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Question of the Week: 113

Pagan Problem Children: What Can We Do About Them?

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 Author:    Posted: Nov. 17, 2002   This Page Viewed: 6,002,965  

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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'd Like To Raise Just A Few Points That Have Most Likely... Sep 28th. at 3:35:31 am UTC

Bryan (Ft. Worth, Texas US) Age: 20


I'd like to raise just a few points that have most likely been raised already.

First, the Narrowmindedness of the ignorant. Dispite the general tolerance that is growing in the U.S. this is still a major problem... I myself have found my vehicles, houses, and friends vandalised because of my beliefs. It is important to note that many of my friends while not sharing my religion of Paganism, do not condemn it either. I have had attacks on my own person because of wearing my pendant. It is sad to say, but many people have not moved beyond the Dark Times as I call the, or in common Terms "the Inquisition" and "Salem Witch Trials" Anyone who would become an elected official would themselves be subject to this kind of treatment on an incalcuable scale. Who then would willingly put themselves in such danger?

Second, Dispite the growing movement, Pagans are still few and far apart, there are only a handful of places where the Pagan/wiccan populations have enough sway to affect even District elections, how then would we manage to have our elected official win a State election, not counting a national one?

Third, There are more Sects of Pagan beliefs than there are any other religion, this is due largely to the fact that Paganism is as old as humanity itself, and over the millenia has changed form and evolved, been translated and adapted into different cultures and so on. As far as I know there are practically as many traditions as there are Pagans. What tradition do we then deside to represent, or do we find someone who is willing to wade through novel after novel of information until they have atleast 90% of the available information out there, I myself have spent thousands on books and pagan related information and feel I only have a small fraction of what information there is on different traditions.

That all said... Let me say this. I love the thought of having a Pagan represenative in Washington. I just don't know that it would be in either Pagan, or the elected officials best intrest at this point in time. What I feel needs to happen, and mind you this may seem off the wall, is the following:

If Pagans as a whole within the U.S. could form some sort of Network, some sort of an Organization, much like the Pagan Federation which is based out of London. but focused in the states, where Pagans could either E-mail, or Snail Mail thier votes for possible canidates in to be tallied up and elect the canidate within the Organization as the Canidate for a public office. That federation then, could fund the Campaign, but at the same time the problem comes into play that this person would have to be in a state that has high consentrations of Pagan Voters... for this I'd suggest something along the lines of this.
The United States Pagan Association (for lack of a better name at the moment) would fund Pagan awareness programs and events within a state. Much like a Church, fund after school programs, literacy endeavors, and even a Habitat for Humanity of it's own. Things along these lines, that let people know that we as a religious community are here to help others, and are not the child eating, curse casting, green skinned, wart nosed, boom riding, fiends books and movies like Harry Potter make us out to be.
Then USPA has a state that is somewhat amiable towards a Pagan represenative, we now have a state where the election would come down to an election of the persons views. but that would take years of such programs.

I think what I'm trying to say more than anything, is that while it's a Great idea, and one I'd be behind 220% all the way, I think other things need to be done first. Basicly Build the foundation before you build the house.

Blessed Be
Bryan


Not A Leader So Much As A Representative; Someone Who Is Charismatic... Sep 28th. at 2:15:41 am UTC

J. Steven Johnson (Bremerton , Washington US) Age: 28


Not a leader so much as a representative; someone who is charismatic enough to field the ignorant questions, intelligent and quick witted enough to answer the genuinely well thought inquiry.
There are simply too many diverse beliefs to unite under one roof.
The benefits of such an individual are infinite: among them, as I stated above, is someone who could answer the questions others may have. Add to that the eventual acceptance just by his or her very presence. Lack of understanding leads to distrust, thus this person would begin to allay those fears.

Unfortunately, the ignorant will rise up and, as they have with our Muslim breathren in this country, threaten those who are pagan. This representative and their family will be in danger -especially the first to stand in such a role- and that may lead to the most capable standing back from the responsibility.

What worries me most is the current state of affairs bringing so many Christians to the forefront who decry the other, less numerous religions and life paths. This is not too common an occurance I hope, but I've friends who have borne the brunt of such narrowmindedness. (And it is a far cry from the general Christian mentality, just as the terrorist mindset is nothing like the true Muslim beliefs.)

Could a representative help to alleviate this by speaking for us and bringing such things to light?

Blessings on the final decision, this is the perfect forum wherein it may begin.


This Is The Simp[le Uneducated Opinion, Of A Cimple Uneducatd Man... Sep 28th. at 1:27:41 am UTC

Keir Grian (Vancouver) Age: 19 - Email


This is the simp[le uneducated opinion, of a cimple uneducatd man.
i dont think we need a leader, so much as we need a voice.
some way of saying a colective we are here.

the word leader brings about thoughts of one denomination, but has anyone here ever seen behavior among pagans that could truley segregate us into denomnations? every coven, every solitare has his own nuances, be they gardeneria, alexandrian or some other branch of wicca, being a shaman, i have never found another shaman that uses the same techniques as i, he may use some, and ocmpletlyy disregard others. it oges for every group i have ever encounered. therfore i dont think we could ever truley have a leader, one person, or groupe of people we may voice ourselvs through is another matter. that i think is a very viable option.

as for an election of some kind?
i have no idea. i dont know if it even could be done efectivley. were you tot ry and find a way of broadcasting it, would the necesary numbers of people show up to make it worthwile? i dont know. there are many closet pagans who would not. i suspect a goodly chunk of out nmbers are these closet pagans. another chunk of out numbers would be comprised by those who didnt think we neede any form of leader, so there to would be gona a good portion of votes. i dont think the few left over would be a substantial enough number to have an accurate vote.

as for payment, if i recallc orectly, most paid clergy get their pay through various tithes, donations, and religious buisness.
i dont believe we pagans have a network of that sort.
all in all i;d have to say paganasim colectivley is not structured to have a colective leader. it oculd be done with each trad having one, but then how many thousand voices would we have?

anyways, that is my opinion on teh matter, i hope it makes sence.


We Have Screamed For Years That We Do Not Need Them We... Sep 28th. at 1:16:29 am UTC

JER (Fort Wayne, Indiana US) Age: 25 - Email


We have screamed for years that we do not need them we are not like the other faiths. we are are own leaders!!! now I hear this!!!! Some one Crying that there are no Pagan leaders to be found .....this is what the Pagan community wanted!!! We got it. Now in the midst of this horrific attack you want the leaders??I wish you all would make up your mind do we as a Neo pagan community want or not want leaders?I do not want leaders. One that is why I am not xtian and two I am a faith of one. I am a leader in my faith....and I was talking to the local press as A Group of my friends and I organized a candle light vigil on the local college campus. As a leader in a faith of one I am working to heal my community. My friends are workng to heal our communtiy. I ask you what have you done??? We are all horrified and shoked and angery, and we are working to heal or working for justice. Questions like this are not needed at this time for this is the time to help your neighbors and family and friends deal with this. Let's not backpedal on the way we as Pagans have operated for the one time we as a new cultuer in this nation(relativly speaking) are put to the test. As pagans this is our time to shine, to show the world thatwe are every bit as holy, every bit a part of this nation. Stand up show the world we are not scary satan worshipers drinking blood. THis is our time, each of us to be leaders. Stop this blaming stop the finger pointing and show off the best face of Pagan to the nation help the greiving and start the healing. We are our own leaders, and we will be our own leaders as we continue this process of healing.


The Wonderful Thing About Wicca And Paganism Is That We Do Not... Sep 28th. at 12:21:03 am UTC

Tarot Temptress (Novi, Michigan US) Age: 36 - Email


The wonderful thing about wicca and paganism is that we do not have a leader. I am solitary, and that suits me fine. Those who feel the need for a leader join their fellow pagans locally. It would be very hard to have any kind of election and hard to get the word out to all us solitaries. But I do see the point that we need representation. That would surely help in our fight to bring understanding of what we truely stand for to the uninformed. I really don't see any easy way to pick such representation. I am a very traditional kind of person and am happy with the way things are. My vote would be for no leader, but maybe assign a few spokespersons who would be available in different parts of the country for when the occasion arises when we need a voice.


Well Someone Has Hit The Nail On The Preverbial Head. Were Are... Sep 28th. at 12:20:44 am UTC

Morgana Fagan (Flomaton, Alabama US) Age: 40


Well someone has hit the nail on the preverbial head. Were are our leaders and why did they not make an apperence to help? It may be as one of my fellow pagans pointed out that they are just in it for the money that can be made from their books. If you so called leaders are what you say you are come out from under your rocks and help your fellow pagans get thier lives back in order. Unless what many out there are saying is true and you are just in it for the money. Ms. Cabot I thought you would be the first to come to the aid of your people, what has happened to the lady that went on national TV to show the world that pagans were good people? And all of you sow called leaders let your people see that you are who you say you are and come out into the open.


Ironically, As An Atheist Pagan I Had Been Saying To Myself, "at... Sep 27th. at 11:19:15 pm UTC

Secular Pagan (Minneapolis, Minnesota US) Age: 37 - Email


Ironically, as an Atheist Pagan I had been saying to myself, "At least those Pagans who believe in deities and prayers won't feel left out of all the 'God bless America' and prayer gatherings." It's not exactly comforting to find that I'm not the only one experiencing a sense of not being part of the Great National Unity; I would rather that our leaders would acknowledge ALL shades of belief. Whether we believe in one god, one goddess, many god/desses, or no deities at all, we all need to be welcomed into the circle of mourning and healing. We need to deal with this tragedy within the framework of our own world views and systems of belief.

Rather than looking to any official "leaders, " I would suggest that the media, government, and other Powers That Be recognize the diversity of belief in their communities, and make room for such local people as wish to be spokespersons for Pagans, Wiccans, Atheists, whatever, to take their places alongside the ministers, priests, and rabbis. Even if we are willing to speak up, it doesn't do any good if our voices aren't given the microphone and our writings are not published in the papers.


Once, Long Ago, For Don't All Fine Parables Begin As Such, There... Sep 27th. at 11:04:41 pm UTC

Cheyenne Black (Confidential, New Hampshire US) Age: 28 - Email


Once, long ago, for don't all fine parables begin as such, there was a princess. This princess had been arranged by her father to wed a prince from a neighboring kingdom.

The young princess agreed to wed the prince for she was a good and noble daughter all too willing to do whatever she must for the praise of her father. Before the grand and albeit rather pompous wedding, the princess moved to the castle of her soon to be husband.

Raiders one day attacked and the princess was frightened though the raiders were fought back and she was safe and sound. Her prince, however, bore no ill will toward her and so did not wish her dead and also, if the truth were told, had no great wish to raise the ire of her father should he not see to her safety. And so he erected a massive drawbridge and moat around his castle to ensure it.

Now of course the day came when an assassin made his way stealthily inside and mistook a visiting king for the father of the prince, slaughtering him in cold blood right before the bulging eyes of the princess. The assassin was caught and put to death as was their way but alas the prince again feared for her safety.

And so it was that a large wall, complete with watchtowers and armed guards to stand at attention was erected rapidly around the castle.

The day arrived several years later of course that the princess would take her foray into the woods around the castle as would occur at this point in any fine parable.

It was here in these woods that the princess came upon a young man, not a great deal older than she was. She was startled for she had not met anyone new in the years since the great wall around her prince's castle had been built. Warily, they greeted one another but soon they relaxed and began to laugh and talk merrily as all new friends do.

They walked that day and many days after, down the winding paths in the woods and they talked of life and war, royalty and commonality, and everything save one subject, which neither of them ever dared broach. Until one day the young man did broach the forbidden topic and he took her hand in his and looked upon her longingly. With a bold sweep of his arm he fell to one knee and he spoke to her of his love. He told her everything that can be found in a young mans heart with the blush of first love and the truth of his confession shone in his eyes.

The princess fled in terror and ran deeper into the woods. Eventually, her exhaustion deep and her breath long since lost, the princess stopped running and sat down upon the soft wild grasses, tucking her feet beneath her as she began to weep and dropped her face mournfully into her hands.

"Why do you bellow so?" a gentle voice asked.

The princess whirled about and saw for the first time a small squirrel. The squirrel looked expectant, as if it were awaiting an answer yet the princess knew she must be mistaken. The voice however had startled her quite enough to stop her crying and she heaved a deep, weary sigh.

"Why do you sigh as if your heart were breaking princess?" the voice asked this time.

At this the princess looked around more thoroughly and realized where she was at last. She had unknowingly stumbled into the meadow she would come to often as a young child. And in this meadow the princess had befriended a large old willow tree, for is it not always the willow who gives the best advice in a parable?

Smiling, and quite relieved she was not hearing squirrels speak, the princess turned and looked earnestly at her old friend.

"Oh Willow, I am lost and frightened and do not know what to do, " she spoke softly even as she curled up on the roots of her friend.

"You are frightened of your own heart?" the Willow asked.

"I am to wed! I cannot love another!" she cried out.

"But you do, don't you?"

"I am to wed! And what can this poor boy give me? Can he protect me? Can he truly offer what love should be?"

"What should love be then?"

"I don't know! Protection! Safety!"

"My child, " came the gentle reply, "Do not confuse safety and protection with a cage made of stone and guarded by weapons."

"Whatever are you talking about Willow? I am safe there! Why, when he feared for my safety he erected walls that I might be safe! When I was frightened he created a drawbridge that I might feel protected! He placed guards upon the walls with weapons and I have never been safer!"

"Haven't you?"

"No! Never!" the princess screamed in her frustration at the tree.

"Then tell me this, my child, " the Willow spoke softly, gently, lovingly, her tone did not indicate reprisals or admonitions, merely wisdom. "How is it then, that it has been raining for this hour that you have curled yourself upon my roots and yet you have not felt a drop of rain? How is it that the wolf pack that followed you here to this meadow in your fright and lack of attentiveness, has not yet spilled your blood upon the earth?"

Startled, the princess rose up suddenly and looked around, her fright rising anew in her throat.

"I- I don't know! Willow I'm scared!"

"Shhh. Cast your eyes up into my branches my child and the answer will reveal itself."

The princess craned her neck and looked up high into the branches of the Willow. There, hidden only slightly by the leaves, was the young man perched precariously. His feet splayed one to a branch and his hands in a similar fashion as he used every bit of his strength to hold the branches of the willow in the perfect condition so as to overlap and keep the princess beneath them dry enough that she never knew it was raining.

The princess gasped her surprise though the young man was obviously out of earshot for her soft voice and that of the willow.

"You see, there is a vast difference, " the tree explained, "between a safety that seeks to cage you, and a safety that seeks to free you."

******************

I take no credit for this story as it was written by my fiancŽe and I have most assuredly butchered it in the retelling. However I wanted to share it to make my point so I hope you will indulge me.

Leaders are firstly not made, they happen. The truest leaders of any religion, belief, movement, or faction, are not created, they occur. Those leaders that -are- crafted carefully or whose positions are bought or bargained for, are precarious and ill suited for long term leadership, their fall is inevitable.

A leader happens when they are right. Not because they are well spoken or charming or wealthy or in the right place at the right time. Those leaders are the leaders that fall away in time. The truest leaders do not fall out of fashion and they don't lead. They live. It's really that simple. Call it leading by example if you wish to but realize the honest truth is that real leaders don't lead they live.

The very idea of electing or appointing any sort of leader is appalling to me. The thought makes my skin crawl. Gods we can't even manage not to bumble electing a president for the country, we would surely create a true mess if we tried the idea of electing a NPL.

When you seek leaders it is out of fear, and that is understandable but golly, is it not possible that in the cry for leadership you are drowning out the real leaders? Real leaders rarely shout to be heard because often, they understand the wisdom in the fact that their cries may not be necessary for everyone and those who need it will hear it because they will be listening for it. Those leaders who shout loud and fall do not fall because of their volume or because they were "taken down" by an opposing faction, for a true leader never falls, but instead they fell because they were not true leaders. Witness the recent event with Jerry Falwell, a shouting leader if ever there was one. He did not fall because of his volume or his opposition, but rather because he is not a true leader for the Christian faith.

I think it is wiser to ask oneself what you are seeking when you seek a leader. Are you really seeking a leader or is there something else you are chasing instead?

Me, I will take freedom any day, in all of its frightening, feeling exposed, glory. Because to me, the real leaders do show themselves but I know that if I am shouting for them I will never hear them. And I know that if I look too hard I will assign that which I value highly to one unworthy in an hour of self doubt disguised as need. Choose wisely for there are a multitude of types of safety and some are not safety but rather cages.

**Story above in all its mangled fashion copyright Adam Hanson may he forgive me for butchering his story so badly. Please don't use his story elsewhere without permission. Thanks!**


Do We Really Need National Leaders? Well, Maybe, But I Think For... Sep 27th. at 11:03:40 pm UTC

Lady Chislev (Portland, Oregon US) Age: 23


Do we really need National Leaders? Well, maybe, but I think for right now, we just need a Pagan presence to help those who need comfort from someone of the same religious belief's.

To start a nation wide Pagan Leader hunt, to find someone (or more than one) person to stand up and take the role of the voice of all Pagan's, I think is like looking before you leap. We all have various belief's and feelings towards different subject that it becomes like an election of the President. The lesser of two evils? Then we have to answer the questions: How do we choose a leader? What would their requirements be? Do we choose someone well known, or do we choose someone who has never written a book, but speaks to us in some other way.

Maybe it's something to look into in the future, but for right now, no. Everyone is coming together regardless of religion, creed, and race as Americans to help those in need for one of the most horrific acts every befalling our country. For now, I think we help those though thoughts, rituals, comfort who need it most, and maybe after everything settles (if it ever will...) we decide if we, as a community, need to have leader.

I think that once we, as a community, figure out what we need or want, then we decide how to move forward.


An Interesting Question Has Been Posed - Do We Need Pagan Leaders? Oddly... Sep 27th. at 10:59:03 pm UTC

Fyrehawk (Tucson, Arizona US) Age: 22


An interesting question has been posed - do we need Pagan leaders? Oddly, the majority of answers I've read in this wonderful forum have been "Yes! Let's get them! As quick as we can!" But what would these leaders really accomplish? Would they do any more for us than our well-known authors, many of whom were mentioned in the notorious email that sparked this discussion? Would they collectively wave a magic wand and make all the hatred, fear, and misunderstanding built up against the Craft community just disappear with a few public appearances or public rituals, or, better yet, by not holding ritual at all, but adapting the Work of the Goddess to a more orthodox format? What do we think that these chosen leaders would be subjecting themselves to? Obviously, they're already out of the proverbial broom closet, so to speak, but what injuries would they bear representing ALL Pagans? They would be putting themselves at risk, likely with very little monetary compensation...would this be fair to them?

Sadly, I have read many articles on Witchvox discussing arson, vandalism, and other terrible acts commited simply because someone learned that another person was Pagan - what kinds of atrocities would be visited upon our "Appointed Leaders?" Not only that, but who will pay for the appointment of these leaders?

My personal opinion, and please remember that it is ONLY that, is simply this - if we want national Pagan representation, we all need to STAND UP, together, and obtain it for ourselves. Simple as that. If we want to be recognized at an interfaith gathering for the departed - call the organizers of that gathering, explain your viewpoint, and attend, if nothing else. Call on the Goddess, or the God, to visit with you.Be an example of Love and Trust;We must remember that we are ALL our own Clergy, and no person or organization stands between us and the Divine.

The responsibility for national leadership falls to all Pagans, not just Starhawk, or Z Budapest, or Wren and Fritz - I think that is a primary reason why many of us choose this faith. We are our own leaders. It's time for us to start living up to those responsibilities, instead of calling on those more well-known than ourselves to live up to them for us.

In love and light,
Fyrehawk


The Question Of Who Is Our Pagan Leaders Is Not So Silly... Sep 27th. at 9:47:51 pm UTC

Linda Lee Boyce (Kansas City, Missouri US) Age: 36 - Email


The question of who is our Pagan leaders is not so silly as some suppose. Most of us do not need a leader. We are blessed with many who are wise and share their wisdom with any who ask. What the community often lacks is a Voice, a PR person if you will. A spokesperson who can field questions and direct those outside our community to correct information. Consider that almost every city department, every church, every company has a spokesperson who handles the distribution of information during times of crisis. Think of it as a lobbing group. How many of us who are openly Pagen get asked the same questions every Halloween by local media, for example?
I belive that a national Pagan Voice would help with some issues. For example, it would have been nice if a recognized national level Pagan Voice could have issued an offical statement when two infamous Christian preachers suggested that pagan were partially to blame for the attacks of September 11. Also, a national prescence might enable the community to set up some organizations designed to help pagans in need. The other faiths do it and yet we continue to allow our own to either suffer in silence or have to tolerate often being preached at for food, shelter, clothing, etc..
An election would be necessary. Possibly using the internet or maybe at various festivals. With a multi-year term, votes could be cast during a 6 month or more span at festivals through out the States. The Voice decided on should be supported by a national Pagan organization funded with dues and supported with a small percentage from festival admissions. Memberships in the organization would also help fund it.
We live in a national community and we need to have a Voice in how policies are made, laws enacted. I believe we need a national Voice, elected and supported, guard our own interests on the national scene.


Why Do We Need A Leader? We Are Leaders In The Faith... Sep 27th. at 9:09:36 pm UTC

Chris Juarez (kissimmee, Florida US) Age: 43 - Email


Why do we need a leader? We are leaders in the Faith, let us just say our prayers and send our healing energy/love their way, let us help in our humble way, caring without asking for recognition.


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