The Autumnal Equinox is that time of the year when we start talking about food-sharing. It makes sense; the Autumnal Equinox marks the last harvest, the time where one would expect that there's plenty of food to go around. But the harvest and the equinox have come and gone along with the Pagan Pride festivals that dot the month of September (many PPD fests include a food drive). Hunger is a sad reality for millions of people all over the world, all year round, so it's important not to forget your local food bank, and to donate when you can throughout the entire year.
If you've notice I've been a bit inactive, it's mostly because that most of the communities I involve myself in have caught a case of "Being-on-fire" and that has kept me quite busy. I have forgotten about things here, and you will be seeing some posts from me soon.
In the meantime, while I get those posts ready to roll, have you all heard about the fundraiser that some of us from Heathens United Against Racism have put together? It is to try and extend some goodwill, positivity, and compassion to those who were effected by Frazier Glen Cross in Kansas City, and help relieve those with financial burdens created by the frenzied madness of a murderer. While HUAR started this, we've seen support (both financial and awareness raising) from everyone from McNallen to Krasskova, and from the Troth to the AFA. Dozens of us have all put aside our political and philosophical differences in order to help bolster the spirits of those so effected by this madman. We've also seen assistance outside of the Heathen community from several covens, bloggers of all sorts, and the Pan-Pagan community in general. We are grateful for all of that help, and with just a little more we will be able to reach the goal we established in the hours following that crime.
We cannot buy back lives or peace of mind, but perhaps we can help stabilize these families enough that they can grieve and say goodbye without mundane distractions. We can give these families a small measure of support, and show them that our thoughts are with them during a horrible and bleak time.
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?
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.
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.
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?
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: