My Gods Don’t Like Racism

Cernunnos.  Jeroen van Valkenburg, 1999.

It has been my experience that above all else, Herne is a god of truth, of facing and living up to truth. There he stood, my lovely, wild god, wearing a form I’d seen in photographs: that of a young black man, box braids halfway down his back, facing down a phalanx of riot police, his hands and head held high. Defiant surrender. Courageous witness to truth. That’s him. That’s my god, my Herne. [Read more...]

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On Prayer: An Online Shrine to the Victims of Racism

Memorial Candle. Cat Bishop, 2015.

I’m writing these words less than a week after yet another unarmed black man, 50 year old Walter Scott, was killed by a white police officer. The bottom line for me is just this basic: I have friends who are suffering. And I can’t help. I have nothing to offer; there is nothing I can do. Except: I can pray. [Read more...]

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Confronting Racism, Yankee Pagan Style

Old Man of the Mountain stamp

I am a white American. I didn’t ask to have anyone cheated out of anything. I never signed up for it; I never wanted it. But I am also a Pagan and I honor my ancestors. It doesn’t matter if it’s “not our fault.” We need to be like them: speak the truth, work like hell, and pay that goddamn debt. [Read more...]

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Real Anti-racism Will Involve Mistakes

black and white handclasp

The truth is, racism has touched everybody. Everybody has internalized, implicit racism–certainly every white person. White people need to be honest about the fact that racism, like water, has seeped into all of our basements. We need to own our own messes, apologize when we screw up, and then get back to work figuring out how to clean out our basements and be better partners at deconstructing white supremacism. [Read more...]

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An Open Letter to Winter at Imbolc

Imbolc Altar, Cat Chapin-Bishop, 2013.

You bring us beauty, like soft, white snowfalls and glittery ice, hanging like jewels from the treetops; we swear and snarl because your lovely ice and snow keep us from rushing about like crazy people in our automobiles. Thank you for days off teaching, just when I needed them most. And as we Witches are wont to say, “Stay if you will; leave if you must. Hail, and farewell, season of starkness, limits, and rest.” [Read more...]

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Peace and the Language of the Unheard

434px-Martin-Luther-King-1964-leaning-on-a-lectern

Peace is effortful. Peace will involve struggle. And though I would never agree that violence is necessary to reach it, I would very much agree that no justice means no peace. [Read more...]

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The Blessings of Foreign Gods

Photo by Nevit Dilmen, 2012

I had accepted the blessing of a foreign God. The Jews of the Old Testament and the Christians of the New are both very uneasy about that sort of thing. Ancient Pagans, I think, were much easier with it. When you are a guest, you honor the Gods of your host. That seems only right and proper to a Pagan.
[Read more...]

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Prayer for Today

Peter communes with the land in Kenya

If I were to write my own ‘prayer for today’ to bring before the Gods or to hold in the Light, what would I ask? [Read more...]

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Hands-On Worship

1546005_10151876720793297_1517972385_n (1)

What does it mean to worship a god or goddess of smiths, but never to have worked with iron or bronze? What does it mean to worship a goddess of the hearth, but never to learn to bank a fire to last through a winter’s night? How can we understand gods of brewing or hunting or grain if we never make our own beer, clean our own game, bake our own bread or grow our own food? [Read more...]

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My Polytheistic, Mystic, Monist Heart

cilantro flowers

Setting aside thoughts on how lots of people seem to substitute a blind adherence to a creed, and wave allegiance to it like a flag of loyalty, I think there are real differences in how humans are drawn to religious experience or not–and, among those who are drawn to the spiritual encounter, how we perceive it. With the exception of those who would turn Mystery into an excuse for a tribal loyalty test, I don’t think these differences are moral in nature. It seems as though they simply are. [Read more...]

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