Top 10 Posts of 2016

On Monday I gave you the four best posts you didn’t read. Now here are the top ten you did read.

These are the top ten posts of this year, as measured by page views. Only 2016 posts are listed. The Purpose of Religion from 2011 was the #5 post overall (it was the #3 post last year) but it wasn’t eligible. These are the top ten that I posted this year and that you read this year.

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10. Racism Cannot Be Tolerated (January 2016). The drive for ideological purity – from the left as well as from the right – has wounded political debate and made good, pragmatic governance almost impossible. There are very few issues where hard lines must be drawn and no compromise is possible. Racism is one of those issues.

9. Our Gods Are Not Jealous Gods (June 2016). I’m a Druid who mostly worships and works with Celtic deities. But every year at Summer Solstice I take off my Druid robe, put on a plain white tunic, and serve as a priest of the Neteru – the Gods of Egypt.

Jealousy is not a virtue. Its roots are not in love and power, but in possessiveness and insecurity. It seeks a relationship of control and often abuse, not one of respect and reciprocity. As long as the Celtic Gods get what They want, they don’t mind me working with Gods from other lands.

8. Beginning a Devotional Practice (January 2016). When someone asks for suggestions on getting started in Paganism or polytheism, one of the first things I recommend is to begin a devotional practice. Choose a deity, create an altar, pray, meditate, make offerings, study, and do devotional reading. Listen. Start with one or two practices, then add more as you progress.

There is no substitute for a consistent, reverent, devotional practice.

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7. The Veil Is Shredded (November 2016). The Veil is the boundary and the barrier between the ordinary world and the Otherworld, the world of the Gods and ancestors. Modern Pagan tradition says it is thinnest at Samhain and Beltane, at the liminal times when Summer changes to Winter and vice versa. But many of us are seeing this kind of crossover year-round. Otherworldly beings and influences are bleeding over into the ordinary world at an ever-increasing rate and many of them aren’t particularly pleasant or benign.

6. I Do Believe In Mercury Retrograde! I Do, I Do, I Do! (September 2016). I never put much stock in astrology and for most of my life I’ve been able to safely ignore Mercury retrograde. If I’m at 80% of my normal writing effectiveness, I can still get my message across. So most times when Mercury goes retrograde, I may have a slight drop-off, but not enough to cause problems. If I write when I’m sick, it’s not as good as normal, but it’s still good enough.

But put the two together and all of a sudden I’m writing at 60% effectiveness. Now the message isn’t getting across. In September, Mercury retrograde slapped me upside the head – now I have no choice but to believe in it.

5. An Imbolc Meditation (January 2016). The season from January 2 to Imbolc is the perfect time for review, introspection, planning, and new beginnings. We’re past the Solstice and the commotion of all the December holidays. The cold weather slows us down and keeps us inside. As we celebrate Imbolc, let us use this cold, slow time of the year to prepare ourselves for a warm, vibrant Spring.

4. 4 Steps to a Deeper Pagan Practice (January 2016). If we’re looking for something to make our lives better in a new year, there are few things more helpful than deepening our religious and spiritual practices. There is no such thing as certainty in religion – make a choice. Challenge the assumptions of the mainstream society and build a strong foundation. Begin a devotional practice. And keep it up – persistence is an important virtue.

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3. Something Bad Isn’t Coming, It’s Here (March 2016). 2016 got off to an ominous start with multiple prominent deaths, unusually deadly weather, and the rise of Trump. By March, it was clear to many of us that the warnings of “a storm is coming” were over – the storm was here. The rest of the year showed that was true.

The situation is extremely complicated and it’s bigger than any of us. Attempts to boil it down to one or two factors are not helpful. I don’t like it, but we’re going to have to deal with it. And if we’re going to deal with it, we’re going to have to take care of ourselves and build our tribes.

There was a big jump from #4 to #3 – this post had over three times as many views as the one above it. Clearly, it resonated with a lot of people.

2. The Otherworld is Bleeding Through (June 2016). On an early morning walk in June, I saw a green glowing bird. It should not exist, but there it was. I worked through every possible “rational explanation” I could think of: an escaped parrot, a bird that had been covered in paint, a toy out of place, unusual light interactions, and more. I was left with the conclusion that either this was an Otherworldly bird, or it was an ordinary bird sitting in a place where the Veil Between the Worlds (see Top Post #7 above) was wide open – the Otherworld is bleeding through into this world.

The stories of our ancestors tell us that the Otherworld used to be much closer to the ordinary world. That changed with the beginning of civilization and technology. Now the Otherworld is bleeding over into the ordinary world once again, and it’s bringing things a lot more troublesome than green glowing birds. How long until our GPS apps start to warn us “here be dragons”?

1. “Adulting” is an Indictment of Society, Not of Millennials (January 2016). This post went viral into a mainstream audience. Within a week it became my most popular post ever – Jason Mankey tells me it’s now the most widely read post in the history of the entire Pagan channel.

The idea that the younger generation is always screwing things up has been going on since the ancient Greeks complained of “luxury, bad manners, contempt for authority, disrespect to elders, and a love for chatter in place of exercise.” We’re seeing that now with the near-incessant bashing of Millennials – bashing that is unfair and misplaced. Millennials and others who don’t want to adult aren’t being immature. They just don’t like the mainstream society’s definition of “adult.” And sooner or later, they’re going to change it.

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2016 has been a difficult year. Too many people who were important to us died, both famous people and people who were our close friends. The Pagan and polytheist communities spent too much time fighting among ourselves, and too much of that fighting was personal and mean-spirited. Xenophobia isn’t just being expressed by some in this country, it’s being celebrated. And Trump.

I hope 2017 will be better, but I have little confidence that it will. I do have confidence that we will persevere in honoring Nature and the Gods, in building strong and resilient tribes and communities, and in caring for ourselves and each other.

Thank you for your friendship and your support. It is needed, it is helpful, and it is appreciated.

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