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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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 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.
| It Would Be Wise For The Pagan Community To Have Some Sort... ||Sep 27th. at 11:30:06 am EDT|
|Troy Stagg (Eunice, Louisiana US) ||Age: 31 - Email |
It would be wise for the pagan community to have some sort of majority "speaker of the house for pagan advancement" (if you will). If we are not heard as a whole or vieable entity, we will eventually lose our gifts of freedom to worship when, where, and how we want. We too must form a coalition or faction to become more than we are, so as to have weight from a political stand point. There can be more freedoms of acceptance in our communities if we were to band together for our own sake. We can win the "rights" to bind and bannish lawful marriages for instance, just by having this structured pagan majority leader. Post emails, contact all major webrings, and get the word out beyond witchvox, that this is not just a want, it will ensure our rights not to be enfringed upon and guide our paths to greater freedoms. The fact that we are allowed to have and elect a common idealist leader, is all the more reason to take advantage of our common right to do such for our own good! Don't you think so too?
| Yes We Do Need Some Leadership To Represent The Pagen Comunity Some... ||Sep 27th. at 11:23:49 am EDT|
|Daniel George Jenkins (norfolk , Virginia US) ||Age: 26 - Email |
Yes we do need some leadership to represent the pagen comunity some way that we all can be heard but it would take time to perfect thats odvious
but first and formost we need to find someone who has the courage to stand up and represent the pagen comunity this is a verry tough job that requires a brave soul with a verry open mind that leader will have to face the most powerfull forces of close minded biggots and hypocrates and for that we will have to provide a panell of represinitives to keep our leading represenitive leader strong and informed not only that but our pagen comunity will need to rally behind who ever we choose to represent us we will all need to unite together in our diversity for we all have at least one thing in common we have all faced what some concider the religious right for countless years we all have faced bigitry and hypocracy if we had somthing or some one to bring us all close together in the past many live might have been spared yes it is pagen lack of leadership that has alowed things like christianity and cathlocism to come into power we have alowed them to take the power of belief from the gulible if it was not for the lack of leadership then the churches would never have had stollen so much power as to murder inocent people in the hundreds of thousands in what was called witch trials
we need to find a way to unite as we face the biggots and hypocrates in day to day life be cause we are all aware that history repeates itself
and without some form of unity we may all find out as pagens painfully that history dose repeat itself and there are manny religious zelots want a return of the burning times will we let them
any one is welcome to comment on what I have said in fact I will give you more than one email address to contact me
| I Think It Is Time For Pagan Leaders. We Vote (or Not... ||Sep 27th. at 9:59:32 am EDT|
|Mary Ann Baker (Cuddebackville, New York US) ||Age: 40 - Email |
I think it is time for Pagan Leaders. We vote (or not) for our political leaders
in Washington and a Pagan Leader representing the community is necessary. There
are just too many things going on of which I would like a bit of advanced notice-I would have joined Starhawk in NYC if I had known she was there. I am a solitary, but would definitely become more involved if there was representation at a national level.Also, there would be less chance of the type of finger pointing Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson almost got away with. We can no longer afford to hide. We are not misfits. Strength comes when we show our support for
a national leader. Paganism is not illegal. Witchcraft is not illegal. We must
show others just what beautiful people we are.
| I Have Posted On This Subject Once Before. So, I Will Keep... ||Sep 27th. at 9:51:19 am EDT|
|TRUTHSEEKER (Tom) (Winter park , Florida US) ||Age: 52 |
I have posted on this subject once before. So, I will keep this breif. I think that many of those who have commented on this question are missing the point. I don't belive that the call is for nor do we want "leaders" to guide our paths. What is needed is for lack of better words is a unified presence in the community at large. Post after post has stated that Pagans are on the front lines helping. This is true and I woulld expect nothing else. However ask someone on the street what Pagans are doing in this crisis and you will get a blank stare for an answer. If the numbers floating around are true Pagans make up 0.05% (1 in 200) of the population. That is a large group, yet for the most part we are unknown to the community at large. Without sme sort of council or board or call it what you like we will remain in the shadows of socioty and never be taken seriously. Like I stated in my last post VISIABILTY=CREDITABILTY
| Perhaps The Real Question Is "who Will Be Best To Represent The... ||Sep 27th. at 8:17:04 am EDT|
|Paige Maiden (Culpeper, Virginia US) ||Age: 35 - Email |
Perhaps the real question is "who will be best to represent the Pagans?" There are many fine Pagan leaders whom are unknown, there are authors, poets, bards whom carry the tale of our struggles and liberties in our communities.
A person whom stands up and volunteers to "lead" our community will not be accepted by the Pagans as I know them. BUT a person whom is to be emulated and respected and recognized as what we are all striving to become would be the most likely "representative" we (the pagan persons) could accept.
Where can we find such a person?
Perhaps a nomination of one would be acceptable? We could be the Pagan republic where we all stand and be counted as one with a representative. A Voice. A Public voice. The nominations could be gathered for a year and a day from the masses on the internet. Just one vote per person please. Country boundaries need not be recognized at this time. Are we up to it?
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