Pagan Voices: Thenea, Yvonne Aburrow, Byron Ballard 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.

If you hear a Polytheist going on about how a deity has had to break their will, or how one has to “give in” to the gods to bring about a cessation of suffering, they are expressing a Puritan theological concept, adapted to Polytheism.

If you have ever heard someone bragging about how the gods have harmed them, and that this is a sign of their love, and wondered what the hell was wrong with them, you now know. . . . Modern psychological research has determined that beatings do not, in fact, improve behavior. What they do, actually, is increase rates of anxiety and depression, and reinforce negative self-concept[s]. Trauma doesn’t make adults better people. Breaking someone’s will doesn’t make them a better person. — Thenea, Know Your Meme: Puritan Theology

Wetlands are liminal places, uncertain, wild, beautiful and full of wonder and mud. They are not entirely human-friendly even though we can live in them. They are not tame, and they change without our permission in response to seasons, tides and rainfall. As climate change makes everything ever less predictable, we need these wild margins to help us cope with unexpected floods, to soak up the water and to lay down the carbon.

It would take a large and complex network of human choices to make wetlands more viable and to let them return. We’ve harmed ourselves by harming our habitat, and I hope that we see that and make the changes while we still can. If we can’t do it for love of the world we live in, we should be doing it selfishly for our own safety and survival. — Nimue Brown, The politics of wetlands

As a polytheist, I prefer it if we behave in ritual as though the deities are real, distinct from each other, and have their own desires and goals. . . . It’s also somewhat disrespectful to other cultures to conflate their deities with ours. Each culture has developed its own set of relationships with specific deities; and it makes no sense to say that Kali and the Morrigan are the same person, even if they embody a similar archetype. Viewing deities as distinct beings also means that we can visualise them as a multiplicity of colours.” — Yvonne Aburrow, Towards an inclusive Wiccan theology

I see a lot of people in our community who are, for want of a better term, excessively focused on what they believe are their interactions with the otherworld. They are constantly on the lookout for signs and portents, making offerings and prayers and observances to what they believe are beings resident therein. Such folk often conclude that their homes are haunted by spirits, and their first interpretation of an unusual event is typically not that it has ordinary causality or is a coincidence, but rather that it is someone trying to tell them something. . . . Meanwhile, we have bigger fish to fry here in so-called “mundane” reality. We have an ecology on the verge of collapse, and a civilization not far behind it. Accordingly, I suggest that pouring time and energy into attempts at trafficking with beings who are so nebulous that we debate their very existence is a distraction, when we should be rolling up our sleeves and getting to work for the demonstrably real.” — Mark Green, Crunch Time: Pagan Priorities and the Otherworld

Last time . . . I felt called to worship Brighid, I tried to focus on ancient Gaelic polytheism. I took a course in the Irish language. I focused on what Gaelic polytheistic reconstructionists wrote. . . . reconstructionism isn’t for me.

Instead, I find myself more interested in Paganizing elements of Catholicism, or studying modern polytheistic expressions of religion such as Hinduism as they are already part of our modern world.

I don’t want to slight reconstructionists. I have a deep respect for them, their relationships to the gods, and to the research and work they do. However, it’s not my way. . . . I seek to worship Brighid in a modern context, connecting the worlds of Catholicism and Paganism, yet with a foot in the modern world. — R.M. McGrath, Bridging the Worlds

Consuming mindlessly does not improve your life. It just keeps you busy until you die. There in lies the hidden cost of consumerism: the opportunity cost of the time spent consuming, and earning money to fund consumption. How would our lives be different if we stepped off the treadmill and broke away from the consumption addiction? Is it even possible when everyone around us is bowing down to the mighty gods of retail? — Heathen Embers, The Opiate of the Masses

Demeter is a mother and an advocate for Persephone. She searches for her daughter and is not willing to give up any of her parental rights simply because the males in her family try to determine Persephone’s fate (even though Persephone does end up being a queen in her own right). She is an example of how when women stand up for ourselves, we can affect change.

Hestia is an example of how women should be able to determine for themselves if they wish to be in a relationship or not. When both Poseidon and Apollon desired to marry her, Hestia declared that she didn’t want to marry at all and was granted that autonomy. In fact, the priestesses of her Roman counterpart Vesta were considered to be autonomous of their paterfamilias and equal to the men of Roman society. This shows the especial importance of Hestia in society — even though women were considered to be subservient to the men of their families. — Greek Revivialist Mommy, Thoughts on the #MeToo Movement as a Hellenic Polytheist and a mother

Despite what some medieval witch-hunting manuals might suggest, witchcraft doesn’t teach witches to enslave their wills to powerful beings. On the contrary, it encourages us to work in a mutually-beneficial partnership with them.

“Mutually beneficial?” I hear from the back of the room. “What could we possibly have to offer the gods?”

Well, lots of things. Hands, for one. Sometimes, a god might want to get something moved from point A to point B, and while it might be entirely possible to arrange a fortuitous string of coincidences, it might be a hell of a lot simpler to just ring up a devotee and say, “Hey, take this across town for me.” — Misha Magdalene, Saying No to Gods, and Other Challenges of the Path

When you are rejoicing to see old friends or listening to a drama-filled account of the latest Pagan meltdown, take a moment to observe your surroundings. Are you loudly complaining about Lord High Big Name Pagan within five feet of classroom space currently in use?

Stop it. Shut up. Walk away. Lower your voice.

. . . . Likewise with music, if you please. When Tuatha Dea is tearing it up with “Whiskey in a Jar” and “Loch Lomond,” the sound of you bitching about your boyfriend’s ex is unlikely to disturb anyone. In fact, you are unlikely to be heard at all. . . . when Becca is singing “Ailein Duinn,” I don’t want to hear your stupid conversation about Dancing with the Stars.

We talk about the importance of community all the damned time. One aspect of a healthy community is respecting the gifts and talents of the members of our community. — Byron Ballard, on festival etiquette