Pagan Voices: Shauna Aura Knight, Deborah Lipp, Gus DiZerega, and More!

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  March 11, 2014 — 72 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.

Chic and Sandra Tabatha Cicero

Chic and Sandra Tabatha Cicero

“For thousands of years, healing the sick has been one of the main goals of magic. In ancient times, disease was believed to be caused by harmful spirits that entered the body. Ancient shamans and priests dressed in the skins of lions and other powerful totem-animals in order to cure illness and exorcise the offending spirits. Magic was an important part of medical treatment and the sick were brought to the temples to be healed either by incantations and exorcism, and drugs and herbal remedies. Priest-magicians often used a combination of physical as well as psychical therapeutics. Of course advances in modern medicine have greatly increased our understanding of the human body and the various causes of disease. One should always consult a doctor whenever a health issue is involved. And yet, more and more doctors are beginning to appreciate the benefits of what has been called ‘energy psychology’ or ‘noetic therapy,’ such as the healing effects of music, imagery, touch therapy, and prayer. These techniques are nothing new­—Albert Szent-Györgyi, the 1937 Nobel Laureate in medicine, stated that that, ‘In every culture and in every medical tradition before ours, healing was accomplished by moving energy.'” – Chic and Sandra Tabatha Cicero, on using magic to heal the sick.

Gus DiZerega

Gus DiZerega

“The so-called ‘free market’ advocates put the values of capital ahead of human values such as seeking to preserve the earth’s environment for future generations. They were advocates of an inhuman system best served by the most sociopathic of human beings. Because we Pagans include the world within the network of our ethical relations the conflict with Pagan spirituality runs even deeper than capitalism’s conflict with more purely human-centered religious traditions. All genuine spiritual traditions value human beings, but ours also honors the earth. This is our chief, perhaps our only, real conflict with the modern world, and on this issue we are on the side of humanity as a whole as well.  But last time we Pagans confronted the issue, we were not. [...] The challenge for men and women of good will, a challenge I believe affects Pagans particularly deeply, is to find humane alternatives to capitalist amorality by perfecting the insights that gave us the best of the modern world.  Looking backwards has proven a mistake.  The Mondragon workers cooperatives and smaller but very successful American businesses organized in the same way, like the Alvarado Street Bakery, show us a way forward.” – Gus DiZerega, on Paganism and the crisis of Capitalism.

Deborah Lipp

Deborah Lipp

“I have been a festival participant quite literally from the beginning. I went to my first festival, well, right before I was initiated at age 21. Before my son was born, I went to 3-4 Pagan festivals a year. After his birth it was more difficult and I have slowed down, but I have been going to festivals for more than 30 years. Festivals were something that my high priestess, as a young witch, was very adamant about. Going to festivals was a way of meeting people, of exchanging ideas, of learning cool new chants to use in ritual. It was important. This is a part of Pagan history, too. As a young Pagan entering the community and you may not value festivals because they are corny, people dress funny, and you have to sleep in a tent. They don’t understand that the existence of the festival movement, which began in the eighties and didn’t really take off for another five years, transformed the face of the Pagan community. It is one of the most significant contributions to the Pagan community of the last thirty years. Before there was an internet, there was a Pagan festival movement.” – Deborah Lipp, on the importance of Pagan festivals.

Rhyd Wildermuth

Rhyd Wildermuth

“What fascinates me particularly about the untethering of Privilege from its context is that many of the complaints are quite valid, but fail to acknowledge a simpler category because it’s generally verboten in American discourse:Class.  Much of the systematic oppression which Privilege is used to address fits squarely within the traditional description of Bourgeoisie, even within Pagan contexts.  The discussions of Wiccanate Privilege, for instance, might have been better served by pointing out that the context in which many (white, middle class–that is, bourgeois) people organize gatherings for Pagans and speak on behalf of other Pagans is a place of assumption of normality, a defining characteristic of the Bourgeoisie.  Many of the Naturalist vs. Polytheist debates likewise could be better described as such, as it is a uniquely bourgeois insistence that the secular modalities which sustain Capitalism (and their position of power) must be the truth by which all other truths are measured.  Anything apparently anti-thetical to the continuation of the bourgeoisie, then, must be fought off, silenced or belittled, depending on the apparent threat.” – Rhyd Wildermuth, on meaning, class, and belief.

John Beckett

John Beckett

“Building the Pagan world of 2064 requires thinking beyond what we see in front of us today. Vibrant, growing religions are vibrant and growing because they respond to the needs and desires of people where and when they are. So part of the problem in figuring out what to build for 2064 is figuring out what the world as a whole will look like in 2064. In 1964 the future was supposed to be flying cars, cities on the moon, and 20 hour work weeks. Instead, we got the internet, smart phones, and Wal-Mart. Can we do any better at predicting the future? The driving forces in today’s world are globalization, population dynamics (falling birthrates in the West, exploding populations in the global South), climate change and peak oil. Will 2064 in the West look just like 2014, only with worse weather and higher energy prices? Or will we see dense, compact cities for the rich, decaying suburbs for the poor, and exurbs returned to farmland? Or something else only some random futurist is even contemplating?” – John Beckett, sharing a vision of Paganism in 2064.

Morpheus Ravenna

Morpheus Ravenna

“I have been for some time slowly gathering material for a book. The book that I have long wished someone would write: an in-depth, well-researched, comprehensive book on the Morrígan: Her history, lore, and cult of worship; incorporating contributions from historic, folkloric, archaeological, and modern sources, and guidance for devotional practice with Her in a Pagan/polytheist framework. The book that would bridge the gaping chasm that currently exists between the quality of information available about Her from academia on the one hand, and popular Pagan literature on the other. The book I constantly wish I could refer people to when they ask me what they should read to learn about the Morrígan. This project has been slow-cooking on my hearth for about a year, but since I am kept busy working for a living at my art business, tattoo apprenticeship, and a third part-time job to make ends meet, I have not been able to prioritize it. Yet. That’s where things are changing. Two days after I got home fromPantheaCon, I got marching orders. In my daily devotional meditations, the Great Queen laid a binding on me that morning: a nóinden (ninefold counting of time). A nóinden is usually read as a period of nine days or nights; in this case, nine months. Nine months to get the draft written. This is what I’ve been given to do. It is a priority now.” – Morpheus Ravenna, on writing a book about the Morrígan, for the Morrígan.

Yvonne Aburrow

Yvonne Aburrow

“Some Wiccans seem to have misread or misheard “Wiccanate” as “Wiccan”. As I understand it, the problem as stated is that the Pagan book market is flooded with “Wicca 101″ books, which means that a lot of Pagan discourse is couched in the language of Wicca 101 books, and there’s a set of assumptions out there in the public domain about what Pagans do, based on these books – that all Pagans celebrate the festivals of the Wheel of the Year, that all Pagans think the deities are archetypes and expressions of a single underlying divine energy, that all Pagans do magic, and so on. And the complaint is that workshops at events are also based on these assumptions. Whilst it is true that the market is flooded with these books, and that many people assume that Paganism means Wicca-lite, some of these assumptions are also problematic for Wiccans, especially Wiccans who don’t conform to general expectations and assumptions of what Wicca is about.” – Yvonne Aburrow, on polytheistic, Traditional Witches, and Wiccanate privilege.

Sam Webster (with Herm), photo by Tony Mierzwicki.

Sam Webster

“What Aquinas was doing with his definition of the supernatural was finding a way of separating the Divine, in his case meaning Yahweh, called ‘God’, from the World. The ruler must be external and above the ruled, in other words, above the world, and then Aquinas built the logic and authority of his theology on this basis. I have to firmly reject this approach to theology as destructive. It results in a frame that alienates the Divine from us, especially typified by theologian Rudolf Otto’s concept of the Divine as ‘wholly other’. This for me is one of the most blasphemous things that could ever be taught: that we somehow could be separated from the source of Being. Or in other language, that we could ever be parted from God/ess. We might feel that way at times, but neither do I see it as necessary or even possible, and I also find the idea to be cruel. In the very least it is cruel because it makes you dependent on something else, like the Christian understanding of the mediating role of the Priest, to work out your ‘salvation’. You can imagine the abuse of power that would come, and in fact came with this. Super- (above) and -Natural (derived from natal=born) gives us ‘above the born’, or as the magickians these days say, the Bornless. That which is supernatural is neither born nor dies. The laws of physics fits in this category, co-existing with the universe, changing only as it does, but we usually attribute all things physical to nature, regardless of being ‘born’ or dying.” – Sam Webster, on the (not really) supernatural.

Shauna Aura Knight

Shauna Aura Knight

“Authenticity is not turning into a self-centered jerk who only does what pleases them. But nor is authenticity bending over backwards to please everyone else in your life at the expense of yourself. Authenticity is looking at what you want in a particular moment, and looking at what you want for your life, your goals and dreams, for your larger/deeper self, and determining if that momentary desire is in alignment with your life’s desire. In our society, we don’t develop very good boundaries. That is to say, we often have a vague idea of self. Typical parenting extends identity from the parent onto the child–meaning, a parent has expectations for their child. That child either is “good” and lives up to those expectations, or is “bad” because they rebel against them. Good boundaries means you have to know who you are. And that might sound simple–and it’s really, really not. Most of us have utterly terrible boundaries. We’re a mess of the expectations placed on us by our parents, expectations from the school system, expectations from the dominant culture, and expectations from our friends, partners, and others in our lives.” – Shauna Aura Knight, on authenticity, boundaries, and shadows (she has an IndieGoGo campaign underway, check it out).

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

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Jason Pitzl-Waters

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

    From Yvonne’s article: “books on Wicca often contain an assumption that Wicca is duotheistic; whereas most Wiccans I know are polytheists, pantheists, animists, or non-theists. But because it says in these books that we are duotheist, other polytheists often refuse to believe that a Wiccan can be a polytheist.”

    I agree with this, as far as it goes. But we need to go further. Wiccans should reject the term “duotheist” altogether. This term was concocted by Isaac Bonewits, and it wasn’t one of his better ideas. It is not a Wiccan term, and to the extent it has insinuated itself into Wicca, that process should be reversed and disowned.

    In polytheistic religions it is very common for individuals and groups to focus on one or two or a few particular Gods and Goddesses. It is also very common for any given Goddess or God to be paired with a divine partner (for example, we know that in ancient Boeotia the Phrygian Goddess Cybele was paired with Pan as her consort). None of this in any way involves the rejection of other Goddesses and Gods, and it is precisely such a rejection that is implied (unavoidably) by the term “duotheism”.

    • Jason Hatter

      Very true. However, in my experience, the Wiccans I’ve dealt with seemed to truly feel that all gods are The God, and all goddesses are The Goddess. It’s probably another case of which came first, the chicken or the egg, but it DOES seem to be a common element, even if the coven has it’s own unique name(s) for which aspects of the God and Goddess they revere. The few times I’ve been to a Wiccan ritual that has invoked more than one Name for the God/dess in question, the expectation was that it was simply another name for said Deity, NOT a separate deity.

      Not saying that’s the case for every Wiccan group out there, but it is out there.

      • Merlyn7

        True but that doesn’t mean they aren’t polytheist either. People seem to be using “polytheist” today as if it only means “hard polytheist.” Syncretism was a big thing for ancient Pagans as well as modern ones.

        If in ritual I say “I call upon the Lady of Love, Aphrodite, Astarte, Mari” (making this up for this post) I am calling upon a single being with many emanations and I still consider this to be a polytheist ritual.

        • Jason Hatter

          True. Syncretism was very much a thing. However, to the best of my knowledge it tended towards “Hey, your goddess of love Aphrodite is like mine, so I’ll call her Venus-Aphrodite”, not “Hey, you worship a goddess of the hunt, I worship a goddess of love, but they’re both goddesses so they must be the same being”.

          Your calling upon a Lady of Love calling her Aphrodite, Astarte, Mari is one thing, and a fine example of soft polytheism/syncretism. Calling upon a Lady of Love calling her Aphrodite, Kali, Diana would not (in my opinion) be a good thing. Yet, to many of the Wiccans I have dealt with, they are all the same Being, just a different face.

      • mptp

        What kind of Wiccan? BTW or not?

        Because as Gardner said, the Wicca worship a specific pair of deities.

        They are often referred to in public as the God and Goddess, but not a generic “all are one” pair.

        • yewtree

          As i pointed out in the article, it’s not called BTW in the UK.

          And many Wiccan covens actually worship a specific pair of deities of their choice (not necessarily the “standard” ones).

          This “but you’re Wiccan, so you must believe X, Y, Z or do X, Y, Z” is exactly the sort of thing I was complaining about.

          • mptp

            Yes, I know what you said about what it’s called in the UK, however, I was responding to someone from the US.

            I get what you are saying, but a standard held on this side of the pond, for BTW, is that they worship the Lord and Lady of the Wicca, to Whom they have been formally introduced via initiation.

            Do some BTW groups also practice worship with other gods?

            Probably.

      • yewtree

        I don’t call on a bunch of different deities as if they were all the same deity.

        I do not think that “all gods are The God, and all goddesses are The Goddess”.

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

          “all gods are The God, and all goddesses are The Goddess” is due to Doreen Valiente, and it was not one of her better ideas.

          • yewtree

            Actually “all the gods are one God, and all the goddesses are one Goddess” is a quote from Dion Fortune (who wasn’t a Wiccan at all), not Doreen Valiente.

            In The Charge of the Goddess, Doreen Valiente wrote, “Before my face, beloved of Gods and men…” (the ‘my’ in that sentence refers to the Great Goddess). So she evidently thought there were many gods, too.

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

            I think you are absolutely right that Valiente thought there were many Gods. Personally I find it inconceivable that any Wiccan could think otherwise. But thank the Gods we are all free to think whatever we please, and to express our beliefs however we choose.

          • yewtree

            ditto on all three points

          • http://quakerpagan.blogspot.com/ Cat C-B

            As Yvonne has said, it was Fortune–in The Sea Priestess.And of course she wasn’t even attempting to be Wiccan–though her writing is influential among Wiccans of a certain generation, at least.

            It’s also more complex than that by a long road among BTWs (to use that phraseology for a moment). There’s some oathbound stuff that seems not to have made it into all the Books of Shadows/branching of the Gardnerian-Alexandrian family tree. They’re not my trads, and I didn’t take any oaths around it, but I’m still unwilling to say more in a public forum except, as they say on Facebook, “It’s complicated.”

            But it might be worth sharing the full Dion Fortune quote: “All gods are one God, and all goddesses are one Goddess, and there is one Initiator.”

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

            Fortune is definitely influential, and I believe that is a very good influence. I know some Wiccans who actually view her as more important to Wicca than Gardner. And, at least for my money, Fortune was certainly a polytheist.

        • Jason Hatter

          Good for you. I am pleased to hear that, being a polytheistic ADF Druid myself. Unfortunately, it’s not universal among modern eclectic Wiccans, which do make up the large bulk of what is now the “Wiccan” population. It’s one of the sticking points in the recent “Wiccanate” debates.

    • Lēoht “Sceadusawol” Steren

      I often wonder just how far a person can remove themselves from the teachings/writings of Gardner (and Valiente) before the label “Wicca” ceases to be accurate.

      Not being a Wiccan, I could not possibly lay out what it means to be Wiccan. For that, I’d look to Gardnerians.

      • Merlyn7

        Ah but what answer would you have gotten if you asked a reformation-era Catholic Pope if Martin Luther was a Christian ;-)

        • Lēoht “Sceadusawol” Steren

          That he was a heretic, most likely.

      • yewtree

        It really does depend on where you draw the line. I think the idea that only us Gardnerians get to define what Wicca is, is well and truly dead in the water. I think we can define what Gardnerian Wicca is, though.

        • Lēoht “Sceadusawol” Steren

          Way I see it, Gardner created the system, so his is the “core”.

          • http://quakerpagan.blogspot.com/ Cat C-B

            However, there are multiple versions of the Book of Shadows, from multiple lines (of priestesses) that trace directly back to Gardner… and whose practice is not identical.

            It’s fascinating as a study, especially for what you can tease out from the years before Lady Sheba put much of the version she had access to into print for the public.

          • Lēoht “Sceadusawol” Steren

            Yet it all sources back to him.

      • mptp

        There are certain standards of practice out there that BTW use to judge whether a given group is family or not, but I have not seen, and anyone ever will see, a comprehensive list.

        A minimum is that they must have initiatory lineage back to New Forest. That initiatory lineage carries with it certain standards of orthopraxy.

        • Lēoht “Sceadusawol” Steren

          I really dislike the phrase “British Traditional Wicca”. There is no substantive evidence of Wicca prior to Gardner, thus “Gardnerian” is the original form that all others derive from.

          I was more suggesting that Wicca has a few core concepts that define it.

          I like (concise) definitions, people may notice.

          • AnantaAndroscoggin

            As in the older-style of language, “By their hallmarks ye shall know them.” That is, there are a few (usually) basic hallmarks which will be traditional to a particular group, organized or not. With Christians, the hallmarks seem to be baptism, “taking Jesus as savior,” and taking communion.

            The hallmarks of fraternal orders are (I suspect) inclusive of certain oaths, hand gestures, secret handshakes, or challenges and responses. Anything more secret that knowledge “about” (not “of) is something I am not privy to.

            Hallmarks of Gardnerian? Hertha and Cernunnos? Naked rituals? What might be the hallmarks of other forms of Wicca?

            Hallmarks of Heathern and Asatru? Hopefully not racism. I think they’re probably the only ones who have a formal ritual of bragging to the community. They do Blot. I don’t think that they drink heavier than many other types of our Pagan coreligionists. I’m pretty sure that I’m completely wrong on most of this.

            So, what are the formal hallmarks of membership in any particular group one is looking at, that’s the question.

          • Lēoht “Sceadusawol” Steren

            Indeed. Let each religious group build their own definitions, and that would be a good starting point.

            Heathenry is readily identifiable by its “Germanic” godlist, cultural values and ritual language.

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

        “I often wonder just how far a person can remove themselves from the
        teachings/writings of Gardner (and Valiente) before the label “Wicca”
        ceases to be accurate.”

        One would first have to actually make a thorough study of what Gardner actually wrote, which vanishingly few Wiccans (let along non-Wiccan Pagans) have ever bothered to do.

        • yewtree

          Gardner isn’t the Wiccan Messiah (cue a chorus of Monty Python quotes). It is worth reading what he actually wrote, of course, both in its own right, and so as to avoid an orthodoxy developing in Wicca.

          • mptp

            He was a very naughty boy.

          • yewtree

            Yep :)

    • mptp

      In polytheistic religions it is very common for individuals and groups to focus on one or two or a few particular Gods and Goddesses.

      Isn’t this what Müller referred to as henotheism or kathenotheism?

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

        “Isn’t this what Müller referred to as henotheism or kathenotheism?”

        One should be very cautious when employing terms like henotheism, etc. Unless one has actually read Müller, then one should avoid the term henotheism, in particular, altogether. In particular one must understand that Müller used the term henotheism with respect to Hinduism, but he was also very clear that in his opinion Hinduism is polytheistic. Therefore “henotheism” should never be employed as if it were somehow something different from and opposed to polytheism.

        • mptp

          Oh, I fully agree, and let me provide some clarification for my statement – that believing in multiple deities (which is polytheism, yes?) yet worshipping only specific ones, is henotheism, and worshipping one instead of the others, but changing in succession, is kathenotheism … both of which are, or should be, seen as types of polytheism.

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

            Yes – then we are in complete agreement. By its very nature poytheism is extremely varied in the forms it takes.

            Also, in practice virtually no one really practices anything like strict henotheism in reality. A good polytheist will honor any and all Goddesses or Gods when this is appropriate, and it very often is!

          • http://www.xkcd.com/285 Eran Rathan

            Apuleius writes:

            Also, in practice virtually no one really practices anything like strict henotheism in reality. A good polytheist will honor any and all Goddesses or Gods when this is appropriate, and it very often is!

            Oh, piffle. There are plenty of folks, myself included, who follow one god or goddess while acknowledging the existence of others. And yes, I consider myself a henotheist.

          • Lēoht “Sceadusawol” Steren

            And then there is -latrism. That is to say, the concept of worship within a polytheistic framework.

            I became a polytheist in my mid teens, but remained a Christian monolatrist for some years before I became an alatrist.

          • AnantaAndroscoggin

            Isn’t that also called “monolatry”?

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

      “the Wiccans I’ve dealt with seemed to truly feel that all gods are The God, and all goddesses are The Goddess.”

      When it comes to theology, modern Pagans (not just Wiccans) are often very sloppy and inconsistent. Another issue is that the natural language of ritual is poetry, not prose, and poetry lends itself to ambiguity, and emotional expressiveness (often to the point of melodramatic hyperbole), and it does not lend itself to cold, narrowly precise, definition of terms.

      As a Buddhist I regular perform a certain ritual which includes the following line addressed to Tara: “From now until I reach enlightenment, I will rely on You as my sole source of refuge and protection.” However, the same ritual begins with three repetitions of the traditional seven line prayer to Padmasambhava, and it also includes prayers to Samantabhadra and Manjushri. And the same ritual also involves calling upon all Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, yidams, dakinis, dharma protectors, etc, “as numerous as the atoms of the universe.”

      The bottom line is that we should be cautious about putting our theology into a box, and we should be even more cautious about putting someone else’s theology into a box.

      • Jason Hatter

        “The bottom line is that we should be cautious about putting our theology
        into a box, and we should be even more cautious about putting someone
        else’s theology into a box.”

        A very good point indeed.

    • Franklin_Evans

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monism#Definitions

      “There are two sorts of definitions for monism:

      The wide definition: a philosophy is monistic if it postulates unity of origin of all things; all existing things go back to a source which is distinct from them.

      The restricted definition: this requires not only unity of origin but also unity of substance and essence.

      Three basic types of monism can be discerned:

      Substantial monism, “the view that the apparent plurality of substances is due to different states or appearances of a single substance”

      Attributive monism, “the view that whatever the number of substances, they are of a single ultimate kind”

      Partial monism, “within a given realm of being (however many there may be) there is only one substance”

      Contrasting with monism are:

      Metaphysical dualism, which asserts that there are two ultimately irreconcilable substances or realities such as Good and Evil, for example, Manichaeism.

      Metaphysical pluralism, which asserts three or more fundamental substances or realities.”

      I posted that to specify the parameters of my comment here. Do, please, seek clarification, and accept my assurance that I’m not being argumentative.

      As descriptions of our various “flavors” of Wicca, paganism in general and the groups who use a term other than “Pagan”, I suggest that the “all are one” assertion is metaphysical dualism. My personal beliefs are accurately placed in that category.

      My hope is that we can settle on a consensus lexicon that describes without defining or restricting. That is my conscious purpose here.

      • mptp

        Good vs evil (deities) though, iirc, is ditheism, isn’t it?

        • Franklin_Evans

          It is if the belief system defines the embodiment of good and evil as one distinct deity for each.

      • Deborah Bender

        Some (not all) Wiccan traditions make use of a ritual blessing in the name of multiple entities, the first of whom is titled the Dryghten. I’m told this is an Anglo-Saxon word meaning “lord”. The Dryghten is described in the blessing text as “male and female, the original source of all things [followed by several other attributes].”

        IMO any cult that includes such an entity in addition to anthropomorphic male and female deities is not fundamentally duotheistic.

        Wicca is not dualistic in the sense that I understand the word, since it does not view existence as a combat between an active principle of good and an active principle of evil.

        Forms of ceremonial magic that are influenced by late Classical texts like the Emerald Tablet (if that’s where the expression “As above, so below,” comes from) are monist in outlook.

        I’m not going to try to fit Wicca into the subcategories of monism you list, because the “substance” in those definitions is an ancient Greek religious/philosophical/scientific notion which does not play much part in worldviews informed by modern science. I’m a monist, I think most Wiccans are monist, and the way in which magic is usually taught from a Wiccan or Wiccanate perspective is based on a monist worldview.

        • Lēoht “Sceadusawol” Steren

          That’d be “Dryhten” – no “g”.

          The usage of Anglo-Saxon terminology in Wicca(s) could be somewhat confusing, when those terms may be used in a different context within Ænglisc forms of Heathenry.

          • Franklin_Evans

            I learn at least one new thing every time I come to TWH. You and Deborah have my thanks.

          • Deborah Bender

            I defer to your knowledge of Anglo-Saxon. What is the correct way to pronounce it?

            This text calls the Dryhten “the ancient Providence.” Would that accord with AEnglisc heathen tradition? If not, I have another theory below.

            The word Providence was commonly used in public speech as a substitute for God or Creator in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries in America, and I would imagine in England as well. I infer that it was preferred by Deists. I would like to see this usage revived in my country, as it is a good deal less sectarian than God or Creator, and doesn’t exclude such large parts of a general audience.

          • Lēoht “Sceadusawol” Steren

            “Dryhten” translates as “Lord”, “Prince” or “ruler”. Mostly appears as a term for Jesus or the Christian god, in surviving documents. I tend not to use it.

            As for pronunciation, kind of hard to explain online. Y is voiced like the French “su” and an H in the middle of a word gets vocalised much like the sound at the end of the Scots word “loch”. So, “Druchten” would be a way of spelling it as it sounds.

          • Nick Ritter

            The most basic definition of “dryhten” is the leader of a “dryht”, or war-band.

          • Deborah Bender

            Interesting. Definitely not the image that the blessing is trying to convey. Looks like someone not especially knowledgeable pulled the word out of an Anglo-Saxon dictionary to dress it up.

          • Nick Ritter

            Yes, and I find that things like that have happened quite a bit, I’m afraid. The lure of the exotic – and the exotically ancient – has been a major factor informing the practices and vocabulary of many.

        • Franklin_Evans

          My main point was towards metaphysical dualism. I appreciate your view about the absence of “combat”; I take a “two ingredients” point of view and observe the dynamics between them, which of course can at least at times take on the combat aspect, but I wouldn’t suggest using it as the only such description.

          Allow me to reiterate: I settled on monism-dualism because it contains neither word nor root from anything that means “deity”. I’m hoping to get the terminology discussion going without it.

          Personal note (and perhaps needing to be checked for bias): I am a dualist. I use the labels Light and Dark as settings of boundaries. I won’t go into detail, this not being the place for a 1000-word essay on my beliefs, but the other thing to know is that I am not a deist/theist of any stripe or with any prefix other than “non-“. I offer myself as an example toward my intended point, not as an argument support.

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

        All of these “definitions of monism” are inventions of modern “philosophers” and, as such, have nothing to do with Paganism. Ancient Pagan philosophy is the proper place to look if one is looking for concepts, terminology and categories appropriate to Pagan theologizing.

        • Franklin_Evans

          Honestly, and respectfully, this frustrates me no end. A lexicon is built, not inherited in the sense that anything found in a source must necessarily carry the “veneer” of that source.

          They have everything to do with discussing Paganism, if for no other reason than to be a contrast, a balance of “what isn’t” with “what is”. Besides, if we rattle the bushes enough, I bet we could find a Pagan who finds monist a fair label for his or her beliefs. Why reject anything out of hand before the discussion gets anywhere?

        • Lēoht “Sceadusawol” Steren

          That presumes, of course, that ancient pagans are the sole source of pagan philosophy and theology.

          That line of thought would further imply that Paganism is dead and only of historical interest.

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

            The only thing I am assuming, and it is a very safe assumption in this particular case, is that modern philosophers assume monotheism (and Christianity in particular) as the normative paradigm for all religions. This has a hugely distorting effect on the way terms like “monism”, “pantheism”, etc, get used. The polytheistic approach to monism and pantheism is completely different from the monotheistic approach.

          • Deborah Bender

            “The polytheistic approach to monism and pantheism is completely different from the monotheistic approach.”

            Could you expand on that, please? I think you are getting to the meat of the matter.

          • Lēoht “Sceadusawol” Steren

            That, in turn, assume that there are no modern polytheistic philosophers.

      • Lēoht “Sceadusawol” Steren

        What’s wrong with defining?

        I pay good money to watch Hi-Def at the cinema, can’t I expect as least as much clarity in the real world?

        When people use the same word to mean different things, there will be confusion. By having a concise definition, we remove ambiguity and enhance clarity. That is a “good thing”.

        • Franklin_Evans

          Yeah, Carroll’s Humpty Dumpty casts a long shadow. I don’t reject the effort towards definition, but I do recognize its power to disrupt or hijack any discussion. Description, one that I consider valid and with integrity, does not define the entity to which it is (or may be) applied. It’s out of observation, not analysis.

          • Lēoht “Sceadusawol” Steren

            I approach spirituality with a scientific mind.

        • yewtree

          The problem with this is that Pagan beliefs (mine included) don’t fit neatly into the definitions.

          I could describe my beliefs to you and I bet you would be hard-put to find a label that fits them.

          • Franklin_Evans

            That’s an excellent summation of why I would like to start with a focus on descriptions, not ignoring or at the expense of definitions, but to give the discussion boundaries.

            Personal POV: a description is “what”. A definition is the “why” for the “what”. As a logical progression, it simplifies the process for me.

            OTOH: I’m with Lēoht in a basic sense. Science is my first tool of choice, knowing that it is inadequate as the only tool and is going to fail sometimes. If nothing else, it provides me with endless entertainment from those who want it to be the only tool, as well as from those who reject it out of hand. I think that makes me a bad person (queue dialogue between Bill and “B” in “Kill Bill”).

          • yewtree

            Completely agree – start with people’s own descriptions of what they believe – which may or may not be classifiable in the same category.

            The current categories are not a good fit.

            I think that deities, land-wights, etc are emergent properties of the complexity of the landscape (possiibly involving our relationship with it, rather like the process described by Robert Holdstock in Mythago Wood). They have distinct personalities. They are immanent in the world. There may or may not be an underlying divine energy from which the deities emerge (but it does not have a personality).

            Classify that :)

            I’m with you on the science thing, too.

          • Deborah Bender

            If you also think that the entire known physical universe has a common origin and is subject to the same natural laws (or tendencies, or probabilities), I would classify that as a form of monism.

          • Franklin_Evans

            Deborah, if you don’t mind, would you expand on that? The question hovering in my mind is what about the divide between metaphysical and empirical?

            I take monism to mean distinctly a metaphysical conclusion about the universe — “the all”, if you will — whereas I see a “common origin” (as you seem to be using that) as a hypothesis based on observable data.

          • Deborah Bender

            I’ve done a fair amount of reading and thinking about philosphy and theology but I have not studied them systematically under qualified teachers. So perhaps it would be best if I just described such personal views as have remained stable over time. I arrived at these views by reasoning on data gleaned from reading and personal experience (feelings, emotions, observations and insights) in ordinary and altered states of consciousness. I can’t make the distinction you propose in your second paragraph.

            I reject the term “supernatural”. Everything that exists is governed by the same set of laws. Therefore, anything that exists is natural.

            That statement needs to be qualified by this one. I believe that thoughts and concepts have effects on the material world that are direct as well as effects mediated through physical agency. Therefore, totally imaginary beings whose material existence is impossible, like winged horses and twenty foot tall people, are also part of the natural world.

            IIRC William Blake wrote a poem which said a child can see “the universe in a grain of sand, and eternity in a flower.” I can do the same when I pay attention, and my ability to do so is assisted by what I know of biology, geology and physics. Everything is connected. The whole includes the parts, but the part also includes the whole. Another way of expressing this is that the universe is a hologram.

            Emergent properties is a useful concept. Ken Wilbur IIRC came up with
            the idea of an implicate and an explicate order; I’m not sure I fully
            understand that, but it made sense to me when I read it.

            Insights from modern psychology, some Western philosophy, and Buddhism as explained by Alan Watts, tell us that what we experience is mediated by the sensory equipment and data processing routines of our bodies, filtered by habits of selective attention and interpretation, and affected by environmental conditions. Therefore the distinctions between “inside” and “outside” and between “I” and “you” are framing devices. This has a bearing on discussions about the nature of gods.

            I think there is an underlying divine energy which completely interpenetrates everything, but is more obviously present at certain places and times. I have had no direct experience that convinces me that this energy does or does not have personality or intentionality; I’m agnostic on that.

          • Franklin_Evans

            That was eloquent and most enjoyable reading. Thank you.

            I share your basic views. The Blake quote was particularly cogent, IMO.

          • Franklin_Evans

            I’m exploring (in my rare thoughtful times) the speculation that the word “pagan” has a root in an Etruscan word meaning “important or divine place”. The speculation (I’ll post my source later, if I find it, it was a book that isn’t online) looks to the practical (as in practices) evidence: crossroads, caves, high places (if not the entire hill or mountian), and the like.

            As for “they have distinct personalites”, that is precisely my personal experience.

          • Lēoht “Sceadusawol” Steren

            Is that really the case, though?

            Start with the basics: Do you believe in god(s)? If yes, then theist. If no, then atheist. Then keep going with more and more specific questions until you work through the religious equivalent of biological classification to the precise religion/species that you fit the criteria for.

  • Obsidia

    As a Witch, I believe that everything (including all Gods/Goddesses) is an aspect of All-That-Is. How can this not be so? Also, as in Quantum Physics, one can experience Deity as either a Wave (energy, force) or a Particle (actual God/Goddess). In her great book “Adventures in Consciousness: An Introduction to Aspect Psychology,” Jane Roberts explores a different way of experiencing reality–a multi-dimensional way. My teacher, Marion Weinstein, used Jane Roberts’ philosophies in her work. Phyllis Curott, in her work, describes the connections between everything at a quantum level…connections transcending our old models of time and space and separation. What if our “I” (our experience of Identity) was flexible and mobile, and what if we could control it in a manner that would resemble expansion and consolidation? What if SOMETIMES we would feel that Deity came from inside of us (as Archetypes) and SOMETIMES we could feel that Deity came from outside of us (as Beings of Consciousness)? Some of us have no choice but to “step outside the box” of rigid thinking.

    • yewtree

      OK so according to your description, you are an aspect of All-That-Is, and so are deities. You have a distinct personality; why can’t they?

      • Obsidia

        Of course they can….and do!