Pagan Voices: Melissa Murry, Kenny Klein, Shauna Aura Knight, Crystal Blanton, and More!

Pagan Voices: Melissa Murry, Kenny Klein, Shauna Aura Knight, Crystal Blanton, and More! June 28, 2012

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.

Ruth Barrett and Melissa Murry at PSG (Photo: PNC-MN)

“Out of this conversation, Ruth and I parted ways but I feel that a great shift had begun. I was looking at where she was coming from and understand her perspective in a way that I had not been even considered before. I felt Ruth had come away with new insight from my workshop and our discussion also. She changed her language and spoke of “both/and” instead of “us/them”. That time was instrumental as we were able to connect before PSG’s media event. And my perspectives prior to this conversation had changed as well. While the ritual was hurtful in its exclusion, I acknowledged that the need for this space was necessary, as well as space for all people who share common experiences together. I believe when trans-men and women have space to connect, heal, and emerge that the conversation might change. And we can share a space together in main ritual events!” – Melissa Murry, from a statement sent to PNC-Minnesota in the wake of a press conference held at Pagan Spirit Gathering on Saturday, featuring Rev. Selena Fox of Circle Sanctuary, Dianic High Priestess Ruth Barrett, and Murry, a transgendered activist.

Kenny Klein

“I think that number one, the Pagan Festival phenomenon is not well known. People who identify as Pagans don’t even realize that festivals exist. I don’t know if that’s because the festivals don’t advertise, or if people aren’t utilizing avenues like Witchvox, but for some reason people don’t know about Pagan Festivals. Secondly I think that when people visit Pagan Festivals they have unreasonable expectations. There are two extremes I’ve personally seen. The one extreme involves people who seem to think that the Pagan Festival experience should be the same experience as a Renaissance Faire or SCA event. The other extreme has people, and I think you and I talked about this, who say that if they go to a Pagan Festival three states away they’ll be outed at work and fired. That’s a very unrealistic expectation about who is there and what type of people run festivals. To answer your original question, I think that a large number of Pagan authors don’t know that these festivals exist.”Kenny Klein, musician and author of “Through The Faerie Glass: A Look at the Realm of Unseen and Enchanted Beings,” on why only a small percentage of Pagans attend Pagan festivals.

Shauna Aura Knight

“I find myself as an unlikely ambassador in Chicago for the inclusion of transgendered people. Many ask me, “Why do you say, ‘all genders’ , isn’t there only two?” That is what I thought a few years ago and after  I have met, worked with, and lived with several transgendered people, my views have changed. I know I don’t always understand or connect with all the issues a transgendered person may encounter.  I do understand, as a heavily built woman, sometimes not liking my own body or feeling betrayed by my body. There is where I can find compassion. What we really need is more education, particularly in the Midwest, surrounding these issues.”Shauna Aura Knight, teacher and ritual leader, discussing her support for Melissa Murry at Pagan Spirit Gathering.

Crystal Blanton

“How exciting of a time we live with the evolution of human kind and within a Pagan community that allows for such reflections of diversity in opinion, ethnicity, practice, beliefs, socio-economic statues and even varying contributions. Blessed Be the chances to grow and evolve. I am happy to be on this journey with those who choose and if you don’t, for whatever reason, may you find what you need. If you are looking for an avenue to express your spiritual self without multicultural faces like mine, may you find that too but you won’t find it here.”Crystal Blanton, author of “Bridging the Gap: Working Within the Dynamics of Pagan Groups and Society,” on diversity and acceptance within the Pagan community.

Glenn Turner (Photo: OaklandNorth)

“One of the things we do is we provide hope for people, and very personalized customer service. When people come in here, frequently they want a candle that will bring money or love to them. We help them focus and understand how to focus their intent to bring these things into their lives. […] I don’t know if it’s been scientifically proven that this kind of thing works, but in my mind, it’s been proven. […]  I think because so many of us have scientific backgrounds and education, people seek out something spiritual, but they’re not really wanting a list of ‘thou-shall-not’s. They want something that connects them back to the Earth.” Glenn Turner, owner of Ancient Ways in Oakland, California, and founder of PantheaCon in San Jose.

Sannion (Photo: Dver)

“We erected the shrine on a tree trunk that extended out over the river. We made a ring of flowers, jewelry and candles, set up a little bowl and a pretty card, stabbed sticks of incense into the moist earth beside it and then hung strips of cloth and the little head I’d decorated on nearby trees. Then Dver sang to the nymphs, we poured out libations of mead, offered them fresh honeycomb and the other things we’d brought, I recited my hymn to the Willamette, and Dver released the floating candles lit into the river and drowned the rusalka doll. Then we spent some time privately communing with the spirits of the place.”Sannion (H. Jeremiah Lewis), a contributor to “Written In Wine: A Devotional Anthology For Dionysos,” on the celebration of the Naiad Nymphaia in Eugene, Oregon.

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

Browse Our Archives

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Greenflame

    This is awesome.

  • Thanks for posting these. While I know there was hurt and misunderstanding at PSG due to the Women’s Ritual, I’m also excited for how this brings transgendered issues into the light and has allowed for more dialogue.

    I think the challenge in this is speaking up and standing up for what we feel is right, in the sense of an activist, while also speaking from a place of compassion. Balancing those continues to be a challenge for me. How do I stand up for what I believe is right, and maybe tell someone that I respect that I don’t agree with something they’ve done, while doing so with respect? No easy question, but worth the effort to do so.

  • Florence Edwards-Miller

    I was intensely proud of my PSG community this last week.  It’s so much easier to demonize those with different views and so very much harder keep speaking from a place of compassion.  I think that now our challenge will be for those ‘on the sidelines’ to resist the temptation to stake out entrenched positions and making compromise harder.

  • What a great new section, there are so many incredible Pagan voices to hear and highlight.  I am honored to be listed here this time.  These conversations challenge us all and the more we speak in love and understanding, the closer we can get to a supportive outcome.  I am here to support the process…. whatever that means.  Blessings.

  • Emma Eggleton

    The issue that I can see with this is that not everyone that falls under the transgender umbrella should be segregated from a women only ritual, the article raises for me the question of intersex females like myself. I have discussed this in a group before but am willing to do so again. I myself was born intersex, meaning that I was born with both male and female genitals and secondary characteristics, I had surgery when I was a child that has now since been corrected and I now live my life as a normal female, however there are certain genetic differences between myself and a cisgender female. Should I be told I cannot be a part of such rituals? I bleed but I would hardly call my menstruation normal due to the anatomical differences between myself and a female that was not born with my complications. What I am getting at is that being intersex means that I fall under the transgender umbrella, the gender binary is not so clear cut as one might imagine. If some transgender people and not others are to be allowed to participate the question arises of how such allowances are to be policed and the larger question of if should they be policed at all? Does this mean that there are percentages of womanhood? even outside of the transgender question, women who were born without functioning wombs, who may have no possible way of having a menstrual cycle and who are unable to give birth and experience the inherent pains and so called mysteries of what is considered “normal’ womanhood are still very much female, should these women be segregated from a Dianic Ritual such as this? is a woman a person who can prove they have an (F) on their drivers license? you see what we need in order to make things fair is to agree on the criteria of what a woman is and it seems that there is much disagreement about what exactly that is and what it means to be female. One point to remember is that there is almost as much natural diversity in each of our gender groups as there are between the different races of people. In this text I am trying to illuminate some of the points that should possibly be taken into consideration when discussing what seems to be a very hot topic at the moment.

  • Kerri Connor

    I really have to beg to differ on why more Pagans — author  or not – do not attend Pagan festivals.  Who can afford it?   Most people simply can not pull the money out when they are already living pay check to paycheck or worse. Most people can’t just tell their boss they are taking a week off of work – whether they have vacation time or not — for a lot of people no work means no pay and so they are out income plus the cost of the event.  For many there would also be the cost of travel to the event. Many people also have responsibilities they just can not shrug for a week here and a week there.  Perhaps it’s work, school, children, or carrying for elderly parents or invalids.  Ignorance that the events occur is probably one of the smallest reasons as to why people don’t attend these events. Out of the hundreds of pagans I know only a handful can take the time and money to attend such festivals, and out of that handful, only a small few do it regularly. For the vast majority it is simply a luxury they can not afford.

  • Crystal Kendrick

      “Ignorance that the events occur is probably one of the smallest reasons as to why people don’t attend these events.”  Exactly.  Then there’s the problem of little interest.  I like meat and potatoes workshops and when I go to a festival there is rarely any of that.  Pagan festivals seem more bent toward music and drum circles, which is fine but not something I’m willing to pay $200 for.  The only Pagan gathering I would likely shell out cash for would be PantheaCon and it’s way out of my price range.

  • LeohtSceadusawol

     These are my views, and my views alone. (Better state that at the beginning.)

    I have extremely closed views of gender-centric ritual.

    If the ritual calls for a ‘maiden’, then it obviously requires a female who has not given birth (ideally, one who is a virgin, but that’s a touch hardline, even for me.)

    If the ritual calls for a ‘mother’, then it obviously requires a female who has  given birth.

    If the ritual calls for a ‘crone’, then it obviously requires a female of advanced age.

    Pretty basic, I feel.

    Now, to look at the greater context.

    Out of all the ritae that may occur throughout the year, how often are those specific roles called for?

    I think that way too much importance is placed on gender, apart from those few times when it is actually relevant.