Pagan Voices: Teo Bishop, P. Sufenas Virius Lupus, Alley Valkyrie, and More!

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  May 6, 2013 — 4 Comments

Pagan voices is a spotlight on recent quotations from figures within the Pagan community. These voices may appear in the burgeoning Pagan media, or from a mainstream outlet, but all showcase our wisdom, thought processes, and evolution in the public eye. Is there a Pagan voice you’d like to see highlighted? Drop me a line with a link to the story, post, or audio.

P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

“The big question that all of this sidesteps around, of course, is that if justice does come from the gods, and is supported by the gods, then why is it so often lacking in the world, especially in those cases wehre injustice causes a ton of suffering for some people, but a huge amount of luxury, richness, and prosperity for those who inflict such suffering and cause such injustice?

For my own part, I can’t imagine that this situation pleases the gods, particularly those most concerned with justice. But, if that is the case, then “they’ll get it in the end” is not much of a consolation to those who are suffering meanwhile. It brings up and highlights once again the ultimate answer to the other version of questions of theodicy, as outlined by Rabbi Harold Kushner: namely, that the gods must therefore not be omnipotent, even though they may support love, justice, and virtue.”P. Sufenas Virius Lupus exploring the topic of theodicy at Aedicula Antinoi: A Small Shrine of Antinous.

Sannion (Photo: Dver)

Sannion (Photo: Dver)

“First off, I would say that a lot of people don’t understand what miasma precluded in antiquity. It was primarily concerned with access to holy places such as groves, mountains, wayside shrines and temples. The temples in particular were regarded as the abodes of the gods and repositories of their awesome power and consequently for a person to set foot in them required that person to undergo a greater than normal degree of purification, especially since religious functionaries were exposed to this power on a deeper level and a more regular basis than some pilgrim visiting the site on a festival day. (Think about the extra precautions taken by dentists and x-ray technicians who are daily exposed to radiation. It’s such small doses that it won’t harm you if you’re just getting your teeth fixed but being constantly surrounded by it they have to act accordingly.) In fact most festivals were conducted outside the temple and most people were never permitted past a certain point within it and certainly not where the cult image was housed. (For more on temples and how they worked in both Greek and Egyptian tradition, consult this article of mine.) Most of the purity codes and sacred regulations that have come down to us are concerned with access to temples and the proper performance of priestly offices – not the affairs of the average citizen and how they conducted their personal worship in front of their domestic shrine. No matter how deep in a state of miasma one was they could still pray to their gods and perform rudimentary ritual actions. Indeed purification would not have been possible without carrying out these ceremonies so it is absurd to suggest that one should cease all religious activity while in this state. Indeed we have accounts of the gods and spirits making numerous battlefield epiphanies and coming to the aid of women in distressed labor and all manner of things like that, so just because a playwright used a goddess abandoning her chosen hero as he expired as a plot device does not mean that we should surmise that the gods will have nothing to do with us while we are polluted. It can certainly be more difficult to feel their presence or receive communications from them at such times, but I suspect that this has more to do with impurity clouding our perception than it does divinities actively disengaging from us.” – Sannion, a Dionysian, on the topic of miasma at PaganSquare.

Teo Bishop

Teo Bishop

“I am all of the things I have ever been. I continue to be them, in one way or another. Nothing is ever fully released from the heart. It’s all there, tattoo-like. Those old parts of you call out and say, We’re still here: your memories; your long, lost hopes; your visions of truth; your doubts — all of it. All here, still intact, inked into the inner flesh.

My Christianity gave me my first introduction to reverence, mystery, humility and community. It encouraged me to recognize that there was nothing in the world that was not touched by the divine. It inspired me to care deeper, to give generously, and to seek out new, creative ways to serve others.

I bring all of those attributes with me to my work with the Solitary Druid Fellowship. Were it not for the Church, and for those many people who were inspired by Jesus to serve others in love, I wouldn’t be writing liturgies for Pagans.” – Teo Bishop, writing on a recent visit to an Episcopal church, at Bishop In The Grove.

Alison Leigh Lilly with a very big tree.

Alison Leigh Lilly with a very big tree.

“As a city-dweller, I know how easy it would be to give in to pessimism, seeing the landscape where I live as too far gone, too scarred by human exploitation. The problem is just too big for a handful of conservationists to tackle on their own, no matter how dedicated they are. Seattle will never again be a pristine wilderness — the invasives, human and nonhuman alike, are here to stay. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t new ways of thinking about how we live with our local landscape. Unlike other invasive species, we have the opportunity to change the stories we tell about our place in the world and, by changing our stories, changing the ways we live with and relate to the many other beings that share the world with us. Instead of seeing ourselves at war with invasives, and with ourselves, we can embrace the story of harvest.

The beauty of the harvest is that it promises sustenance and interdependence as the fruits of our labor. The effort we put into the harvest — the blood, sweat and tears — helps to foster connections instead of severing them, sustains and supports life instead of destroying it. We’re used to thinking of harvest as something easy: as easy as going to the grocery store and choosing between oranges and apples, or at most doing some gentle weeding and watering in our backyard gardens. The truth is, harvest is hard, sweaty work that demands a great deal of discipline, teamwork, commitment and courage. Rather than lionizing the sacrifices of the few, reclaiming metaphors of harvest gives us the opportunity to celebrate the efforts of ordinary people doing ordinary things that add up to real, meaningful change. It gives people a chance to be heroic in their everyday lives, as well as reacquaint themselves with the pleasure of hard work and its rewards.” – Alison Leigh Lilly, on the topics of warfare and harvest, at her Meadowsweet and Myrrh blog.

Jason Mankey

Jason Mankey

“Given that some of Wicca’s ritual structure (and terminology) owe a great deal to Freemasonry it’s not surprising that initiation plays an important part in many Wiccan traditions. Initiation is in the very DNA of Modern Witchcraft, but it’s also possible that Wicca has grown in ways that have taken it further and further from its origins. It’s hard to picture Gerald Gardner imagining just how many Wiccan traditions have evolved (and prospered) since the 1950′s. Wicca launched a full-scale Pagan Revival that shows no signs of stopping, we’ve come an incredibly long way in just 70 years.

We’ve reached another fork in the road and with it new questions. Is Wicca a spirituality ready to take its seat at the table with the other great religions of the world? Or is it a secret society with a complex set of rituals? If it’s a faith then it’s subject to all the watering downs and bastardizations that have befallen (and often benefitted) all of the world’s other religious paths. I understand The Wicca who walk the path of the initiate and bemoan the changes that have taken place in the last couple of decades, but I also see the hearts who have benefitted from that change. Who am I to tell them they don’t have a seat at the table?” – Jason Mankey, at his Patheos blog, on the nature of Wicca.

John Beckett

John Beckett

“For too many people in our society, “Pagan” still means “Other.” That must change. That’s why I’ve always blogged under my own name and posted announcements with my contact info (and I’ve never had a problem come from it). More recently I’ve come to understand that’s not enough. At this point in my life I have a fair amount of privilege and that privilege carries responsibilities.

I have an obligation to put a name and a face on “Pagan” for friends and family who’ve never (knowingly) met one. I have an obligation to articulate what I believe, what I do and why. I have an obligation to be out, not just for myself (though that’s important by itself) but for Kyrja Withers and for everyone else who fears they will be targeted as the Other if their religion becomes known.

Some day, no one will care what god or goddess you do or don’t pray to, only that you conduct yourself with integrity and compassion. Until then, we need Pagan Coming Out Day.” – John Beckett, a Druid and UU, on the importance of Pagan Coming Out Day.

Alley Valkyrie. Photo by Rob Sydor.

Alley Valkyrie. Photo by Rob Sydor.

“I’m asking you for a 24-hour moratorium on violating the civil rights of the homeless. Try it for just one day. One day in which you don’t wake anyone up at night for sleeping, one day in which you don’t arrest anyone for existing in public, one day in which you don’t needlessly harass and intimidate kids on the park blocks. Just one day. 

In that one day, two beautiful things will happen. You will experience the reality of actually “protecting and serving” without oppressing, abusing, or disenfranchising anyone, and I will experience the reality of sleeping in, soaking in some sun, playing my ukulele, taking a walk by the river, drinking an ample amount of quality beer, and watching old reruns of Star Trek: The Next Generation without having to worry that I’m about to get a text or a phone call from someone that’s on the wrong side of your “enforcement”.” – Alley Valkyrie, a Pagan and homelessness activist, in a plea to local law enforcement.

That’s all I have for now, have a great day!

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Jason Pitzl-Waters

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  • Lēoht Sceadusawol

    “…the gods must therefore not be omnipotent, even though they may support love, justice, and virtue.”

    I must say, I disagree with any notion of any god being ‘omni’ anything. To an ant, a human could well seem omnipotent, but that is just blinkered perspective.

  • cernowain greenman

    Kudos to Teo for recognizing and valuing the contributions that Christianity had on his spiritual journey. Admittedly, much harm has been done in the name of that faith group but at the same time we can also be thankful for whatever good things we’ve personally received from followers of Jesus of Nazareth. I figure that gratitude often comes as a result of spiritual healing done by the Goddess for those who have been spiritually abused.

  • http://egregores.blogspot.com Apuleius Platonicus

    It is very pinnacle of hubris to suppose that the Gods are responsible for wiping our socio-economic-political-cultural asses for us and setting things right in human society, and that, since they have “failed” to do so, they must therefore lack the power.

  • Franklin Evans

    There’s always Clarke’s Third Law: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. The first and second ones have some relevance, I opine.
    Hubris is the key descriptor, for me, but I (perhaps cynically) absolve no religion or belief system regardless of the time frame: Humans crave power, and power over the masses is both the first and final goal. Religion has proven to be unsurpassed as a tool for manipulation. One could, arguably, make the case that amongst the world’s religions the monotheisms proved most efficient, but none of them escaped this human corruption. The main difference, I submit, is in scope and scale.