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Included in the sacrificial king mythology is the Arthurian story of the Fisher King. This is part of the grail quest. The sacred chalice, that has magical qualities including the ability to heal, is apparently in the possession of the Fisher King. The king has a grievous wound and is failing, as is his land. Somehow he doesn’t have the wisdom, moral integrity, or desire/belief to use the grail. Percival, who was raised by a single mother in the forest away from the society of men, sees the solution but fails (out of politeness?) to ask the question that will heal everything.
We need to ask the questions. We need to keep asking until we get answers that go beyond pats on the head and being told we can’t possibly understand. Why can’t we get along? Why does the notion of “equal rights” always seem to have an “except” clause? When and how much is enough? Who has the vision for our future? Does that vision include life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? For everyone?
— Lisa Spiral, Sacrificial King
There are times, like the present moment, when I struggle to do even the most minimal activity at my altars. One of the altars that I give daily attention to has a very formal style of interaction and I just can’t manage to rise to that standard. I’ll drop some incense there, say good morning, and that’ll be it. That’s on the days I manage to do anything at all. And of course, I then use this as evidence that I’m a bad practitioner, that I’m failing at my practice, that I lack any of the discipline that gives structure to my sentiment.
This problem quickly becomes a self-perpetuating pattern: I feel bad for not doing my practice, so I avoid the site of those bad feelings which leads me to stay away from the altar where I do my practice. I know I’m not alone in this experience. I remind myself that devotionalism isn’t intended to be a weapon with which I harm myself, but wow am I good at making it into one.
— Silence Maestas, Altar practice
I’ve been a practicing polytheist for so long now I don’t remember what it’s like to not expect the gods to just show up on a whim. I had no cultural context for it when it started happening, and it was unnerving and unsettling mostly because I had no one to turn to, no one to rely on, no one to understand what was happening. I had to figure all of that out on my own. Well, on my own and with the help of the gods. In a way, as the gods were showing up to the point I felt like I might be losing my mind, they were also showing me how to understand them; the gods helped me understand what a polytheistic framework looks like.
I can’t say that I don’t still find it unsettling sometimes when the gods drop in, especially when the god in question is one I don’t know. But I don’t find it impossible the way I might have before I started to understand what the world looks like through the eyes of a polytheist. I have met gods in human form, seen gods channel themselves through friends who are open to the experience, held conversations with gods in dreams, and communicated with gods in rituals. They are everywhere, and they take human form when they feel the need to do so. It’s weird to talk about the experiences I’ve had with gods who choose to come to me wearing a human form, as I know I’m going to deal with people thinking I’m making things up or going crazy.
No matter what else I may write on this subject, and no matter what else you may read, know this: Hellenic deities are deities who answer prayers. They are beings deeply invested in human life and human societies. They care enough to answer even when the prayer is spoken in the midst of the direst miasma. Caring about human affairs and human opinions is a defining characteristic of this pantheon.
Miasma need not be feared. We need not fear that we will be rejected by our deities in times of need because of our inability to do enough ritual.
Purity, however, is a manner of showing respect, and the more we know about it, the more we are able to do to honor these gods and make them feel comfortable in the spaces we invite them into. It need not involve shaming other people, it need not be coercive or done out of fear. It can simply be adhered to as a way of showing a deeper respect, offering a better quality of hospitality, and expressing our friendship by showing interest in their customs.
Christians mostly are not after us, Satanists likewise, government, especially the police? Yeah, okay, and initiatory pagans? Yeah, they are excluding you, you could try [to] get initiated, through hard work? The cultures we strip-mine, to feel special? Yah they actually are excluding us. Because their cultures are in danger of dying, and it is hurtful to see the descendants of the colonialists who caused this, stealing (sorry it is theft, get over it) sacred rituals, and misusing them.
. . . these “enemies” to Pagandom? Not so much.
— Noinden, Tilting at windmills
I’ve also been covering my head for a number of years. It has been a part-time practice for me, covering only on the days of religious observances. However, my job has a very strict dress code, and I already get stared at plenty when I go outside. I did some divination, and I got a very unexpected response regarding my covering. They say that it’s okay for me to stop covering, that it will make it easier for me to meet people and live a life here if I stop. They didn’t say that I had to stop, or that I had to continue. The practice has always been my choice, though it has been accepted and encouraged by several gods. Stopping covering cold turkey has actually turned out to be quite difficult! It feels so wrong to me deep inside to go out uncovered on days that I would have covered in the past. I’m continuing to cover on the weekends, and I get comments and looks from my other foreign coworkers (we all live in the same building), but I don’t think anyone outside stares at me any more than they usually do.
I suppose all this is just to illustrate that even through extreme change, the gods remain, and if we want to worship them, we’ll eventually find our way. I’m still working on finding my way here, but I’m sure I will. These aren’t relationships that I’m willing to let go of.
— Melia Phosphorou, Change
. . . how we spend our money has massive implications, so a Pagan who is all about the bling may be contributing to the Pagan economy by supporting original creators and makers. Equally they might be buying cheap tat, made by slave labour and thrown away too soon. . . . Apparently silly things can have the power to transform people. I note from steampunk gatherings that people are empowered, encouraged and inspired by the experience and this often has consequences long after the event is over. These kinds of activities open the door to friendships, explorations, creativity, feeling able to make yourself seen and heard in other contexts.
On the whole, I think one of the most superficial things we can do [a]s Pagans is waste our time putting down other people based on the surface we’ve seen. All that can do is make someone else a bit sad, or a bit angry for a while. Perhaps the person doing it gets a brief hit from being smug and superior, but if that’s where you go to feel powerful, you really have issues with a lack of power that won’t be dealt with knocking other people down.
— Nimue Brown, Beneath the surface
Race is a shadow issue for the national character of the United States. Per Jung, shadows are the negative aspects of personality that operate out of our more base instincts, below the level of our conscious minds, in the realm of our subconscious and implicit biases. . . . We as a country have never dealt with our horrible legacy of racial oppression. The South in particular has not only never dealt with their horrible legacy of racial oppression, they’ve attempted, in many cases, to rewrite history to celebrate it, or at least pretend that it wasn’t so bad . . . . Looking at the fruit of that harvest enumerated above, I’d say God seems to be pretty pissed off at them about that. Maybe it’s time – nay, past time – to start working with that shadow and making amends. Maybe taking down all the Confederate monuments is a good start.
— HecateDemeter, Maybe God IS Punishing You