Pagan Voices: Shauna Aura Knight, Crystal Blanton, P. Sufenas Virius Lupus, and More!

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  July 31, 2013 — 7 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.

Shauna Aura Knight

Shauna Aura Knight

“One of my values, as a Pagan leader, is to make rituals and spiritual experiences that are accessible and inclusive. At least–as much as I’m able to. I talk to a lot of Pagans who vehemently agree with this concept…and who then present rituals that–for various reasons–are not very accessible or inclusive. Their rituals may present difficulty for people with mobility challenges. Or the rituals may not really be inclusive of gay, lesbian, or transgender community members. And there’s lots of other ways rituals could be inaccessible and exclusive. Often this is done unintentionally; however, there is still an impact. I’ve said before that activism is sometimes saying the unpopular thing. Often, it’s standing up for those who do not have as much power in a dynamic, whose voices are not heard. In this case, the unpopular thing is the idea that we–Pagan leaders and ritualists–may need to change how we approach rituals in order to make our rituals more accessible and inclusive. We may even need to re-evaluate some of our dearly-held theological beliefs. If we want the dominant culture to change, to legalize gay marriage, support people with disabilities, eliminate racism…don’t we have to do that work first ourselves, within our community?” –  Shauna Aura Knight, on making Pagan ritual truly inclusive, at Pagan Activist.

Crystal Blanton

Crystal Blanton

“I believe that it is the loss of love that disconnects us from the human experience of those around us, allows us to pass judgment on others, and then profile the faces of those different from us to assume acceptable responses to our biased perceptions. Yet if love is the law, how can this ever be OK in our world?  I pondered those questions in that theater tonight, and again when I got home while talking at the kitchen table with my son. It was the loss of love and the amplified ego of those with badges in the movie that took Oscars life. It was a grieving family and producer that worked hard to restore love back into the picture. And the spiritual, social and political reminders we got watching that movie together connected us to all the things that I feel are important. Allowing my son to learn and cultivate why justice is important, why understanding privilege is essential, and why love for who we all can become is mandatory, is very important to a future he can find hope in. He has a responsibility, as do I, and as do you.” – Crystal Blanton, on love being the law, and the movie “Fruitvale Station.”

Teo Bishop

Teo Bishop

“I still very much feel like I am on a Druidic path. I don’t think you can ever truly disassociate yourself from traditions you have been a part of, and ADF has been very influential on me. So leaving ADF was a difficult decision to make, yes. But I decided to leave because it just felt, in all of my parts, like the right thing for me to do at this point in my own spiritual evolution. My leaving made a splash only because I am fairly public with aspects of my spirituality and my process. I’ve also been in a role of leadership within ADF, and I feel very happy about how things have been progressing in my absence, particularly with the Solitary Druid Fellowship. I think it’s important to understand that this is not some big dramatic event, but that my own process has led me to leave. I’m not on a crusade against ADF. There are many wonderful people in ADF who have genuinely been kind to me — both before and after this decision.” – Teo Bishop on leaving the ADF, and if he’s still a Druid, from an interview with PNC-Minnesota.

Amy Martin

Amy Martin

“What does it mean to be human? To be all that a human can be. It a conscious decision each individual has to make, to join the human journey and find yourself stirred to the core at being of an evolutionary pageantry spanning millions of years. To posses a brain that expanded from its limbic animal origins, to its bicameral split, eventually to include a prefrontal cortex that defines us as humans. To see ourselves connected even to the early creation of the Earth from cosmic debris, consolidating and creating a miracle planet — not too hot, not to cold, and flush with oxygen — where humans could flourish and be formed from its very substance. It is the human song, born in the swirling stardust, formed from atoms and elements forged in the stellar furnaces of exploded dying stars. To be fully human is to stand before the infinite matrix of light formed from nebulae, galaxies and stars, and know you are no less. It is to be part of something greater, however that greater is defined — whether a divine God, a pantheon of deities, a permeating life energy, or evolutionary unfolding — and the grateful humility that brings. From this deep sense of eternal interconnectedness arises empathy, the highest of human emotions. We progress beyond being enamored with animal comforts and bloom into our higher selves. From that fundamental awareness of interconnection and oneness, all virtue unfolds naturally. To paraphrase Mae West, ‘Religion had nothing to do with it.'” –  Amy Martin, Director Emeritus of Earth Rhythms and Writer/editor of Moonlady News Newsletter, responding to the question of what it means to be a religious person.

Iris Firemoon with David Salisbury

Iris Firemoon with David Salisbury

“Last night, the Lincoln Memorial was vandalized.  This was an insult to our fallen Patriots.  It is an insult to those of us who call Washington, D.C. home.  It is an insult to Americans.  It was also an insult to Pagans. This monument to President Lincoln is a monument to Freedom.  Not the every day freedom that we have to walk about the street.  But, the idea of Freedom that we all have to own our own lives, our own future.  These vandals insulted Freedom. The monuments on the National Mall are sacred.  These are sacred spaces in the Nation’s Capital. Pagans have many times held rituals on and near these spaces in order to draw their meaning into our work.  At the Jefferson Memorial, we have staged the yearly Samhain Drumming and the 2009 Animating the Spirit of Democracy working for the newly elected President Obama.  Next to the White House, we shared the 2011 Pagan Coming Out Day and the 2007 Pagan Religious Rights Rally.   At the Tidal Basin, under the cherry blossoms, we prayed for Japan in 2011.  This is a place where we, as Pagans, also come to connect with the country, the world, and to fight for our rights.  Today, our sacred space was vandalized.  It makes me sad.” – Iris Firemoon, a Washington DC-area Pagan, on the recent vandalizing of the Lincoln Memorial.

Frater Barrabbas Tiresius

Frater Barrabbas Tiresius

“The pathway of witchcraft has already bifurcated into two basic groups; one that is open to new possibilities and is attracted to the dark history of witchcraft and pagan practices, and another that is seeking to create a modern pagan religion for the masses. I, for one, have accepted the former and eschewed the latter. Since I believe that most modern pagans in the West lack even a basic understanding of what it is to be a pagan, at least from the standpoint of antiquity, then I have no problem being part of the smaller population who is progressing to that place where the future beckons. That future doesn’t include any of the practices, fetishes or tropes of the BTW, and in fact it is beyond the comfortable domain of Gardnerian based modern witchcraft altogether. The real future of witchcraft (if it is to have a future) is to revitalize elements of the past and merge them with practical workings of today. The real future path, in my opinion, is to master archaic forms of sorcery and a kind of chthonic shamanism, and therein, to discover anew the dark mysteries pervading the ghost enshrouded domain of the earth.” – Frater Barrabbas Tiresius, on the “future path of witchcraft” at his Talking About Ritual Magick blog.

P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

“Thus, it is perfectly possible for someone who is gay, and who worships what they consider to be a gay god, to not be doing queer theology, using queer theory, or to be in any sense (outside of a homophobe’s pejorative usage) “queer.” If said gay person is of a majority or privileged group otherwise—being, perhaps, white, middle-class, cisgendered, monogamous, non-kinky, educated, and able-bodied—then the likelihood that wider societal pressures and the general push to “normalize” and assimilate will cause their spiritual activities (even though those may not be mainstream) to be relatively mainstream as well. Such a person in a modern Pagan context might, for example, celebrate or symbolically enact a Great Rite that has two gods instead of a goddess and a god, at least when they are by themselves or in a group of other gay men. Don’t get me wrong, though: I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with this, or that it shouldn’t go on. However, it should not be confused with what modern queer theory and theology consider “queer.” The definition of “queer,” in being reclaimed and re-negotiated, does not simply involve taking everything that has been degraded by the homophobic usage of the term and saying, “It’s all right.” “Queer” has questioned and gone beyond the original signifiers to which the homophobic usage was thought to correspond. Its definition is potentially far more wide-reaching than just atypical or minority sexualities and gender identities.” – P. Sufenas Virius Lupus, on what Queer Theology isn’t, and, what it could be.

Donald Michael Kraig

Donald Michael Kraig

“As a magician, I absolutely hate the concept of there being nothing I should do. Of course there is something I can do. There’s always something I can do to make a situation better. It’s called magick. The essence of magick is the ability to cause change. If what you do doesn’t cause change it may be ritual, but it’s not successful magick. So to acknowledge that I should do nothing is…difficult. And yet, there are times when we are all placed in situations where we can and should do nothing. At work, if you frequently have to “fix” the work of someone who is not doing their job properly, you are preventing him or her from realizing their problems and getting the training they need. You’re taking away their chance to fail and then grow. Always covering for someone because they can’t do the job isn’t helping the person or the company. In such a case you need to do nothing.”  – Donald Michael Kraig, on when there’s nothing you can do, at the Llewellyn Worldwide blog.

John Beckett

John Beckett

“Whenever you make a choice, you say “yes” to one thing and “no” to everything else.  But you don’t just say no to the choices you rejected, you also say no to everything that would have followed those choices.  Shortly after I graduated college, I was dissatisfied with my job.  I looked into going to graduate school full time.  But I already had a car payment – quitting my job would mean losing my car.  The decision to buy a car – that seemed so simple and necessary at the time – had effectively eliminated the option of going to graduate school full time.  With the loss of that option I also lost all the experiences I would have had as a full time graduate student and I locked myself into a series of experiences (and future options) in full time employment. Make enough choices –  including choosing not to choose and including choices you don’t recognize as choices at the time – and eventually you find yourself on a path that bears a strong resemblance to fate, even though it is simply the cumulative consequences of your free will.” – John Beckett, on fate, the gods, and free will.

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

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Jason Pitzl-Waters

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  • LaurelhurstLiberal

    I think Teo Bishop is an example of what I was talking about with the Pagan Radio Network — one guy taking on a huge responsibility until it wrung him out and he ended up retiring from the field entirely.

  • cernowain greenman

    I found there was a lot more to Shauna’s article. I liked what she had the hutzpah to point out that we Pagans are subject to having dogmatic attitudes and ideas which, when they arise in public ritual, can be excluding other Pagans whether we realize it or not.

    For example, I love incense– the more the better for me! But not everybody can tolerate certain aromas due to physical problems (asthma, allergies, COPD, etc).She challenges us to creative in finding replacements that will be ritually effective but will not cause others discomfort or sickness.

    She reminds us about how long rituals that keep people standing for exceptional lengths of time are difficult for average people, let alone people with medical issues like fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, joint problems, etc. If you are going to teach, do it in a classroom, not in a motionless standing ritual that lasts 50 minutes.

    I do wonder, though, about some activities that I love, such as the spiral dance. It is something that the fit and young can do well, but not everyone can move like that. Perhaps two dance could go on simultaneously, one group dance for the spiral dancers and another slower one for those less mobile? There is a lot to think about here.

    • Lēoht Sceadusawol

      Does everything need to be inclusive, though? Balance is possible without total inclusivity all of the time.

      • cernowain greenman

        She was only talking about open public rituals. So, no, not everything needs to be inclusive all of the time.

        • Lēoht Sceadusawol

          Even then, If a springtide ritual celebrates fertility, does that not exclude all those who are (for one reason or another) not examples of fertility? Yet, further round the cycle, there may be other rituals that are more tuned to those.

          As such we can see a cycle that is balanced, but that allows for a level of exclusive rituals.

          Well, ‘exclusive’ in that the active parts are apportioned appropriately, but still open to all.

          Certainly I do not think that any demographic should be completely excluded.

          • cernowain greenman

            Leoht, if you go to the link and look through her blog post, you’ll find some of the pertinent exceptions to inclusivity that she mentions.

  • Thistle

    Teo Biship was in ADF? (I’ve been a member since ’06)