Tag Archives: Pagan

No Religion for Cowards

I was going to post something else this evening, but if you haven’t already read it, you should (trigger warning) go read the Wild Hunt’s post about a young woman who was, just a few months ago, tortured, raped, and murdered for being Pagan, for worshiping the old Goddesses and Gods, and for, of course, being a woman.

You can make a donation in her name to Doctors Without Borders.

Never again, the Burning Times.

Are You the Witch of Your Place?

The Witch of This Place

The Witch of This Place

If you are not the Witch of your place, who will be? Who is better suited to that job than you are?

If you are not the Witch of your place, of which place are you the Witch? What place are you waiting for? How long do you expect to wait?

If you do not arise each dawn and greet the powers, and spirits, and beings of your place, who will greet them? And how long can you stand for them to go unmet? How long do you expect to wait before you live in a place where you cannot imagine rising in the morning and not greeting the powers, and spirits, and beings of that place?

If you are not in relationship with your landbase, why not? What would it take to begin that relationship?

Picture found here.

Discernment


Had a lovely chat today w/ a dear friend and one of the points I was making was that “discernment” is too seldom practiced in the Pagan community. Christians often talk about discernment, by which they mean that they spend time in prayerful contemplation in order to “discern” their god’s will for them in a given situation. As Pagans, we’re less likely to believe that our Goddesses/Gods have some specific plan for our lives and are more likely to invest ourselves with greater agency. But that doesn’t mean that we, too, don’t need discernment.

Watching (from a distance) a recent dust-up in the local Pagan community, I’ve been struck by the complete lack of discernment exercised by way too many participants, including some Big Name Pagans from way out of town who inserted themselves into the issue over, and over, and over again. This is only the most recent in a series of events where various Pagans have had issues with some group and have chosen to deal with the issues/group in the most public, confrontational manner possible. Sometimes, that’s necessary. Sometimes, that’s a good thing.

But just because you have an opinion doesn’t mean that you need to express it. Just because you have an opinion doesn’t mean that you need to express it RIGHT NOW. Just because you have an opinion doesn’t mean that you need to show up on every single Facebook page, blog, and other form of social media and express your opinion OVER AND OVER again.

I’d love to see Pagan groups make the practice of discernment a regular part of their spiritual disciplines. Meditation, trance, divination, listening to you landbase, and talking to a friend in person are all good ways to get in touch with the Universe, your Goddesses/Gods, your Higher Self and determine whether you need to jump in or to exercise the better part of valor.

How do you practice discernment? What has it helped you to do or to not do? Do you regret following it?

Picture found here.

Tuesday Night Poetry Blogging

Catechism for a Witch’s Child

~ J.L. Stanley

When they ask to see your gods
your book of prayers
show them lines
drawn delicately with veins
on the underside of a bird’s wing
tell them you believe
in giant sycamores mottled
and stark against a winter sky
and in nights so frozen
stars crack open spilling
streams of molten ice to earth
and tell them how you drink
a holy wine of honeysuckle
on a warm spring day
and of the softness
of your mother who never taught you
death was life’s reward
but who believed in the earth
and the sun
and a million, million light years
of being.

Picture found here.

hat tip: Hanging Garden.

Digging* Ditches


Here’s a wonderful article about how children develop an attachment to nature and a sense of place. The entire thing is very well worth a read.

Most environmentalists attributed their commitment to a combination of two sources, “many hours spent outdoors in a keenly remembered wild or semi-wild place in childhood or adolescence, and an adult who taught respect for nature.” Lots of time rambling in neighborhood woods and fields and a parent or teacher who cared about nature were frequently cited as causal forces in the development of their own environmental ethics. In his autobiography about growing up in Denver, lepidopterist Robert Michael Pyle describes the urban semi-wild place the inspired him.

“My own point of intimate contact with the land was a ditch. Growing up on the wrong side of Denver to reach the mountains easily and often, I resorted to the tattered edges of the Great Plains, on the back side of town. There I encountered a century-old irrigation channel known as the High Line Canal. Without a doubt, most of the elements of my life flowed from that canal.

From the time I was six, this weedy watercourse had been my sanctuary, playground and sulking walk. It was also my imaginary wilderness, escape hatch, and birthplace as a naturalist. Later, the canal served as lover’s lane, research site and holy ground of solace. Over the years, I studied its natural history, explored much of its length, watched its habitats shrink as the suburbs grew up around it, and tried to help save some of its best bits…Even when living in national parks, in exotic lands, in truly rural country side, I’ve hankered to get back to the old ditch whenever I could …

Even if they don’t know “my ditch,” most people I speak with seem to have a ditch somewhere—or a creek, meadow, wood lot or marsh—that they hold in similar regard. These are places of initiation, where the borders between ourselves and other creatures break down, where the earth gets under our nails and a sense of place gets under our skin…. It is through close and intimate contact with a particular patch of ground that we learn to respond to the earth, to see that it really matters… Everyone has a ditch, or ought to. For only the ditches—and the fields, the woods, the ravines—can teach us to care enough for the land.” (Pyle, 1993)

Did you have a ditch? I had a small creek that ran through an undeveloped area about a half a mile or so from our house. On weekends, after I finished my chores, I would walk down to the creek. It was, yes, a place for an INTJ to be alone, as I was almost never alone in my crowded home, but it was also where I developed a special relationship with nature and the first “place” with which I developed a strong relationship.

[A]nthropologist Edith Cobb reviewed the autobiographies of 300 European geniuses and found that many of them described similar kinds of experiences in childhood.

“My position is based upon the fact that the study of the child in nature, culture and society reveals that there is a special period, the little understood, pre pubertal, halcyon, middle age of childhood, approximately from five or six to eleven or twelve, between the strivings of animal infancy and the storms of adolescence—when the natural world is experienced in some highly evocative way, producing in the child a sense of some profound continuity with natural processes. . . .”

It is principally to this middle-age range in their early life that these writers say they return in memory in order to renew the power and impulse to create at its very source, a source which they describe as the experience of emerging not only into the light of consciousness but into a living sense of a dynamic relationship with the outer world. In these memories the child appears to experience a sense of discontinuity, an awareness of his own unique separateness and identity, and also a continuity, a renewal of relationship with nature as process.

As the linked article goes on to explain, such experiences aren’t limited to geniuses. Many children between the ages of 7 and 14 experience a relationship with the natural world — often with stones, trees, rivers, sunlight, etc. While children, many lack the vocabulary to describe what they experience and, to be honest, many adults struggle with this, as well.

One 40-year-old woman described her experience this way:

“When I was about eleven years old, I spent part of a summer holiday in the Wye Valley. Waking up very early one bring morning, before any of the household was about, I left my bed and went to kneel on the window-seat, to look out over the curve which the river took just below the house…The morning sunlight shimmered on the leaves of the trees and on the rippling surface of the river. The scene was very beautiful, and quite suddenly I felt myself on the verge of a great revelation. It was if I had stumbled unwittingly on a place where I was not expected, and was about to be initiated into some wonderful mystery, something of indescribable significance. Then, just as suddenly, the feeling faded. But for the brief seconds while it lasted, I had known that in some strange way I, the essential ‘me’, was a part of the trees, of the sunshine, and the river, that we all belonged to some great unity. I was left filled with exhilaration and exultation of spirit. This is one of the most memorable experiences of my life, of a quite different quality and greater intensity than the sudden lift of the spirit one may often feel when confronted with beauty in Nature.”

I’d be fascinated to see a study that compared how many Pagans had such experiences as children with members of other religions. I can’t help but think that, for many of us, the discovery of Paganism provided a language to describe what we knew to be true and a validation of experiences that, especially as they often go undiscussed or are even actively discouraged, we didn’t even know other people had.

*To dig: Understand, enjoy, really get into. It’s true, I’m old and no longer hip. But I’m happy to be in that company with Langston Hughes who wrote, “My motto, as I live and learn, is: Dig and Be Dug In Return.” I like to think that the creek dug that odd little girl as much as she dug the creek.

Picture found here.

A Ceremony for the Worms

Then the night came, like a ceremony.

~Christine Kane in “Now That You Know”

And, tonight, I sat at my altar for a ceremony of gratitude to the worms.

I came home from work in the lovely, lengthening light and planted the last of the Black Cat petunias, and datura wrightii, black hollyhock, and white foxglove seeds. More rain is promised for this evening and tomorrow, so I wanted to finish up the planting. Like the Spring, I’m early this year, although my goal is always to get everything in by Beltane. It feels good, for once, to be done ahead of schedule.

I sit down on the ground and dig the holes for my seedlings and seeds with a small hand trowel. I like that system because it brings me close to the ground and I can see exactly what’s going on. How much has the mulch from the last few seasons broken down and turned into good dirt on top of the red Virginia clay? How wet or dry is the soil? Does it smell like good loam? And, maybe most important, how are the worms? Worms do so much to make soil healthy and their presence is generally a good sign for gardeners. I’ve never seen as many as I’ve seen this year.

I’m grateful for their presence here on my Bit of Earth and I want them to know how welcome they are. I also know that I kill some when I dig into the ground with my sharp trowel. And I want them to know that I’m sorry. (Indeed, I’m sorrier than Dorothy Parker who wrote: “It costs me never a stab nor squirm to tread by chance upon a worm. ‘Aha, my little dear!’ I say, ‘Your kind will pay me back, one day.'”)

And so once my planting is done, I hold a ceremony of gratitude for the worms, sitting at my altar and sending my roots deep into their kingdom and telling them how much I appreciate them, how welcome they are here, how grateful I am for what they do. You can laugh, but my worms and I have a good, well, not talk, but a good communication. I apologize for the harm that I do to them and, in recompense, I rise and go outside to spread coffee grounds (Starbucks will give you pounds for free if you ask) all around the garden beds. Landscape Guy first told me how much worms like coffee grounds and he was right. They do. And so do the plants. I go back inside and sit again at my altar and say to the worms and all of the powers, and spirits, and beings of this place: “May we live in right relation to each other.”

And then I put lavender, rosemary, and peppermint in the hottest bath water I can run and soak my old muscles. The worms are limber and flexible. This old woman is not.

May you and your worms celebrate each other.

Picture found here.

Turn the World Around: Do You Know Who You Are?

“The way to mend the bad world is to create the right world.”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

My brilliant friend, Elizabeth, has a great post about changing the world. While that may seem like an overwhelming topic, Elizabeth quickly puts it into terms that make sense.

I’ve long believed that when the same thing keeps popping up for you over and over, you should probably start paying attention, since clearly the universe is tapping you on the shoulder.

What’s been tapping me on the shoulder lately?

Diversity and inclusion.

After citing some of the recent taps on her shoulder, she says:

So that’s what I’m going to do: do what’s in my power to shine a spotlight on diversity and inclusion and where we fail and how we can pick ourselves back up and try again.

And I know that she will — on her blog, at her job, via the conference presentations that she does, throughout all of the various forms of social media that she uses to speak truth to power.

Elizabeth and I have been chatting lately about the dynamic between what I’ll call “inner” (spiritual practices, exploring your own shadow issues, developing all aspects of your Self, etc.) and “outer” (pro bono law work, volunteering to clean up the Anacostia River, working to elect good people to office, etc.) work. Sometimes, I think that we Pagans, in particular, can get too wrapped up in inner work. And, of course, it’s true that when you change yourself, you change the world. A Witch who becomes aware of her own shadow issues and works to liberate the energy bound up in shadows for productive use, moving away from the need to project, is going to change her world. But there’s no end to spiritual work — at least not if we take it seriously. And the notion that you can ignore outer work until you’ve reached some point of spiritual perfection isn’t practical. As Adrienne Rich said:

No one ever told us we had to study our lives,
make of our lives a study, as if learning natural history
or music, that we should begin
with the simple exercises first
and slowly go on trying
the hard ones, practicing till strength
and accuracy became one with the daring
to leap into transcendence, take the chance
of breaking down the wild arpeggio
or faulting the full sentence of the fugue.
–And in fact we can’t live like that: we take on
everything at once before we’ve even begun
to read or mark time, we’re forced to begin
in the midst of the hard movement,
the one already sounding as we are born.

IMHO, it’s the interplay — between doing serious inner work, going out into the world to try and change it, coming back and examining all of that at our altars, going back out into the world and trying again, coming back and applying what we’ve learned to our work on our selves, and on and on — that both helps us to continue to grow spiritually and helps to make the world a better place. And to Pagans, wise to the ways in which non-duality matters, that shouldn’t be a surprise. What we learn in the work of changing the world gives energy and impetus to our inner work and our inner work makes us more effective at changing the world. As Mr. Belafonte sings, “We are of the Spirit, only can the Spirit turn the world around.” And (as above, so below) outer work can grow the Spirit.

What’s tapped me on my shoulder for many years is the need that the land has for people who are in relationship with it. And the need that people have to be in relationship with their watershed, landbase, foodshed. And I’m going to keep working on that, in ways both magical and “mundane,” in my own garden, where I pursue my own deeper and deeper relationship with my own Bit of Earth, and in the world at large.

What’s leaving fingermarks on your shoulder?

Learning to Love the Land


For any Witch working to develop a deeper relationship with hir landbase, Autumn is an incredibly rewarding time. It’s now when the land undergoes a deep transformation, baring its bones and showing its naked self. Spending time with the land right now can deepen your relationship with it, in part, because it is now when the land changes so dramatically. Pick a three-week period in, say, July and spend it observing the same bit of Earth and you won’t, unless your eye is practiced, see too much change from day to day or week to week. But go out every day between now and Thanksgiving and spend some time with the same bit of Earth and you’ll see big changes in everything from the quality of the light, to the hardness of the ground, to the revelation of all the trees without their leaves. And watching that change is a great way to have a conversation with your own landbase.

What’s going on with Mother Earth reminds me a bit of something that Christine Kane wrote this week (about personal growth, but I think the same principal applies):

3 – Slow Down to Speed Up

After you set your intention, there might be a slow down period. That’s because you have to let go of some of the old in order for the new to arrive. During this time period, most of the people in your life will think you’ve lost your mind.

One of my self-reinventions was the transformation of my music career into an on-line model that included coaching and mentoring women. When I began this transition, I experienced one whole year of questions from my musician and songwriting friends: “Ohmigod, what’s going on? You’re NEVER on the road anymore!” They were downright worried for me.

I had to clear out the old. I had to slow down to speed up. The “slow down” period is why so few people want to reinvent themselves. It can be very uncomfortable to keep your focus on your intention, while everyone wants you to justify your choices.

(Trust me on one thing, okay? When things pick up again, everyone will want to know your secret! It will suddenly seem like you did it effortlessly!)

4 – Take Action

Slowing down to speed up doesn’t mean you sit back and watch television. You must take action. You might feel, at first, like you’re stumbling and fumbling – but a steady movement forward helps the process.

People who believe it’s ALL about positive thinking are forgetting that human beings are meant to take action and use their bodies, too. Our bodies are a huge part of our powerful creative system! Use yours and take action!

Between Samhein and Imbolc, Earth slows down. She stops doing the things she was doing. Plants and animals go as dormant as they can. It seems that she has lost Her will to live. And yet, Her body is taking actions that can’t be seen. Like Witches, Her body is the medium of Her magic. And, come Spring, everyone looks at the bare ground and wonders how all those magical plants effortlessly push up and how all of those magical animals are suddenly born. Spending time with Her now can make the coming Spring all the more wonderful.

How can you make time in your busy life to slow down and spend time growing your relationship with your landbase?

Picture found here.

Thin Veil Pot-Pourri


*Is it breezy in here, or is it just me? My, the veils seem to be thinning at an amazing rate this near-to-Samhein season. And the energy from the Occupy movement seems to be calling to a number of interesting Ancestors. In my personal practice, the thinning veils call for careful attention to grounding. With my Sun in permeable Pisces, it would be too, too easy (and too, too tempting) to let myself drift too far through those open veils, too far down that misty road, too deep into that fairy hall in the hill. And, so, I get enough sleep. I try to eat right. I get on the treadmill. I balance time alone with time out in the world. I dig in the dirt and leave myself little reminders — an acorn on my desk at work, a flower in a vase by my bed, a tiny polished stone in my purse — to remind me to do what Ram Dass said: Be Here Now.

*”Our labors are witnesses for the living mystery.” Carl Jung, quoted in Ego and Archetype by Edward F. Edinger. Had a great conversation recently w/ a dear friend about how we can’t live our lives entirely focused on our inner processes, nor can we live our lives entirely directed towards the outer world. And, at some point, the feedback loop of doing both inner and outer work is far more effective than either process in isolation. It’s outer work — running for office, and deciding what compromises are worth making (some are, although I know it’s fashionable these days to decry all of them) and which aren’t, or working with the incredibly slow and sometimes frustrating process of consensus decision-making in the Occupy Movement, or rocking cranky babies — that gives us a chance to practice the inner work we’ve been doing of breathing, centering, learning to apply our True Will. And it’s inner work — setting aside time for a daily practice, doing shadow work, stopping throughout the day to reconnect to our Higher Selves — that allows us to be more effective when we confront Fox News, stop logging of old growth forests, let a homeless person know that they’re valued. Before enlightenment: chop wood & carry water. After enlightenment: chop wood & carry water. Where do you find the balance? Are you at a phase when it’s time to shift your emphasis from one mode to the other?

*Had lunch several days ago with the brilliant and deep Judith Laura. I’m reading her new book, Goddess Matters: the Mystical, Practical, & Controversial, about which a formal review in a few days. She takes on the lie that Goddess religions, because they do not have a set of rules, such as the Judeo-Christian Ten Commandments, lack ethics. Judith provides a list of her own Goddess guidelines:

Seek knowledge.
Revere wisdom.
Be joyful.
Know pleasure.
Love one another.
Protect life.
And live in peace.

+

Sounds about right to me. I’m also down with:

Let My worship be in the heart that rejoices, for behold, all acts of love and pleasure are My rituals.

Let there be beauty and strength, power and compassion, honor and humility, mirth and reverence within you.

And you who seek to know Me, know that the seeking and yearning will avail you not, unless you know the Mystery: for if that which you seek, you find not within yourself, you will never find it without.

Charge of the Goddess.

Some ethical practices are better conveyed through poetry. In Evidence, Mary Oliver writes:

Mysteries, Yes
Truly, we live with mysteries too marvelous to be understood.

How grass can be nourishing in the mouths of lambs.
How rivers and stones are forever in allegiance with gravity while we ourselves dream of rising.
How two hands touch and the bonds will never be broken.
How people come, from delight or the scars of damage, to the comfort of a poem.

Let me keep my distance, always, from those who think they have the answers.

Let me keep company always with those who say “Look!” and laugh in astonishment, and bow their heads.

*Literata has been doing some amazing blogging on the whole New Apostolic Reformation (NAR/DC40) attack on Pagans. If you aren’t reading her regularly, you should be. Here’s an example:

In [Dominionist] worldview, democracy is sort of a surface phenomenon. It can be used as a kludge when not everyone accepts their god-given place in the power dynamics (especially unbelievers). It can be used as a compromise, or a temporary expedient. But it’s not a long-lasting solution. It’s not a fundamental idea, it’s not something to work for, and ultimately, it’s un-biblical.

With that in mind, read what Wagner has to say about the roles of self-proclaimed apostles and prophets in the NAR:

WAGNER: “The Bible teaches that apostles – related to prophets and also teachers – should form the basis of the government of the church. Now, up till now, recently, most churches in America functioned on a democratic system, so that the authority in the churches and the authority in the denominations resided in groups of people.

And, of course, that’s what we’re used to politically in America, so that fits in very well with our culture. But in terms of the role of the apostle, one of the biggest changes from traditional churches to the New Apostolic Reformation is the amount of spiritual authority delegated by the Holy Spirit to individuals. And the two key words are authority and individuals, and individuals as contrasted to groups. So now, apostles have been raised up by God who have a tremendous authority in the churches of the New Apostolic Reformation. And I think this is the most radical difference between the old and the new.”

When he says, “that’s what we’re used to politically in America,” I hear the unspoken statement, “but that’s not the way it’s supposed to be.” When he talks about how the NAR’s authority structure is a “radical difference,” I connect that to the kind of “transformation” that he wants to see in American culture and American politics.

Wagner also made a point of saying that the NAR is “working with whatever political system there is” in each country it’s engaging. But he strictly disavows any mention that they want a “theocracy,” which he specifically links to states like Iran or like Constantine’s Rome. He is telling the truth there, but it’s a specific kind of truth based on his ideas about authority.

I believe him that he doesn’t want a “theocracy” where there’s an institutionalized church that runs the institutionalized state. He wants to meld the two, indistinguishably, because his religious ideas about authority and power are so all-encompassing that they would make a separate institutionalized government redundant.

She’s spot on, is a student of history, and always does her homework.

Anne Johnson has been interviewing a different “Bored God” every day, with a focus on the state under attack that day by NAR. If you haven’t yet read her interview with the Spirit of Ayahuasca, used by, primarily, Native Americans in their religious ceremonies, you don’t know what you’re missing.

Anne: Welcome, Ayahuasca! I’d offer you a cup of tea … but that’s what you are.

Ayahuasca: I’m not your cup of tea, though. You haven’t been initiated into the Mysteries.

Anne: So true. About the most adventurous I get is a vodka gimlet. But this isn’t about my religious experiences, it’s about America’s religious experiences. And You, o Sacred Ayahuasca, have been foully and cruelly treated! Everyone has heard the tale of the DEA agents bursting in on a ceremony of the Unaio do Vegetal praise and worship team in New Mexico. The agents pulled You right out of the priest’s kitchen and carted You off to the slammer. (Or in this case, the refrigerator.)

Ayahuasca: We took them to court. To the Supreme Court. And we won.

Anne: Damn right, you won! It’s called the First Amendment, and there’s a long and well-documented use of Ayahuasca tea in numerous religious paths originating in the Western Hemisphere. I was rooting for Unaio do Vegetal every step of the way.

Ayahuasca: Thank you. Here is how I look at it. You never see DEA agents bursting into a First Communion, confiscating the wine, and arresting the priests for serving alcoholic beverages to minors.

*The Occupy Movement has been training lots of people in the use of consensus decision making. That’s difficult work, both to teach and to learn. In honor of all of those teachers, learners, and users, I offer the following picture by Robert Bissell, entitled, The Decision:


(found here.)

*I had a delightful houseful (I have a tiny cottage, so it doesn’t take too many to make a houseful) of people over for brunch yesterday. Some were long-time friends, in town for OccupyDC, some were family, some were Witches and their spouses, some ( 😉 ) were Landscape Guy. Gemini Rising, there’s not much that I enjoy more than bringing interesting people together, feeding them, and listening to them talk. Consequently, I’d saved a long list of chores to be done today, but, in the end, I slept late, spent extra time on the treadmill, and drove up to Benkhe’s nursery, which I really did not need to do. But, as I said a few months ago: OPG. I bought some begonias for inside the kitchen windowsill, a tiny pot of succulents to keep on my desk all Winter when the sunlight comes as strong as can be through my Northern window, and a big blue pot for my office jade tree, which has needed repotting for some time.

*If I am related (by blood or experience) to you and you are beyond the Veils, this is a gentle reminder that you do NOT have a standing invitation to visit me every night in my dreams. Some of you, I didn’t even really like very much while you were alive, and I’m certain that I never wanted to sleep (in the prosaic (or other) sense) with all ya’ll. It’s going to be a long month. Go bother someone else. And, if you do show up, please remember to tell me where the money is buried, how much you really did love me even though you couldn’t say it, and to give me the recipes for stuffing and sweet pickles. The “you were not a very nice little girl” stuff you can save for L.L. She may care. And she really wasn’t.

+First published in Judith’s book: She Lives! The Return of Our Great Mother.

Picture found here.

Putting the “Pride” in Pagan Pride Events


Star Foster has written an important post: Why I Love Wicca. It’s especially important for anyone involved in organizing Pagan Pride events and/or interacting with the media. You should read the whole thing, but here’s a taste:

We are a religion of many sects, many cults, many expressions. From the “hard Gards” to the solitary eclectics weaving their own magic. We are each full of the same awe, wonder, mystery, and joy. We cast the circle, call the elements, honor the Gods, celebrate the Mystery and send our energy to make a positive change in the world. This happens in rituals containing hundreds of people. This happens silently in candlelit bedrooms of closeted solitaries. Our words may be different, our mythos vary and the details be different, but as Wiccans we are all calling forth the same Mystery. Maybe this Mystery is something passed down in secret from the ancient Pagans of England and Italy, maybe the distillation of the grimoire tradition, the torch of the Neo-Platonists passed down over the centuries, or a bit of divine inspiration as a goaty old man in England crafted a new Eleusis out of thin air.

We adore a Goddess as silvery as the moon, who despite her tough, craggy, pocked and cratered face shines with grace and beauty. Delicate and gentle in the night sky, those who underestimate her forget she can make the sea itself beat against the shore. She pours her love out upon the earth, on every sexual and gender identity, on every skin color, on every age, every level of ability. She gives us her acceptance and love, for we are born from her blessed, without blemish or sin. Then she charges us to make the absolute best we can with the current life we are given, to recognize our power and rise to every challenge, before we return to her, like a rain drop returning to the boundless sea. It is she who brings the dew, makes verdant the seed and excites all the earth to fecund glory. She is the changing woman, always moving, always perfectly herself and never quite who you expect.

We adore a God who is hunter and hunted, who is the dark forest and the baking desert, the deep blackness of death and decay and also the white hot heat of the blazing sun. He is the keeper of the dead and the guide to rebirth. Maybe you see him antlered, horned and hooved, as a crowned solar king, as a child of promise, as continually battling siblings, or as the dark lord of death. Maybe he is just that still point when you find the rhythm of your work, or the spark of vitality as you glide across the dance floor. He is the insistent drumbeat of the wild hunt, tearing through the night skies and dancing round a sacred bonfire, and the quiet stillpoint where you face your own darkness and mortality. He is the one who rises to fall, then in triumph to rise again.

Consider the Circle, this round temple under the night sky and beneath the radiant sun, this energetic expression of our worldview. The Circle surrounds us. It arcs over us, and dips below us. We are encapsulated by energy, both to keep our energy within, and to keep the spirit equivalents of “rubber-neckers” away. It takes a lot to build this Circle, to have all the pieces in place, and you really only notice that because when you begin to bring it down there is an energetic domino effect. You pull that energetic string or shift that energetic keystone and it all cascades down, returning to the earth. It’s really beautiful, this temple that is a place that is not a place, a time that is not a time, that is the same circle, that same shape, all the world over.

Regular readers will know that I harp, a lot, about well-meaning Pagans who bungle interactions with the media. I’ve been happy this Autumn to get the chance to highlight some examples of Pagans using good framing when they announce their events. I’m seeing (thank the Goddess) more examples where people don’t go on about what Pagans don’t do or who Pagans don’t worship. And that’s all to the good, because, as Lakoff teaches us, when you invoke a negative frame, all that you manage to do is to reinforce that frame.

I also harp a lot about knowing your why, being really clear on your own objectives and intent before you send out a press release or agree to be interviewed. Star Foster’s post is a great example of a Pagan discussing what it is about her Pagan religion that makes her proud. I’d love to see more of that sort of discussion in, for example, announcements concerning Pagan Pride events. What if, instead of saying, that the purpose of your local Pagan Pride Day was to educate the public about Paganism, you said that the purpose was for local Pagans to celebrate and share some of the things about Paganism that make them feel happy and proud? What if you said, as Star Foster does:

This is what Wicca means to me. This is what I’m in love with, the dance, the tension, the sorrow and the joy. It’s what I discovered as a young girl that made me feel as if I’d finally come home.

Of course, use your own words. Include examples from the broad spectrum of Pagan religions in your local area. But a day devoted to pride, ought, don’t you think, to focus on what it is about this path that you most want to celebrate? Do that, and you’ll (almost like magic) create a positive frame for your message.

Picture found here.