Thursday, October 13, 2011

Maybe I'm paranoid, but maybe I'm not

Mrs. B's Facebook post the other day about a group seeking to reform the American Council of Witches has me troubled.  I'm not a fan of organized religion and I am VERY aware of how many groups in the world have been marginalized through the efforts of a very small number of people. These are my concerns and the links I looked at, so you can make your own informed decision (and please comment, I'm interested in knowing what you think).

  • First off, who gets to appoint these council members?  This worries me a lot because in forming a council of any variety, some views will be given more prominence than others.
  • Do Pagans really want one group advising the U.S. Army about how pagan faiths should be addressed by chaplains, especially since there is not a consensus about what Pagan's believe even within the "pagan community"?
  • Will this group assume the mantle of being the mouthpiece of paganism in the United States? Should they be?
  • Will the recommendations and views of this council create legal or moral challenges for future pagans serving in the armed forces by limiting or delineating certain customs, standards and beliefs as being the only acceptable ones for pagans?
  • Do the values of Wicca, as they have been previously enshrined, speak for all witches, pagans and Wiccans?  If they are updated, who will be left out and why?
My opinion is that I'm not comfortable with this group.  I think it creates pathways for Fundamentalist mentalities and characters to come out of the wood work; I worry about whether pagans of all types will be fairly represented, and most importantly, I worry about how a council of individuals could potentially misrepresent the diversity and independent nature of paganism.  Maybe I am paranoid, but I have little faith authority in general. I have seen councils created for other purposes with far better intentions for communities in far more need of agency disenfranchise people and devolve into popularity contests and authoritarian groups who seek to put their will onto as many people as possible.  Maybe things will turn out great, but vigilance is necessary.

Take a look for yourself:  


  1. I'm with you on this one. i don't think they can or should speak for the Pagan and Witch community. I speak for myself as should we all!

  2. This is a tough issue. You're exactly right in wondering how does someone get on the council. Will it be people from across the country and different self identifications or are they all friends in the same region and path? The other issue though is without some consensus organized we are often ignored. Its easy to ignore a non united group of people.
    No matter what though there is no way every pagan will agree with what they write. I'm sure everyone who identifies as Wiccan will fit much better. We are just too diverse to be grouped with words. Its both a strength and a weakness of the faith.

  3. Well, I think some days a "focus point" might be practical... e.g. in this case a council who advises Non-Pagans on Paganism-related stuff. Of course I do also understand your concerns - what if the council went ahead and declared, "We are the only ones who know how to do it correctly!" - ??

  4. Vivienne, Velody and Diandra, thanks for commenting.

    You've all got excellent points. Diandra, I agree non-pagan advisers might be in order, one being a lawyer and another being an academic who studies religions might be in order.

    I'm going to keep an eye on this and may write more as this develops.

  5. Just because your paranoid doesn't mean their not after you....I think that a group that speaks for Pagan rights could be a welcome change to an atmosphere where people who know nothing about Pagans are making descisions for us. Yet, I don't think it would be wise to just have someone seize a Coucil memeber position and I think it would be wise to have an Interfaith rep and maybe even Leaders of other denomitions of Paganism as consult regarding different issues. I think giving one group to much power and say isn't going to be good for anyone.


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