Pagan Voices: T. Thorn Coyle, LaSara Firefox Allen, Carolyn Lee Boyd, and More!

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  October 9, 2013 — 5 Comments

Pagan Voices, like yesterday’s Pagan Community Notes, is a regular feature here at The Wild Hunt, one that seeks to highlight our voices, wisdom, debates, thought processes, and evolution in the public eye. If you enjoy this regular round-up, please consider donating to our Fall Funding Drive (and thank you to the over 80 supporters who have already donated). Now, onward…

LaSara Firefox Allen

LaSara Firefox Allen

“When I was 20 I was dancing naked or partially naked too. I was doing it at fire circle in the Pagan community. And you know what? I still got castigated. I was told the same things that Sinead is saying. I was also told, conversely, that if I wasn’t willing to put out I shouldn’t be such a tease. And all this by other women. Mostly women older than myself. I can recall so many times when these insults were hurled in my direction. Once a woman had been belly dancing at the fire circle, which was greeted with much laudation. And I, being the rabble-rouse I was, stripped down to my leather, thong underwear. Man, was there an uproar in the camp throughout the weekend. As women, most of us are maybe afraid of losing the pull of youth. Maybe any lashing out we are prone to has to do with some fear of losing the light that is shined on the young. Maybe we are sad and afraid about the loss of sexual power that most women experience as we age. Maybe much of our lashing out toward other women at any age, and of any age, is due to fear. Fear of loss. Fear of uncertainty. Fear of judgement. Fear of our own desires. Fear of the desires of others. Fear of physical danger. Fear of psychological danger. Emotional danger. These are tools of oppression. Weapons. And we use them on each other.” – LaSara Firefox Allen, on Miley Cyrus, women’s sexuality, and the many open letters opining on both.

T. Thorn Coyle

T. Thorn Coyle

“Saturday I heard the news the man had died. I also heard something that deepened my disturbance: across the country, in Houston, another man had doused himself with gasoline and prepared to set himself alight. People got to him before he could strike the fire. Two men. Different parts of the country. Doused in gasoline, ready to burn. Unrelated events, except all events are somehow related. There are threads that catch and join us, one to another. Those threads are everywhere. And so we burn. We feel the heat rising. We feel the heat rising from a confused young mother, driving into a barricade, surrounded by police, shot dead as her one year old baby sits in a car seat, watching. We feel the heat rising from the police who pulled the triggers. We feel the heat rising from Capitol Hill, from a government ground to a halt. We feel the heat rising from the houseless and the unemployed, wondering what they will eat. Sometimes I think we are all on fire. This is one of those times. The heat is rising. Sparks are catching, everywhere. I can only hope this fire will burn us clean, so we can plant anew. I can only hope that things we value are not too badly burned along with the dross that must be cleared.” – T. Thorn Coyle, sharing some thoughts of fire, and holding fast.

Susan Harper

Susan Harper

“This campaign is exactly what it sounds like. For 40 days, I am inviting Pagans of all paths to engage in whatever spellwork, ritual, or spiritual work they choose, with a focus on keeping abortion and reproductive health care safe and legal for all. You may work in groups or alone. You may choose to do the same ritual every night, or engage in different workings. You may do full-blown ritual, a simple candle spell, or dedicate your meditation practice to the cause of reproductive justice for the next 40 days. There is no wrong way to participate — the goal is to have as much energy flowing toward the goal of safe and legal access to abortion and other reproductive health care as possible. There’s no need to curse or work against those who are behind laws like Texas’ and Arkansas’, or to direct negativity at protestors, as tempting as that may sometimes be! Instead, our goal should be to offer protection for those seeking reproductive health care and protection of the right of access to that care more broadly. If you’d like to join in 40 Days of Ritual to Keep Abortion Legal, there’s nothing official you need to do — just engage in the work. I’d love it if you’d comment here telling me you’re in! You can also join our (very new) Facebook page – share pictures of your altars, descriptions of your rituals, and just connect with others to build the energy. 40 Days of Ritual to Keep Abortion Legal runs from October 7-November 16.” – Susan Harper, on conducting 40 days of ritual to keep abortion legal, a response to a similar Christian campaign to end the practice.

Kiya Nicoll

Kiya Nicoll

“Some friends and I recently built a story together: for a holiday called Opet, we told the story that for Opet, we do charitable works. We house the homeless, clothe the naked, emboaten the boatless. (And when we were joined by a few folks of a more Celtic persuasion, we also embovined the cowless.) This was a good story. And as part of telling that story, it was not just that we talked about how this would be a good thing to do; the story meant that we did this thing, we went out and we invested in charitable works, we put out resources into the world so that the story became a little more real. This is what stories do; they organize people around ideas, they make those ideas come a little closer to the surface. Yes, we could have gotten there from a more general story, such as, say, ‘I am a good person’; people tell those sorts of stories and motivate themselves to many kinds of things. But there’s a lot of other stories you can mean by ‘I am a good person’, and much like ‘I am doing the work of God/the gods’ as a story, it’s a dangerous one to hang too much on. A lot of things can creep in around the edges of a vague and poorly specified story, really. Narrative is an essential part of how people construct the world. Be careful with yours, all right?” - Kiya Nicoll, on narrative theology, and on being careful with the narratives you construct.

Carolyn Lee Boyd

Carolyn Lee Boyd

“Feminism is, to me, a dynamic political and social movement; but it is now also the healing spirit within all those who see and revere the sacred in all women. Thinking of Feminism’s healing aspect as a 21st century Goddess has brought Her power more fully into my life. As a Goddess, She would have two means to manifest in our world. One is the spiritual healing that women do for each other. The other is activism that changes society, a way of creating a healthy environment for all women to live in. Perhaps her sacred symbolic objects are a mirror to show each woman her own divine worth and a ballot to symbolize the activism needed to act on that. She would look like all women and speak all languages. She might wear a cloak of feathers to fly to all women in need of Her, flowers to represent the blossoming of spirit that is each woman’s birthright, and a seashell necklace as a reminder that our souls are as vast as the ocean. Her story might tell of a time of power, followed by millennia underground gaining the wisdom and strength that comes from sorrow and loss, with an arising in our present time to help us make our world one of equality, justice, and peace. May She shine brightly on you and through you.” - Carolyn Lee Boyd, on feminism manifested as Goddess.

Joanna van der Hoeven

Joanna van der Hoeven

“We relate to our environment though inspiration, and we are all related, as the Native American proverb says.  It isn’t simply communication with our environment, but a soul-deep sense of relativity – we are all related.  By being related, this instills within us a sense of responsibility, of caring for the environment, whichever one it may be.  If we see that we are related to the badgers living in the brown-land area soon to be re-developed, then we also see that we must take action to ensure that they are safe.  If we see that we are related to the food that we eat, we will ensure that we eat organically and, if possible, grow our own food as much as we can to develop that relationship even further. If we see that we are related to our neighbour next door, we are more likely to establish an honourable connection to them and the rest of the community. It creates a sense of caring for the environment and all within it, and it is no easy task. The challenge that faces the Druid is to see clearly these relationships, and to act honourably in all regards.  If this challenge is accepted, then the worldview is broadened considerably, as is the environment.  The web of life will shimmer with inspiration along every thread.  May it do so for you, all my relations.” - Joanna van der Hoeven, on Druidry and the environment.

Michael Lloyd

Michael Lloyd

“I had originally just planned on writing a short biographical paper on Eddie’s life. Early into the project, I realized that this approach would be woefully inadequate given the complexity of his story. It was several years into the project that I realized that, if I didn’t include a large measure of what was going on in NYC and in the US, Eddie’s story would simply lose all context, as readers today would be scratching their heads wondering why folks did what they did back then. It was my good friend Christopher Penczak who later suggested that I change the subtitle of the book to reflect this expanded scope. I love New York City. It’s such a whirling maelstrom of humanity. You will encounter a cross-section of the world there. And its place as a center of media, finance and culture was absolutely crucial to the blossoming of the occult/Pagan movement in the US in the late 20th Century. I could never live there – its simply too much for this former farm boy. But I was named an honorary resident of the city by the NYC Gay Men’s Open Pagan Circle in 2011 for my work on behalf of the city’s Pagan community, and I am very proud of that honor.” - Michael G. Lloyd, on New York, Edmund “Eddie” Buczynski, and his book Bull of Heaven: The Mythic Life of Eddie Buczynski and the Rise of the New York Pagan.

John Beckett

John Beckett

“I swim in the same currents as Peter Grey and I’m inspired by Apocalyptic Witchcraft.  Ultimately, though, I’m unwilling to go as far as he suggests.  I’m committed to Gordon White’s concept of a salvage mission to fund the rescue mission.  Beyond that, I know too many good Christians and Humanists and others who are doing the same thing – making a living within the system while learning to live outside the system.  I’m reluctant to antagonize them… and I know all too well that calls for total commitment are usually ignored. Besides, I’m already pledged to the Forest God and the Lady of the Waters.  I’m too uptight to be much use to trickster gods. Who should read Apocalyptic Witchcraft?  Not beginners, that’s for sure – you need a basic knowledge of historical witchcraft to understand this book.  And not anyone prone to literalism and pedantry – this is a book of dreams and poetry, of ritual and symbol.  Its power is in its ability to show what can be, not what is.  But for those who feel called to the sabbat, Apocalyptic Witchcraft shows how we can dance and fly, and perhaps, how we must.” – John Beckett, reviewing Peter Grey’s book Apocalyptic Witchcraft.

Damh the Bard

Damh the Bard

“Two weeks on the road and I am once again sitting here feeling blessed to be a part of a worldwide Pagan community. Some say that Paganism is so diverse that it cannot be a community. Some say we should all just call what we do something else entirely. Some say that Paganism is made up of so many paths, with so many points of view, that it is in danger of melt-down and fragmentation. But I am lucky enough to travel with my music and meet Pagans from all over the world, and everywhere I go I feel the same energy. From Wiccans to Druids to Heathens and Eclectics, there is a huge swathe of common ground that we all share. We might differ in the detail and our personal dogmas, but when we work from that space of common ground we create wonder, magic and worldwide community. And I feel honoured to be a part of that. Hurrah for all of us!” – Damh the Bard, on finding unity in our common ground.

That’s all I have for now, please remember to support The Wild Hunt during our Fall Funding Drive so that we can continue to spotlight intriguing, provocative, and informative voices from our interconnected communities!

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Jason Pitzl-Waters

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  • Raksha38

    My problem with Miley Cyrus isn’t her skimpy clothing or provocative performances. I honestly don’t care about that and honestly find it quite boring. But whatever. There are lots of things I find boring and/or don’t care about and that’s not a problem for me. What irritates me about Miley is that she smugly acts like she’s so superior because she’s ~*~ShOcKiNg and WiLd~*~ like she invented nakedness or something, when pop stars have been pulling this same tired stunt for decades.

    Basically, I don’t care if she wears clothes or not, I just want her to stop talking and get off my lawn. Also, she’s a fucking asshole for responding to Sinead O’Connor by mocking mental illness.

    However, the whole Miley/open letter thing did inspire this hilarious article predicting the chain of open letters sure to follow. I think my favorite bit is the part about Marina Abramovic, because that reference was a deep cut!

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

      MIley didn’t mock Sinnead O’Connor at all. In fact, Miley has been consistent in expressing her praise and admiration for Sinnead. However, Sinnead did repeatedly compare Miley to a prostitute, and otherwise slut-shame the shit out of the girl.

      What Miley really responded to, though, was Sinnead’s presumption in publicly questioning MIley’s ability to think and make decisions for herself. By questioning Miley’s judgement, basically saying that she is just a stupid girl who needs others to protect her and make her decisions for her, Sinnead automatically invited scrutiny of her own life and the many instances in which Sinnead has made some very questionable judgement calls.

      And really, what did Miley do? She simply retweeted stuff that Sinnead herself had already posted for all the world to see. If Sinnead can’t stand the heat, then she should stop questioning other people’s judgement and tend to her own affairs.

      • Raksha38

        Oh don’t get me wrong, I’m not agreeing with or defending what Sinead said. Frankly, I find the whole open letter business obnoxious (I’m including Amanda Palmer in that, too). And while Miley may be complimentary toward Sinead’s work now that her handlers have had a word with her, her very first response was a tweet about “Before there was Amanda Bynes, there was…[and then she put a link to Sinead]“, belittling both of their struggles with mental problems. A total asshole move.

  • Lasara_Firefox_Allen

    Honored to have been linked, Jason.

    Be well.

  • Franklin Evans

    I take the father’s POV automatically (and yes, sometimes with jerking knee). My daughters are 30 and 21, my son is 26.

    Miley is just the latest in a long string of female performers (having three drag queens as my personal acquaintances, I explicitly exclude them from this opinion absent one of them sharing her own thoughts) who due to youth, ignorance or a combination of both think they are validated by society’s views. I take the view that they are validating society’s views instead.

    No doubt some are doing this consciously. There’s a thriving burlesque community here in Philly, and I’d stand way back should anyone think to criticize them without getting their opinions and attitudes first.

    I assume Sinead O’Connor’s first motivation is protective, albeit obscured for some by her choices of phrasing.

    My personal disapprobation of Miley is that father’s reaction (with a different and more intensely negative view of her father). I balance that with my parental commitment to arming my children as best I can with knowledge and rational judgment, then stepping back (the most difficult part) and letting them make their own mistakes and encourage them to learn from them (while struggling to not say “I told you so”). I look to Billy Ray’s failure on that score first and foremost.