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I've Been Thinking

instead of writing.


There's great sturm und drang in the Pagan communities right now over a number of things.  Most are being played out here, in one place or another. Rancor, condemnation, hurt, fear...the standard variations that come back to bite us on our collective butts again and again.

Some of my thinks about it included--

my community is full of idiots

my community has too much time on its hands

my community loves to fight and argue

my community should be about the business of our various spiritual systems and notions of divinity 

my community--wtf

My community--which is made up of an impossible-to-know number of subsets--is like barely interlocking rings in a disordered chaos of time and space.  We are humans, for the most part, and we like to put ourselves and each other in tidy boxes, so that we are easier to understand and to interact with. The problem is the boxes don't fit exactly and then I'm in a box and you're in another box and then we get territorial about our boxes.

And because we are often a minority within a minority group, we get a little hinky about our prospects for being heard, for being respected, for being safe.  Sure, we've peed in all the corners of our own box but what's that I smell?  Have you peed on the corner of my box? How dare you.

For my sins, I am a Pisces with Moon in Scorpio and Scorpio on the Ascendant. Before I knew much about astrology (and please understand, I still know next-to-nothing about it), I got the whole Pisces Sun thing. Mystic, intuitive, creative, empathic.  But what I didn't get was the Scorpio interface.  See, I'd be all Piscean--soft and mystical ad nauseum--and someone would hurt my feelings. Really deeply, because I'm a Pisces--I have lots of feelings.

When that happened (let's be real here--when that happens), there was an interesting thing that occurred hard on the heels of the aforementioned hurt.  I wanted vengeance. Big time.  Now that I know about the Scorpio thing, I describe it this way--someone hurts my big gooey Piscean feelings and that double Scorpio comes out on either side, like velociraptors. Someone has hurt us. They will be destroyed.

My community--you and you and you and yes, even him--reacts in much the same way.  We either keep on keeping on, doing what we know we need to do, whether it is worship or growing food or reading tarot cards. Or we get our feelings hurt and go hide in a corner and vow to never interact with Those People ever again. Or we lash out and defend our territory and our honor and our beliefs. And we renew peeing in the corners of our boxes and know we have triumphed.

Or we do a combo of all of the above.

And we are acting out of ancient human patterns that have come down through our Ancestors, riding the double helix of our DNA.  It is encoded and it takes effort to break the code, even if we choose to...and I'm not suggesting that we do. What I am suggesting is that my community is mostly the fringes of the dominant and dominating culture and we have patterns that grow from that position within the larger culture.  As we grapple with notions of territory and hierarchy--when we peer from the bottom rung of the ladder--we grab on to tried-and-true ways of scrambling to the top, often treading on the tired hands of the people most like us.

Perhaps it is time for, us as we mature (or not) in these wonderful spiritual systems, to remember our collective history and find ways to let all paths lead the walker to the envisioned destination, to mind our own business and practice the ancient ritual of hospitality.

I'm sure you'll let me know if I'm mistaken about any--or all--of this. 

Last modified on
H. Byron Ballard is a ritualist, teacher, speaker and writer. She has taught at Sacred Space Conference, Pagan Unity Festival, Southeast Her essays are featured in several anthologies, including “Birthed from Scorched Hearts“ (Fulcrum Press), “Christmas Presence“ (Catawba Press), “Women’s Voices in Magic” (Megalithica Books), “Into the Great Below” and “Skalded Apples” (both from Asphodel Press.) Her book Staubs and Ditchwater: an Introduction to Hillfolks Hoodoo (Silver Rings Press) debuted in June 2012. Byron is currently at work on Earth Works: Eight Ceremonies for a Changing Planet. Contact her at,


  • Ivo Dominguez Jr
    Ivo Dominguez Jr Friday, 28 June 2013

    Agreed. More love and less horizontal hostility.

  • Byron Ballard
    Byron Ballard Friday, 28 June 2013


  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven Friday, 28 June 2013

    As the publishers of this blogosphere, please know that Alan and I are hard at work on creating a new set of guidelines that will hopefully provide a matrix to build a more community-oriented, less divisive site. We spend most of yesterday -- and expect to spend most of today -- hammering out the (Beta) Standards of practice to be offered to the bloggers via Back Channel by Monday for comment and review. I blame myself for naively believing that such structures were not necessary on this site; my bad, but an oversight we should be correcting shortly.

  • Byron Ballard
    Byron Ballard Friday, 28 June 2013

    Boss Lady, we shouldn't have to be reined in like a bunch of 6th graders (with apologies to 6th graders everywhere). I appreciate the labor (and I do mean labor) of love that you and Alan are performing, but...really? Are we all such assholes that freedom of speech must always be wielded like a shillelagh?

  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven Friday, 28 June 2013

    We are basing our proposal on the patterns of other successful, civilized online communities. (I'd be happy to share our sources with the group if that's helpful.) And as for sixth graders -- removing in-person accountability has a tendency to disinhibit bad behavior in even the best of us. Hence the need for more clear boundaries and structure for reporting bad behavior to rein in our innate tendency to be ... juvenile.

  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven Friday, 28 June 2013

    It does, indeed, feel like labor sometimes. And that comes from my perspective as a three-times homebirthing mother of three sons.

  • Byron Ballard
    Byron Ballard Friday, 28 June 2013

    Funny lady.

  • Apuleius Platonicus
    Apuleius Platonicus Friday, 28 June 2013

    Like members of any large, extended family, we can't help sometimes but look askance at one another and mutter "am I really related to these people??"

  • Beth Wodandis
    Beth Wodandis Wednesday, 03 July 2013

    It's like the proverbial barrel of crabs; no community will get anywhere if all they do is pull down anyone who dares to try to climb out of the barrel.

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