Archives For Lupa

Cultural appropriation is not a new issue and definitely not new within Paganism. The story of American capitalism has created a strong foundation for what has continued to be one of the most important, and yet challenging, discussions underlying the modern Pagan experience. Conversations of cultural appropriation reach outside of the boundaries of this spiritual world and intersect with various other aspects of our everyday society, leaving a complex web to untangle.

For example, the New Age sector’s use of various aspects of Native American* cultures, as well as the selling or misappropriating of that culture, has continued to drum up controversy. Indian Country Today Media Network recently published an article called Selling the Sacred, exploring the objectifying of Native religious and cultural “secrets” in New Age arenas. The article highlights several places that claim to certify people as Shamans or even award a Masters Degree in Native American Shamanism.

[Photo Credit: Media123 CC lic. via Wikimedia Commons]

[Photo Credit: Media123 CC lic. via Wikimedia Commons]

Native Americans are not the only marginalized culture to be openly appropriated in the United States by New Age practitioners and even Pagan communities. Hindu deities and traditions have become more popular among some people, along with aspects of African heritage as well. It is just as common to find djembe drums in a Pagan fire circle as it is to find candles in a ritual. The line between appropriation and cultural exchange can be a very fine one. It is not only about the intersection of capitalism, but also colonialism enters into the equation.

There are many things to consider. When does exchange become more about honoring another culture rather than just adopting it while leaving its roots behind?

The growing eclecticism of Pagan practitioners make these distinctions more challenging to unravel. How do we determine the boundaries of respectful cultural exchange within modern Paganism when individual understandings of this concept are so vast and varied?

The complexity of exploring the nuances of cultural appropriation versus exchange are not easily defined by one set of criteria. Sabina Magliocco, Professor of Anthropology at California State University – Northridge, answered questions about the layered intricacies of the often controversial concepts of appropriation and exchange.

Sabina Magliocco at the Conference on Current Pagan Studies. (Photo: Tony Mierzwicki)

Sabina Magliocco at the Conference on Current Pagan Studies. (Photo Credit Tony Mierzwicki)

… while on paper one can try to distinguish appropriation from exchange, in practice, it’s much more complicated. Cultures come into contact with one another in many different ways, and some of those involve violence. Nonetheless, cultural exchanges do emerge from those contacts — all the time. Think of cultural exchange as a crossroads. In folklore, the crossroads is a liminal place of magic, but it’s also a dangerous place, a place where death and destruction can happen. Crossroads deities are tricky (Eshu, Loki, Odin) and fierce (Hekate). Yet from that destruction and trickery, new life arises. It’s kind of the same with cultural contact and exchange.

Usually, when defining cultural exchange, the premise is that the two cultures entering into the exchange are on equal terms: neither is more powerful than the other. Cultural material — narratives, verbal lore, music, material culture, foodways, magical techniques — are shared as part of the process of intercultural contact. Thus, for example, when the Irish settled in New York City after fleeing the potato famine in 1848, they found that all the storekeepers in the neighborhoods where they could afford to live were Jewish. They didn’t have any lamb or pork, but they did carry Kosher corned beef. Thus, corned beef substituted the kinds of meats they had eaten in their homeland. That’s the reason we think of corned beef and cabbage as “Irish” food today — it’s really Irish American food, born of that cultural exchange.

Appropriation happens when one culture conquers another, destroys or damages their culture and substitutes its own as the dominant culture, then borrows elements of the subjugated culture, re-contextualizing them for their symbolic value.

So, for example, the destruction of Native American cultures by European Americans, followed by the use of decontextualized elements from those cultures (feather headdresses, sweat lodges, jewelry, fringed clothing, architecture styles, concepts such as “spirit animal”) as icons of authenticity or spirituality is an example of appropriation.

All this is easy on paper, but more challenging on the ground, because in reality, cultures are seldom on equal footing in terms of power. Moreover, cultural borrowing and exchange happens constantly. We are moved to adopt elements we find attractive or advantageous through a process called “mimesis” (imitation).

Attempting to keep your own culture “pure” and free of any appropriated or borrowed elements is just as noxious as free-wheeling appropriation: it leads to a kind of cultural fascism, like what we see now developing among certain kinds of right-wing, nationalist Paganisms in Eastern Europe and Russia.

Basically, avoiding blatant cultural appropriation is about respecting the feelings and rights of other cultures with which you co-exist. It’s about recognizing when there’s a history of power-over, exploitation, and cultural destruction, and being mindful of that … It’s about power dynamics — and those are frequently subtle.

In light of the complicated, interwoven and challenging prospect of analyzing what might be culturally appropriative and what might be considered respectful exchange, several other people have shared their thoughts to this complex topic. The personal insights of these practitioners show a myriad different angles and ideals that mirror such diversity in thought and practice.

Lupa Greenwolf is an author and artist that has worked with shamanic aspects in her personal practice. She is the editor of the 2012 anthology Talking About the Elephant: An Anthology of Neopagan Perspectives on Cultural Appropriation published by Immanion/Megalithica Press. Lou Florez is a Rootdoctor and Orisha Priest in the San Francisco Bay Area. His spiritual work focuses on the liberation of the body, and he works as a southern-style Tarot and Dillogun reader at a metaphysical shop in Oakland, California. Kenn Day is the author of several books on post-tribal shamanism, including Post-Tribal Shamanism: A New Look at the Old Ways published in 2014 by Moon Books. Janet Callahan is an author of several published works and is an enrolled member of the Oglala Sioux (Lakota) Tribe.

Lupa

Lupa

The problem in a more practical sense is that, in the U.S. at least, there is no established shamanic path in the dominant culture, and so people who come from that culture (like me) have to choose either to try to shoehorn ourselves into an indigenous culture that we may not be welcome in let alone be trained in, or research cultures of our genetic ancestors and find that we are no more *culturally* German, or Slavic, or Russian than we are Cherokee or Dine’. Or we take a third road, which is to try to piece together from scratch some tradition that carries the same basic function as a shamanic practice in another culture, but which is informed by our own experiences growing up in the culture we happened to be born into.

As to how to realistically avoid appropriation to the best of your ability, while also honoring your own need for spirituality and the spirits/community you serve? A lot of it is a matter of educating yourself on where you’re coming from versus the origins of the traditions you may be inspired by, and how your own cultural experiences inform your own practice of similar-but-not-the-same traditions. One of the problems I have with core shamanism is that it claims to be “culturally neutral”, or at least a lot of the practitioners thereof claim it is. And that’s basically impossible. Your culture ALWAYS affects how you approach everything, from spirituality to communication to food. So try to be a shaman of your own culture, not of someone else’s (unless specifically invited).

I think the biggest problem is when non-indigenous people wholesale take indigenous practices, and then claim to be indigenous themselves. That’s part of what makes it tougher for people who are genuinely trying to create a practice for themselves while remaining as culturally sensitive as possible, because we get lumped in with those who outright lie about who they are. So you need to be honest and clear about where your practices come from and what inspired them, what’s your own creation and what came from others.

I’ve had people tell me everything from “You shouldn’t use the word ‘shaman'” to “You shouldn’t use a drum with a real hide head” to “You shouldn’t work with hides and bones at all”, all because I’m a European mutt. For a while I kept backing up and backing up and acquiescing to whoever criticized me–and then I realized that if I gave in to every criticism, I’d have no practice left at all. So I very carefully reviewed what my practice entailed, did my best to claim that which I created myself while also being honest about how other cultures’ practices inspired me, and that’s where I drew my line, where I would back up no farther. I don’t consider myself a neoshaman any more, mostly because I don’t use specifically “shamanic” practices like journeying, and use the term “naturalist pagan” for what I currently practice, but I still work with hides and bones, I still have my totemic practice, all in ways that I have developed for myself over the years. – Lupa Greenwolf, Author

Lou Florez

Lou Florez [Courtesy Photo]

Experiences of appropriation have left me alienated and displaced in community. At its core appropriation is a form of violence and aggression against brown bodies and brown communities. It is a minstreling, a racist caricature that tells more about the frame of mind of the performer [appropriation is a performative act] then it does about the original practice or cultural significance. Not only does it cause harm through this mimicking of symbols and actions, but it further creates difficulties for seeing real images of brown people and our gods on community altars due to the fear of appropriation.I think that honesty is of utmost importance in these matters because there is a difference between a ritual inspired by a different culture versus one that claims a lineage in that specific tradition. My litmus test is this question, have you been given license to do ceremony and teach from these communities? Just as I would never read a book and pretend to be an authority in Gardenarian Wicca, you can’t read one book and think that you are a rootworker, conjure doctor, or a First Nation “shaman.” – Lou Florez, Rootdoctor and Orisha priest

Kenn Day

Kenn Day [Courtesy Photo]

Cultural appropriation is damaging both to the culture that is being taken from as well as the one who is taking pieces without context. The loss to the culture appropriated is obvious. The damage to the one doing the taking is more subtle.Back in the late 80’s I coined the term “post-tribal shamanism” to differentiate between the teachings I received and those of tribal cultures. However, many people make the assumption that, if you are practicing ceremony with ancestor spirits, then you have taken your practice from a native tradition. This is no more true than it is to assume that only tribal people have ancestors. The call to practice shamanism is found in every culture. Just like everything else, it appears differently in each culture, yet it is still recognizable.The most important difference I see between the shamanism practiced in tribal cultures and what I teach and practice is that the tribal practices are focused on supporting, healing and maintaining the most import unit of that culture: the tribe itself. Our situation is dramatically different, in that the most important unit of our culture is the individual. This is where our practices need to be directed. Too many traditional practices are simply not appropriate for use with individuals, just as what I do would not be appropriate for tribal people. – Kenn Day, Author and Professional Shaman

Janet Callahan

Janet Callahan

The history of cultural appropriation makes me more cautious when I encounter a new group or teacher or situation. I ask more questions about what is planned, look more at the history of who they’ve learned from, and so on. I want to make sure I’m not walking into a situation I can’t ethically support.

I think people really need to do their homework. They need to understand not just the physical aspects of a practice, but the bigger picture in terms of culture and language and what is really going on (and to do that, frequently you realize it’s not actually possible to take it out of context).

My immediate family is not “Traditional” (which is generally used to mean those who follow tribal ways rather than being Christian and otherwise following white ways), but portions of my extended family are. And what I understand now, that I think is lost outside of the culture, is that religion/spirituality and culture are woven together. They are not separate entities. And that means that taking something out of context loses much of the value of it. – Janet Callahan, Author

As the framework of culture continue to evolve and change, so does the black and white definition of what constitutes appropriation. The context of how something is regarded, shared, explored or used may vary within different cultures and different time frames. This means there is not a clear definition of what is and is not an acceptable with regards to the use of elements from another culture. Context is everything.

Instead we are left with a list of considerations that should be given to cultures, people and histories that are not our own, and a level of awareness that reminds us that everything is not open property just because we wish it to be so. Releasing the conditioning of post-colonialism in America reminds us that everything is not ours to take, everything is not ours to sell and everything is not free. What prices are paid when cultural treasures are taken from a people?

Kenn Day spoke to the complexity of learning to navigate our relationships with living cultures. He said, “These living cultures can be dealt with respectfully in much the same way as many modern seekers have approached native traditions of shamanism, by approaching them with humility and asking to learn from the lore keepers of that people. This means recognizing that their traditions are not yours to take. They can be gifted, but even then they remain within the territory of that people. It is demeaning to have elements of your culture taken out of context and displayed for the entertainment of those outside your community.”

How do we as modern Pagans respectfully exchange with other spiritual cultures? What are we giving in exchange for the knowledge that we gain and using for our own spiritual experiences? How can we respect the context, culture, history and people of the cultures we are exchanging with? All of these are questions that should be evaluated on an ongoing basis within any spiritual community that is growing and evolving.

 *   *   *

*Author’s note: I am very aware that many of the different names and labels, which are commonly used to refer to the indigenous of this land, come with traces of colonialism. Since there is no universally-respected term that can possibly fit all native indigenous/Native American/American Indians/First Peoples, I want to acknowledge this fact and communicate my sincere desire to be respectful.

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

WH2014_BIG

We’ll start off Pagan Community Notes with a big thank you to all those people and organizations who supported our 2014 Fall Fund Drive. You helped us meet and exceed our goal, and for that we are very grateful. Over the next month, we will be contacting those people who requested perks. Columnist Eric Scott is already hard at work on those Panda drawings.  Again thank you from all of us at The Wild Hunt.  Now on to the news….

*  *  *

margot-adlerOn Oct 31, Margot Adler’s closet friends and family gathered in a private memorial service to honor her life. The event was held at the All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church in New York City. Andras Corban-Arthen was in attendance and has posted several photos on his public Facebook page. In her will, Margot had requested that EarthSpirit’s ritual singing group, Mother Tongue, perform at her service. Corban-Arthen said, “We were all very glad and honored to perform a few pieces in her memory.”

Starhawk has published the words she wrote for the memorial service on her blog. She ended the piece saying, “As [Margot] takes her place among the Mighty Dead of the Craft, she becomes even more fully what she has always been: an ally, a friend, a wise guide, a challenger and a refuge.”

On Oct 30, Rev. Selena Fox, another longtime friend of Margot’s, announced that Circle Sanctuary was “dedicating a memorial stone for Margot and placing it at [it’s] green cemetery, Circle Cemetery, a place that Margot visited and loved.” The stone includes the words, “Drawing Down the Moon, Inspiring Pagan Voice.”

*   *   *

time-logo-ogOn Oct 28, TIme Magazine online published an article entitled, “Why Witches on TV Spell Trouble in Real Life.”  The article has generated a storm of controversy that has led to a petition on Change.org and numerous other mainstream articles outlining Pagan response. Blogger Jason Mankey wrote, “I don’t think Ms. Latson’s article was intentionally insulting. She was simply trying to rationalize the explosion of Witch-themed shows on cable television. Fair enough, that’s the kind of article we all expect this time of year, but her execution was exceedingly poor.” We will be following up on this story later in the week.

*   *   *

Cara Schulz

Tomorrow is election day in the U.S. As we have already reported, Wild Hunt staff writer Cara Schulz is running for Burnsville City Council. In recent weeks, she ran into some conflict over her religion. Although Schulz hasn’t hidden her beliefs, a local resident only recently discovered that she was Pagan, and sent a concerned letter to the editor. After it was published, Schulz responded by saying “The letter wasn’t explicitly degrading towards Pagan religions, but it’s clear the motive was to induce fear and sensationalism about my religious beliefs and encourage people to vote for my opponents specifically because they aren’t Pagans.” She called the situation laughable, adding, “Religion is irrelevant to a person’s fitness for public office and is private.” Schulz has called on her opponents to denounce the letter’s intent. However, that has yet to happen.

In Other News:

  • The organizers of Paganicon have announced that Lupa will be the 2015 Guest of Honor. They wrote, “We at Twin Cities Pagan Pride are extremely excited and honored to have Lupa join us.” They added that she’s a “perfect fit” to help explore the conference’s theme: Primal Mysteries. Paganicon 2015 will be held March 13-15 at the Double Tree in Saint Louis Park.
  • As announced by the Polytheist Leadership Conference, the New York Regional Diviners Conference is coming up this month.  As written on the site, “For one day in November, diviners from a plethora of traditions will gather in Fishkill, NY to discuss their art, network, exchange knowledge, and learn new techniques.” The conference is held on Nov 29 at the Quality Inn in Fishkill.
  • Treadwell’s Bookshop owner and Wild Hunt UK Columnist Christina Oakley Harrington was interviewed for a short film called “Witches and Wicked Bodies: A ZCZ Films Halloween Special.” The 9 minute film focuses on the British Museum‘s current exhibition of “Witches and Wicked Bodies.” Toward the end of the program, the host visits Treadwell’s and talks to Christina about modern day Witchcraft and Pagan practice.
  • Cherry Hill Seminary announced the start of a new class called, “Indigenous Traditions of the Sacred.” The class is being taught by Leta Houle, who “is Plains Cree from the Sturgeon Lake First Nation in Saskatchewan.” The program’s goal is to introduce students to the “meaning of what is sacred to Indigenous peoples, including the issue of cultural appropriation.”
  • This October the Northern Illinois University Pagan Alliance decided to try something entirely new. They ran a Pagan Spirit Week from Oct 27-31. President Sara Barlow explains that the purpose was “to raise awareness of and celebrate the presence of Pagan students at Northern Illinois University. We invited others on campus to learn more about aspects of our culture through activities such as meditation, anti-stress charms, divination, runic magic, and our open Samhain ritual.”  Barlow said the response was excellent and that they even picked up a few new members. Now the group hopes to make Spirit Week a yearly tradition.

That is all for now.  Have a great day.

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

pantheacon 2014We may be in the midst of Summer outdoor festival season, but the engine that drives West Coast Pagan mega-convention PantheaCon churns ever forward towards February 2015 as it announces that they are now accepting programming proposals. Quote: The PantheaCon Programming team would like to inform you that the online programming form for PantheaCon 2015 is available on our website!  We invite anyone interested in presenting at PantheaCon 2015 to go to https://pantheacon.com/wordpress and click on one of the links to Submit a Presentation Idea or Resources for Presenters.  Our theme this year is Pagan Visions of the Future. […] Our Round 1 deadline is September 1, 2014.  Submitting your ideas by September 1 increases your chances of being scheduled and may result in some helpful feedback!  After our Round 1 review, we will ask some presenters to revise their submissions for consideration in Round 2.  In addition, presentations not scheduled during Round 1 will be considered during Round 2.” So get your best on-theme ideas ready, and perhaps you be the giving the talk to see this coming February.

Lupa

Lupa

Artist, author, and shamanic practitioner Lupa Greenwolf has announced that she will be trying out the artist support service Patreon, where individuals commit to a monthly donation in exchange for exclusive perks. Quote: “What do I get out of this? Not just money. I get stability and more of an ability to budget from month to month. And that’s a huge benefit. Knowing that I am guaranteed to get a certain amount of money coming in from my patrons, regardless of whatever other sales and income I get, helps reduce the stress of chasing after dollars. Moreover, it tells me that those who choose to become my patrons really want to see me keep making creative things. I love making art and writing for myself, don’t get me wrong, but it takes other people loving my art and writing enough to compensate me for it that allows me to keep creating at the rate that I do. And at the end of the day, it feels really, really good that enough people like what I do to enable me to be a full-time creative sort. It’s a great motivator to keep making cool things happen.” She’s already reached over $100 dollars per month from 8 patrons, and it looks like it might be an interesting way for several creative people in our community to help make ends meet.

Morpheus Ravenna

Morpheus Ravenna

I’ve written a fair bit about the massive success that has been Morpheus Ravenna’s IndieGoGo campaign for her book-writing project “The Book of The Great Queen,” which has now raised more than double its $7,500 goal. In response, Ravenna has proposed a book tour that will grow as further stretch goals are reached. Quote: “The good news is that as of today, we’ve already raised enough to do two cities and just on the verge of a third. That means the book tour is already happening! You, my readers, still get to decide how extensive it will be and where I travel. I’ll be planning my tour sites based on where there seems to be the most active interest, so if you want me to visit your city, drop me a line to let me know! So far I’ve heard from folks in Seattle, Atlanta, Houston, Madison, and upstate New York. Where would you like to see me travel to? I’d also love to hear from people as to good venues in your area for a workshop and booksigning, or if there are events such as festivals or conventions you’d like to suggest as part of the tour. You can email me your suggestions.”  I suspect that several Pagan authors might start taking notes on what Morpheus Ravenna did right in this endeavor.

In Other Pagan Community News: 

  • This past weekend was the Polytheist Leadership Conference, and we’re looking forward to our own Rhyd Wildermuth’s report, but we hope to do a round-up of news and reflections from the event soon. Until then, Rhyd has been posting updates to his personal blog. You may also want to keep an eye on Anomalous Thracian, and his blog (that’s good advice in general, really).
  • Druid leader Philip Carr-Gomm has a launched a new spiffy-looking website.
  • Our fiscal sponsor, The Pantheon Foundation, was successful in raising slightly over $1000 dollars for their Diotima Prize, which will benefit a Pagan seminarian. Quote: “The Pantheon Foundation announces The Diotima Prize to support the educational goals of one Pagan student who is currently in at least their second year at an accredited seminary program.” Congrats!
  • Over at the Patheos Pagan Channel we find out the burning question: Who’s reading John Halstead’s blog? Quote: “Over of [half] you identify primarily as Pagan/Neo-Pagan (35%) or Wiccan/Witch (17%). This was not surprising, considering the makeup of the larger Pagan community. There is also the fact that I identify as Neo-Pagan and my practice and my thought is sometimes Wiccanesque, so it’s not surprising that my readers would be reflective of this. Eleven percent (11%) of you identify primarily as polytheist.” You gotta respect someone who does a survey.

download

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.

Dr. Jenny Butler

Dr. Jenny Butler

“I think there are many similarities between Irish Paganism and the Paganism of other nations, but also many differences. In a general sense, the distinctions between Irish Paganism and that found in Britain rest on the use of cultural resources. In Irish Paganism, there is much emphasis on the landscape, mythology, language, and pre-Christian heritage of Ireland. Obviously, for British Pagans, these kinds of cultural factors would be very significant too, but in Ireland there are cultural dynamics at play in relation to identity, history and colonisation that make the expression of Pagan spirituality unique to this context. I should add that I haven’t done any comparative research as yet between Irish Paganism and British Paganism, or Paganism elsewhere, but from my reading of the work of Jenny BlainSusan GreenwoodGraham Harvey and others, the points I mentioned above seem to be the most apparent differences I can see between Paganism in both regions. Much work is being done on the interconnections between Pagan identities, ethnicity and politics, such as Kathryn Rountree’s forthcoming edited collection fromBerghahn Books titled Modern Pagan and Native Faith Movements in Europe: Colonial and Nationalist Impulses. In my chapter in this collection, I analyse the creation of Irish Pagan identities with regard to the kinds of cultural resources that are drawn upon as well as the socio-cultural impulses, such as romantic nationalism, that inform the movement as it exists in Ireland. This is in marked contrast to the form Paganism takes in some other nations and regional settings, particularly Eastern European ones, where it can be quite militant, overtly political and nationalistic.” – Dr. Jenny Butler, on Paganism in Ireland.

Aaron Leitch

Aaron Leitch

“I believe the first donation came in around noon the following day.  Then – ye Gods! – I think the entire global occult community responded!  I believe I now know what it’s like to “go viral” – because I was suddenly all over Facebook, Twitter, emails, phone calls, etc, etc.  Even Chic Cicero was getting calls.  Many of you, quite rightly, wanted to make sure this was not a hoax or scam before you committed yourselves. But, once you knew it was real, you all got together and showed such incredible, mind-blowing support.  The full goal of the fund-raiser was reached in less than a day!  I have also been reading the comments you’ve posted to the YouCaring page as well as Facebook, and I have been deeply moved and humbled by the expressions of love, caring, support and well-wishes I have seen there.  I wish I could respond to each and every one of you personally, to express even a small portion of my gratitude for all you have done. All too often, you guys are going to read about how awful we occultists are.  You’ll be told we are all ego and no compassion.  You’ll hear that we would rather fight and belittle one another than give the time of day.  You’ll even see it said, emphatically, that there is something wrong with occultists that just makes us horrible people. And every time you encounter that nonsense, I want you to come back here and read this post.  (Or, even better, read the comments made by the Supporters at the YouCaring page.)  In the past two days, I have seen every wall crumble.  Every hatchet set aside.  Every hard feeling forgotten.  And I have seen Thelemites, Golden Dawners, Pagans, Voodoo and Hoodoo practitioners, Wiccans, Jews, Christians, Muslims, Atheists and more all come together with one single proclamation:  ‘We take care of our own!'” – Aaron Leitch, responding to overwhelming community support, when hit with a large bill to fix his endangered eyesight. More on this in tomorrow’s Pagan Community Notes.

John Beckett

John Beckett

“Part of the universal (or very nearly so) religious impulse is the desire to be a part of something greater than ourselves.  We know that when we die our bodies will return to the elements and we can’t be sure there even is such a thing as a soul (I’m convinced there is, but we can’t be sure).  But even if I don’t live on after death, my Druidry will.  The individual dies but the tribe lives on.  By creating and maintaining multi-generational institutions, we can achieve immortality. One of the problems with institutions is that they are inherently conservative.  Not in the political sense of the word, but in the sense that their mission is to conserve – to preserve, to maintain – its values and traditions.  That’s mostly a good thing – by the time a movement starts to think and act institutionally, it usually has worked out what values and traditions are helpful and thus worth conserving. But does the third or fourth or tenth generation realize that the compromises made by the founding generation were trade-offs born of necessity and not some perfect way things were done back in a golden age?  Does the institution remain a living, growing, changing entity?  Or does it become a plastic replica of the reasons it was founded?” – John Beckett, responding to my Saturday essay here at The Wild Hunt.

Lilith Dorsey

Lilith Dorsey

“The portrayal of Papa Legba in this week’s episode of American Horror Story: Coven left a bad taste in a lot of people’s mouths, or should I say, up their noses. May I state now unequivocally as both an anthropologist and a Voodoo priestess that there is no association between Legba and drugs that I have ever come across in my over twenty years of practice and study. This week’s episode, in addition to having this ancient honored deity disrespectfully portrayed as a drug sniffing control freak, also shows him as a baby stealing, soul sucking devil. I wrote a few weeks ago that I predictedbad things for the introduction of this character, but this is beyond everyone’s lowest expectations.  The buzz I have been seeing online is that people are done, that this is beyond offensive. It’s also just plain wrong. The show, in addition to falsely equating Legba with the Devil, seems to have collapsed his character with that of the Voodoo Lwa Baron Samedi, traditionally depicted with a Top Hat and images of the dead, as he is the ruler of the cemetery. The reality is that Legba is the wise teacher, the communicator between the worlds. I like to call him the gentle guiding paternal influence we all wish we had.” – Lilith Dorsey, on the portrayal of Papa Legba in the television show American Horror Story: Coven

P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

“In so many recent discussions (which are often debates, and more often still mutual tirades, debacles, and fracases of the most poisonous variety) within and with those outside of the modern polytheist communities, there is a sense that many of us have “given up” on ever finding common ground with some individuals in other sections within modern Paganism. Even some friendships across theological and ideological lines have been damaged, if not entirely lost, as a result of these internet disagreements, and this is something to be lamented deeply. People, far too often, are faster in writing off their apparent opponents than they are in giving them second chances. Often, I think this isn’t an unwise tactic, as repeat offenders certainly exist and often never change despite saying they have or they can. But, one can be surprised occasionally, and this incident with Glenn Beck makes me think that the old queer-activist maxim of ‘don’t assume anything!’ needs to be remembered and re-deployed far more often than it has been amongst our various communities and in our many endeavors, whether they be activism, spiritual communities, or theological discussions.” – P. Sufenas Virius Lupus, on unlikely allies, assumptions, and the end of homophobia.

Sam Webster (with Herm), photo by Tony Mierzwicki.

Sam Webster

“Part of knowing is not knowing, what I’m calling here the ‘black box’. This is the realm of ignorance, of the data we don’t possess, of the questions we can formulate but not answer, of that which we don’t even know how to ask, of mystery. Needless to say, this is the biggest box of all as most of the world lies outside the small circle of firelight we humans live within. It is also the easiest to ‘shrink’ as learning, reason, and experience all reduce the amount of our individual and collective ignorance. There is another big bin in the black box that we hide under a word that I wish to redeem: stupidity. It is often conflated with ignorance in the sense of the non-possession of data. What I am discussing is different. Stupidity is the inability to process, understand, and apply knowledge. It happens to us when we are in a stupor, from which the word is derived. In the Buddhadharma, stupidity is the first and most fundamental poison, although it is usually translated incorrectly as ignorance. I want to redeem the word because often our problems are not from a lack of data, but from the inability to process it correctly due to the dullness or distractions of our minds. I am rather knowledgable, but under the wrong conditions, I can be frightfully stupid. I need a term like stupidity to explain how those who are otherwise intelligent can look at the data of, for example anthropogenic climate change, and deny it. I need a way to understand how when presented with reason, people fail to choose the rational response.” – Sam Webster, on kinds of knowledge.

Rhyd Wildermuth

Rhyd Wildermuth

“I dislike the internet, by the way, and particularly dislike that I rely upon it so much.  Yeah, I’m a writer who puts his stuff out on the internet by choice, so this sound hypocritical perhaps, except nuanced criticisms are the language of complex thought.   My reliance upon the internet and my dislike of internet communication co-exist, helping remind myself that disembodied communication is inadequate for many things.  You don’t know what I look like in the rain, I don’t know what your face looks like when you experience my words–there are things we don’t know about each other that are necessary to social knowledge.  It’s horribly easy to forget this, which is why so many internet arguments on Paganism (or, like every other topic on earth) devolve to endless frustrated attempts to communicate. I think, in “internet” writing, we forget that the written word has a very specific place and very specific modality of expression, and then attempt to add other modes of expression into it (and thus our reliance on emoticons, as in “this is what my face might look like when I say this).  The written word actually cannot embody so much inhabited meaning–as it attempts to become more than it is, it becomes poetry, which is useless for everyday communication as it requires a lifetime to fully understand a poem.” – Rhyd Wildermuth, on why he dislikes the Internet, and what doesn’t fit in a rucksack.

Mambo Chita Tann

Mambo Chita Tann

“Life goes on, somehow, like it always does, and suddenly it’s been four years. In the country I live in, most of the scars left by such an event would be tended to in some manner. The dead would be found and buried; ruined buildings would be demolished, and many great speeches about how everything would be rebuilt to be better than before would happen, and then everybody would get to work and right the wrong and fix things. Happy ending to a tragedy, proof of the true grit of the poor people who went through a sad time, right? Like Hurricane Katrina‘s aftermath, and like the aftermath for some of the harder-hit areas from Hurricane Sandy…the answer is no. No, it doesn’t get a happy ending, not yet, and maybe not ever. The palace ruins were finally taken down after two years (Can you imagine if Congress sat in ruins for two years?), but the cathedral ruins haven’t moved. Many people, including some of our family, left Port-au-Prince for the most part or entirely, and may not return. Promised aid trickles in, or it never arrived, or it was  eaten up by corruption and mismanagement. MINUSTAH (the UN sanctioned “peacekeeping” force remaining in Haiti, despite the fact that Haiti isn’t at war) brought “help” after the earthquake in the form of anirresponsible platoon of soldiers who dumped sewage into a river and started a major cholera epidemic. Four years later, we can’t even get the UN to admit responsibility. There are still so many things that need to be done. How many more years will it take? I don’t know. I hate that I have no answer. I hate it as much as I did four years ago today.” – Mambo Chita Tann, on Haiti, four years after the massive earthquake that started a chain reaction of tragedy for that country.

Lupa

Lupa

“As a child, I fancied myself to be such an explorer, though of a much smaller territory, and with far fewer resources and training at my disposal. Yet as I got older, and as I watched beloved wild places being torn down for development, I lost that curiosity and wonder for a while. My turn to paganism in the 1990s was, in large part, an attempt to reclaim that connection to nature, but it wasn’t until I divested myself of many of the abstract and symbolic trappings, and embraced a more naturalistic paganism, that I managed to regain that closeness. That’s why my path has increasingly become one informed by joy and curiosity, rather than ecstatic trances and formal rituals. And I’ve delighted in reading about Douglas’ exploits because they sound so familiar. Here is a man, close to my age, bounding about in the wilderness with the glee of a child, enduring hardships with a light heart because WOW LOOK AT THAT TREE ISN’T IT AN AWESOME TREE? Sure, there were plenty of other people, mostly indigenous, who were well acquainted with that particular species, but to him it was a new thing, and better yet, he got to share it with a whole slew of people on another continent who had never known such a thing existed. When I was a kid, some of my best days were the ones where I found a garter snake or box turtle or particularly large grasshopper, especially if it was some critter I had never seen before. It didn’t matter that other people knew about them; I was the one having these natural revelations.” – Lupa, on nature, David Douglas, and Paganism.

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.

Sam Webster (with Herm), photo by Tony Mierzwicki.

Sam Webster

“Religion, group spiritual engagement, is an aspect of culture, the way a group of people does things. It is learned from those you are with. In today’s world we are exposed to many ‘ways’ and have the opportunity to choose how we will live our lives from among them, even religiously. In the ancient world, while visiting or living in a different culture, one makes offerings to the Gods of the host culture. It is simply polite. If one adopted or was adopted by a culture, one could fully participate in that religious life: if you spoke Greek, you could participate in the Eleusinian mysteries, no matter where you were from. Some today are taking a recent notion of nationhood, one developed only since the mid-1700s, and reifying it into a false concept of ‘race’. Then they assign who should worship which pantheon. Normally I would not care. There are only a few behaviors in our fairly antinomian subculture that are unacceptable. Violence and abuse are among them. So is racism, itself a kind of abuse.  Taking one’s genome as determinant of who one should worship is simply another form of racism. It is a way of creating division amongst humans unfounded on any facts, on any reality, other than a misconstrued notion of what makes a people, what makes a culture. Culture, and religion, is found in what you do, not your bloodline. Those who use the idea of culture or religion as tied to one’s genetic inheritance are attempting to sneak racism into Paganism, and this must not be tolerated. It must be spotted, called out and banished. Not in Our House.” – Sam Webster, asserting that religious biological determinism is racism.

Morpheus Ravenna

Morpheus Ravenna

“This is a follow up to my last post, “Whose Ancestors?“, published on 8/29/2013. The post was also published at my PaganSquare blog, The Spear That Cries Out, hosted by Witches & Pagans online. It was subsequently deleted by the site’s editor, Anne Newkirk Niven, specifically in order to censor its content, because she objected to my calling the AFA a racist organization. The following is my response to that censorship, and I’ve also posted it on the PaganSquare site. Since it too is likely to be deleted, I am publishing it here as well. I wanted to let readers know what happened with that post, and what you can expect in the future. The post in question, “Whose Ancestors?”, was one in which I challenged the doctrine of racial separatism in religion espoused by some European polytheist traditions, primarily Heathens of the ‘folkish’ variety. In it, I called the AFA an unashamedly racist organization. I firmly believe this to be true, and when Anne Newkirk Niven, the editor of this site, asked me to remove the language in which I called the AFA racist, I refused to do so. Instead, I provided her with evidence as to the facts showing that the AFA is a racist organization. Since I would not edit the post to remove that language, Anne has deleted my post in order to censor it. You can read the original post here, where it is still hosted on my own blog site.” – Morpheus Ravenna, following up on her “Whose Ancestors?” piece, which I quoted in a previous edition of Pagan Voices.

P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

“I do know one thing very deeply: my gods aren’t racists, even when the cultures they came from have been racist. I can’t say for certain who among my ancestors were racists (though I know several of the recent ones definitely were), or if whole cultures of my ancestors were racists (and some of them certainly were, in overt as well as covert ways), but I am very certain that the gods generally don’t care, and likely never have, about who worships them, nor do they have ideas about who “is fit to” or who “should” worship them based on genetic or even cultural heritage. For all of the faults of the various ancient cultures that I spiritually descend from, one thing we can say for certain is that they were not racist about their gods […]  No, none of these cultures had a perfect record when it came to dealing with other cultures; certainly, there were ideas of superiority, there were cases of cultural appropriation, there was slavery and imperialism and lots of other horrible things involved in many of these cases. But, at least the gods and their approaches to them tended to be relatively unconcerned with matters of race, or appropriateness of different races worshipping different gods…at least in many cases. While I find the notion of saying that people should only worship the gods and follow the spiritual paths of their genetic ancestors very problematic, likewise I find the notion that for reconstructionist-methodology-using polytheists, there should be “no contamination” from other cultural traditions or gods going on…well, laughable. It doesn’t take much looking at the actual sources and what has come down from the medieval and ancient worlds to see that such cultural exclusivism wasn’t going on at all, whether in the polytheistic periods or in the Christian periods of the cultures concerned.” – P. Sufenas Virius Lupus, noting that gods aren’t racists.

Soli

Soli

“Do you really think it’s wise to put up works illegally by people who have written material about how to properly curse and hex? If you can’t afford books, fine. Go to the library. Borrow from your friends. Use a free ebook app and get legal material to read? (Hint: not only are there a lot of free books available regularly for the Kindle, but there are also those great public domain titles as well as academic institutions who have material freely available. Don’t believe me? Go look up the Oriental Institute and their publications.) And I will note this, if you can afford a smartphone and the monthly plan, I am sure you can find some room in your budget for a $15 text. In short, stop stealing. Give credit where it is due. Ask permission. You are reading this on the internet right now. Most every author has some sort of Web presence. They might have material available or know where to get it below cost if it is really a matter of finances for you. Or search online for used copies. Which is, incidentally, acceptable under copyright. And if you messed up and did something stupid, admit to it. If you are hosting a web site or Facebook group filled with illegal pdfs, DELETE THEM. And don’t go whining when you get called out, or ban people right and left for pointing out the fact that you are breaking the law. Support your community. We’re still a minority. We still have to fight for rights because of our religious and spiritual practices. Breaking the law does not do a thing to help us.” – Soli / Shezatwepwawet, on why stealing/pirating Pagan books on the Internet is a bad idea.

Lupa, author of "Skin Spirits," at her shop.

Lupa

“Not too long ago, I watched a brief video created by our local public broadcasting station featuring footage of the Bull Run watershed. Nestled in the lower slopes of Mt. Hood and surrounding regions, this watershed provides Portland and other local communities with our superbly clean tap water. It’s closed to the public to protect the land and water from pollution, so few people have actually seen what’s in this vast, fenced-off area. Oregon Public Broadcasting got a rare opportunity to film parts of it to show the rest of us what we’re missing out on. The video showed some unexpected sights, to include a couple of abandoned stone fountains, but the part that impressed me the most was the river itself. Clear and beautiful, it splashes through an idyllic northwest conifer forest. I also didn’t realize just how small it was, at least where it was filmed. Of course, it gets bigger as more streams feed into it further on. But I was struck by the vulnerability of our water source, fed from rain and snow melt, and it made me review my own use of this limited commodity. See, we take water for granted all too often. We assume there’s enough for everything from drinking to watering golf courses in the desert to agriculture in the former Dust Bowl. But the Colorado River no longer reaches its terminus in the Sea of Cortez, the water table that feeds the Midwest has been severely depleted in less than a century, and yet we keep using fresh water like it’ll never run dry. Some people talk about desalinating ocean water, but this doesn’t address the ecosystems where the fresh water has been so depleted that they’re permanently damaged; we only think of ourselves.” – Lupa, on saving our water.

T. Thorn Coyle

T. Thorn Coyle

“We hide so much. We lie so much. We fear so much. This keeps us away from love. If we can come to be honest about our heartbreak, about our terror, about the ways in which failure dogs us, or hope makes us feel insecure, if we can come to be honest about our need to feel desired, our quest for recognition, the ways in which we have been hurting, and have hurt others, the ways in which we found laughter and joy, or worked through some pain…we can come to better know ourselves. We can come to better know one another. We can develop true compassion. We can know the world. We can imagine something better than ambition for money or power over others. We can imagine a place where we truly meet one another, truly see one another, where we stop playing status games: baring our necks or lording it over one another. In doing this, we open more fully to the flow of love. We heal. There have been many things planted in the soil of my life, things that have grown into a person, an adult, a human still figuring out how to more fully love the world.” – T. Thorn Coyle, on being naked and unashamed.

Lilith Dorsey

Lilith Dorsey

“I have been lecturing on Voodoo and Santeria for over fifteen years, and believe me I get a lot of weird questions. Many people wish to connect with the energies of the religion but are not initiated or under the proper guidance of their spiritual godparents. I had one woman after I became distracted after the end of my workshop come over dip her finger in the liquified candle wax from my Oshun candle and anoint her dog. I thought I saw something out of the corner of my eye but I let it go. Some time later I saw her again at one of my lectures and she listened intensely as I spoke of Oshun, the goddess of love and fertility. When the class was over, she came up to me and confessed the deed. I ask her what the dog was like now, she said it ate all her underwear. Obviously I don’t recommend this as a method of connecting with spirit, although it was quite amusing. There are several ways in Voodoo and Santeria to connect by performing ritual cleansings of your space. Some of the simplest involve the sprinkling of Florida Water and black salt in the corners of the home during the waning moon, this can be done in conjunction with the burning of white and/or black candles.” – Lilith Dorsey, on the importance of proper training, and proper ritual cleansing. 

John Beckett

John Beckett

“My belief we’re here for a purpose doesn’t flow from my Pagan religion.  It comes from something before that, from some deep intuition.  It’s part of that “core being” I wrote about in the last post.  It’s the same core intuition that told me the fundamentalist religion of my childhood couldn’t be right.  It’s the same core intuition that clicked when someone first explained modern Paganism and clicked again when I discovered Druidry.  It whispers “there’s more” – more to Life than the apparent world. I can hear the Religious Naturalists sighing – I’m sure to them I sound like the kid who opens his 27th Yule present and then cries “is that all?”  The natural world is beautiful and powerful and life-affirming and we are lucky to be here.  It is enough and more isn’t necessary. But that core intuition keeps whispering “there’s more” – something more than what is measurable.   And part of that more is a reason for being here, a purpose for my life.” – John Beckett, on purpose and will.

Finally, here’s a video interview with Karagan Griffith, discussing the documentary film “With Love from Salem” (which I reviewed here).

That’s all I have 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.

Courtney Weber

Courtney Weber

Learn from rituals, but don’t nit-pick them. Trust me, my Coven of media specialists, writers, musicians, and copy-editors is wont to pull our shit apart and play the “pick out the not-perfect” bits. But we’ve finally learned that rituals should not be discussed for at least a few weeks after something is done. We file away moment of imperfections, suggestions for improvements, other ways to get to be even better at rituals into our mental rolodexes and take them back out when the time to plan our next ritual arises. We give respect to the experiences of those in the space, and the Spirit for attending. All other quirks can be worked out at another time. I can’t lie…I’ve been to some rituals that made me cringe. But I have to respect the fact that other people might be affected negatively by my piss-poor perfectionist attitude. I have to respect the fact that the energy of the ritual is still going after the fact. I can learn from the mistakes of others–and the mistakes I myself make–but if it’s a serious mistake that I will want to avoid next time, I’ll remember it.” – Courtney Weber, a Wiccan High Priestess, on learning to not “wine and cheese your rites.”

Gus DiZerega

Gus DiZerega

“The biggest and most divisive ethical issues of our time involve abortion and the environment. Does a zygote or fetus have sufficient moral standing to put its interests above those of the pregnant woman carrying it? If so, how much? Does the other-than-human world have any moral standing able to override human interests? If so, how much? Significantly, of those most opposing abortion, few have interest in or recognition of the other-than-human world’s moral standing.  On the other hand, most supporting a woman’s right to choose will be sympathetic to and sometimes deeply committed to environmental concerns. Individuals in both camps are usually ethically motivated, but they live in different ethical worlds. These contrasting moral visions reflect a schism going to the center of contemporary America, a genuine clash of cultures capable of tearing the country apart. One is ultimately rooted in an agricultural order, the other in our industrial one.” – Gus DiZerega, on how conflict over abortion and environmentalism are related, and what modern Paganism’s role is in these struggles.

Literata

Literata

“My religion encourages oral sex. Ken Cuccinelli, candidate for governor, wants to outlaw it. Why am I not the new face of the brave fight for religious liberty? Seriously, though: Ken Cuccinelli, the current attorney general of Virginia and Republican candidate for governor has just launched a new website as part of his campaign that argues in favor of a law which criminalizes oral and anal sex between consenting adults in private. […]  quite frankly, my understanding of Wicca really does validate all kinds of consensual sex. It’s right there in the Charge of the Goddess: ‘All acts of love and pleasure are my rituals.’ The idea of ‘acts of love and pleasure’ is a very potent way of expressing my feminist ethic of consent to sex. I’m not going to consent to something that’s not pleasurable to me. If I can’t consent – if I can’t engage in love and pleasure – then whatever’s happening isn’t sex; it’s sexual assault, abuse, battery, or rape.” – Literata Hurley, a Wiccan and resident of Virginia, on Ken Cuccinelli’s campaign to reinstate Virginia’s unconstitutional Crimes Against Nature law.

Jason Mankey

Jason Mankey

“One of the things that Evangelicals don’t seem to understand is that people are tired of obstacles separating them from other faith communities. I’m not a Buddhist, but I want to walk a religious path that validates the choices of my Buddhist friends. I don’t walk with Jesus, but I’m fine with those that walk hand in hand with the hippy from the Galilee. People are tired of hearing how their friends are wrong, Paganism takes that antiquated rhetoric away. I’m not saying that everyone should roll the religion dice each morning (today I’m an Atheist Hellenic Thelemite!), but Paganism has never shut out wisdom, no matter where it comes from. […]  like every generation we long to touch the sacred. For centuries touching the sacred was limited to Jesus and his Dad, but those days are over with, and people are waking up to the many and varied sacred currents that are around us all. Some find that connection to the sacred within the Earth and the change of the seasons. Some of us find it in more personal deities, gods and goddesses that come to us without centuries of misguided close mindedness. (Give me Pan rutting around in the woods over a god that would kill an entire country’s firstborn.) There will always be people who long for Jesus, and many good things (and some very bad) have been done in his name, but it’s getting harder and harder to lock out the Divine Feminine. Jesus might be calling, but I think She is too.” – Jason Mankey, on why Millennials love Paganism, and in answer to Christian writer Rachel Held Evan’s piece about why Millennials are leaving Christian churches.

Lupa

Lupa

“So many of our decisions have been made in ignorance of the effects of our actions. While the internet, antibiotics, and central heating have their definite uses, the most popular technologies used to create them have been developed with only our benefit–and the profit margin–in mind. It is plausible that many of the things we’ve created that have improved our species’ average quality of life could have been made in such a way that they didn’t negatively affect the lives of other beings (and some humans). Instead, we stand at a point in time where we’re watching thousands of species of animal, plant, and fungus die out every year, accelerated by our activities, and we still refuse as a whole to explore the depth of the connections we’ve been severing with each local, regional or complete extinction. Why don’t we emphasize to our children that the mycelial mat is at least as important as Thomas Edison’s inventions? In part, it’s due to selfishness. We don’t want to think about anything other than our own advancement and comfort. We want that plastic grocery bag to carry three small items in, dammit, and who cares about the oil it was made from, or the fact that it won’t break down for thousands of years? This doesn’t mean we should feel guilty for the things that have made our lives longer and healthier as a whole. We can explore whether a particular item is necessary, and whether its manufacture is as sustainable as it could be, without sacrificing our quality of life. It just means that we need to make more effort on the behalf of beings besides ourselves.” – Lupa, on recognizing that we are a part of something larger than ourselves.

Cat Chapin-Bishop

Cat Chapin-Bishop

“If I have no business turning you into a scapegoat for all the generations past who have ever harmed anyone in the name of Jesus, I also think you have no business turning me into a mascot for your tolerance and good intentions. I don’t want to be a symbol of your goodness; I don’t want to be anything more or less than what you probably want to be: a human being among other human beings. Along those lines, I ask you not to abuse your newfound (or longstanding) empathy for me and mine by rushing to speak for me. Specifically, I would ask that, as an advocate, you not speak to my concerns before you allow me a chance to speak them for myself. This is harder than it sounds, I know. Quakers love to set injustices right. We work hard to empathize with oppressed peoples. We want to be advocates. We want to be the good guys, and we want to speak out for people who have been marginalized, because it feels so good to be the voice of righteousness. However, it is tiresome to the person whose cause you’re espousing, to be spoken for when we’d rather speak for ourselves.  Certainly, we’d rather not be shut out of discussions of our needs by the voices of eager advocates.” – Cat Chapin-Bishop, from the second part of a letter sent to her Quaker Christian Friends (part one is here), on owning Christian privilege, and how to act once you have.

King Arthur Pendragon

King Arthur Pendragon

“As Druids, we believe that the Ancestors should be left to Rest in Peace and that the Sacredness of the site should not be desecrated in such a way, especially when there are many alternatives to this desecration. We have never been against Science or Education. We are however against the removal and display of our ancestors in such a manner. Whilst ‘Picketing’ at Stonehenge we gained support from peoples from each and every continent of many and of no faiths with the simple message “ Let those we Lay to Rest-Stay to Rest” and we challenged the Ministry of Justice’s decision to extend the ‘licence’ for study. That challenge will continue if ‘The Guardians’ are not returned and re-interred by August 2015. In the meanwhile we will ‘oppose’ English Heritage’s plans to display ‘our’ collective Ancestors, once buried at our most Sacred Site. This opposition will take many forms and we will call on the assistance of other like-minded Groups throughout the World if necessary, for let us not forget Stonehenge is designated as a World Heritage site. Like the ‘Guardians’ campaign, we will call for support from Any, All, and No faiths, who like us believe that the Dead should be left in peace. If English Heritage believe that they can ‘open’ their new visitors centre to a ‘fan-fare’ of common assent and complementary reports on the World stage, whilst planning to display our Guardians in such a macabre manner, they had better think again.”  – Activist and Druid leader King Arthur Pendragon, who is currently in a struggle to stop the display of human remains at Stonehenge’s new visitor’s center, calling it a desecration.

Holli S. Emore

Holli S. Emore

“Monday [August 5th] is the one-year anniversary of the shooting at the Oak Creek Sikh gurdwara in Wisconsin.  I was contacted for comment this morning by a reporter from our local news station.  Valarie Kaur, a Sikh activist and founder of Groundswell, notes that a full year later, everyone knows about Aurora and other tragedies, but most never understood what happened at Oak Creek and have already forgotten.  The anniversary is a good reminder to those of us in another misunderstood minority religion of the importance of interfaith relations. The reporter who contacted me at first said she was doing a story about religious tolerance.  The first thing I said to her was that I look forward to the day we can stop thinking about tolerance and begin appreciating our religious differences.  This includes Pagan appreciation of the religions whose members have often persecuted or despised us, whether we like the idea or not. […] While organizations like Groundswell and interfaith groups all over have done much to make our communities safer, the work is hardly begun, the weeping probably not over. Our heartfelt prayers and intentions go to our Sikh friends and to all in this world who suffer because their spirituality is misunderstood.” – Holli Emore, Director of Cherry Hill Seminary, on interfaith work, tolerance, and the anniversary of the Oak Creek Sikh temple shooting in Wisconsin.

Peter Dybing

Peter Dybing

“That’s right, I strongly disagree with your interpretation of divinity, the Gods, worship or piety. So what am I going to do about it? Maybe un-friend you on Face Book, write a post tearing you a metaphorical ‘new one’ or demonstrate my need to be right by encouraging others to give no credibility to your views? Instead I think I will choose to celebrate our differences. Harvest. if you will, what has value in our discourse, demonstrate that respect for others views of divinity is a basic value of my Pagan beliefs.  Your actions and views help me to clarify my own beliefs about my path. It is in discussion and debate that we grow, are challenged to develop new insights into both self and the nature of the Divine. Each of us has a unique perception of divinity and spiritual practice. In learning about your perceptions I grow, consider what is new or uncomfortable, stretch my mind and heart to embrace the bountiful tapestry that is the diverse cloth of Pagan belief. Today I hold you, with your heretical beliefs, in Sacred Regard, as some of my most insightful teachers. Our discussions have planted the seeds of new insight, growth and compassion.  Today I celebrate the harvest of these efforts. Tending this garden of dissention is an honorable and meaningful investment of my time.” – Peter Dybing, on what he plans to do with people he disagrees with theologically.

Trey Capnerhurst / Treasach

Trey Capnerhurst / Treasach

“I used to have repeated arguments with others in the pagan community on this topic, though in the past few years, curiosity and hope are beginning to replace the sneering. “Why should WE need an abbey?”, some said with a snort. “There are plenty of Buddhist and Taoist monasteries around..” Well, we are neither Buddhist nor Taoist, although most of us get along quite nicely with them, of course. For a religion to be more formalized, to grow and permeate more areas of a culture or a group, it needs full time members who are dedicated to practising, refining, writing, recording, studying and teaching. Though we do have quite a few of those, they usually have day jobs, rather than being a full time professional community. We have a great many of what could be termed lay sisters and brothers; those who are devoted and dedicated to living their lives in the Way, but we have no priest ‘class’, as it were. So, though we do have a professional priesthood of sorts, we have not yet created spaces to support them full time, or train and hone them, or even facilitate professional community environments of librarians, educators and other academics. It is vital to our religion to establish these communities, and not just as teaching venues, but as places where we can totally immerse ourselves in our religion, and not only for short retreats. But for years. They are already becoming a reality. I was in contact with an abbess of the Cybeline abbey in New York for some time. They already have a large community of nuns with hospitality, retreat centres and libraries. Though there is room for dedicating to one Goddess in particular, like mine, because that’s just for me, a similar kind of non-deity specific community can appeal to far more people under the auspices of Pagan Humanism, where everyone can hear the call in their own way, yet we can work under one banner. Conserves resources and coalesces talent, doncha know.” – Treasach (aka Trey Capnerhurst), a Pagan Abbess, on why establishing Pagan abbeys are a practical solution to several ongoing problems within our communities.

Damh the Bard

Damh the Bard

“Yesterday was a glorious day to hold a Lughnasadh ceremony. Although not in full flow the grain harvest has begun, and John Barleycorn is falling in the fields. I started the ceremony by asking if there were any News of the World reporters at the ceremony, and then remembered that there were no such things any more… So changing that to The Daily Mail I pointed out that this ceremony might reinforce the odd stereotype, with its theme of sacrifice. A falling Corn King, sickles and scythes, all good sensationaistic fodder for the ignorant. But this is a festival of thanksgiving, a spiritual honouring that within its very language understands that for some things to continue to live, other things have to die. It’s all around on our supermarket shelves, we just don’t have to see the blood any more, but that doesn’t mean that we cannot honour the life that has been given, and this thanksgiving also includes the grain harvest, and the falling of the Corn King.” – Damh the Bard, on celebrating Lughnasadh at the Long Man of Wilmington in Sussex.

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.

Peter Dybing

Peter Dybing

“My heartbreaks, tears flow and these words are my attempt to find solace.  Nineteen members of a Hotshot Firefighting crew are dead in Arizona.  For the last few years I was on a Southwest Area Incident Management Team. These are men I know, have eaten meals with, showered with, shared conversation with. My job at fires as a Logistics Section chief is, at its heart, keeping the firefighters safe: feeding them, providing for their needs, rest, equipment, medical attention, communication, transportation, sleeping arrangements etc. This is intensely personal for me. Tears hover in my eyes, the loss is profound.  Each of us in the firefighting community understands the risks, yet when a tragedy of this magnitude occurs we are devastated. We are a family, each of us with a special knowledge of what being a wild land firefighter really means. Today we grieve, wonder what went wrong and think about their families’. These are men whose lives I have protected, who take the risks that most would shy away from to keep people, homes and communities safe. They are also faces I know, each with a story, a community, and a dream for the future.  Their loss reminds all of us of the fragility of life.” – Peter Dybing, a Pagan first responder, reacting to the news of 19 firemen dying while fighting a fast-moving wildfire in Arizona.

T. Thorn Coyle

T. Thorn Coyle

“These are times in need of beauty. These are times in need of depth. These are times in need of study. These are times in need of rallying cries and manifestos, of art scrawled upon pavement and wild dancing in the streets. Fortunately for us, these things are happening. Peter Grey writes: “Love is the war to end all wars, and the war is upon us.” This is a bold statement by the author of The Red Goddess, from the titular essay of his latest book: Apocalyptic Witchcraft. Grey writes of a Craft that is filled with power and the lust for life. He writes of a Craft that breaks down the crumbling social orders of oppression, greed, and fear in order to raise a society of freedom. Peter Grey wants us working in the shadows and full sunlight. He doesn’t want us to back down. He wants us to be born again, a danger to the forces that wreak havoc on our beloved earth, and on us. […] Yes, sometimes the writing in Apocalyptic Witchcraft verges on melodramatic. Sometimes I vehemently disagree with what is written, and other times I want to cheer. Not every essay in each issue of Abraxas moves me, but all of them make me think. This is for the good. We need allies to pit ourselves against, and to stand with, not people who keep us comfortable. There is too much complacency in the world. If love is a battle, we need comrades that test us. Peter Grey, Christine Oakley Harrington, Alkistis Dimech, and Robert Ansell are these comrades. They incite us to magic. They incite us to art. They incite us to philosophy. They incite us to live.” – T. Thorn Coyle, writing an appreciation of Peter Grey, Scarlet Imprint, and a growing movement within the British esoteric community that incites a “love to end all wars.”

Christine Hoff Kraemer

Christine Hoff Kraemer

“Hard polytheism is the view that the gods are objectively existing, independent personalities with whom human beings can have relationships. This theological position is somewhat unique in contemporary Paganism because it is the only belief around which groups of Pagans have strongly rallied. Interestingly, although conversations around hard polytheism are often framed in terms of belief, hard polytheists’ objections to soft polytheism are primarily about the way belief informs practice. For hard polytheists, soft polytheist practice—especially practice that approaches the gods as interchangeable archetypes—is both less effective and potentially disrespectful. Pagans will sometimes speak of rituals where the gods do not “show up”—no energy moves, no sense of connection or presence is felt, and the participants return home in much the same mental and emotional state in which they arrived. Hard polytheists believe that this undesirable state of affairs occurs because Pagans do not recognize the nature of the gods. Hard polytheists usually experience the gods as powerful presences with distinctive desires and behaviors, as well as historical ties to particular traditions, cultures, and lands. In order to connect with a goddess or a god and form relationship with them, hard polytheists will look at rituals from the deity’s native culture for guidance. When they ask a goddess or god to be present, they see themselves as calling someone very specific. Some use the metaphor of dialing a phone number to reach a friend: the ritual objects and the proper names and prayers are ways of ensuring one has the right number. Once a deity has been contacted, an ongoing relationship can be formed through prayer and ritual. This experiential relationship allows the practitioner to move beyond attempting to reconstruct an ancient religion using historical texts, and instead to create a practice that is oriented to the present.”An excerpt from Christine Hoff Kraemer’s book “Seeking the Mystery: An Introduction to Pagan Theologies” on sale today at the Amazon.com Kindle store for only $0.99, and available at a reduced price of $2.99 for about a week thereafter. You can read the table of contents, introduction, and glossary here, reviews here.

Carl Neal

Carl Neal

“Those of us who choose a Solitary path can be a difficult group with which to work. When we speak of the trouble in organizing Pagans as “herding cats” it’s never truer than when dealing with the dedicated Solitary. Many of us are proud of our independence and may stubbornly cling to it beyond the bounds of logic. Those who are forced to be Solitary by geography (or other factors) may not always possess the same type of fierce independence. They may be seeking out the companionship, guidance, and structure of a coven or group – things studiously avoided by some who are Solitary By Choice. There are a few rare individuals who straddle this line and both belong to a coven and walk a Solitary path at the same time. For most of us, the Solitary nature of our practices simply demands that we walk our paths alone. Those of us who practice this way see it as a type of freedom, although we have to recognize that there are things that can be easily accomplished with group practice that are difficult or impossible for the Circle of One. This doesn’t mean that we never work with others. Like all Pagans, we tend to share and learn from one another. Sometimes we gather, stand in circle together, and may work very intimate magick. At other times, some Solitaries may participate in public rituals with dozens of people they barely know. Being “Solitary”doesn’t mean being “alone” or “isolated”. It’s the path that is Solitary, not the person. In fact, some Solitaries tend to do all ritual work with others, although they are not all on the same path. Until they find a coven or other appropriate group, many who are Solitary By Circumstance will use this same approach.”Carl Neal, a dedicated “Solitary By Choice,” on why being “solitary” does not mean being isolated.

Cara Schulz

Cara Schulz

“Finding a suitable partner is difficult enough for anyone. With more Pagans saying finding a partner who shares their values, if not their religion, the search for a match is even more difficult. How to overcome that challenge? Attend one of the large gatherings of Pagans at festivals such as Pagan Spirit Gathering (PSG). At this year’s PSG attendees were invited to a single’s meet and greet, attend the wedding of a couple who met at last year’s PSG, and wish Circle Sanctuary‘s Rev. Selena Fox and Dr. Dennis Carpenter, who met and later married at PSG, a happy 27th wedding anniversary. Rev. Fox says that from the very beginning of PSG, straight and same sex couples have met, and married or handfasted, at the festival. “I think the courting dimensions of attending festivals is something quite old and never goes out of style. I’m happy for all the good relations that have come out of PSG,” said Rev. Fox. What is changing are the increasing numbers of Pagans who attend festivals with the express purpose of finding Pagan, and not just Pagan friendly, mate. Yet just like in the mundane world, sometimes love finds you when you aren’t looking for it.”Cara Schulz at PNC-Minnesota writing about looking for, and finding, love at Pagan festivals.

Rev. Kirk Thomas

Rev. Kirk Thomas

“ADF has always championed the civil rights of all people. Our priests have performed same-sex weddings where legal and handfastings where they are not. And we are delighted to see that US Federal benefits will now be available to same-sex couples who may now legally wed, and to see that marriage rights have been extended to California. But this still leaves a large number of people without such rights.  In the USA only 30% of people live in states where same-sex marriage is legal, and while the momentum is there, we fear that many of our members in less liberal areas of the country won’t see such rights for a long time indeed. We have members all over the world, but outside of the USA only Canada offers full marriage rights, though our members in New Zealand will have full rights starting in August.. The United Kingdom may have full rights soon, but Australia only recognizes same-sex marriage where one partner has had gender reassignment therapy. So while we are delighted that this step has finally been taken in the United States, we are also aware of how much more there is to be done. We pray that through hard work and strong intention the Gods will support all of us in achieving marriage equality for all people.” – Rev. Kirk Thomas, Archdruid of Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship (ADF), releasing an official ADF statement in the wake of the Supreme Court’s rulings on DOMA and Prop 8.

Lupa, author of "Skin Spirits," at her shop.

Lupa, author of “Skin Spirits,” at her shop.

“What I had thought I wanted was more structure and piety, sharing nature through an evangelism of orthopraxy. What I needed, in fact, was to toss the entire artifice away and simply immerse myself in the world of awe and wonder I’d rediscovered. As for the spirits? I no longer needed to try to keep convincing myself that their presence was a literal reality despite all my doubts and inconsistencies. I didn’t need “belief”, I didn’t need to use speculation and pseudoscience to “prove” that the spirits are “real”, and I ceased caring whether they even existed outside of my own deeply rooted imagination or not, because I only needed them to be important to me. I had the twin flames of science and creativity, the one creating a structure of general objective understanding, and the other adding wholly personal, subjective color that didn’t have to be “true” for anyone but me. And that is where I am today. I still honor my totems and other spirits, but as a personal pantheon carried inside of me. They are what gives added vitality to the world around me; they embody my wonder and awe, my imagination and creativity, the things that I as a human being bring to the relationships I have to everything else in this world. Science is important in that it tells me how the moon was formed, what the dust on it is made of, and how it affects the tides, but there is a spirit inside of me that loves the beautiful silver of the moonlight and all the stories we’ve told about Mama Luna. In balance and complement, science and spirits both become my animism today.” – Lupa, on how she lost her religion and gained the world.

Jason Mankey

Jason Mankey

“The heroes of American Religion are constantly being co-opted and misinterpreted for political gain. The deism of Thomas Jefferson has been overlooked by many who have attempted to insert an Evangelical Jesus into places where that messiah did not exist. Similarly, the Hellfire Club’s Benjamin Franklin has been romanticized to the point of caricature. Many of America’s deified heroes are now more myth than man; their failings ignored by a general populace that refuses to believe any of our “Founding Fathers” were capable of making mistakes. […] While having a great deal of respect and admiration for many of our national leaders and the documents and speeches that make up American Civil Religion, I am no fan of the institution. I love the symbolism of figures like Justice and Liberty, but the deification of words and men leads to a false sense of infallibility. America remains a great nation, but we also remain a nation capable of mistakes and a rigidness of thinking. The men who wrote the Constitution never thought that their words would be taken as holy writ. They were politicians and not prophets; men with flaws and limitations just like the rest of us. I think their humanity makes them more compelling and is worth remembering.”Jason Mankey on American civil religion, and its shortcomings.

That’s all I have for now, have a great day! Oh, and if you’d like to hear me spout off on various topics, Inciting A Riot has a podcast interview with me up now.

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.

starhawk 5 19 04

Starhawk

“When faced with the need for change, we humans tend to resist.  We cling to what is familiar, what is immediately profitable or distracting.  We dispute the facts and deny the reports.  And so we seem by default to be tumbling onto the path of destruction. Let this Solstice be a time to instead embrace change.  As the sun sets at last on the longest day, take some time to consider how everything must eventually reach its peak, and transform.  The sun’s decline triggers the grain to set seed, the apples to swell, the squash and tomatoes and corn to ripen.  We must be willing to let go of the blossom and in order to harvest the fruit.  When we stop clutching our fears and our limiting assumptions, we can open our hands and receive inspiration and hope. May this Solstice be a time of opening to the possibility that we can find a new way to live, in harmony with nature and with one another, in justice, in balance, in love.” – Starhawk, reflecting on the crisis of climate change, and the Summer Solstice as a time to embrace change, at the Washington Post’s On Faith section.

Sam Webster (with Herm), photo by Tony Mierzwicki.

Sam Webster (with Herm), photo by Tony Mierzwicki.

“Like in ancient times, contemporary Pagan religious activity is structured around worship (as interpreted in the broad sense). The Gods Themselves constitute the structure, the very scaffold around which our religion and culture are formed. The Gods are the bones of the body Pagan. This is true for us whether we are hard polytheists, humanists, naturists, or operating from a non-dual frame. In each case there are the Divinities, and irrespective of Their being interpreted as completely separate, aspects of our psyches, human generated stories, manifestations of, simply Nature herself, or in any other theological frame, They abide. They, however framed, are what we gather around to remember, to honor, to affirm their value, or in other words, to worship. Regardless of our understanding of what it means, when we gather in worship we all come together as a community. This is the place where we all meet. In essence, Priesthood is about setting the table, both for the Gods and the worshipers.” – Sam Webster, at the Patheos Pagan Channel, on the importance of a Pagan priesthood, and why the worship of divinities (no matter your underlying theology) is central to modern Pagan religion.

Teo Bishop & Cher

Teo Bishop & Cher

“Forgiving myself allowed me to forgive her. Once forgiveness starts, it spreads. Now I’m no longer angry at bazooms22. I don’t feel affected anymore. I remember where my center is. Then, unexpectedly, a feeling of gratitude starts bubbling up. I’m kind of glad this person was an asshole. I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to respond like a child, because it reminded me of the ways in which I am still very much a child. The fear, insecurity, and shame that exists in me is the same that exists in her, too. She held up a mirror and said, this is what fear looks like. I felt the fear, then I let it move me to action, initiating a series of events which led me back around to around center. It was a gift, really. Sometimes we get lifted up and celebrated, and I don’t think those are the times when we are offered the greatest lessons. It’s when we’re humbled by the world that we are reminded of the things that really matter: Our own capacity to forgive. The meaning of fortitude of spirit. The continued relevance of compassion.” – Teo Bishop, at his Bishop In The Grove blog, on Internet trolls, fear, insecurity, and the importance of compassion.

Morpheus Ravenna

Morpheus Ravenna

“All people can only act from the experiences that they have. We polytheists cannot expect anyone who has not experienced the reality of the Gods to act from true knowledge of their presence. We can, of course, expect our practices and our theology to be treated with respect. There’s something more I want to say about the Gods, and about polytheism. That is, while it is important for us to trust the evidence of our senses, it is also important to recognize the limits of our sensory frame of reference. This is a matter of fine discernment: the key is to recognize that our sensory experiences of the Gods are not the Gods themselves, because they are inherently greater than our capacity to experience them. Thus, the Gods as we know them are in fact processes of encounter, more than fixed shapes. To quote my friend Jonathan again, “The gods are what happen when the forces of the cosmos interact with human consciousness.” That is to say, what we experience is always a mask or form of the God shaped in such a way as to translate into our consciousness and frame of reference.” – Morpheus Ravenna, on the nature of polytheism, at her Banshee Arts blog.

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

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

“New York City Witches have an extensive (and sometimes complicated) relationship with the “O Fortuna”movement from Carl Orff’s choral adaptation of a number of medieval poems, Carmina Burana. As revealed by Michael Lloyd in Bull of Heaven: the Mythic Life of Eddie Buczynski and the Rise of the New York Pagan, early New York Witch Scenester Eddie Buczynski was fond of playing the piece of music on a phonograph during rituals, and so many NYC Witches carry special memories of the work (I recall it from Halloween Witches’ Balls since the early ’90s, and it was described as “apocalyptic” by a New York Times journalist after  Eddie Buczynski’s memorial rite last summer). Witches have pointed out that it is actually a very dire composition, detailing how Fortune (conceptualized in the Classical sense as the Goddess Fortuna, called Imperatrix Mundi, “Empress of the World”) will rise and fall with little warning or feeling for the impacted in Her vicissitudes. The fickle nature of Dame Fortune is symbolized by the emblematic Wheel of Fortune, or “Rota Fortunae” (also a popular TV game-show). It is amusing to contemplate that a very American version of “O Fortuna” is the gamblers’ anthem “Luck Be a Lady Tonight”  from the witty Broadway musical Guys and Dolls.” – Zan Fraser, at The Juggler, contemplating Carl Orff’s “O Fortuna” and how “Luck Be a Lady” can be interpreted as a Pagan prayer to Fortuna.

Steven Abell

Steven Abell

“An expatriate friend from the former East Germany recently said, “Already been through this once. Not having it again.” Let us respect and follow the voice of experience here. If you want to know who the bad guys are, it is anyone, especially in the U.S. government, who tries to tell you that this is really all okay. No, it isn’t. Tell them so, and make sure they hear you. Back in the 9th century, some people in Norway who were accustomed to living their own lives suddenly had a king to contend with. Some of them submitted. Others stayed and fought and died. Others still lit out for the territories, as Huck Finn would say a thousand years later. At the time, “the territories” meant Iceland. They constructed a lawful republic, which had no king, and no subjects. There they lived freely, and for themselves. These people were Heathens. I think it is interesting that Iceland is once again a place where people talk about going to live, and for much the same reason. For most of us, however, there are no territories to light out for. We are going to have to deal with this, right here and now.” – Steven Thor Abell, a Steersman of the High Rede of The Troth, on Edward Snowden, government surveillance, and ‘who the bad guys are.’

Vivianne Crowley

Vivianne Crowley

“It is easy to think when we are busy immersed in everyday life that our individuality as it is now is something that is enduring and unchanging. It is true that there is deep within us an enduring core and seed that we can call ‘the self’ or ‘True Self’; but it is a seed that can flourish in many shapes and forms. What may feel like enduring characteristics – our gender, race, sexual orientation – are part of the vehicle; but they are not the self. The chariot is not the charioteer. Much of our spiritual growth is about letting go of the images that we have created and had thrust upon us by others. Spiritual growth is an unveiling, a stripping away of all the outer layers of conditioning that family and society have laid upon us to become the essence of ourselves; that which we are when we can be transparent and clear, without pretension or pretense, spiritually naked.” – Vivianne Crowley, author of “Wicca: A Comprehensive Guide to the Old Religion in the Modern World,” musing on individuality in a post on tarot and the Summer Solstice at Patheos.

Lupa

Lupa

“And just as black mold has been shaped by our effects on the planet, so it reminds me that we are still affected by the other beings we share that planet with. We sometimes fool ourselves into thinking we’ve defeated all the problems nature has to throw at us–disease, inadequate shelter, starvation, and so forth. And yet, even in the most comfortable home, Black Mold and its children can creep in, shattering that illusion. (Never mind that in many less comfortable homes, disease, exposure and starvation are very real problems.) Black Mold helps to keep me humble, and reminds me of the privileges I enjoy, however temporarily. Finally, Black Mold is a somber reminder of that temporary condition. We cannot continue the current rate of resource consumption that has made our lives more comfortable. Either we have to reduce our consumption, or find more sustainable ways to maintain our current standard of living. So while black mold is mainly a threat to the drywall, I also find it to be an incentive to find more eco-friendly options for food, water, shelter, and other resources.” – Lupa, at her Therioshamanism blog, on working with black mold as a fungus totem.

Margot Adler

Margot Adler

“Well, what are our vampires about? What do we need in this society that we are creating a particular kind of vampire? And so one day, I’m just, like, putting all the most popular vampires on a sheet of paper. So I’m going oh, the Collins and Spike and Angel and Buffy and Mick St. John, and you know, in “Moonlight,” and, you know, “The Vampire Diaries,” Stefan. I make this huge list. And I say, OK, these are all the vampires that have been popular over the last 15 years. And a light bulb went off because I realized they were all, unlike the vampires before, were all conflicted. They were all desperately struggling to be moral despite being predators, even though they were often failing. And that’s exactly who we were, except maybe – this is a weird thing to say – maybe oil is our blood. Maybe, you know, we’re sucking the lifeblood out of the planet, and we can’t stop.” – Margot Adler, on NPR’s “Talk of the Nation,” discussing her new Kindle Single  “Out For Blood.”

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.

Arana Fireheart

Arana Fireheart

“I went into this with a lot of preconceived notions about how we would be treated by reality TV producers and so far, I am glad to say that I was wrong. Trust your gut. If it feels like you are dealing with honorable, respectful people and you are clear about their intentions (and yours!). Then go for it. I really feel that it about time we stopped hiding, if we take the risk to be ‘out’ more, it will help all of us to live in peace.”Arana Fireheart, husband of Karina Fireheart, part of a Pagan family that participated in a recent episode of the reality television series “Wife Swap.” You can now watch the entire episode online.

Annika Mongan

Annika Mongan

“Did my broken marriage drive me away from Christianity? Was it disappointment in God? Theological doubts? Yes and no. Many experiences and questions gnawed at my faith, but none had the power to destroy it. They pushed at a door that was waiting to fling open. They prepared me to step into a world that had been calling me home all along.” – Annika Mongan, a Southern Baptist Minister turned Pagan, and new contributor to PaganSquare at Witches & Pagans.

Vivianne Crowley

Vivianne Crowley

“We can value ourselves better if we remember that we are more than our bodies and that the body is a gift – a perishable gift with an expiry date. We have very little time to experience life in it.  Human life spans are tiny in the context of the time spans of the universe around us, so let us enjoy the gift and honor the Goddess by caring for it both inwardly and outwardly, but without being fixated by it.” – Vivianne Crowley, author of “Wicca: A Comprehensive Guide to the Old Religion in the Modern World,” a Jungian psychologist, and faculty at Cherry Hill Seminary.

Nick Farrell

Nick Farrell

“Magic is not a easy path, so joining an occult group should not be easy either. Real magical groups see people as things they have to train and a long term project. They generally should not be too concerned about getting extra people if they have enough to do their work projects. If a group seems too keen for you to join, say by paying for you to come and be initiated, you should avoid them. This means that they are desperate to boost their membership. An esoteric group should always be looking for quality over quantity. You might think that the reason a group wants you is because you are a wonderful esoteric candidate with heaps of knowledge. However to a real magical group lots of experience and pre-knowledge is a hindrance. You have to learn from scratch in any order you join so any intellectual baggage you might be carrying will have to be dropped before you join.” – Nick Farrell, Golden Dawn magician and writer, on how to avoid bad magical groups.

Lupa

Lupa

“Earth Day isn’t just for protests and your boss organizing an office-wide recycling drive for good P.R. It’s about reminding us of that connection to the very real, physical world we are a part of, especially the wild, disorganized, non-human parts that we too often take for granted. And it’s the sort of thing that you can carry with you all year; think of today as your yearly recharge.” – Lupa, at the No Unsacred Place blog, on this week’s Earth Day.

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

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

A Farewell to Therianthropy: Pagan and neo-shamanic practitioner Lupa, author of books like “New Paths to Animal Totems” and  “Skin Spirits,” has announced that she’s letting her book “A Field Guide to Otherkin” go out of print. In the announcement she explains that she feels the resources in the book have become dated, that it isn’t up to her current standards, and that she has stopped identifying herself as Otherkin.

Lupa

Lupa

“So now here I am in 2013, and I have a confession to make: I no longer identify as a therianthrope, and I haven’t for quite some time. I’ve sat with that reality for a while, checking in with myself and making sure it wasn’t just a phase. But no, it just doesn’t fit any more; it’s not a framework that explains me. There’s still a piece of me that I feel resonates more with wolf than human, but at this point I don’t think it’s anything more than a bit of creative personal narrative, part of the ongoing myth I tell about myself. For me, the wolf is a metaphor, a piece of spirituality internalized. Sure, I’ve always leaned toward the personal mythology hypothesis of “what are Otherkin”, but the idea that I am fundamentally not human on some level just doesn’t fit. I am a human animal, 100%, just with a particular connection to the idea of “wolfness”. Call it an inner connection to my totem, or a super-charged “favorite animal”; either of those fit me better than “therian”, or “shifter”, or any of the other terms that set animal-people apart from humanity as a whole.”

The book will officially go out of print on the first of May. As the sole book devoted only to Otherkin, it has been repeatedly cited by scholars interested in the subject. The latest edition of Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions featured two articles on Otherkin/Therianthropy and Pagan scholar Chas Clifton noted that both heavily relied on Lupa’s “A Field Guide to Otherkin.” You can read an interview I conducted with Lupa about the book, here.

The Life of a High Priestess: Deborah Lipp, author of several books on Wicca and magical practice, including “The Study of Witchcraft: A Guidebook to Advanced Wicca” and “The Way of Four Spellbook: Working Magic with the Elements” has written a memoir about her life as a High Priestess, and the relationships she formed over the years with people like Isaac Bonewits (to whom she was once married), Scott Cunningham, and Timothy Leary. In a guest post at Llewellyn’s blog, Lipp discusses why she wrote “Merry Meet Again: Lessons, Life & Love on the Path of a Wiccan High Priestess.”

Isaac Bonewits and Deborah Lipp at Starwood, 1987

Isaac Bonewits and Deborah Lipp at Starwood, 1987

“Why did I do this? My book was, in part, an outcome of bereavement counseling: When my ex-husband, Isaac Bonewits, was in the last days of his life, and after he died, I found myself looking back on my years with him in a way that cried out for organization, and I organize myself by writing. In part, because my path to Paganism is a path that is at risk of being forgotten: The pre-Internet, deeply closeted, ‘is there anyone out there?’ years are no more, and a journey that was meaningful to many thousands of people risks being treated as fiction. I wanted to document it. I capped off my book with my fiftieth birthday; it felt like a bookend; it felt apropos.”

I am personally excited by this development because I’m an on-the-record advocate for our elders recording their stories, their histories, whether that be in book form, or via recorded interviews. Llewellyn’s recent foray into publishing memoirs and remembrances, like Donald Michael Kraig’s short e-book about his friend, the author Scott Cunningham, is a welcome trend. One that I hope continues. The better documented our past, the better we can understand the forces that have shaped our community into what it is today. I look forward to reading Lipp’s book.

Author Raises Money to Cover Family Medical Expenses: Trish Telesco, author of several Pagan and magical titles, including “How To Be A Wicked Witch” and “Which Witch Is Which?: A Concise Guide to Wiccan and Neo-Pagan Paths and Traditions” is raising funds after her husband was diagnosed with an unexpected tumor on his brain stem.

Trish Telesco

Trish Telesco

“My husband went to the hospital Monday with what we thought was a blood pressure issue. By Weds. he was in brain surgery for a tumor on his brain stem. There is no question that the expense for this procedure will go way beyond what we can pay in a lifetime (or two). I couldn’t even figure out a goal amount. I am trying to set up a fund that will be used ONLY for the medical co-pays.”

That fundraiser was started in September, but the surgeries and tests continue. According to public posts at her Facebook profile there have been some positive developments, but the fiscal problems will be an ongoing issue even after the hospital stay is over. Until America has a real medical social safety net, people’s lives will be thrown into fiscal crisis whenever a major medical problem emerges, and this is but one close-to-home example. If Trish Telesco’s books and work have brought something to your life consider giving back by donating to the medical fund.

In Other Community News:

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