All Our Relations: Pagans and the more-than-human world.

For aware Pagans the Sacred encompasses us all, rivers and mountains, oceans and deserts, grasses and trees, fish and fungi, birds and animals. Understanding the implications of what this means, and how to experience it first hand, involves our growing individually and as a community well beyond the limits of this world-pathic civilization. All Our Relations exists to help fertilize this transition.

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Gus diZerega

Gus diZerega

Gus diZerega DiZerega combines a formal academic training in Political Science with decades of work in Wicca and shamanic healing. He is a Third Degree Elder in Gardnerian Wicca, studied closely with Timothy White who later founded Shaman’s Drum magazine, and also studied Brazilian Umbanda  for six years under Antonio Costa e Silva.

DiZerega holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from UC Berkeley, has taught and lectured in the US and internationally, and has organized international academic meetings.

His newest book is "Faultlines: the Sixties, the Culture Wars, and the Return of the Divine Feminine (Quest, 2013) received a 'silver' award by the Association of Independent Publishers for 2014. It puts both modern Pagan religion and the current cultural and political crisis in the US into historical context, and shows how they are connected.

His first book on Pagan subjects, "Pagans and Christians: The Personal Spiritual Experience," won the Best Nonfiction of 2001 award from  The Coalition of Visionary Resources. 

His second,"Beyond the Burning Times: A Pagan and a Christian in Dialogue" is what it sounds like. He coauthored it with Philip Johnson. DiZerega particularly like his discussion of polytheism in Burning Times, which in his view is an advance over the discussion in Pagans and Christians.

His pen and ink artwork supported his academic research in graduate school and frequently appeared in Shaman’s Drum, and the ecological journals Wild Earth, and The Trumpeter. It now occasionally appears in this blog.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Deborah Ann Light

Deborah Ann Light died July 22 of cancer.  I had the privilege of knowing her for some years, but never closely.  Don Frew, a mutual good friend has written a wonderful remembrance and honoring of her life that I think many pagans will find of value.  She was a wonderful woman, and the Summerland has been blessed with her presence even if we here will miss her. Here is what Don sent to a number of us, which I reproduce with his permission:

Dear Spirituality & the Earth CC members.

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A Fourth of July 4th meditation on patriotism

Here in Sebastopol, where I live, someone loves driving around in his pick-up with a huge American flag attached to its bed.  So far as I know he does it every day. I suppose he is making a statement about his patriotism.  Every week on the main corner here in town for years two groups face off, one loudly “supporting our troops” the other more quietly supporting peace.  The first waves flags and to my mind, sadly the second group generally does not, giving the first a visual advantage they do not deserve.  

Among people with more progressive sympathies patriotism has gotten a bit of a bad rap by being equated with those who talk the most aggressively about it, and shove their views in everyone’s face.  It’s rather like religion getting a bad rap because of the excesses of those who make the most noise about it.   I think this is too bad.  Patriotism is a complicated emotion and a complicated commitment, but it is very real for most of us.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Swastika and the Flag

 

Some  Southern Pagans, have criticized  comments I made elsewhere on W&P and on Patheos supporting removing the Confederacy’s battle flag from all public displays in the South.  They thought I unfairly maligned Southern culture by saying it was inextricable from racism.  Some thought I must not know anything about the South. For the record I was born in Southwest Virginia, raised in the half-Southern state of Kansas with relatives whose views ranged from a relatively benign racism to endorsing Southern slavery.  For much of my life I frequently visited my Virginia and Arkansas relatives. I am not a Southerner, but I have fairly substantial experience with Southern culture, usually in a positive context. That experience plus their defense of the Confederacy's battle flag as a symbol of Southern culture has led to this post, dedicated to Southern Pagans.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Helena
    Helena says #
    Thank you so much for this. Perhaps a few people will be reached.
  • Gus diZerega
    Gus diZerega says #
    Thank you Heather. I don't know how important they are within their community because I am not a Heathen and rarely attend their d
  • Heather Freysdottir
    Heather Freysdottir says #
    As a Southerner who also whole heartedly approves of the removal of the confederate flag from public spaces, I very much appreciat
Is there a genuine problem in calling Pagan religions polytheistic?

 

Polytheism, the belief in many Gods, has long been associated with Pagan religion. Some deities speak to us, some speak through us.  Some take our bodies over for a while and some bring us to our knees in awe.  Deities manifest differently in some traditions than others, but all appear part of an animate inspirited world bigger than we are, and Pagans find it appropriate to honor, invoke, learn from, and even love these entities.Often personal altars can be syncretistic, as is this one focused on healing entities and energies.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Gus diZerega
    Gus diZerega says #
    We are on exactly the same page I think!
  • Birch
    Birch says #
    Well, that Quote is merely Gardner's. I get torn honestly. Part of me feels as though One is a disco ball and each deity a singula
  • Gus diZerega
    Gus diZerega says #
    I think there is much truth here Birch. But it becomes paradoxical if read as if we are in some way more fundamental than the God
  • Birch
    Birch says #
    This Monist approach can be summed up here: the Gods are real, not as persons, but as vehicles of power. Much food for thought upo
Why Pagan theology is so unimportant among Pagans

When I first become a Pagan many years ago, I tried to find theological studies of What It All Meant within our literature.  I found many discussions of rituals, magick, and how Witches were correctives to patriarchy. But beyond some brief (and good) discussions in Margot Adler’s Drawing Down the Moon and the Farrars' The Meaning of Witchcraft,  there was almost nothing on the underlying meaning of a Pagan reality.  As I learned more about the broad Pagan tradition I began exploring literature discussing African Diasporic and Native American Pagan religions. Here to, by monotheistic standards the pickings were remarkably thin.

In Brazil I learned most Pagan literature consisted of spell books and details about rituals.  Among the traditional Crow people in Montana, individuals had different interpretations of their practices’ deeper meaning and of the status of figures like Coyote, but no developed theology.  Within my own coven I learned my coven-mates had different beliefs about who the Gods were. Classical Pagan religious writing was rarely sectarian and the major one that could be so described, The Golden Ass, was more an adventure story than a treatise on the Gods.  Pagan cultures were not particularly peaceful, but I know of no adherents to a Pagan religion waging war on those of another for not worshiping the right Gods. Unlike the monotheisms, unity of belief didn’t seem very important in the Pagan world.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • P. Sufenas Virius Lupus
    P. Sufenas Virius Lupus says #
    Can you see the irony in the fact that you've defined Paganism as superlatively permissive, but then have marginalized an entire f
  • Gus diZerega
    Gus diZerega says #
    Absolutely no irony here at all. None. Beginning in your first paragraph you distort my argument. I wrote Pagan religion is room
  • Gus diZerega
    Gus diZerega says #
    I will add one more point about thinking theologically about our own experiences as a way to deepen them and perhaps improve on ou
  • Gus diZerega
    Gus diZerega says #
    I also tried to "like" your comment Macha, but it doesn't work either. So thank you!
  • Aline "Macha" O'Brien
    Aline "Macha" O'Brien says #
    Thanks, Gus. I think I'll print this for the men in the San Quentin circle.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
May Day 2015: Looking deeper

I write this on Beltane eve, later than I hoped.  A bout with some bug has laid me low and I will not be up to my usual activities this Sabbat.  But perhaps my enforced period of solitude has enabled me to think a little more deeply than I might have about the meaning of this time.

Beltane and May Day comprise one of the two most important Wiccan Sabbats, the other, Samhain, being six months away.  For Wiccans and most other NeoPagans Beltane marks the beginning of summer.  We believe every basic dimension of physical existence is sacred in its own way, and seek to honor each at that time of the year when it can be most powerfully symbolized in ritual and celebration.  Beltane and May Day so honor summer.

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  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham says #
    As always, thank you for your wisdom and insight Gus.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Earth Day 2015: a Pagan take

 

Earth day symbolizes Americans’, some of us anyway, beginning to experience this land as our home rather than a real estate investment, crash pad, or monument to our ego.  It is a place we love and within which we find renewal and meaning.  And we feel blessed to live here and want to take care of it, and to give back some of what we have received.

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