Archives For Sannion

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!

Margot Adler

Margot Adler

A new initiative to honor author and journalist Margot Adler, who passed away last week after a long battle against cancer, has been announced by NPR colleague Ken Barcus. Quote:  Many of you have asked about ways to honor Margot’s memory. After discussions with a few of her closest friends, it’s been decided that collecting donations toward buying a memorial bench in her name in Central Park is the best plan. It’s something she spoke of in her final days. As you know, she lived on the edge of the park nearly her entire life and walked through it daily. She bought a bench for her husband John, when he passed away, and one for her mother years earlier. Both are situated in the park, close to her condo. The cost of doing this through the Central Park Conservancy is $7,000. If we raise more than that, the excess will be put toward planting a tree in Central Park in her name. If anyone wants to donate toward this, I’ll be collecting the money and then forwarding it to the conservancy. Checks should be made out to: Margot Adler Memorial Fund and mailed to this address: Ken Barcus NPR 3109 Mayfield Rd. #207 Cleveland Heights, Ohio 44118 Margot traveled in so many different circles, that I’m sure I’ve left many people off this email who would like to know about this effort. Please feel free to forward along this note to them.” You can also donate online, here.

book_shades_of_ritual_mainThe new anthology, “Shades of RItual: Minority Voices in Practice,” edited by Crystal Blanton, and a follow up to the 2012 anthology “Shades of Faith: Minority Voices in Paganism” was published at the end of June. In a short statement sent to The Wild Hunt, Blanton had this to say on the new collection: “This anthology contains over 30 pieces and a wide range of Pagan voices from people of color. I am very excited to be a part of a project that is focused on diversity in practice and how that intersects with ethnicity and culture. It is so important that we are moving in a direction in our community where all different types of people are able to share their knowledge and experiences, and open dialogs that include people of color. Our hope is that this book supports in that dialog and sharing within the Pagan community.” In a review at Patheos.com, Sara Amis calls the anthology “substantive,” and that it contributes “valuable perspectives to the wider Pagan conversation, a lively mix of sharp scholarly observation, artistic expression, ritual, and wisdom woven from lived experience by authors I hope to see more from.” A full list of contributors to “Shade of Ritual” can be found, here.

Pagan Leadership ConferencePolytheist Leadership Conference organizers Galina Krasskova and Sannion have proposed a Polytheist Community Outreach Month for August. Quote: Ancient polytheisms promoted civic virtues and involvement in one’s local community. We have a lot of tremendously talented people in polytheism today and I think we could really make a difference if we started reaching out. I know a lot of us do things already all the time and we don’t draw attention to it. Maybe we should, not to brag, but to inspire each other to go out and make a difference. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the magnitude of the problems we face as a community, as a human community and to feel that nothing we do, no effort will ever make any difference at all. That’s not true though and when we give in to those feelings of hopelessness, we’re denying ourselves a chance to make a good, solid change. [...] Here are some ideas of things you can do: volunteer at a food kitchen, donate time to a favorite charity, donate time to raise awareness about a favorite cause, clean up the park for an hour, get involved in interfaith stuff, join your local cemetery committee, make blankets for babies that have none, run a food drive, run a clothing drive — winter is coming. Let’s do this now because people need help all year long, not just at Thanksgiving and Christmas. There is something that everyone can do, it’s just a matter of finding the best outlet for your enthusiasm, your passion, your social commitment.”

In Other Pagan Community News:

  •  The Pagan Environmental Coalition of NYC is calling out to Pagans around the world to join them in New York on Sept. 21 as part of an interfaith group in the People’s Climate March. This march, timed with the UN Summit on Climate Change, is predicted to be the largest climate march in history–a movement urging government leaders to support an ambitious global agreement to address the causes of climate change. The march will be part of a weekend-long event including teach-ins, rituals, and fellowship. Please see their website for further information, including schedule, travel and housing resources as they are made available.
  • The radio show/podcast Interfaith Voices has an interview up with Phyllis Curott and Ronald Hutton, who share their remembrances of Margot Adler, and talk about her legacy. Quote: “Margot Adler opened modern paganism to new audiences, and lent it an intellectual credibility and respect that it had not seen before. In a movement that didn’t have elders, she became one, acting as a mentor and source of inspiration for many in the world of earth-based religion. Two guests, including a longtime friend, reflect on the mark she left.”
  • Air n-Aithesc, a Celtic Reconstructionist peer-reviewed magazine, has released its second issue. Quote: “This issue includes an article on Irish Witches, a discussion of the CRP methodology, an article on patron deities, and one on the Foster mothers of heroes, just to name a few. Of course, there are also book reviews, and poetry.” You can also check them out on Facebook.
  • I’m happy to announce that the Minneapolis, Minnesota-based metaphysical shop Eye of Horus has succeeded in raising enough money via crowdfunding to relocate and stay open. Quote: “Guess what? We hit our fundraising goal! We’ll be doing our happy dance at our staff meeting, and we will upload as soon as we can after they hook up our internet. Further contributions will go towards covering unforseen move expenses or much needed restock.”
  • The Pagan-folk band OMNIA have released a new video for the song “Earth Warrior,” the title track from their latest album. OMNIA recently headlined at the Faeireworlds festival, and will next be playing in the United States at FaerieCon East in November.

  • Witches & Pagans Magazine/PaganSquare posts an open letter from an Ugric and black Heathen. Quote: “As a woman who’s Ugric as well and black, I would love to incorporate my heritage and shamanism into my practice without being torn into for not being strictly western Scandinavian. To be fair I’m one of the few people who can actually say they’re native to northern Europe. Not that blood matters, though. On a personal level I find it very disheartening that because of imperialism I can’t find a solid language resource center with Uralic language families in it.”
  • Literary Magpie interviews Erynn Rowan Laurie about her poetry. Quote: “I see the role of a poet, of myself as a poet, as something multivalent and polymorphous. Certainly I write poems that explore my thoughts and feelings, but that’s rarely the entirety of what’s going on in a given poem. For me, the creation of a poem is a sacred act.”
  • The Lammas 2014 edition of ACTION (plain text version), the official newsletter of AREN, is now out. Featured interviews include Sannion, Galina Krasskova, Celeste Jackson, Mike King, and more!
  • PNC-Minnesota interviews Yeshe Rabbit and Crystal Blanton in advance of their appearance at Sacred Harvest Festival. Quote: “Doing something like this together is a step at looking at some of the many layers that keep us stuck. It is opening up conversation and connection, extending the olive branch; not necessarily through each other but through our ancestors. It is connecting in a way we don’t normally get to in our normal walk of life. We will be acknowledging the many layers of societal hurt, community hurt, and how we impact one another. I am excited about it as a way to open another level of work, and acknowledging it in a way meant to be healing. Not just ripping the scab off, but acknowledging the fact the scabs and scars exist. Loving those scars and loving our past through one another as a result of that. I am really excited about it for those reasons.”

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!

cup-bearer-tea-time-300x215The Pagan Tea Time initiative spearheaded by Patheos Pagan channel editor Christine Kraemer, meant to encourage face-to-face discussions in a Pagan & polytheist blogosphere that has, at times, grown decidedly combative, is now well under way. According to Kraemer, there have already been some remarkable conversations taking place. Quote: “So far, I’ve seen some great reports of Tea Times involving Rhyd WildermuthConor O’Bryan Warren, and a three-way chat between John Halstead, Sannion, and Galina Krasskova (wow!). I haven’t had any tea times with people I haven’t already met yet — one of the blessings of being managing editor here is that getting together with writers via video chat happens semi-routinely, as does attending conferences, so I’ve met many of you already. (Yay!) I did get to do a nice catch-up with Niki Whiting, though, and I have a few more dates set for next month.” The project runs through the month of February, when established Pagan conventions like PantheaCon and ConVocation take place, providing more chances for interaction. Here’s to civility!

amaundex3Pagan learning institution Cherry Hill Seminary has announced that Lauren Raine will be their artist-in-residence for 2014-2016. CHS President Jeffrey Albaugh, in a public statement, said “it is my pleasure to announce our new Artist in Residence, Lauren Raine. Lauren is a visionary painter, mixed media sculptor, and choreographer, although I know her best from her beautiful and moving theatrical and ritual masks.” Raine, a painter and mixed-media sculpter, is perhaps best known within the Pagan community for her “The Masks of the Goddess” series. Quote: “I’ve always been fascinated with masks as sacred tools – as what Carl Jung called ‘vessels for the archetypal powers’. In 1998 I began a collection of masks of Goddesses from spiritual traditions around the world, first worn at the 20th Annual SPIRAL DANCE in San Francisco.” For the terms of the residency, you can read them at the CHS website.

shawnus2In Pennsylvania, a local coven documents their struggle to attain the right to perform legally binding wedding ceremonies. Quote: “So i started at my County level and had voice and email exchanges for three days with a very nice, helpful and informative lady there in the right department. There is a notice posted on the Courthouse door, and i tried to paste it in here and then save this draft and WV completely wiped my post off their server. So i will just say it said, to quote, that legal marriages could be performed by Justices of the Peace or Judges or Ministers “of a regularly established church or congregation” which means from those three Religions of the Book. There is a license for Amish, Mennonites and Quakers, but i am not one of them. I am a Witch and we Do have Our Religion!” The Wiccan Priest struggling through this process is Shawnus Merlin Belarion, and he is seeking assistance from outside Pagan organizations in navigating this issue. You can find contact information here.

In Other Pagan Community News:

  • Sannion has announced that a proposed Polytheist Leadership Conference will indeed take place this Summer. Quote: “The Polytheist Leadership Conference will take place Friday, July 11th through Sunday, July 13th – though we’ve made arrangements so that you can get the block room rate if you want to come in earlier on Thursday.” Please note: “This conference will be open only to people who affirm the autonomy and diversity of the divinities, people who recognize that there are differing types of divine beings (such as Gods, Spirits and Ancestors) and that they all require different forms of cultus, people who are actively engaged in cultus, people who have respect for traditional ways and yet remain open to innovation when it’s called for and people who do not find magic (when properly distinguished from religion), mysticism and direct engagement with the holy powers to be problematic. Racists, sexists and queer- and transphobic need not apply either.”  All inquiries should be sent to sannion@gmail.com.

  • Pagan band Tuatha Dea is crowdfunding a new collection of songs based on the work of author Alex Bledsoe. Quote: “We were INSPIRED and though we had no intention of working on a new CD this soon we simply couldn’t help ourselves! So with Alex’s blessing we began writing music based on his amazing trilogy! One song for each novel, “The Hum and the Shiver”, “Wisp of a Thing” and the anticipated yet to be released “Long Black Curl” (yes we have the skinny but you’ll have to wait and read!) The project..An album called “Tufa Tales- Appalachian Fae”.a musical tribute, backdrop and celebration of these wonderful works and the world within their pages! But that won’t be all…as Tufa’s ourselves we have some other personal bits and pieces to add to the CD!”
  • The current issue of Sage Woman Magazine (#85) has been mailed to subscribers and is available to order online. Quote: “Celebrate the amazing world of women’s herbalism with this special issue. Stories of healers, visionaries, and pioneers fill us with inspiration. Discover new goddesses, old remedies, and learn how close our own healing powers are in our homes and the natural world all around us.”
  • The Imbolc edition of AREN’s ACTION newsletter is now out, featuring its usual treasure-trove of interviews. This time: Oberon Zell, Ellen Evert Hopman, PC Andrew of the UK Pagan Police Association, and much more!
  • Medusa Coils has information on the 2014 Glastonbury Goddess Conference. Quote: “The 19th annual Glastonbury Goddess Conference will begin July 29 and run through August 3, with fringe events beginning July 26, Kathy Jones, conference organizer, announced. The theme of this year’s conference is “Celebrating the Crone Goddess: The Cauldron & the Loom.” The conference is held in Glastonbury, England, aka Avalon, also the location of the Glastonbury Goddess Temple.”
  • Paganicon in Minnesota (held in March) has announced two new featured guests: Taylor Ellwood and Steven Posch. Quote: “We are increasingly excited about this year’s ever-expanding line-up including Oberon Zell, Deborah Lipp, Ivo Dominguez, Jr., and now Taylor Ellwood and Steven Posch. We hope you sign up right away! Remember if you wait too long you’ll have to pay extra, so get the good rate while you can!”

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!

Patrick McCollum with Jane Goodall.

Patrick McCollum with Jane Goodall.

September 21st marked the United Nations International Day of Peace, and Pagan activist Patrick McCollum was there. McCollum, who is a board member of the NGO Children of the Earth, escorted a group of refugee youth to participate in the UN’s ceremony and held meetings with UN officials and prominent activists like Jane Goodall. In an update sent to The Wild Hunt, McCollum described some of the interactions and experiences he’s had. Quote: “I got to shake hands with the Secretary General of the United Nations, and to have casual conversations with numerous other movers and shakers on the world stage. In particular I was moved to meet Monica Coleman who has been designated as the UN’s Ambassador for women’s and girls rights. Having given one of the two Keynote addresses on empowering women at the largest gathering of women in the world last February in India, I feel powerfully called to work together with Monica to change the status of women worldwide. As I have said in the past, until women have equality worldwide, we can never achieve world peace or planetary sustainability.” Of the refugee children he worked with, McCollum said that he “was quite proud of both their presence and their projects toward peace. They are the future, and to have a part in sharing the path with them and helping to mentor them, is wonderful to say the least.” You can read further updates at the Patrick McCollum Foundation website, or the Patrick McCollum Foundation Facebook page. This an important and historic moment of inclusion for modern Pagans on the world stage, one that has come about through Patrick’s tireless service on behalf of modern Pagans, and a pluralistic, peaceful, world.

vikingdomOn September 16th, Dr. Karl E.H. Seigfried of the Norse Mythology Blog published an open letter to the makers of Vikingdom, a low-budget Malaysian production with Norse themes. In it, critiques the production for “wholeheartedly accepting the darkest propaganda of the Christian missionaries and their allies who violently persecuted followers of the Old Way.” Quote: “I hope that you have not set out to insult the memory of the many, many followers of the Old Way who were tortured & murdered for their refusal to abandon their ancient faith. I hope that you have not set out to insult the international community of followers of Ásatrú, the living religion that venerates the Norse gods & takes Thor’s hammer as its holy symbol. I understand that this is simply “a fantasy, action adventure” aimed at a mass market. However, pop culture can make a serious statement, as well. What statement are you making with this movie?” This open letter ended up getting nearly 25,000 likes, over 60,000 views, and the attention of Malaysian news media. This prompted director Yusry Abdul Halim to respond in Malaysian media, insinuating that Dr. Seigfried may not be qualified to criticize, that the jury is still out on the existence of vikings, and that the film is ‘just fantasy’ (despite the film trumpeting their research). You can read Dr. Seigfried’s reactions to Yusry Abdul Halim’s response, here. He’s inviting people to respectfully give feedback to the production company, and suggests that the filmmakers donate “all profits to interfaith charities that build bridges between religions, for that is the truly righteous path.”

The Maetreum of Cybele's building.

The Maetreum of Cybele’s building.

Pagan teacher and activist Shauna Aura Knight reports that The Maetreum of Cybele, Magna Mater in Catskill, New York, was attacked by a young man throwing rocks and epithets at the order’s house. Quote: “Last night while I was enjoying talking to Cathryn Platine at the Maetreum of Cybele, a teenager/young man started throwing rocks at the house. At first we thought it was just branches falling, but then the window in the kitchen broke from two rocks that were thrown through the window. It was just Cathy and I downstairs so I followed her outside. The young man ran from the bushes near the road across the road, and then began taunting us [...] Cathy called the police, who responded a few moments later, but the police didn’t catch the guy. Cathy filed a report and they took a cursory look at the rocks and the window, but they wouldn’t file this as a hate crime.” Rev. Mother Cathryn Platine of the Maetreum added that “unlike the past, the police response time was fairly fast but they didn’t even take a proper report and ignored my telling them it was a hate crime as evidenced by one of the little bastards hiding in the bushes screaming anti LGBT slurs, swearing and taunting us [with] anti Pagan slurs.” The added expense of the broken window is one the order can scarcely afford, as they are still locked in an expensive ongoing legal battle with Catskill over their tax exempt status. A “stop the hate” rally is planned at the Maetreum on September 28th.

The Warrior's CallThe Warrior’s Call, a public Pagan ritual to protect Britain from fracking, to be held at the Glastonbury Tor, is coming up on September 28th. Here’s a description from a recent press release sent to me: “We, as Pagans, believe that the natural world is profoundly sacred. In particular though, sites such as Chalice Well are our holy places. To have them desecrated is a direct attack upon our ways and upon us. Fracking will not alleviate fuel poverty, nor will it provide us with greater fuel security. Its long lasting destruction to land and water is neither needed nor wanted. There are many practical alternatives, yet they are being ignored (with catastrophic consequences) because of corruption and ideological extremism within the government. Corporations should not dictate state policy. Around the world on the 28th of September, rituals (both large and small) will be held to protect these sacred islands from harm. Although we all come from many different pagan paths, on that day we will speak with one voice. The Warrior’s Call is that unified voice. And it sings with the blessings of the Gods and Goddesses.” One prominent supporter of this action is Druid leader Philip Carr-Gomm who has posted a suggested ritual/meditation for those who want to join in, but cannot come to Glastonbury on that day. Quote: “If you would like to protect the Earth from the invasive and toxic process of fracking, you might like to join in spirit with thousands of people around the world who will be holding rituals and meditations at 12 noon GMT on Saturday 28th September 2013.” You can read my previous reporting on this upcoming event, here. I’m hoping to bring you more insights before the action begins, and reporting after the fact as well, so stay tuned!

In Other Pagan Community News:

Abraxas #4 Launch Party. Autumn equinox 2013 Speeches

Abraxas #4 Launch Party. Autumn equinox 2013.

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

Pagan Voices is a spotlight on recent quotations from figures within the Pagan community. These voices may appear in the burgeoning Pagan media, or from a mainstream outlet, but all showcase our wisdom, thought processes, and evolution in the public eye. Is there a Pagan voice you’d like to see highlighted? Drop me a line with a link to the story, post, or audio.

T. Thorn Coyle

T. Thorn Coyle

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

Annika Mongan

Annika Mongan

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

P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

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

Gus DiZerega

Gus DiZerega

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

Liz Williams

Liz Williams

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

Frater Barrabbas Tiresius

Frater Barrabbas Tiresius

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

Morpheus Ravenna

Morpheus Ravenna

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

Sannion

Sannion

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

Jason Miller

Jason Miller

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

David Oliver Kling

David Oliver Kling

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

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

Pagan voices is a spotlight on recent quotations from figures within the Pagan community. These voices may appear in the burgeoning Pagan media, or from a mainstream outlet, but all showcase our wisdom, thought processes, and evolution in the public eye. Is there a Pagan voice you’d like to see highlighted? Drop me a line with a link to the story, post, or audio.

Dawn Hunt

Dawn Hunt

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

Sannion

Sannion

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

Joseph Bloch

Joseph Bloch

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

P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

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

T. Thorn Coyle

T. Thorn Coyle

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

Porsha Williams

Porsha Williams

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

Frater Barrabbas (left) with fellow magician Tony Mierzwicki.

Frater Barrabbas (left) with fellow magician Tony Mierzwicki.

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

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

Pagan voices is a 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.

P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

“The big question that all of this sidesteps around, of course, is that if justice does come from the gods, and is supported by the gods, then why is it so often lacking in the world, especially in those cases wehre injustice causes a ton of suffering for some people, but a huge amount of luxury, richness, and prosperity for those who inflict such suffering and cause such injustice?

For my own part, I can’t imagine that this situation pleases the gods, particularly those most concerned with justice. But, if that is the case, then “they’ll get it in the end” is not much of a consolation to those who are suffering meanwhile. It brings up and highlights once again the ultimate answer to the other version of questions of theodicy, as outlined by Rabbi Harold Kushner: namely, that the gods must therefore not be omnipotent, even though they may support love, justice, and virtue.”P. Sufenas Virius Lupus exploring the topic of theodicy at Aedicula Antinoi: A Small Shrine of Antinous.

Sannion (Photo: Dver)

Sannion (Photo: Dver)

“First off, I would say that a lot of people don’t understand what miasma precluded in antiquity. It was primarily concerned with access to holy places such as groves, mountains, wayside shrines and temples. The temples in particular were regarded as the abodes of the gods and repositories of their awesome power and consequently for a person to set foot in them required that person to undergo a greater than normal degree of purification, especially since religious functionaries were exposed to this power on a deeper level and a more regular basis than some pilgrim visiting the site on a festival day. (Think about the extra precautions taken by dentists and x-ray technicians who are daily exposed to radiation. It’s such small doses that it won’t harm you if you’re just getting your teeth fixed but being constantly surrounded by it they have to act accordingly.) In fact most festivals were conducted outside the temple and most people were never permitted past a certain point within it and certainly not where the cult image was housed. (For more on temples and how they worked in both Greek and Egyptian tradition, consult this article of mine.) Most of the purity codes and sacred regulations that have come down to us are concerned with access to temples and the proper performance of priestly offices – not the affairs of the average citizen and how they conducted their personal worship in front of their domestic shrine. No matter how deep in a state of miasma one was they could still pray to their gods and perform rudimentary ritual actions. Indeed purification would not have been possible without carrying out these ceremonies so it is absurd to suggest that one should cease all religious activity while in this state. Indeed we have accounts of the gods and spirits making numerous battlefield epiphanies and coming to the aid of women in distressed labor and all manner of things like that, so just because a playwright used a goddess abandoning her chosen hero as he expired as a plot device does not mean that we should surmise that the gods will have nothing to do with us while we are polluted. It can certainly be more difficult to feel their presence or receive communications from them at such times, but I suspect that this has more to do with impurity clouding our perception than it does divinities actively disengaging from us.” - Sannion, a Dionysian, on the topic of miasma at PaganSquare.

Teo Bishop

Teo Bishop

“I am all of the things I have ever been. I continue to be them, in one way or another. Nothing is ever fully released from the heart. It’s all there, tattoo-like. Those old parts of you call out and say, We’re still here: your memories; your long, lost hopes; your visions of truth; your doubts — all of it. All here, still intact, inked into the inner flesh.

My Christianity gave me my first introduction to reverence, mystery, humility and community. It encouraged me to recognize that there was nothing in the world that was not touched by the divine. It inspired me to care deeper, to give generously, and to seek out new, creative ways to serve others.

I bring all of those attributes with me to my work with the Solitary Druid Fellowship. Were it not for the Church, and for those many people who were inspired by Jesus to serve others in love, I wouldn’t be writing liturgies for Pagans.” – Teo Bishop, writing on a recent visit to an Episcopal church, at Bishop In The Grove.

Alison Leigh Lilly with a very big tree.

Alison Leigh Lilly with a very big tree.

“As a city-dweller, I know how easy it would be to give in to pessimism, seeing the landscape where I live as too far gone, too scarred by human exploitation. The problem is just too big for a handful of conservationists to tackle on their own, no matter how dedicated they are. Seattle will never again be a pristine wilderness — the invasives, human and nonhuman alike, are here to stay. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t new ways of thinking about how we live with our local landscape. Unlike other invasive species, we have the opportunity to change the stories we tell about our place in the world and, by changing our stories, changing the ways we live with and relate to the many other beings that share the world with us. Instead of seeing ourselves at war with invasives, and with ourselves, we can embrace the story of harvest.

The beauty of the harvest is that it promises sustenance and interdependence as the fruits of our labor. The effort we put into the harvest — the blood, sweat and tears — helps to foster connections instead of severing them, sustains and supports life instead of destroying it. We’re used to thinking of harvest as something easy: as easy as going to the grocery store and choosing between oranges and apples, or at most doing some gentle weeding and watering in our backyard gardens. The truth is, harvest is hard, sweaty work that demands a great deal of discipline, teamwork, commitment and courage. Rather than lionizing the sacrifices of the few, reclaiming metaphors of harvest gives us the opportunity to celebrate the efforts of ordinary people doing ordinary things that add up to real, meaningful change. It gives people a chance to be heroic in their everyday lives, as well as reacquaint themselves with the pleasure of hard work and its rewards.” – Alison Leigh Lilly, on the topics of warfare and harvest, at her Meadowsweet and Myrrh blog.

Jason Mankey

Jason Mankey

“Given that some of Wicca’s ritual structure (and terminology) owe a great deal to Freemasonry it’s not surprising that initiation plays an important part in many Wiccan traditions. Initiation is in the very DNA of Modern Witchcraft, but it’s also possible that Wicca has grown in ways that have taken it further and further from its origins. It’s hard to picture Gerald Gardner imagining just how many Wiccan traditions have evolved (and prospered) since the 1950′s. Wicca launched a full-scale Pagan Revival that shows no signs of stopping, we’ve come an incredibly long way in just 70 years.

We’ve reached another fork in the road and with it new questions. Is Wicca a spirituality ready to take its seat at the table with the other great religions of the world? Or is it a secret society with a complex set of rituals? If it’s a faith then it’s subject to all the watering downs and bastardizations that have befallen (and often benefitted) all of the world’s other religious paths. I understand The Wicca who walk the path of the initiate and bemoan the changes that have taken place in the last couple of decades, but I also see the hearts who have benefitted from that change. Who am I to tell them they don’t have a seat at the table?” – Jason Mankey, at his Patheos blog, on the nature of Wicca.

John Beckett

John Beckett

“For too many people in our society, “Pagan” still means “Other.” That must change. That’s why I’ve always blogged under my own name and posted announcements with my contact info (and I’ve never had a problem come from it). More recently I’ve come to understand that’s not enough. At this point in my life I have a fair amount of privilege and that privilege carries responsibilities.

I have an obligation to put a name and a face on “Pagan” for friends and family who’ve never (knowingly) met one. I have an obligation to articulate what I believe, what I do and why. I have an obligation to be out, not just for myself (though that’s important by itself) but for Kyrja Withers and for everyone else who fears they will be targeted as the Other if their religion becomes known.

Some day, no one will care what god or goddess you do or don’t pray to, only that you conduct yourself with integrity and compassion. Until then, we need Pagan Coming Out Day.” - John Beckett, a Druid and UU, on the importance of Pagan Coming Out Day.

Alley Valkyrie. Photo by Rob Sydor.

Alley Valkyrie. Photo by Rob Sydor.

“I’m asking you for a 24-hour moratorium on violating the civil rights of the homeless. Try it for just one day. One day in which you don’t wake anyone up at night for sleeping, one day in which you don’t arrest anyone for existing in public, one day in which you don’t needlessly harass and intimidate kids on the park blocks. Just one day. 

In that one day, two beautiful things will happen. You will experience the reality of actually “protecting and serving” without oppressing, abusing, or disenfranchising anyone, and I will experience the reality of sleeping in, soaking in some sun, playing my ukulele, taking a walk by the river, drinking an ample amount of quality beer, and watching old reruns of Star Trek: The Next Generation without having to worry that I’m about to get a text or a phone call from someone that’s on the wrong side of your “enforcement”.” – Alley Valkyrie, a Pagan and homelessness activist, in a plea to local law enforcement.

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

Pagan voices is a new spotlight on recent quotations from figures within the Pagan community. These voices may appear in the burgeoning Pagan media, or from a mainstream outlet, but all showcase our wisdom, thought processes, and evolution  in the public eye. Is there a Pagan voice you’d like to see highlighted? Drop me a line with a link to the story, post, or audio.

Ruth Barrett and Melissa Murry at PSG (Photo: PNC-MN)

Ruth Barrett and Melissa Murry at PSG (Photo: PNC-MN)

“Out of this conversation, Ruth and I parted ways but I feel that a great shift had begun. I was looking at where she was coming from and understand her perspective in a way that I had not been even considered before. I felt Ruth had come away with new insight from my workshop and our discussion also. She changed her language and spoke of “both/and” instead of “us/them”. That time was instrumental as we were able to connect before PSG’s media event. And my perspectives prior to this conversation had changed as well. While the ritual was hurtful in its exclusion, I acknowledged that the need for this space was necessary, as well as space for all people who share common experiences together. I believe when trans-men and women have space to connect, heal, and emerge that the conversation might change. And we can share a space together in main ritual events!” – Melissa Murry, from a statement sent to PNC-Minnesota in the wake of a press conference held at Pagan Spirit Gathering on Saturday, featuring Rev. Selena Fox of Circle Sanctuary, Dianic High Priestess Ruth Barrett, and Murry, a transgendered activist.

Kenny Klein

Kenny Klein

“I think that number one, the Pagan Festival phenomenon is not well known. People who identify as Pagans don’t even realize that festivals exist. I don’t know if that’s because the festivals don’t advertise, or if people aren’t utilizing avenues like Witchvox, but for some reason people don’t know about Pagan Festivals. Secondly I think that when people visit Pagan Festivals they have unreasonable expectations. There are two extremes I’ve personally seen. The one extreme involves people who seem to think that the Pagan Festival experience should be the same experience as a Renaissance Faire or SCA event. The other extreme has people, and I think you and I talked about this, who say that if they go to a Pagan Festival three states away they’ll be outed at work and fired. That’s a very unrealistic expectation about who is there and what type of people run festivals. To answer your original question, I think that a large number of Pagan authors don’t know that these festivals exist.”Kenny Klein, musician and author of “Through The Faerie Glass: A Look at the Realm of Unseen and Enchanted Beings,” on why only a small percentage of Pagans attend Pagan festivals.

Shauna Aura Knight

Shauna Aura Knight

“I find myself as an unlikely ambassador in Chicago for the inclusion of transgendered people. Many ask me, “Why do you say, ‘all genders’ , isn’t there only two?” That is what I thought a few years ago and after  I have met, worked with, and lived with several transgendered people, my views have changed. I know I don’t always understand or connect with all the issues a transgendered person may encounter.  I do understand, as a heavily built woman, sometimes not liking my own body or feeling betrayed by my body. There is where I can find compassion. What we really need is more education, particularly in the Midwest, surrounding these issues.”Shauna Aura Knight, teacher and ritual leader, discussing her support for Melissa Murry at Pagan Spirit Gathering.

Crystal Blanton
Crystal Blanton

“How exciting of a time we live with the evolution of human kind and within a Pagan community that allows for such reflections of diversity in opinion, ethnicity, practice, beliefs, socio-economic statues and even varying contributions. Blessed Be the chances to grow and evolve. I am happy to be on this journey with those who choose and if you don’t, for whatever reason, may you find what you need. If you are looking for an avenue to express your spiritual self without multicultural faces like mine, may you find that too but you won’t find it here.”Crystal Blanton, author of “Bridging the Gap: Working Within the Dynamics of Pagan Groups and Society,” on diversity and acceptance within the Pagan community.

Glenn Turner (Photo: OaklandNorth)

Glenn Turner (Photo: OaklandNorth)

“One of the things we do is we provide hope for people, and very personalized customer service. When people come in here, frequently they want a candle that will bring money or love to them. We help them focus and understand how to focus their intent to bring these things into their lives. [...] I don’t know if it’s been scientifically proven that this kind of thing works, but in my mind, it’s been proven. [...]  I think because so many of us have scientific backgrounds and education, people seek out something spiritual, but they’re not really wanting a list of ‘thou-shall-not’s. They want something that connects them back to the Earth.” - Glenn Turner, owner of Ancient Ways in Oakland, California, and founder of PantheaCon in San Jose.

Sannion (Photo: Dver)

Sannion (Photo: Dver)

“We erected the shrine on a tree trunk that extended out over the river. We made a ring of flowers, jewelry and candles, set up a little bowl and a pretty card, stabbed sticks of incense into the moist earth beside it and then hung strips of cloth and the little head I’d decorated on nearby trees. Then Dver sang to the nymphs, we poured out libations of mead, offered them fresh honeycomb and the other things we’d brought, I recited my hymn to the Willamette, and Dver released the floating candles lit into the river and drowned the rusalka doll. Then we spent some time privately communing with the spirits of the place.”Sannion (H. Jeremiah Lewis), a contributor to “Written In Wine: A Devotional Anthology For Dionysos,” on the celebration of the Naiad Nymphaia in Eugene, Oregon.

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

Kala Noumenia!

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  July 23, 2009 — 14 Comments

Hello, good readers of the Wild Hunt. I am Sannion, a Greco-Egyptian polytheist affiliated with the group Neos Alexandria, and a resident of the fine city of Eugene, Oregon where Jason will presently be making his home. In his absence he asked me to fill in as a guest blogger here, and as luck would have it the day that was allotted to me happens to be the Noumenia of the Makedonian month Gorpiaios (or Metageitnion if you’re going by the Athenian name.) Noumenia means the festival of the new moon, which the ancient Greeks considered to be the appearance of the first sliver, something that can take some getting used to if you’re more familiar with the astrological reckoning of new moons.

Hesiod (Works and Days 770) designated the Noumenia as the holiest of days, and it appears to have been among the oldest and most widespread of the Hellenic religious observances. Its antiquity is attested by the fact that Homer mentions it in the Odyssey (21.258) – a significant fact when we consider that he names only one other religious festival in his epics. Furthermore, the Noumenia continued to be observed well into the Christian period, since we find bishops in Byzantine Egypt during the 5th century railing against those who continue to light lamps and burn incense in their homes for the ancestral gods and spirits on the new moon.

The sacred nature of the day can be seen in the fact that no other festival was allowed to fall on the date in Athens and no legislative assemblies of the ekklesia, boule, or tribal associations occurred at this time. In fact, all important business was suspended as we learn in Plutarch’s 25th Roman Question – though it seems that the markets may have remained opened.

Generally, it was seen as a day to stay at home and celebrate with the family. Sacrifices were made to Apollon, Selene, Hera, Hekate, Hermes, Hestia and the household gods. The domestic shrines were cleaned and then wreathed with flower-garlands, and then incense, wine, and cakes were offered anew to the gods. (Porphyry, On Abstinence from Animal Food, 2.16)

The Noumenia is perhaps just as popular and universal for contemporary Hellenic and Greco-Egyptian polytheists as it was for our cultural ancestors. Ours is a diverse community, and though we may have different festival calendars, honor different gods, and even employ different methods of worship – most of us still do at least something to mark the Noumenia. Here are some examples of how different people in the community celebrate this day:

Here is a Noumenia ritual from the group Neokoroi. Here’s another ritual, by Timothy Anderson. Here’s Miguel Oliveira’s thoughts on the Noumenia, and a lovely hymn he wrote for the occasion. Here’s another hymn written by Lykeia. Here is Allyson Szabo (author of Longing for Wisdom) talking about her Noumenia experiences. Here’s some more commentary from Gede Parma, and finally some from Kenn.

In keeping with that, I would like to share some of my own thoughts about this day and how I celebrate it.

To me the Noumenia is a time of new beginnings, of renewal. Each month we are given a chance to start over, to get it right. Living in this fast-paced, hectic world with endless distractions, frustrations, and demands on our time and attention, it is easy to lose our way, to forget the things that are important to us and sometimes we may even become estranged from our gods. We may have set out to maintain a regular religious routine, or to make important life changes like eating better, exercising more, watching less television and the like – only to have life get in the way. It is easy to feel discouraged, to see all the missed opportunities and our life slipping away from us. But the Noumenia provides us with an opportunity to stop, get our bearings, connect with the divine, recharge our spiritual batteries, and renew our commitment to living the sort of life that, deep down, we have always wanted to. It is a time to clear away the old and outmoded, all the things that are cluttering our lives and holding us back, so that we can make room for new and wonderful blessings to enter them.

That is why the first thing that I do on the Noumenia (if I have not already done it on the previous evening, which is the deipnon or dinner of Hekate) is a thorough cleaning of my apartment, from top to bottom. Admittedly, this may not strike some as a particularly spiritual act – but it has taken on great significance for me. There is something deeply rewarding about all of that physical labor, especially when I use the time to think about all of the mental and spiritual “junk” that I need to remove from life as well. It is also a devotional act since by filling my home with numerous shrines to my gods, I have invited them into my life and agreed to share my space with them. The gods should not be subjected to dirty laundry, stacks of dishes, clutter and dust – and in truth, neither should I. By making my home neat and orderly, a fitting place to receive my gods – I am making over my life in a similar fashion, for one’s home is, after all, a reflection of one’s own being. I have noticed, in fact, a strong correlation between my mood and my surroundings. When the place is messy and disgusting I tend to feel stressed, anxious, and sullen – but when it is sparklingly clean and well-ordered (or as close as it gets to that, because come on, I am a guy and a bachelor after all) my heart is light and my mind soars more freely. After I have cleaned my apartment, paying special attention to my shrines and the clearing away of any offerings I may have left on the altars – I begin a series of devotions that can last anywhere from an hour to the remainder of the day.

I begin by lighting candles and incense and pouring libations for each of my household gods. I spend a little time at each of their shrines, reciting poetry and hymns, praying aloud from the heart, or just talking to them in a casual manner. Then I just bask in their presence for a bit, enjoying the beautiful sight of an active shrine full of offerings, thinking about my gods and spirits and what they mean to me, going over past encounters I’ve had with them, and what I hope to do for them in the future. If I have an ongoing oath to them, I will renew my commitment to it and think of ways that I can live up to it over the month to come.

After I have done this for each of my household divinities I next turn to the remaining gods of my rather large multicultural Greco-Egyptian pantheon. This is actually one of the most important things about the Noumenia for me, the opportunity to touch base with all of the other deities. Over the years I’ve managed to collect a smallish pantheon of gods and spirits who receive the bulk of my attention and devotional practice. These are very important gods to me, and I deeply enjoy the intense and personal nature of our relationships. But the other gods are important too, and worthy of my honor even if they haven’t made their presence as strongly felt in my life as the core group that forms my personal pantheon. So on the Noumenia I take some time to honor them as well, making collective offerings to the bunch of them, reciting brief prayers to individual gods, and generally I pause to think about them for a while and all the amazing things they have done and continue to do in our world.

After this I go into a quiet, meditative state, just sort of letting myself be in the presence of the divine. I often come away from this feeling peaceful, calm, collected – ready to face the challenges of life, grounded in an awareness of the all-pervading presence of the my gods and spirits. It doesn’t matter what else is going on in my life – all the anxieties, fears, frustrations and doubts just melt away in the face of the gods.

After that I will sit with my calendar and make plans for the upcoming month. I look at the festivals that are approaching and think about what I would like to do for them and the supplies I’ll have to gather to celebrate them properly. I go over my writing and creative projects, and any other plans I may have either percolating in my brain or carried over from the previous month. I think about my life and what I need to do to make it better. In short, I plot out the rest of the month, making concrete plans of action, because honestly, I’d never get anything done otherwise.

At that point, it’s usually pretty late and so I make myself a lavish dinner, feasting in the company of my gods and sharing a portion of the meal with them. Then I make a final offering and go out for a walk, usually going on a long, circuitous route that ends up at one of the nearby parks where I do a lot of my outdoors worship. As I stroll through the dark city streets I let my gaze drift up to the heavens and note the lovely sliver of moon, just barely visible through the darkness – yet full of such promise and potential.

This is one of my favorite parts of the Noumenia – and in many ways, one of the most important. By anchoring my religious calendar to the phases of the moon it helps me connect with the cyclic powers she contains as well as the rhythms of nature which are all around me. It’s so easy to lose sight of this, to get caught up in the manic intensity of our modern lives. So much is going on all the time, a thousand tiny things constantly clamoring for our attention, that we’re often not aware of anything outside of our own heads. Weeks can pass by in a blur, and half the time we wouldn’t even know what day it was without the anchors of what show’s on television or what trivial thing is happening at work. The earth and the moon, however, run at a slower pace, possess a deeper and more sacred wisdom, and I have found that pausing to take note of that, slowing myself down enough that I am then able to attune myself to that more divine motion is an incredibly rewarding thing. Many people find it hard to follow the lunar Hellenic calendar, especially at first. But I find it well worth the effort. These energies are real and powerful, and life runs much more smoothly when we slow down enough to be aware of them, open ourselves enough to be conscious of their influence in the world around us – and the world within us as well.

And that, dear friends, is how I celebrate the Noumenia. Often we talk about the more theoretical aspects of our faith – our conceptions of the divine, the importance of ethics and building up community, the interpretation of ancient texts, and the assorted controversies that plague our diverse communities – but I think that it is also important to discuss what we actually do for the gods, how this feels and what all this means to us today as modern practitioners of ancient faiths. Hopefully I have provided some small glimpse into the religious life of a Greco-Egyptian polytheist here in the hinterlands of Oregon. At the very least I suspect y’all won’t be complaining that my entry was too short.

There are times when you just can’t get to the computer for several hours per day to blog, one of those is when you’re trying to pack and engage in a cross-country move. This week I’ll be pulling up stakes and moving from the Midwest (Milwaukee) to the Pacific Northwest (specifically, Eugene, Oregon). But don’t despair! While I’ll be driving through Montana with my wife and two cats (two, upset, angry, cats), The Wild Hunt will be featuring a wide assortment of vibrant, challenging, and innovative voices from within (and occasionally from without) modern Paganism while I’m gone. Here’s the run-down of The Wild Hunt’s amazing guest bloggers!

July 14thBrendan Myers

Dr. Brendan Myers, Ph.D. is the author of several critically acclaimed books on the subject of ethics and philosophy, environmentalism, Celtic and European mythology, folklore, society and politics, and spirituality. They have been used as inspirational and educational resources by college professors, social activist groups, interfaith groups, Celtic cultural associations, and even humanist societies, in many countries around the world. Brendan’s work has appeared in numerous magazines, podcasts, and radio shows (including America’s NPR). He is the 2008 recipient of OBOD’s prestigious Mt. Haemus Award for recent research in Druidry.

July 15thElysia Gallo

Elysia Gallo is an Acquisitions Editor at Llewellyn Worldwide, the oldest and largest independent New Age publisher in the United States. She acquires books for publication in such topics as Witchcraft, Wicca, Paganism, magic(k), herbalism, and the paranormal. She lives in St. Paul, MN with her husband and two cats.

July 16thCat Chapin-Bishop

Wiccan since the late ’80s, Cat Chapin-Bishop has also been Quaker since 2001. Cat’s essays have appeared in Laura Wildman’s “Celebrating the Pagan Soul”, “The Pomegranate: The Journal of Pagan Studies”, the Covenant of the Goddess newsletter, and “Enchante: The Journal for the Urbane Pagan”. In addition to her work as a Wiccan HPs, Cat is the former Chair of Cherry Hill Seminary’s Pastoral Counseling Department, and she currently serves on the Ministry and Worship Committee of Mt. Toby Quaker meeting. Cat and her husband maintain Quaker Pagan Reflections, a blog dedicated to exploring the connections between Pagan spirituality and Quaker practice. They reside in Northampton, Massachusetts, where they attempt to live peacefully in the midst of chaos.

July 17thLupa

Lupa is the author of “Fang and Fur, Blood and Bone: A Primal Guide to Animal Magic” and “A Field Guide to Otherkin”. She’s also the co-author of “Kink Magic: Sex Magic Beyond Vanilla” with Taylor Ellwood, and a contributor to the “Magick on the Edge” anthology and “Manifesting Prosperity: A Wealth Magic Anthology”. Additionally, Lupa works as an associate editor, layout tech, and nonfiction publicity/promotions manager for Immanion Press/Megalithica Books. Lupa uses the term pagan for simplicity’s sake, though more accurately she describes herself as a totemist, an animist and a pantheist. She has been studying pagan religions and magical topics for twelve years and practicing for ten years. Currently she is developing and training in therioshamanism.

July 18thJohn Morehead

John Morehead is a researcher, writer, and speaker in intercultural studies, new religious movements, theology and popular culture. He has an M.A. degree in intercultural studies from Salt Lake Theological Seminary which included a thesis on Burning Man Festival. He also has an avid interest in aspects of pop culture, particularly myth and archetype as well as the social, cultural and religious dimensions of fantasy, sci fi,and horror. John lives in the greater Salt Lake City area with his wife and two children. Be sure to check out his excellent TheoFantastique blog!

July 19th - Caroline Kenner

A longtime Washington D.C. activist in in feminism and environmentalism, Caroline Kenner now uses her skills to advocate for modern Pagans. In 2006 and 2007 Kenner called pan-Pagan rallies in Washington D.C. to demand religious freedom and equality. The 2007 rally was particularly auspicious as it celebrated the recently-won right to place the Pentacle, equivalent to the Cross, Star, or Crescent, on military grave markers. The event united several large Pagan organizations working to establish Pagan military chaplains and the approval of other specific Pagan symbols worn by Pagan and Heathen veterans. In addition to her activism, Caroline is a graduate of The Foundation for Shamanic Studies‘ Three Year Program in Advanced Shamanism and Shamanic Healing. Caroline also holds an A.B. from Bryn Mawr College and a M.S. from Boston University. She has practiced shamanism since 1989.

July 20th - Chas Clifton

Chas S. Clifton has been blogging since 2003, when he converted his Pagan magazine column, “Letter from Hardscrabble Creek,” into a blog. A widely published Pagan writer, he is the author of “Her Hidden Children: The Rise of Wicca and Paganism in America”. He also edits “The Pomegranate: The International Journal of Pagan Studies”.

July 21stJames R. French

James R. French has been interested in Magick and Paganism since adolescence. He is an Adept of the Open Source Order of the Golden Dawn and a Reiki Master. (Mr. French wants us to understand that “Adept” and “Master” are titles within these respective lineages. They do not necessarily indicate anything beyond that.)

July 22ndThorn Coyle

T. Thorn Coyle is a magic worker, mystic, musician, and author of “Evolutionary Witchcraft” and “Kissing the Limitless.” She teaches internationally. Her blog can be found at yezida.livejournal.com or http://www.thorncoyle.com/musings.html.

July 23rdSannion

H. Jeremiah Lewis, also known by his religious name Sannion, is a Greco-Egyptian polytheist who has been actively honoring the gods since around 1993. He has lived all over the country, including Alaska, Nevada, New York, Montana, Washington and Oregon (where he currently resides), and has worked the standard assortment of odd jobs that every aspiring author needs to get by with. Mr. Lewis divides his time between an insanely intense religious practice, writing, research, helping to organize the activities of Neos Alexandria, and directing the Bibliotheca Alexandrina. There isn’t much time for anything else.

July 24thPeg Aloi

Peg Aloi is a Pagan and a scholar who works in both the academic and popular arenas. She is a writer on Paganism and the media for Witchvox, is the co-editor with Hanna E. Johnston of the new volume “The New Generation Witches: Teenage Witchcraft in Contemporary Culture” (Ashgate, 2007), and is currently co-authoring a book with Hannah titled “The Celluloid Bough: Cinema in the Wake of the Occult Revival”.

Please give all of them a warm and hospitable welcome, I’m certain they will all contribute something special to The Wild Hunt. The gods and my new DSL service willing, I should be back to my regular posting schedule by July 25th. Make sure to keep things respectful and polite in the comments while I’m gone, the assorted hells hath no fury like a vacationing blogger who has to log in to a WiFi spot in Idaho to engage in some blog moderation.