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Pagan - What is it ?
Like everything, making artifacts for the festival Alter is a
We come together in Love, Respect, Honor and Trust, even if our
paths are different we show respect for each other
Informal gatherings at night around the fire are a common
More formal networking also happens, this is our 'Round the
Table' discussion of Pagan happenings in our area
We give help and share knowledge and skills because that is the
way things should be done
and Personal Safety
THE PAGAN AWARENESS NETWORK (PAN Inc) of Australia has prepared
this information to educate people on basic personal safety and
rights within the Pagan community and suggestions in the event
of assault. Your Rights in NZ are very similar.
By doing this we can help protect the positive image Pagans have
worked for. The majority of groups in Australia and NZ offer
personal and spiritual development as well as social networks.
However, there are a few that exist to provide power-trips to a
‘leader’. In extreme cases there may be predatory behavior. The
reputation of these people may be well-known within the Pagan
community, or their activities may be unknown to others.
Newcomers to Paganism should be aware of the following basic
· You do NOT need to be initiated into a coven or a magickal
order in order to be a Pagan.
· Sexual predators and power-trippers exist in all communities,
and come from all walks of life. The Pagan community is no
· It is ILLEGAL for anyone to touch you in an inappropriate
manner without your prior consent.
If you decide to make contact with a group or individual, don’t
be afraid to ask questions. For
· Who created that particular group, and what tradition do they
follow? Ask about their background, training program and general
· Does the group encourage students to study, question and learn
from different sources?
· Are there membership charges? Are contributions reasonable for
what is provided?
· Do the group leaders claim a ‘title’ or ‘lineage’? Individuals
who have earned titles such as ‘High Priestess’ should be
respected. However, the presence of such a title does not
guarantee an ethical teaching practice.
· Does the group insist upon an initiation ritual? If so, what
is involved? What training takes place beforehand
TIPS FOR PERSONAL SAFETY
The following are some suggested guidelines for
newcomers wanting to ensure their safety:
· Do not reveal private details (phone numbers, home address,
financial information, etc)
· Use an email account such as Hotmail or YahooMail to make
enquiries, rather than your
work or home email.
· Where possible, take a friend along to Pagan events and
gatherings rather than going alone.
· Advertisements or listings in books, magazines or websites is
no guarantee of integrity or quality of teaching, do some
· If the Internet is your only resource, join a variety of
online forums and discussion groups and try a polite,
generalised request for information.
· Attend public Pagan events (picnics, festivals, etc) before
seeking out a teacher. Gather information about groups and
traditions that interest you.
·Be aware that you have a number of legal rights that no group,
teacher, or Pagan event can override:
· If during a ritual, class or workshop you are asked to take
part in any activity that makes you uncomfortable, or you find
yourself being removed from the rest of the group without prior
warning, you have the right to say NO.
· You have the right to leave any ritual or event without
explanation if you feel unsafe. Issues of ‘breaking circle’
cease to exist if your fear for your personal safety. Simply
gather up your belongings and go.
· At all times you have the right to speak to a friend, a
community elder, an organisation such as PAN Inc, or the Police
if you feel you need advice or support on any matter.
· You can also choose to approach group leaders/festival
organisers to air any complaints. Anything you say should be
heard in a fair and impartial way.
STAY SAFE: AVOIDING
PEOPLE ARE OFTEN so desperate for guidance that they don’t use
their instincts or logic as normally applied to any other
important decision. The same effort should go into learning
about different religious and spiritual options as deciding on
other important life situations.
Two highly recommended online sources are:
Isaac Bonewits’ ‘Cult Danger Evaluation’ tool, http://www.neopagan.net/ABCDEF.html
The Coven Abuse Self-Help Index (CASHI): A Tool for Survival,
Evasion and Escape
Make an effort to talk to a cross-section of people in your
community, both online and in real-life. Talk to those who have socialised with or who have worked with those you are
considering training with. Ask around the general community to
find out as much as possible about who can be trusted. Always
listen to your instincts. It is much easier to work with someone
and learn from them if you can respect and like them as
individuals, as well as teachers. Finally, look for obvious
warning signs of an unhealthy group, for example:
• Does the group leader or teacher make contradictory
• Seem intolerant towards other Pagans?
• Concentrates the group work on their own interests and/or
• Indulge in strong magick without explanation?
• Raise a lot of energy with no directive?
• State that anyone who does not agree with their opinions is
not a real Pagan?
• Do they refer constantly to their own knowledge?
• Do they make a point of showing-off through their dress,
manner or Pagan accessories?
• Does being around this person seem to inflate people’s egos?
• Is there a high-turnover in group members?
WHAT TO DO IN THE EVENT
OF A SEXUAL OR INDECENT ASSAULT
Without prior consent it is illegal for anyone to touch you
in an inappropriate manner.
LIKE ANY OTHER PART OF SOCIETY, Pagans attract their fair share
of ‘unsavoury characters’ and it is an unfortunate reality that
some people who participate in Pagan ceremonies, whether skyclad
or clothed, find themselves the victims of indecent or sexual
assault. There is very little information or peer support for
victims of assault at a Pagan ceremony or ritual and very often
they are unsure of their rights. If you have been assaulted
don’t let feelings of shame or self-blame prevent you from
seeking help. The first step is to talk to someone you trust
about what happened, a friend, a counsellor or Pagan community
leader. It is your decision who you tell and what you tell.
There are many services that can support you if you have been
sexually assaulted. Remember, the choice is YOURS.
SOME SUGGESTED COURSES
• Visit your Local Sexual Assault Service; often at a public
hospital (call the front desk and ask to be put through to their
sexual assault counselor or SAC). Local Community Health Centre
or your local Women’s Health Centers may provide similar
services and advice.
• Visit your your local Police station and ask to speak to an
officer (women can request a female officer). Tell them your
story and ask their opinion and advice. The Police in each State
and Territory can advise you on the respective laws regarding