Pagan Voices: Raymond Buckland, Damh the Bard, Rhyd Wildermuth, and More!

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  January 8, 2014 — 1 Comment

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.

Raymond Buckland

Raymond Buckland

“Growing up in England, I had what might be viewed as an inbred sense of tradition. I found I enjoyed studying the past. The very first play I appeared in — at the age of ten — was Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House”, set in the nineteenth century. I appear to have come full circle now that I am writing (and mentally acting) the Bram Stoker Mysteries, set in the Victorian age. That era I find fascinating, which makes researching for my books a real joy. I especially enjoy the fact that murders and mysteries must be solved by basic brain power and deduction without access to today’s forensic techniques. Most people link the name Bram Stoker with the name Dracula, since that was his best-known book. But I didn’t want to write about vampires. Stoker was a man of many parts with many of his interests matching my own . . . he was a writer and he had interest in and knowledge of what was termed “the occult”. It seemed natural, then, to choose him is the antagonist for my series, though in a setting at a time prior to his Dracula years.” – Raymond Buckland, on the new mystery series he is writing (more on that here).

David Dashifen Kees

David Dashifen Kees

“Words have power.  Sometimes it’s because we put them together to form a narrative attractive in some way but on their own, they can be similarly potent.  Were any of you shocked, even if only slightly, by the use of the term “bullshit” above?  We’ve given that word, and others like it, special significance in our language; we’ve labeled them “curses” and tell our children not to use them.  Granted, at the same time, our media uses them like they’re going out of style, but mixed messaging is a topic for another post. As Pagans, many of us practice magic in one form or another.  While it is certainly possible to perform a spell silently, most of the ones I’ve either encountered or performed have some element of spoken word.  Even if it’s simply a shared chant to try and get everyone working together and in sync–magically moving in the same direction, if you will.  And, if words lacked power, why would one’s silence about a spell often be considered an important piece of its success?” – David Dashifen Kees, on the power of words, especially on the Internet.

Judith Shaw

Judith Shaw

“Though She created us and loves us, ultimately she will not allow us to completely destroy life.   She has put up with centuries of abuse but She is now rising, like a dragon who has awakened from a long sleep. In this world of interconnectedness She responds to our out of balance actions in a way that will return us to balance.  With ever increasing wild weather incidents – floods, droughts, massive forest fires, earthquakes, tsunamis, tornados, bug infestations of our forests and so much more – She creates blocks to our current path of destruction. Yes, those who embrace control and destruction continue to rule but She is awakening in our many hearts.  More and more voices sing out every day with the words form Libana’s Goddess chant, “There’s a river of birds in migration, a nation of women with wings.”  Women and men together, from the Middle East to the Midwest, are spreading their wings and demanding a return to balance. From the fast food workers’ walk-outs and calls for a living wage to the masses rising up to say no to the Keystone XL Pipeline our wings are spread and our hearts are open wide. The Goddess is reborn. Her justice might at times be difficult for us to endure but it is wielded with love and it is inescapable.” – Judith Shaw, on why she needs The Goddess.

Damh the Bard

Damh the Bard

“If you believe Julius Caesar the Druids officiated over a Wicker Man ritual with the figure filled with living sacrifices. This was obviously the inspiration behind the 1970s film The Wicker Man, and to many this is the image that will come to mind when you say the words “The Wicker Man”. Whether these rather unwieldy massive structures filled with human beings and animals ever existed we will probably never know. To be honest I have my doubts they ever existed in the way Caesar described. Believing what Caesar said about the Britons and Gauls is loosely similar to imagining that Hitler had won the war, and two thousand years later believing what he said about the Jews. The Romans were a conquering military force, and what better way to raise capital for the wars than to portray their prey as uncivilised barbarians. Caesar’s writings are not a historically reliable source of Truth. However… Let’s not be frightened of the word ‘sacrifice’. It has got rather a bad reputation, and already some of you reading this may be feeling a little uncomfortable with what I’ve just written. If you look up the word in a dictionary the first couple of definitions will speak about killing something, but at its heart is often another definition, to give up (something valued) for the sake of other considerations. In the lake of Llyn Cerrig Bach on Anglesey archeologists found a massive hoard of offerings given as a ‘sacrifice’ into the water. We talk about ‘making sacrifices’ of our time for friends and family, for our careers. I hope that slowly we are moving beyond the sensationalistic propaganda of the word towards its deeper meaning.” – Damh the Bard, on the story behind his new song “The Wicker Man.”

Sara Amis

Sara Amis

“Recently a discussion of the nature of the Gods and how Pagans relate to them has broken out. Morpheus Ravenna offered the question “How would you do ritual if the Gods were real to you?” and her own answers.  Alison Leigh Lilly wrote a response focusing on what she sees as the excessive anthropomorphism of Ravenna’s underlying assumptions, and quoted a post I wrote about divinity in nature.  Almost simultaneously, Traci Laird also wrote about the excessive anthropomorphism of Pagans in general.  It’s worth noting here that Traci, Morpheus and I are actually fairly closely theologically aligned (we’re part of the same witchcraft tradition), and I don’t think Morpheus’ metaphors are more than just that.  But I love me some Pagan theological conversation.  The complexity of the topic only increases my love for it, because I am a nerd, and also because I think reality is complex and big ideas are worth wrestling with.  As the epigraph from Cicero suggests, the Pagans of antiquity had strangely similar debates…” – Sara Amis, on the nature of the gods, and the centuries old debates surrounding that very question.

Alison Leigh Lilly with a very big tree.

Alison Leigh Lilly with a very big tree.

“Because I do not believe that humans are the only beings with agency in the world, I do not expect my gods to express their agency in the same ways that human beings do. There are gods who forever remain elusive, whose identities shift with the landscape, the seasons and the stars. And there are gods so intimate that they are never really absent at all, and meeting them is not a matter of inviting their presence but rather of quieting my own expectations and learning how to listen. There are gods whose presence looms like a mountain range on the horizon, and gods with(in) whom I walk with grace, my footsteps just one more melody in the great pattern of their being. What does hospitality look like to a mountain? How does a forest speak its mind? What does it mean to invoke a god of mist and sea on a mist-strewn shore? You might not understand or relate to the metaphors that I use to describe my gods, but that does not mean that those gods are not real, or that I am being disingenuous about my beliefs. My rituals may look different from yours or have a different purpose, but that does not mean that they are incompetent or superficial.”  – Alison Leigh Lilly, on the nature and agency of divinity.

Rhyd Wildermuth

Rhyd Wildermuth

“Humans are part of nature.  We are made of the same material as other animals.  We live and decompose, just like other beings.  To imagine Nature without humans is quite like attempting to imagine Nature without ferns, or wolves, or trees. We are destructive, yes.  So is ivy, and Sandalwood, and wolves, and…you get the point.  We are also creative and nurturing, capable of great restoration, like horsetails or mangroves.  If we are part of Nature (and we are), then we are neither greater than it nor lesser than it.  We are as dependent upon others as they are of us, be they people or animals. Our interdependence with other humans can teach us greatly how to respect Nature from which we spring.  Revisit with me that example I proffered about the starving family and the last cow.  A wolf does not ask itself if any particular cow is that last, and is this is why it relies upon natural balances to correct its behavior.  Eventually, over-consuming prey in an area will reduce the number of predators to the point that the prey can repopulate.  The wolf does not need to moralize, nor does it chastise another wolf for eating the last of a certain kind of animal. We humans do.  And along with that moralizing is a recognition of the natural pressures upon a person who might eat the very last cow, and something radical that no other species in nature currently does, which is intervene.” – Rhyd Wildermuth, on interdependence, nature, and the gods.

Anomalous Thracian

Anomalous Thracian

“I would love to see a world where accusations of fundamentalism or Nazism or radical cult-leader-ism or psychosis and so on were handled only by those actually qualified to even approach those terms, after rigorous training in their use (or at least after watching an hour-long documentary on accurate depictions of those things in the really-real world of mass-suicide and world wars and shit). Because words and things? They do break bones and they do hurt, even more impressively and oppressively than sticks and stones. Because sticks can be burned and stones can be used to build a fortifying wall, or carved into spearpoints to plunge through the throats of the ignorant fuck hordes hurling them with wanton lust-for-strife in their gleaming little eyes. Words spoken are invisible and cannot be shoveled aside like sleeted snowfall, and words written can hang heavily like a guillotine gavel of judgment over those they’re lobbed at (or those who just got caught in the cross-fire or worse are dragged into a conflict just to be used as an illustration point to degrade the opposition…!) for months or years or decades or all of time, the weight of words lingers.” – Anomalous Thracian, recommending some guidelines for debate and discussion on the Internet.

Morpheus Ravenna

Morpheus Ravenna

“A lot of my college study was in ecology and life science. The ecological paradigm informs pretty much all of my thinking about spiritual realities and theology. And coming from that perspective, the whole question of hard versus soft polytheism keeps looking to me like a false dichotomy. Because ecological thinking is all about relationships, and which relationships you see or don’t see depends on what scale you’re looking at. And if the Gods are in any way real, then They are necessarily part of nature (just as we are), and we can use the same lens to look at them. So the natural world is this matrix of beings and forces interacting at different scales. You can look at one scale and see individual creatures which appear to be separate and discrete, interacting with one another. Look at another scale and you see populations, separable from one another and interacting with other populations. Look at another scale and you see huge, global forces that subsume the individual into great ecologies of energy and life force. Which scale is the correct lens? Which perception is true?” – Morpheus Ravenna, on the relative hardness (or softness) of one’s polytheism.

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

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Jason Pitzl-Waters

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  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    I do not believe that humans are the only beings with agency in the worldIndeed. Beavers build dams, which are also habitats. Birds, bees, ants, termites and wasps build nests for their young. Ant lions and trap-door spiders build constructions to catch their prey. Ravens high enough to see deer downwind of wolves, will fly so as to lead the wolves to the deer, in order to scavenge when the wolves are through. Some trees, attacked by caterpillars, emit a pheromone to draw wasps that make short work of the caterpillars. Some trees, succumbing to a parasite, emit pheromones to evoke in nearby trees of their species a natural pesticide against that parasite. Nature is awash in non-human agency; we only need notice.