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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Holy Brigid, bless my cow

A couple of nights ago, not long after Candlemas, I woke up at 4am with our farm animals on my mind.  The fire was out, the wind was howling, and it was freaking cold even under the covers.  Outside, the temperature had dropped to -40 degrees Celsius.  Factor in the wind chill and it was close to -50.  As I tried to get some warmth back into my toes, I began to worry about the animals outside.  Our small herd of cattle, horses, and sheep are all well suited to northern climates, but this type of deep cold is hard on them.  I said a prayer, and envisioned them blanketed by a protective warm layer of light and love.  I added another Spirit-song for the dogs, and all the other wild creatures on and around the farmstead.  I'm glad they are resilient, but I can't help but feel concerned for all the wights abroad on a night such as that.


In his recent “Tea with a Druid” blogpost, OBOD Chief Philip Carr-Gomm reminded us that Goddess / Saint Brigid is patroness, among other things, of farm work and cattle.  I take great solace in this old teaching, especially in the depth of winter that is Imbolc on the Canadian prairies.  Not for us the happy bloom of fragile snowdrops.  Not for us the warming breezes of spring's first gleam.  Instead, a bone-chilling, spirit-crushing, unrelenting polar vortex of winter.  So in the midst of this brutal weather, what can Imbolc mean?  


For me, for now, I find hope in the changing light.  Dawn comes sooner, and with it a hint of warmth for the animals, and for us.  Spring, real spring, is still months away.  But it will come.  The Wheel will turn, and the ever-enduring animals will be enjoying green pasture and blessed warmth once again.


In the meantime, I continue to sing Brigid's blessing on our herd, each time I go out to do the milking.  May you and your herd be blessed as well, as we walk through the northern winter.


Mother Mary, bless my cow.

Holy Brigid, bless my cow.

Saints and angels, bless my cow,

O bless my cow.

God our Mother, bless my cow.

Good Lord Jesus, bless my cow.

Lady Wisdom, bless my cow,

O bless my cow.


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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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