Pagan Voices is a spotlight on recent quotations from figures within the Pagan community. These voices may appear in the burgeoning Pagan media or a mainstream outlet, but all showcase our wisdom, thought processes, and evolution in the public eye. Is there a Pagan voice or artist you’d like to see highlighted? Contact us with a link to the story, post, audio, or image.
. . . graffiti is a valid art form, possibly the most ancient. It is one of the very few primary sources of life, the voice of our forbears. Just because we have the privilege to judge and clean something contemporary does not give us the right to erase future history. As one of the commentators on my relative’s post said. “We have technology where people can do this in their own home without defacing property.” That is very true, so did the people of Greece and Rome. However these civilisations fell, just as our[s] will in time. The private art on our computers will be gone and all that will remain are names upon rocks. Erasing landmarks like the Sisters Rocks is erasing our history in the now. It is silencing our voices to our future and detrimental to our zoë.
— Markos Gage, “Graffiti is the Living Voice of our Ancestors”
In any religious argument, there are three voices. The first two are the ones that everyone thinks when they imagine a theological argument: “But this is the way we’re used to doing it, and we believe the religious information spoken and written by others in the past which tells us this is the right way to do things!” and, “But this practice upsets/disempowers/damages some people, and it would be more fair to them to change it in this way over here.” The traditionalist and the reformer are usually the two who go toe-to-toe with each other, and can deadlock for hours or years or centuries over their points, which may be equally valid in their own ways.
The third voice is that of the mystic, and it is universally hated by the other two. . . . Neither of them wants to hear the mystic’s voice, because it is elitist. . . . The mystic’s voice rarely says things that are comforting, and rarely says things that seem fair. There’s also that Neo-Pagans, in a religion largely of converts, are extremely distrustful of anyone who claims to be a mystic, or more of a mystic than every Pagan is promised that they can be if they only try. That voice is disliked equally as much as the third voice of gender, the one who stands between male and female. Both force people to confront what they believe, and what possibilities the universe may hold that they cannot yet see.”
— Raven Kaldera, the Third Voice
I call to our ancestors of blood and bone.
I call to the loving ape.
I call to those who walked from Africa.
I call to our black-skinned, red-skinned,
white-skinned, brown-skinned, yellow-skinned ancestors.
I call to all the souls who have walked this earth and will walk again
in many forms: mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, lovers.
I call to the ancestors who walk with us
on each fateful day into each
— excerpt of Lorna Smithers’ I Call to the Ancestors
My choice is fairly simple, even if it is difficult. Cutting myself off from the online Slavic community is terrible. It’s not something I want to do. It means losing a good source of resources, a good option to try and learn more from others. It definitely makes it more difficult to tally my UPG against historical record, or against others who follow a similar path to myself. It also means that I’m going to lose a lot in interpersonal relations and the ability to discuss with others.
However, my morals and my peace of mind will not allow me to participate in a group where such nasty, bigoted commentary is going to pass without being called on. . . . Morally, I have to do what is right. My ancestors and my gods tell me that remaining is not on my path. . . . I have to do what is right; and the right thing to do is to leave and disassociate myself from these actions and people who insult what my gods and ancestors demand of me.
— Emily the Slavic polytheist, Ethical Dilemmas and a Choice
I prefer to think of the modern Pagan movement in terms of a campground instead of an umbrella or tent. Each “flavor” of Pagan thought is its own tent, and there are trails between them. There may even be a central bonfire area where the denizens of the different tents can congregate to discuss our similarities and differences. No tent will have trails leading directly to all of the others, and the denizens of one tent might even decide to not associated with a different one because they are too different.
In this paradigm, Polytheists have our own cluster of tents, the Wiccans have their own cluster, the Pagans who view the gods as srchetypes or are nature-focused have still another. While this view would not eliminate conflicts between groups or individuals, it may provide a more accurate model of what Paganism could become as it matures and becomes more accepted in the secular world.
— Greek Revivalist Mommy, “Pagan Umbrella” vs. “Big Campground Paganism”
Without institutions to stand between the selfish man with a gun (and it will, generally, be a man) and the person who has none, humanity descends rather quickly into the chaos of places like Somalia and South Sudan. Kindness and generosity do not bloom in such places. War, enslavement and cruelty do.
Yes, humanity has a better nature, but it is not our only nature. Not by a far sight. A collectively, democratically chosen interlocutor in the form of a liberal democracy is the best system yet devised for refereeing the conflicts that inevitably arise between self-interested humans.
So I believe.
Your mileage may vary, and to some degree it probably does. That’s fine. So long as we are acting to bring about our visions of a better world, the details of the ideal matter far less than that the fact that we are working towards greater ecological responsibility, greater equality, greater kindness.
— Mark Green, Visions of the Future
. . . there are a few maxims that I think we could all do well to remember. Ξενος ων ιςθι. If you are a stranger, act like one. If you have never been a part of a Jewish or Muslim family or community, you are an outsider. You don’t know everything. You haven’t walked in those shoes. Accept that there are probably things that you do not know or understand, and listen to the people who are a part of those communities when they have something to tell you about themselves, their practices, their beliefs, or their communities. Do not assume that you know better than they do about who they are. Ψεγε μηδενα. Find fault with no one. It isn’t your place to judge the religious beliefs or practices of anyone else. You do not have to adopt someone else’s way of life for your own, but we ought to accept that they live the life that they have chosen to live.
I was going to choose just one more maxim to leave you with, but there are many more that apply. Instead, I’ll just say this. If we want to be accepted and have our religious views accepted rather than mocked and ostracized, we need to extend that same favor to others. We cannot gain the respect that we do not give to others.
— Melia Phosphorou, Ancient Ethics in a Modern World
Should Paganism be exclusive or inclusive? That’s a thing Pagans have been debating for decades. There is plenty of room in our community for groups with open-door policies and groups that screen carefully. I love and celebrate the open-door groups that make Paganism accessible to all. But, if your goal is to create a group mind, you have to make strong, slow, deep connections, and that will require a certain exclusivity. If you can’t get along with someone, you can’t do this kind of magical work together, and if anyone and everyone can walk in, you can’t create the safe space necessary for true intimacy. Build your group carefully, and let membership depend, in part, on a sense of compatibility and commonality. If it feels right, your next steps will work better.
— Deborah Lipp, 3 Ways to Help Create a Group Mind
For most of history, magic has been about getting revenge, getting sex, or finding a husband. (Or a wife. And I’m exaggerating. Maybe only 90% of magic is about these.) It’s only with Gerald Gardner that we begin to see magic rebranded as a religion. That was less than 100 years ago. Macbeth was written over 400 years ago, and it shows an entrenched view of magic and witchcraft. Which is not a happy one. . . . even though we, as Pagans, have a legitimate spiritual practice which we believe works, it’s harder to sell the idea to mainstream culture. We can say that a rosary works for a Catholic person because the Catholic believes it. It’s way harder to convince people that a spell works, because science A) doesn’t have a mechanism to describe it, and B) has spent centuries trying to disprove it.