Pagan Voices: All’s Quiet on New Year’s Day Edition

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Happy 2014! 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

“I make time between Samhain and Gregorian New Year for cleaning, organizing, and contemplating. I appreciate the time to prepare. Some consider Samhain to be the end of the old and the start of the new year – and I used to be one of those. These days, however, I am appreciative of the longer tides. Maybe it is a hallmark of middle age. Years rush by and I want to deepen and savor the gifts and the lessons. In recent years, I’ve come to understand that Samhain marks the threshold of many things, including the winding down of the old year. This enables space to open for deeper tides of magic, and helps me percolate on my new intention for the coming year. I appreciate the subtle changes that occur within my practice and my work by this shifting of attention. The tide carries me through Solstice and on. I don’t feel slammed into a new year, breathless, filled with resolutions I’ve scrambled to make.” – T. Thorn Coyle, on setting intentions for the new year.

Peter Beckley

Peter Beckley

“Well I for one enjoy taking stock of the previous year, examining my role in it, how I did with last year’s resolutions, and making new ones. I always have a lot of resolutions, even more than I publicly say, because I’m far from perfect, and want to work on many aspects of my life as well as myself. I could just as easily choose another day in the year to make these resolutions, like my birthday, Samhain, or any other, but I choose to follow the traditional one that I’ve grown up with. The funny thing is, when people make the same kinds of resolutions at other times in the year, people don’t seem to have that knee-jerk negative reaction. Weird! One of the toughest parts about these resolutions is identifying the opportunity for them. You have to willing look at yourself and your life and ask, “What’s wrong with this picture?” During the year, there are plenty of chances to stop working on these resolutions, stuff happens, and that’s the next tough part, follow through.” – Peter Beckley, on resolving to have New Year’s resolutions.

Carol P. Christ

Carol P. Christ

“I have written many times that we must learn to love a life that ends in death. I was speaking about accepting that each one of us will surely die. I do not fear death. Overcoming this fear has opened me to a greater and more clear-sighted love for life. Can we learn to love life while accepting that the world we love may be dying? Can we continue to work to improve the conditions of life for individuals and species knowing that the world as we love it may not survive? Do we have any other choice? For me the hope that can trump despair in our time begins in gratitude for a life that has been given to us, a life that has come down to us through the generations, and through billions of years of the evolutionary process on our planet. Let us bless the Source of Life. Let us bless the Source of Life, and the cycles of birth, death, and regeneration. Let us turn back from despair. Let us embrace the gift of life and share it with as many others as possible in the new year.” – Carol P. Christ, on the nature of hope that can triumph over despair at the new year’s dawning.

Lilith Dorsey

Lilith Dorsey

“No Voodoo or Hoodoo discussion about this time of year would be complete without talking about the traditional New Year’s recipe for collard greens. This dish is served just after midnight. If eaten and prepared right, it is said to bring divine blessings of money and success. The shredded greens, which you are supposed to tear with your bare hands, are thought to represent dollars coming your way.  Collard greens are really good for you too. They are rich in calcium and are said to lower cholesterol, detox your body, and give you cardiovascular and digestive support. Linda Stradley in her piece for What’s Cooking America mentions the popular folklore that a fresh leaf can be hung above the door to “ward off evil spirits.” Collards are undoubtedly a southern U.S. Tradition. Lucky for us, they are readily available this time of year, I even found them on sale as I got ready to make this recipe.  Don’t like greens, well my best advice is to eat them anyway, Amanda Galiano says in her piece about Wealth with Collard Greens and Cornbread that each bite “is worth $1,000 in the upcoming year”  How’s that for incentive to eat your veggies.” – Lilith Dorsey, on the New Year’s tradition of eating collard greens (you have to click the link to get the recipe).

P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

“Now, notice something about the above list: in-person practice trumps everything, including theological developments. And, there are lots of things that happened, and that drew a HUGE amount of attention to this blog in various ways, that I did not mention in the above countdown. 2013 was a year of a huge number of controversies amongst modern polytheists and other pagans, and I don’t think that will subside in 2014. I’m quite certain I’ll be posting more about it in the future, but it is good to be reminded what the purpose of this blog is, where the heart of my practice and attentions lie, and what is truly the most important when it comes to the life of a modern devotional polytheist. I hope your 2013 was excellent, that 2014 will be better in all the ways that 2013 was deficient, and that what was good in 2013 is only improved by this time in 2014 for all of you! The blessings of Antinous and Hadrian and Sabina, Polydeukion and Memnon and Achilles, Herodes Attikos and Appia Annia Regilla, Lucius Marius Vitalis, and the Tetrad++ Group–Panpsyche, Panhyle, Paneros, Pancrates, Paneris, and Panprosdexia–be upon all of you this day and every day!”  – P. Sufenas Virius Lupus, taking stock of the year just passed, and explaining why in-person practice trumps everything.

Crystal Blanton

Crystal Blanton

“I am ending this year with pride and culture. I have been hesitant to start the practice of Kwanzaa in my home for some time, not because I did not believe in the value of its practice, but because of…. fear. It is the continuous fear of breaking away from overculture, even though I am Pagan, and a Black woman. I will never fit into the norm of overculture, and it is not something I am trying to do anyway. It is often an unconscious fear that pushes us away from something that is new and potentially beneficial…. yet different. Kwanzaa is different, even though it should not be. I have dibbled and dabbled in studying up on it, but this year is different for me. 2013 has been one of intensive, intentional cultural reflection and learning. I have much more to learn, and yet am happy about what I am accomplishing on this journey. I have come to see that this year, my openness to embracing my ancestral culture and knowledge has made some people very uncomfortable. And yet, this same openness to embracing my ancestral culture and knowledge has led me to Kwanzaa.” – Crystal Blanton, on Kwanzaa in a Pagan home.

Lori Dake

Lori Dake

“As 2013 draws to a close, there’s a good deal to reflect upon. Many members of our Community have passed on, relationships have changed and babies have been born. Within the military, quite a few changes have occurred as well. […] Overall, I am satisfied with the progresses that have been made, and, make no mistake, these changes are coming rapidly. I would like to see this momentum carried on through 2014 in avalanche speed for overall equality and fairness. My hope for 2014, besides the aforementioned, is to see Pagans joining the ranks of military chaplaincy, which has been discussed at length for several years. I have mentioned this many times before on Warriors & Kin, and with the efforts of so many people including Patrick McCollum and Circle Sanctuary, perhaps I can be writing this article next year congratulating those who have been accepted for enlistment.” – Lori Dake, reflecting on 2013, for Pagans and individuals in the military, and the hopes for 2014.

Literata drawing down.

Literata drawing down.

“Liminality is a vital concept because in the real world, boundaries are often fuzzy. One year is not the same as the next, but they bleed into each other continuously. We can find and observe “natural” turning points, such as the solstices, but if we weren’t paying some attention, it would be hard to nail down the precise moment when one year turns into the next. We construct more precise boundaries in time, just as we construct more precise boundaries in space. We tend to create rituals that reinforce those constructions, and the change of the calendar from December 31st to January 1st is a perfect example. Even around these kinds of secular or “mundane” (as if anything is truly devoid of magic) kinds of things, there is a common human tendency to create rituals and to observe the experience of liminality. In Wicca and magic, I find the concept of liminality so useful because in those in-between spaces, it’s easier to imagine change, to believe that change is possible, and to work to make change. It is, almost by definition, a more magical time, a situation where we have greater access to possibilities.” – Literata, on liminality in the mundane world.

Houngan Matt (aka Bozanfè Bon Oungan)

Houngan Matt (aka Bozanfè Bon Oungan)

“It’s been a hell of a trip this past year… a mix of absolutely wonderful things, horrifying things; really I suppose it’s been just like any 12 month period of time and the only thing special right now is an arbitrarily chosen end date, but hey… what better excuse is there for parties, noisemakers, and revelry? Come to think of it… there’s never really a bad time for parties, noise, and revelry. (Even if most of us use those three words to refer to the period of time known as “college”.) There’s truly something to be said for sending the old away with enough noise to terrify a small elephant and enough joy in the face of all the last year’s troubles to proclaim one’s ability to rise above it all in jubilation and triumph. In many ways for me it’s been a fantastic year, one of many MANY swift changes… I got to open a wonderful brick-and-mortar shop here in Kansas City with some fabulous friends, a fabulously bright and colorful space full of great product and working altars (both personal working altars for our shop staff as well as community altars for setting of lights and public work) and I really couldn’t be happier with how it’s all been turning out. If you find yourself in Kansas City, you’d better come check out Good Luck! A Kansas City Conjure Shop… and, if you’re not in the region, you’d better go find us on Facebook where we’ve got both a terrific page and a fabulous discussion group.” – Houngan Matt (aka Bozanfè Bon Oungan), on welcoming the New Year.

Alley Valkyrie. Photo by Rob Sydor.

Alley Valkyrie.

“I would like Eugene to decide what it actually wants to be. This is a town that suffers from quite the identity conflict. Are we a big city that wants to attract big money and tourism? Because if we are, we have to accept the big-city issues that come with that terrain and stop acting like reactionary provincialists when it comes to issues like the homeless. Or are we a small, little college town? Which is it? Are we a human rights city? Or do we let people die on the streets for lack of shelter as houses sit empty nearby? We can’t be both. And trying to be both has failed.” – Alley Valkyrie, quoted in the Eugene Weekly, on what her vision for the future of Eugene, Oregon would be, at the closing of 2013.

That’s all I have for now, have a great 2014!