Archives For Damh the Bard

A Blessed Lughnasadh

Heather Greene —  August 3, 2014 — 1 Comment

This week, many modern Pagans are observing the summer festival of Lughnasadh, also called Lammas or Lughnassa. One of the yearly fire festivals, Lughnasadh marks the first of three harvest celebrations and, traditionally, honors Lugh, the Celtic god of light and many talents, and his foster-mother, Tailtiu. The day is often celebrated with feasting, songs, games, thanksgiving and the reaping of the first fruits or grains of the season.

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[Photo Credit: Sybarite48, Flickr/CC]

This Friday night when I break bread with my coven and give thanks to the Earth and the gods for Summer’s first fruits I won’t be dwelling on whether or not the celebration of Loaf-mass is a Christian or a Pagan one. I will be reflecting on the chain of beliefs that links me to my nominally Christian ancestors in the Middle Ages and my pagan ancestors before them. Over the last two thousand years some have tried to break that chain but the sabbats have always been far too strong for that. – Jason Mankey, “First Fruits: A Sorta Christian Feast,” From Raise the Horns.

In Druidry, Lughnasadh is a time for the community to come together in celebration and playful competition, to take a moment to rest from the labor of the summer’s work in the fields and enjoy the first fruits of that labor, to show off the skills and talents that we’ve been cultivating all year. The gods know, we spend enough time in this society with our noses to the grindstone! Even when that work is joyful and fulfilling… it’s still work. So this holy day is a time for playfulness and relaxation, a moment to pause during what is for many the peak of summer’s heat — to seek the relief of cool shade, sweet mead, strong beer and the cheer of good company. – Alison Leigh Lilly, “Lughnashadh, Honoring the Harvest Through Grief and Gratitude,” From her blog.

The long days of Summer are beginning to draw in as we make our way towards Autumn. The first harvest is being collected as the golden fields give up their gift of abundance and John Barcleycorn is cut down at the knee. I always have mixed emotions at Lughnasadh. On one hand this festival is really the culmination of what it’s all about. On the other hand for me this marks the height of Summer, between Lughnasadh and the Autumn Equinox the temperature drops, Autumn begins, and the nights start to get noticeably longer. I’m a child of Summer, and you won’t hear me complaining about the heat we’ve been enjoying, so lengthening nights are never something I look forward to. But let’s stay in the moment and honour the gifts of the Earth, honour the falling corn … -Damh, the Bard, “A Tale For Lughnasadh

Owl Grove performing Lughnasadh Ritual [Photo Still: Sacred Sites Ireland]

Owl Grove performing Lughnasadh Ritual [Photo Still: Sacred Sites Ireland]

In many ways what Lugnasadh marks is the start of harvest season – soft fruit will come in over the end of summer, apples and nuts come later in the year through to the final, bloody harvest of Samhain when livestock were traditionally slaughtered. The exact process of your harvesting will vary depending on landscape, climate, that year’s weather, traditions and so forth. It is in many ways the unpredictable nature of harvest that underpins the earth based religions. We do not know what we will get from one year to the next and can only hope the gods will be kind to us. – Nimue Brown, “The Grain Harvest,” Pagan Square.

The Waters and the Wild is the title of the night-time parade on Sunday 3rd August. Inspired by the famous Yeats poem The Stolen Child and the feast of Lughnasadh, the spectacle will see the ancient Celtic deity Lugh return to lure people away from their normal and structured present to a time and place of wild abandonment. To The Waters and The Wild will feature hundreds of costumed performers, nature-themed floats, special-effects and live music. The parade is expected to attract 30,000 spectators to Waterford’s medieval streets and is the result of three months of design and construction. – Waterford Today, “Tribute To Yeats At The Centre Of Ireland’s Biggest Street Parade” (The Waterford Spraoi International Street Arts Festival, 1st-3rd August)

It is harvest time. The fog has rolled in, a heavy blanket from the San Francisco Bay. It does this every year around this time. I give thanks for the harvest, for the fog, for Margot [Adler’s] life. My heart and mind are quiet. Waiting. I feel curious about what things are yet to come. May your harvest match in sweetness whatever may feel bitter. The scythe cuts all things down. But new things grow. – T. Thorn Coyle, “Sickle: Harvesting Life” From her blog Know Thyself

Happy Lughnasadh to all those celebrating this season.  And, to all of our friends in the Southern Hemisphere, a very happy Imbolc.

On Friday, June 13 as the full moon rose, the man called “the father of modern Witchcraft,” Gerald Brosseau Gardner, was officially honored with an national Blue Heritage Plaque. Whether the calendar and celestial alignment were right or whether it was just coincidence, the time had certainly come for the legendary Gardner to join Doreen Valiente in English historical immortality.

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[Photo Credit: Jane Thomson (Open Plaques donation) CC/ Wikimedia]

In June 2013, Doreen Valiente, called the “mother of modern Witchcraft,” was honored with one of these blue heritage plaques. It was affixed to her home at Tyson Place on Grosvenor Street in Brighton. Valiente became the first Witch to receive this honor as bestowed by the City of Brighton and Hove. This blue plaque was modeled on the English Heritage organization’s national project to mark, preserve and honor English history. The Blue Heritage Plaque “scheme” is one of its more notable projects and has been ongoing since 1866.

Nearly a year after Valiente’s ceremony and 130 years after his birth, Gardner has now become the second Witch to receive a blue heritage plaque. Funded wholly by donations to the Doreen Valiente Foundation and organized by the Centre for Pagan Studies (CPS), Gardner’s plaque was affixed to the home in which he lived in from 1938-1945. According to the CPS, “it was from this house he walked to his initiation into the New Forest Coven in 1939.”

John Belham-Payne, founder and director of the Centre for Pagan Studies (CPS), told the BBC that,”Gerald is one of those people who has been recognized nationally now because [his] name is included in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.” The inclusion of the plaque is a natural offshoot of that recognition. One signifier of this growing acceptance is the BBC’s expansive coverage of the plaque’s unveiling as well as a recent BBC radio interview with Belham-Payne.

The entire heritage event, from start to finish, has been a result of the cooperative efforts of the Centre for Pagan Studies (CPS), the Children of Artemis (COA) and the Doreen Valiente FoundationOn its fundraising page, the Foundation explains:

We are heading the campaign to have commemorative blue plaques placed where people who have shaped pagan history have lived or worked. These are landmark events [are] really wonderful in terms of promoting tolerance and raising awareness of how important the trailblazers of the past are, and also their relevance today, and how important it is to keep alive the work that they have done and to continue with it.

The Foundation managed the fundraising campaign that collected the needed funds it took to manufacture and install the blue heritage plaque. Donated funds also offset all associated costs of the daytime unveiling ceremony.

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Mill House where Gardner was initiated [Photo Credit: Damh the Bard]

The June 13 festivities began at 2 p.m. with attendees joining the organizers on a hilltop called “the crow’s nest.” Then everyone walked to Gardner’s home by way of the Mill House where he was first initiated. After the plaque was finally unveiled, attendees enjoyed refreshments and explored the grounds.

Before the Unveiling [Photo Credit: Damh the Bard]

Before the Unveiling [Photo Credit: Damh the Bard]

Ashley Mortimer, trustee of the Doreen Valiente Foundation, was on hand to greet visitors and talk about the importance of the Foundation and the blue heritage plaque campaign. The Doreen Valiente Foundation, along with the Centre for Pagan Studies, is charged with the protection and preservation of many modern Pagan “artefacts once owned by Gardner and Valiente.” One of these treasures is Gardner’s original Book of Shadows. As noted by Belham-Payne in the radio interview, this book will soon be on display in a new museum along with many other Gardner pieces.

At 4 p.m. the festivities moved to Highcliffe Castle. Tickets to the event cost £5 to cover the cost of facility rental. According to organizers, the celebratory evening event was completely sold-out.

Gardner’s biographer, Philip Heselton gave a reading and talk. In an interview with the BBC a few days prior, Heselton said:

[Gardner] wasn’t a religious pioneer. What he did was to publicize [Wicca] and write about it and he gradually became known through that and people made contact … He initiated quite a lot of people into the Wiccan culture. He felt it was important that it survived.

[Photo Credit: Damh the Bard]

[Photo Credit: Damh the Bard]

Also present at Highcliffe was Damh the Bard who performed his songs for the sold-out audience. Later that night he told The Wild Hunt that it was “a day to be proud of” adding:

It was an amazing day. Thinking back to the early 1990s when some Christian groups fabricated the satanic Child Abuse scandal; when the News of the World thought it acceptable to vilify Pagans in their now thankfully defunct rag; and now 20 years later we stand before Gerald Gardner’s house with the Deputy Mayor unveiling a blue plaque for the Father of Modern Witchcraft. We have come such a long way. This was a great day, not just for British Wiccans, but for Pagans of all Paths all over the world. One day we will be the ancestors, and what we do today will shape Paganism for many years to come.

Robin Taylor, the Pagan Federation‘s treasurer, was also in attendance at the ceremony. In retrospect, he said:

The unveiling of a blue plaque to Gerald Gardner on the site of the house in Highcliffe where he lived was not only a very happy occasion for all present, but also significant in the growing acceptance of Paganism in England. Pagans of many paths have a connection with Gerald and an appreciation of his achievements, and this event provided an opportunity to celebrate his life.

So on that “amazing day,” Friday the 13th 2014 on a full moon, Gerald Brousseau Gardner, the “father of modern witchcraft,” was honored on his 130th birthday with the unveiling of a commemorative blue plaque marking his contributions to both Pagan and English heritage.

But one question remains. As prompted by the Centre for Pagan Studies own Logo, who is next?

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[Correction 6-17-2014: This article was amended slightly to de-emphasize any suggested official involvement of the English Heritage organization. Although the plaques are listed on a community-based open plaque register linked to its site, the EH group was not involved with either the Valiente or Gardner Blue Plaques campaigns. These projects were solely the work of the Centre for Pagan Studies and associated organizations.]

 

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!

hexenfestHexenfest, a “festival of magick, music, and dance” is coming up on April 26th in Oakland, California. Featured musical performers include Ego Likeness, Pandemonaeon, Tempest and Nathaniel Johnstone, and Unwoman. The event will also feature dance performances from Anaar and Morpheus Ravenna, with DJing by Daniel Skellington. The event, now in its 3rd year, hopes to “create a San Francisco Bay Area festival that caters to the mythic imagination in a way that appeals to adults. Sensual and fierce, and willing to explore darker themes, Hexenfest seeks to awaken inner archetypes in all their aspects. To our knowledge, this is the first festival devoted specifically to the arts in the Neopagan revival. We believe that a culture’s art is both shaped by, and a shaper of, the identity of its people. As such, the inclusion of the arts in the Neopagan sphere is very important. As our young movement both rebuilds ancestral traditions and grapples with a modern identity, the arts will be essential to the legacy of our spiritual community.” Were I in the Bay Area of California I would surely be there. You can buy tickets to Hexenfest online.

Alyxander Folmer

Alyxander Folmer

Last week two different essays, from two different Heathens, tackled the issue of race, and racism, within modern Heathenry. First was from Alyxander Folmer, an anthropology student who wrote a piece for Patheos.com entitled “Drawing The Line – Heathens Against White Supremacists.” Quote: “Like it or not, there is a small segment of the modern Heathen community that not only buys into this kind of blatant racism, but co-opts our faith and uses our religion as an excuse to do so without having to admit that they ARE racist. These people twist the idea of ancestor veneration and cultural pride as a way to justify and mask their hate, as if using religious reasoning for their behavior somehow exempts them from the consequences of their actions. I refuse to allow them to abuse and dishonor our faith, our community, and our gods. We have the power to speak up and strip away that religious mask they wear. We CAN expose these people for what they are and show the world that they do NOT represent us.” Then, on Tumblr, the writer known as ‘Grumpy Lokean Elder’ posted a much-shared essay critiquing “Folkish” Heathenry. Quote: “You can be a very intelligent person, you can have the best intentions and not want to be racist at all, and when you’re starting out in Heathenry, Folkish recruiting can still hook you and reel you in.” Both of these essays come in the wake of talk at PantheaCon (featured in the most recent Elemental Castings podcast) that focused on racialist/white supremacist Paganisms. Is this all coincidence, synchronicity, or is the Heathen community gearing up for a new conversation on these issues?

FPGIn an update to Sunday’s story on controversy at Florida Pagan Gathering, Gavin and Yvonne Frost, the authors of “The Witch’s Bible” (reprinted  later as “The Good Witch’s Bible”) have posted a long response at their blog defending themselves. Quote: “If your group practices the Great Rite, then surely it is better to state that fact plainly than to hide behind euphemisms and try to blame others for things that those others have not done. And, surely, you do not have active members in your group under the age of 18. Living in the Craft means that you work daily to realize how sick and twisted are the ‘norms’ of the culture in which you find yourself.” It should be noted for clarity that the “Pagans For Change” group, in their public statements, never accused the Frosts of sexual impropriety, or illegal actions, only that they objected to their content on sexual initiations and didn’t wish for them to teach at FPG. Meanwhile, in the wake of the renewed debates and controversy over this issue, the Frosts have decided to not attend the upcoming Michigan Pagan Fest. What the long-term ramifications are of this decades-long issue within the Pagan community resurfacing once again remains to be seen.

In Other Pagan Community News:

  • PMPChannel and Green Egg/Five Rivers hosted a conversation on Friday with Jo Pax and Tzipora Katz. Quote: “Ariel Monserrat and Michael Gorman, the hosts of Green Egg/FiveRivers, have Jo Pax and Tzipora Katz join them on the air. Jo is the biological son of Kenny Klein and Tzipora is his ex-wife. The topic is a tense and emotional one, they will be talking openly and honestly about their experiences as Kenny Klein’s son and ex-wife.”
  • A new service, Pagan Broadcasting International, is starting to emerge. Quote: “While we’ve got a basic station begining to function, to turn this into a world-class Internet station will still take a bit of work – and a bit of money. So later this week, we’ll start a campaign to help fund the equipment  and software that it will take to make this happen. I haven’t decided exactly what form that campaign will take, but check back here for details!” Interested in helping out? They have a Facebook group.
  • Damh the Bard has a new songbook coming out on April 17th, “The Four Cornered Castle,” now available for pre-order. Quote: “This chord book contains the chords from my last three studio albums, The Cauldron Born, Tales from the Crow Man and Antlered Crown and Standing Stone. As with Songbook 1 there is no musical notation in the book – I don’t read music myself – but the chord shapes and locations within the lyrics will show you more about my writing process, and how to play the songs as I do. As with my last songbook, I hope you enjoy singing these songs around your camp fires, in your covens and groves, or simply on your own or with friends. Get strumming!”

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  • European Pagan-folk band Omnia’s new album “Earth Warrior” is out now and available for order from their website.  Quote: “OMNIA’s 14th independant production is a studio concept-album all about the Living Earth and the fight against her destruction by humanity containing 14 OMNIA compostitions written in varying acoustic-musick styles, from classical, country, bluesgrass, hard rock, jazz, native american,celtic-folk, Balkan all the way to OMNIA’s original PaganFolk.” For those of us in the United States, Omnia will be playing at Faerieworlds this Summer, and FaerieCon in November.
  • Star Foster has issued a call for participants in a book on doubt, belief, and spiritual struggle in polytheism. Quote: “I am writing this book because I think it will help people. If you have experienced a spiritual struggle, then I hope you will share your story to give others comfort and hope. I will be collecting stories until June 1, 2014.”
  • Happy 20th anniversary to Murphy’s Magic Mess on KZUM in Lincoln, Nebraska. Quote: “Thank you for all the well wishes as The Mess reaches 20 years on air. loved the ‘bumps’ musicians sent [and it] was a very fun show. We started with Buffy Sainte Marie’s “God is Alive, Magic is Afoot’ because that is the music with which I began my very first show. My how time flies. It doesn’t seem like 20 years.”
  • A few weeks back, I mentioned that The Temple of Witchcraft in Salem, New Hampshire would be holding a Spring Open House on April 6th. Now, you can see the pictures!

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.

Graham Harvey

Graham Harvey

“As I mentioned before my research among Pagans began serendipitously because I half-jokingly offered a session about Druids to a course on “contemporary religions” that was being developed. I think its true to say that my interest in Paganism began then. While I’d been at Stonehenge Free Festival from 1976 onwards, and while I joined in many efforts (by many means) to regain open access to Stonehenge in the 1980s, I didn’t have much to do with its religious or ritual activities. Even my first close encounters with Druids took place in their efforts to help people (like myself) being threatened by police hostility rather than in actual celebrations of midsummer sunrise, for instance. However, like many people, when I did become involved with Pagans (initially purely for research purposes) I found that much of what was going on had parallels with my previous interests. Perhaps this is obvious from the fact that I’d been hanging out as a young hippy (albeit one who thought he was a Christian) at Stonehenge Festival. To be clear, the festival was attractive as a place where all sorts of ideas and obsessions were shared, debated, experimented with. I found this to be part of what the first Pagans I spent significant time with were committed to. In addition to interests in more communal andanarchist ways of life than Thatcherism encouraged, I had also developed commitments to environmentalist and feminist perspectives and practices. So, again, finding that these themes played vital roles in the evolution of Paganism increased my interest both as a researcher and then as a newly self-identified Pagan.” – Graham Harvey, on how he started researching Pagans.

John Beckett

John Beckett

“For Pagans, talk of the Summerlands or Tir n’an Og or the Cauldron of Rebirth may be no comfort for someone who only knows their loved one is no longer with them. Instead, focus on what we know.  Someone was born, they lived, they loved, and they have died.  Death is not the opposite of life, death is part of life.  Birth is the transition from where ever we were before to this life; death is the transition from this life to whatever comes next.  We don’t have to debate what that before and nextare to recognize death as a natural transition. Death tells us to remember.  The mainstream culture is constantly telling us to forget, to move on to whatever is new and bright and shiny.  But when we remember the deceased, when we tell their stories and revisit the past, we honor them and we realize there are things worth preserving. That which is remembered lives.” – John Beckett, sharing some thoughts on death.

Sarah Veale

Sarah Veale

“The nature of magic in antiquity is a much varied thing. Not only do different practices get called magic, but the varying terminology for these activities makes it even harder to put such practices in a box. Furthermore, many practices get labelled such, not by those who practice them, but by other—often more powerful—observers who use such terms pejoratively. This is a point elaborated by Kimberly B. Stratton in an essay titled Magic Discourse in the Ancient World, which is included in the book Defining Magic: A Reader. (You can read the paper here at Academia.edu). Stratton disagrees with the view that there is a single magic in antiquity, especially when one takes into consideration the power-structures that define what constitutes magic. By trying to pin magic down to a single phenomenon, she argues, we ignore the social landscape that produced the so-called magical act in the first place.” – Sarah Veale, on the arbitrary appellation of magic in antiquity.

Damh the Bard

Damh the Bard

“There was a time in my life when I drew a card every single day. I drew the card to help me understand the flow of my day ahead – what was pulling in one direction, and maybe what was pushing toward another. At the time I was going through complete emotional turmoil, and this daily routine helped for quite a while. But then I found I was becoming more reliant on the reading, and also, maybe due to my psychological and emotional state at the time, I put too much onto the result each day. If my card was negative it would place me in an even worse mental state. I began to wonder if the mere act of drawing a card each day had such an effect on my own mood that it began to influence how I responded and acted during the day. So I stopped. I decided to take the power back and be in complete control of my day. If there were rocky waters ahead I would deal with them when my ship inadvertently sailed into them. It worked for me. By accepting, and by not knowing, I found my life actually became easier. I lived in the moment.” – Damh the Bard, sharing some thoughts on divination.

Deidre Hebert

Deidre Hebert

“So what sort of action is necessary for recovery? I think the first place we need to look at is what it is that we were using our substances and behaviors for. Almost all of us have some sort of reasons that kept us drinking or eating, or not eating, or using drugs or sex or whatever other behavior we may have used. We used these things to avoid feeling, to cover up those things that trouble us deeply. And in covering up our feelings, in continuously relying on something external, either chemical or behavioral, we give up something even more important – our wills. When we are controlled by our addictions, we don’t have the ability to choose not to use. Some of us give up the basic choices of whether or not to eat, or sleep or work. Some of us engage in things that most people in the world cannot understand – we become self-destructive; some of us engage in self-injury, some of us become suicidal. All of this is a loss of our own wills.” – Deidre Hebert, on addiction recovery as an active endeavor. 

P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

“Whether knowingly or not, the Olympic Games were re-founded in a legacy that not only honored the gods and heroes of the ancient world, but also one of the mythological first homoerotic relationships, and one of the most tragically conflicted heroic families of classical myth as well. Perhaps we should not be surprised that such controversies occur under the name of an event so tied to these figures that were heavy with bloodguilt. Of course, the Greeks never would have imagined any of the “Winter Olympics” events as even being possible or desirable, for gymnastics—the name itself indicating nudity—were done nude, whereas that would be impossible (or at least quite uncomfortable) for most of the events that will be showcased over the next few weeks. Athleticism and competition are certainly laudable in a variety of ways, and for all sorts of reasons that should appeal to many Pagans and polytheists. But, I’m sure Pelops and Poseidon are both equally amused and annoyed at the legacy of their actions as they play out on the international stage in Putin’s Russia in 2014. If it isn’t queer and polytheistic, it hardly deserves the name of ‘Olympic Games.'” – P. Sufenas Virius Lupus, on the queer and polytheist legacies of the Olympic games. 

Beth Lynch spinning.

Beth Lynch spinning.

“All day yesterday, we heard the sound of freezing rain striking the already-extant coating of ice, alternating with the steady drip drip drip of the ice melting.  I heard and saw a tree shift under the weight of the melting ice its needles were sloughing off. Today, there is the constant drip, drip, drip of ice melting—a good thing!  Our street is closed to traffic due to downed power lines, and our own power line still hangs suspended, halfway down; the electrician never came.  But we still have power—knock on wood.  I have no idea what tomorrow will bring, but at least we have bread and cheese, popcorn and toilet paper—and a pan of brownies.  Not to mention a dye pot filled with goodies—1k yards of yarn!–that I hand painted last night. If I try to visualize the season as a person, I see the Snow Queen, all jagged edges and robed in ice: Dame Holda in the Northern traditions, shaking her quilt to make the snow fall. And yet, with the latent scent of spring in the air She is more like Gerda, the frost giantess who melts in the embrace of Freyr, god of fertility and the harvest. There is the quiet, but also an undercurrent of anticipation, of waiting. One word for the strange season we’re experiencing right now? I pick cocoon: we are swathed in snow like white silk; yet, hidden beneath the surface, things are happening, developing, incubating.  And before long, the season will shift, and we will burst free.” – Beth Lynch, on Spring, interrupted.

Ivo Dominguez, Jr.

Ivo Dominguez, Jr.

“Aside from the technical difficulty related to the mechanics of the subtle bodies, there are many other reasons why important initiations and rituals work better with people gathered together. Our emotions and our physical senses have an important role to play in the effectiveness and integration of initiations and rituals. The impact of being supported and challenged by people who have taken the time to be present for a ritual is enormous. There is also a great deal of community building and weaving of connections that can only come when we can hear the intake of each other’s breaths and feel each other’s touch. I don’t think that I need to elaborate on why a few downloaded PDFs are no substitute for real training to prepare for an initiation. There are a multitude of spiritual and magickal workings that can be done from a distance that include but are not limited to: healings, spell work, cooperative efforts of separate individuals or groups, rituals held on the astral, etc. In fact, most of the covens in my Tradition have astral temples that among other things are used to do rituals when the members can’t physically gather together. Every full moon, I have at least two physical rituals that I take part in, as well as an ongoing working with teachers from other Traditions the takes place at a specified time in an astral temple. By the way, the ongoing working takes place in an astral temple that was first constructed when all of us could gather together physically.  Clearly I’m not opposed to astral ritual or workings at a distance, but I think it is important to consider the limitations before proceeding.” – Ivo Dominguez Jr., on doing rituals and initiations from a distance.

Morpheus Ravenna

Morpheus Ravenna

“I think Macha’s mythology can serve to remind us that all mythologies are collected images and stories, from traditions that necessarily contain huge amounts of variation, diversity, and that evolved over time. This is especially true of tribal-oriented societies like the ancient Celts, for whom national identity as ‘Irish’ or even ‘Celtic’ was probably far secondary to tribal identity, and we have to imagine that the attributes and stories of the Gods varied from tuath to tuath. We should never expect to be able to fit tribal Gods into consistent pantheons, with rational and consistent attributes, without overlap and blurring of functions and domains, or without theological paradox. Her story also forces us to contemplate the sources of our theological lore, and to explore all those questions about how we evaluate those sources: If we have lore purporting to describe mid-Iron age heroic sagas, written down by 8th-10th century Christians, how do we measure that against apparently conflicting lore about early Iron Age mythological literature, written down by 12th-13th century Christians? Against data from folk-stories about the history of the land? From early medieval annals of kings?” – Morpheus Ravenna, on mythology, lore, and how to encompass conflicting accounts.

Rhyd Wildermuth

Rhyd Wildermuth

“Looking at our relationship to place is a great way to see how the Progress Narrative affect our worldings.  I’ve mentioned this before, and I will say it again (and again)—those of us who live in the United States, if we are not of First Nation’s blood, are living on stolen land. This statement, when taken from a “modern,” disenchanted viewpoint, means only that the land we were living on was once stolen from others.  If we lean left in our political views, we might be inclined to attempt to mitigate that earlier crime or maybe experience a twinge of guilt about it all. But consider: just because the land was once stolen doesn’t mean it isn’t still stolen.  That theft is still with us, and not merely in a psychological or moral sense.  In the same way we wouldn’t expect a thief to claim that stolen property now belongs to her merely because she stole it last year, America’s founding crime continues without end.  The theft hasn’t ended–it’s continuous as long as the land hasn’t been returned, nor the victims given up their claim. Believing that the present isn’t continuous with the past, asserting that the present ismore advanced, more evolved and less primitive – that is, “exceptional” — functions as a way of disowning the acts we continuously participate in.” – Rhyd Wildermuth, on the past being a place we still inhabit. 

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.

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 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!

worldwide heathen census asatru norse mythology blog norsemythResults from the 2013 Worldwide Heathen Census have been posted at The Norse Mythology Blog. According to Dr. Karl Seigfried, who initiated the project, “the results will give at least an approximate answer to a question on the minds of many heathens: ‘How many of us are there?'” So what is the estimated number of Heathens worldwide based on the results? From the over 16,000 entires, Seigfried believes there to be around 36, 289 Heathens in the world. As for what this project signifies? According to Dr. Seigfried it is, quote, “a wonderful take-home message from the census is that, when there is something positive for everyone to work towards, the often furious disagreements between various branches of the heathen community can be temporarily put aside. I was very glad to see posts by and receive emails from people who don’t agree with my approach to mythology and heathenry, yet still took part in the census and urged their friends to do so, as well. I was very happy to see members of diametrically opposed heathen communities urge people to take part in the survey.” You can see all of my reporting on this project here. It should be interesting to see how Heathen organizations like The Troth react to the projected numbers.

RandyDavidRIP-1024x1024T. Thorn Coyle has posted a moving remembrance of Randy David Jeffers (aka Randy Sapp), a musician, magician, incense maker, and co-owner of San Francisco-area metaphysical shop The Sword and Rose (currently closed). Jeffers tragically died from wounds sustained in a fire on Christmas evening. Quote: “Randy Jeffers was as kind to me the day I showed up at The Sword and the Rose – age 18, fresh to San Francisco – as he was twenty years later, when my first book came out, and as he was years after that, whenever I stopped by. I didn’t see him as often in the later years as those early ones, but when I did, there was always something of interest to talk about as he carefully packaged blessed oils and fragrant incense. This one to the Faerie Queen. That one to Ganesh. This one to the Djuat. That, to Tetragrammaton. […] Every person who planned to visit San Francisco, looking for interesting places to go, I sent to the Sword and the Rose. People from many parts of the globe visited the shop. A hidden gem, tucked back behind two buildings and a small garden courtyard, fountain always burbling. Lit by a fire in winter. Warm or cool, depending on what was needed. Always hidden. If you didn’t know it was there, there was no way you could find it. Even people who had instructions sometimes missed the way inside. The shop is hardly big enough to hold much more than the rows of bottles filled with Randy’s art – everything blended and consecrated in sacred space. Magic. All of it. Just like Randy’s life.” Links to donate to his partner, injured in the fire, along with more remembrances, can be found at Thorn’s entry. What is remembered, lives.

304902_345967782158513_2076648666_nAfter last year’s successful event at PantheaCon in San Jose, Coru Cathubodua and Solar Cross Temple are teaming up again with Blood Centers of the Pacific to organize a blood drive in honor of, quote, “the Morrigan, your own Gods, or to help save a life.” To pre-register for the drive, simply head to this appointment form, and type “Pcon” into the top box to see available appointments. Here’s what Coru and Solar Cross had to say about the drive last year, which drew over 90 people: “Every three seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood. The Coru Priesthood and Solar Cross are hosting this blood drive as an act of kinship, hospitality and devotion to our community and to the Morrigan, Celtic Goddess of sovereignty, prophecy, and battle. We encourage all people to donate the gift of life, whether in the name of your own deities, the Morrigan or without devotional intent.” So if you can, sign up to be a Blood Hero!

In Other Pagan Community News:

  • Pagan singer-songwriter Sharon Knight writes in honor of her friend, Teresa Morgan, who died on December 26th. Quote: “Teresa was a trained magician. And honestly, I have no better explanation for why her death was so much more majestic than my father’s. She departed this world in an array of lights, shimmering blues and golds and whites. I began seeing these lights as soon as we got the phone call on Christmas night, and they lasted several days after her passing.” What is remembered, lives.
  • Journalist Beth Winegarner, whose new book “The Columbine Effect” explores how different teen pastimes got “caught in the crossfire” after the 1999 Columbine High School massacre, will be having her book launch, with reading and Q&A, at Bird & Beckett in San Francisco on January 13th. Quote: “Stop blaming teen violence on the wrong things–and…understand how Slayer, Satanism and Grand Theft Auto can be a healthy part of growing up.”
Selena Fox

Selena Fox

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!

AncestorsCoverThe Temple of Witchcraft and Copper Cauldron Publishing have announced the publication of a new anthology title: Ancestors of the Craft: The Lives and Lessons of Our Magickal Elders. First copies of the book were made available at the Temple’s annual Yule ritual, and will soon be made available at Amazon.com. Retailers can order copies through Copper Cauldron Publishing. Quote: “Modern pagans are heirs to a rich confluence of traditions from numerous pioneers in the realms of Spirit who have passed beyond the Veil. Ancestors of the Craft honors these ancestors, some widely known, others obscure, but no less deserving. A wide range of authors have contributed looks at important figures and elders in the history of the modern Witchcraft and Neo-pagan movements, some four dozen in all […] Authors include Jimahl di Fiosa (Talk to Me), Storm Faerywolf (The Stars Within the Earth), Elizabeth Guerra (Stewart Farrar: Writer On A Broomstick), Raven Grimassi (The Cauldron of Memory, Old World Witchcraft), Galina Krasskova (Exploring the Northern Tradition), Deborah Lipp (The Elements of Ritual), Shani Oates (Tubelo’s Green Fire), Gede Parma (Spirited), Christopher Penczak (The Temple of Witchcraft, The Mighty Dead), Matthew Sawicki (Witch and Famous), Kala Trobe (The Witch’s Guide to Life), and many more.” Should be an interesting read!

Grey_School_of_Wizardry_-_crestThe Grey School of Wizardry has opened a virtual world campus incorporating the Second Life platform as a part of its online magickal education program. “The implementation of a virtual campus was driven by student feedback and demonstrates our commitment to provide an engaging, inspiring learning environment for the magickally-minded. It provides us with new ways to share our knowledge, and offers a more personal, interactive, and magical setting for our students,” said Stacey Aaran Sherwood, Campus Director at the Grey School of Wizardry. “This new program is supplementary and purely voluntary, and does not in any way alter the web-based system of instruction that our faculty and students are accustomed to using.” Students who elect to enroll in the optional program benefit from real-time interaction with participating teachers and fellow students.  The Grey School of Wizardry is a tax exempt organization, and was founded in 2004 by Oberon Zell, a founder of the Church of All Worlds. You can read the entire press release, here.

Stonehenge

Stonehenge

I’ve mentioned Stonehenge’s new visitors center a couple times now, looking at what it wants to transmit to visitors of the famous stone circle, and the pushback from some UK Pagans over their decision to display human remains. Now, Pagan musician Corwen Broch has visited the new center, and shares some reflections at his blog. Quote: “I personally am not opposed to the display and retention of human remains providing they are displayed sensitively. In fact I’d go so far as to say I am in favour of the display of human remains as I feel they can be a tangible link to the lives of our ancestors in a way nothing else can. All that said however the remains at Stonehenge are not displayed sensitively. They are in the same cases as antler picks and reconstructed arrows which seems to symbolically reduce them to the status of inanimate objects rather than what was once the remains of a thinking feeling human being. One person’s bones in particular are wired together and displayed upright fixed to a board in a way that made me viscerally uncomfortable. It is extremely saddening to me that English Heritage did not take a middle way with these remains and at least abide by HAD’s best practice guidelines. The current lack of sensitivity seems almost calculated to prolong the controversy and the protestations and plays into the hands of those most opposed to the display of human remains whilst making it difficult for those of us in favour of display to defend English Heritage.” Despite these concerns, Broch says the structure has “vastly improved” from its previous iteration, and has no concerns apart from the manner in which human remains are presented.

In Other Pagan Community News:

The Circle Sanctuary Winter Solstice Pageant

The Circle Sanctuary Winter Solstice Pageant

  • Solstice songs! T. Thorn Coyle has uploaded a new (free) song for the season, called “Invictus (Solstice)” to her Bandcamp page. Quote: “This is once again my Solstice gift to you. It started out a poem, but wanted to simplify into a song. Just me and GarageBand, baby. Pay what you will. All money supports Solar Cross temple and our justice work.” In other Solstice song news, Damh the Bard has a song up for you too!
  • Performer Lyra Hill, daughter of Anne Hill (you may know her through her work with Reclaiming), has been featured in the People 2013 issue of the Chicago Reader. Anne Hill says of her daughter that “Lyra’s exploration of dreams through art challenges me to keep looking for new ways to bring the power of dreams into waking life. I hope she inspires you, too.” 
  • Cherry Hill Seminary is seeking an artist in residence. Quote: “Cherry Hill Seminary, provider of distance education for Pagan ministry, seeks candidates for an Artist in Residence. Candidates working in any medium and who wish to be directly engaged for a period of two years in support of the CHS mission of distance education for leadership, ministry and personal growth in Pagan and other Nature-Based spiritualities may obtain full details or apply at this link.” Compensation? “Visibility,” promotion from CHS, and a quarterly feature in the official newsletter.

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

Pagan Voices, like yesterday’s Pagan Community Notes, is a regular feature here at The Wild Hunt, one that seeks to highlight our voices, wisdom, debates, thought processes, and evolution in the public eye. If you enjoy this regular round-up, please consider donating to our Fall Funding Drive (and thank you to the over 80 supporters who have already donated). Now, onward…

LaSara Firefox Allen

LaSara Firefox Allen

“When I was 20 I was dancing naked or partially naked too. I was doing it at fire circle in the Pagan community. And you know what? I still got castigated. I was told the same things that Sinead is saying. I was also told, conversely, that if I wasn’t willing to put out I shouldn’t be such a tease. And all this by other women. Mostly women older than myself. I can recall so many times when these insults were hurled in my direction. Once a woman had been belly dancing at the fire circle, which was greeted with much laudation. And I, being the rabble-rouse I was, stripped down to my leather, thong underwear. Man, was there an uproar in the camp throughout the weekend. As women, most of us are maybe afraid of losing the pull of youth. Maybe any lashing out we are prone to has to do with some fear of losing the light that is shined on the young. Maybe we are sad and afraid about the loss of sexual power that most women experience as we age. Maybe much of our lashing out toward other women at any age, and of any age, is due to fear. Fear of loss. Fear of uncertainty. Fear of judgement. Fear of our own desires. Fear of the desires of others. Fear of physical danger. Fear of psychological danger. Emotional danger. These are tools of oppression. Weapons. And we use them on each other.” – LaSara Firefox Allen, on Miley Cyrus, women’s sexuality, and the many open letters opining on both.

T. Thorn Coyle

T. Thorn Coyle

“Saturday I heard the news the man had died. I also heard something that deepened my disturbance: across the country, in Houston, another man had doused himself with gasoline and prepared to set himself alight. People got to him before he could strike the fire. Two men. Different parts of the country. Doused in gasoline, ready to burn. Unrelated events, except all events are somehow related. There are threads that catch and join us, one to another. Those threads are everywhere. And so we burn. We feel the heat rising. We feel the heat rising from a confused young mother, driving into a barricade, surrounded by police, shot dead as her one year old baby sits in a car seat, watching. We feel the heat rising from the police who pulled the triggers. We feel the heat rising from Capitol Hill, from a government ground to a halt. We feel the heat rising from the houseless and the unemployed, wondering what they will eat. Sometimes I think we are all on fire. This is one of those times. The heat is rising. Sparks are catching, everywhere. I can only hope this fire will burn us clean, so we can plant anew. I can only hope that things we value are not too badly burned along with the dross that must be cleared.” – T. Thorn Coyle, sharing some thoughts of fire, and holding fast.

Susan Harper

Susan Harper

“This campaign is exactly what it sounds like. For 40 days, I am inviting Pagans of all paths to engage in whatever spellwork, ritual, or spiritual work they choose, with a focus on keeping abortion and reproductive health care safe and legal for all. You may work in groups or alone. You may choose to do the same ritual every night, or engage in different workings. You may do full-blown ritual, a simple candle spell, or dedicate your meditation practice to the cause of reproductive justice for the next 40 days. There is no wrong way to participate — the goal is to have as much energy flowing toward the goal of safe and legal access to abortion and other reproductive health care as possible. There’s no need to curse or work against those who are behind laws like Texas’ and Arkansas’, or to direct negativity at protestors, as tempting as that may sometimes be! Instead, our goal should be to offer protection for those seeking reproductive health care and protection of the right of access to that care more broadly. If you’d like to join in 40 Days of Ritual to Keep Abortion Legal, there’s nothing official you need to do — just engage in the work. I’d love it if you’d comment here telling me you’re in! You can also join our (very new) Facebook page — share pictures of your altars, descriptions of your rituals, and just connect with others to build the energy. 40 Days of Ritual to Keep Abortion Legal runs from October 7-November 16.” – Susan Harper, on conducting 40 days of ritual to keep abortion legal, a response to a similar Christian campaign to end the practice.

Kiya Nicoll

Kiya Nicoll

“Some friends and I recently built a story together: for a holiday called Opet, we told the story that for Opet, we do charitable works. We house the homeless, clothe the naked, emboaten the boatless. (And when we were joined by a few folks of a more Celtic persuasion, we also embovined the cowless.) This was a good story. And as part of telling that story, it was not just that we talked about how this would be a good thing to do; the story meant that we did this thing, we went out and we invested in charitable works, we put out resources into the world so that the story became a little more real. This is what stories do; they organize people around ideas, they make those ideas come a little closer to the surface. Yes, we could have gotten there from a more general story, such as, say, ‘I am a good person'; people tell those sorts of stories and motivate themselves to many kinds of things. But there’s a lot of other stories you can mean by ‘I am a good person’, and much like ‘I am doing the work of God/the gods’ as a story, it’s a dangerous one to hang too much on. A lot of things can creep in around the edges of a vague and poorly specified story, really. Narrative is an essential part of how people construct the world. Be careful with yours, all right?” – Kiya Nicoll, on narrative theology, and on being careful with the narratives you construct.

Carolyn Lee Boyd

Carolyn Lee Boyd

“Feminism is, to me, a dynamic political and social movement; but it is now also the healing spirit within all those who see and revere the sacred in all women. Thinking of Feminism’s healing aspect as a 21st century Goddess has brought Her power more fully into my life. As a Goddess, She would have two means to manifest in our world. One is the spiritual healing that women do for each other. The other is activism that changes society, a way of creating a healthy environment for all women to live in. Perhaps her sacred symbolic objects are a mirror to show each woman her own divine worth and a ballot to symbolize the activism needed to act on that. She would look like all women and speak all languages. She might wear a cloak of feathers to fly to all women in need of Her, flowers to represent the blossoming of spirit that is each woman’s birthright, and a seashell necklace as a reminder that our souls are as vast as the ocean. Her story might tell of a time of power, followed by millennia underground gaining the wisdom and strength that comes from sorrow and loss, with an arising in our present time to help us make our world one of equality, justice, and peace. May She shine brightly on you and through you.” – Carolyn Lee Boyd, on feminism manifested as Goddess.

Joanna van der Hoeven

Joanna van der Hoeven

“We relate to our environment though inspiration, and we are all related, as the Native American proverb says.  It isn’t simply communication with our environment, but a soul-deep sense of relativity – we are all related.  By being related, this instills within us a sense of responsibility, of caring for the environment, whichever one it may be.  If we see that we are related to the badgers living in the brown-land area soon to be re-developed, then we also see that we must take action to ensure that they are safe.  If we see that we are related to the food that we eat, we will ensure that we eat organically and, if possible, grow our own food as much as we can to develop that relationship even further. If we see that we are related to our neighbour next door, we are more likely to establish an honourable connection to them and the rest of the community. It creates a sense of caring for the environment and all within it, and it is no easy task. The challenge that faces the Druid is to see clearly these relationships, and to act honourably in all regards.  If this challenge is accepted, then the worldview is broadened considerably, as is the environment.  The web of life will shimmer with inspiration along every thread.  May it do so for you, all my relations.” – Joanna van der Hoeven, on Druidry and the environment.

Michael Lloyd

Michael Lloyd

“I had originally just planned on writing a short biographical paper on Eddie’s life. Early into the project, I realized that this approach would be woefully inadequate given the complexity of his story. It was several years into the project that I realized that, if I didn’t include a large measure of what was going on in NYC and in the US, Eddie’s story would simply lose all context, as readers today would be scratching their heads wondering why folks did what they did back then. It was my good friend Christopher Penczak who later suggested that I change the subtitle of the book to reflect this expanded scope. I love New York City. It’s such a whirling maelstrom of humanity. You will encounter a cross-section of the world there. And its place as a center of media, finance and culture was absolutely crucial to the blossoming of the occult/Pagan movement in the US in the late 20th Century. I could never live there – its simply too much for this former farm boy. But I was named an honorary resident of the city by the NYC Gay Men’s Open Pagan Circle in 2011 for my work on behalf of the city’s Pagan community, and I am very proud of that honor.” – Michael G. Lloyd, on New York, Edmund “Eddie” Buczynski, and his book Bull of Heaven: The Mythic Life of Eddie Buczynski and the Rise of the New York Pagan.

John Beckett

John Beckett

“I swim in the same currents as Peter Grey and I’m inspired by Apocalyptic Witchcraft.  Ultimately, though, I’m unwilling to go as far as he suggests.  I’m committed to Gordon White’s concept of a salvage mission to fund the rescue mission.  Beyond that, I know too many good Christians and Humanists and others who are doing the same thing – making a living within the system while learning to live outside the system.  I’m reluctant to antagonize them… and I know all too well that calls for total commitment are usually ignored. Besides, I’m already pledged to the Forest God and the Lady of the Waters.  I’m too uptight to be much use to trickster gods. Who should read Apocalyptic Witchcraft?  Not beginners, that’s for sure – you need a basic knowledge of historical witchcraft to understand this book.  And not anyone prone to literalism and pedantry – this is a book of dreams and poetry, of ritual and symbol.  Its power is in its ability to show what can be, not what is.  But for those who feel called to the sabbat, Apocalyptic Witchcraft shows how we can dance and fly, and perhaps, how we must.” – John Beckett, reviewing Peter Grey’s book Apocalyptic Witchcraft.

Damh the Bard

Damh the Bard

“Two weeks on the road and I am once again sitting here feeling blessed to be a part of a worldwide Pagan community. Some say that Paganism is so diverse that it cannot be a community. Some say we should all just call what we do something else entirely. Some say that Paganism is made up of so many paths, with so many points of view, that it is in danger of melt-down and fragmentation. But I am lucky enough to travel with my music and meet Pagans from all over the world, and everywhere I go I feel the same energy. From Wiccans to Druids to Heathens and Eclectics, there is a huge swathe of common ground that we all share. We might differ in the detail and our personal dogmas, but when we work from that space of common ground we create wonder, magic and worldwide community. And I feel honoured to be a part of that. Hurrah for all of us!” – Damh the Bard, on finding unity in our common ground.

That’s all I have for now, please remember to support The Wild Hunt during our Fall Funding Drive so that we can continue to spotlight intriguing, provocative, and informative voices from our interconnected communities!

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.

Morpheus Ravenna

Morpheus Ravenna

“It comes to me that practitioners of European polytheist traditions have a duty on us to take a clear stance against racism in our religious communities. Not to do so, I think, inevitably leads us into tacitly condoning racism, because of its ubiquity in the overculture and its history as an undercurrent within European polytheism. So here’s my stance: Though the form of religious practice I choose to espouse is largely based on Celtic traditions, I reject any ideology that says those traditions belong specially to me because of race. I speak often of ancestors and ancestral tradition, but I affirm that the ancestral root of wisdom belongs to all humanity. I reject all arguments that imply race should be tied to religion in any way or that racial purity is a relevant concept or worthy goal. I challenge my fellow polytheists to also step up and take a stance against racism in our religious communities, as publicly as possible.” – Morpheus Ravenna, discussing  race, Eurocentrism, and ancestors at her blog.

Crystal Blanton

Crystal Blanton

“On the anniversary of this monumental moment in history, I remember my mother’s stories of segregation, my Aunt Thelma’s stories of cleaning the White woman’s house as a child, and my father’s desire to work all of his life to provide for a present that showed something different than his past…… opportunity. Our society has always had values that were fashioned for some, and not all. The social darwinism that our society has practiced for hundreds of years has become interwoven into the fabric of Americanized thought. Yet I believe we are ALL worth it. My Gods tell me that all people deserve the opportunity to live, love, prosper, worship, and enjoy this here life. And so I ask that we all take a moment, think about what this world could be for our children and our grandchildren, and push our energy towards a vision of equality that we have never had here. I will not leave my future family to fight a battle that I did not fight to stop.” – Crystal Blanton, on ringing a bell for freedom on the 50th anniversary of the I Have a Dream speech, delivered by Martin Luther King Jr. at the March on Washington.

Carol P. Christ

Carol P. Christ

“From the standpoint of traditional theologies shaped around the image of male power as power over and the concept of omnipotence, it might seem that the power of the process Goddess is “limited.”  This is a mistake.  The process Goddess does not voluntarily “withdraw from the world” (as in Kabbalah) or voluntarily “limit” her power (as in some forms of the free will defense) in order for the world and free individuals to exist.  According to process philosophy Goddess never did have all the power, because Goddess has always been in relationship to some other individuals.  To be an individual is to have at least a degree of freedom and at least a degree of power.  This means that individuals other than Goddess have always and will always have some of the power in this or any other universe.  Goddess cannot be omnipotent, because an omnipotent Goddess logically cannot be in relationship to other individuals who also have a degree of freedom and power.” – Carol P. Christ, on whether a relational god(dess) is powerful enough.

P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

“Honestly, there is nothing “nasty” about sex or sexuality. There are many things in the world which are dirty, filthy, and disgusting, including corporate greed, social injustice, government corruption, environmental degradation, and the like, all of which involve not only figurative “filth,” but also spiritual miasma, tsumi, and other such terms of defilement on a moral and spiritual level. Sex, sexual desire, and sex organs, however, are not “filthy” or “dirty” or “nasty” in themselves. The fact that sex often is done in squalid conditions, secretly, in an embarrassed and lurid fashion, has contributed to the pathologization of it. This stems from religious arguments that see sex as the root of “original sin,” starting as early as 1600 years ago with Augustine of Hippo’s thoughts on the matter. […] I have found the reactions to Sunday night’s performances more telling than the performances themselves about the neuroses of the modern American overculture. I suspect there was more calculation than the performers are willing to admit in terms of attempting to deliberately push buttons of the viewing audience in order to get attention, and it has worked spectacularly. The screen of a twenty-year-old young woman who was a former child star, a mid-thirties man attempting to re-start his singing career, and a bunch of teddy bears has been used to show a gag-reel of nearly all the sexual neuroses of our wider culture in the form of strongly-worded blog posts, Twitter messages, and Facebook memes. Many of the people commenting likely do not consider themselves Christian, and yet they are just as enthralled to the old ideas of Christian sexual theology and morality as the pope.” – P. Sufenas Virius Lupus, on a theologically mature approach to sexuality.

Michelle Mueller

Michelle Mueller

“I have learned so much from Unitarian Universalists in terms of including children in worship and/or ritual and in community, and working around parents’ needs–scheduling meetings that busy parents can attend and providing childcare during business meetings so that parents can be active members of religious communities! I learned that children LOVE ritual. Pagan traditions are really effective for positive experiences for children–from Sabbats to chants to the particular structure of circle ritual. The Unitarian Universalists I have worked with have been very supportive of my including Neo-Pagan traditions in children’s worship. Many adult services celebrate the Equinoxes and Solstices as well. In general, I have found that most UUs are either personally knowledgeable or at least very curious and interested in Paganism. Jessica Zebrine-Gray, UU-Pagan and religious educator, recently developed a brochure for the UUA on Unitarian Universalist Pagans, and of course I cannot skip mention of the Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans! Unitarian Universalists also have a program of liberal values-based sexuality education. The program is called Our Whole Lives because it ranges through the lifespan, regularly called “OWL” for short.” – Michelle Mueller, on what Pagan families can learn from Unitarian Universalists.

John Beckett

John Beckett

“The gods call who they call, and there are plenty of examples of deities calling people unexpectedly.  If you feel the call of a deity, answer, even if that deity comes from an unfamiliar pantheon.  Even if a particular goddess doesn’t call you to her formal service, there’s nothing to stop you from making offerings to her, praying to her, and asking her for help.  Perhaps she’ll respond and perhaps she won’t, but honoring a goddess is always a good thing to do. Although I am a priest of Cernunnos, it would be the height of arrogance for me to tell someone “He would never call you.”  On the other hand, if the way that person manifests Cernunnos’ presence is at odds with what is generally known about Him (from others as well as from me), I may question who he’s dealing with, or at the very least, his commitment to Him.  If, to give what I hope is an absurd example, he cites the lusty aspect of the Stag as an excuse to rape, I will argue (among many other things) he is not properly committed to Him. The gods call who they call and we are free to respond to the calls we feel, but we are not entitled to respond in any way we like.” – John Beckett, on race and religion in the modern Pagan world.

Shauna Aura Knight

Shauna Aura Knight

“I’m going to offer a harsh statement here. If you call yourself Earth-centered…or if you turn and face the North in ritual and invoke or honor the Earth, and you are littering like this, if you aren’t sorting your trash and recycling, if you are drinking bottled water and not making any attempt to begin to live more sustainably, you have no business standing in ritual and calling Earth, honoring the Earth. It’s hypocritical. And that probably pisses you off. And, maybe instead of being ticked off at me, the messenger, you can acknowledge where you might need to do some work to use less resources. For those who called me a hypocrite for calling for the use of less resources, particularly not using styrofoam or plastic cups in a ritual, being a hypocrite would mean I’m not working hard to reduce my use of resources. If you are honestly, sincerely trying, then you’re not a hypocrite. But, we can all do better. We aren’t perfect. I’m not perfect. I’m using resources too. But, like many others, I am working hard to reduce my use. It’s hard, and my greatest fear is that it’s not going to have enough of an impact. But I’m going to try my best, because, I am Earth-Centered. I value the Earth and my relationship to it. I consider it a contract, a sacred trust. It’s my job to live in better harmony, to reduce my use of resources, and to help others do the same.” – Shauna Aura Knight, on not being a hypocrite when it comes to honoring the Earth.

Damh the Bard

Damh the Bard

“I sat and opened to the Spirit of Place once more and asked for a blessing from the Horned One. I went deep into a senses meditation where I opened all of my senses to the world around me. I sat there in the dawn sunshine. After moments I heard a movement behind me. A rustling through the long grasses of the marsh. I turned slowly to face the most glorious Roebuck. His coat shining in the dawn sun. Again we caught each other’s eyes. I looked into the eye of the Lord of the Wild, then he slowly, and quite calmly walked away from me. No fear. I watched as he disappeared into the green. I breathed in the experience. Felt the blessings. Felt blessed. The next night the concert was fabulous. The ritual was powerful, and as I walked once more into the land through the avenue of blazing torches I knew where my pilgrimage would begin. I spent hours in contemplation within the woods of Owl and Deer. I listened to storytellers within the roundhouse. I listened to the land. My night’s journey was a deeply personal one, bless by the events of the previous evening. I feel renewed, open, alive, ready to write even more songs.” – Damh the Bard, on receiving a true blessing.

Teo Bishop

Teo Bishop

“That’s the thing about new beginnings. The are necessarily shrouded. They are not transparent. There is mystery inexorably woven into every aspect of them. We don’t know where we’ll get our food, walk our dogs, build community. We don’t know how the weather will feel, how the land will look as the seasons change, or how we will be embraced by the people of Portland. We have no clear sense of what the future will bring. But I think that those are the conditions which make possible some real magic. So maybe when we get to Portland I’ll start blogging with more regularity. Maybe I’ll write about what it feels like to live around so much lush greenery. Maybe I’ll write about what it’s like to live so close to a river, or in a place that’s not dry as a bone. Maybe I’ll stumble upon some little metaphysical shop and spark up a conversation that leads to a post, or I’ll meet a Witch or a Druid or a Unitarian that I’d only known on Facebook, and maybe that interaction will shed light on something that has, unbeknownst to me, been hidden. Maybe I’ll discover a spiritual practice again. Maybe I’ll find the room to try something new, or better yet, to try something old, something forgotten, underutilized, or neglected. Maybe there will be more new beginnings than I know what to do with, and I’ll have to write about all of them. Or maybe I’ll do something altogether different. I don’t know.” – Teo Bishop, on moving to Portland, and the nature of new beginnings.

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!

Patrick McCollum

Patrick McCollum

The Association of Correctional Food Service Affiliates (ACFSA) international conference in Reno Nevada is this week, and Pagan chaplain Patrick McCollum will be addressing them to give guidance about requests for special diets from Pagan inmates. Quote: “Rev. McCollum will share information about basic Pagan practices and beliefs, and the give guidance to the Association on how to accommodate religious diets for Pagans. In the past, Pagan traditions have not been considered legitimate religious practices in correctional facilities and as a result, Pagans have not been been afforded equal accommodation in this area. Many practicing Pagans are vegan or vegetarian, but are forced to eat meat while other mainstream faiths are offered alternatives. The ACFSA has decided to utilize Rev. McCollum’s expertise in this area to change prison policies worldwide to be more receptive to Pagan beliefs. This is a huge step forward toward equality for Pagans, and bodes well for a better future for all minority faiths.” According to McCollum, this is the first time that a Pagan has addressed this body. Here’s hoping this will lead to a better understanding of our diversity, and the valid needs of Pagan inmates. You can find all of my coverage of Patrick McCollum, here.

41SC-bWNDqL._SY346_Professor Ronald Hutton, author of “The Triumph of the Moon” and “Blood and Mistletoe,” has a new book coming out in November of this year in the UK ( and February of next year in the United States) from Yale University Press entitled  “Pagan Britain.” Quote: “Britain’s pagan past, with its astonishing number and variety of mysterious monuments, atmospheric sites, enigmatic artefacts, bloodthirsty legends and cryptic inscriptions, has always enthralled and perplexed us. Pagan Britain is a history of religious beliefs from the Old Stone Age to the coming of Christianity. This ambitious book integrates the latest evidence to survey our transformed – and transforming – understanding of early religious behaviour; and, also, the way in which that behaviour has been interpreted in recent times, as a mirror for modern dreams and fears. From the Palaeolithic era to the coming of Christianity and beyond, Hutton reveals the long development, rapid suppression, and enduring cultural significance of paganism. Woven into the chronological narrative are numerous case studies of sacred sites – both the well known Stonehenge, Avebury, Seahenge and Maiden Castle, and more unusual far-flung locations across the mainland and coastal islands. Celebrating the powerful challenge and stimulus offered to our imagination by relics of Britain’s deep past, this rich book reveals much about archaeological and historical endeavour and our modern quest to know.” Hutton was host of the recently aired documentary about Gerald Gardner entitled “Britain’s Wicca Man,” and was elected a Fellow of the British Academy last month.

Philip Carr-Gomm at the fracking protest.

Philip Carr-Gomm at the fracking protest.

The process of hydraulic fracturing to harvest natural gas, infamously known as “fracking,” isn’t only controversial in the United States. Fracking operations are underway in Britain, and several Pagans, including musician Damh the Bard, participated in a protest against a well in Balcombe, Sussex. Quote: “This afternoon’s visit is not a happy return to a childhood stamping ground, but rather a way of supporting brave people in their fight against the madness of greed. What can I do? Add myself to the numbers, add my voice by taking my bouzouki with me and playing Sons and Daughters (of Robin Hood) at the top of my voice!” Other Pagans of note at the protest were Druid leaders Philip and Stephanie Carr-Gomm. At his blog, Philip Carr-Gomm penned an open letter in opposition to fracking. Quote: “The same story is repeating itself with fracking. Although people like money, when the chips are down they don’t want their countryside ruined, their roads clogged with lorries, their water and air risking pollution. They want to protect their country – if necessary from the government who promised to be the ‘greenest ever’. Remember your party has 130-177,000 members, the National Trust has 3.8 million. People really care about the countryside.” You can watch a video of Damh the Bard performing at the Balcombe, Sussex protest, here.

In Other Pagan Community News: 

  • The annual Festival of The Dead in Salem, Massachusetts is coming up! That includes the official Salem Witches’ Halloween Ball, and presentations by authors and teachers like Christopher Penczak. Quote: “The Witches of Salem honor this time with Festival of the Dead, an annual event series that explores death’s macabre customs, heretical histories, and strange rituals. Presented by Salem Warlock Christian Day and hosted by the foremost authorities on the spirit world, Festival of the Dead beckons guests to step through the veil into a realm where spirits await.”
  • The fist issue of the Melbourne-based magazine The Green Man Quarterly is now out and available for order. Quote: “The Green Man Quarterly is a new project based in Melbourne, Australia that aims to present an in depth exploration of Pagan, Witchcraft and Occult issues. Our ambition is to produce an affordable, high quality resource that is able assist in the promotion and growth of our diverse community.”
  • Speaking of magazines, a Starwood 2013 themed issue of the venerable Green Egg has been released. A direct link to the free PDF is here. In the introduction, the editor has announced they they plan to finish scanning all the back issues of Green Egg, to make them available as a resource. Quote: “When all the issues are put up, hopefully by one year from now, if not sooner, I plan to send out a mass email mailing to university departments and teachers about a wonderful resource for them and for their students. And it’s free!”
  • Congratulations to the Covenant of The Goddess Facebook page on surpassing 15,000 “likes”! 
  • Pagan Pride Day season is fast approaching, and press releases from local events are starting to be sent out. Here’s one from Philadelphia Pagan Pride, being held August 31st. Quote: “Entry to the event is free, but we do request the donation of a canned food item or other provisions for our beneficiaries. This year, our beneficiaries are the food bank at the Mazzoni Center, Forgotten Cats, and In-Reach Heathen Prison Services.”
  • Speaking of Patrick McCollum, the issue of American Jails that he contributed an article to won an award for journalism! Quote: “The issue that Patrick wrote the featured title article: Keeping the Faith – Religious issues in Jail, just received the Apex Award for Journalism, the top award for a print magazine in 2013!” You can read the article he wrote, here.

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