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.
“Strings and wires and cords bind me and embrace me and restrain me, but they are not mine alone. There are other filaments, unseen but always felt, invisible but ever-present. Some tie you to me, thoughts and dreams, laughter and hatred, what is shared and what is feared. I meet you and we are tethered, sometimes anchored, sometimes set aloft like connected balloons slipping from the hands of children into the endlessness of sky. Some tie me to you, affection or dislike, duty or admiration, care or casualty, love or loss. Some are like chains which weigh upon the soul, but many others like long stitches which keep us together. Not just in present, either. There are the threads of fate woven into my form and existence at birth and from even before, the tugging strong rope of destiny unfolding, and all the myriad unfollowed threads of stories and sorrows, possibilities and failures still loose. I’ve heard existence spoken of as a web, but I have never quite felt this true. Webs are spun to constrict and trap, to bind and kill. A broken strand does not destroy it. Its patterns can be predicted, its geometry assured. No. Rather, then, a tapestry, woven from time and the self, of threads countless and coloured, and each strand is you, and you, and you, and some of them are me.” Rhyd Wildermuth, on strings, and the tapestry of existence.
“Part of the process of community building is realizing that community will be composed of others potentially quite unlike ourselves. We must be willing to release our preconceptions and allow others to speak for themselves. Others are not simply mirrors, dully reflecting our own images back to us, they possess a depth and mystery all their own. When we interpret the speech of others as metaphor, we strip them of their depth, of the richness of their experience, and refuse to acknowledge any unique substance in them. Simply, others are reduced to pale imitations of ourselves, and can only be understood as phantom extensions of our own being. This is a subtle form of solipsism. The strategy of reinterpretation becomes even more troublesome when the speech of others becomes so unique, so different from our own expectations, that it naturally resists all attempts to be read as metaphor. We will encounter others with whom we share so little in common that descriptions of their own experiences will find little to no resonance among our own store of memory. In such situations we are forced to either employ extreme hermeneutical maneuvers in order to apologize their speech with our experience or disregard it as nonsense. Alternatively, we could, most simply, just accept it as it is presented to us.” - Julian Betkowski, on resisting the urge towards metaphor in our interactions with others.
“Even to use the word “community” when speaking of Pagans would seem to be a misnomer. There is no Pagan community where I live. There is just a small group of Pagans who get together over coffee every two weeks and then go their own way. They have no interest in working together on community projects or in working with those of non-Pagan religions. They don’t have any interest in creating any sort of Pagan community so why care about reaching out to the rest of the interfaith community at all? It seems to me we have become as judgmental and as intolerant of each other as those other religions we complain of when they do the same. Perhaps our interfaith work as Pagans needs to begin with ourselves. If we cannot find tolerance and an ability to work together between the various forms of Paganism, what chance do we have of finding it in the outside world? Something to remember about interfaith work is that it isn’t all about talking about your beliefs and practices with others; although, education to end misinformation is certainly part of what we in interfaith hope to accomplish. Rather successful interfaith is about gathering those of many faiths who have an interest in programs to benefit their community, to promote social justice, and to work to the good of all. It is through working side by side on such programs that we come to acknowledge that we are all human and that we can and do care for each other. Maybe this is where the various Pagan religions need to start.” – Carol Kirk (aka Lark), on interfaith within the Pagan movement.
“What matters to me is that we leave behind a viable culture and a real infrastructure as Pagans. Infrastructure is the single most important next step. Things that are tangible and real in the physical world are infrastructure. It could be a building, be land, be a library or a shrine or temple. A large event like Pantheacon is infrastructure too. It takes a large number of individuals, money, time, and energy to create this Brigadoon type of event that lasts only a few days. Three thousand people intersect in a great Pagan crossroads, like a Pagan United Nations session. This is also fragile, it takes very little to destroy an event. It take a lot to maintain, and requires cohesiveness of a group to continue. How we hope to maintain things like this is by this example. We put on an event every few years called Between the Worlds. In 2015 it conflicts with a smaller annual event in the Mid-Atlantic area the Sacred Space conference. We could just go forth and divide the teachers and participants between the two events. The smaller group would probably suffer financially and possibly become less viable. Our two boards met and decided to hold a joint conference. Both events will take place in the same hotel and admission to one gets you admission to the other. We have worked it out to be fair and keep both events, the infrastructure viable. Cooperation is possible, it is not easy. It is messy, but it can be done.” – Ivo Dominguez Jr., on what Paganism needs to accomplish in the next 20 years.
“Here was a great book; a practical step-by-step guide, with detailed tables and illustrations, that explained magick in a direct, matter-of-fact manner which encouraged scientific thinking and observation of empirical evidence. Sometimes I am a little obsessive about things, and I threw myself into the Work. I did the year-long course delineated in Mr. Kraig’s excellent textbook in six months. This is not something I recommend, by the way. My life went promptly to hell for the next two years, grounded in personal magickal transformation and teenage angst. But I emerged from that period as a very strong person, with a lifelong appreciation for and love of magick and the Craft. I credit Modern Magick with significantly improving my magickal technique; because the training was excellent, and because I did it at such a young age. I have seen this book since listed among recommendations for “Advanced” material that long-time Witches, bored with the basic how-to books, could go to in order to take their practice to the next step.” – Sable Aradia, on how Donald Michael Kraig impacted her life and religious practice.
“I bet you’ve always felt special, haven’t you? Be honest with yourself. I’d wager that even as a child you you were haunted by the uneasy feeling that you were different from everyone else around you. You probably felt (and still feel) profoundly alone with a host of naughty feelings, secret fears, disturbing dreams, curious passions, and desires that are uniquely yours and yours alone. Compared to everyone else, you might consider yourself quietly odd, different, perhaps even defective or incomplete. Nevertheless, even though all of us to one degree or another secretly believe ourselves to be profoundly and fundamentally flawed, we simultaneously believe we are the most special, most interesting, most fascinating person in the universe—the super-star of our own movie, the protagonist of our own novel, the most important actor in the great drama of existence. Am I right? Don’t worry if your answer is “yes.” You’re probably not too crazy. And you’re certainly not alone in your megalomania. Everyone feels that way—and for good reason. Because it’s true!” - Lon Milo DuQuette, on finding the Muse.
“Recently, I found myself feeling like I was running through a gauntlet within a local Facebook group by a few members of the group who had a serious problem with Christopaganism. Their problem was centered on their understanding of, “the Bible says this…” What transpired was a litany of Bible passages they felt that condemned Paganism. I responded that I didn’t feel it necessary to “proof text” with them and volley back with other Bible passages. I responded that I didn’t feel the Bible was “inerrant” and that I believed it was written by people struggling to make meaning out of their world. I mentioned that what was important was the hermeneutic one used to interpret the entire text and not taking various texts out of context to use as a “theological weapon” against another. What does it mean for Pagans if we become what we say we are not? One does not need to embrace Christopaganism to dialogue about it for understanding. What does it say if we become the type of community that expects tolerance from others without practicing tolerance? This is the heart of the dilemma I presented. This same treatment I’m advocating towards Christopaganism should be offered towards other forms of Paganism different from one’s own. As a community, Paganism is starting to mature. We’re starting to “come of age,” and with that comes responsibility. In life it is often common to give youth or adolescence a “pass” from time to time with the explanation of, “Well they’re young…” As a community we’re reaching a point where we can no longer be given a pass. We need to practice the tolerance that we covet for ourselves and when we fall short of this, and we will, we need to acknowledge our shortcomings and keep trying.” - David Oliver Kling, on practicing what you preach.
“Do you know that thing which happens to some performers, who are great in a performance in front of thousands of people, but then they falter when they know that their mother is in the audience? This kind of feels like that: I’ve done rituals halfway across the world, and in many other parts of the U.S. (including not far from here, in Anacortes and Seattle and Bellingham), in front of large groups of people, but this is different. Two people who will be there have only done/been at one other ritual, ever (this one!), and while I’d like it to be good for them, at the same time, I know that pretty much anything will be good as far as they’re concerned…And, I know the main Diva who will be receiving our praises appreciates anything and everything that people are able to do for her, and should be pleased with this (which may be the largest group I’ve ever had for a ritual to her–the next-largest being myself and two others, including Erynn Rowan Laurie, in 2009 at her house, and likewise one in 2005 in Ireland with two others, including Sharynne MacLeod Nic Mhacha at my house there), nonetheless, there’s another audience that we don’t often take as much into account as we ought to, even as scrupulous, self-conscious, and (most importantly!) other-aware polytheists and animists, which is the place of place itself and those places that are particular to us and know us and in which we have lived, but which may not be “used to” certain sorts of activities by us in those locations.” – P. Sufenas Virius Lupus, on a strange form of homecoming.
“There is nothing in our lives that is not sacred. Our laughter. Our excretions. Our hopes and dreams. Our fear. The way we love. The way we cry. The way we fight. What we eat. How we learn. There is nothing in our lives that is not sacred because life itself is a holy and blessed thing. Every flower, animated. Every rock, an ancient pattern. Each song, an expression of humanity in relationship to all things. We are star stuff, it is said, and this is true. We are made of the same iron that gives off distant, dying light. We are made of the same iron that anchors us to this earth. Sometimes we remember. Sometimes we forget. Every day presents this offering: Try again.” – T. Thorn Coyle, on living sacred.
That’s all I have for now, have a great day!