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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in charity
A Decent Proposal: Pagan Social Services

Friends, Romans, heathens, pagans, countrymen and women, lend me your ears. From time to time, many of us bemoan bad behavior in our communities, but today I would like to put forth a serious question: what would you like to do about it?

I know that we are scattered and often many of us are isolated or solitary in our practices. But faith should bring us solace in our grief and a network of support when we are in need. What can or should we do to facilitate this?

We do have charity, and there are people doing admirable things on the local level, like Alley Valkyrie in Eugene, Be the Light Chapel, or Kyrja Withers’ organization, Hands of the Goddess here in Central Florida. And yes, Kyrja still does open and active community work as a Pagan, despite hate crimes perpetuated against her and her family.  Hands of the Goddess also has a South Georgia chapter. The Maetreum of Cybele provides shelter for abused women, despite harassment from local authorities.

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  • Heather Freysdottir
    Heather Freysdottir says #
    Thank you all for your support; for now I've started a Pinterest board for the social services that I'm already aware of at http:/
  • Kimberly Reeves
    Kimberly Reeves says #
    http://www.pagansinneed.org is our food pantry. We are just local to SE Mich but I'd love to hook up with other groups for ideas.
  • Art and Spirit Guild
    Art and Spirit Guild says #
    OMG this is so awesome. Our local community leaders really want to provide services to Pagans in need but we have a difficult tim

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
'Tis the season to move money around

The beginning of shopping season may be blurry, particularly for those whose traditions include portmanteau neologisms, but it's safe to say that it's in full swing as I write this on December 2.  The convergence of the gifting culture and the end of the tax year in many locales also makes this the time when many charities make their year-end pitches.  Likewise, this is when tax-free gifts to family members are often delivered, stocks bought and sold to maximize profit or minimize taxable gains, and people who participate in pre-tax health savings accounts and the like are making sure that they've spent everything they're required to.

So there's a lot of money on the move right now, a lot of energy flowing.  I'd go so far as to say that December is to money what October is to the spirits of the dead:  if you want to work with money, this is one of the best times to do so.  Spells and prayers for abundance and prosperity, as well as workings and offerings which are released through the movement of money, are worth incorporating into one's practice at this time of year, when the secular cycles are so strong that they reveal the unseen powers which shape them.

When I read about holiday shopping madness, I liken it to someone who draws down a deity without training or preparation, insofar as the damage comes from a lack of respect for, and comprehension of, the powers involved.  We presume that, because we invented money, that we understand and control it.  Perhaps if we approached the "holiday season" with the same deference and study that some Wiccans apply to preparing for ritual possession, we'd all have a healthier relationship with the stuff.

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  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Mr. Ward, Thanks for sharing your thoughts, as well as the links! Some of the suggestions were just great.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Haiyan:  how to help

The Pagan community is stepping up to help in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan's landfall in the Philippines.

  • To assist the small Pagan community directly, Pagan Federation International is making an appeal for donations.  Donors are being thanked directly on the PFI Philippines Facebook page.
  • In its own round-up of stories about the storm, The Wild Hunt reports that Peter Dybing is challenging Pagans to give in this time of extreme crisis, and even suggests a few organizations he thinks will do a good job at it.
  • Pandora's Kharis, the charity circle of Hellenic polytheists, is rising to that challenge, although I say so more poetically than literally.  Yes, it is likely the group's next round of donations will focus on Haiyan relief, but no, I don't think that decision was motivated specifically by Dybing's call.
  • Circle Sanctuary is echoing that call (is that less poetic?), asking for donations to the Philippines Red Cross or Doctors Without Borders, which also happen to be Dybing's recommendations.  They are also calling for the sending of healing energy to the survivors.

The devastation from this storm is, I'm sure, nearly incomprehensible to those of us who only see pictures and video from the scene.  The logistics of getting around and communicating on this nation of countless islands is always complex, and trying to reach all of these places with roads and communications destroyed is incredibly difficult.  No government designed, no preparedness plan written, no technology built by humans hands is quite enough to make the aftermath of an event like this any easier.  

The hard work of moving rubble, finding the living and the dead, and giving them the care and supplies they need is only just beginning.  The storm made landfall on November 7, and a major relief effort from the United States only just reached there yesterday.  Over a week without shelter, clean water, sanitary facilities, medical care, or a way to deal with the dead.  There will be a lot of need.

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  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Mr. Ward, Thanks for sharing this!

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Charity as religious community

Some time before I started this blog, I began asking myself the question:  where are the Pagan charities?  Doing good deeds is good PR, and generally Pagans are good people, so didn't it follow that there was a place for Pagan charities to help that along?

The real problem is that I was asking the wrong question.  What I should have asked was, "To what causes do Pagans donate?"  Charitable donations can be a good thing, but as Elani Temperance wisely pointed out, there is value to Pagans giving publicly, too.  Our disparate community doesn't have any meaningful charities of its own, so how can we maximize the value of public giving?

One of the readers of the aforelinked Baring the Aegis suggested a way that the Hellenic polytheist community can do so, an idea which has quickly been formed into Pandora's Kharis, a charity circle that will make a monthly donation to a cause of the group's democratic choosing.  

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  • Jay Logan
    Jay Logan says #
    My coven Chalice Hart - ATC started what we call the Healing Hearts Fund seven years ago, the monies of which go towards helping t
  • Jay Logan
    Jay Logan says #
    \ Shameless plug. lol
  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Mr. Ward, Thanks for sharing this with us!

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Tithing: not just for Christians

Risking charges of cultural appropriation, I'm going to come right out and say that I thinking tithing is a wonderful idea that Pagans should borrow and embrace . . . with some modifications to fit our diverse paths and beliefs, of course.

Tithing is the Biblical tradition of skimming ten percent off the top of one's income and giving it to one's church.  This was an effective way to provide for priests and ensure that charity stays local, but there are a number of reasons why its literal application won't work for most modern Pagans.  A few that come to mind are:

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  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Mr. Ward, I wish we could do this. We do give to various charities, though. Thanks again for another great post.
  • Debbie Vozniak
    Debbie Vozniak says #
    This is a great idea. I personally tend to give my donations to animal or nature rescue causes and to victims of disasters worldwi
  • Terence P Ward
    Terence P Ward says #
    Great points, Emily! Produce was the originally tithe expected of Hebrews, with money moving in as a convenient way to measure th

NPR reports on a study that confirms what many of us already felt, that poor people are more charitable, in how they think about community and as a percentage of what they have.  So what's going on here?  I have some ideas, not all of which could possibly be correct at the same time, and I'm even more curious about the ideas I haven't thought of myself.

Not surprisingly, "religion" is cited as a motivator for charitable behavior, but from what I can tell, that generic term as applied in the studies cited actually means "Christian religion" instead.  It's understandable that researchers focus their efforts on the largest groups, but the rest of us must read between the lines.

My theories about wealth and charity include:

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  • T
    T says #
    I recall (though sadly can't cite) this being a repeatedly reaffirmed trend. Heck, even Jesus has parable with an example of the p
  • Terence P Ward
    Terence P Ward says #
    I like the connection you draw between community and charity, T, particularly this remark: "Someone who has not directly experien
  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    Not Paganism specifically, but a general New Age concept that if you want to attract prosperity into your life you must be willing

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Charity is blind

Although I grew up in a community with a strong Jewish presence, I never really delved into the wisdom of that path; therefore, I was completely unaware of the wisdom of Maimonides and his views on charity.  The philosopher laid out eight levels of giving which observant Jews should follow as a tenet of their faith.  I can't think of a reason Pagans shouldn't adopt something similar.

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  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    That is a really, really good post. Thank you. Marcus Aurelius once wrote that the most noble deed is the one we receive no cred
  • Terence P Ward
    Terence P Ward says #
    It's noble because it's hard! I have a slew of things I'd love to tell the world about, but unless you're interested in boor hunt

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