We're back for Watery Wednesday, when we bring you news about Pagan and interfaith communities around the world. This week we have stories for you about the various controversies within Paganism, requests for submissions by both PantheaCon and Humanistic Paganism, and interfaith cooperation in North Carolina. All this and more for the Pagan News Beagle!
PaganSquare is a community blog space where Pagans can discuss topics relevant to the life and spiritual practice of all Pagans.
"Twelve hundred years had not yet passed
When the land extended and the peoples multiplied.
The land was bellowing like a bull,
The god got disturbed by their uproar.
Enlil heard their noise
And addressed the great gods,
"The noise of mankind has become too intense for me,
With their uproar I am deprived of sleep." --Atrahasis Epic
It is hard to make your way in our modern world without at least cursory knowledge of flood narratives in some form--whether that is the story of Noah and the Ark, Gilgamesh, Atrahasis, Metamorphoses, or many others from multiple cultures around the globe. Indeed, there is an ongoing relationship between man and the divine that involves water particularly as a cleansing agent. This particular post is not going to delve into the deeper meanings of punishment inflicted on humankind by the divine use of water. Rather, I'd like to take a look at theological implications for the Pagan community in the aftermath of one of the most significant natural disasters of this decade.
I was a prime observer of the 2015 Pagan Spirit Gathering deluge. I showed up on Sunday afternoon, and after a harrowing few days evacuated the area on Wednesday afternoon after having drove thirteen hours from Maryland to get there. During that short time period I witnessed marvelous acts of sacrifice and kindness--the kind that inspires me to continue doing my work as a minister in training for Circle Sanctuary. There is no question in my mind of the bond shared by our community, or the significance this event personified.
First and foremost, I have participated in and been witness to multiple conversations on creating intentional community. Many of us realized having our spiritual and emotional cup filled only once a year is not enough, and have begun seeking out like-minded individuals to either purchase land to live on or start some other form of community with more permanence. In this way it is possible to draw upon narratives like the Jewish diaspora for inspiration (not that I am comparing the Pagan community to the Jewish community). Having shared this particular experience as a whole, we carry our own pieces and memories of the loss with us, using it to fuel our search for something more.
Secondly, we are beginning to see more attention being garnered for climate change and its effects. It is a bit of bitter irony that while I am up to my knees in mud and we are pushing cars out of a lake, that California and other portions of the nation are still experiencing intense drought. This is only one example of how our weather is shifting in many ways due to mankind's involvement--highlighting a greater need to discuss remediation with our planet.
Lastly--and I'm throwing a hurt feelings disclaimer out there--events like the one we just experienced have large scale implications for "culling the herd." In mythology it's called cleansing the sinful. In today's society it's called where your heart lies. This event will have turned many off to the idea that PSG is worth their time or their money. We will see the numbers drop, but we will also see a strengthening of existing bonds in ways nothing else could have accomplished. For better or worse this event, this flood narrative of our modern time, has marked us as a people who love and work and sacrifice for each other. So for that I am grateful. #wearetribe
It was one year ago today that my life changed forever. It didn't change as much as it could have changed, and for that I'm grateful, but nothing has been the same since this day one year ago. My own error resulted in my falling 10 feet onto the thin edge of the control panel of a spare washing machine. I broke 6 ribs at both ends and broke my left shoulder blade in half. I spent several days in the hospital, 2 months off work, and 6+ months in physical therapy. I would never have made it through all of this without amazing support from my friends, family, and co-workers. I am still paying off medical bills, but I am alive and healthy. I am nearly back to the level I was before the accident (and in some ways I am actually healthier). It still amazes me that less than 2 months after the accident I climbed on a plane and flew to San Jose to do my 3 workshop presentations at PantheaCon. I owe thanks to many of the people at that event as well. While lurching around with broken bones, trying to haul incense making supplies from one workshop to the next, a lot of people I'd never met helped me haul things around and set up or tear down. THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO HAS HELPED IN THE LAST YEAR.
But there was more help given to me than that and I want to try and thank as many people as I can from the Pagan Community. In less than 1 day after my accident I was able to get online and, very slowly, type a message with one hand. I sent out that email letting folks know what happened and asking for any spare energy to help me with the extraordinary pain as well as energy to heal. The response was overwhelming and nearly immediate. Within an hour of sending that message, I began to feel the energy pouring in. I know that there were groups or covens who sent me energy and that was an immense kindness that truly made a difference. Even more surprising was the energy that continued to come to me for weeks, much of it being sent by Solitary Pagans who had never met (or even heard of) me and who lived hundreds or even thousands of miles away. That Community of Solitaries, without any coordination whatsoever, continued this outpouring of love and energy for months.
Today is Watery Wednesday, the day we share stories for and about our many communities of Pagans (however widely defined.) Today we have ideas on how to boost empathy -- on the internet; two Pagan-themed internet campaigns; Reclaiming events in Minnesota, and finding a Pagan Pride event near you.
The internet provides us with many opportunities to create community -- or tear it down. This article from Yes! magazine offers suggestions of how we can create more empathy in our online connections....
I was going to write about something related but different in my next column. But I read Shauna Aura Knight’s excellent post about her stance on the Frosts this morning, and the controversy she has encountered has encouraged me to change focus. It seems to me that much of the criticism and condemnation boils down to, "She's not playing nice." Well, here's the problem with "niceness." I must tread carefully to protect privacy so much of my language is deliberately vague.
One of our tradition members – an initiate of an initiate – contacted my husband and priest. She said that her teenage daughter had told her that her husband had sexually abused her. The couple have been married for many years; the girl in question is the man’s daughter genetically. The mother was, quite understandably, in tears. She wanted to know what she should do....
On an otherwise entirely normal Saturday in July 2014, a group of several dozen Pagans travelled from across the UK to join together in creating something which had never been attempted before.
The Pagan Symposium was a meeting in London of representatives from Pagan groups, organised from an idea by Mike Stygal, President of the UK Pagan Federation. The goals were kept deliberately vague, but at heart, the hope was that each group would be able to come together to share their experiences, skills and wishes to assist the wider Pagan community across the country.
The challenge of such ventures, of course, is that no single group can ever accurately represent all Pagans; also, the natural reluctance of many Pagans to affiliate with any group, when our paths contain such a strong core of individuality. In the past, strong egos have been an issue, or vastly differing ideologies. The analogy of 'herding cats' was mentioned, but with the happy conclusion that this had somehow now been achieved!
I was just in a rather dispiriting discussion of sexual predation in the Pagan community, sparked by an interesting piece in the Wild Hunt. The article was good. which is more than I can say for some of the discussion that followed.
The piece was about the decline of nudity at Pagan events and the reasons for it. But much of the discussion shifted to the related but different issue of why many women felt uneasy or defensive when sky clad at such events. Despite all the energy and more than a little venom that accompanied that discussion, one important issue remained unaddressed....