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Showing posts from January, 2008

Imbolc Poetry Challenge: Part III

Here's our final offering to the Triple Goddess of poetry, one from our good friend, Penny Novack.

TRIBALISM

Certain hills painted our feet
Colors of growing, colors of birth.
Certain springs drank us into them,
Watered our children and made them strong.
Certain rivers asked us questions
We answered according to season.
Certain seasons taught us the songs
We sang to our little ones
Bare-painted by the hills at our feet.

Blessed Imbolc, everyone. Let us rejoice in the returning light!

Imbolc Poetry Challenge: Part II

I grew up listening to my father read at the supper table: he read short essays by Mark Twain, Tolkien's The Hobbit, and poetry--lots, and lots of poetry. Sandburg and Whitman, and, my favorite when I was young, Robert Frost.

I can't remember a time when this poem wasn't one of my favorites. I love it both because of the message--one that's especially appropriate to this blog, perhaps--and because of all the hours I have spent scrambling on and over stone walls, picking my way between strands of barbed wire, and holding the cool, lichened surface of stones like those Frost writes about in my hands.

MENDING WALL

Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun;
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To …

Imbolg Poetry Challenge (part I)

Over at Executive Pagan, we read about the third annual Brigid in Cyberspace Poetry Reading. Cat and I have decided to post three poems in honor of the triple Goddess. Here is the first.

Wendell Berry has been my favorite poet for almost my whole life, ever since I was the 23-year-old hippie organic gardener in the picture at right, and this is perhaps my favorite of his poems.

The Mad Farmer Liberation Front Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.

So, friends, every day do something
that won't compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deser…

What Is a Christian?

I've been contacted this week by a reporter on religion, who wants to talk about my Quaker Paganism. I feel clear about going ahead and speaking to this man--I'm not going to represent "all Friends everywhere", and I'm certainly not going to represent all Pagans. In fact, I may not be representing anyone at all, including myself; I can't be sure that, after the most recent exchange of emails, this fellow will still think me worth an interview. Turns out that the original spark for the article may have been a mis-impression that I consider myself both Christian and Pagan. And, though I know and respect a number of Christian Pagans, or Christian-leaning Pagans, I'm not one of them.

Unless, of course, I am. Can we define our terms, please? (Warning: Christ-centered language and vocabulary follows.)

Brent Bill--a Christian Quaker if ever there was one--wrote about the experience of worship in his book, Holy Silence:
...worries about work waiting for me at t…

Spirit in the Body

Erik, of Executive Pagan, has been thinking about things missing in his spiritual life as a Pagan.

In his last post, he writes, "my paganism is more in the head and heart than in the hands," and I found myself nodding vigorously. I know that, as a new Pagan, in an area of Vermont that back then had even fewer Pagans than it does today, it sometimes seemed just easier to stay home, do my own personal trance journeys, and forget the community piece. I vividly remember the trance journey when the Goddess disabused me of that idea--one very strong message that that was NOT THE WAY. I kept seeking, and I did eventually find a community to connect with, and those connections made my spiritual practice real in ways it could never have been if I had remained a solitary practitioner.

Erik has worshipped in community, too. But his experiences and mine both go to show, one of the frustrating things about Pagan communities is that they are volatile, and even when the friendships sur…

Hooray! Deo's Shadow Returns

In case you missed it, after a five month hiatus, Deo's Shadow is back!

Deo's Shadow has no competition in the world of Pagan talk podcasting. (In the world of Pagan musical podcasting, I must put in a word for Jason Pitzl-Waters' A Darker Shade of Pagan, a really professional mix of "Pagan Sounds from the Underground"; and more and more Pagans have already discovered the high-quality Pagan news commentary of Jason's Wild Hunt blog.)

A long hiatus from Deo's Shadow was disappointing, of course. Still, it's no surprise--full time graduate school has competed with the unpaid work of running a talk show for the Pagan community, and is likely to continue to do so. Alas! The price of having such articulate and intelligent hosts is that Deo and Mandy have lives beyond the podcast. Go figure.

Given the hiatus, a good deal of this return episode is a discussion of the ins and outs of running a Pagan podcast and managing relationships with a sometimes ornery…

McColman on Holy Agnosis

This quote from Carl McColman, in a post called "Holy Agnosis", really caught my eye. I think it says something that all of us who practice experiential, mystical religions should bear in mind (though he frames it in a limited way, in terms of Christian sanctity vs. heresy):
Gnosis is holy insofar as it refers to an experiential encounter with Divine Grace; it becomes heretical when it functions as a wedge that separates the “haves” from the “have nots,” thereby creating a spiritual elite, marked by a strong dualism (rejection of the body = rejection of matter = rejection of the ‘unsaved’).

Put another way, profane gnosis deals in certainties and absolutes, while holy gnosis deals in relationship and experience.
I've seen enough Quakers who have palpably lived in the life and in the Spirit go through periods of spiritual drought--and enough charismatic and vibrant Pagan priests and priestesses whose lives are a wreckage of petty conflicts and broken promises, that I know t…

Code-Switching

I was recently at Jeff Lilly's Druid Journal, and a post and comments thread there evoked something from me I've been trying to say since summer, though it has never come out right before. Maybe it isn't right even yet, but it's the closest I've come...

As we've written before, Peter and I deliberately sought out workshops and activities at New England Yearly Meeting this past August that we hoped would be challenging to us. Obviously, we're what would have to be termed, not just liberal Quakers, but universalist Quakers. At different times and in different ways, Peter and I both have taken a look at Christianity, as it is currently practiced and understood in our culture, and determined that, to say the least, it did not "speak to our condition." I've never been Christian--Peter was at one time, but walked away. (That's a story I hope he'll share some day, so I won't touch on it here, for him.)

Instead, the religious path that …

A Different Kind of Mission

There's a certain contrast between the work I spoke of in my last post, on Eden and Jim Grace and their Quaker outreach in Kenya, and the work of the writer I'd like to draw attention to today.

Andras Corban Arthen is well known among Pagans, especially in the Northeast, for his leadership in the EarthSpirit Community. Perhaps he is somewhat less known for his interfaith work with the Parliament of World Religions.

Andras has published a really moving account of his participation in the World Interreligious Encounter (Encuentro Mundial Interreligioso)in Monterrey, Mexico, this past September. His descriptions of his interactions with representatives of the indigenous peoples of Mexico, and of his own reactions and his reception as a representative of "one of the indigenous European pagan traditions" were especially meaningful for me.

On one level, the work of the Grace's, as "missionaries" (a loaded word they purposely explored in a workshop we attended …

Praying for Kenya

I don't know how many of our Pagan readers have been following the situation in Kenya; I suspect more Quakers are aware of it for the same reason I am: Quakers are present in Kenya in large numbers--in fact, African Quakers outnumber their American cousins. And as an American Friend, and especially as an American Friend with ties to Kenya, through my Yearly Meeting's affiliation with Friends United Meeting (FUM), I've felt a need to learn more about and reach out more to Quakers in that part of the world.

This summer, Peter and I had the great joy to meet Eden and Jim Grace, who are field staff for FUM, serving in Kenya--in a hospital and at offices in the city of Kisumu, where levels of violence have been severe.

It's not that peace or the people of Kenya are more important because I happen to know and care very much about one small family working in that part of the world. But the terrible nature of the violence is so much clearer to me because I am afraid, person…