Archives For Frater Barrabbas

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.

Shauna Aura Knight

Shauna Aura Knight

“I see a lot of Pagans pressuring Pagans to be more sexualized than they’re comfortable with, Pagan leaders preying on folks in their group to get them to have sex. ‘You’ll get used to it, once you ease up.’ I’ve had community leaders say that to me. The context was, I was indicating that I didn’t really want to have sex by the fire in front of everyone, or be naked dancing around the fire, that I preferred privacy for such things. And, that I really didn’t want to watch such things. I was told that I’d get over being such a prude. Sex positive does not mean I should be pressured to engage in experiences that I’m not comfortable with. In fact, that’s quite the opposite, that’s peer pressure and shaming. Being sex positive means, I support someone’s choice to not dress in a way that is sexy, not get naked, not have lots of sex. This is a multifold problem. There’s the leader engaging in the harassment…but then there’s the community that sweeps it under the rug. At a recent workshop, a Pagan woman said that she was experiencing unwelcome sexual advances from a noted leader in her local community, and she wanted to find ways to try and change that behavior without causing an interstellar war between herself and this man. Sadly, I know several group leaders in her area who fit that profile, one of whom has a consistent reputation of being “a lech.” “He’ll hit on any young, pretty woman,” men and women will say with a fond smile. That’s a problem.” – Shauna Aura Knight, on sex and ethics within modern Paganism.

Teo Bishop

Teo Bishop

“I didn’t plan on going to church last weekend. It sort of just happened. I hadn’t been in a very long time, and during my most recent visit I was only barely present. Participation in the service felt a bit like an act of treason. I’d read Pagan writers who said as much. And they must have made an impression on me, because I didn’t engage at all. I just sat and watched the Christians give themselves over to the liturgy, to the songs, and to God as though all of it was foreign to me; as though it wasn’t foundational to my spiritual identity. But it is. And when I went to church last weekend I didn’t try to pretend otherwise. I was all in. No reservations. It didn’t matter if I didn’t believe every aspect of church doctrine. It didn’t matter to me if I took issue with the gender language. It didn’t matter if I was the only Pagan in the pews. I chose not to focus on any of that. I surrendered myself to the moment … and it was beautiful. I’m not sure what changed in me that made me open to this experience. I just woke up and wanted to go. I wanted to see what it felt like, and whether it would mean anything to me. Would I — a man who’s been a very vocal Pagan in recent years, who’s tried (somewhat unsuccessfully) to adopt a polytheist theology, who’s worked to build community for other Pagans, to create a space for dialogue about Pagan issues — feel like a foreigner in church? Was there any part of me that would still feel at home in that environment?” – Teo Bishop, on inhabiting a theological “inbetween world.”

T. Thorn Coyle

T. Thorn Coyle

“As I stood on the capitol steps in Sacramento, I couldn’t help but feel a combination of deep sorrow, heart break, and anger. Too many memorial signs. Jeralynn Blueford, whom I’ve written of many times, spoke, just one out of fifty families gathered to speak for their dead fathers, brothers, sisters, and husbands. This gathering represented a fraction of those killed by police. Reports come in each month of unarmed citizens killed by tasers, guns, and beatings. The police are rapidly becoming more militarized, relying on violent force as the first line of intervention. Yet police culture dictates that those officers concerned by or opposed to use of excessive force and extrajudicial killings not speak for fear of ostracization. As we were marching in the state capitol, a thirteen year old boy was killed by sheriffs less than two hour’s drive away. He was playing in his yard with a toy gun. My latest book and much of the work I do with clients examines how desire helps us to step into our purpose, creating the lives – and the world – we want to manifest. I thought about that, while marching under the hot sun. I was in Sacramento not only to stand with and march with these families – mostly working class, mostly people of color – I was in Sacramento because: I want to manifest a world in which we don’t police one another to death. I want to manifest a world of mutual aid. I want to manifest a world where racism and class oppression don’t dictate who gets to live and who dies.” – T. Thorn Coyle, on manifesting a world where we recognize that Love is the Law and do our best to live accordingly.

P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

“We are about to enter the most holy time of year in the Ekklesía Antínoou, the Sacred Nights of Antinous beginning on October 24th and running through November 1st, during which time Antinous died (we observe this on the 28th) and his holy city, his deification, and his cultus began on October 30th, which is Foundation Day, our most important ritual of the year. This year will be the twelfth time I’ve celebrated it, and the year that follows often takes its auspices from that ritual. My celebration last year was the most solitary, sedate, and under-done ritual I’ve ever had, due to some practical limitations I was facing at the time. This year, things will be much different, and I’ve decided it’s important enough to take the day off work entirely for the occasion. There is no more important date or event in my year than this, and it has been a part of my life long before my current job, or any other I’ll ever hold in the future. I owe my life to my gods, and this is one way that I can show it, and plan to for the foreseeable future. The mysteries of life and death, of love and deification, of devotion and dealing with tragedy, of deep and destructively sorrowful mourning…but also, the ecstasy of transformation, and the birth of hope amidst desolation and chaos, are all tied up with this coming set of festivals. A simple sentence of nouns and adjectives, or an entire cycle of epic poems so piercing in their imagery as to send shockwaves through the senses of anyone who reads or hears their verses, are equally inadequate to convey these matters effectively and vividly for consumption and understanding.” – P. Sufenas Virius Lupus, on the Sacred Nights of Antinous, and eir choice of silence during those nights.

Lon Milo DuQuette

Lon Milo DuQuette

“We were with the William Morris Agency who got us a one night gig backing Sammy Davis Jr. at the Coconut Grove of the Ambassador Hotel in LA. We told our agent we were an acid cowboy band and just did our own material and that we didn’t do stuff like that. He said, “They know that. It will be okay!” and we answered back that we’d do it, but that we could only do what we could do. We set up and played until Sammy showed up and started to talk to the crowd of invited celebrities: John Wayne, Nancy Sinatra, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Robert Wagner, Debbie Reynolds, and my favorite… a young George Carlin …. who was stoned and the only one to come up to the stage and tell us we were “Groovy”. Charley and I looked at each other when we realized that Sammy was starting to introduce the song Spinning Wheel. We quietly took off our guitars and crept off stage leaving Sammy all alone with only our drummer to back him on Spinning Wheel. Charley and I headed straight for the bar. We never worked with William Morris Agency again … neither did our ‘agent.’” – Lon Milo DuQuette, sharing a tale from his early years in the music business, from an interview with Jason Mankey.

Sarah Veale

Sarah Veale

“Now it’s unclear from the passage whether the Greeks used this reasoning when they devastated Euboea, or if this is Herodotus conjecturing after the fact. What is clear is that Herodotus draws a clear line between the slaughter of the sheep and the Euboeans refusal to carry out the commands of the oracle. As Herodotus says, “They brought disaster upon themselves…Since they learnt nothing from these words…misfortune was their teacher about what is really important” (8.20; translation Waterfield 495). Herodotus obviously is privileging divine order here, suggesting that humans are compelled to obey the will of the gods or suffer the consequences. Herodotus also doesn’t tell us too much about the Euboean’s part in this whole scenario.** We don’t know whether they flat-out refused the obey the oracle, or if they misinterpreted it. (Which is what happened to some unlucky Athenians with the aforementioned “wooden wall” message. Spoiler: they died.) All we know is that Herodotus interprets the events as being consonant with the oracle’s pronouncements. The brutal actions of the Greeks are justified, not just by circumstances of war, but by the Gods. This passage shows an interesting mix of politics, warfare and religion. While it’s particular to the ancient world, isn’t so far removed from modern-day claims of divine justice. That said, we can see how the oracle was important, not just in influencing Greek tactics on the ground, but also to the historians who recorded events for posterity. In this case, a little editorializing by Herodotus about the irreverence of the Euboeans shows the emphasis ancient Greek culture placed on obeying the gods—and how it could be used to justify otherwise questionable actions.” – Sarah Veale, on oracles and acts of war.

Frater Barrabbas Tiresius

Frater Barrabbas Tiresius

“Do I believe that someone can practice magic and still be a good Christian? Absolutely, and this is really an absurd question, since nearly all of the renaissance grimoires are Christian based. These books obviously were written by Christians and practiced by Christians, so that seems like a logical assumption to me. It is true that certain Christian church institutions have promoted an anti-magic and anti-occult bias, but then again, it is questionable as to how strictly such prohibitions are enforced today. Certainly any Catholic who admitted in the confessional to practicing rituals to invoke angels and demons would likely face some serious penance and have to prove contrition to their respective parish priest. Some other sects are also steadfastly against any form of occultism, divination or magic, but I would assume that such adherents wouldn’t bother practicing these kinds of rites anyway. I also believe that you don’t have to be a member of a church to be a Christian, and that forms of esoteric Christianity would not only allow but might even encourage certain kinds of religious based occult workings and research.” – Frater Barrabbas Tiresius, sharing some of his thoughts on Christianity.

Carlton Gebbia

Carlton Gebbia

“Yeah. Well, there’s a lot of debate about what I supposedly practice, because Wicca and other religions are covered under the umbrella of Paganism. I’m Celtic, which is my ancestry. And I practice witchcraft. My grandmother was a Pagan. There are so many branches of Paganism and there are also different ways to practice these faiths. There’s no one defined answer. Because I’m a sole practitioner, it’s more of what works for me personally and spiritually, and something that has been in my family since the day I was born. It’s not something I fell into, although it’s a fantastic faith. It’s incredibly positive. We believe that the spirit lies in everything around us and I believe that spiritual growth is related to the cycles of the earth. I believe in the moon phases as well. [...] I’ve said it before, any religion [my children] decide to follow I’ll be supportive of it. I’ve never, until I had to really explain what I believe in—which happened when I was in school—I just don’t define people by their religious beliefs. I don’t stand in judgment of anybody’s religion. It’s now been a repetitive cycle for me.  From school to now, it [has been] judged, unfortunately negatively.  But if people who have a genuine interest do the research, they’ll see that it is very, very positive.” – Carlton Gebbia, a Real Housewife of Beverly Hills, on her religion.

Gus DiZerega

Gus DiZerega

“There is a delicious irony captured in the old NeoPagan chant ‘We are an old people, we are a new people, we are the same people, stronger than before.’ Paganism and pantheism, considered broadly, comprise humanity’s oldest spiritual insights, existing in hunting and gathering cultures that lasted for millennia before the rise of agriculture. Over time agricultural societies became increasingly hierarchical and unequal, and as they did Spirit was increasingly kicked upstairs, out of direct reach to many and eventually to a purely transcendental realm. Life became something from which to seek salvation or escape. With the rise of democratic societies increasingly free from the authoritarian hierarchies that characterized agricultural civilizations, that original pantheistic insight is again finding fertile soil, but on a broader landscape.  Many of us are a new people seeking to bridge and combine the best of our past with the best of the new. Many indigenous people today recognize our common similarity. In interfaith meetings they call NeoPagans “brothers and sisters” and see us as an “indigenous religion but not an indigenous people.”  Given that many of them now live in cities far from the lands that are the foundation for their spirituality, they can relate with that status.  We are like them, only for a longer time, and are now rediscovering those primal insights.” – Gus DiZerega, on pantheism, Paganism, and the soul of democracy.

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.

T. Thorn Coyle

T. Thorn Coyle

“Love is – or can be – in everything we do. Love is with us in the midst of the onslaught of misogyny and hatred. Love is with us in the midst of racism, injustice, and murder. Love is with us if we let it. Love is what helps us to keep choosing our lives. When you feel worn out, or pummeled, or sad, or angry, or not heard, I hope that you remember to keep choosing for the sake of love. When you feel inspired, or filled up, or well seen, or joyous, I hope that you remember to keep choosing for the sake of love. When we choose for love (not pats on the head, not cookies, not gold stars) we are strengthened for a future we can’t know. When we choose for love, we can choose rightly, even if we turn out to be “wrong”. When we choose for love, the choice is always worth the risk. We learn something. We open. We are connected. We are changed. We can kindle hope when all else fails us, for we have chosen for love’s sake, and for our own. And what we do then, we are choosing for the world.” – T. Thorn Coyle, on choosing love, even when it sucks.

Annika Mongan

Annika Mongan

“So I went to Multnomah University to meet with Dr. Paul Louis Metzger, founder and director of New Wine, New Wineskins, author of Connecting Christ, and a Patheos blogger deeply engaged in interfaith dialogue. I had been following the growing dialogue between Pagans and Christians on Jason Pitzl-Water’s blog The Wild Hunt and was excited to meet with Paul. Paul was very pleasant to speak with and time flew as I answered his deep and interesting questions. I hear the question “so how did you go from being a Christian to becoming a Pagan?” constantly and I rarely give the same answer. There are too many aspects and layers to my journey. Since Paul is a theologian and professor of doctrine, I figured I would provide a very short version of my journey and then talk about Christian versus Pagan theology. That was the plan, but I surprised myself by talking primarily about my experience and practice. When Jason visited Paul’s class, he noticed that the students’ focus was on belief whereas his own focus was on practice. Evangelical Christianity puts emphasis on “right thinking” whereas paganism is more interested in how we practice and live.” – Annika Mongan, a former evangelical Christian turned Pagan, discussing her recent visit to the Christian university she graduated from.

P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

“I understand that many Pagans, in adopting this approach, are attempting to not recreate the situations of their own childhood, where a repressive compulsory Christianity was something that they did not enjoy and over which there still may be lingering issues with their parents and extended families. Nonetheless, it would be a good test of “truth of concept” for Paganism as a viable religion for one to raise a child in it, while also giving them a good background in other religious traditions (in a manner that is neither relativist nor condemnatory, and is as informed as possible). If one’s religion is good enough for oneself, why isn’t it good enough to teach to one’s own children? It is perfectly possible to raise a child in a given religion without “indoctrinating” them into it or in any way coercing them. Even pious adults sometimes skive when they are adults; children and teenagers, likewise, might do this as well, and there’s no reason not to let them in many cases. [...] No religion that ignores the “traditional” family will last long, and whether a given family has LGBTQ children or not, engagement with a queer theological structure can certainly benefit them and add to the diversity of approach and respect for all people that is so often hailed as an ideal and a virtue within Pagan religious frameworks.” – P. Sufenas Virius Lupus, on the importance of raising Pagan children.

Gus DiZerega

Gus DiZerega

“In my opinion, arguing that a woman must give birth to a pre-existing spirit because it has chosen her to be its mother is yet one more example of turning women into being primarily servants of others. It is a characterization motivated by duty and fear, and among other things, it prevents women from choosing to enter into relationships out of affection and love. Others’ needs and wants pre-empt and subordinate theirs. In my view, nothing is more important than the relationship between a child and its parents. Loved children are vastly better off than those who do not experience love, or experience it intermittently. For there to be solid love, the relationship between a mother and child must be consensual. Of course, love could develop even when initially it is absent. This was the case in some arranged marriages of the past, and I am confident it remains true for some today: fortunate couples in arranged marriages sometimes developed loving and satisfying relationships.  However, I cannot imagine these sometimes happy outcomes constitute a justification for forcing marriages on couples who otherwise would not have gotten married.” – Gus DiZerega, on Pagan abortion ethics.

Liz Williams

Liz Williams

“One advantage of this resistance to formalisation and structure is the relative lack of pagan cults. Although in the early days of Wicca it was known as the “witch cult”, there’s little that’s cult-like about pagan practice. It’s too diverse, and lacks central figureheads. There are a few people who are, let’s say, personality-challenged, who would like to set up a cult, but in large part they fail, due to the innate stroppiness and independence of their fellow pagans. Very small cult-like groups might form and these tend to be classically abusive, but don’t in general attract large numbers. As with every generalisation, there are possible exceptions: Damanhur, the extraordinary structure currently being built in northern Italy, might function as an instance of a cult, with commensurate accusations surrounding it of brainwashing and tax evasion. Central figures of its worship include Horus, Sekhmet and Pan, which brings it beneath the pagan aegis. However, Damanhur’s leader, Oberto Airaudi, has recently died, so quite what will happen to the admittedly remarkable temple that he inspired is open to some question. In contrast Philip Carr-Gomm, the nominal head of one of the largest pagan organisations – the Order of Bards, Ovates & Druids – is so low-key that many druids would be hard-pressed to pick him out of a line-up: a deliberate approach that avoids the abuses of many religious organisations. Might we draw comparisons with other, decentralised religions such as western Buddhism? I think we can, and in this light paganism is appearing increasingly progressive.” – Liz Williams, on politics, ethics, and cults within modern Paganism.

Frater Barrabbas Tiresius

Frater Barrabbas Tiresius

“I have been a pagan monist now for many years. Even so, I have always elected not to name or give attributes to that element of the One which I have tangibly experienced from time to time when I have worked my most intense magical rites or engaged in deep forms of meditation. It was only when I read the book “The Shape of Ancient Thought” by Thomas McEviley that I discovered the more intrinsic and varied aspects of that belief which I had adopted, and that the progression from polytheism to monism was a natural one and not an anomaly as some had led me to believe. This revelation helped me to advance my understanding of this phenomenon from that of a mythic perspective to one that unfolded into a kind of religious philosophy. Thus, with the aid of this book, I transformed myself from a religious faith-based adherent to an occult philosopher with a much wider view.” – Frater Barrabbas Tiresius, on how his journey from polytheism to monism was a natural progression.

Morpheus Ravenna

Morpheus Ravenna

“It now seems to me that personal sovereignty is what our lives are made of. That it’s really all we have. Fate, or chance, or whatever you like to call it, will cast us into all kinds of circumstances over which we have no control at all. What is ours is that right to exert agency for ourselves, to choose our way forward through whatever faces us, to choose for ourselves how to respond. To live by our own lights. Ancient cultures often framed this in terms of a heroic ethos, in which it was understood that even if fate took all other options from you, you could always exercise the choice to die well, and that to do so was to exercise the ultimate sovereignty. People in circumstances like mine are privileged to not have to frame this in life-and-death terms, but I think the ethos of free will and sovereignty still has merit and applies. [...] What I am telling you is: Don’t let go of your soul because someone told you that you couldn’t or shouldn’t be that. Don’t let go without at least trying for yourself, without getting your feet dusty attempting to climb the path. Don’t give your sovereignty away. Don’t let go of your soul.” – Morpheus Ravenna, on personal sovereignty, and keeping hold of your soul.

Sannion

Sannion

“Let me tell you about this community. It’s polytheism without borders. Not without standards, but definitely without borders. You see, it’s a community of people who love their divinities and love other people’s divinities and want to see all divinities being honored properly and abundantly. It’s a community of people who are deeply engaged in worship and want to make that worship as powerful and beautiful as possible. We don’t discuss politics and our personal issues and our hobbies when we’re together. If we want to socialize, we’ll go socialize somewhere else! We come together for the sole purpose of honoring our divinities and other people’s divinities and helping our fellow community members do that as well. We share knowledge and resources and help get the word out about the awesome things that other people are doing to honor their divinities and lend a hand whenever we can. We aren’t concerned with who’s in or who’s out – because the only “in” is doing stuff and as long as that stuff is pleasing to the divinities that’s all that really matters. It’s a community of people who are fed up with politics and infighting and talk, talk, talk and want to find people to do stuff with. We don’t always see eye to eye and some of us do stuff that’s radically different from the stuff that other people are doing, but we don’t get overly concerned about that. Because it’s more important that people be doing their stuff and when you’re all up in other people’s stuff, you aren’t doing your own stuff.” – Sannion, on polytheism without borders.

Jason Miller

Jason Miller

“As a practitioner of magic you are working to open yourself to spirits and contact them. Opening and expanding this connection is a two way street. Unless you tightly control it, spirits have access to you. Some traditions emphasize constant banishing and only allowing contact with entities that you consciously invite into your sphere. That’s fine for some people I suppose but I fall into the category of people that are more open to spontaneous contact. The trick is having the ability to close contact when needed, having the spiritual authority to control contact when necessary, and the power to knock the shit out things that fuck with you anyway. Basically I see it as similar to how you deal with people [...] Avoid mistakes when you can. Make offerings as amends when you can’t. Give warnings when you are about to do magic someplace other than your temple. Basically, don’t be a dick. Once they know that you know better, they are less forgiving.” – Jason Miller, on the importance of having good etiquette with spirits.

David Oliver Kling

David Oliver Kling

“Most of us did not plan to be “ministers” of any sort, but life can take us down some unexpected paths. If you feel drawn to serve others, you will sooner or later find yourself over your head if you have not had some good training or mentoring, or both. Chaplaincy brings up all of our personal issues and creates its own anxieties. Will we say the right thing? Do something unethical without realizing it? Offend someone unintentionally? Whether the context is a small faith community, a Pagan festival, an interfaith project or gathering, you need to order your personal ideas, lower your anxiety and function as the professional that you are. Chaplaincy is less about book smarts and more about common sense. It’s about entering into someone else’s spiritual distress without getting pulled into it and allow it to take over. It’s about being able to function in multiple settings as a leader, being the person who is capable of journeying with someone else and helping them in their life journey. My best advice for new chaplains is that if you can only do one thing, that would be listen to someone else, summarize what they have told you, then help them process what they are feeling. That’s the basics of chaplaincy, and if that’s all you do, people will appreciate that.” – David Oliver Kling, a teacher at Cherry Hill Seminary, on the Pagan as chaplain.

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.

Shauna Aura Knight

Shauna Aura Knight

“One of my values, as a Pagan leader, is to make rituals and spiritual experiences that are accessible and inclusive. At least–as much as I’m able to. I talk to a lot of Pagans who vehemently agree with this concept…and who then present rituals that–for various reasons–are not very accessible or inclusive. Their rituals may present difficulty for people with mobility challenges. Or the rituals may not really be inclusive of gay, lesbian, or transgender community members. And there’s lots of other ways rituals could be inaccessible and exclusive. Often this is done unintentionally; however, there is still an impact. I’ve said before that activism is sometimes saying the unpopular thing. Often, it’s standing up for those who do not have as much power in a dynamic, whose voices are not heard. In this case, the unpopular thing is the idea that we–Pagan leaders and ritualists–may need to change how we approach rituals in order to make our rituals more accessible and inclusive. We may even need to re-evaluate some of our dearly-held theological beliefs. If we want the dominant culture to change, to legalize gay marriage, support people with disabilities, eliminate racism…don’t we have to do that work first ourselves, within our community?” –  Shauna Aura Knight, on making Pagan ritual truly inclusive, at Pagan Activist.

Crystal Blanton

Crystal Blanton

“I believe that it is the loss of love that disconnects us from the human experience of those around us, allows us to pass judgment on others, and then profile the faces of those different from us to assume acceptable responses to our biased perceptions. Yet if love is the law, how can this ever be OK in our world?  I pondered those questions in that theater tonight, and again when I got home while talking at the kitchen table with my son. It was the loss of love and the amplified ego of those with badges in the movie that took Oscars life. It was a grieving family and producer that worked hard to restore love back into the picture. And the spiritual, social and political reminders we got watching that movie together connected us to all the things that I feel are important. Allowing my son to learn and cultivate why justice is important, why understanding privilege is essential, and why love for who we all can become is mandatory, is very important to a future he can find hope in. He has a responsibility, as do I, and as do you.” – Crystal Blanton, on love being the law, and the movie “Fruitvale Station.”

Teo Bishop

Teo Bishop

“I still very much feel like I am on a Druidic path. I don’t think you can ever truly disassociate yourself from traditions you have been a part of, and ADF has been very influential on me. So leaving ADF was a difficult decision to make, yes. But I decided to leave because it just felt, in all of my parts, like the right thing for me to do at this point in my own spiritual evolution. My leaving made a splash only because I am fairly public with aspects of my spirituality and my process. I’ve also been in a role of leadership within ADF, and I feel very happy about how things have been progressing in my absence, particularly with the Solitary Druid Fellowship. I think it’s important to understand that this is not some big dramatic event, but that my own process has led me to leave. I’m not on a crusade against ADF. There are many wonderful people in ADF who have genuinely been kind to me — both before and after this decision.” – Teo Bishop on leaving the ADF, and if he’s still a Druid, from an interview with PNC-Minnesota.

Amy Martin

Amy Martin

“What does it mean to be human? To be all that a human can be. It a conscious decision each individual has to make, to join the human journey and find yourself stirred to the core at being of an evolutionary pageantry spanning millions of years. To posses a brain that expanded from its limbic animal origins, to its bicameral split, eventually to include a prefrontal cortex that defines us as humans. To see ourselves connected even to the early creation of the Earth from cosmic debris, consolidating and creating a miracle planet — not too hot, not to cold, and flush with oxygen — where humans could flourish and be formed from its very substance. It is the human song, born in the swirling stardust, formed from atoms and elements forged in the stellar furnaces of exploded dying stars. To be fully human is to stand before the infinite matrix of light formed from nebulae, galaxies and stars, and know you are no less. It is to be part of something greater, however that greater is defined — whether a divine God, a pantheon of deities, a permeating life energy, or evolutionary unfolding — and the grateful humility that brings. From this deep sense of eternal interconnectedness arises empathy, the highest of human emotions. We progress beyond being enamored with animal comforts and bloom into our higher selves. From that fundamental awareness of interconnection and oneness, all virtue unfolds naturally. To paraphrase Mae West, ‘Religion had nothing to do with it.'” –  Amy Martin, Director Emeritus of Earth Rhythms and Writer/editor of Moonlady News Newsletter, responding to the question of what it means to be a religious person.

Iris Firemoon with David Salisbury

Iris Firemoon with David Salisbury

“Last night, the Lincoln Memorial was vandalized.  This was an insult to our fallen Patriots.  It is an insult to those of us who call Washington, D.C. home.  It is an insult to Americans.  It was also an insult to Pagans. This monument to President Lincoln is a monument to Freedom.  Not the every day freedom that we have to walk about the street.  But, the idea of Freedom that we all have to own our own lives, our own future.  These vandals insulted Freedom. The monuments on the National Mall are sacred.  These are sacred spaces in the Nation’s Capital. Pagans have many times held rituals on and near these spaces in order to draw their meaning into our work.  At the Jefferson Memorial, we have staged the yearly Samhain Drumming and the 2009 Animating the Spirit of Democracy working for the newly elected President Obama.  Next to the White House, we shared the 2011 Pagan Coming Out Day and the 2007 Pagan Religious Rights Rally.   At the Tidal Basin, under the cherry blossoms, we prayed for Japan in 2011.  This is a place where we, as Pagans, also come to connect with the country, the world, and to fight for our rights.  Today, our sacred space was vandalized.  It makes me sad.” – Iris Firemoon, a Washington DC-area Pagan, on the recent vandalizing of the Lincoln Memorial.

Frater Barrabbas Tiresius

Frater Barrabbas Tiresius

“The pathway of witchcraft has already bifurcated into two basic groups; one that is open to new possibilities and is attracted to the dark history of witchcraft and pagan practices, and another that is seeking to create a modern pagan religion for the masses. I, for one, have accepted the former and eschewed the latter. Since I believe that most modern pagans in the West lack even a basic understanding of what it is to be a pagan, at least from the standpoint of antiquity, then I have no problem being part of the smaller population who is progressing to that place where the future beckons. That future doesn’t include any of the practices, fetishes or tropes of the BTW, and in fact it is beyond the comfortable domain of Gardnerian based modern witchcraft altogether. The real future of witchcraft (if it is to have a future) is to revitalize elements of the past and merge them with practical workings of today. The real future path, in my opinion, is to master archaic forms of sorcery and a kind of chthonic shamanism, and therein, to discover anew the dark mysteries pervading the ghost enshrouded domain of the earth.” – Frater Barrabbas Tiresius, on the “future path of witchcraft” at his Talking About Ritual Magick blog.

P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

“Thus, it is perfectly possible for someone who is gay, and who worships what they consider to be a gay god, to not be doing queer theology, using queer theory, or to be in any sense (outside of a homophobe’s pejorative usage) “queer.” If said gay person is of a majority or privileged group otherwise—being, perhaps, white, middle-class, cisgendered, monogamous, non-kinky, educated, and able-bodied—then the likelihood that wider societal pressures and the general push to “normalize” and assimilate will cause their spiritual activities (even though those may not be mainstream) to be relatively mainstream as well. Such a person in a modern Pagan context might, for example, celebrate or symbolically enact a Great Rite that has two gods instead of a goddess and a god, at least when they are by themselves or in a group of other gay men. Don’t get me wrong, though: I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with this, or that it shouldn’t go on. However, it should not be confused with what modern queer theory and theology consider “queer.” The definition of “queer,” in being reclaimed and re-negotiated, does not simply involve taking everything that has been degraded by the homophobic usage of the term and saying, “It’s all right.” “Queer” has questioned and gone beyond the original signifiers to which the homophobic usage was thought to correspond. Its definition is potentially far more wide-reaching than just atypical or minority sexualities and gender identities.” – P. Sufenas Virius Lupus, on what Queer Theology isn’t, and, what it could be.

Donald Michael Kraig

Donald Michael Kraig

“As a magician, I absolutely hate the concept of there being nothing I should do. Of course there is something I can do. There’s always something I can do to make a situation better. It’s called magick. The essence of magick is the ability to cause change. If what you do doesn’t cause change it may be ritual, but it’s not successful magick. So to acknowledge that I should do nothing is…difficult. And yet, there are times when we are all placed in situations where we can and should do nothing. At work, if you frequently have to “fix” the work of someone who is not doing their job properly, you are preventing him or her from realizing their problems and getting the training they need. You’re taking away their chance to fail and then grow. Always covering for someone because they can’t do the job isn’t helping the person or the company. In such a case you need to do nothing.”  – Donald Michael Kraig, on when there’s nothing you can do, at the Llewellyn Worldwide blog.

John Beckett

John Beckett

“Whenever you make a choice, you say “yes” to one thing and “no” to everything else.  But you don’t just say no to the choices you rejected, you also say no to everything that would have followed those choices.  Shortly after I graduated college, I was dissatisfied with my job.  I looked into going to graduate school full time.  But I already had a car payment – quitting my job would mean losing my car.  The decision to buy a car – that seemed so simple and necessary at the time – had effectively eliminated the option of going to graduate school full time.  With the loss of that option I also lost all the experiences I would have had as a full time graduate student and I locked myself into a series of experiences (and future options) in full time employment. Make enough choices –  including choosing not to choose and including choices you don’t recognize as choices at the time – and eventually you find yourself on a path that bears a strong resemblance to fate, even though it is simply the cumulative consequences of your free will.” – John Beckett, on fate, the gods, and free will.

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.

Dawn Hunt

Dawn Hunt

“It was a cool October morning and I had just finished a mediation to draw abundance and growth into my work. The phone rang and a lovely perky voice said “Hi Dawn! We have heard about you and think your website is wonderful!” She then went on to say that she worked for a large TV network and that they were looking for someone to represent the Pagan community on the show this year. With disbelief I listened intently. She described how she had called around and heard of Cucina Aurora Kitchen Witchery. Would I come down to Boston to cook for the preliminary judges? Hummmmm. Lemme Think….HELL YES!” – Dawn Hunt, owner of Cucina Aurora Kitchen Witchery, documenting her journey towards competing on the new season of Gordon Ramsey’s MasterChef (press release here).

Sannion

Sannion

“The first thing that I would tell them is that if all you’re going to be doing to honor the god is throw a party – then throw a huge party! Do it up right. Bed sheet togas and faux Classical decorations and the occasional “Hail Bacchus!” as someone slurps down jello-shots like brightly colored slugs? That’s fudging child’s play. He deserves better than that. Put some real thought and creativity into the proceedings. If you’re not giving him the fruit of genuine worship the least you can do is put on a decent show for his entertainment. Let your inner Martha Stewart loose. Torches and masks and swaths of fabric everywhere, grapelights and dildos and a giant ivy-decked idol in the center of the room … that’s a good start. But keep going. You’re only limited by your imagination. Aitch ee double hockey sticks, why not try something really fun and transgressive and have folks come in drag?” – Sannion, a Dionysian, on the question of what he’d do if frat boys came looking for advice on how to throw a party for Dionysos.

Joseph Bloch

Joseph Bloch

“One thing I often see, both from the reconstructionist and non-recon sides of Paganism, is a blind spot when it comes to sources that derive from Christian writers. I see this a lot particularly in Ásatrú and related Heathen faiths: when there’s a debate on something in the Sagas, or the Eddas, someone will inevitably chime in with the fact that most of the written lore comes down to us from Christian writers, who were writing after the official conversion from Heathen beliefs to Christianity, as if to shut down the discussion by impugning the sources. The reality, of course, is that without the written sources, we would know next to nothing about the religion of the Norse. Indeed, much of our knowledge of Roman Pagan religion also comes to us from Christian sources, and the watchword from a Pagan or Heathen point of view could be, ‘If the Christians were against it, it’s probably a good idea.'” – Joseph Bloch, at his Witches & Pagans blog, arguing the Pagans can learn a lot from the Christians.

P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

“The stories of the Christian tradition being built “on the blood of the martyrs” is a shaky notion at best from a historical viewpoint. Yet it has been used to assert the “Truth” of the Christian faith: no one would show the kind of courage it takes to die a martyr’s death if the undeniable “Truth” of the Christian Gospel were not true. It is, therefore, a kind of axiom that if one is persecuted for one’s Christian faith, then that demonstrates how “right” one is and how “true” one’s faith happens to be. In light of Moss’ historical investigation, this is a completely untenable position. Why, then, can’t the truth of Islam be claimed by the fact that various Muslim terrorists decide to blow themselves up on behalf of it? Double standards do not work in this case, or in any case where martyrdom is used as proof of a religion’s veracity. While there is much more of value in this book to explore and contemplate, it is this point that I think is the most important—not just for us as Pagans (and queer people!) to know in our dealings with Christians, but to know in our dealings with the rest of the world as well.”P. Sufenas Virius Lupus, citing the work of Candia Moss’ “The Myth of Persecution: How Early Christians Invented a Story of Martyrdom,” and noting how it hold lessons for modern Pagans.

T. Thorn Coyle

T. Thorn Coyle

“When we work toward our own healing, everything changes. Things ebb and flow – there will be times when we retreat from our interactions with the world in order to do some deep re-assessment or healing work that can’t be done during too much engagement. But then we cycle back out: we bring our healing selves into the world of change, into the world of joy, into the world of pain. [...] I won’t list everything that feels like it is going wrong in the world: all you have to do is check out the BBC, or Al Jazeera, or your Twitter feed to see it. I just want to remind us all that everything we do to counter injustice, dis-ease, hatred, or isolation, is a victory for the impetus of healing. The personal is political. The political is personal. We are interwoven. Re-member.”T. Thorn Coyle on becoming healers. 

Porsha Williams

Porsha Williams

“But Paganism – when you say the word ‘Pagan,’ ‘Kemetic’ or otherwise, their immediate thought is devil worship, they don’t see that there is any other religion, other than that, they don’t recognize it. Everyone goes to church every Sunday, you either go to the Methodist, church, the Lutheran church or the Baptist church. There are no ifs, ands or buts about it. And everyone knows and sees everyone, so not to see me there, knowing that I was raised in that church, and then to realize why, because I’m very open about it – that was hard on my parents … and it was hard on me because it alienated me more.” – Porsha Williams, speaking to a NPR Missouri affiliate about her conversion from Christianity to Kemeticism.

Frater Barrabbas (left) with fellow magician Tony Mierzwicki.

Frater Barrabbas (left) with fellow magician Tony Mierzwicki.

“However we judge Brian Daniels, he deserved to live out his full life without being murdered. It is an object lesson to all occultists that we need to ensure our own safety and well-being, despite the capriciousness of fate and that bad things do happen every day. It is also sad because even though Brian was one of those individuals who delighted in the “ooky-spooky” aspects of the occult, he was essentially harmless. Whether or not he was ever able to deal with his lifetime of mental problems and serious psychological defects will never be known. His story will remain basically untold, but one can assume that such troubles are never fully eliminated, and they may have contributed to the obvious poor choices that he made in regards to the affairs of the heart. Those poor choices prematurely ended his life; but I suspect that he was likely also lonely and without family support and care, and this can lead nearly anyone to make bad choices as far as friends and lovers are concerned. May whatever Deities were in alignment to Brian Daniels at the end assoil his troubled spirit and keep him in a place of peace forever.  All of this is, of course, quite sobering to me, and it shows that human nature is fragile, relationships and trust must be given to those who are truly worthy, and that life is precious. We must guard ourselves from the iniquities of those who would do us egregious harm, and seek the blessings of the Gods to ensure that this state is maintained.” – Frater Barrabas, on the murder of Brian Daniels, an occultist with whom he was acquainted.

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.

Ivo Dominguez Jr. of The Assembly of the Sacred Wheel participating in Rabbit's "I Stand Against Rape" campaign.

Ivo Dominguez Jr. of The Assembly of the Sacred Wheel participating in Rabbit’s “I Stand Against Rape” campaign.

“Live that truth. Speak up about rape. Take risks and say things out loud. Make sure you vote for those who respect the rights of women. Don’t worry about the economy so much: as the majority labor force in this country, and the majority in colleges and universities at this time, women will be able to figure things out with the economy once we are able to stop wasting our time on, you know, worrying about being raped or forced to have children who are products of rape. It is amazing how resourceful and smart we are about things like money, medicine, and astrophysics when we don’t have to trouble our pretty little heads about this other crap.” – Yeshe Rabbit, speaking about the “I Stand Against Rape” campaign, which invites men to make a public declaration against rape and share it with the world. You can see a selection of the participants, including my entry, at Rabbit’s Pintrest page.

T. Thorn Coyle

T. Thorn Coyle

“Patrick has offered service to the larger Pagan community at great expense to himself for many years, working in the US and on the international stage. It is a powerful thing to have a Pagan in such a high profile position at events like Awakened World. I feel grateful for his willingness to do this work, and will lend my support. Patrick, you’ve worked long and hard for us, and it is time for us to do some work to support you.”T.Thorn Coyle of Solar Cross Temple and Morningstar Mystery School writing in support of Patrick McCollum’s fundraising effort to send him to the Awakened World 2012 gathering in Italy.

Sam Webster (far right) with Chic and Sandra Tabatha Cicero, and Lon Milo DuQuette at a PantheaCon gathering.

Sam Webster (far right) with Chic and Sandra Tabatha Cicero, and Lon Milo DuQuette at a OSOGD PantheaCon gathering.

“As Socrates said (in the Apology), “the unexamined life is not worth living.” These kinds of questions are how humans have examined their lives by challenging themselves in their insight, or in their despair, to answer them. Or fail to. Here are the deep dark waters of the human experience. The record of humanity, especially the religious record, is the record of all the many ways we have attempted to answer them, as far back as writing goes, and arguably even farther. Long have we plumbed those depth and weighed those answers.”Sam Webster, founder of the Open Source Order of the Golden Dawn (OSOGD), and author of “Tantric Thelema,” on the topic of religion and spirituality.

Star Foster

Star Foster

“When you look at other religious cultures who have survived over the millennia, including polytheistic cultures, you find that the process of creating, expanding and strengthening family was extremely important. Like anything else, these traditional processes could be, and sometimes still are, used to abuse and harm. Just as with a knife that can both slice bread and cut flesh, we don’t simply abandon traditional things because they have the potential to be used to harm. We already work positively with elements that could be used to harm in the wrong hands: divination, initiation, magic, etc…” – Patheos Pagan Portal editor Star Foster, asking if arranged marriages would work for the Pagan community.

Frater Barrabbas (left) with fellow magician Tony Mierzwicki.

Frater Barrabbas (left) with fellow magician Tony Mierzwicki.

“I guess you could say that I prefer my current employment environment where my technical expertise is easily determined by tangible results that I produce every day. A professional magician would function more like a clinical psychologist, often with only some subjective testimonials indicating that the magick worked for this person or that it greatly helped them. As for me, my professional skill-set is constantly being challenged and measured, even certified by an official testing regimen. Since there is nothing like that in the occult world, then claims of self-mastery and teaching accolades would have to be verified by the subjective opinions of various individuals. For myself, I would find this too intangible and tenuous. There is also the problem that if I initiate and teach someone, any fees that I might apply to that teaching would have to be done on a purely “quid pro quo” basis. I could never charge another initiate anything more than what would cover my out of pocket expenses, if even that.” – Frater Barrabbas, on why he won’t become a Professional Pagan Magus.

Book cover for "Manifest Divinity".

Book cover for “Manifest Divinity”.

“I don’t believe just because you choose not to do something that you are a bad person.  I think you made a different choice.  You have to live in our society so you get to decide what you will do and won’t do.  Society is differnet for different people.  We know people in the Pagan community who are very closeted, whose family doesn’t know what their actual spiritual practice is.  And we know people who just can’t understand why you can’t be spiritual every minute of the day and out there and open and loud and proud.  The culture you are living in is not necessarily as uniform as we’d like to believe.” – Lisa Spiral Besnett, author of “Manifest Divinity,” responding to a question from PNC Minnesota about personal boundaries and choosing not to do what a deity has told you to do.

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.

“Covered in Light is a Sisterhood of Pagan/Polytheist self-identified women who have chosen, or are called, to cover their hair as part of their religious observance. In no way are we oppressed, objectified, suppressed, or made to feel like a second class citizen. The covering of our hair is a sacred act of devotion to our chosen Deities and therefore is approached with devotion and reverence. We welcome all women from all walks of life to join our Sisterhood if they feel led to do so. Trans-women and women of other faiths who are Pagan/Polytheist friendly and who embrace the Divine Mother are also welcome amongst us with open arms.”Cora Post, from Covered In Light. They are sponsoring the First Annual International Covered in Light Day on September 21st, 2012.

Michael Lloyd

Michael Lloyd

“It is important to recognize that most large gatherings which are billed as “national” events generally pull the bulk of their attendees from the region in which the event is being held. And there is anecdotal evidence to show that, when such a gathering is moved farther afield due to a necessary change in venue, the area from which attendees are drawn likewise tends to shift to focus on the new geographic center. When Julian Hill and I created the Between the Worlds Men’s Gathering in 2002, we initially foresaw it as a regional gathering for gay and bi men residing within a 500 mile radius of Columbus, Ohio. However, in the first year we had attracted someone from Texas, and inquiries from as far afield as Mexico and France. By the second year we had people attend from as far away as Washington State. After 10 years we’ve pulled people from Hawaii, as well as from Ontario and Manitoba, Canada. And yet the bulk of the attendees have remained within the 500 mile radius that we had initially targeted. This is due primarily to the economics and practicality of transporting camping gear, ritual accoutrements, and fabulous costumes cross-country. Therefore, I believe that most events–even those with large draws from farther afield–are already essentially regional in nature.” – Michael Lloyd, a co-founder and former co-facilitator (2002-2011) of the Between the Worlds Men’s Gathering, an annual spiritual retreat for men who love men. He’s author of the forthcoming book “Bull of Heaven: The Mythic Life and Times of Eddie Buczynski.” Lloyd was responding to a series on the Talking About Ritual Magick blog that asked if Pagan festivals are doomed to an inevitable decline.

Aidan Kelly in younger days.

Aidan Kelly in younger days.

“However, there is more to the Craft than just being a newly respectable religion for middle-class intellectuals. Tell me, you initiates, did you come to the Craft in order to supposedly work magic by reading a script? In order to take a politically correct attitude toward ecology and the environment? Or were you lured in by the Goddess, by the archetype of Aradia as the rebel against corruption and oppression? Or did you find the Craft because you were sick of being lied to by the established churches? If your primary allegiance is to searching out truth, as mine is, then you are a sixth type of Witch, for which there is not yet an established term.” – Aidan Kelly, exploring “What is a Witch?”

Frater Barrabbas (left) with fellow magician Tony Mierzwicki.

Frater Barrabbas (left) with fellow magician Tony Mierzwicki.

“Large regional festivals and conventions probably face a limited future, and will not be likely to persist in the decades ahead, what with the impact of limited resources and the necessity to adapt to changing times. Large gatherings may be more likely to occur once a decade, if at all. Local organizations and events are much more sustainable and these will likely persist and flourish in the future. Yet the most profound kind of gathering will be the intensive retreat, called Witch Camp by some, and perhaps spawning many variations in the future, each established for different regional areas and different traditions, practices and beliefs. It is my opinion that the future of our spiritual movement will be shaped not by social gatherings or even by individual groups or covens, but by intensive retreats that will give a level of spiritual authenticity to our beliefs and practices which normal activities and engagements fail to offer.” – Frater Barrabbas, “Are Pagan Festivals Dead? – Part 3″

“The [Witchcraft Suppression] Act makes possessing knowledge, or professing to possess knowledge of ‘witchcraft’ illegal, and by its title, seeks to suppress witchcraft. It also prohibits divination, a practice shared by both traditional healers who identify as iZangoma, and Pagans who identify as witches. [...]  Traditional beliefs do not assume that a witch may be innocent of such accusation because it is believed that such criminal acts are in keeping with the nature of the practice of Witchcraft. The alliance has advocated against witch hunts and accusations of witchcraft since 2007. Our annual campaign focuses on research, advocacy and education. We believe that accusations of witchcraft cannot be legislated away.” – Damon Leff, director of the South African Pagan Rights Alliances (SAPRA), speaking to The Citizen on South Africa’s Witchcraft Suppression Act.

Iris Firemoon with David Salisbury

Iris Firemoon with David Salisbury

“Obesity in the Pagan community is a part of the larger issue of health.  And health is not just about weight.  It is about treating our bodies as sacred.  It’s about what we put into our bodies and making sure that they are in the best condition possible for the long haul.  It’s about putting things into our bodies that were created by nature or the gods, not by putting synthetic replicas into our bodies as a substitute. It’s something that not only Pagans struggle with, but health is a consideration for all humans.  When we are at the height of our possible health (which is different for all of us because of genetics, injury, etc.), we improve the quality of our life.  We reduce disease.  We prolong life.  We feel better for longer.  I strongly believe that our bodies respond better to invasions and prevent disease when they are in optimal condition.  We are better vessls for divine work.  We are better able to serve.  We are better able to participate.”Iris Firemoon, responding to a conversation started by Peter Dybing on obesity within the modern Pagan movement.

Joseph Merlin Nichter (aka WitchDoctorJoe)

Joseph Merlin Nichter (aka WitchDoctorJoe)

“We have started the NPCCA [National Pagan Correctional Chaplains Association] as an affiliate program, a product of our existing organization, Mill Creek Seminary, and have just begun the first in a three phase development plan. Phase one will focus on membership development and organizational growth. We are proud to announce that the NPCCA is now accepting applications for membership from Pagans who actively engage in prison ministry, provide some form of religious service within the field of corrections, or have a strong religious organizations which have a prison ministry program  or who are interested in participating, contributing or supporting Pagan chaplaincy.” – Joseph Merlin Nichter (aka WitchDoctorJoe), on the formation of the National Pagan Correctional Chaplains Association.

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

This year Pagan Spirit Gathering (PSG), a Midwest Pagan festival that’s been running for more than 30 years, broke attendance records, drawing over 1000 people to the week-long event. The West Coast Pagan convention PantheaCon, held each February in San Jose, California, has gotten so popular that they’ve introduced a new reservations system to prevent individuals from gaming the system. Pagan-friendly fantasy-oriented events like Faerieworlds are anticipating record-breaking numbers this Summer, and even brand-new Pagan events like Paganicon in Minnesota are growing at a healthy rate. It seems like Pagan festivals and conventions, at least in the United States, are doing great, but are the days of the large Pagan event that draws a national or even international audience numbered? That’s what Frater Barrabbas Tiresius at the Talking About Ritual Magick blog argues.

Solstice Fire at Pagan Spirit Gathering

Solstice Fire at Pagan Spirit Gathering

“There are many factors that are shaping the future in which we will live and they will probably have a profound impact on Pagans and Wiccans being able to assemble in large groups, unless of course, those groups are local and sustainable in the long term [...] times are indeed changing and the need for such large gatherings may have achieved the upper limit in terms of both usefulness and sustainability. By usefulness I am saying that merely getting together for what would seem to be mostly a social gathering with sprinkling of some workshops, presentations, rituals, live music and the selling of obscure books and goods may not represent what is really needed or relevant for our growing population of practitioners and followers. By sustainability, I am thinking of the availability of resources to gather together in large regional or even international groups. Traveling by car or plane does impact the environment with pollutants and it also uses up precious resources, namely fossil fuels. These resources will probably become a lot more expensive in the decades ahead.”

In short, if I’m reading Frater Barrabbas’ argument correctly, the looming reality of peak oil, the effects of global warming, along with other factors, will eventually make the larger gatherings too expensive for anyone outside the immediate area to attend. That right now we are witnessing the upper limit of the Pagan festival phenomenon, one that might continue for several more years, but will eventually crumble. Is this prediction accurate? We are certainly seeing hotter summers each year, and scientists predict this will be the norm, with some areas seeing “the permanent emergence of unprecedented summer heat” in the next 20 years. Already, the record-breaking heatwaves being experienced in many parts of the United States are causing disruptions in all aspects of our transportation grid, a situation that could worsen as average summer temperatures increase. If long-range transportation becomes unreliable during the summer months, that would certainly keep many people close to home.

Airplane stuck on melted tarmac.

Airplane stuck on melted tarmac.

Environmental shifts changing the way we live our lives was recently discussed here at The Wild Hunt in a review of John Michael Greer’s new book “The Blood of the Earth.” Greer reminds us, and has been reminding us for years, that things will eventually change. That we cannot be forever insulated from the reality many parts of the world already face, resource shortages, and ever-inflating prices for the kind of travel we once took for granted. That we as Pagans, many of whom claim a special connection to the natural world, need to be ready to experience and live in this shift. This is echoed by Barrabbas, who advocates that Pagans start acting like those days are already here, and plan their events accordingly.

“As followers of earth-based spirituality, we should not only be aware of these facts, but actually embrace them and start planning and acting as if those times were already here.”

Barrabbas’ post is just the first in a series, one that I look forward to reading, especially his conclusions and recommendations, but I can take a few guesses of my own at where this line of thinking will go. Primarily, face-to-face Pagan events will become either regional or hyper-local affairs, and that national and international figures in the Pagan community will increasingly have to “attend” such events virtually. That “Pagan community” will increasingly lean on the powers of social networking to bind itself together. This reality is, in many respects, already here. Sociologist Helen A. Berger, in a revisitation of her Pagan Census project from the late 1990’s, noted that we are becoming increasingly solitary and eclectic, and that a majority of us already depend on the Internet as our main interaction with co-religionists and adherents of other Pagan faiths.

How often do we communicate with other Pagans?

How often do we communicate with other Pagans?

“Solitary practice and training outside of groups, most likely through books and the Internet, appears to be the future of the religion.”Helen A. Berger

Noted figures in our community, like T. Thorn Coyle, have already begun embracing a model that integrates virtual communication into their teaching. Producing a subscription web-series that students can use, including a private forum, giving access to Thorn and her teachings, without the need for her to travel constantly. The next step would seem to be virtual panels and virtual presentations at Pagan conventions and events that couldn’t afford to fly in a “big-name” Pagan. This would not only be “greener” but will ultimately be the only practical way to host such an event on a limited budget.

I think the age of the virtual and the hyper-local are upon us, and the quicker we accept that and learn to adapt, the better. Larger Pagan events can prepare now by investing in the infrastructure necessary to have a virtual component to all indoor events that used to welcome several noted teachers or religious leaders (projection screens, audio equipment, computers). We should set a goal so that in the next ten years, we will be ready for when these shifts in lifestyle become mandatory, rather than a lifestyle option. As Pagans, we can set an example for how to keep our communities close-knit and vibrant while dealing with the ramifications of our society’s choices. In a way, our heavy reliance on social networking, on virtual communication, to bind us together gives us a necessary head start. One we should exploit to make our events as environmentally sustainable as possible.

For more on this subject, stay tuned to the Talking About Ritual Magick blog, and I hope to revisit this topic after his series is completed, talking with some festival and convention organizers about what they think will be sustainable in the coming decades.

Top Story: The Associated Press reports that a mob of Haitian Christians threw rocks and drove out a small group of Vodou practitioners who were trying to perform a ritual for the dead.

“Voodooists gathered in Cite Soleil where thousands of quake survivors live in tents and depend on food aid. Praying and singing, the group was trying to conjure spirits to guide lost souls when a crowd of Evangelicals started shouting. Some threw rocks while others urinated on Voodoo symbols. When police left, the crowd destroyed the altars and Voodoo offerings of food and rum.”

A member of the anti-Vodou mob claimed the Vodouisants “came and took over” while they were preparing for prayer, drawing the ire of the tent-city inhabitants. This latest incident seems to only highlight the increasing religious tensions in Haiti as several Christian missionary groups see an opportunity to expand and evangelize. Some Christian aid groups are allegedly using baptism certificates as identity papers for the purpose of distributing food.

“People see rice being distributed in front of churches and those homeless now needing papers are being offered baptism certificates that can act as identity documents,” Voodoo priest Max Beauvoir told The Associated Press before speaking at Friday’s service. “The horrible thing though is that by rejecting Voodoo these people are rejecting their ancestors and history. Voodoo is the soul of the Haitian people. Without it, the people are lost.”

There is a very real chance that post-earthquake Haiti could see a massive, and unreported, crack-down on Vodou in the weeks and months to come. Further threatening an already misunderstood and demonized faith. Leaving us with the question of what ideology will guide the hand that rebuilds Haiti? We can only hope that Max Beauvoir and other emerging Haitian Vodou voices can keep the international community aware of Haiti’s native faith.

In Other News:

The Rise and Fall of Bill Schnoebelen: I recently mentioned professional ex-Witch/Satanist/Mormon/Mason/Vampire Bill Schnoebelen in the context of a Christianity Today article looking at the popularity of vampires. Now, author and ritual magician Frater Barrabbas, who actually worked with Schnoebelen for several years while he was still a Witch, is reprinting a long essay about his experiences in several parts on his blog.

“Bill proceeded to involve the whole coven in his personal magick and his personal pathos, seeing himself as the ultimate authority in all situations, and perhaps this is where things went wrong. However, we did not indulge in child pornography, rape, murder, larceny, kidnaping, torture, animal sacrifice, blood drinking, and shooting up strange evil drugs. Bill claims that this is what witches do, that he whole-heartedly participated in them, and it’s possible that he did indulge in some of the milder of these practices. Yet the more outrageous were realized exclusively within the confines of his imagination.”

This may be the definitive behind-the-scenes look at the man who would eventually pen  “Wicca: Satan’s Little White Lie“. I recommend that everyone read through the posts, and subscribe to Frater Barrabbas’ intelligent and well-written blog. On the same subject, I’d also urge you to check out John Morehead’s criticisms of using Schnoebelen as a source from a Christian perspective.

Don’t Mess With Heathens in Iceland: The Iceland Review reports on an act of sorcery against Iceland’s enemies, and high chieftain Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson (a friend of both Bjork and Sigur Ros) claims that the working is, well, working.

“An act of sorcery against “Iceland’s enemies,” undertaken by members of the pagan society Ásatrúarfélagid in Iceland at the beginning of the economic crisis, finally seems to be delivering the desired results, as high chieftain Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson pointed out on the news yesterday—the Dutch government has collapsed and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s political career is hanging by a thread.”

You can read more about the initial ritual, here. The moral of this story? Don’t mess with the Asatru in Iceland, unless you want your economy to crumble and your politicians to falter. At least they didn’t call for a blight on their lands.

Johnny Depp & The WM3: Superstar actor Johnny Depp is diving head-first into advocacy on behalf of the West Memphis 3, the actor will appear on CBS’s ’48 Hours to call for their release. The case, in which three teens were convicted of murdering three children, has long drawn criticism for using “Satanic Panic” to gain convictions.

“Depp is not alone in his belief that the men were convicted on flimsy or fabricated evidence. He joins stars like Eddie Vedder, Winona Ryder, the Dixie Chicks and Disney teen star Demi Lovato in insisting the men were actually found guilty for their fascination with heavy-metal music, Stephen King and the occult. “I firmly believe Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley are totally innocent. It was a need for swift justice to placate the community,” Depp says on Saturday’s show.”

Momentum has long been building for something to be done in this case, not only among actors and activists, but by many legal organizations as well. With Damien Echols on death row, and legal appeals running out, one can only hope that real justice emerges before it’s too late.

Telling the Story of the Pendle Witches: The Lancashire Telegraph spotlights author Mary Sharratt, who’s forthcoming historical novel, “Daughters of the Witching Hill”, tells the story of the infamous Pendle witches.

“Set during the infamous witch trials of 1612, which took place at Lancaster Assizes, the novel features the people involved and according to Mary, a large amount of her research involved scrutinising the transcript recorded by Thomas Potts, a clerk at the court.”

You can read more about the book, and why she wrote it, here. I’ve received an advance copy of the book, and I can heartily recommend it. I’ll be featuring an interview with Sharratt at The Wild Hunt in April as part of her promotional tour for the novel. So keep an eye out for that!

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