Socially Responsible Magic: Internal Work and Social Responsibility

My interest in social responsibility started about six or seven years ago. I’d been doing internal work, i.e. meditation, for a few years before, and I think there’s a correlation between doing such work and becoming aware of social responsibility. Internal work is a process through which a person explores their dysfunctions, baggage, issues, etc. It is done in order to work through such issues and release them–emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and physically–so that the person can grow. It’s hard work that involves facing demons, traumas, and memories that you’ve buried away, but it’s also rewarding because developing a conscious relationship with your issues allows you to gradually change them. As I did this work and cleared up my internal landscape, I began to do a lot more thinking about not just myself, but also my relationship to the world around me.

Doing internal work is the first step to becoming socially responsible, which echoes a saying I’m fond of: “As within, so without, as above, so below.” If you want to change the world, first work on changing yourself; and  first and foremost, changing yourself involves being able to take responsibility for yourself. I have a saying I tell my students sometimes: “You can’t take care of other people or other things until you can take care of yourself.” So often people who are called to serve are so focused on serving others that they neglect themselves and their own needs and eventually hit burnout.  Avoiding that outcome involves the necessary action of self-care. Internal work is part of how you take care of yourself. It is done in order to help you understand how your issues come up in your life so that you can work through them. But what internal work also does is help you become more aware of your connection to other people and to the world at large.

When I began to do internal work, I started looking at my relationships with other people and how I interacted with them. I started questioning my own behavior and my motivation for various actions I took. Then I started to ask myself what my responsibilities to other people were. I also started to consider what my responsibility to the world was. Doing internal work helped me recognize that my contribution to the world isn’t just me, but extends across the lifetimes of my ancestors. As a result I asked myself what I could change in myself that would also change my contribution to the world.

Doing internal work is where the change you want to bring to the world starts. What’s within you is brought out into reality. Your behaviors, your actions: all of it originates from within you, and if you want to be responsible, first and foremost you need to be responsible for yourself. Doing internal work gives you a chance to explore your beliefs, values, and issues and bring them out into the light. You make changes to them and how you live your life, and in the process of doing that, you start to examine what else you’d like to do, what other changes you’d like to bring about… but you do it from a place of self-awareness that allows you to balance the causes you believe in with the self-care needed to help you consistently focus on what’s important.

A Meditation for Doing Internal Work

I use a Taoist meditation technique to do internal work. This technique is helpful because it allows you to discover the emotional and physical tensions in your body that contain the issues you need to work through. It can create an internal dialogue that you can use to understand and release the issues, and it can also be used to understand how you connect to others, as well as how you’d like to change those connections.

You can do this exercise sitting, standing, or laying down. Touch the tip of your tongue to the roof of your mouth and breathe in and out through your nose. Touching the tip of your tongue to the roof of your mouth completes the circuit of internal energy. With this technique, when you breathe in, you draw your internal energy (chi) up to the crown of your head. When you exhale, you release that energy from the crown of your head. Let it flow down your head and into your body. When the energy flows into your body, it will encounter physical and emotional tension. Let the energy dissolve the tension in a way that’s similar to water dissolving an ice cube. In other words, don’t force the dissolution of the tension. Instead, it should be something that gradually occurs. When the tension is dissolved, don’t be surprised if you feel some emotions or experience some memories.

The feeling of emotions or experience of memories allows you to work through issues and tensions. As you do this meditation, take it slow and allow yourself to experience whatever comes up at a pace that doesn’t overwhelm you. This is a process, so don’t focus on a quick resolution. Allow yourself the time to experience it and use it as an opportunity to learn more about yourself and your place in the world.


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Seekers and Guides: A Sticky Subject – Teaching Sex Magick (Part One)

Skyclad

For me, sacred sexuality is an important part of my faith.  A liberated and respectful attitude towards sex, and reverence of it, is a big part of what attracted me to the Craft.

There’s a personal story behind it; I was anorexic and bulemic as a teenager.  Body issues and shame for my body and my sexuality were very successfully imparted to me by a combination of some old-fashioned ideas from my parents, some very religious friends growing up, emotional abuse, and the fact that I was an ugly duckling.  When I discovered sex, which I held out for until I was sixteen and had been with the boyfriend I loved for two years, it was magical, and it literally saved my life.  I decided that if something so lovely and transcendent could exist in this world, it couldn’t be all that bad, and I healed my soul and became a 1% statistic in that without formal treatment, which I asked for but which was essentially unavailable to me at the time, I left my eating disorder in remission, and to this date have not had a relapse.

I quickly warmed to the sacred sexuality aspect of Wicca.  As a feminist, I found it personally empowering.  I could not see why something so beautiful and powerful should be so demonized.  I have some political theories about it (which I will probably write about in a future long-winded article).  I believe, and passionately, in the importance of sacred sexuality in the Craft.  For me, it is one of the core Mysteries.  It drives many aspects of Craft study and theology.  In my opinion, one of the most important Works that we as Wiccan/ate Pagans and Goddess worshippers are doing is redefining an ethical sexuality that does not involve double standards, fear, or shame.

That’s the key, however.  “Ethical Sexuality.”  We, as a culture, have been Christianized for so long that we no longer have any idea what an ethical sexuality looks like without shame or fear.  We are trying to reinvent the wheel.  This is made especially difficult in the Pagan community by a couple of factors.  One is that our policies of secrecy and “the curse of Pagan niceness” can lead to us to becoming a haven for abusers; a problem that has recently been driven home to us in a big way, and one that the Council of the Phoenix and others are trying to address. Another factor is that we have a greater-than-average population of abuse survivors (present company included).  Many of us, rightfully, are afraid of triggering events and our attempts to avoid them sometimes lead us into conflict with potentially challenging situations.  Thus, balancing the pole of protection with the pole of liberation is difficult at best.

This series of articles will examine a few of the issues that confront us in the practice of sacred sexuality and the teaching of sex magick.  They are presented simply to point them out and spark discussion, working towards possible solutions.

Ritual Nudity

Is nudity a sexual thing?  Our culture certainly seems to think so.  Should we therefore limit exposure to nudity to adults or those of the age of consent?  The tradition of being skyclad often clashes with people’s comfort levels.

The Pagan festivals that I have been to in my neck of the woods tend to have a “clothing optional” policy in most places, the exception usually being the place you eat.  However, people rarely take advantage of it, except in skyclad-specific ritual and in swimming areas. Though I will allow that many women relish the chance to go topless, whether they come from areas in which this is legal or not (for example, unless specifically forbidden by a bylaw, toplessness is Constitutionally-protected in Canada; since men are permitted to be topless, our courts have ruled that women must be allowed to be as well.)  However, we rarely are due to cultural constraints, and you would shake your head at the war I had with my mother over whether or not my employee could breast-feed her baby in my store, which she viewed as offensive and I strongly supported. These festivals I attended also had co-ed bathrooms.  Recently, opposition has arisen to this due to the fact that a) many of us are uncomfortable with nudity, b) many Pagan traditions do not have a tradition of skyclad practice, and c) many feel that this increases the opportunity for abuse.

While the fears about abuse are statistically unfounded, comfort levels and respect of others’ beliefs remain a concern.  I think that over the next decade or so, many Pagan gatherings will be required to decide if they are Pan-Pagan or “Wiccan/ate” in their focus, and adjust their rules accordingly.  I imagine that tradition will determine these rules in part; but I also imagine we’ll see some deep-rooted schisms.  The first-ever Witch War I was involved with was split over this issue.

There’s usually a skyclad ritual offered at these festivals.  For some it’s the first time they’ve ever been skyclad; and their level of participation varies.  The single-gender rituals tend to be better attended than the co-ed ones.  But it seems to me from a purely subjective viewpoint that many newcomers found it very liberating.

In any case, if we are going to continue to have clothing-optional areas, I recommend that we should observe some nudist etiquette.  Carry a towel with you and sit on that when you sit on things (it’s just hygienic!)  Cover your genitals in the eating areas.  And don’t stare at people’s private bits when you’re talking to them.  It makes them more uncomfortable than they already are, and they’re generally going out on a limb and taking a risk as it is.  It gets easier the more naked people you see.

We also need to respect each other.  Some people are not comfortable with nakedness.  Perhaps they should be given a place where they don’t have to confront nudity constantly; perhaps the eating hall and the family camping area for example.  But it’s also not fair to force everyone else, for whom nudity may be an important article of faith, to cover up in all places.  That’s part of the reason we go to these events; to freely celebrate our path in a place of mutual acceptance.

Cultural Conditioning (Reinforcing Rape Culture)

We speak a great deal of “rape culture” and we’ve heard a lot about it in the news recently.  This phrase often makes Pagan men cringe, because to many of them, it represents irrational hatred directed towards them for a privilege they don’t realize they possess, especially since most North American Pagan men are at least supportive of feminism or feminists themselves (though certainly there are exceptions).

Rape culture is perpetuated by the cultural assumption that the reward for the male who does well and succeeds, does the right thing, etc., is the most desirable female.

If you claim you don’t have this cultural assumption, let me ask you this: were you surprised when you read the Harry Potter series, or watched the movies, and Hermione chose Ron instead of Harry?

I was.  I was surprised.  But it made me happy when I thought about it.  Apparently J.K. Rowling received all kinds of hate mail because of this!  But consider it.  Why did we assume that Harry should get the leading lady of the story?  Because he was the hero, right?  In the real world, women are not robots that respond automatically to a set of cues to indicate who the most desirable male should be that we can attach ourselves to.  We have our own feelings and make our own decisions.  Let’s give ourselves and each other the right to make autonomous decisions, without judgment, hatred, or “slut-shaming,” no matter which, what gender, how many, or how few, partners we choose.

Rape culture is also perpetuated by the subtle, pervasive belief unlying most aspects of Western culture that female is inferior to male.  There’s strong evidence to suggest that gay men suffer from so much ridicule, and that lesbian women don’t (but are often subjected to “corrective rape” and abuse) is that we carry subconscious training that teaches us that gay men are “lowering themselves” to the position of “inferior female,” and lesbian women are “raising themselves above their place.”  If you don’t think that applies to you, ask yourself this: does the sight of two men kissing make you feel uncomfortable?  Does it make you more or less uncomfortable than the sight of two women kissing?  Why?  (Go ahead, follow my links and test yourself!  If you do have those feelings, don’t despair; prejudice can be overcome by consciously changing your beliefs.  If you don’t, congratulations!)  In some circles, we even say that for a woman to have a relationship with a man automatically puts her in a position of inferiority!  That betrays the subconscious presence of this poisonous cultural belief.  I strongly believe that these attitudes have no place in the world of Paganism, where we strive for mutual acceptance and transcendence of gender-based assumptions.

Which brings me to the next area:

Gender Issues

This is a very big subject.  Feminist politics have been a strong component of the North American Pagan scene for many years now and are generally an aspect of Goddess worship.  Certainly feminism is part of what attracted me to the Craft in the first place.  And we women want a safe and sacred space.   We outnumber men in Paganism three to one.  Most Pagan men that I know have had encounters in the Pagan community in which their gender has counted against them in a prejudicial way.  Some of us would say that this a good lesson in humility for men, who therefore get to experience what every woman in the world has experienced at varying frequencies most of her life, but I don’t think they need to be shamed.  No one needs to be shamed.  That’s cutting off our noses to spite our faces.  Men have a place in Paganism too.

There’s also an a priori assumption that all apparently heterosexual men at a Pagan gathering are there for sex, and they have to prove that they’re not.  That’s no more fair than assuming that women are emotional and irrational.  Prejudice is still prejudice.

I believe in the need for single-gender sanctuaries.  I teach Dianic Mysteries from time to time and these are not places for men.  I also believe in the need for Men’s Mysteries.  But we, as Pagans and as people, are disagreed on our definitions of what constitutes a man or a woman, as the conflict a few years ago at PantheaCon, spearheaded by Z. Budapest and T. Thorn Coyle, proves.  We still haven’t made our decisions on this yet.

And what about those of us who do not fit the standard binary gender model?  There are many of us who are transgendered or gender-queer.  Where do we go, if not in the men’s and women’s rituals?  For many of us, even the co-ed circles, with binary gender models, are too restricting.  If you are a woman in spirit but not born in a woman’s body, what is your place at a menstruation ritual?  How about a phallic ritual if you are FTM transgendered?

Now let’s consider these factors in the direct context of sex magick.  If you are in a tradition with a male to female to male line of descent, where do you fall if you are gender-queer?  Who do you study with?  In Drawing Down for the Great Rite, do you Draw Down the Sun or the Moon, and from whom do you receive your initiation?  If you are the initiator, would you perform such an initiation?  Do you believe in cross-gendered Drawing Down?  And what if you’re gay and identify more with the Goddess, as did a wonderful young man in my coven?

My own tradition is a strange hodgepodge of British Traditional descent and Feri/Reclaiming influence.  One of the elders of our tradition is a transgendered woman, but she was a Lord in our tradition for many years and is one of our founders.  The previous council of our Third Degree initiates determined that she should be given the title “Mistress” and treated as an elder, but not given the title “Lady.”  Is this fair?  I didn’t think so.  When I became part of the council I argued against it.  And yet, she has not Drawn Down the Moon in Great Rite.  How are we to handle this?  I’ve got to tell you, it’s still a contentious issue, and our Thirds have a wide range of opinions.  I think it’s a credit to all of us that despite this, these discussions have been a respectful mutual sharing of thought and not a heated debate.  We will all have to make our own decisions about this, and similar, concerns.

Youth Standards

This is probably the biggest area of concern in the community right now.  Many children are now second and third generation Pagans, raised in Pagan families.  How do we handle our attitudes about sex and youth?  When is the difference in ages between partners abuse?  What age is the age of consent?  When is nakedness appropriate around children?

A funny thing about Western culture is our attitude about sex and children.  We recognize that children cannot properly consent, but we are disagreed about when childhood ends.  Many of us avoid the issue by refusing to allow our children to get involved in Paganism until they are adults.  But that gives the unconscious message that Paganism is something shameful to keep secret, and many of us don’t believe this.  Also, Wiccan/ate Paganism teaches that “all acts of love and pleasure are Her rituals.”  So why do we believe teenage sex should be avoided?  Our children are confused by the mixed message.

And why do we have different standards for boys and girls?  Why do some of our Pagan men still joke about getting shotguns when they have pretty daughters?  Why shouldn’t our daughters claim their sexuality as their own, and why should their fathers have any say in it at all?  I think that my partner had the best Wiccan attitude about it I had ever heard when he said to his daughter, “The only acceptable reason for you to have sex is for your pleasure, because you want to.”

Is this too permissive?  For some, especially those of us who have been abused, perhaps it is.  But because of my own issues with sexual shaming and body shaming, I never made efforts to conceal nakedness in my house, and I raised my children in this way.  I told them if they were old enough to ask the question, they were old enough to get the answer, which I dealt with as honestly and as directly as possible given ages and context.  And my children, my son and daughter both, called me to tell me when they had chosen to claim their identities as sexual beings.  Both of them had an attitude of celebration.  Both of them viewed it as an empowering choice.  Neither of them have any regrets about the decision.  Both of them chose to experiment with male and female lovers; my daughter is bisexual and my son is heterosexual and engaged to a lovely young woman that he has been with for almost five years now.  I believe that for me and for them, I did the right thing.  But each of us must find our own answers.

I strongly believe, as do most of us I’m sure, that abuse, and especially abuse of children, is absolutely unacceptable and must be actively and vigorously opposed.  I’ll revisit the issue of abuse and consent in Part Two of this article.

There is also a certain double-standard with age.  I have had relationships with a man my age, a man who was many years younger than me and a man who is many years older.  For me, the attitude about my younger lover was a coin-flip between “what a sleazy old bag!” and “you go, girl!”  Some were quite uncomfortable with it.  And strangely, I have not had this reaction in regards to my older partner.  For older men, it is often just “what a pervert!”  When it isn’t, the response is usually, “How does an old goat like you get a beautiful young woman like this?” which shows an unconscious belief that there must be something wrong with us when we get older.  The assumption is usually that there’s money involved, which is a terrible judgment of my partner’s sexuality and my morality.  We claim not to be ageist, and we claim that we celebrate sexuality in all its forms, but obviously we lie to ourselves.

These are some examples of many of the unconscious prejudices and ideas that we will have to examine and challenge a lot more deeply, if we intend to be true to the ideals we claim to hold.

Read Part Two Here

Alone In Her Presence: Ecstatic Monism – All Goddess…

Recently, a man said “HE is the life bringer!” And I thought, well sure, if it pleases you, but I know that I am born of woman. Just over a year ago I would have argued with him, and maybe my knowledge and locutions would have won the argument; I am at times a skilled debater. But I was bemused to let it be. He or She, it simply didn’t matter. All Goddess.

I am not ashamed to admit that when I look into the night sky, I get all warm and think of  Starhawk, “Alone, awesome, complete within Herself, the Goddess, She whose name cannot be spoken, floated in the abyss of the outer darkness, before the beginning of all things. As She looked into the curved mirror of black space, She saw by her own light her radiant reflection, and fell in love with it. She drew it forth by the power that was in Her and made love to Herself.” That is where the Feri story ends for me. Feri, Wicca, Ceremonial, it simply does’t matter to me. All Goddess.

Christina G. Rossetti wrote,  “Love came down at Christmas, Love all lovely, a love divine. Love was born at Christmas, star and angels gave sign.” Surely, you know… if that works for you, wonderful. But that’s not my God… and yet still, All Goddess.

It has always been All Goddess. I recently published a small book from a series of writings about my solitary work with the Goddess. In truth, I do not worship with others. I prefer to go it alone. And while I might use the word witch conversationally, I rarely cast spells, I’m not very ‘crafty’ and for many years I was reluctantly Pagan. Yet, one thing led to another and my writing and voice grew and here I am, writing Alone In Her Presence, my once tiny blog, turned book, turned column.

I am so honored to be here because I am an ecstatic monist, and I know there are many like me who are something like “spiritual but not religious” and not quite Wiccan, who are not Neo Goddess Feminist but are living in the lap of the Great Mother. Like me, these men and women are “all Goddess all the time” and are Alone In Her Presence. For us, the ecstatic monist Goddess is the immanent vessel that dwells within each of us and that is us, She that is the totality of everything and nothing. I give this resonating, pulsation of energy the gender ‘She’, even though this is greater than gender because science has proven that all life is born of the female.

I decided to bring Alone In Her Presence to Patheos and cast this widest net because the Goddess is the great joy and the great sorrow of our fullest human experience. She is the shadow and the light that comes when we live life in Presence. And it is through knowing ourselves that we come to know Her, know the Earth, and know the interdependence of what magic truly is.

This is what makes Her ecstatic. When we are Alone In Her Presence we have worship, we have ritual, we have life. We have Goddess as the indwelling totality that at times we will explore here, but mostly the writings here will explore Goddess as transcendent as She appears in front of us. However, different than idols worshipped for centuries, this Goddess is you and I, this Goddess is even you even I. This is the Goddess who is the love divine, who looked into the vast void of consciousness and fell in love with herself and created the totality.

Welcome to Alone In Her Presence. Welcome Home.


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Queer of Swords: Oh What a Great Rite!

When I was trying to figure out what to write for this column, a coven mate suggested that I write about gender and polarity. My first reaction was something along the lines of, “What, really? Really? Isn’t that all over with now?” He reminded me that whilst it might not be an issue in the bubble that is the San Francisco bay area, it’s still very much an issue elsewhere. He also reminded me that dealing with this very issue was one of the founding intentions of our own coven.

Symbolic Great Rite – by Shylah Erskin, License CC 2.0

In many traditions, particularly in lines descended from Gardnerian and Alexandrian British Traditional Witchcraft, it is common to assign particular roles split along gendered lines. Typically, men would initiate women, women would initiate men, the High Priestess rules all. Couples would typically work together and would be either initiated together or expected to initiate each other. Gendered polarity was also directly reflected in the ritual itself, with all that dagger-and-cup stuff. Oh what a Great Rite!

For those for whom this approach works, good on you. I’ve done my fair share of cupdaggering too. Things get a bit tricky, however, when people start suggesting that this is the only way to work. This is witchcraft, and if you’re doing something else, well, you’re not real witches. I’ve heard it said that gay people can’t possibly have magical power because all such power comes from the interplay of gendered polarity. I’ve heard plenty said about trans people that I won’t bother to repeat here, but suffice it to say that much of it is along the same lines.

From experience, no. It just isn’t so. Queer people make extremely good witches and magicians. So do straight people. But, is it really necessary to throw the polarity baby out with the inclusiveness bath water?

Meditating after a Kali invocation some years ago, the following poem came to me:

The Sword

“Teach me, Kali-Ma. What is my purpose?”

“You are a sword.
Swords can cut,
swords can cleave,
swords can divide,
swords can block,
swords can control,
swords can lead,
swords can command.
Yet, swords can never help.”

“If I were not a sword, what might I be?”

“You might be a shield.
Shields can protect,
shields can reflect,
shields can return force as like unto its source.
Yet, shields can never help.”

“You might be a cup,
for cups are the repository of power.
They hold strength and space
 for others, never for themselves.
Cups can never help.”

“You might be a flower,
for flowers carry beauty and truth,
and thus they illuminate the worlds.
Yet, they can never help.”

“Who then, teacher, can truly help?”

“Only thyself, child, only thyself.”

It took me quite a while to start to unpick the meaning, but eventually I realized that it was about polarity, but a kind of polarity that is not bound up in traditional ideas of straight gender roles. In this quadrupolar model, there are swords, shields, cups and flowers. At first sight, swords and shields might be thought of as male, with cups and flowers being female, but this actually doesn’t follow — indeed, making exactly that assumption is why traditional gendered polarity breaks down as a model. A sword is someone who is a warrior-leader. In Qabalistic terms, swords live in Geburah, with the Angel Khamael being the archetypal sword. A shield is a protector — they have the power to declare that, “None shall pass,” though they are not warriors in the usual sense of the word. A cup is someone who holds power, and who empowers others, but who asks little or nothing for themselves. A flower is a true leader, in the sense that they are someone who tends to be followed by others, whether they like it or not. In more familiar terms, a flower might be a bodhisattva — the Buddha himself, possibly.

Most people seem to primarily follow one of these archetypes, but may find themselves drawing upon one or more of the others from time to time. Particularly, someone might be a flower at heart, but they might find themselves called upon to be a sword because circumstances dictate that they must.

Swords, shields, cups and flowers are therefore the poles of this quadrupolar model. We’re more familiar with systems that have two poles — electricity, magnetism, not to mention the limited traditional idea of gender as male and female, but models with more than two poles aren’t precluded by this. Interplay between complimentary poles does hold power, as people who practice gendered magical polarity will attest. I would argue, however, that it is the interplay between poles that is key, not the association of the poles with genders, or indeed the number of poles in the system.

The second thing to take from the poem is that no sword, shield, cup or flower acting alone is likely to be very effective. Swords are powerful but vulnerable. Shields can protect, but lack the agency to effect change. Similarly, cups can empower others, but can’t do much for themselves. Flowers can lead, but what use is a leader with no followers? Put a sword and a shield together and you have a formidable force. Add a cup and this multiplies the effect. Add a flower and the whole group can act together with purpose and conviction.

There is another layer of meaning in the poem, however, and I believe this to be a warning of sorts. It is easy to be inflamed with righteousness and start to believe that because we are completely convinced that we are right and that our actions are necessary we are actually helping. Though the sword/shield/cup/flower idea is tremendously powerful, there is a danger that when the four poles come together that great change can be effected very rapidly.

An it harm none, do as ye will.


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Druid Thoughts: Druid or Pagan?

When a Pagan praysWhich descriptive title I use for myself depends a lot on who I’m talking to. In conversations with people who are neither Pagan nor part of the non-Pagan strands of Druidry, I try to stay away from religious identity. There are odd exceptions – people interested in sharing ideas and trading experiences with no judgement or desire to convert… but mostly it’s not a topic I bring up, and if it comes up, I tend to skim over it because trying to explain what I think takes a lot of effort, and in those contexts, it is often pointless anyway.

When I’m talking to other Druids, I tend not only to say ’Druid’, but to qualify that a bit. There are many different kinds of Druidry: it means very different things to different practitioners whilst having a heartwood of commonality that isn’t easily expressed. I’m OBOD-trained, but I look nothing like a stereotypical OBOD Druid – I don’t do robes, much less white ones. I don’t do organised ritual much, and when I do, I prefer to be free form, so ‘feral’ and ‘improvised’ are also frequently words on my list.

When I started out along this path, I mostly self-identified as ‘Pagan’. Even when I became aware that Druidry was the direction for me, it was a long time before I felt able to use the word. “Druid” is a weighty word, implying knowledge and skill. I still have regular rounds of not feeling qualified to speak as a Druid, and I’ve been doing this for more than a decade now… “Pagan” is an entirely egalitarian term, available to anyone who wants it. A Pagan is simply someone who has chosen a path and a perspective, and beyond that nothing much is implied, which makes it a lot more comfortable.

For a while, I wanted very specifically to speak to Druidry, from a Druidic perspective. There’s been a real flourishing in Druid thinking and publication in the last five years or so, but when I started that certainly wasn’t the case, and a small number of big names provided almost all the content. I started www.druidlife.wordpress.com because I wanted to reflect on my experiences of trying to live my everyday life as a Druid. Druid Thoughts is an overtly Druid column, although I’ve used it increasingly to talk about broader Pagan issues. My first few books had ‘Druid’ in the title.

Now I find I want to think about more universal aspects of belief and spirituality. I think a lot of the things I’m exploring have wider significance beyond Druidry, and I’m all too aware that if I put material out under the ‘Druid’ label, I’m not going to reach as many people as if I use the term ‘Pagan’. It’s not just a cynical marketing issue, but a question of how useful it is to break things down to their smallest categories. ‘When an OBOD-trained but essentially rather feral Druid with maybeist tendencies prays’ would have been a rather longwinded title, and it would have excluded more people than it included. I’d rather include people.


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How a Jewish Witch is Formed

My history is a history of wandering. My people have wandered from the Middle East to Spain to Poland and Lithuania to Los Angeles. I’ve wandered from Witchcraft to Buddhism to Judaism and back.

I first discovered Witchcraft in high school, when a friend of mine told me she was a Witch. I gave her the predictable response: “Does that mean you worship Satan?” She said no, it meant she worshipped nature. I remember how instantly, how easily, my idea of Witchcraft changed. Almost as if I’d known the truth all along.

A short time later, I found Robin Skelton’s The Practice of Witchcraft Today in a bookstore and my dad, Jewish by birth, bought it for me as a gift. He belongs to an alternative religion, too, so he knew how it felt to wander. I’m still grateful to him. It’s not a good book but I still have it, almost two decades later.

But in college, my views of Witchcraft and Paganism started to sour. I met too many people who believed they could cause snowstorms, who used the line “I’m an empath” to pick up girls, who claimed that packs of spirit wolves were following them around. My college Pagan group had no chaplain or mentor–we were a bunch of teenagers improvising a religion. The only books bookstores ever sold were the 101 guides, and so I came to the conclusion that Paganism didn’t go any deeper. I left.

I studied Secular Buddhism and began to meditate. Then, pulled by a desire to connect with deity, I began to learn about my Jewish heritage. I’d never gotten a Jewish education as a child; my father wasn’t really interested in it, and my parents divorced when I was young anyway. I started going to High Holy Day services. I learned prayers. I began to observe Shabbat: the weekly day of rest, commenced with the lighting of candles and the recitation of a prayer. Barukh atah Adonai, Eloheinu, melekh ha’olam. Except I replaced Adonai with Shekhinah: the feminine name of God, or the Goddess. It was fairly easy to find prayers that used the corresponding feminine pronouns and case changes. Turns out there are lots of Jews who are devoted to the Goddess.

But in the end, full-fledged Judaism just didn’t work for me. If you look at many Jewish communities, you’ll notice an interesting pattern: an inordinate number of us identify not as Jews, but as Jubus (Jewish Buddhists), Hinjews (Jewish Hindus) and Jewitches (I’ll let you piece that one together). I think there are a few reasons for this pattern. One is that we value studying and questioning and learning so much that we often study and question and learn ourselves right out of our own religion. Another is that Jewishness is as much an ethnic and cultural identity as a religious one, so the idea that one would stop being Jewish by leaving the religion doesn’t really make sense to a lot of us. We’re shaped by our languages, our foods, our families, our histories. When we refer to ourselves as a tribe, we’re speaking literally.

Another reason why so many of us hybridize our spiritual practice rather than just leaving Judaism is that as much as there is about the religion that’s frustrating –the patriarchy, the abundance of laws and scarcity of myths, the brainwashing that occurs around the occupation of Palestine–there’s a lot to love.

I finally let myself return to Witchcraft after I gave birth to my daughter. Nine months after I gave birth, to be precise, although there was a long and gradual lead-up. I found a better, more grounded and serious community (being an adult helped immensely with that). I re-dedicated myself to the Goddess, got involved in my local Reclaiming group, and began to work with Cernunnos and the Morrígan. I encountered real Pagan theology, much of it here on Patheos. I can’t express the relief I felt upon coming back. I’m glad I took my hiatus, but oh, how wonderful it was to come home.

But there were aspects of Jewish practice that I didn’t want to leave behind. Lighting the candles on Friday nights and devoting Saturdays to self-care didn’t conflict with Witchcraft. In fact, the candle-lighting ceremony is so spell-like that the two felt indistinguishable. Every Friday at sundown–that liminal time when magic is strongest–I set an intention and change my consciousness through Will. Why on earth would I give that practice up?

My name is Asa, and I’m a Jewish Witch. This column will explore what exactly that means: how I incorporate Jewish tech into my practice; how I navigate two distinct identities and communities; how I attempt, and sometimes even succeed, to reconcile my people’s stories with my lived reality. I’m honored and thrilled to be here. I’m more Witch than Jew–I seldom fork over the money for High Holy Day tickets, but I would never skip a Beltane ritual–but I hope my posts will scratch away, maybe just a tiny bit, at the barriers between the Abrahamic religions and earth-based spirituality. If you’re curious about Jewish Witchcraft, you might take a look at these resources: kohenet.com, jewitchery.com, or Magickal Judaism.

The other day my daughter, now a toddler, joined me as I tended to my altar. She picked up my East/Air candle, set it back down, and then covered her eyes and emitted a stream of babble. She was imitating what I do when I light the Shabbat candles. She looked at me to see if she’d done it right.

I laughed. I felt a swell of joy. Yes, I said. Yes, you did it exactly right.


Jewish Witch is published on alternate Tuesdays. Subscribe via RSS or e-mail!

Birthing Hereditary Witchcraft: Consistency and Family Coven

As I have struggled to gain wellness again and a foothold back in a land filled with those who are well, I have watched a lot of television. I like Discovery and the NatGeo channel best.

Last night, unable to sleep, I fell into watching Polygamy, USA.[i] In the early morning hours, my husband priest convinced me to try to sleep, and I dreamed of Christianity. In fact, as I woke with an ache in my heart, I was forced to face the fact that I missed two things from Christianity – the singing and the consistency.

There is so much more that I do not miss. For me, however, Family Coven has arisen out of the thing I miss the most.

In the final episode, a young girl is given the Thirteen Articles of Faith for The Church of Latter Day Saints [ii] to memorize after she professes her desire to be baptized. This sect of Mormonism believes in full immersion baptism, which necessitates a specific baptismal dress. The child’s mother begins to describe her memories as a child around the same baptismal font, with her mother greeting her after being bathed in the Holy Spirit. I turned off the television after the woman speaks fondly of being surrounded by those who loved her and how she felt bound to recreate the same comfort for her daughter.

I remember my baptismal font in an evangelical independent southern Baptist church that no longer exists, a place my own child has never even been to and that I would never want to return to. For me, Christianity was about constant pain and complicity in violation. Not all consistency is a good thing.

Yet Paganism lacks the good things about tradition and consistency. Having walked away from Christianity because my personal articles of faith were no longer congruent with the general articles of belief held by churches, I had also walked away from my legacy – the legacy of faith my extended family had begun and my family of origin had tried to keep – that legacy of both good and bad consistency.

In my violence- and violation-filled youth, church and church camps were the only constant in my life. I could count on being in Sunday school and then the main service on Sundays. On Wednesdays, I could count on having dinner at the church, then attending a less formal praise and worship service. When I visited my grandparents, church was part of their weekly routine on Sundays, Wednesday, and Thursdays (when they would travel around the county visiting the sick and infirmed). I was shipped off to a summer camp that insisted on a church service morning, noon and night – in reflection of the Old Testament Daniel praying to be delivered from the heathens who worshiped Baal [iii] and didn’t respect Daniel’s idea of a single God.

As someone who has suffered various periods of illness, I find consistency difficult. Let’s face it, the pagan community at large makes consistency difficult. I know of one group that has held classes for 22 years without missing one, and they are located in Canada. Needless to say, the commute is not possible for me. If I lived in Canada, you better believe my Family Coven would be on that with all the zeal of an evangelical preacher.

I gave up hoping that some consistency could be found in the pagan community a long time ago. Witch wars and political intrigue and power-hungry sanctimonious elders keep our larger pagan community in flux. There is no Ship of Zion piloted by the strong, benevolent god figure for pagans to seek refuge in, count on, depend on. [iv] It is the weakness inherent in a young religion.

This is why Family Coven is important to me. Ideally, a Family Coven is made up of more than one motivated human who will cause Full Moon rituals to occur no matter what else is going on. Family Coven attempts to build up resources that will help spiritual practice happen on a regular basis. Family Coven should track and create legacy, create mothers who say of their daughters’ coming of age, “I remember when I came of age, and I wanted to pass along that stable influence to my children. It is my duty as a mother priestess.”

When I am laid up, I also fall into reading fiction a great deal. My current reading list includes the new Laurell K. Hamilton book, A Shiver of Light, A Meredith Gentry Novel.[v]  Hamilton came out as polyamorous and pagan last year on her Facebook blog. Many who have read her novels suspected as much long before her public announcement.

In her book, I have found camaraderie in fictional places and people. This camaraderie is what I miss as well. Our mythos cannot be found in one location, the way Christianity finds its mythos in the Bible. As we create our mythos, words of wisdom come to us from various places, including fiction being created today. Let us not discount our modern Bards like Arthur Hinds [vi], whose poetic works bring us new narratives based upon old histories. Just being around those of like mind, lifting each other up, loving each other in the light of a common belief, is hard to find in the pagan community. Reading Hamilton is like applying a salve to my tired soul.

I smelled roses and I knew the Goddess was with me, and then I felt/saw/knew that she would be standing over us. To me she was a cloaked figure, because Goddess comes to us all in different ways, or all ways.

If you are following Deity’s plan for you, it isn’t always the easy path; sometimes it’s the hard one. So why follow? Because to do any less is to betray your own abilities and gifts, and the faith that Deity has in you. Who would do that willingly?

There is power and magic in love, all kinds of love.

I breathed deeply, forcing myself to take even breaths, and then I let is out slow, counting as I did so. Control your breathing and you control nearly everything else, but first gain control of yourself; always begin there. Those had been my father’s words to me. That helped calm me down, too.

“And the magic is like most of our powers, like nature itself; the storm does not mean to tear down your house, but it still might.”

It is these words that I read when I cannot sleep or am in pain: these tenuous connections to the belief system I have chosen.

What I haven’t quite gotten a handle on is how to create consistency around me. There are like-minded practitioners all around me and yet, if I do not step up and jump start activity around me, it usually doesn’t happen. My hope for Family Coven is to empower anyone to initiate activity. Do not wait on the most spiritually inclined among you. If the driving force in your community is ill or otherwise unable to lead, then those who are able-bodied must step up and plan and host. Our empowerment is for all practitioners, not one pastor or priest or group of elders. Christianity suggests only certain people (mainly men) can lead. Paganism is counter to Christianity in every way when it comes to empowerment. All pagans are empowered, and all pagans are needed to own the power they have.

In Christianity, scores of people behind the scenes insure that if you show up on Sunday morning or evening, Wednesday night or Thursday night, there will be something happening. You just have to show up. Paganism is not a passive participation culture. We are an active participation culture. If you are part of a larger community and are irritated that Full Moons and classes aren’t happening, then step up and lead. Consistency in Paganism isn’t created by passing the plate and creating an infrastructure of people paid to get things done. It is reliant upon the consistency of those who want to worship.

Do not be lazy. It is so much easier to watch reality television than to actually participate in the world around you. My husband priest said once, “I always bitch about having full moon or Sabbat at our house, and then afterwards I am calm and restored and feel stupid that I was bitching.”

For consistency, we must press through our own mental road blocks and help others find a way to do the same.

No boat will sail into view for us to hop on. That is a strictly Christian view of interaction with the Divine. Our gods and goddesses want us to come to them. Set aside the static of everyday life and move toward worship regardless of the swirling storms around. Christ walks on water for his disciples. Our Deities ask us to take the first step and make our investment. They want us to walk toward them. Only the self-empowerment to create sacred space consistently will create a stable spiritual environment for our children and ourselves. Christians wait upon the Lord. Pagans go to the Lord and Lady in supplication and then help to row the spiritual ship where they direct.


[i] “The Baptism.” Polygamy, USA. National Geographic. NatGeo, Atlanta. 13 June 2014. Television.

[ii] The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS). “Articles of Faith Thirteen basic points of belief to which Mormons subscribe.” http://www.mormon.org/beliefs/articles-of-faith (accessed June 13, 2014).

[iii] Patty Loveless. “Daniel Prayed.” Ralph Stanley. Lyrics Shelby Singleton Sheet Music Inc. (accessed June 13, 2014)

[iv] The Kingsmen. “Old Ship of Zion.” Kingsmen, Chattanooga Live.  Conrad Cook, 1977. Kingsmen Publishing Company.

[v] Hamilton, Laurell K. Accessed by Kindle Fire, 1st Gen. In A Shiver of Light: A Meredith Gentry Novel. New York: Berkley Books, 2004.

[vi] Author Notes; I use two of Author Hinds works in my forthcoming book; Family Coven: Birthing Hereditary Witchcraft. Immanion Press. (TBA). Those works are The Four Jacks and Pagan Girl.  I am eagerly anticipating his new work which should be out soon.

Heathen Woman: Tips For New Heathens

Thor's hammer, Skåne. Image by George Stevens via Wikimedia Commons. Public domain.Heathenry involves a wealth of information. For someone who is new to the practices and traditions, it can be daunting to figure out to where to start, whom to consult, and which sources will be the most helpful. Below is an abbreviated list of my personal suggestions, which will hopefully provide a starting point from which to build.

Take everything with a boulder-sized grain of salt…

Opinions abound and while some are quite helpful, others are not. No one would voice their opinion if they didn’t believe it was true, so it’s important to remember that every person is ultimately responsible for doing their own research and discovery. If a discussion makes it sound like nothing short of secret decoder ring is needed to “properly” be a heathen, then it’s likely that better information can be found elsewhere.

Choose carefully where you invest your time and energy…

Arguing with a person who is clearly intent on being as unhelpful as possible is only leads to headaches and frustration. However, relevant discussion is conducive to learning and can open up doors to further insight and answers. Choose wisely and carefully who you engage with. Seek out reputable sources of information and gauge the character of those who claim to be “authorities.” There are many learned individuals who may offer assistance, but there is no such thing as being an expert heathen.

Read and study…

A common saying is “We are the religion with homework.” There are scholarly articles, various books on heathenry, and numerous independent sources out there that can, and often do, provide a wealth of information on heathen traditions and viewpoints. Beyond the Eddas, there exist myriad written historical works that describe the ancient Germanic heathens. Their worldviews are opened up to us, for example, through the works of Tacitus. Don’t shy away from academic research and be willing to explore multiple written sources of information.

Reach out to others…

Network and socialize. I think it’s important that everyone uses a degree of caution when presenting personal information online. That being said, online community can offer the support of social networking via forums and discussion groups. Many heathen groups are also now listing their calendars of events in places like Facebook so that more people can attend and meet other like-minded individuals.

You are your own key to success…

Everyone learns differently, so getting out there and experiencing what works for you is paramount to discovering the fulfillment that comes with attending a moot, constructing your sacred space, or just being outdoors in nature. It’s easy to get caught up in studying, but I’ve learned the most by living heathenry through building real world friendships and actively engaging in practices such as the blot and symble.

Know thyself…

By getting to know our strengths and areas of needed improvement, we discover who we are deep down. It can be helpful to take a personal inventory. Additionally, heathenry encourages a keen awareness of who we bring into our inner circle as trusted friends and family. These are the people with whom we build our own tribe and community, those whom we work to protect. It sometimes becomes necessary to take account of who has been allowed in that circle and to re-examine whether or not they are working to the benefit or detriment of others.

Not everything is helpful…

Searching for (and finding) your own answers instills a sense of pride. But when seeking advice, ask those you trust in your inner personal circle, whether that be your kindred members or a trusted mentor.  I’ve seen people pose questions in general heathen forums only to be left reeling from the discrepancies among the opinions offered. By strengthening your personal circle in your day to day life, you can form a supportive network for continued learning.

Follow your intuition…

Trust yourself. If you enjoyed a particular book, or had a good experience at a heathen-sponsored event, then trust that it was meaningful to you regardless of others’ opinions. Whatever experiences you have, they are no less valid than someone else’s. Trust your own reasoning to guide you.

Look around and explore…

You might find value in studying the Indo-European culture that extends beyond the Norse gods. Perhaps there is a kindred in your area that is hosting an open event. You may get an invitation to a pub moot. Whatever the opportunity, use it to your advantage to explore your interests.

And finally…

Keep an open mind in conversations. This applies to roundtable discussions where a variety of topics are being discussed. Try to remain neutral as others present their views and personal insight. If your close peers are discussing a topic in depth and you have questions, speak up and inquire about their thought processes.

These are not the hard and fast “Rules of Heathenry” – there is no such thing. Ultimately, the sacred is waiting to be discovered, and the methods of reconstruction are in an constant state of development. However, you are the foremost authority of your own life in every way. You set your own standards, and your relationships with those you are closest to is what is most relevant. You have a right to be excited, to be joyous, and eager to learn. To all new heathens, I say “welcome,” and may you find what you seek.


Heathen Woman is published on alternate Fridays. Subscribe via RSS or e-mail!

Wyrd Words: Pride

Pride. That’s a really loaded word these days, isn’t it? Pride can be dangerous, leading to overconfidence and vanity. Pride can be glorious: taking pride in your work, your skills, your accomplishments; full confidence in one’s personal abilities can be a sign of strength and discipline. As if the word wasn’t contentious enough, modern social movements have given the word a political bent.

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Since the desegregation of America, your average citizen has become familiar with the idea of “Black Pride,” and more recently, with the major legal battle over marriage equality, the phrase “Gay Pride” has become common vernacular. As a culture, we’ve become familiar with celebrations of these ideas. We have rainbow pride parades, black history month, and women’s history month, in addition to all the designated times or events where people within these groups can gather and feel accepted and appreciated by the community. It also seems to be some inevitable law of nature that whenever these occasions arises, there’s that one person in the room who says something like “Why can’t we have straight/white/male pride?”

In a tradition where one venerates their ancestors and tries to acknowledge their Orlog, it can be difficult to explain the issues with this line of thinking. Celebrations of various forms of “Pride” means more than an appreciation for your ancestors, your orientation, or your gender. These celebrations are a symbol of an oppressed group being welcomed and integrated into society. Black history month isn’t only about being black; rather, it’s about acknowledging individuals within that community who made great strides for social equality or scientific development, and who were suppressed (or even erased from history) because they were black.

Gay Pride parades aren’t just celebrations of one’s orientation; they are celebrations of the great strides toward equality that our society has made, and of the idea that people should no longer have to hide who they are. They are celebrations of being legally allowed to EXIST. These are groups who represent minority voices, which are often ignored by the majority culture. You don’t need to celebrate being “unashamed” of your heterosexuality, because nobody in our society is trying to tell you that you SHOULD be ashamed. As members of the majority, we don’t need to proclaim, “We are here, and we are people too!” Our inherent worth as human beings was never in question.

As a man, every day where I can get a job or a promotion, where I can have my stated capabilities accepted as true without assuming limitations based on my gender, where I can have access to male-specific health care without comment, IS male pride day. As a heterosexual, every day where I can get married, adopt a child, get healthcare, and visit my spouse in the hospital IS heterosexual pride day. As a Caucasian, every day where I’m not treated as a representative of my whole race through my actions, or have to worry about my employment opportunities due to the color of my skin, IS white pride day.

These idea of these celebrations is to state that the celebrants are just as good, just as valid, just as capable as everybody else. As a white heterosexual male, I will never have to argue those particular points, because I already have “equality”; my rights were never in question. So instead of white (or straight) people complaining about not having their own pride day, they should try to be thankful that they don’t need one.

A common problem I’ve met with while trying to explain this to fellow Heathens (and other Pagans) is that there IS an issue of social inequity. We are members of minority religions, and as such there are times when our ability to function within general society is difficult. Every member of a minority faith has, at some point in their lives, had to stand up and remind people that “We are here, and we are people too!”

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the question, “What about Heathen Pride? Why can’t we take pride in our ancestors?”

Answer: We can, and we DO! And it’s AWESOME!

We have any number of Heathen festivals and Pagan gatherings. We have the Highland Games, the Jorvik Viking Festival, and Pagan Pride Day. Heck, we’ve even got Saint Patrick’s Day! (Not so great for us pagans, but still “Irish” pride.) We celebrate our roots all the time, and nobody seems to mind when we do. We celebrate our ancestors ALL THE TIME. We show the world that our cultures and our religions still exist and have a right to exist. That’s PRIDE, and it’s great!

My appreciation for my predecessors, my attachment to my Orlog, has to do with their legacy, not the fact that they were white. Nobody has tried to erase them from history because they were WHITE. When the majority culture tries to deny their accomplishments or rewrite them as savages and barbarians, we can (and do) stand up and correct them. I am proud of my community and the great strides it’s made. I am proud of my Kith and Kin, who stand as the pillars of my life and the role-models by which I judge my own actions. I am proud of many of my ancestors, who accomplished great feats of discovery and innovation.

So why don’t we have white/male/straight pride celebrations? Because we already have recognition and equality, and don’t have to struggle every day just to be recognized as HUMAN BEINGS. Nobody has systematically erased all of the historical contributions of White Men. We don’t need a “Men’s History Month” or a “White History Month.” Nobody is ever likely to deny you service or employment for being a “sexual deviant” because you’re heterosexual. We don’t need a “Straight Pride Day.”

I eagerly await the day when we are all equal, and such displays are no longer necessary to force society to recognize someone’s existence. That day hasn’t come yet; we’re still fighting for it.


Wyrd Words is published on alternate Thursdays. Subscribe via RSS or e-mail!

Socially Responsible Magic: Why is Social Responsibility Important?

 

In my previous article, I explained what I felt socially responsible magic is. In some of the responses I received, I was asked why social responsibility was important as it related to magical work. It was even suggested that social responsibility wasn’t really that important and might be a distraction from magical work. I think those comments were insightful and necessarily called for an explanation. What I offer below are my own reasons and opinions about why social responsibility is important. I think ultimately each person must decide what place social responsibility has in their lives and spirituality.

I find social responsibility important because I am part of this world. I am not on this world just to pursue my spirituality. I feel that divorcing my spiritual pursuits from the material realities of this world is unrealistic and myopic. Whether magic has always been historically or anthropologically on the edge of society or not isn’t all that important, because regardless of how accepted or not accepted my spiritual practices are, they aren’t the reason I’m engaged in socially responsible activities. Nonetheless, I also don’t find it useful to separate my spirituality from my engagement with the world, as such separation leads to a loss of perspective in both the spiritual work one does and the work one does in the world.

Social responsibility provides a person an opportunity to contribute to the world at large instead of merely addressing their own needs, and it brings with it an awareness of just how inequitable the world is. While there are no easy solutions, many of us have a desire to do something in response other than sit back and contemplate our navels. Taking on social responsibility makes us aware that we are responsible for more than just our own lives: we are responsible for the impact they have on this world. We may feel a calling toward a particular cause, such as cleaning up the environment or helping out at a non-profit. Not all problems will be solved or addressed, but we nonetheless recognize a desire to do something tangible to improve the world and act accordingly.

So where does magic fit into social responsibility (and does it at all)? While I don’t think that social responsibility is inherently a part of any spiritual practice, I do think it can be part of spiritual practice. What must be measured, however, is how a person’s spiritual practice will contribute to whatever socially responsible activity they take part in. In the previous article, I used the example of doing a ritual with the desired goal of shutting down a leaking oil pipe in the ocean. While doing the ritual could be symbolic of wanting to help, the question that is left is how it practically contributes. If I were to do such a ritual, my own inclination would be to put energy toward helping the people trying to close the broken pipe stay alert and focused throughout the work they were doing, with the goal being that they get it done quickly and efficiently.

Integrating magic into social responsibility involves several steps. First, we recognize that social responsibility has enough value in our lives to prompt us to take action of on the issues that call to us. Second, we recognize that spirituality is not separate from the lives we live and work to actively integrate it. Finally, we recognize that part of what makes spirituality relevant to us is a desire to embody its values in our actions. This prompts us to make changes not only in how we live, but also in how we participate in relevant causes.

Social responsibility comes in many forms, but what all those forms have in common is a desire to serve the world and make changes for the betterment of society and the world at large. In my case, social responsibility has manifested through a number of avenues. For example, I’m the managing non-fiction editor of Immanion Press, and part of the mandate of the non-fiction line is to publish books on topics that aren’t covered or explored as much as they could be, such as race, disability, and gender. We have published anthologies such as Shades of FaithWomen’s Voices in MagicRooted in the Body, Seeking the Soul, and the forthcoming Shades of Ritual. Publishing is part of my spiritual calling and part of the way I contribute to the Pagan community, so for me, publishing is a vehicle for social responsibility.

Why is social responsibility important? It’s only important if you make it important, if it has value to you. I want to contribute to the world and to the betterment of society as an essential part of my spiritual work. I feel this makes my spirituality more relevant because I’m applying it to the world, instead of just for pursuing it for myself.


Socially Responsible Magic is published on alternate Wednesdays. Subscribe via RSS or e-mail!

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