This is the sermon I gave today at the First Unitarian Church of Hobart, Indiana.
“Give me your moldy, your stale, your sprouting potatoes. Bring me that wilted, pitiful bag of salad you really meant to eat this time. Bring me your bananas too brown and mushy even to make bread with. Bring me your grass clippings and fallen leaves. Give me the wretched refuse of your teeming refrigerator, yearning to rot free. Give me these, and we will make life itself.”
Last week, I unsubscribed from my weekly Patheos Pagan channel updates. It had been quite a while since any of the posts in the email blast had interested me enough to merit a click. It was the latest step in distancing myself from what goes for mainstream Paganism today.
Today is the Spring Equinox (in the northern hemisphere). Many Neo-Pagans celebrate this day as “Ostara”. Although we like to pretend it has ancient origins, it’s little more than a bastardized version of the Christian Easter.
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?
Whenever I hear a Pagan say that the winter solstice is a “minor Sabbat”, I can’t help but roll my eyes. What exactly makes it “minor”? Because Margaret Murray only listed the cross-quarters as witches’ sabbats? Because Gerald Gardner only added the quarter days as an afterthought and his followers like the way the druids did it?
I was recently invited to the New Orleans Pagan Pride Day this year to lead the opening ritual. I also led a couple workshops on activism and non-theistic Paganism and joined Bart Everson, Nicole Youngman, and Emily Snyder in a panel discussion on the same topics.
I wanted to share the opening ritual here. I’ve written before how protest marches can be like Pagan ritual. Here, I tried bring together elements of Pagan ritual with elements of political protest. I tried to bring together the myth of the Wild Hunt with social action, blurring the line between a religious procession and a protest march. Rather than standing in a circle with our backs to the world, I wanted the ritual to be focused outward. And I wanted to raise energy without dispersing it cathartically, so as to motivate social activism. I also wanted to tie the ritual to the place where the ritual was held, so references were made to environmental devastation, and racial and LGBT violence perpetrated in or near New Orleans. Continue reading “The Wild Hunt for Justice: At the Intersection of Ritual and Protest”→
The Pagan Wheel of the Year bugs me. The timing of the cross-quarters bugs me. The meaning attached of several of the eight stations bugs me. And the names of most of the days bugs me. Right, now I’m just going to focus on Lughnasadh, though, since it’s right around the corner. Continue reading “Lughna-say-what? What to Call This Pagan Holiday”→
I remember when I was in high school and Indiana changed its license plate to include the phrase “Amber Waves of Grain”. It pissed people off. I mean, really pissed people off. Because in Indiana, we grow corn and soybeans, not wheat. While technically corn is a grain, it’s not amber. While the phrase was poetic, it just did not speak of “home” to the people of the Hoosier State. That’s kind of how I feel about Lughnasadh. Continue reading “Why I’m Boycotting Lughnasadh Again”→
This year, the summer solstice falls on June 20 or June 21, depending on your time zone. The summer solstice is the longest day of the year and the apogee of the light. In the Neo-Pagan religious tradition, the summer solstice is called “Litha”. It is one of eight holidays on the Neo-Pagan Wheel of the Year.
The name “Litha” is first found in the writings of the the 8th century monk, the Venerable Bede, who recorded that “Litha” was Anglo-Saxon name for the intercalendary time between June and July. But the reason why Neo-Pagans use the word “Litha” has less to do with an 8th century monk, and more to do with Hobbits.
My seasonal allergies mean that at those times of the year I most want to be surrounded by nature, it is difficult, and sometimes impossible, to do so. This irony is a metaphor for an essential conflict at the core of my psyche, between the desire for communion with nature on the one hand and the desire to transcend nature on the other.