Witch at Large: Ruminations from a Grey Perspective

Seeing Paganism in terms of being a movement, explorations of our history, societal context, comparisons to other religious movements, and general Pagan culture.

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Aline "Macha" O'Brien

Aline "Macha" O'Brien

Aline O’Brien (M. Macha NightMare), Witch at Large, has circled with people of diverse Pagan paths throughout the U.S., and in Canada and Brazil.  Author of Witchcraft and the Web (2001) and Pagan Pride (2004), and co-author, with Starhawk, of The Pagan Book of Living and Dying (1997), Macha has also contributed to anthologies, periodicals, textbooks, and encyclopedias.  A member of the American Academy of Religion, the Marin Interfaith Council, and the Nature Religion Scholars Network, Macha also serves as a national interfaith representative for the Covenant of the Goddess (CoG) and on the Advisory Board of the Sacred Dying Foundation.  Having spent the last eleven years developing and teaching at Cherry Hill Seminary, the first and only seminary serving the Neopagan community, Macha now serves on its Board of Directors. An all-round Pagan webweaver, she speaks on behalf of Paganism to news media and academic researchers, and lectures at colleges, universities and seminaries. www.machanightmare.com

When Is Consensus Process Not Consensual?

Well, the answer, in my experience, is all too often.

The most common problem I’ve encountered is what I will indelicately term the ‘bully factor.’  It’s always deliberate, if perhaps unconscious.  It’s simply a fact of life that some voices carry more weight than others.  And it has nothing to do with volume.

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  • Greybeard
    Greybeard says #
    My experience with pagan "consensus" process amounts to driving out everyone who has a different opinion, and then those in charg
Creating Sacred Space with Pagan Prison Inmates – VI

Some More Ways in Which Inmate Circles Differ from Civilian Circles

In previous blogs I’ve mentioned various differences and restrictions that affect how we can work and what we can and cannot do. We can burn candles and incense, and we have created a temporary temple space.

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  • Joseph Merlin Nichter
    Joseph Merlin Nichter says #
    Another great post Macha! Those men appreciate you for every slice of your scissors and your presence alone makes all the differe
Creating Sacred Space with Pagan Prison Inmates – V

“Ministry”?

We Pagans, at least most of us, or at least most of us in our incipient forms, worked in small, intimate, closed circles.  We had no concept of ‘ministry’ as such.

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  • Aline "Macha" O'Brien
    Aline "Macha" O'Brien says #
    Perhaps, Sam, you are correct about your experience and your education. However, that has not been my experience from an entire c
  • Sam Webster
    Sam Webster says #
    "I think that term carries baggage from its use in the Christian context that implies that clergy people either know more, or are
Creating Sacred Space with Pagan Prison Inmates – IV

Altars

As I mentioned in a previous post, our altar went from a 24” square of white cloth with two pillar candles, a leather pentacle about 4” across, a stick of incense, a bowl and a shaker of salt to one with larger purple altar cloth bearing a Celtic design, an abalone shell, some feathers, and a chunk of amethyst crystal.

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Creating Sacred Space with Pagan Prison Inmates – III

Next Steps

Now that we have the banners, we await other supplies, primary among them being incense.

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Creating Sacred Space with Pagan Prison Inmates – II

Be advised that I will have no photos to illustrate anything that goes on inside the prison walls unless I happen to come across them on the Web.  Needless to say, we volunteers are not permitted to bring cameras inside.

Neither will I be revealing any names or personal descriptions that might indicate the identity of anyone other than our supervising chaplain and myself.

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  • Diotima
    Diotima says #
    Macha, your experiences are very similar to mine, though the prison I volunteer at is much smaller -- only a few hundred men. I br
Creating Sacred Space with Pagan Prison Inmates - I

Why We Work in a Sacred Circle

Some non-witchen Pagans have criticized Witches and Wiccans who do interfaith work and in other ways represent the Pagan movement and Pagan religions in secular situations for what they consider to be witchen-centrism, for want of a better term.  In the next few blogs I’ll attempt to describe the reality of the situation, and why I, ostensibly serving a Wiccan circle, in reality am about as eclectic as one can be.  First, the setting…

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