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Get to Work

I don't know if it is the insistent trudging of February, my time of life or the world of the world but I am weary of words. Your words. My words. All the words.  The Pagan community is arguably one of the most educated in the country and we have so much to discuss as the religious movement changes and grows. We parse language, we foment revolution, we whine, we rejoice.

But we do rather a lot of arguing. About all sorts of things large and small.

Yes, I know it's part of "internet culture"--these digital pissing contests--and I've written before about my grief over the state of freedom of religion within the Pagan community. You don't get to bully me about who I choose to worship and I don't get to judge you because you're not doing it right.  Used to be, we just went our ways--like country Baptist churches--and formed our own group that did it the way we liked it done.

I am weary of asking--don't you have a holy day to prepare for?  Or--ain't you got no gods to worship today?  when the minutiae of Pagan discourse becomes overwhelming in its smugness. I haven't written much here lately because I've been reading about the crisis of leadership, the toxicity of the generation gap, the discovery of racism mostly growing out of groups of Pagans finding common ground in national events and plowing over that ground (and harrowing and hoeing) at conferences and festivals.

Probably I don't have anything to add to any of those conversations. The experience of a middle-aged straight woman in the South may not lead to any particular wisdom to share with her betters on the coasts. And I don't have the answers for people who live far away, on different land. But I suspect I really just have my shoulder to the wheel (if you'll pardon me mixing the farming and milling metaphors) and am listening to the beloved community around me and to the land as She shakes herself slowly (too damned slowly) to wakefulness.

So the title of this piece is advise to myself that you may have, if you'd like.  When everything feels deadening around you and you give up hope that Spring will come and you've grown weary of all the self-aggrandizing fol-de-rol, you may want to go to your altar (if you have one), engage your Divines (if you honor any) and connect with your Ancestors (if you do that) and have a nice cuppa tea. And listen.

Then roll up your sleeves (if you wear those) and get to work. Praying, worshipping, practicing magic, loving the Earth. Writing, painting, plowing, planting.

Let your wise body rule your head for a while.

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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,


  • Diotima
    Diotima Saturday, 28 February 2015

    I get emails when several W&P blogs are published. It always amuses me how I can tell which ones are yours before I even open the email, just by reading the title. I had no doubt when I saw the title to this one. Well said!

  • Leandra Witchwood
    Leandra Witchwood Wednesday, 04 March 2015

    I am also tired of the “internet pissing contests”. There is far more bickering and judging going around compared to good solid community building. I can only hope that my attitude and actions in the community will help counter some of this non-productive and non-conducive behavior.
    In my community I have seen more than my fair share of lashing out. If someone doesn’t think you are “doing it right” they are quick to point this out. Usually this finger pointing, is very harsh and demeaning. It’s a bully tactic. It’s about making one feel less of a practitioner so that the bully can feel big and tall.
    It wears on you. Makes you tired and well… recluse.
    It is time for change, strong leaders with quality leadership skills need to rise up to unite the communities. Other factions and religious groups do this all the time. Why can’t the Pagan community?
    We want… no we demand, other communities tolerate us as a whole, but how can we expect that take place when we will not tolerate one another from within?
    Thank you for the article.

  • Byron Ballard
    Byron Ballard Thursday, 05 March 2015

    Thank you both for your thoughtful responses. Leandra, how can we encourage and support the kind of leadership you've outlined? Could we brainstorm that here? And how do we support each other when we are working to model that kind of leadership? Thanks again!

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