Pagan Paths

It’s a common thing to hear that there’s a difference between our magical lives and our mundane lives. In reality, we have the ability to step into ritual and devotion each and every day.

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9 pagans that have influenced me in 2014

I'm not a fan of Top Ten lists. In fact, Top Ten lists frequently make it onto my Top Ten list of things I dislike. Having said that though, I feel inexorably compelled to write about 9 folks that have greatly influenced me this year. And as a Top 9 list is not the same as a Top 10 list I think I can live with myself. I considered a Top 11 list but thought that was too reminiscent of Spinal Tap and let's face it, 9 is a good witchy number.

Now some of these folks you might recognize from their books, or Pagan festival appearances or blogs and I imagine that several of them might appear on other people's year-end retrospectives too. My hope is that there will be at least one or two folks that you don't know and, much more importantly, I hope to convey just why these people have been so deeply influential to me this year.

So, in no particular order -

Anne Newkirk Niven -  Anne is the publisher and editor of a plethora of Pagan print and online magazines. She's been in the business for more than two decades. I've been reading Witches & Pagans, Sage Woman, Crone  and other "Anne-edited" pieces for years. Anne is the driving force behind PaganSquare and has generously allowed me to publish my little "mind doodles" here for folks to read. In the time I've been writing for PaganSquare I've had the chance to connect with other bloggers, writers and Pagans all over the world and have learned a great deal from them. So basically, Anne exponentially expanded my universe and that's a trick usually reserved for the gods. Read into that what you will!

Crystal Blanton - If you are lucky you've read something Crystal has written this year. If you're really lucky you've read something Crystal has written and it pissed you off. If you are the luckiest person ever, you've read something that Crystal has written and it's pissed you off so much so that it caused you to question everything you ever thought about that thing that you were sure you knew everything about, then rearrange it, question it again and finally come out on the other side with an even greater understanding of compassion, justice and magic. Crystal must have the patience of Rhiannon because she's put up with me asking her all sorts of things this past year. Crystal inspires me to take action and to say the hard things that need to be said. For that I am in her debt.

Phoenix LeFae - Phoenix is a witch, a tarot reader, a root worker, a teacher and a consummate ritualist. She is a veritable treasure trove of goddess lore and myth. I don't have to believe in magic because I get to watch her create magic each and every day. I don't have to believe in an abstract goddess either because I get to be with a goddess each and every day. Yes! She happens to be my partner but I'm pretty good at pushing that to one side and seeing her for what she is and what she happens to be is an amazing priestess. I've taken several classes that Phoenix has facilitated and she blows me away each and every time. She is so well prepared, so knowledgeable, so willing to go "there" so that I can go there too. Phoenix reminds me that "priestess" is a verb as well as a noun. This is who she is and how she walks in the world and she inspires me to do the same.

The Entire Staff at The Sacred Well - Okay, I realize that I should probably list all of their names but I'd forget someone and then I'd feel terrible, but trust me, each and every person that works at The Sacred Well is amazing. I've had the great pleasure to be in circle with many of these folks, to do business stuff with this crew, to just hang out with them, to eat with them, and to be in ritual with them. Apart from being knowledgeable and friendly and all of the things that you might expect folks that work in a Pagan-owned retail business to be, they did something this year that was utterly astounding. They closed their business and gave up their pay on the the busiest retail shopping day of the year. They did this as an act of solidarity. They did this as a political act. They did this as a way of saying "we actually practice the very concepts that the books we sell in this store talk about". And that's why they are all awesome-sauce and why I continue to shop there. They've taught me that "talking the talk" is only worth anything if you also "walk the walk."

Amy - Amy is my daughter. She also happens to be the kind of person I want to be when I grow up. Now hang in there with me here on this one, I promise this isn't just a proud father using his blog to brag about his daughter. She did two amazing things this year. Amy made a decision, a sacrifice actually in the truest sense of the word, and she gave up something very precious so that she could help a friend in need. She continues to help this friend to this very day. Most importantly she couldn't imagine not helping her friend in this difficult time. She also found herself in a financial position to lend a little support to Teen Earth Magic, a Reclaiming Camp for teens. Amy has attended this camp several times over the years and wants to make sure that it stays available and affordable for teens that want to attend. ( I have her permission to post this all by the way). Amy reminds me every day that no act of service is small.

Lilith Danu - My guess is that there are only a handful of folks that read this blog who know who Lilith is. Lilith is part of the local Pagan community here, where I live. Lilith shows up. Showing up isn't always easy for Lilith, but she does it anyway. More often than not Lilith steps in to do the things that other folks would not and she does it with a style and grace that is uniquely hers and hers alone. Lilith was a dancer and you can see that, actually, you can feel it, even when she is sitting in her chair. There have been a few times when life has gotten hard that I've found myself crying in her lap. Lilith rarely tells me it will "be alright" (because she would point out that she couldn't possibly know that) but rather she says "let it go." and I do. Lilith reminds me that showing up is half the work and being willing to do the work is the other half and in this way she has influenced me all year.

Erick Dupree - Erick is the one person on this list that I haven't actually met in person. I'd very much like to change that in 2015. Amongst other things, Erick writes "Alone in her Presence: Meditations on the Goddess." It is simply one of the best blogs I read. Erick's focus is on daily practice. Simple daily practice. He writes so honestly and so beautifully that I often find myself reaching for a handkerchief and dabbing at my eyes after I read his work. Erick challenged me to write this year, but more importantly he prompted me to write from a place of vulnerability. No, let me say that clearly, Erick demanded that I stand in my vulnerability and write from there. Few people, and even fewer men, have ever encouraged me to be so open. 

Robin - Few of you know Robin but I hope all of you know someone like Robin. Robin has been a part of the Craft for 30 years or so. She knows a great deal and she knows where the bodies are buried too. What Robin knows about magic and ritual and ceremony and Craft history and ecstatic practices could fill a few volumes. But that's not why I've included Robin here on my list of Pagans that have influenced me this year. It's because of a concert we went to together in San Francisco. Robin was giddy. Robin smiled from one ear to the other. She bounced up and down like Tigger on cocaine and this was just while we were waiting outside! When we finally made it into the venue she sang, danced, jumped, waived, giggled and in every way possible threw herself into the experience. You have to know that when Robin smiles it's as if the dawn is breaking just for you. When she laughs, it's like all of the laughter in the entire world has just come from a meeting to decide where the coolest place to hang out would be and the decision was that Robin's mouth was the perfect spot. Robin's capacity to laugh, bear witness, cry, and completely immerse herself in the present moment is amazing. Robin has taught me over and over again this year that what we have, the only thing we really have to share, is this very moment.

Jason Mankey - I really debated leaving Jason off of this list for the sole reason that he still believes that John Bonham was a better drummer than Keith Moon, but when I weighed that fact against everything else I hold dear about Mr. Mankey I just had to include him. Jason is a disruptive force in Paganism and I like that. Like a certain Oxford professor that Jason admires, he's willing to explore what we do and don't actually know about modern Paganism and he's not shy about pointing out Pagan BS when he sees it. Jason is a prolific and skilled writer that, unlike me, actually cites his research and work. This past year, Jason has encouraged me to write and to write and to write. And, apart from the "best drummer ever" thing, I consider him to be a dear and close friend. I don't know that I have the capacity to adequately thank Jason or to convey precisely how incredibly grateful I am for his friendship and encouragement. 

These are some fine folk and I am a richer person for knowing them

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I've been a practicing witch and ritualist within the Reclaiming Tradition since 2003. I love being in service with this community of witches and world changers.   My own practice, my own way of changing the world is through devotional practice. It's my belief that we can re-enchant our lives by re-framing the so-called "mundane" as sacred and divine. By imbuing the familiar with a sense of wonder and infusing daily life with acts of magic, we choose to consciously make all of life devotion. Whether we engage in large, public rituals or sink sumptuously into the pure ecstasy of eating a delicious meal by ourselves or meditating at sunrise, our daily rituals can draw us back into harmony with the world and each other.  


  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven Monday, 29 December 2014

    Gwion, I'm proud as punch to be on any list you'd make. But have we really met in person? Cuz I'm pretty sure I'd remember that.

  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham Tuesday, 30 December 2014

    I'd love to see the two of you in the same room - come hang out with us here in the NorthBay Anne! - You'd also be amazed at the way PSR has changed, I'd love to have both of you come do something there as well!

  • Gwion Raven
    Gwion Raven Tuesday, 30 December 2014

    You know Anne, I have a recollection of being introduced to you by a mutual friend at Pantheacon several years ago. Now if that's not true, I recant, retract and otherwise categorically accept that my brain is addled!

    Also, we should meet and make it a momentous affair so that their can be no debate about it in the future :)


  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven Tuesday, 30 December 2014

    Gwion -- I've only been to PCon once in my life, way back in 2008. I'm pretty sure we haven't met.

  • Gwion Raven
    Gwion Raven Tuesday, 30 December 2014

    Well then - I'm about to edit my piece to make it clear we haven't met! Now...I wonder who I did meet? :)

  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven Tuesday, 30 December 2014

    Don't edit it, Gwion, or you'll make this entire thread look .... well, really weird.

  • Gwion Raven
    Gwion Raven Tuesday, 30 December 2014

    I've left it as published but just in case anyone else reads these comments, it's clear that Anne and I have yet to meet. I'm going to ask our mutual friend if they remember to whom they introduced me. I'm not a fan of publishing untruths, even inadvertently.

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