and that Pagan Pride was timed right in the middle of it all. Hallaluia!!

As A Young Australian Pagan (i Am 16), I Believe It Is... Sep 29th. at 11:53:54 pm EDT

Stephanie Akasha (Melbourne, Victoria AU) Age: 16 - Email

As a young Australian Pagan (I am 16), I believe it is time for there to be a National representative. Times are changing, and inevitably religions are changing with them. More and more people, mostly of my age group I know, are turning to paganism, wicca and other earth based religions and even though there is hundreds of thousands of web-sites, books etc around, it is very easy to feel alone and alienated. A National figure would be a reassurance to young solitaries, a means of promoting acceptance and understanding in the wider community and focal point around which the pagan community can rally in times of need. I agree that this would be an incredibly difficult endevour, but I honestly think it is one worth attempting.
Blessed Be!

Mm: All Do We Need Leaders ? I Would Say Yes ,and, We... Sep 29th. at 10:32:57 pm EDT

David (Dawsonville, Georgia US) Age: 43 - Email

MM: All

Do we need leaders ? I would say yes , and, we are they. We are our own leaders
and followers we draw ispiration from others so they may find it in us.we are one and we are nany. When the call is heard we step up together, Yes we have national leaders , but like so many other aspects of the Pagan approach it is done differently elections and appointments are the usal way of doing this sort of thing the third option is of course to ask for volenteers when needed and then back them .There several organiziations that preform the grand task of trying to give us a greater voice Groups like C.O.G., A.R.E.N. , and Circle Sanctuary to name a few, these groups and many more like them are in bussiness to help serve the community and thusly they also lead by example .because the best leaders are the ones , if asked really don`t want the job and Folks like Fritz and Wren whose tireless efforts to serve the community by providing sch a wonderful means to connect and communicate with each other which without which would not happen( or at the very least not as fast), we look to each other for support and guidence in times of need.We have our leaders and we are they. And thanks to places like the T.W.V. we have an avenue to relate to each other and grow in spirit, understanding and harmony.

Well I hope this has helped express my views , I will take this oppertunity to Thank The good people at The witches` Voice for their Service to the community. You lead by serving , and that`s the best kind.
I also would like to appoligise for any Incoherence in this , typing at late hours tends to bring out my worst in sentence structuring. with that I will say aloha.
BB & MP David

Like Many, I Looked To The Media For A Figure To Stand... Sep 29th. at 9:09:05 pm EDT

Jonobie (Austin, Texas US) Age: 25

Like many, I looked to the media for a figure to stand up and speak to my beliefs. And then I realized that this was silly; I logged onto my computer and started reading my email lists and wandered over to Witchvox to look for words of comfort from Wren & Fritz. What I found shouldn't have surprised me - everywhere, people were grappling with the tragedy, writing their thoughts, writing poetry and prayers. It filled any void the lack of a "national voice" created.

Do I think we need national leaders who can be called up in times of national tragedy and can serve as spokespersons for our faiths? Yes, but not yet. Our religion is so new, so young -- we can't even define ourselves (witness the numerous times discussions about the meaning of the word "witch" or "pagan" appear on various email or chat lists), let alone find the proper people to represent our diversity.

Add to this the problem that Neopagans are *not* accustomed to the notion of tithing or financially supporting a church or elected leaders. If you doubt this, ask the WitchVox staff if they could live off of the donations to this site, and recall that Isaac Bonewits' site went offline earlier this year due to lack of funding. Would each Neopagan be willing to spend even 5% of their annual income to support either their national leaders, their local grove, or both? I doubt it. If you want a national voice, but you vehemently disagree with what your elected offical is saying, would you financially support the process and person anyhow? I bet many wouldn't. We, as a community, are not yet ready to pay for our leaders -- and a national voice that does it on a part-time unpaid basis is likely going to burn out quickly or do a poor job. They need to be free to do it as their sole means of livelihood.

On another note, I've read many comments here that seem to worry that a national spokesperson would be akin to the Pope. I think this is inaccurate. What I envision a national Neopagan leader doing includes the following:

o Educating those who give public prayers on language changes that would make the prayers and services more acceptable to Neopagans.
o In times of need, leading public (televised) interfaith Neopagan rituals. Also, any other public ministering that can be done in times of great need.
o Being available for public statements for the media, either as an educational resource or for issuing comforting statements to Neopagans.
o Activism in government - lobbying or educating officals about our religions.

This, as many others have pointed out, requires sensitivity to and knowledge of the numerous religions that fall under the Neopagan umbrella.

We're starting towards a national presence, though. For each member of clergy who attends interfaith meetings, for every newspaper article that's written about us that emphasizes the beliefs of our various religions instead of the trappings, for each Neopagan who presents a kind and intelligent face to an outsider, we move closer towards national recognition and a good climate for national spokespersons.

I Am Not In Favor Of Designating Pagan Leaders. I Think That... Sep 29th. at 9:06:49 pm EDT

Victoria Ziemer (Leominster, Massachusetts US) Age: 54

I am not in favor of designating Pagan Leaders. I think that there are plenty of leaders that just naturally evolve, as in the case of Starhawk, or Selena Fox, for example. One of the many beauties of Paganism is the lack of organization. Although there are beginning to be many "rules" depending on what kind of Paganism one practices, there is no real Dogma. If certain people want a more organized ritual, it is available, but no one thinks that they are right and everyone else is wrong.

I feel that designating leaders is a slippery slope that could lead to more and more rules, control, and an attitude of being a little above or superior to the rest of us. I prefer it to be just as it is.

I would like to have a little more visibility or presence during times like this, but I think that can be accomplished by the people that we have already. I think that we should think long and hard before we take this step that could have repercussions that none of us want. Vicki

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