Archives For M. Macha NightMare

This year, the Covenant of the Goddess (CoG) held its annual business meeting, Grand Council, in the southern city of Atlanta, Georgia. The meeting was sponsored by Dogwood Local Council (DLC), the Atlanta-based chapter for the national organization. The two-day meeting is the center-piece of a full four-day conference event called MerryMeet.

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Before I continue, I must divulge my affiliation with the organization and event. I have been a CoG member for years, and I am currently serving as its National Public Information Officer (NPIO) – a position that I will hold until Samhain 2014. Often when I speak publicly about CoG, it is in an official capacity as NPIO. What I share below is my own personal reflections. Additionally, I happened to also be one the event planners.

This year, the bulk of the MerryMeet conference was held at the Crowne Plaza Ravinia, selected partly for its exceptional green space. The 2014 theme was “Standing on Common Ground,” which reflects both the organization’s attention to interfaith or intrafaith work, as well as its spiritual and practical focus on the Earth – our literal “Common Ground.”

The four day conference opened, as it typically does, with a daylong leadership institute. This year’s topic was the expanding interfaith movement. Over 40 attendees met at the beautiful Chattahoochee Nature Center (CNC) in Roswell to participate in discussions led by leaders in interfaith work.

Interfaith Panel at MerryMeet 2014 [Photo Credit: HGreene]

Interfaith Panel at MerryMeet 2014 [Photo Credit: HGreene]

The morning Pagan-only panel consisted of CoG inferfaith representatives Don Frew, Rachael Watcher, M. Macha Nightmare (Aline O’Brien) as well as special guest Rev. Selena Fox of Circle Sanctuary. In the afternoon, they were joined by Garth Young (Buddhist), Cliff Trammel (Jewish), Carl McCollum (Catholic), Syndey Linquist (New Thought Christian), and Iraj khodadoost (Baha’i).

Both panel discussions began with introductions, relevant stories and questions on general interfaith work. However, the conversations slowly gravitated to the intersection of the interfaith and environmental movements. What role does or should faith play in protecting our ecosystem and how can the interfaith movement support that role? *

Several of the panelists lamented that their interfaith work is frequently kept separate from their environmental concerns. However, Frew relayed a story on how the 1990s global focus on the environment led to a greater interest or support for Nature-centered religions within the international interfaith world. Unfortunately, that interest waned after 9/11. However, Frew added that now the attention appears to be shifting back once again.

In the afternoon, Garth Young, a Buddhist, brought the discussion down to a personal level and said, “Caring for myself is caring for the Earth. Caring for the Earth is caring for myself.” In the end, the panelists all agreed that Earth care is and should be at the forefront of the interfaith movement because, as the theme states, the Earth is our common ground.

Heron  Pond at Chattahoochee Nature Center [Photo by: AmberMoon]

Heron Pond at Chattahoochee Nature Center [Photo by: AmberMoon]

Outside of Earth stewardship, the panel spent a longtime discussing the obstacles of interfaith work. What are the walls that prevent “bridge building” toward interfaith understanding? Cliff Trammel, representing Judaism, noted that his biggest obstacle is fear. “Will I be accepted or represent my faith well?” He added that, in letting go of expectations and personal anxiety, he is able to bring down those walls and listen to others. All the speakers agreed and shared their own experiences with confronting personal fear.

Before and after the panel discussions, attendees had the opportunity to go out into nature and explore the literal “common ground.” For those guests that didn’t want to brave the 90 degree temperatures, the CNC treated them to an animal encounter. The wildlife rehabilitation manager brought a Merlin falcon into the meeting room and answered questions about raptors and other native species of Georgia.

The very next morning, Grand Council began. Working by consensus, CoG representatives from around the country convened to discuss all manners of business from internal organization, external works, policies and the voting of next year’s officers.

CoG National Board 2014-2015.  Front Row: Stachia Ravensdottir, Lady Emrys. Back Row: Zenah Smith, Jack Prewett, XXXX, Kathy Lezon, Lady Annabelle, Cat Perron, Lady Mehurt.

CoG National Board 2014-2015. Front Row: Stachia Ravensdottir, Lady Emrys. Back Row: Zenah Smith, Jack Prewett, Gordon Stone, Kathy Lezon, Lady Annabelle, Cat Perron, Lady Mehurt.

This year’s meeting resulted in two landmark decisions. First, CoG adopted an official environmental policy statement. Spearheaded by CoG interfaith representative M. Macha NightMare (Aline O’Brien), the statement was the result of a year’s worth of collaborative work. She says, “It gives me a great sense of accomplishment that we, the Witches of the Covenant of the Goddess, have crafted a statement about our beloved Mother Earth that reflects our shared values and expresses our mutual concern for our planet, as well as our responsibilities for its current state and our hope for the future.”

Second, CoG approved the creation of an internal Abuse Advisory Committee to “advise, educate, and support the Covenant on issues of physical and sexual violence.” The committee will be made up of CoG members who are professionally trained in this field and those who “remain current on information pertinent to the issue.”

The CoG Abuse Advisory Committee was proposed and presented by Lady Aradia and Lady Emrys, two licensed social workers from Pennsylvania. Lady Aradia, also psychotherapist, said:

Sexual offenses and family violence happen in every community including the Wiccan and larger Pagan community. Although we pride ourselves in not being a religion with a large institution, this places us at a disadvantage when issues of abuse arise.

During the two-day meeting, Lady Aradia also presented a well-attended workshop called “Boundaries,” and another member presented a workshop on “Mandatory Reporting.” Aradia says:

By COG agreeing that a committee be formed to address and help the community navigate this issue, they/we take an active stance in both reducing these offenses but also providing safe ways for everyone to engage in their religions communities … We know we may not have all the answers but it’s a beginning, a way to keep talking about the issue from an educated and knowledgeable perspective.

In addition to these two landmark decisions, CoG held three important ceremonies honoring various Pagans for service and dedication. Just after the meeting opened, National First Officer Kathy Lezon called for a moment of silence to honor those members and others who had passed over the year. Names were read aloud.

After lunch Friday, CoG was joined by Circle Sanctuary for the first-ever joint presentation to honor Pagan military servicemen and women. Lezon presented CoG’s Military Service Award Medal while Rev. Selena Fox and Rev. Dawnwalker presented Circle’s Pagan Military Service Ribbon. Jack Prewett, a Vietnam Veteran and former Sergeant United States Air Force, said:

As a Vietnam veteran, I didn’t get much of a homecoming. So I felt both honored and humbled to be recognized by both Circle Sanctuary and Covenant of the Goddess for my service to my country. To have both these organizations recognize servicemen both past and present is truly a gift from the Gods and I know from personal experience how much it means those that do and have served.

In the third and final ceremony, CoG presented its newly-established Award of Honor for outstanding service to community. The membership had only just approved the new award Friday morning. Spearheaded by Ardantane director and longtime CoG member, Amber K, the CoG Award of Honor recognizes people for “outstanding service to the greater Pagan and Heathen communities in areas such as religious rights, international peace, environmental protection, interfaith leadership and education, the creation of lasting institutions, and the promotion of social justice and civil rights.”

CoG Award of Honor Presentation

CoG Award of Honor Presentation

After its approval, the membership awarded the honor to eight people including, Margot Adler, Alison Harlow, Sparky T Rabbit, Deborah Ann Light, Kathryn Fuller, Don Frew, Selena Fox and Judy Harrow. After receiving the award, Rev. Fox said, “I was deeply moved to be among the 8 selected by Covenant of the Goddess at this year’s Grand Council to receive the newly created Service Award.  It means a lot to receive recognition and appreciation by peers.” Also present at the ceremony was member Kathryn Fuller. She said, “I was taken aback by the nomination, and both honored by the award and humbled to be in the company of such giants in the Pagan community.”

Outside of the landmark decisions and moving ceremonies, there was an overwhelming sense of presence at the meeting. During those four days the membership looked back at those who had passed or had contributed to our cultural progress.Their efforts were exemplified strongly in the group’s ability to safely meet in a openly accessible hotel deep within the conservative Southeast. Because of those people and that work, “we are here now.”

Covenant of the GoddessAt the same time, the membership looked toward its future – one that looms ahead driving all of us to continue. “Here we are. But what next?” In considering this unknowable future, the delegates discussed the results of the CoG Vision Survey and how to apply its data to the organization’s direction going forward. How can we affect positive, lasting change in a fluid, evolving world filled with so many unknowns? This discussion will continue as delegates return home and digest their MerryMeet 2014 experience.

Next year, CoG’s Merry Meet and Grand Council will be hosted by Touchstone Local Council and held in Ontario, California, Aug 13-16. The organization will be celebrating its 40th anniversary.

 

*Dogwood Local Council has made the MerryMeet Leadership Institute Prayer Book to the Earth available for download.  The book contains prayers, chants, songs and other writings dedicated to the Earth.

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.

Nels Linde

Nels Linde

“Discussion of Paganism often centers around what a Pagan  is. Terms like “nature-centered” always come up, and occasionally reference to the spirituality of the countryside is spoken. I like to think of Pagans as people of the land. It is a vague term and many people can be considered people of the land without having any particular spiritual belief. I take some pride in the term Pagan. I am a Pagan connected to a piece of land. I realized recently what a rare relationship I have with land. I have lived on and had an intimate relationship with the same piece of land for thirty eight years. It is not so rare in rural areas where people often reside in the same location for generations. For people who associate their spiritual beliefs with the land, and for  Pagans, the opportunity to spend hundreds of hours in total solitude on an individual piece land is uncommon. I am not referring to the casual acts of living, work, and recreation, but time spent in meditation and direct observation of the land, its plants, and creatures.” – Nels Linde, on being ‘People of the Land.’

P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

“I think it is probably a much better idea to make sure that everything in interfaith work is contextualized and specific, even to the point of repeatedly emphasizing “This is how it works for my tradition; others do differ, and often widely.” The more of this kind of specific, authentic, and contextualized interfaith work that occurs, the better the understanding of our diverse religious viewpoints there will be in the wider landscape of modern religious people of all varieties. Likewise, the more that pagan interfaith work ends up being a rehash of Wicca (or, at best, Wicca-like practices) to the detriment of any other possibility, and the more that individuals who have no intention of representing viewpoints other than their own, and who have no interest in nor even respect for such viewpoints, go about speaking on behalf of everyone and are not called out for doing so, the worse off we’ll all be for these supposed efforts that such individuals get praised for and have made their own brand-name. I find myself in the position of not finding it possible to praise the work, or the individuals responsible for it, when the work in question is actively marginalizing some groups (including my own) and is misinforming others. I therefore cannot approve of this type of “pagan interfaith” work unless it is done in an actual spirit of informed understanding and respect for the diversity within modern paganism (including polytheism!), rather than simply giving the thoughts of a majority for convenience’s sake and representing that majority as the only worthwhile viewpoint to take seriously in an interfaith context.” – P. Sufenas Virius Lupus, responding to  Don Frew’s article ‘The Rudiments of Neopagan Spiritual Practice,’ and stressing the need for better interfaith and intrafaith communication. 

Sable Aradia

Sable Aradia

“These books stressed a background in ritual and practice.  They came out of what was primarily, in the Western world, a Protestant Christian culture.  So much of their training (and mine) focused on breaking the conditioning of that culture.  We concentrated on releasing “either, or” thinking and learning “yes, and” thinking.  We fought long, hard battles with ourselves and others about whether or not Witchcraft was evil and wrong because the Bible objected to it.  We were products of our time, fighting for recognition, fighting over feminism, fighting over gender and issues of sexuality.  All of these were results of breaking our conditioning. Well guys, the battle is over.  Millennials did not grow up in a Protestant Christian culture.  Instead, many of them are lotus-eaters lulled by the Cult of Mammon, who are used to being acted upon rather than acting, often apathetic towards the issues that the previous generation fought so passionately about. The books that have informed their Craft were written by Christopher PenczakRaven Grimassi and T. Thorn Coyle, who are all about experience and transcendence.  They grew up with feminism, with Gay Pride, and with a sense of entitlement to all forms of equality.  They don’t need to break their “either, or” conditioning; they’ve already been raised to understand “yes, and.”  They are used to high-speed internet and instant gratification.  They are interested in direct, personal gnosis, and they don’t want to waste a lot of time to get it.” – Sable Aradia, on reaching a new generation of Witches, a response of sorts to the Sarah Lawless article on breaking tradition.

Gus DiZerega

Gus DiZerega

“The tolerant Christian views of men like John Locke gave moral energy to liberalism, but in the eyes of many, the science that liberalism generated wiped out those views’ biblical foundations. If those ethics were a kind of moral social capital, by now they have been largely used up, which is why liberals of all sorts seem so frustratingly passive when attacked by authoritarian nihilism. This is why Pagans engaging in interfaith work can contribute well beyond our numbers to the spiritual well-being of humanity. A transition to a world emphasizing sacred Immanence and the sacred Feminine holds open the promise of rooting modernity in spiritual traditions that are in harmony with such a society, rather than hostile to it. Ironically, such a shift is also in harmony with what scientists are discovering about thegenuinely moral behavior arising within the natural world: that the working out of logic itself in the long run advantages the good guys, and that cooperating in society is by far the most successful evolutionary strategy for success. But of course, that is what we would expect of Spirit if it were immanent.” – Gus diZerega, on why Pagans should work with other religions.

Lance Parkin

Lance Parkin

“When Moore says ‘magic’ he usually means something most people would call ‘creativity’, or a gift of expression, of art affecting the way we experience the world. He’s summed it up as saying that art does all the things magic spells are meant to – want someone to fall in love with you? Write them a love poem. Want to conjure up a million pounds? Write Watchmen. I find it very easy to gloss ‘magic’ as a strategy for Moore to shake up his writing techniques. Writing’s all about finding new ways to say things, or it should be, and it’s easy to fall into self-parody, to find yourself repeating yourself. Moore’s got a system to avoid that. At the same time, there’s clearly more to it. Like Philip K Dick and others before him, Moore’s had mystical experiences that he can’t get his mind around, least of all describe in words. There’s something deeply personal – unique – in his head, it’s clearly something he believes. He, more than anyone, appreciates how silly it sounds. I do not have the gift of telepathy, and I’m humble enough to admit that if Alan Moore can’t find the words, it would be a fool’s errand for me to try. My arch rationalist side looks at the stuff he’s produced under the influence, and concludes that whatever he’s on, it seems to be working. Promethea is gaudy, convoluted and based on a philosophy that seems to be the direct opposite of the way the real world functions to the point at times it insults reason? Well, yes, but if we’re counting so’s Captain America.” – Lance Parkin, author of a new biography of Alan Moore, on Moore’s belief in magic, and how he (as a staunch rationalist) approached that chapter of the book.

Shauna Aura Knight

Shauna Aura Knight

“Our brains are wired to run on the power of story, the power of myth. I could go on a big bender about Joseph Campbell and myth and the hero’s journey, but I’ll just sum up. Myth is powerful. Myths will tell you a lot about the culture that created them. And myths can change a culture too. Myths–stories–tell a culture what’s important, who’s in power, how we should act. The problem is, our popular myths these days are largely funded by corporate interests. Ultimately, the most pervasive stories out there are the stories like the American Dream, which gets bent and twisted into, “You are not successful until you have brand new shiny things.” It creates one of the primary dysfunctions of our dominant culture–the culture of want. I want, I want, I want. We are always wanting that “big shiny” that is just out of reach. We are being advertised to and marketed to to feel that we are “less than” if we don’t have the coolest (whatever it is). A new couch. A new car.” – Shauna Aura Knight, on media, myth, and mind control.

Niki Whiting

Niki Whiting

“I started this blog two and half years ago while living in Wales. At the time I was debating whether or not quit the PhD program I was enrolled in. I had a 3 year old and a 5 month old. I wanted to write outside of academia and I felt I needed some structure to help me focus. I ended up quitting my program and never looked back. My family moved back to the United States, and I am now pregnant with my third child (due in May). Through the explorations I started in my first year of blogging I found practices that spoke to my spirit and produced the kinds of results I had been hoping to find. A Witch’s Ashram runs with what worked: my continuing study and practice of Anderson Feri witchcraft and tantric Hinduism. I have teachers for the former tradition and am self-taught for the latter one, so far. I consider myself dually observant. You’ll find discussions of both practices here, as well as topics that relate to the wider Pagan community. I use my theological background and former experience as a Christian to explore topics and review books that tilt toward the Christian side of things. I often look at the intersection of being a mystic and Pagan and a parent.” – Niki Whiting, who gives a welcome from her new blog home at the Patheos Pagan Channel.

Anomalous Thracian

Anomalous Thracian

“My point is that, in my experience and observations, those who over-indulge in (the idea or even facade of) relativistic outlooks basically hide behind a sense of faux-tolerance, as if having judgments or opinions different from the mainstream would be earth-shattering. Similarly in my experience, it WOULD be earth-shattering for a great many people: unresolved personal issues and areas of self-ignorance would come to light, judgments that we cast upon ourselves and then disjointedly project outward at others would rise up and boil stinkily over into the fires of self-evaluation. But I’m all about uprisings and shaking the earth. What is the point of relationship if everything remains static? And that’s the thing about relativism as it is popularly practiced: its deployment seeks to establish a “static” (artificial) understanding of things. “Tolerance” is in this context and my estimation just another way of saying “Hey everybody, let’s try really hard not to rock the boat, because then we might have to actually do the real work of bringing about change and an increase in knowledge!”. Relativism is a toolset for suspending one’s own judgment in the pursuit of understanding others; it is a FIRST look, a FIRST step, not the whole damn process.” – Anomalous Thracian, on relativism, tolerance, and acceptance.

Macha

Aline “Macha” O’Brien

“Let’s face it: established religions such as Christianity in its many forms, were created and gained ascendency in other times and places.  There was no threat of nuclear annihilation, no looming environmental degradation, no water shortage, no organ transplants, no vaccinations against such diseases as smallpox and polio.  Those religions addressed the concerns of the peoples in other times and places.  Further, few of these religious institutions adapted to changing circumstances.  Nowadays some are trying to be more relevant, often by adopting practices, such as involving lay people in their rituals and dancing during worship. In the years since Paganism has become visible, particularly in academia and interfaith, we have gained credibility in the wider world, and although we remain a religious minority, we have not done much in the way of establishing lasting institutions. There was a time when I was still too close to that against which I was rebelling and too chafed by the institutions I was escaping that I resisted any talk of Pagan institutions.  Sam Webster has convinced me that by creating institutions, we will have a lasting legacy that will survive our individual lives.  The institution to which I’ve devoted the most time and energy for the last 12 years or so is Cherry Hill Seminary, for many reasons, not the least of which is that I find intellectual discernment to be in short supply, drowned out by the noises of UPG (unverified/unverifiable personal gnosis) woowoo.”- Aline “Macha” O’Brien, on building Pagan institutions.

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

Last week I posted an article highlighting the MountainTop Summit, a multifaith conference that took place over three days in mid-June.  Uniquely structured, the conference employed digital technology in order to facilitate meaningful dialog among the participants.  Pagan Priestess and Witch, Aline “Macha” O’Brien was on hand to experience this inaugural event and to offer a Pagan perspective.

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The event’s title was “MountainTop Summit:  Advancing a Multifaith Movement for Justice.”  Its primary focus was to “explore developing an expanded blueprint” for this social movement.  Erin White of Auburn Theological Seminary writes:

A coordinated and energetic multifaith movement for justice reinforces a shared commitment to breaking down silos, reaching across religious lines, and amplifying a faith perspective across movements — such as the environment, poverty and human rights — as well as across age, race and sexual orientation. Forging a connected path driven by justice strengthens all movements and lifts us all toward fairness and a healed world.

It is becoming increasingly common for multifaith and interfaith efforts to focus on broader social causes.  In a recent article for The Interfaith Observer, Grove Harris wrote:

Faith-based efforts towards peace, social justice, and eradication of hunger and poverty are directly in line with U.N. objectives…In my opinion, the U.N. needs religious groups to increase their activity and apply more pressure.  Above my desk is Margaret Mead’s famous quote – “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world: indeed it’s the only thing that ever has.” 

At all levels, organizations are identifying the beneficial role that multifaith cooperation can have in social justice, environmental activism and other similar efforts.  MountainTop is an example of one conference’s efforts to facilitate this progressive movement. 

M Macha Nightmare

Aline “Macha” O’Brien

Returning to my interview, one of the main reasons for Macha’s eagerness to attend MountainTop was its “collaborative efforts towards social, economic and environmental justice among different religions.”  In the second part of our interview, she shares her observations on this topic as well as the personal affects that the entire experience had her own life – both professionally and personally.

Heather:  Explain the title of the conference to us.

Macha:  The title is “MountainTop: Advancing a multifaith movement for justice.”  That’s where the difference between interfaith and multifaith comes into focus…  As I’ve been given to understand it, and this is by no means universally understood as such, multifaith is more “outer directed,” according to one rabbi I asked.

H: Was there a specific focus or was social justice discussed in general?

M: We talked about all manner of injustice that needed to be reversed — immigration and refugees, racial profiling and Islamophobia; hunger, nutrition and food; education and children’s rights; criminal and juvenile justice and prison reform…; women’s rights and violence against women and children; poverty; slavery and human trafficking; farm workers, day laborers and workers’ rights; politics and the media; digital organizing; homelessness, housing and co-housing; student debt; health care, mental illness and addiction; economic justice; environmental justice; peace; unequal treatment under the law …. You get the idea.

H: You mentioned in our preliminary discussion that there was a large LGBT representation.  Were they there as faith-based representatives or specifically for the LGBT community?

M:  Both.  For example, the Muslim Alliance for Gender and Sexual Diversity; Human Rights Campaign; Southerners on New Ground; Institute for Judaism, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity; Congregation Bet Haverim; A la Familia; The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries; National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

Courtesy Flickr's  winnifredxoxo

Courtesy Flickr’s winnifredxoxo

H: With such groups being there, was there a focus at all on the recent DOMA and Prop 8 rulings?  

M: I don’t recall that DOMA and Prop. 8 were specifically discussed, although I’m sure they were in some of the smaller groups.  However, the overall issue of gender justice was very present.  In particular, on our last day there Exodus International announced the closing of its ministry and its former head, Alan Chambers, issued a profuse and heartfelt apology.  The woman who saw the newsfeed on her phone read aloud the entire statement, which was followed by the kind of cheering at MountainTop that has only increased throughout the country over the past two days.

H:  Did any action-items or specific projects come out of these discussions? 

M: Several projects arose from our working.  Some can be implemented quickly and others need refinement, expansion, and sometimes funding…. The final project on which I worked we titled “Mentoring as an Act of Justice.” We explored the many roles of mentoring, how to approach mentors, how to establish a mentoring relationship, what knowledge, skills or any specialties one might look for in a mentor, boundaries, contracts, terms (time), and other factors.

H:  Generally speaking, what was the prevailing attitude with regards to all of these controversial and difficult issues?

M:  [There was] a great…sense of optimism about how society is moving forward.  That’s because of the many really remarkable young people who were there.  They were knowledgeable, committed, engaged, and fun.  Euro-Americans, African-Americans, Christians, Jews, Muslims, and Sikhs — all gave me hope that a more just society can be created.

Courtesy of Flickr's Arghya a.k.a Orgho

Courtesy of Flickr’s Arghya a.k.a Orgho

H:  What did you personally take away from this event?  

M: One insight came from comparing this event to those inter/multifaith groups with which I have more experience.  Over the course of the workings, I noticed that some of the wishes expressed with respect to inter-religious work were wishes that had been addressed in my own community.  Wishes for more than just making nice talk with people of other religions….Mention was [also] made of interfaith ceremony that wasn’t just a review featuring something by one religious group after another.

I also felt affirmed and validated as a respected interfaith activist, one representing a face and voice of the spectrum of minority religions that fall under the umbrella term Paganism.

H:  How will you use this experience going forward?  Has it changed your views or your methodologies?

M: Since disaffiliating myself from my tradition of origin, if you will, I’ve been reviewing my life and re-examining my priorities.  In a way, I had cut myself adrift.  I’ve experienced this rift as an amputation of sorts.  A necessary one, to be sure, but amputations involve pain and loss.  In a strange sense, I’m redefining myself.

So I went to Nashville with an open mind and no agenda.  I viewed it as an opportunity to further this process of redefining myself and my place and work in the world. As I mentioned above, I don’t work with the backing of some huge institution.  I belong to no church. I’m a Witch at Large.  A Pagan generalist…which is not to say undefined or watered down.

I’m also older and less resilient, and have limited economic resources.  So how can I contribute to this on-going work?  Whatever it is, it will probably come from my desk.  I’m an obsessive networker…and a weaver of connections.  That’s one of the things I can contribute.  I can tell your Pagan readers about these efforts.  I can help to build the networks we can then use to mobilize for change.

H: Thank  You, Macha, for sharing your thoughts and experiences with us.

 

At this time, no plans have been announced for a second event.  But Macha has said that she would definitely return if invited.  She also has stressed to me and on her own blog entries that there are much more “insights to gain” as she “integrates the experiences at Mountaintop into who [she] is.”  Over time, Macha has promised to post news and commentary on her own site, as it becomes available, as well as more personal reflections.

On June 17, 2013, religious leaders from around the country met in Nashville, Tennessee at the very first MountainTop Summit. Held at the Vanderbilt Center for Better Health, the three-day event “uniquely focused on exploring the shape and priorities of this nation’s multifaith movement for justice in the 21st century.”  MountainTop was founded and presented by Vanderbilt University’s Divinity School, Auburn Theological Seminary in New York City, Imaginal Labs and Synthesis Corps.  In a press release, they explain:

In sessions designed to discuss organizing, collaboration and new media, among other topics, the summit [equipped] leaders with the tools, methodologies, and relationships to inform their work on a range of issues — from immigration to marriage equality.”

MountainTop was attended by over 80 participants who are “working in the sectors of education, media, research, community organizing, arts, and culture [and] whose work is rooted in their faith and values.”

In attendance at this unique and progressive event was Aline “Macha” O’Brien known to many as M. Macha Nightmare. In February, she was invited to attend the event by way of friends and her association with Auburn Theological Seminary. Macha said, “anything that would foster collaborative efforts towards social, economic and environmental justice among different religions was something I’d like to participate in.”  So on June 17th, she packed up her bags and headed for Nashville.

I had the pleasure and the opportunity to speak with Macha about her experience at MountainTop. Our discussions will be posted in two parts over two Sundays.  First, Macha answers general questions about the event itself.  In part two, we’ll discuss the content and the meaning behind its title “multifaith movement for justice.”

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Part I:  The MountainTop Summit

Heather:  How was MountainTop different or the same as other multifaith events?

Macha: I’d say it had a more intense focus on working together to identify and implement collaborative projects.  However that might manifest in this particular assemblage more than most interfaith or multifaith efforts I’ve experienced.  Most of my experience working with those of other religions, regardless of what it’s called, has been local and regional rather than national. MountainTop included people from various parts of the country.

H:  Was there a specific goal, aim or theme for the event?  

M: Goals were not specific.  The process, the people, and their creativity determined the specific goals. We were asked to reflect upon three questions in preparation for our time together:

  1. What are the capabilities and aspirations that your organization, or you personally, bring to the multifaith movement for social justice?
  2. What is your theory of change?
  3. What are the challenges that we face?

As a representative of a religion(s) with a smaller demographic and specifically as a representative of CoG [Covenant of the Goddess], an organization that has far more grass roots than the institutions of mainstream religions, I felt that whatever I might bring to this effort would be more spice than stock.

MachaH: How many Pagans participated in total? 

M: Four, all women, three arising from the same “matrix,” if you will, of Reclaiming Craft.

H: What was the reaction to your inclusion? Did participants already have experience interacting with those in Pagan or Heathen religions?   

M: We were accepted.  I didn’t notice any particular reaction.  I think some were more or less familiar with Wiccans, if not other forms of Paganism.  For others meeting a Pagan was a brand new experience. Everyone took care in how we interacted.  We weren’t tiptoeing, but we were sensitive and respectful.

Actually, I think that some of the more conventional people there might have been a wee bit put off by meeting someone from a religion so different from what they know.  In any case, I experienced the overall spirit of the gathering as one of goodwill and commitment to service for the commonwealth.

H: What other religions were represented?

M: In addition to people from faith-based justice projects, there were others not specifically identified with a faith, such as media and leadership consultants, philanthropists and people from the financial community, and immigrant rights and day laborer activists.

As you might expect, religious professionals were mainly Abrahamic  (Islam, Judaism, and Protestant Christianity) and Sikh.  Perhaps there were other [religions represented] that I didn’t identify as being different.  In three days’ time of focused work, we didn’t get the opportunity to meet and become better acquainted with every single other person there.

[While] there were two people who were Catholic-reared, I was surprised there was no one [representing] any Roman Catholic organization.  In my experience sisters and priests are often among the most committed to justice efforts.  In my own home interfaith council, I cherish my friends among the Dominican Sisters of San Rafael and appreciate their unwavering support of social justice concerns.

The other religious persuasion noticeably absent was Buddhism.  Again, in my local work I collaborate with people from several different Buddhist sects.  They work on issues of food and nutrition for the hungry, teens, worker justice, peace, and the like.  [In addition] no Hindus participated. Hinduism doesn’t represent a huge demographic, but in my experience they are strong activists and allies to Pagans.

I know that many more people were invited than were able to attend.  When I mention what to me are glaring omissions, I am not criticizing the organizers.  I was not privy to that process and am confident that they intended to be as inclusive as possible.

Vanderbilt-300x153

Vanderbilt Center for Better Health at Vanderbilt University Health Center

Interview to be continued….

You can read more about the specifics of how the conference was organized and structured on Macha’s own blog or on Patheos’ Pagan Channel’s new blog Wild Garden. In that article Macha emphasizes MountainTop’s focus on new and innovative technology. She talks about the implementation of the DesignShop process and its three phases which include: Scan, Focus, and Act. She also mentions that one of “the strongest and most helpful phrases used [during one specific workshop] was “collaborative intelligence,” a form of understanding that arises from the interactivity that digital communication fosters.”

Next week I will post the second part of this interview that examines MountainTop’s focus on social justice. Macha will also share the event’s personal impact as she continues to process an experience that was packed with spiritual and social significance.

There are lots of articles and essays of interest to modern Pagans out there, sometimes more than I can write about in-depth in any given week. So The Wild Hunt must unleash the hounds in order to round them all up.

  • It’s Groundhog Day! That day of the year in which we all sit down to watch one of Bill Murray’s finest films. It’s also Candlemas
  • If you’re a dealer in outsider art, you simply must have a Witch. Quote: “When asked why she decided to participate in the fair for the first time this year, Santa Fe dealer Laura Steward succinctly explained, ‘One of my artists is a witch,’ referring to sculptor Erika Wanenmacher, a.k.a. Ditch Witch. ‘I like this fair because it’s more interested in people, in the artist’s minds.'”
  • More witchcraft-television is coming your way thanks to the Lifetime network. Quote: “Based on Melissa de la Cruz’s best-selling novel, Witches Of East End centers on the adventures of Joanna Beauchamp (Ormond) and her two adult daughters Freya (Dewan-Tatum) and Ingrid (Boston) — both of whom unknowingly are their family’s next generation of witches. Amick stars as Joanna’s mischievous witch sister Wendy.”Will the television series go as far as the novels? If so, it will be very Pagan-y indeed. 
  • The very first Parliament of the World’s Religion in 1893 wasn’t all handshakes and pluralism, Michael J. Altman at the Religion in American History blog points out that Swami Vivekananda (representing Hinduism  had some very pointed critiques of the dominant monotheisms that were essentially edited out of the official history. Quote: “We who come from the East have sat here on the platform day after day and have been told in a patronizing way that we ought to accept Christianity because Christian nations are the most prosperous. We look about us and we see England, the most prosperous Christian nation in the world with her foot on the neck of 250,000,000 of Asiatics. We look back into history and see that the prosperity of Christian Europe began with Spain. Spain’s prosperity began with the invasion of Mexico. Christianity wins its prosperity by cutting the throats of its fellow men. At such a price the Hindoo will not have prosperity.” As is almost always the case, the truth is messier than the narrative crafted by history. 
  • Congratulations to Crystal Blanton on the publication of her new book, “Pain and Faith in a Wiccan World: Spirituality, Ethics and Transformation.” Quote:  “[The book] fuses spirituality and counseling concepts to add a deeper layer of personal growth and connection to living the Wiccan path. This book looks beyond the concepts of ritual and reaches into previously untouched territory within the Pagan book market to address thriving as a Pagan.” Crystal is a friend, and someone who truly walks her talk. Be sure to check this out. 
  • M. Macha Nightmare adds her own take on the recent Claremont Pagan Studies Conference. Quote: “Others have written about Sabina Magliocco’s keynote speech on Saturday on “The Rise of Pagan Fundamentalism.”  I will only add a few notions I jotted down.  She spoke of the fact that foundational narratives foster group cohesion, and the core experiences are those common to all people of all religions.  She pointed out that the reconstructed traditions are growing faster than witchen traditions, and that their practitioners tends to disdain syncretism.” For more on this, check out the guest post from Patrick Wolff here at The Wild Hunt

That’s it for now! Feel free to discuss any of these links in the comments, some of these I may expand into longer posts as needed.

Last week I presented the question of Pagan solidarity. Does it exist? Should it exist? What is the impact and evolution of such a concept? Generally speaking, it is widely accepted that Pagan solidarity, in some form, is vital for both the protection and continued growth of the non-traditional religions that fall under the Pagan umbrella. Additionally, solidarity can offer a sense of community and comfort over a host of social networks supporting both Pagan groups and solitary practitioners.

In December of 2011, Lady Liberty League mobilized a Task Force to protect a Southern Pagan family’s religious liberty within a public school system. The Task Force, of which I was a member, was comprised of professional individuals representing different Pagan organizations and Pagan spiritual traditions. Together, in solidarity, we worked for three weeks and, in the end, achieved quite a victory.

After that case was settled, the Task Force itself disbanded. However, Lady Liberty League still operates; watching and waiting. Since 1985, the organization has been ever on the “ready” with the ability to mobilize Pagan resources as needed. When active solidarity becomes a regular occurrence an organization is born.

Let’s turn now to a network of Pagan voices to hear their thoughts on the growth and importance of the Pagan organization.

Chas Clifton

Chas Clifton (center)

Our desire to be seen as a legitimate religion by government entities has forced us to change to fit their definitions, which, in the United States at least, were designed for Protestant Christians…We have been dealing with this issue since the mid-1970s, when the Covenant of the Goddess was created. – Chas Clifton, editor of The Pomegranate: The International Journal of Pagan Studies and a practitioner of American Eclectic Craft

Jonathon S. Lowe

Jonathon S. Lowe

One of the most basic principles of Paganism is that we are all interconnected to everyone and everything around us. Solidarity helps us to solidify those connections… Organizations are merely facilitators helping to make these connections possible.”  – Rev. Jonathon S. Lowe, Interfaith Minister, Founder Midnight Star School of Witchcraft, Coordinator of The Atlanta Pagan Marketplace of Ideas 

Lady Charissa

Lady Charissa
North Georgia Solitaries

I am a member of several worthy organizations that…have members with diverse beliefs and yet all of these organizations work every day to help build community by concentrating on the task at hand and respecting each other’s differences. Lady Charissa, founder of North Georgia Solitaries, coordinator of the Pagan Assistance Fund, High Priestess of Silver Pine Grove 

Before we go any further, we need to deal in semantics. Most responders made no distinction between an institution and an organization. Are they same thing?  Covenant of the Goddess representatives, Rachael Watcher and Ginger Wood say no.

On the Fears and Dangers of Institutionalization:

Certainly some individuals and small groups might come together for the sake of mutual interest and form an organization, but would that constitute an institution? … Those who are drawn to think outside the box in expressions of spiritual freedom are not generally going to be ready to discard that freedom of thought for yet another set of doctrinal mandates. – Rachael Watcher, National Interfaith Representative for Covenant of the Goddess 

Ginger Wood

Ginger Wood

We do have organizations that have worked hard some for over 30 years, to give Pagans a flag to unite under. [But] I will not accept [institutionalization] as “must” and I pray to the Goddess that none of us are forced to institutionalize in order to be heard.  – Ginger Wood, National First Officer of Covenant of the Goddess, Priestess of Gryphon Song Clan and Pagan novelist

Both Rachael and Ginger are using the accepted sociological definition of institution which is explained at length in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Very briefly, an organization is less complex or rigid in structure, scope or activity than an institution.   

Christine Hoff Kraemer

Christine Hoff Kraemer

We need to think deeply about what kinds of organizational structures best support our values…guard against rigidity in power structures and in belief systems. – Christine Hoff Kraemer, Managing Editor at Patheos Pagan Channel, Cherry Hill Seminary Instructor

Institutionalization is a big issue for me, always has been. It’s something I’ve resisted…  In more recent years my attitude has softened. Years ago my friend Sam Webster insisted that we needed to establish institutions because institutions are the only thing that lasts.  Individual humans pass on.  M. Macha Nightmare, Priestess, witch, teacher, ritualist and author.

M Macha Nightmare

M Macha Nightmare

Macha makes an excellent point. Humans do pass on. Organizations or institutions can be passed down. Can we create viable Pagan institutions that serve solidarity without sacrificing spiritual freedom and, at the same time, last for decades to come?

On the Building of Pagan Institutions:

Holli S. Emore

Holli S. Emore

“Pagans are perfectly capable of having healthy institutions which serve our needs and goals, indeed, we participate in such institutions every day in our real-world lives…Why wouldn’t we want to enjoy the benefits of stronger infrastructure, better accountability and healthy leadership?” – Holli S. Emore, executive director of Cherry Hill Seminary, Priestess of Temple Osireion 

Peter Dybing

Peter Dybing

A wide diversity of Pagan institutions are necessary as the glue that will bind us in our common effort to defend the rights of all belief systems. Peter Dybing, Pagan Service Advocate, Chief Officer, Federal Incident Management Team, 100% for Haiti Board member

Crystal Blanton

Crystal Blanton

We need some of the power that institutions bring to any community or movement… Togetherness commands attention …The key is finding a way to use the concepts of community solidarity in balance with some of the undesirable things that come with community dynamics – Crystal Blanton, High Priestess with Solitaries of the Second, Pagan author.

So how do we create that balance? How do we create and maintain healthy organizations and fluid institutions that promote solidarity and allow for that community dynamic?

Building trust person-to-person, which tends to spread to friends of those people who begin learning who each other is, how they think, what their concerns are, how they express their spirituality.… I think one of our greatest assets as Pagans is our diversity.  M. Macha Nightmare, Priestess, witch, teacher, ritualist and author. 

I think we should do our best to make strength out of diversity. If you have twelve Pagans together, they normally represent at least thirteen religions. [But] It is natural for people to seek agreement…I recommend we conform to one standard: mutual respect and intolerance only of intolerance. – Freeman Presson, Namen of Temple Zagduku & Fr. Ophis, Church of Hermetic Sciences. 

Selena Fox of Circle Sanctuary

Selena Fox

Like a delicious multi-ingredient salad, when Pagans unite, we can bring our individual flavors and textures as we join together — and we can maintain this diversity in our collaboration. Our diversity can enrich our solidarity.Rev. Selena Fox, Senior Minister at Circle Sanctuary 

Our diversity is our strength. Our diversity is our asset. Our diversity is our core.  So, with that essential ingredient, can we venture to build uniquely-structured institutions that respect and serve the expansive Pagan world view for generations to come?  If so, these institutions must conform to the rigid expectations of mainstream society; thereby ensuring our legal protection and promoting social awareness. And, as the wheel turns, this increased awareness will eventually lead to a broader and a healthier social acceptance of the diversity that began it all.

Thank you to all the contributors for their valued opinions and to the readers for opening the doorway to this conversation and continuing the process into the future.

Full Comments: (listed alphabetically)

Crystal Blanton
Chas Clifton
Peter Dybing
Holli S. Emore
Rev. Selena Fox
Christine Hoff Kraemer
Lady Charissa
Rev. Jonathon S. Lowe
M. Macha Nightmare
Freeman Presson
Rachael Watcher

 

Last week, I reported on the Atlanta Pagan community’s wreath project.  As explained, the wreath’s purpose is to build a sense of solidarity for that Pagan community. Following the post, several readers launched into a discussion that probed the very nature and meaning of Pagan solidarity. As one reader asked, “What is the purpose?”

Additionally, readers explored the concept of solitary solidarity. Can such a thing exist?  Or, as one reader put it, is the concept of the solitary group “oxymoronic?”

These are serious sociological questions that, in exploring, could help to define modern Pagan practice as it expands and diversifies. These age-old questions are very difficult to answer for a non-dogmatic, non-centralized religious group. But we may now have reached a point at which it is very necessary to confront them.

I opened the conversation up to the greater Pagan community, asking a variety of people their thoughts on the subject. I will share the responses in two parts. This week, in part one, we will examine the question of Pagan solidarity itself and, subsequently, how it relates to the solitary practitioner. Next week, in part two, we will explore the Pagan institution, its viability and purpose.

On the importance of Pagan solidarity

Ginger Wood

Ginger Wood

Nature-based religions have been in practice for thousands of years.  Nature religions will continue with or without “Pagan solidarity.” However, in a political sense… it is important that Pagans stand together when the need arises.  – Ginger Wood, National First Officer of Covenant of the Goddess, Priestess of Gryphon Song Clan and Pagan novelist

Christine Hoff Kraemer

Christine Hoff Kraemer

Pagan community solidarity is incredibly important. We don’t have to practice together or hold exactly the same beliefs to defend each other’s rights. – Christine Hoff Kraemer, Managing Editor at Patheos Pagan Channel, Cherry Hill Seminary Instructor

Without question, all of those who responded agreed that solidarity within the Pagan community is essential to facilitating growth and acceptance. As Rev. Selena Fox, Senior Minister at Circle Sanctuary, said, “When Pagans unite in Solidarity for a common cause; a synergy emerges that enhances our work together.”

Selena Fox of Circle Sanctuary

Selena Fox

However, Chas Clifton, editor of The Pomegranate: The International Journal of Pagan Studies and a practitioner of American Eclectic Craft, pointed out that we need to better define the terms “community” and “solidarity.”   He writes:

Chas Clifton

Chas Clifton (center)

We often say “community,” but what we really mean is “network” or “association.”  Right now, what we mainly have are networks — or subcultures that you can join or leave, participate in or not, according to your individual desires. We may be moving toward community but I don’t think we are quite there yet.

He continues on to question the definition of solidarity which he labels “tricky.”

Does it simply refer to religious freedom under the broadest umbrella, like you are a Druid, and I am a rootworker, but I respect you as a Pagan practitioner, and you respect me?  Or does it mean that I have to support everything that you do and all your struggles, like union workers not crossing each other’s picket lines? 

Perhaps we can meld the two definitions. Solidarity would then become the outward respect that binds our network, or our community, together with the potential of offering support.  If we omit terms like “have to” and “must” from “solidarity,” we are left with the strength of possibility and freedom. 

On Solitary Solidarity:

Where does that leave solitaries, those that choose to practice alone? If they seek out community, do they jeopardize their solitary status?  To repeat one reader’s words, are solitary community-groups “oxymoronic?” Can there be such a thing as “solitary solidarity?”

Lady Charissa

Lady Charissa

Solitaries are no different than any other Pagan. We all need strength in numbers to help protect our rights. Many solitaries like to come together, every once in a while, to socialize, share knowledge and celebrate our holy days. – Lady Charissa, founder of North Georgia Solitaries, coordinator of the Pagan Assistance Fund, High Priestess of Silver Pine Grove

Holli S. Emore

Holli S. Emore

I don’t see solitary spiritual practice as precluding community solidarity. Solidarity is the practice of supporting and helping each other, not necessarily agreeing with each other. Solitaries benefit from the published teachings and public events put on by those affiliated with groups.  We are interdependent, no matter how we define our practice. – Holli S. Emore, executive director of Cherry Hill Seminary, Priestess of Temple Osireion

Most agree that “solidarity” doesn’t end where “solitary” begins.

M Macha Nightmare

M Macha Nightmare

One need not belong to a formal religious group in order to identify with, and participate in, larger Pagan efforts any more than one needs to belong to a particular political party to vote. – M. Macha Nightmare, Priestess, Witch, teacher, ritualist and author.

Jonathon S. Lowe

Jonathon S. Lowe

Nobody loses their solitary practice or identity in the process of taking part in solidarity… The defining point of being a solitary practitioner isn’t to make yourself a hermit every time you practice. It is so that you can develop your own working spiritual system that is right for you, without having others interfere.  - Rev. Jonathon S. Lowe, Shaman, Coordinator of The Atlanta Pagan Marketplace of Ideas

Most of the people that responded were in some way involved with or directly engaging the Pagan “network.”  In the interest of perspective, I sought out a Pagan who chooses the true solitary experience.  Stevie Diamond has never practiced within a group or been formally initiated, nor does she have the desire.

After hearing the questions, she echoed what Ginger Wood said, “Nature religions will continue with or without Pagan solidarity.” Stevie explained, “I am a quiet, reclusive person. It feels more personal and electric if I do a ritual or spell by myself.  I just can’t imagine chanting in front of someone else.”

Despite this choice, Stevie acknowledges the benefit of having a Pagan network. It was through another witch that she identified her spiritual path.  She has grown her own practice from books written by Pagan authors.  And, if she encounters problems, she stated, “I would feel comfort in a group knowing they believe what I do.”

Next week, in part two, we’ll examine the Pagan institution. Is solidarity the birth-mother of the institution?  And where does that lead?

(Note: I will post links to the full, unedited comments next week)

Pagans are a part of the web and weave of everyday culture. We’ve emerged from being a largely subcultural religious phenomenon and have steadily gained increasing attention, most notably from the mainstream media. For example, The Huffington Post’s new HuffPost Live initiative held a group interview on Halloween with Teo BishopAmy BlackthornGus DiZeregaMorgan Copeland and Patrick McCollum. As expected, they covered some basics, talked about Samhain, and shared their personal perspectives on modern Paganism.

HuffPo Screenshot

You can watch the entire interview, here. In addition, Teo Bishop shares some of the conversation that happened after the formal interview ended.

“Perhaps the most exciting part of the experience for me was what happened after the Google Hangout ended. The panelists stayed on the call and talked for a good 30 minutes more, sharing perspectives about a whole variety of topics. We re-addressed some of what happened while we were on the air, and there are a few things that stuck out that I’d like to get your take on.”

A shame the follow-up conversation wasn’t recorded! In any case, this was a nice Pagan-centered exploration of our interconnected faiths, and I’m glad that HuffPost Live garnered such an impressive lineup! Congratulations!

On a less serious note – Pagans also got a bit of inadvertent mainstream attention from late-night talk show host Conan O’Brien when he showcased a number of magazines that will outlive Newsweek’s print edition. Among the titles picked? Why our own Witches & Pagans Magazine, featuring M. Macha NightMare on the cover!

conan macha

You can get a closer shot of Conan holding the magazine, here. You can watch the entire video segment, here. Now W&P editor Anne Newkirk Niven (and Macha) can add “as seen on Conan” to her publications resume! For those worried about if this was a negative portrayal, don’t worry, Conan’s show is on TBS.

On a more serious note, while it’s fun to see ourselves on HuffPost Live, or even on Conan, it’s good to remember that we’re more than what appears on popular media outlets. That many Pagans are dedicated to service, healing, and responding to those in need. Pagan elder Peter Dybing, a first responder who has served in earthquake-ravaged Haiti, the Gulf Coast during the Deepwater Horizon disaster, and several larger forest/brush fires, reports from an East Coast ravaged by Hurricane Sandy.

121031085525 30 sandy damage 1031 horizontal gallery

An overview of the fire damage in Queens, New York, following Hurricane Sandy.

“As new missions evolve and priorities change the mission of my team keeps changing. Primarily we are clearing roads of downed trees so relief supplies and emergency vehicles can get through. The devastation is complete along the shore on Long Island. Thousands of cars along with hundreds of homes lie buried in the sand. Most heart breaking of all is the evacuee’s staying in the same place as the disaster teams. Their stories of hardship and loss have brought me to tears on multiple occasions. Hardest of all is remaining focused on our mission and not assisting the evacuees with issues outside our assignment.  My heart breaks for these families.” 

For some Pagan efforts to raise money for those affected by Hurricane Sandy, see my Community Notes post from Thursday. Our prayers go with Peter and all the other first responders working in the aftermath to help those affected rebuild. Our prayers also go out to those still struggling without power, without resources, or without a home.

Taken together, these impression complicate the picture some try to paint of our faiths, our movement. It reminds the world that we share their common humanity, and that we are a part of a larger community, even as we are a part of our own.

In honor of Labor Day Weekend, The Wild Hunt is taking off until Tuesday. Expect some “best of The Wild Hunt” reprints on Sunday and Monday. For today, here are some posts from across the Pagan blogosphere that you should check out.

  • “Mantras, Malas and the Witch’s Ladder” by Christopher Penczak. Quote: “If you keep any kind of regular spiritual practice over a long period of time, you’ll find that you can hit a wall. The tried and true technique just doesn’t do it for you like it once did. In my experience its not so much that the technique is at fault, or that you are at fault, as you’ve been sincerely using it as a part of your practice with regular frequency, but that you’ve hit a plateau or even made a permanent shift.”
  • “Where are the Missing Gods?” by Drew Jacob. Quote: “Even if you believe all the gods are totally individual beings – not faces of a single force – it still makes sense that, for example, the soul of the sun is going to appear quite different to people in the Sahara than to people in the Yukon. Much of divine personage is human trappings, or trappings used to communicate with humans. If a tribe never once has to worry about lack of rainfall, it makes sense that they won’t make a big deal out of the rain spirit. But I usually think of the plurality of gods (and their cultural adornment) as different perspectives on an essentially equivalent set of beings.”
  • “Pagans Among Wild Geese” by Teo Bishop. Quote: “Progressive Christian and Pagan communities have very different identities, and very different positions in relationship to mainstream culture. That said, I think it is useful for us to make note that these conversations are taking place at Wild Goose.”
  • Rites of Community” by Ivo Dominguez Jr. Quote: “To return to my statement that rites of passage are an important part of the maintenance of lasting organizations and communities, well conducted rites of passage create weighty collective emotional memory. By definition, rites of passage are held to celebrate and to anchor pivotal times in the lives of individuals. And though Pagans are prone to emphasizing the individual at all costs, rites of passage are as much about the community as they are about the individual.”
  • “Stirring the Cauldron” by M. Macha NightMare. Quote: “I think the stirrer of the cauldron performs an important, even vital, role.  Someone, preferably more than one, in every community should step up to the cauldron and stir it now and then, especially when the fire beneath the cauldron gets too hot.”
  • “Book review: Lord of Mountains” by Cara Schulz. Quote: “Every time I introduce a Pagan to the Emberverse series by SM Stirling, they curse my name. This is not an unusual reaction and it’s one shared by non-Pagans, too.  I’ve lost seven copies of the first book in the series, Dies the Fire, because the persons who borrowed them from me lent them out to others.  And so on.  Then they all curse my name for turning them on to such an addictive series.  The series is addictive to Pagans because it spells out one of our fantasies – what would it be like if our religions were dominate in the community we live in?  Or at least one of the dominate religions? If our rituals, our ethics, our Gods were unabashedly the norm and seen as positive and vibrant and diverse.”

That’s it for now, have a great weekend everyone!

There are lots of articles and essays of interest to modern Pagans out there, sometimes more than I can write about in-depth in any given week. So The Wild Hunt must unleash the hounds in order to round them all up.

The Maetreum of Cybele's building.

The Maetreum of Cybele’s building.

That’s it for now! Happy Friday! Feel free to discuss any of these links in the comments, some of these I may expand into longer posts as needed.