Archives For Alison Leigh Lilly

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!

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.

P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

“The big question that all of this sidesteps around, of course, is that if justice does come from the gods, and is supported by the gods, then why is it so often lacking in the world, especially in those cases wehre injustice causes a ton of suffering for some people, but a huge amount of luxury, richness, and prosperity for those who inflict such suffering and cause such injustice?

For my own part, I can’t imagine that this situation pleases the gods, particularly those most concerned with justice. But, if that is the case, then “they’ll get it in the end” is not much of a consolation to those who are suffering meanwhile. It brings up and highlights once again the ultimate answer to the other version of questions of theodicy, as outlined by Rabbi Harold Kushner: namely, that the gods must therefore not be omnipotent, even though they may support love, justice, and virtue.”P. Sufenas Virius Lupus exploring the topic of theodicy at Aedicula Antinoi: A Small Shrine of Antinous.

Sannion (Photo: Dver)

Sannion (Photo: Dver)

“First off, I would say that a lot of people don’t understand what miasma precluded in antiquity. It was primarily concerned with access to holy places such as groves, mountains, wayside shrines and temples. The temples in particular were regarded as the abodes of the gods and repositories of their awesome power and consequently for a person to set foot in them required that person to undergo a greater than normal degree of purification, especially since religious functionaries were exposed to this power on a deeper level and a more regular basis than some pilgrim visiting the site on a festival day. (Think about the extra precautions taken by dentists and x-ray technicians who are daily exposed to radiation. It’s such small doses that it won’t harm you if you’re just getting your teeth fixed but being constantly surrounded by it they have to act accordingly.) In fact most festivals were conducted outside the temple and most people were never permitted past a certain point within it and certainly not where the cult image was housed. (For more on temples and how they worked in both Greek and Egyptian tradition, consult this article of mine.) Most of the purity codes and sacred regulations that have come down to us are concerned with access to temples and the proper performance of priestly offices – not the affairs of the average citizen and how they conducted their personal worship in front of their domestic shrine. No matter how deep in a state of miasma one was they could still pray to their gods and perform rudimentary ritual actions. Indeed purification would not have been possible without carrying out these ceremonies so it is absurd to suggest that one should cease all religious activity while in this state. Indeed we have accounts of the gods and spirits making numerous battlefield epiphanies and coming to the aid of women in distressed labor and all manner of things like that, so just because a playwright used a goddess abandoning her chosen hero as he expired as a plot device does not mean that we should surmise that the gods will have nothing to do with us while we are polluted. It can certainly be more difficult to feel their presence or receive communications from them at such times, but I suspect that this has more to do with impurity clouding our perception than it does divinities actively disengaging from us.” - Sannion, a Dionysian, on the topic of miasma at PaganSquare.

Teo Bishop

Teo Bishop

“I am all of the things I have ever been. I continue to be them, in one way or another. Nothing is ever fully released from the heart. It’s all there, tattoo-like. Those old parts of you call out and say, We’re still here: your memories; your long, lost hopes; your visions of truth; your doubts — all of it. All here, still intact, inked into the inner flesh.

My Christianity gave me my first introduction to reverence, mystery, humility and community. It encouraged me to recognize that there was nothing in the world that was not touched by the divine. It inspired me to care deeper, to give generously, and to seek out new, creative ways to serve others.

I bring all of those attributes with me to my work with the Solitary Druid Fellowship. Were it not for the Church, and for those many people who were inspired by Jesus to serve others in love, I wouldn’t be writing liturgies for Pagans.” – Teo Bishop, writing on a recent visit to an Episcopal church, at Bishop In The Grove.

Alison Leigh Lilly with a very big tree.

Alison Leigh Lilly with a very big tree.

“As a city-dweller, I know how easy it would be to give in to pessimism, seeing the landscape where I live as too far gone, too scarred by human exploitation. The problem is just too big for a handful of conservationists to tackle on their own, no matter how dedicated they are. Seattle will never again be a pristine wilderness — the invasives, human and nonhuman alike, are here to stay. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t new ways of thinking about how we live with our local landscape. Unlike other invasive species, we have the opportunity to change the stories we tell about our place in the world and, by changing our stories, changing the ways we live with and relate to the many other beings that share the world with us. Instead of seeing ourselves at war with invasives, and with ourselves, we can embrace the story of harvest.

The beauty of the harvest is that it promises sustenance and interdependence as the fruits of our labor. The effort we put into the harvest — the blood, sweat and tears — helps to foster connections instead of severing them, sustains and supports life instead of destroying it. We’re used to thinking of harvest as something easy: as easy as going to the grocery store and choosing between oranges and apples, or at most doing some gentle weeding and watering in our backyard gardens. The truth is, harvest is hard, sweaty work that demands a great deal of discipline, teamwork, commitment and courage. Rather than lionizing the sacrifices of the few, reclaiming metaphors of harvest gives us the opportunity to celebrate the efforts of ordinary people doing ordinary things that add up to real, meaningful change. It gives people a chance to be heroic in their everyday lives, as well as reacquaint themselves with the pleasure of hard work and its rewards.” – Alison Leigh Lilly, on the topics of warfare and harvest, at her Meadowsweet and Myrrh blog.

Jason Mankey

Jason Mankey

“Given that some of Wicca’s ritual structure (and terminology) owe a great deal to Freemasonry it’s not surprising that initiation plays an important part in many Wiccan traditions. Initiation is in the very DNA of Modern Witchcraft, but it’s also possible that Wicca has grown in ways that have taken it further and further from its origins. It’s hard to picture Gerald Gardner imagining just how many Wiccan traditions have evolved (and prospered) since the 1950′s. Wicca launched a full-scale Pagan Revival that shows no signs of stopping, we’ve come an incredibly long way in just 70 years.

We’ve reached another fork in the road and with it new questions. Is Wicca a spirituality ready to take its seat at the table with the other great religions of the world? Or is it a secret society with a complex set of rituals? If it’s a faith then it’s subject to all the watering downs and bastardizations that have befallen (and often benefitted) all of the world’s other religious paths. I understand The Wicca who walk the path of the initiate and bemoan the changes that have taken place in the last couple of decades, but I also see the hearts who have benefitted from that change. Who am I to tell them they don’t have a seat at the table?” – Jason Mankey, at his Patheos blog, on the nature of Wicca.

John Beckett

John Beckett

“For too many people in our society, “Pagan” still means “Other.” That must change. That’s why I’ve always blogged under my own name and posted announcements with my contact info (and I’ve never had a problem come from it). More recently I’ve come to understand that’s not enough. At this point in my life I have a fair amount of privilege and that privilege carries responsibilities.

I have an obligation to put a name and a face on “Pagan” for friends and family who’ve never (knowingly) met one. I have an obligation to articulate what I believe, what I do and why. I have an obligation to be out, not just for myself (though that’s important by itself) but for Kyrja Withers and for everyone else who fears they will be targeted as the Other if their religion becomes known.

Some day, no one will care what god or goddess you do or don’t pray to, only that you conduct yourself with integrity and compassion. Until then, we need Pagan Coming Out Day.” - John Beckett, a Druid and UU, on the importance of Pagan Coming Out Day.

Alley Valkyrie. Photo by Rob Sydor.

Alley Valkyrie. Photo by Rob Sydor.

“I’m asking you for a 24-hour moratorium on violating the civil rights of the homeless. Try it for just one day. One day in which you don’t wake anyone up at night for sleeping, one day in which you don’t arrest anyone for existing in public, one day in which you don’t needlessly harass and intimidate kids on the park blocks. Just one day. 

In that one day, two beautiful things will happen. You will experience the reality of actually “protecting and serving” without oppressing, abusing, or disenfranchising anyone, and I will experience the reality of sleeping in, soaking in some sun, playing my ukulele, taking a walk by the river, drinking an ample amount of quality beer, and watching old reruns of Star Trek: The Next Generation without having to worry that I’m about to get a text or a phone call from someone that’s on the wrong side of your “enforcement”.” – Alley Valkyrie, a Pagan and homelessness activist, in a plea to local law enforcement.

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

Pagan Community Notes is a series focused on news originating from within the Pagan community. Reinforcing the idea that what happens to and within our organizations, groups, and events is news, and news-worthy. My hope is that more individuals, especially those working within Pagan organizations, get into the habit of sharing their news with the world. So let’s get started!

Support in the Wake of Sandy: Pagan author and teacher T. Thorn Coyle and Solar Cross Temple have started a FirstGiving page to support Miriam’s Kitchen in Washington DC. The money for the campaign will help Miriam’s Kitchen buy sleeping bags, warm clothes, hypothermia kits and other necessities, along with feeding people, as they do all year long, but which is especially important in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

storm fundraiser

Solar Cross Temple will be coordinating locally with David Salisbury of Firefly House, who volunteers at Miriam’s Kitchen. If this campaign is successful, and raises its goal in a week, Solar Cross Temple will start another campaign to help food banks and/or first responders in New Jersey and NYC next week. They have currently raised 25% of their goal, and this could be an excellent joint statement from the Pagan community in response to the hardships and tragedies many on the East Coast are currently facing.

Cherry Hill Seminary Spring Symposium Features Historian Ronald Hutton: Online Pagan learning institution Cherry Hill Seminary has announced that they will be partnering with the University of South Carolina to co-host a symposium featuring scholar Ronald Hutton, author of “The Triumph of the Moon:A History of Modern Pagan Witchcraft,” as their keynote speaker.

Good Hutton Pic

Ronald Hutton

“Sacred Lands and Spiritual Landscapes will take place on the USC campus in this old southern capital.  The agenda includes presentations by Hutton, CHS’ own Wendy Griffin, and Jonathan Leader, chair of the USC Dept. of Archaeology, and South Carolina’s State Archaeologist. This is an unprecedented opportunity to meet and engage in discussion with an international figure such as Hutton, an English historian who specializes in the study of Early Modern Britain, British folklore, pre-Christian religion and contemporary Paganism.”

The symposium will take place April 13, 2013, on the USC campus in Columbia, South Carolina. Scholars wishing to participate have until January 1st, 2013 to submit papers. More information will be posted to the Cherry Hill Seminary website in the near future. We’re hoping that a Wild Hunt reporter will be able to attend and report on the symposium.

Faith, Fern & Compass Raise Awareness & Funds for Hunger and Homelessness: The podcast Faith, Fern, & Compass, which focuses on nature spirituality, ecology, art, and other topics, and is hosted by Alison Leigh Lilly and Jeff Lilly, announced that they will be donating half of the first month’s subscription fee for all new Pro Members to the National Coalition for the Homeless through November 18th.

FFC 215 580x181

“On this week’s Halloween/Samhain Special podcast episode, Jeff and I explore the disturbing and tragic stories that homeless children in Miami pass along among themselves about the war between angels and demons, and the role of Bloody Mary as the fearsome, heartless murderer of children, who causes even trusted adults to betray them. We hope to help bring some awareness to the problem of homelessness in this country, especially in the wake of Hurricane Sandy which, like most natural disasters, impacts the disenfranchised and impoverished hardest of all.

For everyone who signs up to become a Pro Member between Oct. 31 (today) and Nov. 18, FF&C will donate half of their first month’s subscription to the National Coalition for the Homeless, to help spread awareness and support those who work for the cause of social justice. We’re also encouraging our current listeners to donate to National Homeless or another homelessness or disaster relief charity of their choice.”

More information can be found at the Faith, Fern, & Compass site.

In Other Community News:  

  • Patrick McCleary of the blog Pagandad is launching a new series of ebooks entitled “Voices from the Grain” that is “devoted to the idea of getting the voices of Pagan men out there.” Their first edition is scheduled to be released in December with the topic being Yule.
  • The Heathen Anarchist collective Circle Ansuz Bay Area Leidang has issued a press release about their recent leafleting and postering near Counter-Currents Publishing, a white supremacist publisher. Quote: “As Heathens, San Franciscans, and human beings we are outraged by the presence of this mouthpiece for backward, bigoted beliefs in the city.”
  • The 5th Israeli Conference for the Study of Contemporary Religion and Spirituality, organized by the Program in Religious Studies at Tel Aviv University, has announced its call for papers. The conference will take place May 28th and 29th, 2013.  Featured Keynote Lectures will include Prof. Ronald Hutton (University of Bristol, UK), Prof. Jeffrey J. Kripal (Rice University, US) and Prof. James R. Lewis (University of Tromso, Norway). Deadline for proposals is December 15 2012 (email link for proposals).

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

Pagan voices is a new 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.

Donald Michael Kraig

“Merely because something works for you doesn’t mean it will work for others. However, it is quite possible that if something works for you either that method or something similar may very well work for others. If it is shared in that light, that’s great. If you share what you’ve learned for others to try and, if necessary, change as needed, that too is great. Similarly, if someone shares something they’ve developed and that works for them so you can try it out and perhaps modify it so it will work for you, that’s excellent.

Problems develop when someone believes that because something worked for them it must work for everyone and can only be done the way they want it. That entire approach, in my opinion, runs counter to the very concept of the New Age. And yet there are people for whom something worked who market their “discovery” claiming it will work for others. They have no evidence to support it, but since it’s “New Age” it must be true, right? And if you buy the product or service and it doesn’t work for you, the fault isn’t that the seller moved from the specific (it works for me) to the general (it should work for you) without any reason to do so. No, it’s because you, the consumer, aren’t spiritually advanced enough to make it work.”Donald Michael Kraig, from a blog post at Llewellyn Worldwide entitled “Where the ‘New Age’ Goes Wrong.”

Ivo Dominguez, Jr.

Ivo Dominguez, Jr.

“Agora is the ancient greek word for the gathering-place or marketplace that was also the center of political and spiritual life in a city. Pagan businesses and the activities that they help to foster, can act as our agora. Within our community the idea of thinking globally but acting locally is very popular. I know many pagans that go to great lengths to eat locally grown food, which is a good thing. Please extend the concept of acting locally to supporting your local pagan businesses. Pagan bookstores and businesses are an endangered species. They are endangered because of thoughtless actions fueled by the need for convenience. I mentioned at the beginning of this post that running a bookstore is a labor of love. That is true, but I can also tell you that it takes money to keep the doors open. Unless more pagans choose to use their money locally at pagan businesses, then our money shall line the pockets of large corporations and feed their Gods. Minority communities only begin to thrive when they fully invest in themselves first.”Ivo Dominguez Jr, from his blog post “The Once and Future Agora.”

Alison Leigh Lilly with a very big tree.

Alison Leigh Lilly with a very big tree.

“Natural polytheism draws on an ecological approach to theology to build upon the insights of hard polytheism, challenging us to deepen our relationships with the gods by asking more challenging questions about their relationships with us, with each other and with the natural world. Natural polytheism does not reject hard polytheism any more than natural history excludes hard sciences like biology, geology or chemistry by embracing ecology. But it does draw connections and invite us to think about the world holistically, as systems nested within systems, wholes nested within wholes. An ecological perspective can deepen our scientific understanding of the world by moving us beyond the questions “What is it?” and “How does it work?” to the more challenging questions, ‘How come?’ and ‘What for?’” -  Alison Leigh Lilly, from her recent blog post: “Natural Theology: Polytheism Beyond the Pale”

P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

“Are British Traditional Witchcraft practitioners in the U.S. practicing an “indigenous” religion? No, not really, I don’t think, because by definition, that religion was created and grew up in a land and a culture quite different from the U.S. The same is true of any “ethnic” polytheism that is practiced in the U.S., Canada and Australia, as well as many other places. At very best, those various ethnic polytheisms and the forms of modern Paganism that they have inspired are diasporic religions, but they are not indigenous religions unless they are practiced in the land which gave them—and the cultures who practiced them—their original shape.”P. Sufenas Virius Lupus, from a Patheos column entitled “The Indigeny Debate.”

Teo Bishop

Teo Bishop

“These thoughts occur to me as I continue with my ADF Dedicant Path studies. I feel like I’m studying to be one thing, but the stuff around me suggests that I’m something quite different. I’m studying to be an ADF Druid working within a Pan-Celtic hearth, as it were, but my stuff indicates that I’m really quite eclectic. This isn’t a crisis by any means, but it is something to consider. What does our stuff say about us? And, how much stuff do we need in order to do our religion?” – Teo Bishop ponders his stuff in a post entitled “How Much Stuff Does One Pagan Need?”

T. Thorn Coyle

T. Thorn Coyle

I honor the ancestors and those who are to come.

I honor this moment and the spacious reach of soul.

I am placed between the rising and the setting sun,

The warm and the cool.

I stand between the great above and this firm earth.

Here I am. Awakened to this day.

- T. Thorn Coyle, from her poem “Equinox Morning: Some Thoughts After Waking.”

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

Pagan Community Notes is a series focused on news originating from within the Pagan community. Reinforcing the idea that what happens to and within our organizations, groups, and events is news, and news-worthy. My hope is that more individuals, especially those working within Pagan organizations, get into the habit of sharing their news with the world. So let’s get started!

New Alexandrian Library Lays Foundation: At the end of 2011 the New Alexandrian Library officially broke ground on their physical space in Delaware. A project that hopes to create “a library worthy of its namesake” focused on esoteric knowledge, mystical and the spiritual writings from many traditions, and the “ history of our magickal communities,” the NAL project has already started building an impressive collection, one that includes the recent acquisition of rare Dion Fortune paintings gifted by Dolores Ashcroft Nowicki. Now, the foundation for the dome structure has been recently completed, and PNC-Washington DC interviews Assembly of the Sacred Wheel (NAL’s sponsoring organization) Elder Michael Smith about the process.

New Alexandrian Library foundation.

New Alexandrian Library foundation.

“…sacred waters from around the world, sacred protective objects and crystals charged for this very purpose at our Between The Worlds gatherings’ main rituals in 2000, 2004, and 2007 are placed throughout the foundation. This work was designed to root all of the power and intention we have raised to support the Library over the years. Additional ritual and magickal work will be done at each step of the construction. The specific dome construction allows us to place objects and implant workings into each seam between the triangles – to help the project grow and prosper each step of the way.”

Smith says the project is on-schedule, and construction of the dome kit will begin soon. You can receive regular updates on the library’s progress at their Facebook page. As always, monetary donations, no matter how small, are needed to make this happen. One can donate through the NAL’s website or through the Causes campaign ‘Support the New Alexandrian Library.’ You can read all of The Wild Hunt’s coverage of the New Alexandrian Library project, here.

Circle Minister Joins Eagle Scout Protest: Due to an ongoing policy of the Boy Scouts of America “not granting membership to open or avowed homosexuals,” one recently affirmed by its leadership, a growing number of Eagle Scouts, the organization’s elite members, have been resigning their membership and sending back their badges and medals. One of that growing number is Bob Paxton, a Circle Sanctuary Minister, who was interviewed yesterday by Pagan Newswire Collective Managing Editor Cara Schulz about his decision.

“I can say that as a Pagan my experience as a Boy Scout directly lead to my choosing the Pagan spiritual path.  Experience that I had in the woods, experiences I had in summer camps, experiences I had in some of the ceremonial occasions very much led me in that direction [...] We are hoping to accomplish, not only by sending the letters but by publicly sending the letters a public shaming such that if nothing else it’s my hope that down in Irving, Texas as these letters and these medals come in with the mail delivery every day that somebody opens them up, puts them on a table, and takes a look at this and says, “You know, something’s wrong here. We have to do something else. People that we nurtured up to the verge of manhood are coming back to us now from 10, 20, 30, 50 years and saying no, you can’t be like this.”  If that doesn’t stand a chance of changing their hearts, I don’t know what will.”

As Paxton notes, his Pagan experience began as a Boy Scout, and no doubt many Pagans nurtured a reverence for nature in a scouting organization. Today, groups like the Spiral Scouts attempt to recreate the scouting experience from with a Pagan lens. Paxton says that as a Pagan minister, and an LGBT ally, he felt the national organization ratifying the exclusion of gay men allows a culture of bullying that could not go unanswered. No doubt other Pagan Eagle Scouts are considering the same steps that he has.

Nature Spirituality Podcast Interviews Former Sierra Club Director: Tomorrow, the Faith, Fern, and Compass podcast, hosted by Alison Leigh Lilly, and her husband Jeff Lilly, will post part one of an interview with Former National Director of the Sierra Club Melanie Griffin in a two-part special.

Melanie Griffin

Melanie Griffin

“After a wildly successful premiere season during which the new podcast hosted by Alison Leigh Lilly and her husband Jeff Lilly grew in leaps and bounds reaching listeners worldwide, Faith, Fern & Compass celebrates with a two-part special exploring the changing face of environmentalism and the growing interest in nature-centered spirituality. Former National Director of the Sierra Club Melanie Griffin has been a leader in the national environmental movement for more than 25 years; as an activist and lobbyist, she has been instrumental in the passing of ground-breaking legislation to protect the environment and regulate industry in the United States. In an exclusive interview with FF&C co-host Jeff Lilly, she shares personal reflections on her experiences working for the Sierra Club, exploring the ways that science, technology, the economy and social media has shaped the conversation about ecology and environmentalism over the past few decades, and how her own faith has played an important role in her commitment to the planet.”

Lilly has long been a champion of environmental concerns within the context of modern Paganism, and is the coordinator/editor of the Pagan Newswire Collective’s No Unsacred Place group blog, which explores the relationships between religion and science, nature and civilization from a diversity of modern Pagan perspectives. Griffin says she “sees the divine most strikingly in the natural world,” and this should be a must-listen program for anyone interested in how our faith, and environmental activism can intersect. You can subscribe to Faith, Fern, and Compass on iTunes, or download directly from their site.

In Other Community News:

That’s all I have for now! Speaking of Pagan community events, I’ll be at Faerieworlds this weekend, and hope to share with you the many Pagan elements of this wonderful event. So stay tuned! As always, if you have community news you’d like to share, please drop me a line.

Pagan Community Notes is a series focused on news originating from within the Pagan community. Reinforcing the idea that what happens to and within our organizations, groups, and events is news, and news-worthy. My hope is that more individuals, especially those working within Pagan organizations, get into the habit of sharing their news with the world. So let’s get started!

Lightning Across the Plains Organizer Accused of Misappropriating Funds: PNC-Minnesota reports on the case of Mark Ludwig Stinson, Chieftain of Jotun’s Bane Kindred, which hosts Lightning Across the Plains, the Midwest’s largest Heathen gathering. Stinson is accused of misappropriating funds belonging to his mother, and has been suspended from his job as a police officer pending the outcome of the investigation. In addition to interviewing prominent Heathens for reaction to these allegations, PNC-Minnesota also spoke with a criminal defense attorney about the murky nature of caretaker misappropriation charges.

Mark Ludwig Stinson

Mark Ludwig Stinson

“[Criminal defense attorney Tony] Armandii says while the sums involved may seem like a large amount and the checks made out for cash appear damning, it could all be explained at the trial.  ”When you have someone in a care-taker role there are expenses to pay and many reasons why a person would write checks out to cash.  Was the defendant reimbursing himself for bills he took care of?  Did the mother tell him it was OK for him to use funds to repair his car since the car was used for running errands?  Other questions are what is the mental condition of the mother?  Are there family members with a vested interest in making accusations?”  Armandii was careful to note he was speaking generally about cases involving alleged abuse of power of attorney and not about this specific case.”

For the moment, the Heathen community seems to be withholding judgment until after the trial, with Troth Redesman David Carron noting that “these charges are particularly shocking and unsettling as we are supposed to be a family religion. [Stinson] himself has acknowledged this via his many words. It is my understanding that he has claimed his innocence, that the press has only seen one side and that this is a family squabble. I hope for his sake that he is correct.” PNC-Minnesota and The Wild Hunt will continue to follow this story as it develops.

The Tale of Teo Bishop and Matt Morris: Today, on his blog Bishop in the Grove, Teo Bishop revealed that he was known to the world by another name, Matt Morris. This isn’t so unusual, many Pagans use “Craft” names or pseudonyms when dealing with the public for a number of different reasons. What makes Teo’s revelation noteworthy is that Matt Morris is something of a well-known pop star, who has collaborated with Justin Timberlake and Christina Aguilera, and co-written songs that have been sung by Reba McEntire and Kelly Clarkson.

Teo/Matt on David Letterman

Teo/Matt on David Letterman

“At some point, we must all come out. We must all be honest about how we’ve compartmentalized to excess, how we’ve created new masks — either out of fear or in an attempt to approximate privacy in a increasingly non-private society. We must recognize when it is time to integrate all of our disparate parts (T. Thorn Coyle might say that it is always time to integrate). [...] my coming out is not simply an act of confession about another online identity. I’m choosing transparency at this time because I believe doing so may be the only way I can move forward in both my music and my writing. I was never two people — I was always, only one. There’s no sense in pretending otherwise. My nom de plum has become my legal name, and my given name a stage name, but the person beneath has remained throughout the process.”

I think this public integration by Teo of his two identities is wonderful, and very brave. I’ve had the pleasure of sitting down and chatting with Teo on a couple different occasions, and found him to be an intelligent, well-spoken, thoughtful, and caring human being who takes his faith and faith-journey very seriously. Anyone who reads his blog can tell that his involvement with modern Paganism, and Druidry in particular, is deep and well-considered, and he has earned his place as an up-and-coming voice for our movement. I wish him well, and know that this change will ultimately benefit both Teo Bishop and Matt Morris. As for those who feel dumb for not recognizing Teo sooner, I have the perfect defense: I’m a Goth.

Erynn Rowan Laurie in Ireland: Erynn Rowan Laurie, author of “A Circle of Stones” and “Ogam: Weaving Word Wisdom,” is currently in Ireland on a week-long spiritual pilgrimage sponsored by The Sisterhood of Avalon. At her blog, Searching For Imbas, Laurie talks a bit about what the trip will entail.

Erynn Rowan Laurie and some anonymous blogger.

Erynn Rowan Laurie and some anonymous blogger.

“From our opening ritual at Brigid’s Well to our closing ritual at the Hill of Uisneach, we will be immersed in the history and myth of Ireland. We’ll explore ourselves and our connections with the sacred through incubatory work and meditations, through rituals for Brigid and Airmed, and through hearing traditional storytellers telling the stories of place and of deities and heroes. Each day, we’ll explore new places and new themes, encountering sacred landscape and learning ways to connect ourselves not only to the land of Ireland, but to our own sacred landscapes in the places we live.”

You can read updates of her journey at her LiveJournal page, which will entail a European adventure after the Irish pilgrimage has finished.

In Other Community News:

That’s all I have for now! Are there blogs, podcasts, or other Pagan news sources you think I’m missing out on? Please leave links in the comments, and if there’s news in your community be sure to share it!

Pagan voices is a new 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.

Alison Leigh Lilly with a very big tree.

Alison Leigh Lilly with a very big tree.

“The process of cultivating real integrity is sometimes messy and sometimes ugly. Fostering community is not about learning to be a good actor or an appreciative audience, but about learning how to take the messiness and clumsiness and ugliness in stride and discover the beauty within all the chaos. It’s about learning to recognize the grace of intimacy and the power of integrity, when inner experience and outer appearance are brought into more authentic communication with each other.” – Alison Leigh Lilly, from her recent blog post: “Why Pagans Don’t Respect Their Elders: Sincerity, Competence and Integrity.”

P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

“This year, I’m mindful not only of the “founding fathers” of the United States, but also of the founding mothers and all the women who could be reckoned among them: Martha Washington, Abigail Adams, Dolly Madison, and–though some might think it is controversial to suggest this, I don’t think she should be forgotten–Sally Hemmings, as well as any number of other women whose names we know and whose stories we remember as well as those we’ll never know. Diva Matidia, Diva Plotina, and Diva Sabina were all as important to Hadrian and to his principate as Trajan–if not even more so, in certain respects–and it thus seems amiss to me, with the coincidence of July 4th as the birth of Matidia and the “birth” of the U.S. to forget that there were mothers as equally as there were fathers as part of that birth.” – P. Sufenas Virius Lupus, from “Dies Natalis Divae Matidiae,” at the Aedicula Antinoi blog.

Teo Bishop

Teo Bishop

“From the perspective of this mortal man, I see grace as a process of surrendering to all which one does not have control over. As powerful a mage as you may become through your religious work, I don’t believe one can control everything. Your will, after all, is not the only will. I do not see one needing to connect grace to a particular theology, or to a single deity, in order for it to have relevance. An atheist, for example, might experience grace by remembering and recognizing that they fit within a greater, more complicated, more interconnected ecosystem. Grace occurs in conjunction with that kind of humility.” – Teo Bishop, “Since When Were Will and Grace Pagan?”

Beth Lynch spinning.

Beth Lynch spinning.

“I am becoming more like Frigga than I would, at one time, ever have cared to admit. Among other things, Frigga is a goddess of fertility (which can be interpreted both in terms of actual childbearing and as creative power), and although I am past my childbearing years (thankfully!) like Her I am a maker, a crafter, an artisan. I am also a Heathen entrepreneur who offers my creations for sale to the public, spends a good deal of time learning how to market them, and on top of all of this holds down (for the time being, anyway) a regular day job. In my quest to understand Frigga the closest model I have found is that of the early medieval European queens. Rather than meek, retiring adornments for their husbands, these queens were working women, adept at running a royal household and usually a whole cottage industry (consisting of spinning, weaving and stitching) besides. Like Frigga, I am a busy woman, sometimes too busy. Yet I certainly can find time to write about Her here, and the ways in which She has helped to transform my life, both in terms of the textile arts that I love and in my understanding not only of myself but of fate (or, as we northern pagans call it, Wyrd).” – Beth Lynch, “Confessions of a Pagan Handspinner,” from Witches & Pagans Magazine.

Zan Fraser (Second row, far left) at NYC's Pride Parade.

Zan Fraser (Second row, far left) at NYC's Pride Parade.

“I have always appreciated the efforts of Pagan Culture (encountered by me, at least, since the early ’90s) to accommodate itself to its Gay (LGBTQ) members; no-where has this been more evident than in the efforts of PantheaCon and PSG to bridge the gap between Hetero-Normative Pagans, and LGBTQ Pagans (Queer Pagans, to borrow an NYC term from the early ’90s); which efforts have been scrupulously reported here, and elsewhere. It may be that we are “in” this together, as both Gays, Pagans, Gay Pagans, and Pagans Supportive of Both Gay and Pagan Rights- if the Fundie Evangelicals mean to call down “Homosexuality” as “Pagan,” and as “Pagan” leading to “Homosexual.” In which case, the willingness of Pagans to stand As One by their Gay Co-Religionists, is all the more remarkable.”Zan Fraser, a contributor to The Juggler, from a comment posted to The Wild Hunt.

Lupa

Lupa

“Our vision is blocked by the overwhelming problems of the now. This calls for a more active use of our imaginations. How many of us temporarily escape the problems of our lives through a bit of daydreaming? This is a good practice, provided it isn’t done to excess. Giving our brains a break allows us to come back to our problems more fully and well-rested. And we can do the same with environmental problems by taking time off to just focus on what a green future could look like.” – Lupa, “The Power of Positive Greening,” from the No Unsacred Place blog.

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

The Nonprofit Quarterly points to a recent Patheos.com piece I seemed to have overlooked. In it Alison Leigh Lilly, coordinator of the No Unsacred Place blog, looks at the challenges faced by religious nonprofits in Britain and the United States.

“The rights and freedoms granted to religious practitioners in the U.S. and the UK are not, however, necessarily guarantees that they will also have access to all of the same benefits available to more mainstream faiths—benefits such as nonprofit status, state-recognized holidays, prison and military chaplaincy, clergy who are legally empowered to perform marriages and burials, and so on. Although both British and American law provides freedom fromdiscrimination for practitioners of all religions, the freedom to participate fully and equally in civil society is something that rests on a foundation of legal precedent. For many religious minorities, securing the latter means buckling down to a long process of challenging numerous individual instances of oversight and exclusion in order to push past the tipping point from legal tolerance into social acceptance and support.”

The article finishes with a passionate call for Pagan engagement.

“…as modern Pagan communities continue to grow worldwide, it becomes increasingly important for Pagans to participate in the legal negotiations for increased recognition and acceptance within larger mainstream society. As Pagan religious organizations grow and expand the social conception of what qualifies as a “church,” our covens, groves, temples, and sacred centers will gain increasing freedom from federal regulation. As cultural acceptance for Pagan religions continues to increase, outdated and convoluted laws such as those in the IRS tax code will be ever more likely to be challenged and overturned. Yet such change depends largely on the legal precedents set by those willing to confront these laws through the legislative and judicial processes. To gain religious liberty, the law itself must be confronted, expanded, and re-imagined from the inside out.”

I highly recommend reading the entire article. You may also enjoy the guest-post Alison wrote for The Wild Hunt, “Being a Druid is Good for Society, Says UK Charity Commission”, which analyzes the The Druid Network (TDN) being granted charitable status by the Charity Commission of England and Wales.