Pagan Voices: John Beckett, M. Lee, Arith Härger, and more!

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

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Many Pagans are unwilling to hex. The thinking is that any “bad” juju you work against anyone else is just going to rebound on you, so better to avoid the whole messy thing, and concentrate on white light or only the positive or ceremonial magic or the high holy days or whatever.

There’s another school of thought, though, that goes something like this: “A witch who can’t hex, can’t heal.”

The world isn’t all sweetness and light. Shadows exist, and we need to be willing and able to work with them. Evil exists, and we need to be willing and able to fight it. Darkness and light can’t exist without each other. Every positive has a negative, and vice versa.

“But I don’t want to get my hands dirty! I don’t want to risk something bad happening to me! Can’t I just light some candles and celebrate Imbolc and Brigid and creativity with my circle in peace?”

Um, no.

—Hecate Demeter, Screw Your Courage to the Sticking Place

The public nature of this working means it has attracted attention from those who are opposed to it. A few magicians support Trump and have upped their efforts to protect him. And various fundamentalist Christians who love the idea of “spiritual warfare” are actively working against this spell. Their magical skills are mostly undeveloped (though some are quite powerful) but they outnumber us and their countermeasures will have an impact, though just how much is impossible to say.

Working magic against a figure as powerful as the President of the United States is extremely difficult. He’s supported by the attention of millions of fans and voters, and he’s as charismatic as they come. Attracting the attention of his supporters makes our work that much harder.

Remember the Witches Pyramid: to know, to will, to dare, and to keep silence.

— John Beckett, Why I’m Not Participating in the Mass Binding of Donald Trump and What I’m Doing Instead

We often talk about monotheistic privilege here in the West and yes, it exists and it can be problematic being a polytheist even in the United States. We can’t be lawfully killed for it though. We don’t have to practice our religion in such secrecy, fearing that if our polytheism were even remotely suspected we could be stoned, raped and stoned, beheaded, tortured, imprisoned, or slaughtered in some other horrifying way. Even if we live in areas where we might get occasionally harassed, we don’t have to fear being hauled out of our houses to our own deaths. We are lucky to live in the West where we have the luxury of being able to maintain our shrines and pour out libations and declare ourselves to friends and family if we wish as polytheists without such terror.

The men and women practicing Wathan, and other indigenous Middle Eastern polytheisms are incredibly brave. They are few in number, yes, but courageous. I pray fervently that they do not become martyrs just as I pray fervently that we in the West will always have the freedoms we enjoy now, to worship as we will.

— Galina Krasskova, The Gods Before Allah

Contradicting the trend against the official recognition of unusual religions, the neo-pagan faith Aar Aiyy won formal recognition in the Siberian republic of Sakha. Practicers of the religion have been waiting for this moment for at least 18 years.

This creed was native to the original Turkic-speaking population of Sakha, also known as Yakutia, but was forced out as Orthodox Christianity spread during Russia’s 17th century colonization of the region. Even so, the Yakuts have preserved the creed and are now free to practice it.

The Russian Constitution guarantees the right to freedom of belief, but while creating a “religious group” requires no formal permit, the relevant legislation sets strict limitations on the rights of such groups to proselytize and to carry out daily operations.

— Arith Härger, Yakut – The Recognition of a Pagan Creed

Beauty describes a wide range of looks and experiences. As we grow into adults, we begin to shape and often redefine what is and is not beautiful. Hopefully, we lose the idea that fashion and weight make someone beautiful. . . . [but] it can be hard. Even when we think we’ve rooted out old ideas about beauty, we still find ourselves conforming to them sometimes. We decide to believe that the weight that sits naturally around our hips is beautiful, then we step into a clothing store and lose all that confidence. We admire the laugh lines around a dear friend’s eyes and then panic at the first sign of our own wrinkles. We commit to recognizing the natural beauty in aging and wonder if we can pluck out our grey hairs.

— M. Lee, Beauty Standards

My grandfather was still a young child when Canadian soldiers liberated his village from Axis powers at the end of the Second World War. I still remember my grandfather’s smile at that particular memory — from that point in his life, he would forever associate Canada with hope. When he emigrated to North America, he became a factory worker. Like most men of his age, class, and cultural origin, he had a difficult time with contemporary liberal politics. Decades later, by the time 2008 was said and done, he often felt a strong need to express his dislike for Obama and Obama-style politics. But towards the end of his life, as sickness and age eroded his ability to track world politics — and wage interminable, circular political arguments at the dinner table — he did not have to watch the rise of Trump-style American fascism as his children and grandchildren watched him die. Small mercies.

— Anonymous contributor, Valentine’s Game

Finally, via Letter from Hardscrabble Creek we learn that “Old Norse sounds better in Wyoming: