On Saturday, Peter Dybing, current president of Officers of Avalon, and former First Officer of the Covenant of the Goddess, announced that he was resigning from all, quote, “organizations, positions, posts and responsibilities in the Pagan community.” In a statement posted to his blog, Dybing expressed a desire to return to anonymity, saying that his very public role was causing him to neglect his partner and engaging in behavior that he personally disapproved of.
“My commitments to community service have required that my partner Rebekah make great sacrifices in our relationship. She is my rock, my lover and my best friend; she deserves more of my mindful attention and affection. How can I profess service to the Goddess and continue to neglect her manifestation beside me?
The events of the last two years have also convinced me that our community is not ready to embrace a spirit of service. It is with great sadness that I have witnessed dozens of prominent Pagan leaders speaking ill of their compatriots. While I have attempted to address this issue, I am sickened at the backstabbing that continues to occur within our community. Recently, to my shame, I observed myself engaging in similar behavior. I do not wish to become what I abhor. I will not miss the politics of Pagan leadership.”
A long-time participant in the modern Pagan community, Dybing, a trained EMT and volunteer firefighter, first gained widespread public attention for his efforts on-the-ground in earthquake-ravaged Haiti, giving us a Pagan perspective of what was going on there. He would go on to volunteer in the Gulf during the Deepwater Horizon disaster, and in August of 2010 was elected First Officer of Covenant of The Goddess for 2011.
“I wanted to serve the Covenant, they do some really wonderful things in terms of interfaith work, public information work, and people doing work in prisons. There’s some great things [COG does] I want to support. I think it’s really important because we’ve made so many inroads over the years that those things continue to get our support.”
Dybing’s tenure as First Officer was marked by its expansive outreach to, and engagement with, the Pagan community. During that year he publicly commented on a variety of hot-button issues, and led an initiative that raised $30,000 dollars for Japan earthquake assistance.
“This project also represents an important moment in Pagan history. Working together across intrafaith boundaries this community has demonstrated the maturation that has occurred over the past few decades. We have established that we are an effective and unified religious community that can respond to world events, take action when necessary and work together in support of achievable goals. Gone is the quietly whispered sentiment that Pagans do not work together or that Pagans do not give to charity.”
After his year as COG’s First Officer ended, Dybing traveled across the country visiting local Pagan communities, engaged in activism with the Occupy movement, and was elected President of the Officers of Avalon, a non-profit benevolent association for Pagan and Wiccan law enforcement, firefighting and emergency medical personnel and their families.
I’ve had the great honor of meeting, speaking, and establishing a friendship with Peter these past few years. To all his many roles he brought a no-nonsense, direct, and honest personality that was always ready to listen and engage. A fundamental belief that we could all be better, and that service is the highest calling of a Pagan leader. Someone who never forgot those who he was elected serve, and who wore uneasily the accolades and laurels given to him. He is a good man, and while I believe our community has suffered a loss in this decision, I know he’ll forever be on the front-lines helping those in need, and modeling the best what modern Pagans can be.
My thanks to you Peter Dybing for all that you’ve done and accomplished for the Pagan community, good luck in all your endeavors. Next time I see you, the drinks are on me.