Green Priestcraft: A ChristoPagan Pastoralia

"Pastoralia" is a somewhat archaic term denoting the spiritual, pastoral, and ritual care of a community.  "ChristoPagan" is a somewhat emergent term denoting a blend of Christian and Pagan thealogy, cosmology, and spirituality.  So, put the two together, and you have the hopefully intriguing (and, to some, infuriating) description of my own journey as a greenpriest.  I trust that folks of various and sundry spiritual persuasions will find something here to pique their interest, deepen their practice, and feed their souls.  Hear the Rune of Sophia: "God is Love, and Her body is all creation.  She is a Tree of Life, who gathers Her children in Love."  This is the conviction which guides me.  Blessed be.

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Hermitting through the Pandemic of 2020

I'm no expert in Tarot – not by a long shot – but I've always had a particular fondness for card number IX, the Hermit.  This iconic image of an old, hooded man, staff in one hand and lantern in the other, resonates with me on a very deep level.  Folks who know me well would not be surprised by this at all.  Indeed, one of my best friends recently encouraged me (only half in jest) to offer my skills as a consultant in hermitting, in this new age of social distancing and self-isolation. Apparently, we are all be asked to become hermits for the time being, and many people find that exceedingly challenging.

As Covid-19 sweeps through the global population, everyone except essential workers are being told in no uncertain terms to go home and stay there.  Front line health-care staff and other service providers are already feeling exhausted by the demands of this pandemic, and the rest of us feel vaguely overwhelmed by the fact that we can really do nothing except stay home.  Of course, there are many interesting new ways being developed, mainly online, for people to stay connected and keep working.  Churches, libraries, and other community centres are empty, but their staff are working hard to provide their ministries and services in novel ways.

This is great, and I have no doubt that this odd situation will bear the fruit of creativity and devoted, even heroic, public service for the sake of the common good.  

But in the midst of all our activity, I hope we do not lose the other opportunity being presented to us: the invitation to go within.  To embrace stillness and silence, and dive deep.  To learn how to connect with the Hermit who lives in each of us.  In a recent online message, Philip Carr-Gomm (the current chosen chief of the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids) encouraged us to use this time to practice the spiritual discipline of the retreat.  As Ostara unfolds, and Lent deepens, religious leaders of many traditions encourage us to go within and meditate, pray, and send healing energy to the world around us.  That type of work is invisible; it is done on the inner planes, in the dark and quiet times of stillness.  It can't be tracked or quantified, and often we never get outer confirmation that our spells and prayers have “worked”.  But this is the true vocation of the Hermit: to be alone, to go within, to lean on the staff of divine support, and to shine the light of the Spirit into the depths of the world around us.

As this pandemic unfolds, may each of us embrace the Hermit within, for the sake of the common good.

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The Rev. Shawn Sanford Beck is an ecumenical Christian priest, and a member of the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids. He is the author of Christian Animism, and the founder of the Ecumenical Companions of Sophia, an informal online community fostering Christian-Pagan dialogue and spiritual practice.  He lives with his family on an off-the-grid farm community in north-western Saskatchewan (Treaty Six Territory), where he is chaplain to the human and more-than-human wights of the community.  When not writing sermons, chopping wood, or practising magic, Shawn can be counted on to have his nose buried in a book. He can be contacted at


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