Archives For Iris Firemoon

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 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!

On Monday night, Pagan chaplain and activist Patrick McCollum held a press conference at the 2011 Pagan Spirit Gathering where he discussed the recent 9th Circuit Court ruling in the Patrick M. McCollum; et al., v. California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation; et al. case. The PSG Media Camp have provided me with audio of the entire Q&A, which I have uploaded to Archive.org for public dissemination. The audio is in the public domain and may be rebroadcast by any podcast or radio show so long as proper attribution is made.

Listen to/download the audio here.

Here’s the initial write-up of the press conference from PNC reporter Cara Schulz:

McCollum calls press conference to clear up misconceptions in Pagan prisoner rights case. Alleges state admitted to perjury, destroyed key documents. Systemic discrimination. Says states are moving to end chaplain programs and replace with privately funded Evangelical chaplains. McCollum must decide next step in legal battle withing the day, asks community for input.

Monday night, Pagan minister and civil rights activist Patrick McCollum called a press conference at the 2011 Pagan Spirit Gathering.  McCollum discussed the recent 9th Circuit Court ruling in the Patrick M. McCollum; et al., v. California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation; et al. case.  McCollum called the presser to clear up what he saw as misunderstandings and misrepresentations of the case in the mainstream media and in the Pagan community.  He also said that the Pagan community needs to know how this case affects Pagans across the country, both inside and outside the prison system.

McCollum stated since this is a federal case, it affects how the government interacts with minority faiths far beyond the borders of California.  Likewise, the nature of the case doesn’t limit it to only the prison system.  It is applicable to all federal agencies.  McCollum said if the Pagan community understood how the ruling could be applied and that it does affect them, they would mobilize similar to the VA Pentacle Quest.

McCollum said this action by the correctional department was part of a larger movement by fundamentalist Christians to  use governmental institutions to pressure persons to convert to aggressively proselytize, such as was seen in the Air Force Academy in the USA.  Aggressive, and sometimes violent, proselytizing is also being carried on by some Evangelical groups in places like Haiti, India, and in Africa.  He outlined how the California correctional system officials heavily discriminated against McCollum and Pagan inmates over a period of years while pressing him to file a lawsuit.  Prison systems in three other states have since cited court costs associated with minority religion discrimination cases, such as the one McCollum filed, as a reason to end the state run chaplain program.  The prison systems then allow private religious 501c3s to bid on administering a private chaplain program and the groups selected pay all costs.  McCollum says that Pagans shouldn’t be surprised that the winners of these bids are mainly Evangelical Christian groups.

McCollum listed how prison officials had admitted to perjury, shredded thousands of inmate grievance filings, and how the court had continued to use the perjured testimony as a basis for its ruling.  He also noted that the headlines stating he lost a ruling based on standing is incorrect.  The case was started as a class action lawsuit involving prison inmates, but that portion of the case was thrown out.

Towards the end of the press conference McCollum said that he had a decision to make regarding the case.  If McCollum decided to continue fighting this in court, it could be 8 or more years before there is a final resolution.  He has already been involved in this case for over seven years.  He said it is very emotionally and financially draining to fight a legal battle of this magnitude, but he has done so because it’s the right thing to do.  He laid out his options as he sees them.  He could push this fight through and seek to eventually end up in the Supreme Court.  He noted that SCOTUS hears very few cases each year and the likelihood of the court taking this case is small.  He could seek a settlement with the state of California.  Or he could drop the case and fight it in the public arena similar to the pentacle Quest.  For any of these options he would need the support of the entire Pagan community.  It is for this reason that McCollum is seeking to hear from the community on what they feel he should do – continue in the courts or drop the case and use social pressure to affect change.  He asks that Pagans comment quickly as he was given a shortened time frame to decide.  He has less than 24 hours from the time of this publication.

Another PSG media camp member, Iris Firemoon from PNC-Washington D.C., has posted a Facebook event to ask for community feedback on what move Patrick should take in this struggle.

We’ll post further updates as we know more. My thanks to Star Foster for recording and getting this audio to me.

[The following is a guest post by David Salisbury and Iris Firemoon. They are both clergy with The Firefly House, a nature-based church that works to build community through environmental awareness, education, spirituality, and service. In addition, David heads up the Pagan Newswire Collective’s Washington D.C. bureau (aka Capital Witch) of which Iris is a contributor.]

This piece is presented as two narratives, the first from David Salisbury, the second from Iris Firemoon.

David Salisbury:

On Sunday through Tuesday, Iris Firemoon and myself had the pleasure of attending Clergy Call for Justice and Equality, a biennial conference sponsored by the Human Rights Campaign. This year, nearly 300 faith leaders from every state in the country gathered to discuss the state of LGBT issues in America. The main message of Clergy Call is that religion is no longer a means to hinder the growth of civil rights issues. Instead, it is a way to advance the concept that equality is for all people born of the divine. This was shown in the representation of more than twenty faith traditions. Clergy Call is likely the largest gathering of clergy to discuss and advocate for LGBT issues, in the world. This year’s conference is of interest to our community as it was the first time that Pagans were there and joined with leaders of the more mainstream faith traditions to advocate for these issues.

Many of us would agree that it can be difficult for Pagans to get an equal seat at the table of any interfaith effort. Upon meeting with these faith leaders (most of whom were from some Christian denomination), I found it hard to think of why this might be the case. Throughout the conference there were several instances where we were asked to split up by state groups. Iris and I attended breakout session with residents of both DC and Maryland. In these settings, it became clear that not only were we the only Pagans there, but we were the only non-Christians as well. And you know what? It didn’t matter in the slightest. When the opportunity came for us all to discuss our religious backgrounds, no one seemed to bat an eye when we said we represented a Wiccan church and were there to do our best to represent different traditions of Paganism. They had some questions, yet they were all kind and presented with a genuine curiosity and intrigue. Dinner on Monday night landed me in a heavy theological discussion on profound religious experiences with an episcopal pastor. I felt like I was chatting with any other High Priest about the mysteries of the divine. I have always thought that what we call “the mysteries” transcend religious borders and this experiences cemented that belief for me.

David Salisbury with other Maryland-based clergy.

In our conference sessions we viewed presentations on everything from youth homelessness to the legacy of civil rights leader Bayard Rustin. Our pens were busy with activity as we learned new ways to bring the spirit of openness and unity to our various congregations throughout the country. No matter our area or faith, concerns of the safety of youth, employment protections, and marriage equality were shared by all.

Tuesday was the final day of the conference and was set aside to lobby state senators and representatives on various pieces of equality legislation and to share the stories of our congregations. As I marched across capitol hill with a rabbi to my right and a methodist minister to my left, we sang out prayers of blessing and and strength for our meetings ahead. It was quite a sight to see both the senate and house offices filled with people of faith discussing important issues with legislators from every state. I would venture to say its unlikely that Pagans have ever participated in an organized lobbying day with such a religiously diverse crowd.

As the sun set on a ten hour day of lobbying, I was left with two powerful feelings. The first was pride in knowing that I participated in the civic process for issues that are important to me. The second (and one that I’ll never forget) was the satisfaction of having made friends and professional contacts with clergy from more faith traditions than I ever thought possible. Knowing that there are people of faith out there willing to work together to bring about justice brings me feelings of both hope and power. For this reason, I highly recommend that Pagans get more proactive in being involved with interfaith work of any kind. Though it may seem daunting at first, you’re likely to find the experience both pleasant and fulfilling. Though the mill of this work still turns, progress is being made and we should certainly be part of it.

David Salisbury
LGBT Ministry, The Firefly House

Iris Firemoon:

I had the honor to join David Salisbury from CapitalWitch.com at the Clergy Call of the Human Rights Campaign to talk about activism in justice and equality in not only the LGBT community, but for all people. It was an incredible experience to sit in the pews with representatives from all 50 states, including a delegation of four from Hawaii. It struck us that this event was so important that someone came from Alaska and four people came from Hawaii. We just had to get on the Metro, but people crossed oceans and flew through Canada to be here. And, we were the first Pagans to be present at this gathering of faith leaders from all over the country. We were in a room with people who had been fighting for civil rights for all people for decades. Notable civil rights activists, who when spotted in the crowd, the presenters had to stop in the middle of a speech and ask for a round of applause.

Gathered clergy at the HRC Clergy Call.

Rev. Elder Darlene Garner gave the invocation, and in her words rang true a common theme, “We are not truly free until we are all free.” In the speeches and in the conversations with Clergy Call participants, the notion that we were fighting for LGBT rights was a part of this larger issue of total freedom. These rights that transcend sexuality, or that because one’s rights often find themselves based around one’s gender and sexual orientation conformity, we are fighting for the equal rights of all. We weren’t just standing up for LGBT rights, we were standing up for Black rights, Latino rights, worker’s rights, women’s rights, immigration reform, healthcare reform, religious freedom, resources for mental health, resources for folks who find themselves homeless, and so much more. We were standing up for the rights of all of us to be who we are, no matter our religion, our skin color, our sexual orientation, our gender, our gender identity, our age, or our disability. LGBT was the front of this movement, because there was action here, but this wasn’t the only focus. Joe Solemnese, the President of the Human Rights Campaign, stated that a poll taken said 86 percent of people said that their faith made then believe that all people deserve equal rights, including LGBT folks.

So, as a straight Pagan faith leader who is an ally of the LGBT community, I am not just fighting for the rights of my fellow humans, my fellow Americans, my fellow women, and my fellow Pagans, but I am fighting for my own rights. It was mentioned how we often draw the line in the sand and say that we’re only going to help Pagans. Only going to help women. Only going to help Black people. Only going to help those in the LGBT community. Only going to help those like me. But, we’re all in this together. And, we just have to help.

One of the first sessions we attended was a talk about LGBT homelessness in youth. A good majority of homeless youth are homeless because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Right off the bat, I was asking myself what I could do. What can we as Pagan faith communities do for these homeless youth? And, in a lunch presentation about military families, and how LGBT partners of soldiers who die in the line of duty are often cut out of the support provided for the family. In one example, because one family did not recognize the sexual orientation of their child as valid, a partner was not permitted by the family of a deceased service member to see the body or attend the funeral. And, our system is set up to allow that to happen, because the partner was not legally recognized. So, a group of folks got together and started providing support to those LGBT military families who find themselves cut off from support when their loved one dies. I ask myself what the Pagan community can do to help. In a breakout session, I paired up with a Methodist clergy person from Minnesota, and she told me about folks who are legally married in their states, but their partners face deportation, because the federal government doesn’t recognize same sex partners as sponsors. Again, I asked myself what we as a Pagan community could do to help.

David and I spoke with a transgender minister from Seattle who had taken in a transgender community member who had fallen on hard times. The deal had been a place to stay for two weeks, but that two weeks turned into six weeks with no way out. The minister said that after coming to Clergy Call, him and his wife knew that they had given all that they could give, and it would be time to ask their company to leave. And, this vibrated with me, because I kept thinking of ways that the Pagan community could help without putting ourselves in too deep that we loose ourselves.

I found a few ideas that I am going to act on as ways to be active, to engage in work that bring all of us closer to freedom without loosing myself. I will share some of them as I explore options for helping, so that you, too, might feel engaged to lend a hand. To give. To serve. To be a part of healing this bigger human community. Because we were the first Pagans to sit in this delegation of faith leaders, we have a responsibility to bring back to our faith community these mechanisms for change. Yes, we were the first, but that came with much responsibility to act.

Iris Firemoon
High Priestess, The Firefly House

I’d like to thank both Iris and David for participating and reporting on this historic first for the Pagan community. As Pagan academic and author Michael York said, “freedom has to be the highest pagan goal and virtue.” By making our voices heard, by showing up, by becoming a part of the conversation, we further the goals of working towards freedom and equality for all people, and all faiths.