Thursday, May 28, 2009

They Make Me Proud...

It's been several years now since I left the faculty of Cherry Hill Seminary. Many things have changed since I was last affiliated with the school--the first Pagan clergy training school in the modern world to offer graduate-level courses.

But as someone who passionately supports equality for same-gender couples, I'm very pleased with the speed of their response to this week's disappointing California decision on Proposition 8.

They're making me proud...
Cherry Hill Seminary Responds to Same-Sex Marriage Debate

COLUMBIA, SC -- Cherry Hill Seminary students and faculty are representative of the range of human sexual diversity. They minister to communities which include many same-sex couples.

As Pagans, we embrace all forms of consensual adult sexual expression and relationships. We recognize sexuality as a sacred and spiritual force and, therefore, support legal, social and spiritual recognition of these relationships.

More information about Cherry Hill Seminary may be found at www.cherryhillseminary.org or by contacting Holli Emore at 888-503-4131 or CHS@cherryhillseminary.org.

While not unique, this is an encouragingly clear statement of principle. I look forward to being made as proud, in time, by still more groups, both Pagan and Quaker.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Paganism: What's Not To Love?

I knew somebody was going to call me on it, eventually.

Though the blog is called Quaker Pagan Reflections, I do a lot more writing, day to day, about how the Quaker part fits into my life than the Pagan part. David Miley noticed:
I think it’s fair to say that you have produced less and less on pagan themes over the past year. I mean about your own personal paganism... ...What I haven’t heard in a long time Cat is what you love about the pagan community.
To some extent, my relative silence on Paganism is only natural. I have been Pagan for twenty years, now, and most of the sudden discoveries and revelatory transformations of this path are behind me. In contrast, I've only been a Quaker for much less time. I think I write more about being a Quaker than being a Pagan, because I am more actively wrestling with what it means to me.

But David is right. Though it may make sense for me to draw from my perspective as a longtime Pagan in critiquing that community, that's not especially fair, if I don't first make it plain why I consider myself--passionately--a member of that community.

What do I love about Paganism?

Well, first and foremost, Pagans.

Sometimes the lame-brained things we get up to, as a group, make me crazy. But if I step back and think about the people I've gotten to know, and the depth of intimacy I've found with them--because there certainly is something about Pagan small groups and ritual that fosters intimacy--I have a different perspective.

I think, for instance, of one controversial High Priestess I know, a woman with many annoying personal ticks. However, when I am tempted to be impatient with her, I remember all the creative and intelligent men and women she has trained and sent out into the world over the years and think about what that says about her. I step back, and I look at the big picture, and things fall into place.

Paganism is like that High Priestess to me. Not without failings... but look who it feeds!

Excuse me for name dropping for a moment. Here's a partial list of the fascinating people I've known, over the years, because of becoming a Pagan:

And that's only the ones you might have heard of.

Others (Doug, Rhea, R., Harper and Rita, Chris S., Robin, Mike, Barbara, Carol, Amy, Penny, Chuck and Catherine, Jehana, Shaker, Andy, all my covenmates in both of my covens, my teachers, friends we made at festivals, kids we watched grow up) are either people you might never have heard of, or are people whose names are not public and who deserve their privacy.

But each and every one of these folks is someone I could easily blow an entire weekend with, doing nothing but talk and listen to them talk, pausing only for food and drink, and to toss another log onto the bonfire.

Foremost among the people I've gotten to know through Paganism... is me. I was a stranger to myself before I became Pagan. I was not the person I know and (mostly) like and respect today.

It is strange to me to remember it, but the person I was before I became Pagan was stiff and brittle, afraid of people, and much too inhibited to sing, full-voiced, anywhere but a shower. My friendships with Pagans--and whatever the sweet gift it is of Paganism as a spiritual path--gave me myself, for the first time since I had been too young to understand that I was odd: too intense, too smart, too wordy for most people's comfort.

Pagans don't mind if you're odd, as long as you're real. Circling with Pagans, in our flowing robes and funky jewelry--how odd to recognize this--taught me to be real.

I know that we look like a giant role-playing club to outsiders. But even the dress-up and drama, properly done, properly nurtured, are in the service of becoming genuine and real.

As I child, I had been drawn to stories of magic, of castles and knights and ladies fair. I found the convenient, dry ordinariness of the modern world a terrible cheat, but I learned to hide my romantic yearnings and to keep my outward self within the safe, conforming bounds of suburban style. I wore my tee shirts, my cords and jeans, my checked and pinstriped and polka-dotted clothing, and never let a hint shine out that I wanted silks and bodices and Celtic knotwork instead.

I remember with what trembling hands, in the merchant's row at my first-ever Rites of Spring, I took a crescent moon crown into my hands and set it on my head. I had just that spring begun to Draw Down in coven, and I had learned that part of what was holding me back in my growth as a priestess was my fear of outward gestures and drama.

Yes, you can do magic in your blue jeans, and yes, you can touch the substance of the gods while standing in sneakers on linoleum, without moving a finger.

But you learn best to do these things skyclad or in robes, under a sky filled with starlight and with the smell of a fresh haycrop in your nose. You learn best to raise and direct energy while moving your breath, your arms, your whole body in harmony with that flow. And it will look dramatic. It will look good. And it will feel... like those fairy tale visions of your childhood, if you let it.

I bought that crescent moon crown, unnecessary toy though it was, and in the purchase I bought back something of myself I'd sold off long ago: something that was willing to take up space in the world, and be perhaps a little too intense, too smart, too wordy, too real for most people's comfort.

Allowing my dramatic, romantic side to flower allowed my humor and my plainness, my ordinariness to root beside it. Nowadays, I love the ordinary, because Paganism allowed me to live within the real--for me, a reality that has always included dimensions not contained in the latest American Idol broadcast or McDonald's Happy Meal.

Pagans love the anachronistic, the romantic, the embroidered. And, however much of a secret I may try to keep it, so do I.

Pagans love the creative, the original, the do-it-yourself artist, musician, poet, architect, seamstress, jeweler, healer, priest. We nurture this creativity, acting as an appreciative audience for one another. And if I groan inwardly when someone takes the center of a bardic circle for a poorly-prepared, unrehearsed and off-key rendition of one of Gwyddion's songs, I also understand the love that went into that musical selection.

We create. More than any other religious community I know, Pagans are creators. What gifts we have within, we share... and, yeah, sometimes that means looking at one drawing of a gooey, anorexic elf-chick too many. But however much or little we have within us, something in Paganism draws it out. What do you have inside? Paganism is always whispering. What can you create? What can you share? What do you see?

In a world of fast-food, instant culture, where there are experts to meet every need, and every creation is a commodity, the raw and sometimes stumbling creative urge of Pagans in community is a vital counter-balance.

We don't give up our power in the name of not making fools of ourselves. We take ourselves seriously in ways it is easy to stand outside of and mock--but none of the magic passes to those outside that circle. Those of us standing within it, caught up in serious play, get to remake ourselves, get to re-envision the world.

And, if we play long enough and sincerely enough and honestly enough, we make ourselves real. We wake up. We wake up because we are dreaming.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Keeping a Sabbath

I need a rest. It feels like every day there is some new reminder of just how low my reserves have gotten; between the loss of our April vacation and the post-viral fatigue that weighed me down all year, I feel tired in a way that goes well beyond joints and muscles and even mental alertness. Teaching has worn me out this year. Living has worn me out. I feel spiritually tired.

I'm realizing this morning that I need not to go to meeting for worship today.

This will be the third week in a row I won't have made it to meeting. That is so not like me. When I think about that in terms of my relationship with my community, and especially with the fact of my serving on Ministry and Worship, I get a tight little knot in my belly.

But it's not changing anything for me, that little knot. I'm working very hard this year--I've had to work very hard this year--to learn the difference between being acting faithfully and allowing myself to be co opted by gray-faced duty. I'm a past-master at convincing myself to take on and keep up with commitments. I suck at laying things down, largely because I have a terrible phobia about letting people down.

Caring for people is fine. Putting a concern for what they will think of you above honest discernment of what is and what is not my job... that's not so good.

Why do I go to meeting, anyway? So that people will think I'm All That? Surely not.

I know that part of what makes my spiritual life tick is my connection to other people, to members of my community. I find my link to Spirit, Pagan as well as Quaker, in the eyes and hands and faces of other human beings as often as not. God speaks to me in the intimate, loving connections I have with others, and I know it. So connecting with humans in honesty, in openness, in love, that connects me to what I most love and need that goes beyond the merely human.

More, I know that sometimes I can carry some of that Light with me; when I am open to Spirit and to a community at the same time, we all get fed. It's great. And it's what I've come to hope for on Sunday mornings, getting ready for meeting for worship.

But there's this other thing that I also need, and somehow it is, for me at least, more about being alone than with others. Peter used a phrase yesterday, otium divina I think he called it--divine idleness. And when he spoke those words, a spark passed into me, and I knew that those words fit what I need, what I'm lacking right now.

I am starved for divine idleness--for "unproductive" time spent alone, listening to rain run down a window pane or to leaves talking to themselves in the yard. I need to be empty for a little while, not filled with busy-ness or with community. Not even a spiritual community I love.

My tanks are on empty not so much for physical rest, though I need that, too, as for spiritual rest. I need to stop for a while.

I remember, two or three years ago, talking with J. H. at my meeting about how over-busy teaching sometimes made my life. The grading load on weekends, the feeling of being absolutely used-up at the end of each day... Sometimes I felt that attending meeting for worship was a luxury I didn't begin to have time for.

J. asked me what would happen if I just set aside a day and declared it to be Sabbath, and kept it.

Now, J. is someone I've heard called a "professional Quaker"--not in the sense of getting paid for it, so much as in the sense of someone who has given her spiritual life and leadings the kind of attention most Americans reserve for questions of secular career development. This is not to negate what I do--at the moment, teaching high school English--as my own spiritual leading. But she's someone who has a life well-arranged around her spiritual life and needs. I take her seriously, and I know she has worked a long, hard time to get where she is, where her life can be so well-ordered. And I take it that creating a life similarly ordered around spiritual leading is very much my business, too.

No, she doesn't have a stack of essays and exams to grade for Monday every week. No, she doesn't necessarily get it what the ebbs and flows of my own week and school year are. But that doesn't make her wrong.

What if I did keep a Sabbath? What would that be like?

Here's how the question is coming to me today. Today, I'm thinking less in terms of meeting attendance, important though that is, than I am of honoring what I'm sensing are my deep needs of the spirit this week.

As I said, I'm feeling most the need for that emptiness, that otium divina.

And I think that a real sabbath is one in which my spirit is open to the promptings of That Spirit, speaking to me. Unmediated by my expectations, narcissistic little worries, shoulds, oughts, or want-tos. What is God asking me to set aside for Her today?

Oddly enough, I don't think grading student papers will disrupt my sabbath. Oddly enough, though worship in my meeting is normally the clearest route I have in a week to communion with that Spirit, this week, I'm thinking that's not the case. This week, I think that true sabbath is about staying home and quietly, calmly, getting things done for the week--puttering my way back to another long week at work, rather than moving like clockwork through a First Day ordered for maximum efficiency in all things: worship, grading, prep.

I wish my life were simpler and quieter, or that I were somehow more energetic or efficient and could attend my meeting every week, year in, year out, without fail. I don't seem to have that life, though, and I don't see a way to get to it.

Sometimes, Sunday morning is the only day of the week I get to ask the question, "What is the Spirit of Life nudging me to do to honor my relationship with it?" It may not be the sabbath J. meant or I fantasize about, but asking that question and honoring the answer, week by week... that may be what it really means, to me, to keep the sabbath.

Right. So. No hurry to get to meeting, this morning. And probably, the kids will be getting their tests back tomorrow after all.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Son of Fame

There was quite a response to my recent post on the subject of Fame. It must be a subject that others beside myself have wrestled with. Certainly, a number of comments that were left on the original post made me look again at the whole subject of fame.

I think the trouble within the Pagan community is not so much that we have no one among us who can distinguish between fame and wisdom, as it is that we have not yet, as a religious movement, come up with any cultural norms that show us, as a group, how to figure that out. Because of that, I think many Pagans do have a somewhat unhealthy obsession with fame and popularity—and judging by the sheer number of comments on this post, it looks like I’m not alone in thinking that. As Chris said, “It is far easier to count the number of books published, to calculate the weight of a name you've heard many times in our relatively small lives than it is to recognize wisdom.”

But there is more to our (Pagan) cultural fascination with fame than just collecting autographs. Nettle’s words, for instance spoke to me. She wrote, “I want the famous pagans to like me. It's my grown-up version of wanting the teacher to notice how awesomely smart I am. But, really, it's the BNP's who have written or done something I like and admire that I want to pat me on the head and give me an A+.” On the one hand, I know exactly what Nettle means—I, too, get a giddy, little-girl kick out of being noticed and liked by famous Pagans (writers especially). But on the other hand, I think it’s significant that both of us value that kind of connection from the BNP’s we admire.—the ones we already sense have some depth, in other words.

Partly, I think this reflects the truth I heard Copper Asetemhat Stewart speaking, when he wrote, "neither books nor workshops have been particularly useful to me, but friendships have." For, no matter how much I may get out of a book or a workshop, it has been when I have built a relationship with someone whose wisdom and insights I trust that I have grown the most. On one level, yeah, there's that "inner squee" Nettle describes. Maybe that's there for all of us.

But it's not simply the "foam on the capuccino" (to borrow Chas Clifton's phrase) that is so attractive. I think we probably all hunger for real guidance and feedback from those we think are on the right track. And, you know, I'll be very happy to take a hug from Marshall Massey, if and when we one day meet face to face. Emotional and personal affirmations are important. But I think the affirmation I'll treasure most, in his case, will be that of a friendship with someone who cares about me enough to tell me the truth, and knows enough about Quakers to have truths I may need to be told.

Three hundred and fifty years have given Quakers a head start on traditions of what they call eldering--the nurturing of gifts and talents amid a spiritual community--and it's something more than affirmation, though that can play a role in it. There's also push-back, challenge, and a willingness to see reciprocity and mutuality develop over time. A quality of friendship that centers on doing something important, or understanding something important, fully and well. Together.

I want something like that in the Pagan world. I think my predilection for fame is not so much that I want or need to be taken seriously by every Pagan (or Quaker) that I meet; but I do want to be well known enough that I'll find a readiness to engage with me and with my ideas on the part of the "weighty Pagans" ( for want of a better term) I will meet.

I want my worth to be visible when it counts, when it can lead to connection. I don't actually want to stand on a pedestal, admired by all. But I do want to stand tall enough to make level eye contact with those I admire.

I want friendship. I want peers. And when Thorn writes that I am "already a BNP, at least amongst BNPs," she's hinting around the edges of what I think I'm most deeply looking for: to be visible as a potential peer and friend to those I think are perhaps farther along the path than I am, at least in some ways. To the degree that I am known to BNP's I care about, I'm rightly gratified. And hopefully, I have demonstrated that I am ready for a friendship that has a kind of reciprocity that a student/teacher relationship--let alone a fan-girl/celebrity relationship-- could never offer.

Reciprocity, challenge, friendship, growth. Not what I thought I was writing about when I first formed my ideas in my post.

Thanks again to everyone who commented. As I've written before, one of the things I value most about blogging is the quality of dialog it offers. I feel that I've learned something in this discussion, and that my ideas have grown and changed because of the comments left here (and on other, related posts since I made the original post).

I'm grateful for that. I think that that quality of connection and deepening is perhaps the real lure, underneath my less-mature cravings for celebrity.

Thank you.

I Had a Mother Who Read To Me

There's a picture, somewhere in the piles of albums and photos in my parents' house, of my mother at about the age of 24 or 25, crouching down on her heels next to me, her short, early 1960's skirt tucked demurely beneath her. I am, in the fashion of two year olds everywhere, looking deep into the cold, wet heart of a storm drain, fascinated by the gurgle of the water beneath us.

My mom is doing something wonderful, and all too easy to overlook. In that picture, my mom is looking at and enjoying the world through the eyes of a child. I have a mom who can do that kind of thing.

I have a mother who read to me.

I have a mother who read to me, and took me for walks through the neighborhood, and who had the patience to read the same stories to me again and again and again, or to stop and listen to the water in the storm drain for as long as I wanted her to. I have a mother who sang me lullabies--I can still the sound if I try.

But not only that.

I had a mother who had a brain, and who was not afraid to use it.

When I was about four, after my brother was born, my mother went to work full time. Contrary to the expert opinions of my youth, I never resented this; it was so obviously a part of who she was. I was proud of my smart, pretty mother who taught school.

Oh, I would have like a few more home-made chocolate-chip cookies, I suppose. But the family dinners at our house more than made up for those. I don't know what other families talked about, but I grew up on dinner table conversations about education, about graduate school (which my mom took on while teaching full time and raising us) and behavior modification and the psychology of learning; of politics (school board, local, and national) and of the world.

I grew up hearing the Grown Ups downstairs after my bedtime playing the home version of Jeopardy, and my mom's and dad's voices getting louder and louder and louder as they strove to outdo each other, intellectually. (I come by my competitive streak honestly.) On Sunday mornings, my parents would compete with their best friends in town to see which couple could finish the New York Times crossword puzzle first.

I grew up knowing that my mom, daughter of a truck driver, was one of four children, all of whom received advanced degrees. I grew up knowing that my mom was smart, and interesting, and important, and that I could become all those things when I grew up. I never felt the fear that having a mind and a career of my own would compromise me as a wife or a mother myself. I expected all those things of myself, because I saw my mother expecting them, too.

And I grew up believing that there was no conflict between being smart and being loved, because I grew up witness to my parents now fifty-year-old romance.

I remember watching them dance together in our house each New Year's Eve, and how they taught my brother and me to dance, too in an era when such things were becoming obsolete.

And I remember watching my beautiful, young parents dressed for dates with one another: my dad casually elegant in a summer suit, and my mom simply lovely in one of the long flowing dresses of the 1970's. The lawn was so green, the trees so tall and shady, and I was proud that they were mine, those tanned, energetic parents of mine. I think of those summer afternoons, and I feel the sun on my face forever. The way they loved one another made me feel loved.

The way my mother trusted us taught me to trust myself.

When they began to leave us at home, my brother and I, for date nights or after school, we made some terrible mistakes. But that was all right. My mom knew how to give us room to grow, and many of my memories of her are of simply knowing she was there. In view or out of sight she was somehow always essentially present for me.

I remember, for instance, before I ever started school and while my brother was still a baby in his crib, how I would play outside, looking up at the undersides of leaves and listening to the sweet complaining creaking of the swing set. I rarely looked toward the kitchen window, where my mom would be. I didn't have to, because I knew so certainly that she was there for me.

As a teenager, coming home late from school, I would burst through the front door, probably not so much as grunting a hello before I bounded up the stairs two at a time, headed for the private sanctum of my room. But the smell of spaghetti sauce or beef bourguignon greeted me. I knew she was with me even when I needed to be alone. She let me--till it was time to call me down to make the salad or come and eat.

My mother taught me to trust solitude, and to welcome quiet in its time.

And she taught me to have fun.

One of my favorite memories of my mother is from a hot summer's day, back before ordinary people had such a thing as air conditioning in a car. We were in Maine, and my brother and I were in our teens. I might even have been in college. We were driving down the road, on a ninety-five degree day, when my mother spied an old-fashioned hot dog shack. Nothing would do but we should stop and get foot-long hot-dogs and ice cream cones all around. I still remember my beautiful, elegant mother, laughing as she drove along, alternating bites of a ridiculously oversized hot dog and a rapidly self-destructing ice cream cone. We were covered with ice cream, hot and gritty... and very happy.

This is my mother's day card this year. I know I can't thank her properly: no one can thank their mother properly who had a mother who loved them long and deeply and well, and I certainly can't.

But thank you anyway, Mom: thank you for eating melting ice cream in July, for overcoming your fear of chairlifts in order to ski, for the times you were right there beside me and the times you let me wander adventurously away. Thank you for being proud of me, and thank you for all the ways you shared yourself with me, so I could know you, and be proud of you, too.

Thank you for being a mom who read to me. (I love you, too.)

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Fame

(Note: there were so many thought provoking comments in response to this post that it generated a second-round of ideas. You can read the follow-up post here.)


I have a confession to make. I want to be famous.

Well, sort of. I don't want to be famous, famous, and ride around in a limousine and have to hire security and that sort of thing. I just want to write a book, have it published by somebody other than my mother, and bought and read by somebody other than my mother, and maybe even sign a couple of autographs along the way.

Mom can have one autographed, too, if she wants.

It has to be a spiritual book. A really moving and truthful book, that makes people want to look deep inside themselves, and then they come up to me and say something like, "It was all because of that book you wrote! It changed my life!" And I would say, no, no, really, you did all that, you and God/the gods--I'm a little fuzzy on whether the life-changing book is for Pagans or for Quakers--and I would mean it, too. Because, even though I had become famous, I would definitely still stay humble.

I want to be famous.

I have this particular set of feelings every time I talk to my Famous Writer Friends about their books, and about the workshops and travel they do related to their books. This is especially true of my Pagan friends who became writers after I got to know them. Something about my having known them before they became Famous Writer Friends makes me feel in a hurry to go and get famous, too.

There are pieces to this craving that are legitimate. I do love books, and I do love to write. I have had the experience of meeting people who have read something I've written, and it often creates a wonderful bridge to deep and intimate conversations. (I married one of those readers, so you know it's been a good strategy for me, this connecting by writing stuff.)

I think it's natural to want to write more, and maybe have something I write... go somewhere, both in terms of being a more developed piece of writing (like a book) and in terms of publication. As in, not self-published, or published in a zine, but published by, like, a publisher, you know?

However, there's also something that's a little off in my craving for fame through writing. I can joke about it, but I know it's there. When my friend K. is talking about his latest writing project, or the interaction with the organizers at a festival where he's presenting, I think, "I want that!" I don't just want to write for the sake of the writing, or publish for the sake of communicating with an audience. I'm attracted to the shallow, superficial aspects of it, too. I want the sense of being Important, and having people act like they agree with me.

It's very adolescent, really.

And it's also very, very Pagan.

Now, I'm not saying there aren't Quakers who feel the same kind of superficial thrill I'm craving, around presenting workshops or seeing their name in print, be it under an article in Friends Journal or over a chapter in a Quaker anthology. But Quakers are very cagey about this sort of thing. I've never yet seen a Quaker writer stage a hissy fit over their book table not being sufficiently prominently positioned, or met Quakers who refuse to visit or consult with other Quaker groups unless they are offered a high enough stipend for it to be a profit-making weekend for them.

Maybe that goes on in the Quaker world. Maybe Quaker retreats and gatherings are in a mad, politicized scramble for important Headliners, and maybe Quaker authors and speakers take a strategic view of networking for career advancement.

But it's a way of life in the Pagan world. In the Pagan world, all too often, you can tell exactly who the Big Name Pagans are by how they walk into a room. And those of us with friends who are Big Name Pagans--or even passing acquaintances who are Big Name Pagans--are under a constant temptation to puff ourselves, at least a little, by name dropping.

Results can be embarrassing. I vividly remember accompanying Anna Korn, one of the founders of the Covenant of the Goddess (who for the sake of full disclosure, I should admit I know only through email correspondence, and cannot claim a close friendship with) on a courtesy visit to the local occult store. The woman behind the register didn't let Anna so much as introduce herself though, before she began a heavy campaign of name-dropping. Turns out she had once taken a workshop with someone who had taken a workshop with Starhawk herself! As someone who knew Starhawk as a mere human, with a full set of both faults and virtues, Anna can't have been especially impressed, but she smiled and nodded and left the store politely... and without dropping her own name.

See, you can do things like that--be classy like that--when you're famous.

With all this crazy, status-seeking stuff going on among Pagans all the time, why does at least part of me want in on the action?

I think it's partly because Pagans don't really have any other way of keeping score. We do not acknowledge any gradations in that quality Quakers sometimes call "weight", and so the sixteen year old third-degree High Priestess in the Tinkerbell Tradition of Vampire Wicca feels fully empowered to speak with equal authority with men and women who were running covens and training students decades before her birth.

Of course, by saying that, I'm implying that age is the crucial factor in who should be attended to, and that's false. Many a time I've had my breath stolen away by listening to some elder-in-years-but-not-widom condescend to someone new to Paganism, whose words and actions reflected real seriousness and depth. It's not age that's the difference, or not age alone. And, yes, the gods can inspire any of us.

If we're listening. But so often, we are not. Pagans so often act as if there is only one scale in which to measure spiritual worth or development...

Fame.

I've known at least one local elder to state the case in nearly those very words. At one point, that elder was organizing a networking group for Pagan leaders and teachers--a good idea, and one that ought to help us develop our depth, our weight, in dialog with one another. But her plan was that only those with "national or international reputations" should be invited to participate.

You can't cultivate wisdom if all you select for is fame.

What about the quiet, competent Priests and Priestesses who are just serving their local communities, raising healthy Pagan families, nurturing caring, rooted covens, hofs, temples and groves? I asked. And the answer that came back was that, if they really had something worth offering, they would be famous.

Quakers may get confused about that some times. I bet they do--Quakers are at least as human as anybody else. We're all surrounded by our fame-obsessed culture 24/7, and it wears down our common sense and makes us all foolish at times. I bet there are Big Name Quakers out there, and people who drop their names for a little frisson of importance, too.

But the Pagan world has no other stock in trade. We don't know the difference between fame and wisdom. Fame is the yardstick by which we measure worth. And even if I don't measure you by that means, I think perhaps I measure myself that way.

I want the respect of my peers--Quaker or Pagan. I want to be taken seriously--seriously enough to be heard and disagreed with when I'm wrong, or guided deeper into an idea when I'm right. This kind of discernment is something Quakers are at least seeking to give to all members of the Religious Society of Friends, however often we may fail.

Pagans don't even recognize the need, yet.

So, either because my Pagan heart has stunted roots from the years I have spent in that community, or because I live in a fame-mad culture, there is a part of me that doesn't just want to write a book for the ideas it might contain, or for the connections it might foster with readers, or even because I love books.

Part of me wants to be famous, because part of me doesn't trust part of you to care about me unless I am.

Hmph.

I think I ought to work on that, don't you?

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