The Real Pagan Deal

“Religious morals, in a healthy society, are best enforced by drums, moonlight, f[e]asting, masks, flowers, divine possession.”

— Robert Graves, “Food for Centaurs”

I’ve been to my share of public Pagan rituals in the last decade or so.  The vast majority have ranged from disappointing to excruciating affairs.  (See “Gods Save Us from Bad Pagan Rituals: 10 Signs You’re Half-Assing Your Mabon Ritual” and “Lowered Expectations Is Not the Answer to Bad Pagan Rituals”.)

I have been fortunate to have participated in some notable exceptions.  I think Reclaiming rituals tend to be on the better end of the spectrum.  I would attend any ritual led by Thorn Coyle or Shauna Aura Knight.  The Kali Puja which Chandra Alexandre and Sharanya led at Pantheacon is truly exceptional.

But the absolute best pagan ritualist I have ever met is Steven Posch.  So, I was very excited to receive Steven’s invitation to the Grand Sabbat held at Sweetwood Temenos in Southwest Wisconsin this past weekend.  It was not a festival, at least not like others I have attended.  There were no workshops, for example.  Rather, it was tribal gathering, a gathering of the Tribe of Witches. Continue reading “The Real Pagan Deal”

Pagan with a small “p”

Pagan-Adjacent?

I recently met someone who described himself as “Pagan-adjacent”, which I thought was an interesting self-designation.  He was a (self-described) “angry atheist” who followed atheism to its logical end and was left wanting. He intuited that there was something else–something bigger and/or deeper–but no one seemed to be writing or talking about it. Then he discovered David Abram’s Spell of the Sensuous, which he experienced as revolutionary.

He told me that he knows “in his bones” that “the sacred is in the soil and the wind,” but he is turned off by a lot of what he sees in the Pagan community.  By way of example, he told me about an encounter with a Pagan group where he heard one person talking about how great the divination app on her phone was.  I know what he is talking about.  What has a divination app to do with the sacred soil?

I’ve felt pretty much the same way for 15 years, for as long as I have been calling myself “Pagan” in fact.  I came to the Pagan community because I thought here was where I would find that something bigger and deeper.  But almost everywhere I look, I see the small and shallow.  Almost everywhere I look, I see Pagans reproducing the disenchantment of the mainstream culture. Continue reading “Pagan with a small “p””

My Religion is Rooted, Literally.

To polytheists, the gods are sacred.  But atheist Pagans don’t believe in gods.  What is sacred to an atheist Pagans?  Some polytheists mistakenly assume that an absence of gods must mean an absence of sacrality.

I’ve had polytheists come right out and say that, because I don’t believe in gods, then nothing is sacred or holy to me. Implied in that statement is the belief that there is nothing sacred or holy in the world except the gods.  I would have a hard time imaging a less “pagan” statement than that.

Now, as far as I am concerned, you can be Pagan and a polytheist, or a duotheist, or a Goddess-worshipping monotheist, or a pantheist, or an animist, or a non-theist, or an atheist—if you want to call yourself one.  I’m not interested in trying to push anybody out of the Big Tent of Paganism.  But I do not understand a Paganism which cannot find the holy or the sacred in the earth or our bodies or in our relationships.

Continue reading “My Religion is Rooted, Literally.”

10 Books that Shaped My Spiritual Journey (Before Paganism)

I love books.  I probably feel more at home bookstores and libraries than I do in my own house.  Books have had a profound influence on my spiritual evolution.  In fact, I can mark certain spiritual transitions by the books I was reading at the time.

This is the first of two posts about the books that have served as markers on the path of my spiritual journey.  This first part lists the books that impacted me before I discovered Paganism.  This is not a list of my favorite books, but books that changed the course of my religious life. The dates below are the dates I read the books (to the best of my recollection), not the dates of publication. Continue reading “10 Books that Shaped My Spiritual Journey (Before Paganism)”

Eight Ways Pagans Can Celebrate Earth Day

For many contemporary Pagans, Paganism takes the form of a nature religion or earth-centered spirituality. According to Religious Studies scholar, Michael York, a nature religion is one that has “a this-worldly focus and deep reverence for the earth as something sacred and something to be cherished.” Not surprisingly then, Earth Day (April 22 this year) is a holy day for many Pagans. Here are some ways that we Pagans can celebrate Earth Day. Continue reading “Eight Ways Pagans Can Celebrate Earth Day”

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