of what it means to be a Pagan is to try to live in right relationship
with the gods, the land, and the people, including the ancestors. My
gods are those that are comfortable in New England’s woods and hills.
My land is this rocky landscape of New England. And my people and my
ancestors–on Mom’s side, at least–are New Englanders: sea captains and
dairy farmers, teachers and laborers. Whatever granite is in this place
or in my ancestors lives on in me and in my Pagan practice.
And that granite is why I am so driven to speak out against racism.
To help me explain what I mean, I’m going to go ahead and borrow an ancestor: my friend Kirk White‘s father.
A Yankee like a Rock
ancestors, like mine, were among the first Englishmen to arrive in
North America. Like mine, this landscape was where they found their
home. And like me, my friend Kirk and his family before him has loved
New England–Vermont in his c…
I love where I live; since moving to our new home four years ago, I've been able to build a relationship with a piece of land for the first time since I was a child. It's everything a dirt-worshipping Pagan could ask for. I have a garden, and I grow much of my own food, and that is as much a spiritual delight as a taste treat. And I have woods again as neighbors: glacial boulders, white pines and black birches, owls and white-tailed deer.
And the bears eat my lettuce.
I'm not kidding about that. Oh, it's winter now, and the bears are huddled up in their dens. But this past spring, I grew lettuce. Award winning, gorgeous lettuce: three different kinds! They were nourished to extraordinary size and succulence by the cool, wet weather we had, and each night, I would gather just a few outer leaves, knowing that careful tending would mean tasty salads for months.
And then, over the course of three days, the bears ate every single one of my lettuce plants…
Since I began describing myself as a Quaker Pagan, I run into people who are suspicious of my claim to be both Quaker and Pagan. To these folks, Peter and I look like spiritual cheats, trying to sneak fifteen items through the clearly labeled Twelve Item Express Lane of a spiritual life.
“Cafeteria spirituality,” I’ve heard it described, expressing the notion that my husband and I are picking and choosing only the tastiest morsels of either religion, like spoiled children loading our plates with desserts, but refusing to eat our vegetables.
This isn’t the case. The term “cafeteria religion” implies imposing human whims over the (presumably) sacred norms of religion. But Peter and I are both/ands not out of personal preference, but because we were called to our religion… twice. By two different families of Spirit.
I can explain this best through my own story.
I became a Pagan out of a childhood of yearning to be in relationship with nature, magic, and the glimmers of the numinous I fou…