Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Are We Ready for More Leadership

This summer members of the Pagan community who serve in, or want to serve in leadership positions are invited to the Pagan Leadership Skills Conference in Richmond, VA, July 23rd through the 26th. Circle Sanctuary is also offering a Pagan Leadership Institute during Pagan Spirit Gathering this year (June 14-21 near Salem, MO). The call is there. Leaders step forward! We need you. We want you. Are we ready? I don't know.

I've been saying for years that the Pagan community needs to get more organized. This much creativity and imagination scattered to the winds is just shame. Not to mention the benefits of organization that we just don't have because we just aren't.

But "they" say that you can't organize a group this diverse. Is that so? Do you think Dr. Martin Luther King's followers only consisted of Southern black Christians? And heck, this is America. We're all about diversity here. We have a government, a bureaucracy, don't we? And isn't it built on a model that was developed by... what? Pagans?

Diversity is a strength, not a weakness. A leader whose followers consist of carbon copies of himself has nowhere to go but where he already is. How boring is that? A diverse group will prevent abuse by its leaders and will bring creative and unique solutions to problems and multiple talents to create a firm foundation for whatever project they want to get off the ground.

We have some leaders. Good leaders who have served the community for years, but we need more. Many of these have been active since the 60s and could use some backup from a fresh generation to deal with 21st century issues. We also need leaders to cooperate rather than compete. It seems there's a lot of "I can do it better" among the leadership of different groups, and I have seen more than one embarrassing spat. Leaders accuse others of everything from whoring to being "in it for the money" as if there were money to be made in public service (and as if the quest for money was somehow a bad thing). I have seen promising leaders throw up their hands in defeat after losing huge amounts of time and money on projects that they were promised help on, and that many members of the community swore they wanted, but in the end were only attended by a few, if any.

People complain and even verbally attack organizers because events aren't conveniently located for them (only to not bother to show up when the next event is located near them) or costs too much (but will not help with lowering costs). It is as if many Pagans really want to live in a fantasy world where everything is convenient, free, fun and requires no effort whatsoever. Who are these people? I am sure they aren't the majority, but a loud minority (like the fundies) drowning out the voices of the reasonable.

I have heard the argument that Pagans are, as a group, generally not terribly wealthy. Bull says I. You're telling me that people who can waste their money on jewel encrusted wands, solid gold pentagrams, ungodly velvet cloaks, renfest wear of all sorts, not to mention authentic medieval weapons, statues and more statues, and scads of herbs, oils and incense... can't afford to pay a few dollars a month in dues to an organization that is created for their benefit or shell out a couple hundred a year for fellowship events? I think it's really a matter of trust. And I've always been suspicious of people who didn't trust other people.

There are more and more of us in trouble now due to the economy. We should be able to support each other in times of trouble with networking and maybe even material support. But that can't be done without organization.

I have been involved with the Pagan community for almost 10 years now and in that time I have heard the excuses, the whining and the accusations. I have seen promising leaders give up and promising organizations fold. But I have also seen more positive signs in recent years. More open dialogue, more acceptance of diverse ideas and more people unafraid to call bullshit when they see it. Of course, there are more of us out of the broom closet making ourselves known to each other and many of us are *gasp* normal people and it seems that the loud minority is maybe not quite as loud as it once was. There are more young people in the Pagan community who were raised Pagan and don't see it as a revolutionary thing and those of us approaching middle age who once did have gotten tired of rebellion and are ready for a more pragmatic approach.

We have to take care of each other. It's as simple as that. And someone is going to have to handle the paperwork. Someone is going to have to handle the logistics and legalities and someone is going to have to bring snacks. Those people are our leaders. Let's support them! If you're one of those people THANK YOU! I know how hard it is sometimes. And if you're one of those people on the fence, thinking about jumping into the leadership arena, if you've got a great idea or you think you might know of a better way to do something- speak up. I am not sure that we're ready for you, but we just might be.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Pagan Community News Update

<b>Much Ado About the Lawn</b>
As a Greek Orthodox church prepared to plant a community garden earlier this month they were "shocked" to discover their 1-acre plot had been <a href="">vandalized</a>. A pentagram had been cut into the lawn with a lawn mower. As far as vandalism goes, pretty harmless but boy what a <a href=",0,3348096.story?track=rss">hullabaloo</a>. However, they will continue undaunted, as if a Pagan fertility symbol would daunt their efforts to plant a garden, and purify the land and carry on. Or I guess they could just mow the rest of the lawn...

<b>Archaeologists Ponder Old Stuff and New Old Stuff</b>
I am obsessed with Anthropology and Archaeology and I just love sites like Vesuvius. I had the opportunity to visit once and let me tell you, it cannot be described. You must go there. Unfortunately, a lot of what was there is no longer there. <a href=",,25468053-12332,00.html?from=public_rss">As this article points out</a>, much of the site was stripped of anything valuable by collectors before the scientists got to it.

In other, perhaps less redundant Archaeology news, Archaeologists in Germany believe they have found the oldest man-made human figure. <a href="">Of course she's a woman</a>.

<b>Obama, Sex, Babies and Catholics</b>
Has pragmatism really come to Washington? Obama has done stuff I don't like, and stuff I like. I am not dancing with joy over his budget (I don't know that he is either) but I am glad that it seeks to end annoying and harmful programs like <a href="">abstinence only sex education</a>.

In related news, his invitation to deliver the commencement speech at Notre Dame <a href="">sent the Catholic pro-Life folks into a tizzy</a> leading them to decide it was appropriate to interfere with one of the great milestones in the lives of thousands of students to show off pictures of aborted fetuses and otherwise display their complete lack of respect for everyone present. I'm all about free speech. But there is a time and a place. But I also get that I don't get it. R<a href="">ead his speech</a> and see where he stands on the issue (he thinks we need to focus on preventing abortions.)

<b>Various Freedom of Religion Ruckuses (Ruckusi?)</b>
Dorchester County Council in South Carolina <a href="">had a disagreement</a> over whether to characterize America as a Christian Nation.

Meanwhile, an Ohio school board has been notified that it should lay off the <a href="">prayers in its graduation ceremonies</a>. Wow. So much graduation drama.

<b>Faith and Healing</b>
<a href="">Here's a heartwarming story</a> about a young cancer survivor and her family who is working to bring healing to others. Why am I including this in a Pagan blog? Because they happen to be Wiccan and use energetic and holistic healing methods.

<b>Gay Pagans?</b>
A Q&amp;A column out of Jacksonville, Florida asks the question, "Do Pagans think it's Okay to be Gay?" <a href="">See what people had to say about it</a>. I was down with pretty much all of it until M. Macha Nightmare started rambling about the Law of 3-Fold Return, which a good chuck of us (Pagans) completely reject as being foolishness (one-fold I can see, threefold makes no logical sense.) and doesn't relate to the question anyway.

What do you think about these stories? I'd love to hear your thoughts on these and your input on more I haven't found.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Another News Update

Arthur Pendragon (Not the roundtable guy, the British Druid guy) has been sitting in at Stonehenge for the last 10 months protesting, among other things, the removal of remains buried there but now he's been ordered to pack up and leave. He says hell no, he won't go. He's a Pagan archaologist's nightmare but you have to admire his gumption.

In Mexico
Santa Muerte has been getting a lot of hassle from the government who links her to drug trafficking. I'm not in Mexico, so I can't comment too much but I will say that I don't agree with any government crack down on any religious group. It can only bring trouble, besides being fundamentally wrong. There has been some speculation on the message boards that the swine flu and Mexico's earth quake might have been Santa Muerta's response to this. I'm not speculating, just saying that it's being done.

Awhile ago I took note of the demise of the First Church of Wicca. But it's not over, oh no. Apparently these folks can't get enough publicity and are in the news again. Nothing exciting. Just talking about how great it is to be all converted and stuff.

Midwestern US Pagans have something new to take note of. Balefire Magazine just released their first quarterly issue (for Beltane). The magazine is targeted specifically toward the Midwest Pagan audience.

Heathen members of the military and their families should take note of a new Asatru military family support program called the Hammer Project. One of their primary goals is to get Thor's Hammer (Mjolnir) approved for use on government provided headstones for Asatru veterans.