About Tom Swiss

Tom Swiss describes his spiritual path as "Zen Pagan Taoist Atheist Discordian", which usually baffles questioners enough to leave him alone. Over the past decade he has built a reputation as a lecturer on subjects spanning the gamut from acupressure to Zen and from self-defense to sexuality. He is an NCCAOM Diplomate in Asian Bodywork Therapy, a godan (fifth-degree black belt) in karate, a poet, a singer/songwriter, an amateur philosopher, and a professional computer geek. Tom has previously served as President of the Free Spirit Alliance. He is the author of "Why Buddha Touched the Earth" (Megalithica Books, 2013). Find out more about his wacky adventures at www.infamous.net.

The Zen Pagan: The Only God to Whom Jupiter Must Bow

Boundaries in their role as both endings and beginnings are also on my mind because this will be my last column for Agora. The good news is that this is because The Zen Pagan will soon be its own full-fledged blog here at Patheos Pagan! But this change too is the crossing of a line, a passing of a boundary. The Romans had a god for that: Terminus, the god of boundaries. [Read more…]

The Zen Pagan: The Fire Circle – All Kinds Magic Worked Here

In those discussions and debates — and sometimes heated arguments! — I’m come to the conclusion that the Fire Circle at a large Pagan gathering should welcome and invite as many types of magic as possible. Not necessarily all at once (that could be a bit of a muddle) but allowing them to arise and dissipate in their own natural flow. I call this principle “All Kinds Magic Worked Here”. [Read more…]

The Zen Pagan: Ares and Athena in the #BaltimoreUprising

Our society is too much like Ares and too little like Athena. We are too ready to give in to the easy mindless rage that ends in defeat and humiliation for the aggressor and destruction for their victims, rather than the difficult, judicious, creative–but still valiant and strong–way of wisdom. The problem is not merely political: it reaches to the deep spiritual level of how we see our relation with ourselves and the world. [Read more…]

The Zen Pagan: I Don’t Know

Some teachers have called this “don’t know” the very heart of Zen. There are many layers to it, but one of the most important is its warning against certainty. [Read more…]

The Zen Pagan: You — Yes, *You* — Can Dance (If You Want To)

When I was a kid I was so uncoordinated that during gym class I was sent off to special sessions where a teaching assistant would play catch with me in an attempt to improve my hand-eye coordination. It took me forever to learn to ride a bike. I was the last to be chosen whenever teams were picked, and when I played rec league sports I spent as much time on the sidelines as the coach could get away with before he put me in at the least vital position. Dance is one of the ways I connected to my body, found my physicality. [Read more…]

The Zen Pagan: The Politically Incorrect Pagan

Since no one else seems to want to say it, I will: the fake workshop listing in the joke program was legitimate satire and the authors don’t owe anyone an apology. If anyone owes an apology, it is those who were calling for the authors to be ejected from the conference. [Read more…]

The Zen Pagan: “What does a Zen Pagan Atheist ritual look like?”

A friend inquired, “What does a Zen Pagan Atheist ritual look like?” Which is a pretty good question, and one that I’m still figuring out the answer to. I don’t have a liturgy, but I do have some principles–some preferences–and I’d like to share five of them with you today. [Read more…]

The Zen Pagan: What Does It Mean For the Gods to Exist?

To answer the question “Do the deities exist?”, we need to answer two questions, just two trivial little matters: 1) What is a god? 2) What does it mean to exist? [Read more…]

Pages: 1 2 3

The Zen Pagan: My Best Superbowl Sunday Ever

A psychedelic can only act as a catalyst, speeding up a reaction that would have happened anyway given enough time and energy. If you are utterly lost and directionless and take a psychedelic, you will be utterly lost and directionless in a faster and more energetic manner. You have to build the circuit, carve the channel, before you add the energy. [Read more…]

The Zen Pagan: Religion, Identity, Practice, Doctrine, Is, and Ought

Crouch suggests that if we applied critical thinking to religion the same way we apply it to consumer choices, supernaturalism would quickly fall. But I think he is mistaken in believing that critical thinking plays much of a role in our consumer choices! If it did, surely all the money and energy put into the black magic of advertising would be a waste. [Read more…]