Existing in a Changed World: Pagan Reflections on 9/11

Existing in a Changed World: Pagan Reflections on 9/11 September 11, 2012

Eleven years after the September 11th terror attacks on New York and Washington D.C. the tragedy still informs our lives. The Democratic National Convention placed the killing of 9/11 mastermind Osama Bin Laden on the forefront of our current president’s achievements, and of course the war in Afghanistan, started because they sheltered Bin Laden, is scheduled to be waged until 2014. Indeed, one could argue that geopolitics in the Middle East was irrevocably shifted after September 11th, leading to the current tenuous situation of post-revolution politics. In short, we haven’t placed 9/11 collectively behind us because we are still dealing with the aftermath of our reaction to it.

Nightfall at the 9/11 Memorial (Photo: Joe Woolhead)

September 11th was one of the things that started me on the path towards Pagan blogging and journalism. Years before The Wild Hunt I had a small proto-blog called MythWorks where I tried to find Pagan reactions to the madness that had just occurred. The 9/11 attacks awoke a need within me to find the stories we were ignoring or overlooking, to stop sitting on the sidelines of my faith community and become an active participant. I don’t think I could have realized that we would still be grieving, talking about, fighting over, and sadly exploiting, this day nearly a decade later. Some have tried to contextualize the tragedy by comparing it to larger events in wars past, perhaps in hope that it will bring perspective, but I don’t know if such a tactic can ever really work. I don’t think we should deny the ongoing importance of this event in our collective psyche.

We all exist in a changed world. As Pagans, as people who understand the power of words and actions, of the consequences of will, we have each responded in our own ways to this new reality we now inhabit. Every day we are now faced with the responsibility of how we will shape the world around us in a climate of war, fear, silence, drone strikes, and pain. Will we work to transmute our basest instincts into something nobler? We can never return to a time before 9/11, but we can work to change our culture and how we respond to tragedy. We could be a part of a conversation, a spell if you will, that brings out the better angels of our natures. I hope, that in the years to come, we can finally end the wars we have started, care for our wounded, change our priorities, and rebuild ourselves from the brokenness that so many of us still encounter.


The responsibility of existing in a world changed by horror and terror is to make sure it keeps changing, so that healing and peace can finally return. That is my small piece of magic and intention for this day. Below you’ll find some links to how other Pagans have responded to this anniversary.

My thoughts and prayers go out to all of you today. May we build a better world.

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14 responses to “Existing in a Changed World: Pagan Reflections on 9/11”

  1. Aye , i will burn a candle in remembrance of that day , those who died then and since then . Us and them , the killing and pain caused by this event needs to end so we all can heal here and the Middle east . The Attacks of that day was an act of cowardise, but as usual we have overreacted .Two wars and thousands of dead on both sides , we need to end this asap

  2. I think that, to call these acts cowardly is to understate the enemy.

    Make not mistake, the perpetrators of such an act are enemies to society as a whole, not just one city, country, political ideology or religion. However, I think that understanding your enemy is vital. If only to defeat them.

    To quote Sun Tzu’s Art of War:

    “So it is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you can win a hundred battles without a single loss.

    If you only know yourself, but not your opponent, you may win or may lose.

    If you know neither yourself nor your enemy, you will always endanger yourself.”

    Before anyone starts berating me for sounding all antagonistic, there are many ways to defeat your enemy, only a few of them involve physical conflict.

  3. You and I often disagree, but I find it perfectly appropriate to quote The Art of War on this anniversary, with the understanding you expressed in the last sentence. Alas, we still live in a world in which a nation can find itself at war at someone else’s initiative.

  4. From my point of view , as a warrior that follows a strict code of Honor/Conduct an attack such as 9/11/01 on a civilian targets w/ no appearant reason , not an act of retaliation , just a pure act of terrorism against the west as they call us , is an act of Cowardice.Altho my views on our political stance w/ the muslim world may be against the norm , my view is we can’t go around pissing off that many people , somehow w/o throwing our jewish freinds under the bus .We need to accomadate both , but not strongly favoring either . i tough thing to do , but there are way too many muslims in the world to ignore or upset. This is a large amount of people , many radicalised , that donot like us . This group includes most of the Middle East , a large segment of Indonesia and Africa . We need to be working for peace w/ our muslim freinds , not antaginising them. Kilm .

  5. “The best way to destroy your enemy is to make him your friend.” – Abraham Lincoln.

  6. The core problem is that ever since WWII we’ve put the interests of the Moslem world, from Morocco to Molucca, second (at best) to our geopolitical/economic interest in keeping the sea lanes of communication open and keeping the oil flowing. And during the Cold War we didn’t care if they were ruled by tyrants as long as the region was stable and the tyrants were anti-communist.
    Then, 9/11. And two invasions of Moslem countries was our “Hello, we have you in the foreground now!” We have a lot of difficult diplomacy ahead of us..

  7. Yup. Those calling for peace are often ‘silenced’ by those who don’t want it. Not suggesting people lay down their sword (that’d go against some very fundamental aspects of my life philosophies), just that they avoid (or minimise) physical conflict where possible.

  8. One aspect of those terrible days following 9/11 that we must not forget is the atmosphere of hatred and fear that Muslims, Americans of Middle Eastern origin, and those perceived as such endured. It is as intrinsic a part of history as all of the heroism and loss. We need to own it, and call it for for the national failing that it was and, sadly, continues to be.

  9. Being a war hawk , or hawkish is not being honorable . And being a warrior dosn’t mean fighting all the time . A true warrior will only fight in self defence and only as a last resort . And my freinds Being honorable and living by a code of proper conduct is much more than words , it’s a way of life. A warrior will NOT lay down his sword , he will put back at his side[shieth it sp?] , but it will be with him if he needs it .She/He will only use a sword when absolutly neccesary. Kilm

  10. “Self defence” can be a rather vague term. I will not hesitate to fight for more than my own defence. I’ll fight for me and mine, and I’ll fight to win.

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