Pagan Voices: Star Foster, Dan Halloran, Jason Mankey, Thorn Coyle, and More!

Pagan voices is a new spotlight on recent quotations from figures within the Pagan community. These voices may appear in the burgeoning Pagan media, or from a mainstream outlet, but all showcase our wisdom, thought processes, and evolution  in the public eye. Is there a Pagan voice you’d like to see highlighted? Drop me a line with a link to the story, post, or audio.

Star Foster

Star Foster

“When I look at the trajectory of Jonathan Merritt’s life, I often think there but for the twist of fate go I. Had I stayed in that church, and in that culture, I don’t know that I would have become Pagan. My Pagan spiritual life was borne of having a vacuum, a space, in which to explore the concept of religion from a new perspective. If I had remained in that culture and church, I would likely be a frustrated minister’s wife today. I would have attended a Christian college and be putting in 20 hours a week at church. I read Jonathan’s writing, and sometimes it feels like the ghost ofthe-Star-that-might-have-been is speaking to me. In my adult life I have used Jonathan as a strange sort of window into the life I could have had.”Star Foster, on her shared childhood with Southern Baptist leader Jonathan Merritt, who was recently outed as being gay.

Dan Halloran (left) receiving the endorsement of the Queens County GOP. (Photo courtesy Queens County Republicans)

Dan Halloran (left) receiving the endorsement of the Queens County GOP. (Photo courtesy Queens County Republicans)

“I guess you asked the question by begging the question by saying your viewers don’t know about it, and it hasn’t impacted in my public life as a Council member [...] Again, race, religion, these are things that are non sequiturs to public office. I think, as Mitt Romney has gone through the machinations of his Mormonism being an issue, the more people turn it into an issue and sensationalize it, the more problematic it becomes for all of us.” – New York Republican congressional candidate Dan Halloran, responding to a request to explain his membership in a Pagan/Heathen organization. Halloran also says he hasn’t considered that, if elected, he’d be the only Pagan member of House, “because I look at myself as an American, so my concern is representing my constituents in the Halls of Congress.”

Jason Mankey

Jason Mankey

“If you want to connect with currents and thought-forms that take you back to antiquity, why not worship the deities that shaped antiquity? I’m sorry, but I’m always going to feel closer to my ancient pagan ancestors while doing ritual outdoors with the gods they worshipped. You can keep your air conditioning, and your lack of understanding concerning my religion. I don’t care whether or not people agree with my faith, but it’s certainly just as real as anything else.”Jason Mankey, responding to the same tired attacks that certain Christians always make towards Pagans, which they think are devastating, but really just miss the point.

T. Thorn Coyle

T. Thorn Coyle

“I want to continue to practice, to try, to live, as though your freedom is important. It is so easy to slip into self-centeredness. It is so easy to forget that we are connected, when all we can see is our own hurt, our own pain, our own needs. Restorative justice is not about subsuming my needs for yours. It is about saying ‘We are in this together. Can we remember that?’” – T. Thorn Coyle, from a tribute to Nelson Mandela on his birthday earlier this month.

Eli Effinger-Weintraub

Eli Effinger-Weintraub

“Here’s where I felt the deepest sense of spiritual connection: walking the two-mile mini-pilgrimage from my apartment to the Mississippi River, experiencing the wondrous aliveness of my body and humility in the presence of this ancient and majestic river. Ghost-writing letters to the editor for a conservation and renewable energy campaign, placing mind and hand in service to the Earth I loved. Making a game out of how many days in a row I could go without starting my car, challenging myself to do better, to be better, for Gaia.”Eli Effinger-Weintraub, from her Witches & Pagans blog.

Wendy Griffin

Wendy Griffin

“Most of what I did was deadly serious, and in the late 70s and 80s, pretty discouraging.  But I’m a fan of Saul Alinski’s and especially liked the part where he said something to the effect that you need to have fun while you are being political or you’ll burn out. Ok. He didn’t say exactly that, but that’s part of what I took from Rules for Radicals. A Zap action is one where you get in, make your point, and get out quickly. We decided that we would make a point about Bork’s stand against abortion and have fun while doing it. We had been so serious for so long. So, of course, three of us decided to attend as tap dancing sperm, performing a rousing chorus of Monte Python’s Every Sperm is Sacred.” - Pagan scholar Wendy Griffin, on being an activist, and having fun while doing it.

P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

“There’s a lot to recommend polytheism as a viable, sensible, and practical theological system to underlie one’s religious notions and spiritual practices. Star Foster has talked a bit about the fact that modern paganism is really the only modern religion that can lay claim to polytheism over and above all else (despite the disagreement with this assertion that some of the commenters on the entry had). The diversity it entails as a necessity; the mutual respect for other paths and multiple ways of doing things, even when it comes to approaching the same gods within the same overall cultural framework; the preference for multiple possible answers and a variety of truths as opposed to one singular, irrefutable, unquestionable, “my-way-or-the-highway” approach to most theological questions…and the list goes on. But, one thing that I also like about it, and that I think some people still tend to miss despite being polytheists in name, is that in a polytheistic framework, the gods are interdependent, not independent. No god arises in a vacuum, really, and thus no god is “bigger than” or “more important” than any other, because all of them rely on at least a few others, even for their very existence.”P. Sufenas Virius Lupus on the virtues of polytheism.

That’s all I have for now, have a great day!

About Jason Pitzl-Waters
  • http://twitter.com/soulsprite Joanne Elliott

    Thank you for sharing the wisdom of the varied voices in the Pagan community! 

  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    Halloran’s comments underline for me the understandable but still striking fact that what, in the larger society, is (for no really good reason) a distinctly left-wing position – firm separation of church and state – is a Pagan position held pretty much across the spectrum of Pagan politics. Understandable, because a religious tradition that totals under one percent of the total population has a clear interest, but striking nonetheless.

  • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

    Really didn’t expect to open up the Wild Hunt and find me staring back at myself!

    • zendodeb

       I think that’s a sign you’ve hit the big-time. Or the medium-time anyway.

      • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

         I’m probably medium-rare.

        • ErynneRose

           It’s a lovely picture of you.

    • http://www.facebook.com/kargach Rob Henderson

      If you gaze into “The Wild Hunt”, “The Wild Hunt” gazes also into you.

  • Bookhousegal

    I have to admit that a thing that bothers me about Patheos is it features a lot of bellyaching about ‘Oh  if Paganism isn’t this or that I might be a Christian.’

    I don’t get it.   I was never a Christian because I just experienced other things.   I feel very lucky in some ways,  but I grew up feeling like the last person alive who knew the Gods,  and if I continued in that way I’d *still* be that way about Them. 

    All of this wonderful stuff we make as Pagans was never anything more or less than how we get together about what and Who….Really kind of were with me from the ‘beginning.’

    And this isn’t about people or the Gods,   but definitely on Patheos there seems to sometimes be this ongoing thing like we’re monotheists who need to ‘believe correctly’ before we can have *faith,*  and tha’s one thing I wish I could tell Star, particularly,  but just in general.   Especially just from her frontspiece blog.  

    We’re *Pagans.*   We don’t *have* to have it all figured out.   That’s someone else’s worry and standards.   Like I always tell the Christians,  ‘You believe as hard as you can in a very jealous God.   …If there’s one thing a punk like me believed in before I ever met another Pagan,  it’s a very patient Goddess.’

    We shouldn’t forget that.   As crazy as the world is right now,   whatever systems and lore and traditions we’ve put together,   and those are wonderful too,   all the me of twenty-five years ago can say is,  ‘Whatever the Hec you’re doing,  I’m just glad to see you.’

    Let’s be patient with ourselves as well as of course,  demanding. 

    I’m not here cause of anything anyone said.  

    And I think that’s pretty cool.  

    Blessed be. 

    • Bookhousegal

       (And I’m just going to add,  the problem isn’t the questioning:   it’s just that this Lammas night,  I’m wanting to remind us that if we have one simple faith, it’s that, if necessary,  we;re *allowed* to be wrong.  

      I think the first really sincere prayer I ever said started like, , ‘Lady, this could be really stupid, but, (I’m doing it anyway, be with me.) ‘   I’m not the trusting sort,    actually,  but I guess that’s what ‘faith’  is all about.  

      So,  whatever the words and forms,  I’d like to remind ‘my people’  that we may just be at our best when we *trust*   ….and also dare to risk being wrong.  

      Some of these religion sites scream 24/7 about ‘right/wrong.’   but that’s not what *faith* is,  never mind seeking knowledge.    It’s *simpler.* 

      You sure can’t seek ‘right’  if you’re too terrified to dare uncertainty enough to find *out.*   Never mind argue on someone else’s terms. 

      (sorry for the lecturey tone.)  

      But we already have more faith than most would think *counts,*   whatever we ‘think’  on others’ terms.   If we didn’t,  we wouldn’t even talk to each other, never mind them.  :)

      • CrystalK

         I don’t think Star was saying if Paganism weren’t this or that she’d be Christian.  I just think when you come from a fundamentalist background you sometimes think of how it could have been if you hadn’t decided to follow that inner voice, if you had just stifled it and went with the flow.  I think of that sometimes and it paints a dark and depressing picture.  And most of the time I’d rather *not* think about it.


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