Pagan Voices: Starhawk, Sharon Knight, Ivo Dominguez Jr., and More!

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

Starhawk at Occupy Santa Cruz. Photo by Matt Fitt, Santa Cruz IMC.

Starhawk

“Permaculture, spirit, and activism – three very potent tools to regenerate our world […] I started Earth Activist Training because I wanted a program that could combine them all.  Permaculture is a holistic ecological design system that includes powerful tools that can help us heal damaged land, rebuild communities, and create truly sustainable abundance.  We teach it with a grounding in spirit—personal regeneration–and a focus on organizing and activism.  In our permaculture design course, students learn how to heal damaged soil, grow food organically, bioremediate toxins, harvest water and re-use graywater, build low-cost, low-carbon housing, and so many other skills.  And most of all, they learn how all the aspects of sustainability can fit together so that we can meet our human needs while caring for the natural systems around us. Permaculture offers solutions to some of our most grave ecological problems. The communities that most need these tools are those who are on the front lines of environmental and social struggles – our depressed inner cities, indigenous reserves where jobs and resources are scarce, desertifying drylands and war-torn lands in the developing world.  To share this knowledge, we need to train people who come from those communities.  They are the best ambassadors and most effective teachers!” – Starhawk, introducing her new IndieGoGo campaign to fund diversity scholarships for Earth Activist Trainings.

Sharon Knight

Sharon Knight

“Feri was my first introduction to magic, and I experienced first hand how powerful it can be to open to magical realms. From what I understand, not all traditions deal with the pure electric currents of magic, some are more liturgical. But in Feri, it is desirable to awaken what we call the Feri fire, a subtle electricity akin to kundalini, and which, when ignited, enhances perception greatly. You could say to ignite the Feri fire is to awaken the Ichor – the blood of the Gods – in our own blood, thus greatly enhancing our ability to touch and taste the realms of the Gods. Rituals that don’t open these gates feel flat to me. So, I have this precedent that I strive for as a musician as well. I want to kindle these fires in others with music, to stir and awaken an experience of magic in the listeners. It is every musician’s ideal to be able to captivate their audience and hold them in thrall, and my Feri training has definitely given me tools which enhance my ability to do this.” – Sharon Knight, on how Feri has influenced her career as a musician, in an interview with John Beckett.

Seb the Shaman

Seb the Shaman

“Be stubborn, don’t expect the universe to explode with happiness and gifts when you start on a professional spiritual path. Make a budget. Make sure you are still giving to your community, and sit down and figure out WHY you want to be a professional with a spiritual practice. If you cannot face the fact that it is a partly selfish endeavor then get out of the running. Be practical. Realize that sleep, making buckets of money, and being able to do what you want to when you want too – these should be on the list of things you are willing to sacrifice for a while. Give yourself five to ten years to get going. And ultimately, be proud to take the hard road. Humility is overrated, but don’t be an asshole as the pagan community usually does a good job keeping assholes in check and word spreads fast. Remember that you are in service to the people who pay you for your time, energy, objects, or whatever it may be. Do not over service people, and don’t take any bullshit. Do not complain about what you choose. And always do your taxes.” – Seb the Shaman, a participant in the Pagan Bundle project, on advice for those who want to make a living doing spiritual work.

Ivo Dominguez Jr.

Ivo Dominguez Jr.

“I read a lot of blogs, go to a lot of conferences and festivals, teach a lot of workshops, and have lively discussions with friends related to all things Pagan and Magickal. Although I can say that ease of access to ideas through the internet, bookstores, and Pagan and Magickal events has increased awareness of many social issues, ideologies, religious and theological perspectives, and the vast amount of minutia related Pagan culture and fads, there is an increasing percentage of the Pagan community that is magickally illiterate and innumerate.  I’m not saying that people are less serious, less devoted, or less committed to their path. Nor am I saying that the level of discourse has dropped, in fact in many ways it is much more sophisticated in exploring the development of Pagan culture. What I have noticed is that the technical end of things, magick theory, sacred sciences, and the like, are less well known. I’ve also noticed a trend towards focusing more exclusively on the lore and mythology of a specific people or a specific time at the expense of a generalized understanding of how magickal paths manifest in a variety of cultures and communities.” – Ivo Dominguez Jr., on magickal literacy, and the lack thereof, in today’s Pagan community.

Melissa Harrington

Melissa Harrington

“Davidsen’s critique of Pagan Studies is of a nascent field that has been evident since the late 1980s. Thus it has necessarily been going through a period of demarcation and description, which Davidsen criticises as a loyalist attempt at defining a “pure” Paganism. He also criticises the fact that a greater proportion of work so far has been done by “insider” researchers. In an economic climate where many academic jobs are being cut, with no faculty, department or undergraduate degree in Pagan Studies, it would seem obvious that only those with a deep personal interest would risk devoting time and funds to such studies. But that goes for any field of interest or employment and is not unique to Paganism. Nor does this preclude non Pagans from studying Paganism; it is a very varied area with much scope for development. Scholars of Paganism welcome input from any area of the academy, including from the critical study of religion, to work on developing understanding of religion in all its aspects and manifestations via Pagan Studies, and in increasing knowledge of Paganism itself. However “What is wrong with Pagan Studies?” launches an attack on scholars rather than scholarship. Davidsen uses the foundation built by Michael York and Graham Harvey to dismiss the vantage from which he speaks in few critical sentences. He declares scholars of Paganism en masse to be emic religionists who need to be educated in critical theory, sheltering a cohort of essentialists who are consciously misusing academia as part of a clandestine intra-Pagan power struggle.” – Melissa Harrington, responding to a critique of Pagan Studies by Markus Davidsen (you can read the critique here).

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

Sam Webster

“There is much that Pagans can do in the world, but it will require leadership to do it and leadership is a relationship. Leadership is a two way street. Those who lead only do so because of those they serve. Mind, I did not say ‘follow’. Leadership is inalienably about service, or it is tyranny. Leadership is also risky. For Pagans this danger is acute. Besides putting oneself out in public which inevitably makes one a target, compounded by the isolation the role also produces, Pagans all too often operate by the ‘penguin’ mode of leadership. Penguins, it is said, follow their leaders down to the waterfront and stop before going in. The leaders, at the front of the pack, scan the waters for orca, leopard seals, and the like, which prey on penguins. But the waters are dark and the dangers, invisible. So, the pack pushes the leader in. If they come back up, they all jump in. If only blood comes to the surface, they go swimming elsewhere. Leadership is often about taking risks, but it must be matched by the loyalty of those the leaders serve for it to succeed. Both must be worthy.” – Sam Webster, on how leadership is relationship.

Donald Michael Kraig

Donald Michael Kraig

“I remember when cell phones first hit the market. They were supposed to free you up and give you more time. Now, they’re so “smart,” they take away time, allowing addicts to stare at their messages and email in the desperate hope that something important will flash on its screen. I realized that I’d been to festivals and conventions where people had their heads buried in their phones. You could be talking with them while they look and then say, “One second; I just have to answer this message…” If you’re a doctor, that conceivably could be true. Otherwise, you do not own that smart phone…it owns you. Consider this: if your battery had run down, or if the phone hadn’t signaled you with a sound or vibration, and the result was that you didn’t answer that message or email RIGHT NOW, how would your life or the life of the person sending you that note, be different? What if the message to you were delayed by 15 minutes? What about a half hour? Instead, people walk down the street, staring at their phones, missing the world around them; missing out on the world around them.” – Donald Michael Kraig, hits out against smart phones as “Magick destroyers.”

P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

“The mention of a very specific goddess: Isis. And that goddess, I have no doubt, is in mourning at present, not for Osiris, but for a human woman who over the last nearly seventy years did more to spread the religious devotion to Isis than anyone has since, very likely, Apuleius in late antiquity: Lady Olivia Durdin-Robertson, the principal foundress of the Fellowship of Isis. Lady Olivia was born on April 13, 1917, and recently died on November 14, 2013. She was, truly, one of the most important individual pagans, I think, of the 20th and early 21st centuries, and I think that Isis most certainly inspired and came through her to many others. Sadly, I never was able to meet her, or to get to Clonegal Castle while I was in Ireland; however, a friend of mine did, and spoke very highly of Lady Olivia and of her experiences there in general. May Isis enfold her wings around Lady Olivia, and may she be guided swiftly into the west, with a thousand ushabtis of turquoise to carry out her works for her!” – P. Sufenas Virius Lupus, on Olivia Robertson, co-founder of the Fellowship of Isis, who passed away last week. While at the site, do check out this wonderful tribute and sanctification.

Jason Mankey

Jason Mankey

“It’s true that the Pilgrims did celebrate some sort of Thanksgiving back in 1621, and it did come with Native Americans, pumpkin, and probably wild turkey. Unfortunately it wasn’t necessarily a holiday about “coming together” so much as it was about showing off English muskets. In recent years much of the Pilgrim myth has been stripped away. Most Americans are now aware that the Puritans of Plymouth Rock weren’t really the nicest folks. I’m respectful of their dedication to hard work and devotion to their faith, but they weren’t necessarily pioneers of religious freedom. Sure they were interested in their religious freedom, but these were the same people who were burning witches just seventy years later. The myth has always been better than the reality, but I still find value in it. When people reflect on the Pilgrims and the Patuxet it’s a reflection not of what actually was, but what we wish to be. Most of us do dream of a country where everyone can come together to share a meal without caring about race, creed, or gender. Maybe that’s why Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It speaks to the best of what we can be. It’s certainly about food and family, but it’s also about coming together despite our differences. I’ll eat a good pound of turkey next Thursday, hug my wife, call my Dad, and watch about ten hours of football, but I’ll also stop to remember what it means to be truly thankful for the blessings in my life, and to reflect on the things that bring us together instead of drive us apart. Happy Thanksgiving.” – Jason Mankey, on why he likes Thanksgiving.

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