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A Pedagogy of Gaia by Bart Everson: “The Other Equinox” (Part 1)

September 17, 2014

The Boy Who Didn’t Believe in Autumn

The peak of hurricane season comes on September 10, statistically speaking, but the season officially runs until the first of November. Hurricane formation is driven by warm water in the mid-Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico, which lingers on through the phenomenon of seasonal lag. It’s summer’s hangover.

Many locals take a dim view of September, the ostensible beginning of the fall season. September often seems like nothing more than an extension of the month before. August, Part II: The Revenge of the Humid. September is a sticky, sultry, summery month.

Here in the subtropics, spring may be ephemeral, but autumn can be downright elusive. Most of the trees in New Orleans stay green year-round, so we don’t see much fall foliage. However, there is one undeniable reality that can’t be missed, even at our latitude.

I start to notice it at the very beginning of September. I rise at the same time, but each day it’s a little darker. Dawn slips forward through our morning routines. We are losing light. The days are getting shorter, as night encroaches upon day. Thus, even in the subtropics, we experience a sense of loss.

The Saints may be playing football, kids may be back in school, and rumors of fall may filter down from the north, but when you’re mopping sweat off your brow it can be hard to believe autumn will ever come. The equinox can seem like a false premise. Read more…

Musings of a Pagan Mythicist: “Getting Down to Earth: Caring for Compost″ by Maggie Jay Lee

September 14, 2014

My backyard compost bin

There is something deeply spiritual about composting.  For years I’ve had a compost pile, really just a refuse heap confined by pig wire.  It was almost impossible to turn or to get at any of the finished compost.  The flies were very happy though.  With my sacred space, where I like to celebrate the Wheel of the Year, just a buzz away from my compost, I thought it was time to do something different.  I decided to finally get some worms and start using the vermicomposter I bought a couple of years ago and to seriously upgrade my conventional compost bin, which thanks in large part to my wonderful spouse is now made of cedar fencing with a removable door. Read more…

Starstuff, Contemplating: “Death is Life” by Jon Cleland Host

September 12, 2014

We are assemblages of ancient atoms forged in stars – atoms organized by history to the point of consciousness, now able to contemplate this sacred Universe of which we are a tiny, but wondrous, part.

The death of a star seeds life through the universe.

Life is Death, and Death is Life.

What?  That makes no sense, right?  Aren’t they opposites?

No.  Death and life are two sides of the same coin.  After all, if life didn’t exist, then nothing would die.  And if death wasn’t real, then evolution could not have produced the life we have today.  Death and life are intimately intertwined, like the two sides of the DNA molecule.  Life and death are two dancers that together have spun out our world, both of which are needed for us to exist.  The opposite of death isn’t life, but sterility – like a barren, rocky planet with no life … and hence no death.  A natural death is a wonderful, necessary, and healthy part of any world able to grow and change.  Death is part of a life well lived. Read more…

Mid-Month Meditation: “Song of the Taste” by Gary Snyder

September 10, 2014

In anticipation of the autumn equinox …

Eating the living germs of grasses
Eating the ova of large birds

the fleshy sweetness packed
around the sperm of swaying trees

The muscles of the flanks and thighs of
soft-voiced cows
the bounce in the lamb’s leap
the swish in the ox’s tail

Eating roots grown swoll
inside the soil

Drawing on life of living
clustered points of light spun
out of space
hidden in the grape.

Eating each other’s seed
eating
ah, each other.

Kissing the lover in the mouth of bread:
lip to lip.

– Gary Snyder

Read more…

DE NATURA DEORUM: “Adventures of a Non-Deist, or, Why I Don’t ‘Believe’ in the Gods” by Peg Aloi

September 8, 2014

De Natura Deorum is a monthly column where we explore the beliefs of Naturalistic Pagans about the nature of deity. This essay was originally published at Peg Aloi’s blog The Witching Hour on the Patheos Pagan Channel.

I was raised Catholic. Not very strictly, but enough to carry away a profound sense of discomfort with anything remotely connected to religion. I did kind of enjoy the music and chanting and stories and pageantry of mass, but of course in later life I understood it was a love of ritual, not a love of Catholic liturgy. I was also raised in a a family fairly in touch with nature: we hunted and fished and grew and gathered much of our own food. So when I discovered neo-paganism in graduate school, I mainly related to the environmental activism and the nature worship components. In fact, until I found out there were witches and pagans in the contemporary world, I basically considered myself an atheist. As I moved in circles of pagans and encountered more and more witches, “Wiccans” and others who followed some form of nature spirituality, I understood many of them worshipped the gods, or, in some cases, mainly the Goddess.

Read more…

Call for a Pagan Community Statement on the Environment

September 6, 2014

A Message from the Editor

Inspired by the recent publication of an environmental statement by the Covenant of the Goddess, and spurred on by the increasingly urgent need for personal and societal reform of our relationship to the environment, I am gathering interested parties to prepare a draft Pagan Community Statement on the Environment.  Our intent is to a prepare a draft statement which will then be made available for public comment and then finalized for signatures.

Among other things, I would like to see this statement published by the Alliance of Religions and Conservation, which already has published similar statements by many other religions.

If you would be interested in helping to write the first draft of the Pagan Community Statement on the Environment or if you would like to participate in any other way, please email me at your earliest convenience or respond in the comments.

Thank you for your attention to this important issue.

If you would like to read more about the thoughts that prompted this effort, see my recent post at The Allergic Pagan.

[UPDATE: Due to an unexpected number of responses, I've had to close the draft working group to new members. Please look forward to the draft statement when it is made available for public comment.]

John Halstead
Managing Editor, HumanisticPaganism.com

“Entering the Isle of Birds” by Anna Walther

September 5, 2014

During the past year I’ve been learning to identify the bird calls I hear in my backyard. Some are obvious and easy to learn; I’ve recognized the strident screeches of blue jays and grackles for at least as long as I’ve lived in Austin. Other, subtler voices require a more attentive ear.

A little over a year ago I learned to distinguish the call of a Great Horned Owl from the call of an Eastern Screech Owl. Both species live in my neighborhood, and I was lucky enough to hear them calling for mates during winter months, when I was up late or early studying for an anatomy course. During a hike at McKinney Falls this spring, I learned to recognize the loud chip of the Northern Cardinal. While watering my garden a couple of mornings ago, I heard a familiar voice: tea kettle tea kettle tea kettle tea kettle. Though I’d heard the call in my backyard many times before, I didn’t know the owner. I watched the tree branches, and within a minute a Carolina Wren hopped into view. Another morning in the garden I heard someone knocking on a nearby utility pole. I looked up and saw the red cap and black and white barred wings of a Red-bellied Woodpecker, and then I heard its rolling trill-l-l-l. There are many more voices to learn, and I’m a long way from understanding the subjects of their songs. But I’m learning to listen to birds, and I’m beginning to match names, faces, and songs. Read more…

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