Pagan Voices: Margot Adler, Layne Redmond, Amy Martin, and More!

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  July 8, 2013 — 2 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.

Margot Adler

Margot Adler

“The Renaissance Garden at the New York Botanical Garden, a recreation of a 16th-century medicinal garden, is so lush and colorful, it only takes a stroll through to absorb its good medicine. The garden, part of a summer exhibit called Wild Medicine: Healing Plants Around the World, is a small-scale model of the 16th-century Italian Renaissance Garden in Padua, Italy, Europe’s first botanical garden. The landscape includes Mediterranean flowers in multiple colors, fountains and odd plants that many people have never seen, like the opium poppy, with its unusual seed pods. The garden in Padua was created in 1545 as part of the University of Padua medical school, one of the earliest and most important medical schools in Europe. [...] Medicinal plants are used by every culture around the world. Long says 25 percent of modern medicines are based on compounds that were originally derived from plants. Only about 1 percent of plants have actually been tested for medicinal properties they may contain.”Margot Adler, reporting on The Renaissance Garden at the New York Botanical Garden for NPR.

Elinor Predota

Elinor Predota

“So what are we to make of this apparent paradox – the co-creatrix of one of the most influential nature religions in the world, living happily in what most of us would consider to be a deeply unnatural environment? There is, of course, the argument that Wicca is not, in fact, a nature religion at all – at least not a religion which is directly to do with the actual non-human environment. Wicca can be at least as much about human nature, psychic development and magical power as it is about our relationship with non-human nature. There is also the possibility that Doreen Valiente valued her interactions with nature all the more, and found even greater spiritual depth in them, precisely because she lived in an urban environment. I am sure many of us who have lived or do live in cities, yet consider our Paganism to be very much a nature religion can relate to that experience.” – Elinor Predota, discussing Doreen Valiente, the “village Witch who lived in a tower block,” who was recently honored with a blue commemorative plaque.

Layne Redmond

Layne Redmond

“Some of you know I went into the hospital for a week when I got home from teaching at Omega, June 7 – 9, and have been released into Hospice which I cannot praise highly enough. I went into the hospital because fluid had filled all around my lungs and heart so I had only a few days to a week left before my heart was unable to beat any longer. We decided to do a surgery in which they cut away a part of the bag around the heart so it would drain over to my right lung side where they put in a permanent drain thinking that would give me one or two more months. All went well with the surgery, and I am getting things in order and trying to finish my film, Axe´ Orixa´, which is well underway at this point. I’m not in any pain and am recovering my strength, (I worked out with my trainer last Tuesday and I’m out for walks most days) and am incredibly well taken care of by a wonderful network of angelic friends! My heart surgeon says there was much less cancer in the fluids they drained than they expected and so he won’t prophesize how much longer I have left! [...] I want to thank all of you who emailed, phoned and sent me cards — it means the world to me. I’m not able to answer emails at this time and may never catch up but I am reading them all. I’m really at peace, busy eating anything I want and looking back over my life with true pleasure. It has been so great to meet so many of you who love the frame drum, and it has been really amazing to see how the simple desire for wanting to learn to play the drums has unfolded in my life. One of the projects that we are taking care of now is getting When The Drummers Were Women back in print. My dvds and cds will continue to be available through my company Golden Seed Productions which will also care for and house my slide collection from the many years of my research.” – Layne Redmond, author of “When the Drummers Were Women: A Spiritual History of Rhythm,” and director of “Axé Orixá: Dreaming Awake the Gods & Goddesses of Brazil,” discussing her time in hospice, life-prolonging surgery, and final projects she wants to finish in the time she has left, in a newsletter sent to supporters.

Amy Martin

Amy Martin

“I am not an abortion-on-demand proponent. The procedure is misused. Regulations should be focused on preventing those who use abortion as birth control and term limits are understandable. But I also do not believe that politicians have the right to control my body. If I have to yell loudly to get the government out of my uterus, I will. Call me uppity. And let’s be honest. The bill was not about banning abortions after 20 weeks. Had that been the sole focus, it would have easily passed. The bill was aimed at placing punitive restrictions on abortion providers that other similar day-surgery enterprises are not subjected to, effectively shutting down all but five clinics. Vasectomies have the same rate of complications. Where are those clinics’ regulations? If the sanctity of life honestly concerned these grandstanding abortion opponents, then before anyone in Texas could buy or sell a gun they’d be required to watch real (not Hollywood) videos of people dying from gun violence and have doctors on call at hospitals whose emergency rooms are burdened with victims of gun violence. Nor would they have been trumpeting their pleasure with our state’s 500th execution that same day. It’s hard to respect that kind of hypocrisy.” – Amy Martin, Director Emeritus of Earth Rhythms and Writer/editor of Moonlady News Newsletter, responding to the question of whether it was “moral” for protestors to shut down the Texas Senate over proposed abortion legislation.

HecateDemeter

HecateDemeter

“Koontz is a Takings Case.  That means that it’s based upon the Fifth Amendment to our Constitution.  This Amendment provides that, inter alia, private property shall not be taken for public use without just compensation.  That means that, for example, if the government wants to take your home and yard in order to expand a local highway, the government can do that, but it has to pay you “just compensation.”  You can go to court if you think that the amount that the government offers you is too little to be “just compensation,”  and the court can rule on that, but the government can take your property.  Fair enough, and for most of the Twentieth Century, Takings Cases were more or less confined to how much the government had to pay in order to pay “just compensation.”  Fast forward to the end of the Twentieth Century. Too many people.  Not enough planet.  Everyone begins to realize that the impact of allowing you to build a bunch of condos on wetland HERE has an impact on wetland THERE.  Turns out, those “bundles of sticks” that used to make up property rights begin to look a lot more like  an interchangeable and interrelated bunch of conditions.  Various local [Pagans!  Pay attention!] districts, wetland areas, townships, counties, etc. begin to impose conditions whenever someone wants to further develop their property.  The Supreme Court, with its newly-appointed hyper-conservative members, is called upon to say when enough is enough — at what point do conditions imposed upon development of your property become a Fifth Amendment Taking?”HecateDemeter, Witch, ecofeminist, and lawyer, discussing KOONTZ v. ST. JOHNS RIVER WATER at PaganSquare.

P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

“As much as we respect the non-dogmatic nature of a great deal of modern Paganism, and as much as we laud the freedom and autonomy that every Pagan and every Pagan group has to practice its religion in the ways it determines are best, it is clear that the “mainstream” of modern Paganism prefers the social acceptance of LGBTQ people. Yet, the blatant intolerance shown toward LGBTQ people by some modern Pagans is actively tolerated. Not simply because I’m a vocal queer activist and queer Pagan theologian do I find this to be a problematic situation. It would be very fair to say that I think a great deal of modern Paganism would do itself a favor, as well as making itself far more appealing to a wider audience amongst religious options in the world for LGBTQ people, if it embraced queer theologies and cosmologies on a more widespread basis as the norm rather than as an exception and a fringe possibility. Here’s an example: in a Greek context, we usually think of Chaos bringing forth Gaia, and then Gaia bringing forth Ouranos, and then the two of them going on to have most of the divine entities we recognize as the Greek Titans and later Olympian gods, amongst many other powers of the universe. What if that wasn’t what happened at all? What if the first two beings to come forth from Chaos were Gaia and Nyx, and they together produced a variety of divine beings, and it wasn’t until Gaia on her own produced Ouranos, who then raped his mother and forced her to be his consort, that some of the more problematic beings started to come into existence? In a set of religions that often promotes the importance, prominence, and even supremacy of Goddesses over male gods, wouldn’t this actually make a bit more sense?” – P. Sufenas Virius Lupus, founding member of the Ekklesía Antínoou, asking the question “where do we go from here” in the wake of several major Supreme Court decisions.

Kyrja Withers (Photo: Tampa Bay Times)

Kyrja Withers (Photo: Tampa Bay Times)

“When all the national/international media attention was focused on us and people began to send their energy, good wishes and loving sentiments our way, it helped us to remember to focus on the solution instead of on the problem. To manifest what we desire, instead of being worried about what might happen next. People who have been our neighbors for years, whom we never met before, have stopped by to tell us they’re sorry for what is happening to us, that they love our house, and hope that we’re all right. Strangers everywhere have expressed their outrage, and their concern. Even on blogs and news stories, when some would point a finger of blame at me for having bright pink hair and painting our house in a manner which was “childish” or “wild” or “sure to offend neighbors,” others spoke up to remind them that these were not valid reasons to shoot at me or to throw bombs at us. We also discovered that even under the kind of duress we experienced at the moments which were most-tense, we still enjoyed just being together. We remained united both publicly and privately. And we carried on with all of our previously-scheduled events and activities. We intimately felt the impact of being part of the larger, worldwide Pagan community, and were strengthened. As the Spiral Rhythm song says: “One spirit in the dark, like a candle waivers. Many spirits joined as one, burn with the power of the blazing sun.” We FELT that power, that community, and have been empowered by the Circle.”Kyrja Withers, discussing reactions from inside and outside the Pagan community after her family were repeatedly harassed for being Pagans, in the latest edition of AREN’s ACTION newsletter.

T. Thorn Coyle

T. Thorn Coyle

“It is time for the religious left to become a stronger force for equity and justice in the US. We do our best: We take to the streets. We volunteer. We feed one another. We vote. We work for fair wages. We give back. Yet despite these varied efforts, the sand keeps eroding beneath our feet. What are our ethics? What is the firm ground we can stand on? As a Pagan, my ground is a profound experience of the Sacred infusing all things. It is a sense of divinity here with us, in every face, voice, tree, insect, drop of water, and distant star. This causes me to seek out connection and to center my actions around love as much as I am able. The radical Christians I work with – and the Muslims, Buddhists, and Atheists – may not use the same language as I, yet we share a common ethic of action based on equity and justice. In each of them, too, I see the great returning to love. We can carry this love outward and take a stand for the disenfranchised, the poor, the oppressed, and those whose voices – singly – do not carry far. Together, our voices can become a harmonious concert singing a song for the present and for the future we are orchestrating.” – T. Thorn Coyle, on voting rights, solidarity, and the religious left, at her Know Thyself blog.

John Beckett

John Beckett

“A commitment to Nature is a commitment to the study of Nature.  To be more plainspoken, it means a commitment to science.  Note that “Nature” is capitalized and “science” is not – that’s intentional.  Too often, what is called “Science” refers to a canonization of a hypermaterialistic worldview – if it can’t be measured according to the rules of science then it doesn’t exist. Do I have to quote Shakespeare?  “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” Despite the limitations of science, it remains a critically important tool for understanding Nature.  If life speaks to you, study biology.  If the sun and moon and stars speak to you, study astronomy.  If energy speaks to you, study physics and chemistry.  If creation myths speak to you, study the Big Bang and evolution. We may long for experience of the Otherworld, but the vast majority of our lives are spent in this world.  It benefits us to understand this world as it really is.  A strong understanding of science also helps us separate helpful beliefs and practices from unhelpful fantasy:  bad science makes bad religion.” – John Beckett, on having a commitment to nature, at the Patheos Pagan channel.

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

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Jason Pitzl-Waters

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  • Lēoht Sceadusawol

    “…in a Greek context, we usually think of Chaos bringing forth Gaia, and then Gaia bringing forth Ouranos, and then the two of them going on to have most of the divine entities we recognize as the Greek Titans and later Olympian gods, amongst many other powers of the universe. What if that wasn’t what happened at all? What if the first two beings to come forth from Chaos were Gaia and Nyx, and they together produced a variety of divine beings, and it wasn’t until Gaia on her own produced Ouranos, who then raped his mother and forced her to be his consort, that some of the more problematic beings started to come into existence?”

    It’s an interesting theory, what’s the basis for it? The thing with reconstructionism, is that it is informed by records from the past. Is there ‘evidence’ for this theory that negates the established academic stance?

  • http://saffronrose.livejournal.com/ A. Marina Fournier

    I was delighted to read Margot’s article on that garden (http://www.npr.org/2013/07/06/199234929/growing-the-latest-in-16th-century-medicine). That garden reminds me somewhat of how I envisioned Rappaccini’s garden in the Hawthorne story–similar layout & structure, but not as dark, gloomy, creepy. I’d love to visit that exhibit, along with the gardens at The Cloisters museum, but see no $$way$$ I can do that before the exhibit ends.