Pagan Voices: Kenny Klein, Annie Finch, Jason Miller, and More!

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  November 19, 2013 — 42 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.

Joseph Merlin Nichter (aka WitchDoctorJoe)

Joseph Merlin Nichter (aka WitchDoctorJoe)

“The time has come to be more conservative with my resources. Not just with my money, but more importantly, with my time. Because the time has come for high school football games, drivers training, Letterman jackets (two already) and prom dresses. My family has lovingly supported me and my passions for a very long time now, and I owe them a deeper presence in their lives. The time has come to relieve myself of those burdens which I volunteered to carry for others. Now is the time for me to just enjoy being a husband and a father. I’ve earned it and my family deserves it. My motivation for prison chaplaincy has come party from my own experiences of religious discrimination while serving in the military and from wanting to help inmates rehabilitate through spiritual growth. Most inmates incarcerated will be released someday and I felt that I was contributing to the greater good of society by rendering aid.  And I know that to some extent, I have. I keep a box full of letters and post cards in a desk from parolees who continue to update me on how well there doing on the outside and thank me for being there. But now I think the best contribution I can make to this world is through my children. Perhaps when the nest is empty, my idle hands will return to prison chaplaincy, at least until the grand-kids start rolling in (grin). This will most likely be my last post on the topic of Pagan prison chaplaincy for quite some time. But it won’t be my last post, I’m uncertain what I’ll talk about next but I’m sure I’ll find something. Thank you Lord and Lady for Prison: Past Tense.” – Joseph Merlin Nichter, announcing his retirement from active Pagan prison chaplaincy. 

Kenny Klein

Kenny Klein

“In the thirty plus years I have been Pagan, I have always seen the Pagan community struggle to be taken seriously. We want to be counted as a religion. Thanks to Selena Fox, we are able to bury our heroic veterans under a pentacle. We still struggle to be buried ourselves in cemeteries that accept our religions. Many hide in the “broom closet,” afraid of being “out” to family and co-workers, for fear of losing jobs and children. We struggle to be seen as a religious community. But when we arrive late, making the PST excuse, what does this say to the world, the world that we would like to be accepted by? “Hey, we can’t even take OURSELVES seriously enough to be accepted. So why should you?” What about people who are not passive-aggressive, but are just habitually late? Get over it! You represent the Pagan community! Pull yourself together! I know, it is a hallmark of our culture in general that people are rude, late, and self-centered. But as Pagans, shouldn’t we be above that? As people who, after considerable thought, gave up the status quo to pursue our true selves, shouldn’t be be the shining example, not the common problem? I think we should.” – Kenny Klein, expressing his dislike of “Pagan Standard Time.”

Annie Finch

Annie Finch

“Today’s accused “witches” are almost all women, many of them the more outspoken, independent and prosperous women in their communities. Whether victims of simple sexist domination or scapegoats for the old ways in a modernizing society plagued with economic injustice, often they stand for a former way of life, a life more in harmony with nature. Their murder is thus a crime against women and nature, as well as a horrific violation of human rights and religious freedom generally. As a witch, I am passionately committed to working on behalf of justice and safety for contemporary accused witches. And I am also committed to the equally important work of commemorating and remembering those already dead. Such remembrance is crucial for three reasons. It honors the dead. It helps protect against future injustice. And it helps today’s witches — and women in general — to wake up to the living legacy of those events in our own psyches, a first step to healing and recovery.” – Annie Finch, on holding a remembrance for witches.

John Beckett

John Beckett

“There is value in going outside and digging in the dirt.  There is value in going outside and looking up at the sun and moon and stars.  There is value in going outside and watching the squirrels and listening to the birds.  There is value in going outside – are you starting to see a pattern here? – and smelling the flowers, lying in the grass, and hugging the trees.  This can be challenging in the miserable Texas summers… just as it can be challenging in the miserable Minnesota winters.  But when we have a spiritual relationship with Nature, these challenges become something to work with and work around.  When we have a spiritual relationship with Nature, maintaining that relationship becomes more important than constant comfort:  we learn to go walking before dawn, to greet the rising sun before we begin our work day, to speak to the trees as soon as we get home, and to salute the moon before we go to bed. There is no Druid orthodoxy and there is no one right way to honor Nature.  There are many ways – find the one that speaks to your soul.” – John Beckett, from a sermon entitled “The Art of Wild Wisdom.”

Jason Miller

Jason Miller

“It is impossible to be good at everything, so you should definitely not expect to be great at everything. When someone like Fra Ashen creates a tool, it is a masterful and beautiful thing to behold. His work inspires faith and awe because he is not only a first rate magician, but an expert craftsman. Now one could argue that anyone can become a master craftsman with effort and just a little talent, and that may be true, but if that is not your calling you probably won’t want to invest that time. DIY purists will insist that any attempt, even one that winds up looking like my 4 year olds made it, will be better than something someone else has done. I say  POPPYCOCK! Craftsmanship value as much or more than doing it yourself. I have old tools that I made in high school, but I never use them because they look like shit. I would rather buy something nice and consecrate it to the work. In this case the consecration is my contribution to the creation. It is important to keep in mind the difference between competence, mastery, and perfection in a skill and the fact that it is quite desirable to strive for different levels in different things. Most CEO’s are not masters of every aspect of their companies business, but they are competent enough at them to manage those who are.” – Jason Miller, explaining why DIY magic is overrated. 

Erynn Rowan Laurie

Erynn Rowan Laurie

“It’s going to be a test of my ability to find community, as a very introverted person who still loves having a social life. I’ll be starting with the very large disadvantages of a language barrier, knowing nearly no one, and not being able to drive myself anywhere. I’ll admit up front that this is a scary prospect. It can be hard enough for me to talk with someone I don’t know in English, much less trying to open my mouth in a language I know I’m going to slaughter for quite some time. It’s going to be an exercise in letting go and allowing things to happen as they will. And immigrants from time immemorial have had most of these same challenges – language, community, transportation. My own ancestors left their homelands to come to the US, leaving their languages behind and taking a chance to live in a new place and build new communities for themselves. They persevered, they dealt with the challenges, and they made lives for themselves. I have the great advantage of instant international communication to support me, a thing they never had. I will be able to stay in easy touch with friends and family and community here and globally, as I have from the chair I’m sitting in right now for many years. When I’m lonely, there will be someone to reach out to who does speak my language. I’ll have my brother nearby who can help me negotiate a culture that he’s integrated into over the years he’s been in Italy. And I’ll have the gods and spirits to turn to as I learn a new place and a new way of being.” – Erynn Rowan Laurie, on her impending move to Italy.

Ian Corrigan

Ian Corrigan

“We’re trying to build a religion. By ‘we’ I refer to myself and my colleagues in ADF. For the past 30 years we have been researching and designing symbol sets and ritual patterns that provide the framework on which a religion can stand. Our work is proceeding well. We have dozens of local congregations, serving thousands of Pagans across the US. […] If I were to set a primary goal for spiritual practice (and this after long consideration of terms like ‘enlightenment’ and ‘liberation’) I might propose that it should make us happy – or at least happier. Note that here I’m not referring to some mystical adventure goal, of heroic conquest of reality. Rather I’m asking what good should a spiritual practice offer to the non-adventurer, to the “householder”, as they say. Spiritual growth and magical power – those have commonly been the goals of occult spirituality. However any review of the histories of magical arts shows that these goals do not, in themselves, result in happiness for the individual. Happiness for the individual is the common-sense base that seems to me, at least, to be a believable goal of life. As human animals it is our business to enjoy the world we find ourselves in, to learn to understand our bodies and other material things so that we can interact pleasantly and productively, even to apply our imagination and creativity to increase beauty and utility in the world.” – Ian Corrigan, on the primary goal for a spiritual practice.

Rhyd Wildermuth

Rhyd Wildermuth

“We make much of our desire to re-enchant the world, but do we fully understand how we actively disenchant it? It’s easy to talk of a “them” or a “they,” to speak in deeply esoteric or philosophical terms about how we’ve managed to mess up our ability to see the Other in the world. But I’m gonna suggest we maybe should start by noting not only how we experience disenchantment, but also how we actively do it ourselves. Whether one believes in the real existence of gods and spirits, believes in one well-spring of divine being-ness, believes it’s all beautiful and useful metaphor, or any of the combinations thereof, understanding how we disenchant the earth is vital to understanding our relationship to it. If a forest is just wood, meat, and plants, we’ll treat it as such. If a city is merely crowded dwellings, places to work and to be entertained, we won’t care when whole neighborhoods are gentrified, when cultures and traditions are displaced and destroyed. Actually, disenchantment is precisely the process which makes forests only full of wood, mountains only full of coal and minerals. It’s what turns minority neighborhoods into re-development opportunities, transmutes sites sacred to people into places more valuable for oil or uranium than for the worlds of meaning that have sprung from the soil. Until we understand how we disenchant the world, I don’t think we’ll understand how to re-enchant it, and I think the key to both is understanding how we world the earth.” – Rhyd Wildermuth, on enchantment, disenchantment, and worlding the Earth.

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

Jason Pitzl-Waters

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