The Challenge: An Open Letter to the Pagan Movement

Dear Friends and Pagani,

I have been trying to write this piece for a while now.  Starting, and stopping, erasing and rewriting, and setting it aside as I tried to untangle my thoughts and feelings and motivations.

The year turns and we are about to embark on the second decade of the 21st Century of the Common Era.  The last several decades have brought many challenges to the Pagan Movement.  In the later 19th and early 20th Centuries the challenges were simply the rebirth and first stirrings of revival within Polytheism and Pantheism and the many “-isms” in the West that have all contributed to the gorgeous tapestry that is Contemporary Paganism.

In the 1950’s and 60’s especially, as the Pagan Revival became a much wider spread phenomenon, no longer the province of lone individuals or small groups, but widely discussed and bursting forth into the larger societies view… albeit through the very distorted lenses of the times and of the overculture.

In the 1970’s and 1980’s we was the beginnings of physical communities as Pagans began to come out to and encounter one another, we also saw some childishness and infighting ~ as one might expect in a spiritual and philosophical and cultural and religious movement leaving behind its infancy and beginning to mature due to the hard work of hundreds of passionate Druids and Witches and Heathens and, indeed, Pagans of every description.  These decades also saw the first stirrings of cross-Tradition communications, in the pages of Magazines like Green Egg; and through Magazines and Newsletters within and across our many Traditions we saw the birth of many new communities and organizations for our many paths.  The 1980’s also brought us the Festival culture, where we could go and retreat from the overculture and begin the journey of defining for ourselves what Paganism was, in part by exploring the many reflections of it from many Traditions and paths as we encountered (and yes, still fought) with one another.

There has been a lot of infighting within the last 30+ years, as we have matured in our individual and communal Pagansims.  As we learned to live with one another, as we truly began to let go of the ideas and norms of the largely Monotheistic overculture even as we struggled to figure out how to exist within it, as we as Pagans grew up.

There has been a ebb in the 1980’s and 90’s era tide of “Pagan” publishing in the last decade… Why the quotes?  Because by and large the “Pagan” publishing of the late 1980’s and 90’s represented only a narrow bandwidth of our spectrum.  We have more than enough books that seek to explain one or two of the Pagan traditions in terms so simple a child could get it, we have enough books that talk about the baby steps of ritual; where are our books of deep philosophy (from a Contemporary Pagan p.o.v.), where are the books detailing Pagan ways of dealing with hardship and tragedy and grief, where are the deep and thoughtful anjd practical and philosophical works that could take us out of the “occult” and “metaphysical” ghetto’s of the bookstores and into the Religions section?

Make no mistake we need to be writing them, in hard copy as well as online!  Even as we discuss and expound online… websites only last as long as their technological or programing platforms and as long as their service providers… we need to be creating hard copy for ourselves and for our future generations.

The 90’s and the Aught’s with their accompanying transformations of the Internet Age have seen an explosion of communication and exploration and information within our movement, and a new round of misinformation as the overculture noticed some segments of our movement again.  That misinformation, borne both of confusion and of deliberate misinforming on the parts of some groups fearful of change and eager to increase their own power at any cost, forms the basis of our challenge for the next decade.

We must find more and new ways  live our faiths and our values and ideals, and new ways to communicate of them within our community and to demonstrate them to the overculture.  We have come to the international stage in Interfaith conferences, we have seen the elections of our first openly Pagan officials in the U.S. and yet we have a lot more to do.

We need to start writing those deeper and more thoughtful books, we need to start supporting our large in faith and inter-faith Pagan organizations, and charities, and those organizations and groups seeking to build our Pagan infrastructure… like Pagan Seminaries and Colleges.

We need to set aside our fear of being picked on, or discriminated against because of our faiths.  We need to embrace our Traditions and our Movement and Communities with Pride.  Remember, there are soldiers of the many Pagan faiths who are living, and some have given or who will give, their lives in service to  our rights; Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Religion among them

These are the Challenges of the next decade for us my fellow Pagans.

What other Challenges can you identify?

Yours in Peace and Curiosity and Community,


At the Turning of the Year

Dear Friends and Pagani,

The Soslticetide recedes and the secular year will soon turn.  Having grown up and spent the first 30+ years of this lifetime living in Anchorage, AK. USA, I relate to the Winter Solstice as the turning of the year much more so than Samhain as a Spiritual New Year as some Pagans do.

I am doing a lot of inner work.  I’ve started keeping a daily paper journal, and am meditating daily, and am doing some daily work with my chakra’s and similar thinks.  It’s good timing for me as I have always viewed the Winter Solstice as part of an inward turning tide or spiral of the dark have of the  year.

The onset of a lot of cold weather systems flowing over the Florida peninsula has thrown me into something of a hibernation mode as of late.   I can usually get by with 6 – 8 hours of sleep but the cold weather and the extra hours of night (being an overnight shift worker now I am largely nocturnal these days … or nights rather) have left me crashing out for 12 hours of sleep at a time, sometimes more.


And I just got a Solstice Care Package from my dear friends Michael and Mark, including a couple of boxes of Turkish Delight, and some Samovar Tea (Black Tea with Cinnamon Oil, Cloves, and granulated lemon and orange peel)  from the Kobuk Coffee Co. in downtown Anchorage!!  It’s suddenly really the Holiday’s on some deep and important personal level…

It’s funny the inward turning I mentioned earlier is seemingly aided and abbetted all around me.  I have not only found a  few favorite books about meditation and daily practice as I went through my boxes of stuff, I have also found new resources online thanks to recent gift of an I-pod Shuffle from the lovely Jonathan.

I haven’t been doing a LOT of posting on here….  I am going to be doing better about that in the coming year.  I think Once a Week minimum… although I am sure there will be times where it will end up being multiple times a day, and times when I have to let it lay fallow due to involvement with other projects (more on those later).

There was a very interesting service at the U.U. Church I attend this last Sunday about New Years Revelations… things we can learn about ourselves as we examine the past and contemplate the future.  It has elements of a confession to it….

I am a work in progress, for years I have brushed aside feelings or impulses I somehow labelled “negative” or wrong-headed without actually acknowledging them or accepting them.  I have a lot of inner work to do on my self and spirit, and yet I am actively engaged on that journey.

May your own journeys be full of joy and wonder and wisdom,


Passing along info regarding an anti Pagan hate incident on United Airlines

I’m wondering if you might be willing to pass this story of something horrible that recently happened to me along to anyone you think might be interested:

Greetings fellow Neopagans,

I have a story to tell and I hope that you will pass this on to as many other Neopagans, New Age spiritualists, humanitarians or people you know who believe that no person should be harassed or discriminated against based on their religious beliefs.

In August I filed a complaint against an employee of United Airlines who verbally attacked me for my religious beliefs. To date United Airlines and their subcontractor Airserve Corporation, have not made any efforts to alleviate the pain and humiliation I experienced.

I had been traveling through Chicago on my way home to California when this incident occurred. I was waiting for a wheelchair to preboard my plane, but the attendant arrived too late to preboard me, despite the fact that I had asked him several times to ensure he returned for me on time. He then got another attendant who asked me to pray with him and give up my burdens to god.

I am not a Christian and I informed him that I am the minister of a Druid congregation and then asked to change the topic.

At this point he became confrontational and got down in my face; he began to quote scriptures at me and was so vehement that he sprayed spit in my face. He told me I would go to hell, quoted scriptures about false idols and told me that I would be a better person with his god in my life.

I am a disabled veteran of the united states Army and a veterans advocate, I volunteer my time at a transitional house for formerly homeless veterans, I do work in my local municipal park, I contribute my time on our local Homeless Task Force. How DARE he say I could be a better person with his god in my life. How DARE he imply that I wasn’t a good person just because I’m not a Christian? I give so much to my community and no one I know would say that I am not a kind and generous person.

He continued to tell me that his god would help me rise above my disabilities. I hold a Masters degree in Psychology, I am actively involved in my community and my faith, I have hundreds of friends all over the world, I am a well-adjusted, well-educated and well-liked person. I’d say I’ve risen above them already WITHOUT HIS GOD. How presumptuous!

Most people at this point would have walked away.

However, I take muscle relaxers when I fly and since this was a connecting flight I was already unable to walk, hence the need for the wheelchair. At this point he began strapping me into the aisle chair. For those who don’t know, this is a chair the put you in to take you down the aisle of the plane when you can’t walk. He continued to lecture me, with hate in his eyes the whole time.

He was incredibly aggressive, hostile and intimidating and there was NOTHING I could do.

I called to the flight attendant on duty for help but she ignored my requests. Finally, the other passengers, who were also waiting to board, became so disturbed by his behavior that they insisted on letting me board before them. Remember that we were already half-way through boarding at the time because they had failed to pre-board me in accordance with FFA regulations.

He got me on board and into my seat. Before he left I told him that he needed to remember that not all his passengers will be Christian and that there are many paths to sprit. He said, very vehemently, “yes, but there is only one God.” I immediately wrote down his name and as many details as I could remember from the confrontation in my planner.

United’s employee violated my civil rights as a human being and US citizen and he also exercised unfair power over a disabled US Army veteran who had no way to remove herself from the situation. I felt threatened, humiliated, and alone.

As a result of the employee’s abuse I have sought counseling to discuss the distress that I still feel over this incident. I’ve been a Pagan for 18 years and have NEVER been harassed or discriminated against because of my religion before. So this came as a complete shock to me.

When I returned home I filed a complaint on United’s website. I received a return call and was told that no one by that name worked for them. I was then referred to the Airport complaint line who referred me to the City of Chicago, who said they’d look into it. I also filed a complaint with the ACLU (with little success), the DOT Aviation Consumer Protection Division, and the FAA.

DOT investigated and so did the city of Chicago. I was later told by the city of Chicago that the employee worked for Airserve corp., a subcontractor of United. I contacted Airserve and was told that they had investigated the situation and had fired the employee because of his actions.

However, neither United nor the contractor, Airserve corp, has offered any restitution for the humiliation I experienced. United claims to have sent me a certificate for a new flight (no amount has been indicated) but I have NEVER received it and wouldn’t fly with them again if my life depended on it. All I want is my ticket refunded, a small price to pay for the horrendous treatment I received.

I want to send a very clear message that United can not allow its employees to harass customers, no matter their religion, particularly helpless ones that can not remove themselves from the situation.

I am a Neopagan Druid and proud of it. No one in our nation should walk in fear that they will be harassed or discriminated against because of their religious beliefs. Especially the helpless who can not defend themselves against hate and prejudice. This was HATE, pure and simple. United and Airserve, you owe me a formal apology and I expect to be compensated for my pain and suffering at the hands of your employee.

To anyone out there reading this, if you’ve been harassed or discriminated against because of your religious beliefs, STAND UP! I don’t care if you are Wiccan, Buddhist, Sikh, Christian, Druid, Muslim, Jewish or any other religion. You deserve to be treated with respect and so do I.

If you believe in religious freedom I urge you to join me in boycotting United Airlines and their affiliates. If you think you can help me with my case against them, or have a similar case, please let me know.

Blessings and thank you,

Rev. Jessie “Medb” Olson

So This is Solstice….

Hello Dear Friends and Pagani,

So the Solsticetide weather has had a mix of overcast and foggy and colder than usual.  Oddly enough its been quite enjoyable for me in spite of an unexpected  $2,300 car repair…  Never a dull moment here folks!

Here is a fun Winter Solstice video making the rounds…

I am looking forward to the Winter Solstice Service at the U.U. Church and the Solstice Vigil afterwards, both sponsored this year my the Mystic Grove a U.U. Pagan group affiliated with my new church.  Yesterday at the Sunday Services at the U.U. the older children of the Sunday School performed a lovely play they wrote about the Different Spirits of the Holidays … Solstice and Hanukkah, and Christmas, and New Years, and the spirits of Night and Light having a meeting to discuss the nature of light in peoples lives… it was cool.  Our interim Minister Rev. Roberta’s sermon discussed how we as U.U.’s whether Christian or not can embrace Christmas…

She discussed how EVERY night a child is born is a holy night, and that child and its potential is sacred.   Her sermon was quite lovely… as part of her reading she shared part of an essay from an op-ed piece (which of course I cannot remember the name of the author of… I will have to ask her tonight…)

This gentleman was remebering the Dominican Nun who had been his 2nd grade teacher, and how that year for the 2nd grad Christmas mural she encouraged the children to protray the birth of Jesus taking place in Japan, with Jesus and Mary and Joseph and the Angel with Asian features… the author really didn’t think about the deeper meaning of that act until years later as he did the math and realized that his 2nd grade Christmas holiday would have been in December of 1941…

The sermon also discussed how we as U.U.’s can carry our principles and ideals with us as we celebrate with our larger family’s who may not understand our religion, and how we can carry the spirit of this holiday with us as we engage our families and friends about discussions of issues like hunger and homelessness and charitable giving.  Growing up in a fairly secular family, and then coming home to Paganism I always felt a little left out in some respects this time of year, but at the end of Services yesterday I thanked Rev. Roberta for giving me Christmas as a Religious Holiday.

My thoughts are dancing with the many thoughts of Solstice.  I bought some ready-made cookie dough and will be taking a variety of cookies with me tonight to the coffee hour after Services, and to hopefully nibble on during the vigil, or at least as long as I last.

My Solstice-tide thoughts are of the many ways that hearth and home, joy and hospitality and charity, and a certain raucous decadence, all intermingle from the many Ancient Paganisms ways of honoring this time of year.   The urge to celebrate something this time of year has actually spurred the creation of new festivals amongst those Pagans whose ancient forms did not HAVE a specific festival for the Solstice… Helieogenna (two day and nine day versions) the Hellenic Polytheist Solstice observance…

We want to celebrate things this time of year.  I am unsure if this is a result of the current immersion Contemporary Paganism has within a larger Christian influenced monotheistic culture.  Sometimes I think so, but sometimes I also wonder if maybe as the nights grow long and the temperatures cool if we don’t have some deep instinct to gather around our families and dear ones and share our love somehow.

Blessed Solstice to All,


Here are a few more fun Solstice things…

Winter Sostice as Viewed from Stonehenge.. (sadly embedding disabled…)

Notes on the Journey: 12/11/2009

Dear Friends and Pagani,
I am wrestling, lately, with the fact that from years of unfortunate circumstances I carry a LOT of anger in my heart.  I had this realization last night as I was at work… one of the reasons I am enjoying working the night shift at the motel is I work alone and have a lot of time during the week to think, to study, and to work and engage in some spiritual work as I seek to engage my Work.

I don’t want to get all emo with you all, but I’ve been hurt a lot over the years; partly due to some folks being petty or bullying, and partly my own complicity ~ having been raised in a fairly disfunctional household left me unprepared for life outside it.  So I carry a lot of Anger, and Hurt, and while I have wrestled with my Fear and large chunks of my Self-Doubt, there is more work to do.

Lately, that work has consisted of…

  • Continuing my journaling and engagement with the Work presented in Kissing The Limitless.
  • Continuing to re-engage with daily spiritual practices, currently prayer and working with my Chakra’s.
  • Continuing to re-immerse myself within my Witchcraft, both my reading and re-reading several of the books I have, and copying poetry, visualizations, magickal operations, and ritual and other important things I like into my new Notebook of Shadows
  • Opening my Craft to new ideas, currently those presented in T. Thorn Coyle’s Evolutionary Witchcraft…. and working through some other books here and there.
  • Lighting incense and making offerings to the Lady and Lord, as I also wrestle with how to make offerings and build my relationship with the Theoi.

As I do these many things I have realized that a portion of my Work in this lifetime is to work within and build community, within Paganism and between Pagans and the larger community, and also just to delve into and participate in Spiritual and Religious community.  So I am getting more involved at my U.U. Church, I will be joining officially sometime near Imbolg, delightfully enough!  I also signed up for the PeaceNext site which is a social networking website affiliated with the Parliament of World Religions.

I keep breathing into my Center, and now my Chakras, and I pray, and I work, and I write, and I pursue my work and Work.

I also flirt and discuss things with the cute and funny and furry and Witchy new BF, the amazing Jonothan.  I am also trying to reach out to some of my local friends and acquaintances and to also reach out to my friends across the country.  I am paying my bills and even able to have a little money left over between paychecks… things are good.



Engaging the discussion on How Paganism is defined

So in response to my last post Kullervo posted a response.  I feel I should respond to this in detail. I am also posting this as a blog post, rather than a reply in the comment stream, because I feel that this sort of a conversation and the points within are very important ones that we Pagans should be discussing and sharing with one another as so many of us seek community within the movement.  So here it is…

Kullervo’s response to Paganism: Defining Ourselves…

Unfortunately, I think there actually is no real “common theme” to the various religious traditions that get lumped under the umbrella of “paganism.” At least, no common theme that’s not so broad that it could be applied equally to every religion on earth.

The best you are going to get is a list of movements that self-identify as “pagan,” which makes me honestly wonder if it is a coherent and/or meaningful category at all.

What do Wiccans have in common with Hellenic reconstructionists, for example? Almost nothing. Even when they invoke the same deities, their understanding of the nature of those deities is so different that the similarity barely goes below the superficial/cosmetic level.

We could meaningfully talk about Western Polytheist Traditions, but that might conceivably exclude duotheist Wicca–and Wiccans are almost certainly the overwhelming majority of modern self-identifying pagans.

I honestly wonder if “paganism” as a category is not only artificial but actually detrimental to a lot of the traditions listed above.

Thank you Kullervo,

Thank you for your response, first of all, because it is good to know that this is a discussion people are interested in having.  While I may disagree with your points, your response has shown me that I need to dig a lot deeper within myself and into my topic and begun to give me clues as to where I need to dig and what needs dusting off and polishing.

In regards to your first two paragraphs, I already did a little more work on that Definition… although its rapidly turning into more of an encyclopedia entry rather than a definition… and I see I have more work to do.  Part of the point IS that at the heart of things WHAT we are doing as Pagans is A) not so different from one another that we do not share commonalities, and B) that what we are doing as Pagans is not so radically different from other religions.

In addition to common practices, there are those intertwined and overlapping values… things like Courage, and Honor, Truthfulness, Hospitality, and Piety among many others.  Shared and similar values are extremely important and can be a tremendous source of connection, strength, and community.  Here in the U.S. the Civil Rights Movement is but one example, among many, of that fact.

Within the interfaith movement that is Paganism there are also some very compelling shared interests.  Not only some of the obvious ones life Freedom of Religion, and Freedom of Speech.  What about the idea, common across the theological spectrum of Right Relationship, not only with ones Faith Community, but with ones larger Community, but also with the Spirits… of our Ancestors or the Spirits of the Earth and the World around us?  Especially in the West, where the Pagan movement is centered (although there has been growth in India and South America of Wicca, among other Pagan Traditions) the mere idea of acknowledging much less relating to Spirits (whatever your Tradition calls them) is a radical one and is a source not only of shared experience but often struggle for Pagans.

Why shouldn’t we come together, work around and discuss these common interests and values with one another?  Ancient Paganisms did not exist in some sort of vacuum, there was trade and travel even in the ancient world… and now in the 21st Century when we are all so much more interconnected and crowded on Gaea’s Green Earth, why shouldn’t we come together?

“What do Wiccans have in common with Hellenic reconstructionists, for example? Almost nothing.”

Well, I suppose that does depend upon a number of factors.  First off when you reference Wicca are you referring to the initiatory linneaged Traditions also known as British Traditional Witchcraft, the ones originating in the New Forrest region of Britain?  Perhaps you mean the broader Religious Neo-Pagan Witchcraft Traditions inspired by, among other things, the writings of Wiccan authors that is popularly known as Wicca?  Whichever of the two too which you are refering, even within the Gardnerian Tradition you will see a WIDE spectrum of theological belief as to who or what the Goddess and God, or the Gods, are.  (at least that’s what I understand from having had some discussions with a few different Gardnerians over the years…)

Hellenic recon also involves a wide spectrum of theoligical belief when it comes to who and what the Theoi are exactly, and how best to worship them.

As for what they have in common, how about some of those shared or similar values and interests?

We could, conceivably talk about Western Polytheist Traditions at least within the broader category of the Pagan Movement… remember I see Contemporary or Modern Paganism as an interfaith movement, but as you point out it would leave out some Traditions and Individuals within NOT only Wicca and Witchcraft, but within other Traditions… but I am not against groups and individuals within the Pagan Movement coming together to share and discuss common interests and beliefs.

“…and Wiccans are almost certainly the overwhelming majority of modern self-identifying pagans.”

Uhm, says who?!?

I am willing to grant that as one of the most widely publicized and known Pagan Traditions that Wicca (or more accurately Neo-Wicca, as the Wicca most popularly known at the moment  are the Wicca inspired Neo-Pagan Craft Traditions…..) is one of the first points of entry into Paganism…. but I have encountered PLENTY of recons who looked at “Wicca” and then moved onto something else more meaningful to them, and also a lot of folks who PREFER Pagan as a descriptor even though their holidays and ritual structure are of the “Wiccan” Sabbats, “Wiccan” Circle mold.

“I honestly wonder if “paganism” as a category is not only artificial but actually detrimental to a lot of the traditions listed above.”

Why would it be “detrimental”?  For that matter what injury does it do to come together over the points of commonality, our similar and/or shared values and ethics, and our common interests, as Pagans?



Paganism: Defining Ourselves…

Dear Friends and Pagani,

If you read this blog with any regularity you know I’ve been going through some personal changes lately, and if you check out the other pages here you may have noticed that I have been hopping around the Chrysalis site like a tree frog on amphetamines editing here and rewriting there and otherwise fussing with the site!

Today inspired in part by a discussion on the Pagans at the Parliament site, about how Paganism is defined,  as well as bouncing mentally off of the definitions I found at the Pagan Pride Project site and at the World Congress of Ethnic Religions, I did some work on the Definitions page.  Including the following attempt at defining Paganism…

After 18 years of active study and practice, I think that the many self-definitions I have seen of Paganism were so concerned with who we are (or are not), or have been concerned with demonstrating to the outside community that we are good and law abiding people,  that they have neglected what we are and helped to lead to some confusion within and without the Pagan Movement.  Here is my attempt at defining Paganism…

Paganism is a religious, spiritual, and social interfaith movement made up of several overlapping and intertwined religious and regional communities.  These spiritual and religious communities are a complex and sometimes overlapping network of people, including….

  • New Religious Movements grounded in the Western Mystical and Occult Tradition. (Golden Dawn, OTO, Thelema, Society of Inner Light)
  • New Religious Movements inspired by the Western Occult and Mystical Tradition and the indigenous religions and folklore of Europe.  (Druidry, Wicca, Feri, Other Traditions of Western Religious Witchcraft, Queer Spirituality, The Men’s and Women’s Spirituality movements)
  • Those who seek, either inspired by ethnic heritage or profound spiritual experiences, to reestablish and revive and recreate the indigenous religions of Europe.  (Celtic Reconstruction, Druidry, Heathenry, Hellenismos, Neo-Shamanism, Romuva and  other Traditions)
  • Those who have chosen to use a number of spiritual techniques and technologies found across time and in many cultures to access the spirit world in a direct and personal manner.  (Neo-Shamanism {See definition of Cultural Misappropriation})
  • Those who seek, inspired by ethnic or cultural heritage or profound spiritual experiences, to reestablish and revive and recreate the religions of the Ancient Mediterranean, the Fertile Crescent, or other Ancient peoples. (Aztec, Canaanite, Hellenismos, Khemetic, and numerous other traditions)
  • Those who are respectfully taking an active and welcomed part in the indigenous religions of other countries/peoples which are active in the West; where there is overlap into the rest of Paganism.  (Brujeria, Buddhism, Candomblé, Hinduism, Umbanda, Voudoun, and other traditions)

For the different Pagan faiths and paths there seems to be an overall theme of individual and group development into being a better person(s) (personal growth and perhaps enlightenment, although it is not necessarily phrased as such) by practicing certain rites, and developing our relationships with the Divine (or the essence of All That Is) and with the Spirits of the World Around Us (Land Spirits or Ancestors or Elementals, etc…), and living a number intertwining and overlapping virtues and values.

Through following our beliefs, and living our values, I think we Pagans end up building our relationships with others in our own communities and  groups and faiths and our regional communities.  This theme of growth and development leads us quite naturally into engagement with other branches of Paganism, and from there into engagement with the rest of Society.

There are many religions and philosophies that overlap and intertwine within and with the Pagan movement.  Including Neo-Paganism, Polytheism, Polytheistic Reconstructionism, Pantheism, Wicca, Druids, Heathens, Thelema, …and many others.

For more direct information about these beliefs, and others, you can check out the Online Resources Page for a fuller survey of many of the faiths and philosophies involved in and related to and influencing, or intertwined with, modern Paganism.

Or, at least, that’s my take on it.

First off I am still working on the Definitions page, along with a few of the others, as I refine and redefine myself and my thoughts in the wake of some big life changes.  I am still tinkering with this definition and with the definitions page, among others, but  I decided to offer this up here for input and discussion with others…

I think the above definition of Paganism has a lot going for it, including accuracy and not getting bogged down in discussions of ritual, theology, or magic/k.  However I’d be interested to see what other Pagans and non-Pagans think of it and maybe refine this definition further.

Pax / Geoffrey

Stand up, or Shut up!

Dear Friends and Pagani,

Like so many of you, I am following the news posts at the Wild Hunt pagan news blog, and at the Pagans at the Parliament site, about the participation of many members of the Pagan Movement in the Parliament of the Worlds Religions (here, and here , and here, for information).

And, of course, as they invariably feel that they must, some folks have posted messages around the internet to the effect of…

Well who elected THEM to represent us?! Nyah-nyah!! Who says they get to  speak for us?! Whine, whine!!”

… insert an assortment of snide and snotty commentary and observations and opinions about the Paganfolk who have gone to the Parliament here…  Ed Hubbard of Witch School, had a very polite response in one of the Wild Hunt comment streams…

“Actually the Parliament believes in self-representation, meaning that each individual chooses to attend, either through their own means or their community support. This is not a popularity contest, and those who make it to be speaker or volunteer or trustee do so because of merit shown to the Parliament. Each tradition could send someone, or no one at all. No one can or does claim to represent all of anyone. Certainly not the Pagans, who have many trads present, and many organizations.”

Polite, and well spoken.  Which is part of why Mr. Hubbard is where he is in our movement.

I am not nearly the luminary he is, and am feeling much less polite…

“And where in the ~BLEEP~ did you get the idea that Paganism is a Democracy?!?”


(clears his throat and takes a deep and calming breath…)

Now certainly the democratic process is used in many of the Traditions and Organizations within the Pagan Movement, among a number of other organizational/power distribution structures, cause lets face it some paths are VERY Hierarchical and some groups strive for Consensus.  Quite frankly and honestly, Virginia, Paganism is NOT a democracy!

I can tell you from years of participation and observations that the Pagan Movement is, over all and in the long term, what is called a Meritocracy.

Say it with me know… “Mare-it-ok-russ-eee”… VERY GOOD!!

What does that mean?  Well in the case of the Pagan Movement it means that…

It is those individuals who are willing to shut up, stand up, and do the work; the people who lead rituals, organize groups, who seriously study,who willingly teach, those who give of their time and energy NOT for “fame” or attention (certainly NOT for money) but for their Gods, and quite simply because they see a need and sincerely believe they can fulfill it – and who do so, and do so well over time; THOSE are the leaders, the powerful, the respected in our Pagan Movement.

Unfortunately this doesn’t sit well with the folks who envy the popularity and ability of our movements Elders and Leaders.  All too often voices of pettiness, jealousy, insecurity, and fear will clamor to obscure the good work being done by folks in our communities.

Well I say ENOUGH!

If you don’t like what your local leaders or groups are doing.  Instead of trying to tear them or their efforts down, get off your butt and DO SOMETHING USEFUL OR CONSTRUCTIVE!!  Run for Board President or volunteer to steer a committee, or start your own project and do it better!  Stop whining and stop trying to tear others down!

NOT that the envious and insecure are the only ones whom, I believe, need a loving “SNAP OUT OF IT!!” slapping.  On one of the lists I am on I saw in an exchange between two Pagans whom I respect and admire for their schollarship and experience.  A couple of good folks who are respected within their Traditions, and in the course of a larger discussion there was an exchange along the lines of the following…

Respected Pagan A: “As for my local community, I find that what passes for the the general level of social skills and emotional maturity is at the level of high school on a good day…”

Respected Pagan B: “… Sigh, yeah.  That is why I finally decided to back out of being involved here!”

NO, NO, NO!!!  Naughty respected Pagans!!!

Not that I haven’t felt the same way in the past.  But I am realizing that it is Adults, of both body AND mind, who are supposed to model correct and mature behavior for Children.

It is not easy, nor is it fun, but I truly believe that if we are best to serve our Goddesses and Gods and our many Pagan Paths, that we must be willing to participate in our local and regional Pagan communities.  It doesn’t matter how many books you’ve written or how much you’ve done for the movement if you aren’t involved in community; not just your coven or grove or kindred, not just you and some of your fellow Pagan friends hanging out socially, active involvement in your local community Pagan and otherwise.

and you want to know a secret?!

All of our most respected Elders and Leaders, the people who are referenced in our own conversations about the Pagan Movement, folks like those who have chosen to attend the Parliament of World Religions; they are the ones who NOT only have decided to stand up and do the work, they also have worked hard to surround themselves with a beloved community of friends and teachers and students and co-conspirators, and they continue to be willing to engage their local Pagan communities as well as engaging the larger community.

Stand up or shut up folks!



Responding to World Aids Day

Dear Friends and Pagani,

So Today is World Aids Day 2009.

21 years of world wide observances of this solemn, yet hopeful, observance.  People gather to remember the dead, and to commit to finding ways to fight this pandemic.  Whether it is through advocacy, volunteerism, or activism on behalf of people with AIDS and HIV, or the support of Public Health campaigns and Safer Sex education; this is also a time when people recommit to this important cause.

It is a source of sadness to me that the U.S. government, among many others, chose to largely ignore this disease in its early stages of emergence because its symptoms first manifested in Gay men.  Once its TRUE reach and scope began to make itself manifest THEN the governments of the world tried to play catch-up.  The truly sad thing is that it can take up to 10 years for the severe symptoms of HIV and Aids infection to manifest, so even if the governments of the world had responded in a swift manner, they were already doomed to be playing catch up.

There are 42 million people living with HIV/AIDS and 3 million deaths a year.  Thats a city the size of Chicago every year.

How to respond?

I have made an offering on incense to the memories and spirits of those who have died of AIDS and HIV complications.  I will also be offering up many prayers to the Gods, with some special attention to Antinous, Emperor Hadrian’s deified lover, and one of the Holy Queers whom I (and many, many, many, others) try to honor.  I will also see if I can offer money or service to any local HIV related charities.  I will offer up prayers for the guiding and guardian spirits of President Obama, and other world leaders that they may, not only remember the fallen and the lessons of the past but, find ways to effectively fight this pandemic.



PS- Here are a few informational links…

And The Band Played On (Book and Wikipedia Entry)

World Aids Day – Ongoing Stigma Hinders HIV Prevention

HIV and AIDS Prevention