Wisdom Within: Aligning the Heart with the Mind

Discovering how we walk Immanent, at the crossroads of where wisdom is found and practical experience begins.

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Erick DuPree

Erick DuPree

Erick DuPree has a unique writer's voice that blends many wisdom traditions and draws inspiration and spirit from the Goddess, Earth, and our divine immanence.
Erick's studies in magic include working within Reclaiming Collective, WitchCamps,  and Soul Work with T. Thorn Coyle. He studies Tantra with Dr. Douglas Brooks and Sally Kempton, as well as personal dharma paganism with current teacher Yeshe Rabbit.
A popular blogger in the Pagan community, Erick's voice has been included on the Wild Hunt, Pantheos, and Covenant of the Goddess. As writer, he has contributed to numerous anthologies including surviving sexual trauma, race relations, and children's faith development. He is author of Alone In Her Presence: Meditations on the Goddess, and forthcoming books,The Hero Within: Reframing Masculinity with the Goddess and the anthology Finding Masculine in Goddess' Spiral: Men in Ritual, Community and Service to the Goddess, both by Immanion Press

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b2ap3_thumbnail_Unknown_20140831-155038_1.pngRecently, my good friend and Daughter's of Evecolumnist, Crystal Blanton wrote a powerful piece for the Wild Hunt about Ferguson, the shooting death of Mike Brown, the riots, and the wider implication this type of systemic racism. She solicited thoughts from Pagans in the public eye about where and how we can confront, heal, and grow community when events of power, oppression, and racism plague our world. There among the many voices were my friends, New York City activist and witch, Courtney Weber and teacher and New Jim Crow activist, T. Thorn Coyle. For the piece I offered this opinion, which Crystal used to sum up the article:

"I really am struggling with this because I want to believe that love is still the law. I want to believe that humankind is better than this savagery that is power, oppression, privilege, and racism. I want to believe that love is stronger than fear, but I can’t help but know that every mother of a brown child lives in fear that her child will be the next Oscar Grant, Trayvon Martin or Mike Brown. In times like this I ask how do we as Pagans lead and be vessels for change? How do we become the Goddess’ conduit?

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Finding the Masculine in Goddess Spiral: Anthology Update

"The moon shone brightly, and I knew that She was watching over me. I knew Her to be more than anything and everything, and I felt Her upon my face, my body, and my heart." - Entry from Finding the Masculine in Goddess Spiral, a soon to be published anthology by Immanion Press.

July 30th came faster than I could imagine. Now, with deadline passed, over 30 submissions sit before me, the task at hand: to curate and edit, Finding the Masculine in Goddess'  Spiral: Men in Ritual, Community, and Service to the Goddess

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An Open Heart and A Naked Soul

Twenty years ago today, I self dedicated to the Goddess. Not any one Goddess, or tradition, but simply just The Goddess. The only guild I had was The Spiral Dance by Starhawk. At 16 years old, steeped in the evangelical movement of Christianity, I took a deep breath and inhaled the Goddess' warm embrace of hope and exhaled the patriarchy, shame, and sorrow brought about by the God of Abraham.  Even though I had no formal connection to Reclaiming at the time, and knew even less about 'witchcraft' what Starhawk wrote about in The Spiral Dance resonated with light inside my most darkest spaces. There would still be years filled with nights of terror and dread, there would be more fear, more shame, and yes more suffering. Unlike the faith of my childhood, The Spiral Dance and this Goddess never promised deliverance from suffering in exchange for servitude, rather instead simply offered space. 

Twenty Years after that first reading of The Spiral Dance, my spiritual path has matured and my toolbox is far more expansive. Yet, in a sea of labels, unverified personal gnosis, rhetoric and opinion, I still have no real name for space I share with the the Goddess. I just have the path. My mentor, Rev. Kim Crawford Harvie once said, "there is misperception that arose that if I committed myself to a spiritual path, that I would rise above suffering.  I have come to learn the opposite is true:  If I commit myself to a spiritual path, I will suffer with an open heart and a naked soul. "

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I am excited to have been invited to participate at Coph Nia this summer, at the invitation of Julian Hill. Held in rural Pennsylvania, at the stunningly beautiful Four Quarters retreat center, I confess this adventure at first left me a bit apprehensive and yet deeply honored at the same time. I have never been to a large Pagan festival before, let alone served as a featured presenter. Generally I shy away from anything exclusively "gay male" oriented having had unsavory experiences in the past, or too public, I am despite my verbose and possibly loquacious blogging, terribly introverted by way of Meyer's INFJ personality typing. 

Yet in talking with Julian, I came to understand that Coph Nia was the ideal place to talk about the Goddess, to teach about Ecstatic Monism; the Goddess as immanent and transcendent, to explore Eastern Tantra, and most importantly lead men on the quest in this ever expanding dialogue on masculinity in a way that affirms ourselves as sovereign and still honor women as sacred. This is why I am editing Finding the Masculine in Goddess' Spiral: Men in Ritual, Service and Community to the Goddess

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Veritas is boldly tattooed on my left forearm. In time it evolved to be surrounded by acanthus leaves and three pomegranates, creating a half sleeve down to wrist. In shades of grey, it is only augmented by single red thread.

Often, I am asked what it all means. Both the tattoo and the thread?  Many mistakenly assume I came to Qabalah through Madonna and that veritas refers to being a wino, in vino veritas or Harvard alumni whose motto is veritas. All are false. I am not a big fan of the Material Girl, or wine, and I did not go to Harvard.

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I recently wrote about what it meant to priest for the Goddess. In it I quoted, noted Buddhist roshi, Pat Enkyo O'Hara, who once said, "When asked of all the wisdom traditions why Zen, I said, because I live a life of Zen."  In a reframe, I suggested that I live a life of Goddess. Many have messaged me to clarify what I mean by that?

Goddess is the everyday constant in my life. She is the immanent divine within me, around me, the all and the vast nothing; but also the transcendent manifestation standing before me. She is the totality of my life experiences, regardless of circumstance, and I manifest the life I have in Her service because She is worship for me. I confess worship is one of my favorite words. When I was growing up my grandmother would say, “Worship is a verb!” Meaning that there was more to being a Christian than just showing up on Sunday morning or worse, just at Christmas and Easter! She was not wrong, as worship is in fact both a noun and a verb.  But what is worship? 'Worship is the action of religious devotion often directed towards a deity."

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Connie Lazenby
    Connie Lazenby says #
    Every word resonates within me and expresses worship so much better than I ever could, thank you.
  • Courtney Weber
    Courtney Weber says #
    Beautiful, Erick! Thank you once again!

Of late, men have been coming together to discuss how in Goddess traditions and broadly in contemporary Paganism, what it means to serve? This need for men to be heard is what prompted me to edit Finding the Masculine in Goddess Spiral: Men in Ritual, Community, and Service to the Goddess through Immanion Press (note, I am still accepting contributions though July 31). Men have stories, and one way we heal the divide is to welcome men's mysteries, and lift up exceptional men. This however isn't a second wave mythopoetic mens movement, but rather community building, reflection, and dedication to service. My friend Devin Hunter for example recently started a Facebook page, Project Pagan Priest. Such platforms couldn't come at a better time, as our community and the world confronts gender binary, equal rights, and how men plant the seeds as change agents. 

Recently a question was asked in the group, what does it mean to be priest? The conversation has been interesting, considering that Project Pagan Priest isn't about one tradition, but rather inclusive of all pagan men. There was a lot of talk about what priesthood specifically that many find ourselves 'torn between ancient models of priesthood and the modern notion of 'clergy' to quote a group member. Others within the group feel that defining priesthood is tradition specific, and this too makes a lot of sense.

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