Naming the Water: Human and Deity Identity from an Earth-Centered Perspective » No Unsacred Place

Naming the Water: Human and Deity Identity from an Earth-Centered Perspective » No Unsacred Place

In my latest post over on No Unsacred Place, I respond to Teo Bishop’s recent musings over at Bishop in the Grove, in which he contemplates hard polytheism and ancestor reverence, and the problematic issues of self-identity that might arise when we imagine our descendants worshipping us as gods:

“As a Pagan, my theology is rooted firmly in the earth. To me, the earth is sacred, and so the ecological truths that guide and shape life on this tiny blue marble are sacred truths. One of those truths is that identity is fluid. I can no more name the discrete entity that is “me” than I can name the water flowing in a river. From moment to moment, that identity changes. This was the insight of the Buddhists, too: we are not the same person from one second to the next, and reincarnation is less like viscous soul-substance getting sloshed from one meat-container into the next as it is like a flame passing from one wick to another. Is it the same flame? Yes… and then again, no. …”

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Deity Dumped

Deity Dumped

“She didn’t say it in so many words, but I got the distinct impression that she thought we should ‘see other people…'” My voice trailed away. Folks sitting nearby in the restaurant who didn’t know we were husband and wife probably thought Jeff was helping me through a break-up with my girlfriend. I found myself sobbing. I felt cut off and vulnerable. Even if I’d wanted to honor her, I didn’t know how. What ritual forms to use, what offerings to make, what actions to take. The strong intuitive connection that I felt pulling me forward didn’t seem to be so tame in any case. She didn’t want scripted prayer or the right kind of incense or historically accurate idols on the altar. She wanted me out in the wilds, she wanted me raw and free and dancing with devotion.

I was going to have to change my life…

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Sincerity, Competence, Integrity: Readers Respond

Sincerity, Competence, Integrity: Readers Respond

My last post has generated some fantastic conversation both in the Meadowsweet Commons and elsewhere online. I’m still sweltering at my parents’ house and will be traveling home again this weekend, so although I’m in the middle of composing a response exploring some of the ideas readers and commenters have shared, that post probably won’t be up for another few days at least.

In the meantime, I wanted to highlight some of the many insightful comments my last post has inspired. There is so much more to say on this topic, and it’s one that I think lies at the very heart of not just Pagan leadership, but also Pagan spirituality in general.

What do we emphasize in our rituals and spiritual work, and why? How do different forms of ritual shape our approach to these questions? How do we choose our leaders, and just as importantly, how do we support them in ways that allow them to continue to grow, explore and take risks?

What are your thoughts on the relationship between sincerity, competence, and integrity?

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Why Pagans Don’t Respect Their Elders: Sincerity, Competence and Integrity

Why Pagans Don’t Respect Their Elders: Sincerity, Competence and Integrity

The process of cultivating real integrity is sometimes messy and sometimes ugly. Fostering community is not about learning to be a good actor or an appreciative audience, but about learning how to take the messiness and clumsiness and ugliness in stride and discover the beauty within all the chaos. It’s about learning to recognize the grace of intimacy and the power of integrity, when inner experience and outer appearance are brought into more authentic communication with each other.

I can’t help but wonder if this is why elders and leaders in our community are sometimes not very well respected, and why those who are sometimes choose to step down out of the spotlight. Have our leaders become so focused on the outer appearance of competence, professionalism and legitimacy that they’ve foregone the difficult, messy work of authenticity and integrity?

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Valuing the Spiritual Desert

Valuing the Spiritual Desert

I haven’t meditated in nearly a year. The other day, I sat down to renew my work, and my brain, that chattering monkey mind, wouldn’t shut up for one second. Plan, plan, plan. Row, row, row. Enamored with its own frenetic activity. I made meditation just one more task on my to-do list, one more way that I would prove myself the better person, force myself into the mold of accomplishment and success that I had made for myself.

It didn’t work.

So what’s a slacker contemplative to do?

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Why I Quit the Catholic Church

Why I Quit the Catholic Church

They say you can’t be neutral on a moving train, and if recent developments on the American political scene have demonstrated anything, it’s that the Catholic Church is a train headed in a pretty distressing direction: away from equality and social justice, and set on a collision course with the wall of separation between church and state.

In many ways, the Catholic Church abandoned me years before I finally woke up to the fact and left of my own accord. For years, I struggled with the feeling of being a solitary Catholic liberal crying out in the wilderness. I felt beleaguered by atheists and secularists on the one side of me, criticizing Catholicism for being a monolithic monstrosity of backwards-looking conservative patriarchy, while on the other side of me were many of my fellow Catholics striving to make the Church exactly that.

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A New Podcast on Nature Spirituality: Faith, Fern & Compass

A New Podcast on Nature Spirituality: Faith, Fern & Compass

If it seems like I’ve been rather quiet here lately, that’s because I’ve been making a lot of noise over at Faith, Fern & Compass, a new podcast project launched earlier this month. I’m super excited about the project, and I’ve been putting in long hours for the past several weeks to get the website up and the first few preseason episodes out!

Faith, Fern & Compass is an interfaith podcast rooted in love for the earth and hope for the future. I am just so thrilled to be working on it, and I hope all of you who read this blog will go check it out!

The official first season starts on May 2nd, but there are already some episodes available on the website — or you can subscribe on iTunes.

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Steampunk Shamanism & Cultural Appropriation

Steampunk Shamanism & Cultural Appropriation

Steampunk isn’t going away any time soon. It speaks to a deep ambivalence that many of us hold about the modern, industrialized cultures that we live in — societies in which computer technology seems each year to get more obscure and esoteric, in which skill and creativity are treated as less important than fame and wealth, in which ecological damage and environmental destruction persist despite our vast scientific knowledge about how the ecosystems of the world work and our own role in that destruction, and in which strict gender and class norms are often subtly (or not so subtly) reinforced even in the same breath as we congratulate ourselves on our diversity and tolerance. Steampunk looks back to the historical roots of modern culture in the generations before the first world war, picking at old scars and still open wounds, exploring what went wrong and what we might have done differently. It is absolutely vital that we engage in that process, even in the face of ghosts we would rather leave undisturbed.

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The Gears of Chance: Steampunk Magic

The Gears of Chance: Steampunk Magic

We turn through a world of tension and pressure, movement and poise. Cycles within cycles that turn together, their teeth in rows — the still center of being, that emptiness around which every gear circles. This is the clockwork of the universe, a shining mandala of interconnection and interrelationship. The delicacy of craftsmanship expressed through the primal forces of the elements: forged metal, fire, water, steam and space. All these have their place, turn their way, in an intricate dance with one another.

The steampunk shaman knows the intricate patterns of the dancing world. Her wisdom penetrates the delicate work of friction and force, knowing exactly when to introduce the slightest pressure, and where, and how hard. No brute or bully pushing her will onto the world, she turns, she gives way, she waits in the center of stillness and open space, waits for the gears to shift into alignment. When her work is done, you might say it was all just coincidence, the wheels of fortune spinning out through inexplicable chance. This is the work of the steampunk shaman: she turns the gears of coincidence. Through creative nonaction, all action is done.

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Nature as Living Story: Lectio Divina in the Natural World » Aontacht Magazine

Nature as Living Story: Lectio Divina in the Natural World » Aontacht Magazine

I’m a few days late with this announcement, but… exciting news everyone! The equinox issue of Aontacht Magazine is out, and it’s available free on the Druidic Dawn website.

This issue focuses on sacred spaces and sacred places, exploring this theme from a variety of perspectives. In the spirit of connecting to those lesser known and often overlooked spaces, my Wild Earth feature article revisits the practice of Lectio Divina as an opportunity to connect to the story of place in the natural world around us, engaging more deeply with its beings and spirits through observation, meditation, prayer and silent contemplation.

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