Rewilding: Privilege and Reality

SPI 2011 60

As a polytheist I acknowledge all Goddesses and Gods, I honor and work with several, and I am formally dedicated to two. Of all those deities, Cernunnos is first. He has been with me since before I knew who – and what – He is, and I pray to Him every night. His is the first in my evening cycle of prayers.Like most of the Old Gods, He is not a jealous deity. I’ve spent much of the last three months in service to the Gods of Egypt and the Gods of Greece and I have neither heard nor felt the fir … [Read more...]

Rewilding Our World

Yukon sled dogs

George Monbiot has a TED talk titled “For more wonder, rewild the world.” He tells how the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone National Park has had a dramatic and positive effect on the entire ecosystem. Wolves reduced the number of deer, which allowed overgrazed lands to recover, which allowed trees to grow thicker and taller, which supported increased populations of birds, which has supported a general recovery of biological diversity in the park. The talk is good and worth the 15 minutes … [Read more...]

We’re Still Here and the Earth is Still Sacred

Dinosaur Valley 07.13.14 25

Editors' Note: This article is part of the Public Square 2014 Summer Series: Conversations on Religious Trends. Read other perspectives from the Pagan community here.Patheos is doing a series on important issues in individual religious communities.  For the Pagan Channel, our issue is environmentalism and climate change.  Here’s the question in its entirety: Has Pagan Environmentalism Failed?With the recent release of several large-scale studies showing that climate change may now be … [Read more...]

A Meditation on Air

sunrise 03.30.14 03

The four classical elements of Air, Fire, Water, and Earth were very important to my early Pagan practice.  Like so many, I came into Paganism through Wicca, and the four elements and their corresponding directions, tools, and themes are foundational to Wiccan practice.  They’re also a part of OBOD Druidry and many other groups with roots in the Western Mystery Tradition.As my practice has become more polytheistic I’ve found myself working less and less with the four elements.  Though they ha … [Read more...]


Cernunnos square

I was a devotee and a priest of Cernunnos long before I started this blog.  Over the years I’ve told parts of my story with Him (here, here, and here, for a good start), probably enough for a diligent reader to piece the whole thing together, if one was so inclined.  I’ve reviewed a very good book of devotions to Him written by others.  What I haven’t done is talk about who and what He is, as He’s presented himself to me.Let’s start with what we know about the history of Cernunnos, which can … [Read more...]

The Four Centers of Paganism

Centers of Paganism

Welcome to Under the Ancient Oaks, a thoughtful little blog on the Patheos Pagan Channel.  I’m John Beckett, and as the header says, I’m a Pagan, a Druid, and a Unitarian Universalist.  Earlier this week I felt called to respond to the misogyny in our society after the killings in Isla Vista, California.  Apparently what I had to say resonated with a lot of people, because traffic on this blog is up.  A lot.  More people read Dude, It’s You in its first 24 hours than visit in a typical month. … [Read more...]

Earth Day Is Worth Celebrating

SPI 2011 36

I wasn’t going to write on Earth Day this year.  I was going to point people to this excellent essay by Jason Pitzl-Waters on The Wild Hunt (which you should read anyway) and post here on the obligations of CUUPS leadership.And then a Facebook friend said something that boils down to “we pollute too much, we consume too much, and so we’re hypocrites if we talk about how much we love the Earth.”  The post on CUUPS leadership will have to wait till Thursday, because Earth Day is worth celebrati … [Read more...]

Sacramental Eating

cows Oct2013

I’m out of the country on a 12-day trip that’s part vacation and part pilgrimage.  Yes, you’ll hear all about it when I get back.  Until then, enjoy this update of an essay I wrote in 2011.We are born alive – and hungry.For a short time we are sustained by our mother’s milk.  It is given freely and lovingly (in most cases, anyway), but that gift is possible only because our mothers consume other life.Eventually the maternal intermediary is removed and we begin a life-long process of c … [Read more...]