I wrote this piece to the discordant music of police helicopters circling above. Monday night my friends and colleagues marched through the streets of Berkeley, CA, protesting the killing of unarmed black men in the United States. While many of them went home after awhile, some stayed to shut down Interstate 80 for a time. Those dozen or so folks were part of a group that were cordoned off, surrounded by the police. While they awaited arrest, the chaplains and ministers I spend my days with here at the Pacific School of Religion led the two hundred or so activists in Christmas carols, pop songs, and hymns. Our Professor of Worship served a communion of almonds and tea to anyone who wanted to partake. The group sang to the police for hours and the peaceful presence of the religious leaders kept things calm on both sides. It is the kind of work that I think religious leaders are well suited for. I was with them many hours before, offering energy-based activist training and my loving support as they prepared for this action. I've shed many tears this last week, filled with anguish for the injustice I see happening in my country and frustrated with my body's inability to march in the streets.
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It's a pleasantly cool August night, and my partner and I are drinking Mojitos on the patio, the laughter from our friends drift up from the pool. Once in awhile, we hear the melodic chants of the guest Coven, raising energy in the new sacred space we carved out in the woods just last week. The lights are dim in the freshly painted cabins, as some of the greatest minds in contemporary Paganism arrived last night to circle and discuss Magickal and theological gems. Within the walls of our sacred Pagan space, we have no need to explain ourselves. Trees get hugged, and there's no eyebrow raising. The Fey get their due respect without reminders. The Unicorns are only ever fed with the produce from our collective garden and Peter Dinklage makes a nightly stop to simply have a chat and sometimes lets us ride his pet dragon around the area. It's a great place.
It's fiery Tuesday here at the PaganNewsBeagle, and we've got a full plate of activist goodies! Satanic activists take advantage of #HobbyLobby; open carry -- prayer; the IRS investigates churches; should Pagans have "ministers," and heretical Founding Fathers of the U.S.
Under the category of "Live by the Sword, Die by the Sword" the Satanic Temple (hardly the Christians who brought the original case) is now invoking the #HobbyLobby SCOTUS decision to demand a religious exemption to anti-abortion laws in several states. While it's not obvious if these Satanists are actually religious, or just clever activists, they are certainly doing a nice job of getting attention....
“The very same people who “can’t afford” to donate to a Neopagan temple, community center, website, or other organization on a regular basis have no problem finding the money to buy science fiction books, videotapes, DVDs, game cartridges, music CDs, comics, beer, pizza, cigarettes, movie tickets, necklaces, earrings, bracelets, crystals, robes, capes, etc.” -- Isaac Bonewits.
In issue #28 of Witches and Pagans magazine columnist John Michael Greer wrote an article titled, “A Bad Case of Methodist Envy: Copying Christian models of clergy is a Pagan dead end.” In this essay Greer recommends against Pagan clergy and specifically full time compensated clergy. I would like to note that I have admired many of Greer’s books especially Inside a Magical Lodge, A World Full of Gods, and Druidry Handbook; however, I can simultaneously admire his work and disagree with some of his thoughts....
If you're old enough, you may remember a television cartoon series from the 1950's called "Crusader Rabbit." He was, as I recall, sort of a Don Quixote-type character - tending to tilt at windmills which most folks would judge imaginary or not worth the effort. Whether that memory is correct or not, it's the way I often feel. Very few people ever seem to share my sense of injustice at the little subtleties in our culture.
My wife and I receive healthcare in Arizona from the Banner Health organization. Banner is one of the largest healthcare conglomerates in the U.S., managing hospitals and medical practices all over the country. Yet, when we are admitted into the hospital for a procedure and are asked on the intake form to indicate whether we have a religion of choice, only certain ones are on their computer list and they do not include Pagan, Neopagan or Heathen. Most surprisingly, in light of recent acknowledgment by the Armed Forces and the Prison system, the Banner list doesn't even have Wiccan! (We are not Wiccan, strictly speaking, but it's close enough for Jazz. We'd take it.)...
Hope before her
love behind her
empowerment around her
she is strong
she knows her own power
she is blessed...
Goddess grant me the courage, surrender, trust, and wisdom to do what needs to be done today. Let me serve my circle as priestess with great care, great attention, great trust, and great honor. Let me breathe deep and draw up what I need, let me open my arms and gather to me that which surrounds me. May I embody the gifts of the Goddess and share them with my circle sisters. Thank you. Blessed be.
On an email list I belong to, the question was recently posed as to why we need priestesses anyway. The concern was posed that the term is hierarchical and separates rather than unifies. As someone who identifies deeply as a priestess, this question soaked into my consciousness, demanding an answer, a reconciliation, a deeper understanding of what I understand my own role to be.