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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in ethics

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

When the whole Kenny Klein issue hit the news, I was appalled but not surprised. I had met the guy in New Orleans and been less than impressed, in fact i"d found him energetically filthy and obviously lacking in any moral sense. I thought thought "well, here at least is an issue that all Polytheists, Pagans, and Wiccans can staunchly stand behind: child abuse and molestation, sexual assault. coverups --  and anything that furthers those things is wrong." How naive I was and how incorrect. 

Since the affair de Kenny hit the Pagan blogosphere I have been sickened by the number of Pagans and Wiccans who have come out publicly excusing these behaviors and moreover attempting to silence his victims. Just check out the wildhunt.com coverage for a sickening sample. 

That's why today when I saw this piece by a respected Pagan elder here at Witches and Pagans http://witchesandpagans.com/Pagan-Culture-Blogs/ok-everybody-breathe.html it was just too much. 

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  • Bourdon Bee
    Bourdon Bee says #
    I'd like to see some discussion of grey areas as well, and perhaps some discussion of what the lines are in "sex positive". Becau
  • Hec
    Hec says #
    Galina, I've posted a reaction to your comments over at my blog: http://hecatedemeter.wordpress.com/2014/04/11/clarification/
  • Galina Krasskova
    Galina Krasskova says #
    I apologize if you feel that I mischaracterized your initial post and thank you for taking the time to clarify; I'm glad to see th
Peace - Learning When to Speak and When to Keep Silent

This past week I have had to hold my tongue. Sometimes it felt like I was holding my tongue so hard all I could taste was blood. 

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  • Joanna van der Hoeven
    Joanna van der Hoeven says #
    Thank you for your kind words, Tashi. x
  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    Tashi means auspicious and Delek means fine or well. From Tibetan Buddhism. Different authors render it as "Blessings and good l
  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    Thank you so much for this perfectly timed message. I know exactly what you mean! I was called out - quite politely, but still

Every religious tradition stands in some tension with its society, legitimizing some things in terms of a larger eternal context, but in the process challenging others, sometimes deeply.  As NeoPagan religions increase in America this same pattern is developing. This essay explores how the logic of Pagan religion leads us to question the legitimacy of some important contemporary institutions, particularly the joint stock corporation, and with this questioning, the way our society views the world. 

More deeply than most religions, NeoPagans legitimize and honor the goodness of this world, the sacred immanence that shines through all things.  Consequently, from a Pagan perspective living well in our world requires observing appropriate ethical and moral relationships.  This insight cannot help but lead us to criticize attitudes treating this world as noting but a means for human ends.

Our society’s institutional and legal core views the world as without value beyond its use to us.  A mountain or forest has no more intrinsic value than a crumpled wad of paper.  Our economic system in particular is only able to relate to the world on these terms. Its signature institution, the joint stock corporation, is created so treat everything it encounters as either a resource for attaining its goal of making money, a threat to that goal, or irrelevant. By understanding what is defective about a corporation we can better appreciate what Pagan insights add to our world.

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  • Henry Buchy
    Henry Buchy says #
    'Tapa is innocent, study is harmless, the ordinance of the Vedas prescribed for all the tribes are harmless, the acquisition of we
  • Gus diZerega
    Gus diZerega says #
    Since I did not use the term 'socialist' and indeed included a strong criticism of sate socialism, I see your ability to read and
  • Greybeard
    Greybeard says #
    No, pagan is not a socialist political agenda no matter how many silly assertions you make about corporations and economics.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

"Only the gods are without flaw. All one can ask of a man

is that he do more good than ill, and no ill willingly."

(tr. Posch)

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

b2ap3_thumbnail_justice.jpgWhile ethics is one of my favorite subjects, Pagans don’t have a set that we all agree upon. (duh) Some follow the Charge of the Star Goddess, or the Three-fold Law, and some work to cultivate virtues as opposed to following laws. But if we’re all working to be good people, why can’t we mange to get along a little better? In his TED talk, social psychologist Jonathan Haidt, says that if you’ve ever been confused about why people just can’t get along, he might have an answer for you.

Haidt researches human morals and started by asking the question of why do human morals around the world have more to do with just how people treat each other? The norm in all cultures but Western, is that morals have to do with all sort of things that we often mock. For example, what you can and cannot do during menstruation, what you eat and with whom, and what you wear. For most Americans – let alone the small subset that is our religion – such questions are weird and alien. That’s because we live in a WEIRD culture. The term WEIRD stands for Western, educated, industrialized, rich, and democratic, and was created by psychology researchers Joe Henrich, Steve Heine, and Ara Norenzayan. As Pagans in an industrialized culture, we cannot escape this.

The reason I am excited about Haidt’s work is because he is interested in the biological basis for our moral behavior. And it seems there are evolutionary arguments to be made that much of our moral preference is, in Haidt’s words, "organized in advance of experience." Haidt postulates six moral foundations:

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  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham says #
    Thanks for posting! I appreciated your insights and the insights presented in the Ted talk you linked.
  • Selina Rifkin
    Selina Rifkin says #
    I've really found Haidt's work to be transformative and will be writing more about him in the future.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Marketing Pagan spiritual services

There has been some excellent online dialog recently around the question, "Should I charge for Pagan spiritual services?"  Most of the posts I've seen have been in support of money changing hands, but the comments usually show strong feelings on both sides.  Answering her question of, "Money is Bad, Right?" Shauna Aura Knight posited that the reason for this division is that, "Pagans (and people, for that matter) have a really unhealthy relationship with money."

As tantalizing that quote is to me, I have to lay it down for now.  Observant readers will already be wondering who the woman in the picture is, because it is clearly not Ms. Knight.

In fact, I'm not even going to jump into the debate about whether or not oracles, priests, shamans, spellworkers, dowsers, and whoever else I missed should be charging money or not.  It's already going on, so I'd rather focus on how to apply business practices to these esoteric services.  The opinion I have formed is that a lot of Pagan businesses (as opposed to businesses owned by Pagans) could benefit from better marketing.

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Recently, I read a blog post by Star Foster, whom I admire as a person and writer and whose blog will survive any culling of my blog reader for a long time to come. In this blog post, titled 'Being Human', she questions basic life lessons, including ethical living. From that blog post:
 
"I’ve been thinking a lot about the Precepts of Solon. So many of these maxims are subjective. What is good character? What is good? What is bad?"

Although the original blog post is in no way limited to this question, this is the part of the post that stuck with me and has been a thorn in my side for the last two days. Why? Because my first reaction was 'you just know', and that is never a satisfactory answer for me. So I have spent the last two days trying to figure out how 'I just know' when I am not displaying a good character, when I am not good, and when I do something bad. Because I do 'just know'.

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  • Bruce Walton
    Bruce Walton says #
    Fantastic article. This has really made me think about my actions and words, and also how much we allow ourselves to get away with
  • Elani Temperance
    Elani Temperance says #
    I am happy to hear my article made you think. You are right about online communities and fading ethics. It is easy to lash out aga
  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Ms. Temperance, I know what's right. I've read a number of philiosophical treastises about ethics, and I embrace many of the anci

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
The knife edge of the equinox

Now we are diving deep into the cool waters of the West, into autumn’s light.  The equinox is just around the corner, and the new moon of September passed.  This year we will be blessed by a nearly full moon over the equinox, which is at 21:44 on Sunday, 22 September (where I live in the UK).  The tipping point is near, the balance will shift, and we will enter into the fading times of restful thought, of dreaming in the dark.

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  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham says #
    Lovely reminders, thank you.

b2ap3_thumbnail_569px-Lokasenna_by_Lorenz_Frlich.jpg

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  • Christopher Blackwell
    Christopher Blackwell says #
    Joseph seems to use a typical bully attack, attack person first off. Shirl got my respect the moment she admitted doing it herse
  • Shirl Sazynski
    Shirl Sazynski says #
    Thank you, sir.
  • Erin Lale
    Erin Lale says #
    I think part of the reason for internet bullying in anonymity. Bullying and trolling both often come from fake names. Also there i

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

I love the Norse Gods, and I love stories. Whether you think they are people or think they are characters in stories, I'd like to share that sense of wonder with you, exploring ethics in the thorny places where beauty and brutality interweave to speak eloquently about the human condition in all its flaws and grandeur.

As an artist and writer, my work is steeped in mythology and ancient literature which I find surprisingly relevant to modern life. Human nature does not change much, but the way we explain it— through stories and the shifting values of our cultures— does.

Like the Gods I worship, I travel frequently. It's made me keenly aware of how similar people are beneath the surface differences, wherever (or whenever) you go. It's also shown me how much we influence one another, through our ideas and relationships, and of the value of face-to-face relationships and community during a time in which both our wilderness and connection to other life is rapidly eroding.

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  • Shirl Sazynski
    Shirl Sazynski says #
    It's an intriguing way to raise awareness for a deity, and a lovely thought. Thank you for the compliment about my writing. He (an
  • Heather Freysdottir
    Heather Freysdottir says #
    I don't know if this is of interest to you, but there's a Freyr spouse proposing a month for Him: http://shannonkotono.wordpress.c

Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Pagan Values, Pagan Morals

Please excuse the delay of our intended post on the supernatural. That will come next month. However, due to the Pagan Values Blogject event this month, I have decided to weigh in on the topic.

I have previously touched this matter in some of my previous Arkadian Anvil posts: Better than Belief, Evil, Ethics and Freedom, and God’s Boredom or Why we are not Enlightened. . .

But today I wish to look directly at the idea of values through the lens of ethics and morality. . .

If we want to discuss Pagan values first we need go back to a much older mode of thought. To do that we need to first separate Ethics from Morals.

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  • Stifyn Emrys
    Stifyn Emrys says #
    Thank you for your insights. I enjoyed this piece.


continued from part I.

What is wrong with libertarianism as a philosophy for Pagans?

While my chapter demolishing libertarianism treats every aspect of its ideology as failing its core ethical principles, I think its basic heartlessness should give any person pause if they adhere to any tradition holding values like love, compassion, harmony, and kindness.  For Pagans who see that our world as a whole is more than just a pile of goodies for the powerful to use, the lack of fit is even more fundamental.

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  • Diotima
    Diotima says #
    I've looked into libertarianism at various times in my life and found the discussions of individual rights interesting and pertine
  • Gus diZerega
    Gus diZerega says #
    Selina- Why do you ignore every actual argument I give? I do not quite know how to answer your first observation since it is ludi
  • Selina Rifkin
    Selina Rifkin says #
    Even the most cursory reading of the history of political parties shows that they often travel far from their roots. Going by your

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Today Connecticut is passing some of the most restrictive gun laws in the country. Approximately 60 pages of details about which long guns are now illegal, and when, where, and how people who have criminal and mental health issues may or may not have access to a firearm of any kind. In wading through the legalese, I looked and looked for something that, had it been in place before Newtown, would have stopped the murder of 26 people. I can’t find anything.

A conservative commentator, Bill Whittle, says,

We want to blame something, anything that we can control. But what we really want to ban is violence and murder and insanity, and we don’t talk about that because deep in our hearts we all know that violence and murder and insanity are built into the human condition, and likely always will be.

And I have to consider what I, as a Pagan, think about that statement. Of course I don’t believe in some Angra Mainyuesque power that pulls us toward horrible, despicable acts. But if we did not have any pull to do these things, we would not need ethics. Pagan gods provide many more obvious behavioral models than the monotheistic religions. We have plenty of warrior gods and goddesses, we have deities that destroy creation, and deities that make trouble. But we don’t condone rape because someone was possessed by Zeus, and we would not excuse a bomber because they said Kali wanted something destroyed.

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  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    I am so sorry you had such a distressing struggle with your step-daughter and glad that some of that burden has been lifted for yo
  • Selina Rifkin
    Selina Rifkin says #
    This is the first I have heard about any other mass killer having an autism spectrum disorder, and if this is common in the media,
  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    Dear Selina, I was unaware you were a New Town resident. I cannot imagine how it feels to be a member of that community now. Just

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Help! Recently I went into a new age store looking for some supplies for my Wiccan altar, and a woman at the store told me Wicca was dangerous and I should stop practicing it right away. I’m new to Wicca, and this woman really freaked me out and got me worried that I could harm myself or my family. Is Wicca really dangerous?

Wicca is a life-affirming, celebratory path. Its focus is on understanding our place in the natural world and living better lives by being more in harmony with nature. In my opinion, it’s a path that can help seekers with self-empowerment and self-improvement. Most of the negative ideas about Wicca are born out of fear and lack of understanding, rather than knowledge.

For example, I have heard non-Wiccans say that Wicca is dangerous because it has no moral code. I find this particularly frustrating for two reasons. First, it implies that humans can’t be ethical without a god or a book to tell them how to be good people, which is ridiculous and insulting. Second, we DO have a code, the Wiccan Rede.

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  • Greybeard
    Greybeard says #
    Wicca is dangerous to Christians because we are non-Christian. Wiccans don't attend church and obey their ministers or Priests.
  • Joseph Merlin Nichter
    Joseph Merlin Nichter says #
    If we only had a nickle for every time we were told it's bad, we could all retire. Great post.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

b2ap3_thumbnail_MM900040941.GIFRecently I read an article by a conservative Pagan. It was a very different view point from what I hear from my community in the Northeast. The writer defined why his voting choice followed his religious principles. Since this blog is about grounding our spiritual principles into our everyday lives, I enjoyed reading how he approached that.

Certain branches of Pagan practice have been deeply influenced by the liberal Left. The Environmental and Feminist movements have been a good match for a religion that engages with Nature, and indeed, it would be fair to say that Dianic Wicca emerged from a human need to express deeply held beliefs in a group, spiritual setting. Liberal political attitudes are the norm where I live, and not just with Pagans. But as Mr. Taylor points out, there are plenty of conservative Pagans, and not only among those that practice Norse Traditions.

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  • Aline "Macha" O'Brien
    Aline "Macha" O'Brien says #
    While the substance of these posts is valid and interesting, I'm surprised at the unnecessary crankiness. IME, dialogue is more pr
  • Gus diZerega
    Gus diZerega says #
    One final point. My blog here at W&P does make substantive points about how we should relate to our environment. I think your poi
  • Gus diZerega
    Gus diZerega says #
    There are people on the left and liberals (two different categories BTW) who dehumanize those who disagree with them, though since

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

One of the most frustrating things that a professional reader can encounter is a client who expects them to do something that the reader does not know how to do. Just like any other trade, different readers work in different ways. Dr Phil and Dr Oz are both reputable doctors, but I wouldn't recommend going to Dr. Phil for open heart surgery!

It's very much the same with readers, too. I do not specialize in finding lost objects, and it is very frustrating when I get a client who wants to know where she put her engagement ring. This creates friction and tension, where, with a bit of forethought, it need not have happened.

Genuine professional readers -- and there are some who are not genuine nor, in my opinion, professional! -- want to help. Yes, they need to earn a living, but they genuinely want to assist you with your current problems. Remote viewers are awesome for helping you find lost things, but they may not have a thorough knowledge of the Tarot. Tarot readers might be able to read the cards with diamond clarity, but if this does not make them good remote viewers.

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Last year a young man approached me at a sabbat and told me he was "of my line."  Huh?  I didn't know I had a line.  Then he told me he'd recently been initiated and one of his initiators was an initiate of one of my initiates.  My initiate had been a student of mine (and of others) for some years before any oaths were sworn. 

This incident brings up lots of questions, especially since it arises from a tradition (Reclaiming) that requires no initiation in order for people to participate as fully and completely, prominently and authoritatively (teaching, public priest/essing, et al.) as they choose.  An obvious concern in this scenario is accountability -- to students, to community, to tradition.  Another is whether, or how, one can assume a shared knowledge and capability.  Those are questions for another rumination; for now, let's stick with lines and lineage.

What do we mean by lineage?  Why is it important to us?  Or to those of us who may think it is important?  Or to anyone?

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  • Evylyn Rose
    Evylyn Rose says #
    Just wanted to share a quick, friendly message that the URL for the Ordains linked to in this article has changed and can now be f
  • Ro Reyburn
    Ro Reyburn says #
    I guess that I have to opt for a [i]functional[i] , for lack of a better word, definition. Lineage, to me, is the line of connec
  • Joseph Merlin Nichter
    Joseph Merlin Nichter says #
    Most teachers offer the answers, the wise ones simply ask the right questions. And you are asking the right questions. I think th

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

I've been pondering hubris again. Hubris--to recap--can be described as the act of willful or ignorant refusal to comply by the will of the Gods. It's a serious offense to the Theoi, and the Theos Nemesis had and has a full time job in punishing those who commit it.

When I started out on the Hellenistic path, I took to the web. I visited several forums, some of which were completely Hellenistic. It was a short visit to most of those; Hellenismos can be very fledgeling-unfriendly. Those new to the faith are warned that they must not perform ritual until they fully understand what they are doing, they must not... well... do a lot of things. It seems most of those 'do not's' are linked to hubris; the Theoi will punish those who perform Their rituals wrong, because the fledgeling practitioner thinks they don't have to study in order to approach the Theoi.

It's a nice sentiment, but I don't think it holds especially true. This is personal opinion, but it is based upon our basic societal and biological structure--the same one the ancient Hellens helped build: it's not hubris if you perform the rituals to the best of your abilities and the best of your knowledge. This includes having done your research, of course, but we all miss things.

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Evil, Ethics and Freedom

Theodicy, the theological study of evil, is one of the stumbling blocks of religion. I have a few thoughts on the subject, which I doubt will end the matter, but perhaps shed a certain Pagan light on it. In general theodicy is trying to answer the question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” “Because God wills it,” to test or to strengthen the adherent, or “Karma,” the result of past actions, are two of the more popular answers. As a Thelemite, I am not so interested in what happened but in what to do, so I tend to look at this from the other side: “How do I avoid doing evil?” This leads me to a systems-analysis approach to evil that shows how hard it is to avoid doing Evil, but there is some hope in that too.

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  • Tom Terrific
    Tom Terrific says #
    Coincidentally, this subject came up a few days ago on a Pagan board I frequent. I offered my view and was excoriated by one parti

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Pagans and the flustercluck over Chik-fil-a: Many of the same organizations that are responsible for anti-LGBT hate speech are involved in anti-Pagan propaganda and continue to stoke the fires of potential Satanic Panics. How do Pagans make economic choices in response to this? I advocate boycotts as a magical action in defense of our own rights.

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  • Greybeard
    Greybeard says #
    I sometimes see way too much "hatred" in pagan activism. Its easy to point fingers and call names.
  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    I'd like to have seen quite a bit more about the zinger at the end of your article: "Boycott is a strong word. It's also potential
  • Literata
    Literata says #
    Personally I'm thinking about adapting the approach I have used before when communicating with my elected officials: I do ritual t

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