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 Cannot Wait For Someone To Speak For Me, I Must Speak... ||Sep 27th. at 7:12:10 pm EDT|
|SwiftDarkness (Riverside, California US) ||Age: 18 - Email |
I cannot wait for someone to speak for me, I must speak for myself.
I have been silent for most of my life. Why was I quite for so long? I don't know...that's not true I do know...I was afraid. Afriad to lose what I had, to lose my life as I know it. Afriad to be judged by others. Afriad that I would not be able to protect my family. Afriad to lose myself in my own voice.
ENOUGH! I am here, I can help, I will help. I have skills that I can use, even if I don't know how yet. I WILL FIND A WAY.
No one can speak for me but ME. I will raise my voice and sing my own song, I will call to anyone who can hear. I call to you if you can to sing with me.
Many people have already know that they have skills they know how to use but that they just don't know where to use them, I say to you find a place to start.
I have no idea where to begin, and I truly have little more than time to give, but I will give it freely. If anyone knows a good place to start please email me.
The time for waiting is past.
| Where Are The Pagan Leaders? I Have Read Most Of The Opinions... ||Sep 27th. at 6:31:22 pm EDT|
|Rebecca Clontz (unknown, Other Countries) ||Age: 0 - Email |
Where are the Pagan Leaders?
I have read most of the opinions posted here, and I read the original letter that "started" this firestorm. The FIRST thought that came to mind was "Who SAID these people are our leaders?"
Although people like Fritz and Wren, Starhawk, Silver Ravenwolf and Isaac Bonewits are very visible to the community, that doesn't make them our leaders. It makes them committed Pagan folk, out doing what the Gods have called them to do. They write, they teach, they are involved in public rituals and they all try to maintain some semblance of a home life.
If someone stood up and said "I'm the leader of the Pagan Community!" there would such an outcry from people like the letter writer, whining and complaining that they don't "REALLY" practice Paganism, or that their philosophy/religion/belief system is WRONG!
THAT is NOT what I'm about.
Although I'm not into the "white light" fluff bunny, I feel that I HAVE to believe that this tragedy has a deeper meaning. There is something coming, and if we can't as a RACE (I'm talking the HUMAN RACE, here!) do something not only to heal ourselves and our world.. Mama's going to shake us ALL off and start OVER! (Ok... no more Pachamama at bedtime... )
What I DO know, is that our "leaders" can be found by looking in the mirror. See that person looking back? THERE is your leader. Part of a Coven, Circle or group? Look in the mirror... there's your leader.
Most of us BECAME Pagan because we are NOT sheep. So quit acting like sheep. Quit looking for a leader that may or may not come. DO SOMETHING on your OWN, don't wait for someone to tell you what to do! Light a candle, do a ritual, give blood, donate food... DO SOMETHING.
| Greetings, Everyone! I've Been Reading The Various Posts On This Subject And... ||Sep 27th. at 6:17:03 pm EDT|
|Robin D. Kullick (Chicago, Illinois US) ||Age: 35 - Email |
I've been reading the various posts on this subject and I feel I might have something worth saying. Some of the other Questions of the Week have been on Religious Discrimination and the ilk. The question was always, "What can we do about it?" This is my opinion on this: The thing is, we need to play the game that every other "recognized" faith has been doing in this country. We need to be vocal on the local, statewide, regional and national levels. I can safely bet that we all believe strongly in "An it harm none", right? And we can safely state that to a general degree we all abide by the Rule of Three. Right? Isn't this enough of a base to begin with? We do not have to go into all the minutae of our each individual and various faiths. Bt we do need a unified front, so to speak, so that when someone is hit with the accusation of eating Christian babies (yes, I've been accused of that...funny, I'm a vegetarian)we can have a public knowledge that it would be against one of our most basic beliefs. You don't see Christians being accused of eating Jewish babies, now do you? So, I think we do need a Pagan leadership. But not to tell us what to do. Certainly not that. But to help be our voice in the world. More of a representative than Dalai Lama or Pope. A Witch's Voice, so to speak. As to the organization of such, I leave that up to those with more political savvy than I. But let me end this part of my opinion with this: The squeaky wheel gets the grease.
Now "playing the game" is this: Playing completely by their own, established rules and creating those organizations that we're always being asked about. By setting up Pagan-based charity organizations and applying for the faith-based initiative funding. We are a recognised faith in the government's eyes. They said so. As long as we follow the governmental guidelines to the letter whilst setting up these places and operate them in the most sterlingly perfect manner we can, nobody has anything to pooh-pooh anyone about. They cannot legally turn us down for funding if we're opening a food bank for anyone to receive help at, now can they? How about a shelter for battered women? So, why can't we? If the government or whomever tries to block it, we have the legal right to sue them to oblivion because it is a clear-cut case religious descrimination, as long as we follow the established rules, the blocking party won't have a leg to stand on.
Ok, the major problem with all of this is this: a lot of us are still in "the broom closet". I'm marginally in it, myself. At work and socially I'm completely out. Everyone knows. I'm not blatant about it, but it's a known fact. But my family is another matter. I come from a very devout Catholic family and it literally would create WWIII within the family for a variety of reasons. Suffice it to say that I'd like to keep my last name. Does this mean that I can't be involved in getting this whole thing off the ground? No. Stuffing envelopes, volunteering time...stuff folks do in other faiths to make sure all their stuff continues, grows, or just begins. here is a variety of thing that we can all do to make it work. Practical as well as spiritual.
Think about it.
| I Believe It Would Be A Positive Thing. It Could Offer Some... ||Sep 27th. at 6:12:46 pm EDT|
|Silver Oak (Hays, Kansas US) ||Age: 23 - Email |
I believe it would be a positive thing. It could offer some new changes that could refresh the nation. It would also help out with the discrimination in basically all forms, and help to open the minds of people. Free religion is what this country was based upon. Meaning all relgions, I beleive it would be a good thing, a chance to show what we are truly about. Alot of the people have pulled a veil over themselves to hide from it. They only see what they think/want to, it would awaken so to speak. I think the nation would be more peacful and accepting of others. I also believe it would benefit the economy.
| I Have Already Said Somethings But I Have Been Thinking About It... ||Sep 27th. at 4:43:17 pm EDT|
|Brittany Meyer (Suffolk, England UK) ||Age: 16 |
I have already said somethings but i have been thinking about it some more and beside opening a world circle, or organsing mass prayer of pagans and other alike I also argue against leaders, it probably isn't my place to say I am young at Wicca but who knows how we feel better than ou selves? No one.
If we are so keen on making the agan opinion public invite the press over and tell them your plans of prayer. Go out and comfort those who need it if we are lovers healer and people of the community what is this oress going to matter. If our religion is getting a bad reputaion then that is their probem not ours and we should worry about ourselves. Who cares what anyone else thinks of what we do it is that fact that we care about what we do and know it is right.
Sorry if this offends.
Crimson Dragon again...
| I Have Been Pondering These Same Questions Before I Read Your Essays... ||Sep 27th. at 3:49:51 pm EDT|
|Panthera (Columbia, Maryland US) ||Age: 24 - Email |
I have been pondering these same questions before I read your essays about this. I too was feeling left out in a way. Everyone was saying "God Bless America" and other than myself and a few Pagan friends of mine, I heard no one saying "Goddess Bless America" or even "Gods Bless America" and I felt somehow, locked out.
I was born in America, I have grown up here, and So far as I can tell, I expect I'll be livnig here for a good while now. I pay taxes, I work, I do everything else John Q. Public does, and I feel I have every right to consider myself an American. As I watched the horrible events unfold on the television in front of me, and caught up with everyone I care about, to make sure they and their loved ones were safe, I felt the same feeling every other American, no ... the same feelings that every other person on this planet who values freedom felt - sorrow, horror, rage, confusion, etc. Not worshiping the Catholic/Christian/Hebrew God did not change the way I felt.
As I came to grips, slowly, with everything, I too found myself looking for some sense of leadership, someone I could see to show me it was just fine for me to be praying to the various deities I praise.
I do not think any Pagan needs a head director or guide. However, a group of Pagans, to be a public face for Paganism, in all its varied forms, in this county, would be a good idea. This group could still direct media to local Pagans when questions of beliefs arose, but could answer some similar questions themselves.
I see such a group being a good thing, both to those who have been out of the broom closet for a while, and those in it. Elders, and those newly on the Pagan path, could all benefit from seeing such a group. From my own experience, and those of many I know as well, growing up, and being new on the Pagan path, they never knew any other Pagans. Those of us who grew up, or who started our path, before the days of the Internet could find ourselves feeling very alone at times. Even if this group of leaders could not communicate directly with every Pagan in this nation, being in the public would be a great help.
Elders, and those who have been out, and practicing for some time, could point to this group if others had questions about the religion. Those in the broom closet could see others being openly Pagan, and perhaps there find the courage to freely express their beliefs. And Pagans new to the religion could look to this group as proof that other Pagans do exist and are around in the world.
This group would by no means try to replace anybody locally, or to be more important than any other Pagan is individualy, but this group could do a good deal to make other realize Pagans are here in this country, we are as normal as anybody esle in America is, and that we plan to remain here for a good long while.
| One Of The Pitfalls Of Living In A "free Society" Is That... ||Sep 27th. at 2:43:01 pm EDT|
|Michael (Indianapolis, Indiana US) ||Age: 42 - Email |
One of the pitfalls of living in a "free society" is that it lulls us into a false sense of equality. But concepts such as "equality" and "fairness" Ń obscure in their own right Ń are only appropriate when used discussing "like" issues, concepts, items, etc. And that is why we most desperately need to play by at least some of the prevailing rules Ń so we can make the argument that is only "fair" that we be afforded some sense of "equality" with other religions.
The more we are distanced from the way religions are "supposed to participate" in this country (USA), the less we can expect people to apply the same sense of equality and fairness to our cause. Right or wrong, this is the way of things, especially [it seems] within our government.
Without representation, we have no way to claim legitimacy. Does that mean we must immerse ourselves in the "D" - word (dogma)? No; not necessarily. At least no more than we already have. Look at Christian denominations. The difference between any two just slightly to the left and right of center is like that of night and day. And take two from the ends of the spectrum, and neither resembles what most would consider Christianity --- save the Christ-thing. Just as there are different denominations, there are different paths. What binds us (perhaps a poor choice of words), interestingly enough, is our dogma Ń what little of it there is.
So if we want to play ball, and we want others to recognize that we are playing ball, and we want to be afforded the same rights to play ball, then we should consider making an attempt to look like we are playing ball. We can wear different uniforms, and within our own league we can modify the rules of play, we can play all of our games at night if we choose, and it might be that a different "ruling" body represents us. But if we show up naked, and we each play by a completely different set of rules, and we play our games in secrecy, and we refuse to have any representation, then we should not be surprised to find that others do not recognize us as ballplayers.
I say we support one or more organizations through which we can have a strong voice Ń if not common, then at least loud and focused.
| I Believe That A Npl Is Needed For Us To Be Considered... ||Sep 27th. at 2:31:46 pm EDT|
|Rev. Ellen Parker-Williams , Hearthside Haven (East Hartford, Connecticut US) ||Age: 37 - Email |
I believe that a NPL is needed for us to be considered "legitimate" by the general public and our political leaders. I'm not saying that we don't have the same protection under law, but it's hard to enforce those laws when the politial leader dosen't consider Paganism a religion and therefore not protected.
I know I felt empty when there were no pagan clergy at ANY "interfaith" ceremony for 911. The closest was a Buddist and Hindu in my area. Maybe there were Native Americans else where but not here that I know of.
I have been trying to get into my local Interfaith community but I feel like I should have the 501(c)3 status before I will be taken seriously. For that I need funds and that is what Pagans don't give to their clergy. The clergy are expected to give and give. Pagans don't tithe, that's Christian. We need to support our clergy.
Oh, but I digress...
Back to National Pagan Leaders...The question of how we could select them could be similar to the way we elect politcal leaders. We know and trust our regional leaders, then those leaders could get together and pick one among them to be our "Illustrious Leader." This could be for a period of 4 to 6 years. Among their duties would be to represent us when legislation affecting us comes up in Washington, a public voice when it comes to interfaith representation and a solid positive voice to the national media.
None of this would make anyone conform to one tradtition or path. Our leader would make it clear that there are many traditions that are represented by her/him.
| I Have To Post Some Thoughts After Reading "an Open Letter To... ||Sep 27th. at 2:31:46 pm EDT|
|Pythia (Blackwood, New Jersey US) ||Age: 22 - Email |
I have to post some thoughts after reading "An Open Letter To Pagans." I agree and disagree with some of DCHannah's comments.
First, I agree we, as a community, should have made our voice heard. I am not just talking about our authors or public figures, but anyone who is "out of the closet, " so to speak. The media won't know we are here and are concerned, unless we tell them.
Second, I agree that those pagans need to be honored, not just by the media, but by our community. Also, there were Arabian-Americans, Muslims, and other minority groups, who should be honored as well.
Third, I think that there is still a stigma surrounding our religion. Everytime I tell someone that I am Wiccan or Pagan, even if they are good friends or family, there is a moment of uncomfortable silence from that person. I have to reassure them I am the same person. I have to educate them about our religion.
We are not a mainstream religion, although many people are turning to paganism.
Fourth, you dropped a lot of well-known names. What were they doing? Those people, like the rest of the world, were stuck to their screens. They were trying to make sense of what happened. Trying to find out what happened and why? Then, those people were communicating with their friends and family - supporting them and getting support. Those people, like everyone else, were trying to deal with the tragedy - they are human and not perfect. Then, do you know what they were doing? Preforming healing rituals, sending helpful energies to the rescue workers, and preforming rituals asking for justice (These were either done solitary or with a coven). This may not have been know when the post was written, but Starhawk was in NY conducting a ritual.
Fifth, the majority of our well-known authors are NOT psychics with awesome powers and never claimed to be. That's Miss Cleo's job. They are teachers, not omnipotent. No one saw Tuesday's tragedy comming.
Finally, why do we need to look toward our teachers for guidence, why doesn't each individual (who can) stand up and lead? It doesn't take a famous author or teacher to do that, just a brave and committed person.
| It Would Be Difficult To "elect" Or "appoint" Pagan Leaders. But Here's... ||Sep 27th. at 2:07:52 pm EDT|
|Pythia (Blackwood, New Jersey US) ||Age: 22 - Email |
It would be difficult to "elect" or "appoint" pagan leaders. But here's an idea - Maybe local or state areas could elect a local pagan (or 2) to create a sort of pagan senate, where they can discuss local and national issues, which effect us. They could encourage the community to act and offer public statement. As far as cost, there are many pagans in the community who hold "professional" jobs, like Public Relations or Advertising. I am sure they would help. All they would have to do is let the community know what they need. I myself am a Public Relations Practitioner, and would love to help out by writting News Releases, or Advertisements, or anything else along those lines.
| The Nature Of Pagans Has Always Been To Subvert Already-in-place Modes Of... ||Sep 27th. at 1:55:06 pm EDT|
|Rebecca Bostick (Las Vegas, Nevada US) ||Age: 29 - Email |
The nature of pagans has always been to subvert already-in-place modes of hierarchy and dominance. Pagans are organic and their ways of meeting and leading are participatory, not appointed. Still, leaders have emerged (sometimes good, other times not so good). I doubt modern pagans can agree on a spokesperson for their cause any more than they can agree on a tradition. The nuts and bolts are always the same, but the details separate us.
I have always looked to Starhawk, Z Budapest, Carol Christ as leaders in my faith. Fritz and Wren are ambassadors (and they do a damn fine job as such) but being a voice of the community is different than being a voice for the community-- the roles are mutually exclusive. Who, then? Whoever would want such a job, I believe. Leaders emerge naturally-- elections would only hamper this process. Perhaps we ought to let Starhawk know we'd like her to participate in a more visible, national sense as a spokeswoman for the cause. If not her, well, all of us, on every small level, in every community. A leader will emerge.
I expect there were no pagans at the Interfaith service b/c none were invited. In all this kissy-huggy bipartisan spirit (and I welcome it), I haven't forgotten that Dubya disavows us. Perhaps in 10 years, we'll have a leader in the pagan community that will be visible and the point-person for world events. Until then, we all must do our part to be visible on a local level. Go to Interfaith services in your town! Speak on behalf of the pagan faith! Lead!
| Again, I Am Posting Some Views On This Subject....each Time I... ||Sep 27th. at 12:01:02 pm EDT|
|Crystal...MoonGodessIsis (Johnstown, Pennsylvania US) ||Age: 26 - Email |
Again, I am posting some views on this subject....each time I read other responses, I think of more that needs to be expound upon.
For one thing, there are points being made about the magic of secrecy, and remaining in the back or underground of society...
Have you ever had a dream that was so powerful, vivid and emotionally taxing, that you just knew you'd never forget it. And then, you try to convey your dream to a friend or family member, and although you know how beautiful and fascinating the message was, you just can't come up with the words to express that thought to someone else without sounding loopy or insane? Magnify that by a million and try to convey a feeling, emotional, spiritual, beautiful, ecclectic religion to somebody who has never experienced it for themselves, and see where it gets you.
I think what we really need is resource centers. If we're going to start spending money collectively, then spend it on places where we can go to listen to seminars, learn more about our chosen path, do research and come together in unity.
I have to say once again that the word leader is being mis-used here. It is impossible for us, nor will we ever have leaders in the same sense as other religions do, because of our diversity. But instead of having paid clergy to hover over a ceremony...leave that structure the way it is. Then if we do start building more resource centers, there, of course would be a fee for courses or seminars, and that is how the authors, speakers, clergy will be paid. To get it up and running, you could always incorporate as a not-for-profit organization and begin raising the funds that way. I'm sure there is even somebody somewhere on a board of trustees that could help us get a grant...it's all about research.
But as far as hanging in the background or shadows of the rest of the world, it's not like we have to database every God, Godess, spell, incantation, invocation, Book of Shadows, ritual, etc. for all the world to see. Silence can be powerful, but it can also be deafening. Use your powerful secrecy when it comes to your rituals and circles, but stand up and be proud that you are a Pagan. Once they get over the initial shock, it'll be business as usual. Most people, because of old superstitions already have a little bit of Pagan in them anyway.
And now, I'll tell you a funny story. In the summer of 99' when I was pregnant with my daughter, Dakota, the Jehova's witnessess showed up at my door. It was a girl I went to school with, so I felt bad about turning her away. I ended up studying with her for four months. As she tried to convert me, I had many questions. I needed to know why they didn't celebrate Christian holidays. That was right before I started studying Wicca...and she brought me all of these reports about how all of the Christian holidays were actually old Pagan holidays re-vamped to fit the times....imagine my delight. Here was somebody in a God based religion, teaching me about Paganism.
Did you ever stop to wonder, given the open-mindedness of so many people today, how many more Pagans would there be, if we just explained ourselves, as best we could, and stopped hiding as if we were doing something wrong. No wonder we have such a bad reputation, when things are left to the close-minded imagination, weird things can happen.
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