Articles/Essays From Pagans
May 19th. 2013 ...
The Role of Identity in Magic
Talking Trash? It's a Dirty Subject but Waste Happens.
My Wiccan Journey
13 Keys: The Victory of Netzach
May 12th. 2013 ...
Pagan Studies I: How Should We Define Modern Paganism?
The Third Path
Nothing Special... Part Two
May 5th. 2013 ...
The Value of Multicultural Awareness
Put Your Back Into It (Our Lady of the Sacred Honey Badger)
Moon Musings, Planetary Preponderances and Red Lipped Bat Fish
April 28th. 2013 ...
Lessons from the Lessers: Iris
April 21st. 2013 ...
Taken By The Goddess: The Crescent Moon Tattoo
The Gods/Being Godbothered
To Be A Witch
The Archetypes are Gods: Re-godding the Archetypes
April 14th. 2013 ...
On The Inclusion of Children
'Wand Fun' With Grandson
Lessons from a Baby
Lessons of Freedom: On Divinity and Healing
April 7th. 2013 ...
Out of the Broom Closet... Sorta
A Journey Through the Witches Tarot
History and Science Behind Numerology
March 31st. 2013 ...
What is the Magickal Self?
Ethics and Numerology
March 24th. 2013 ...
Keystones of the Sacred Land
March 17th. 2013 ...
Why Some Pagans and Witches Still Hide
Witch Heritage 101: What Happens When Witch Haters Joke about anti-Witch Films
I'm Not a Broom. So What's with the Closet?
March 10th. 2013 ...
Top Ten Stupid Things I Did as a New Pagan: Part 3
Hunting for the Real Witch in Film
The Collective Shadow
Lies - The Opposite of Truth
March 3rd. 2013 ...
Grounding and Releasing Negative Energy
A Patchwork of Magick
February 24th. 2013 ...
Top Ten Stupid Mistakes I Made as a New Pagan (Part Two)
February 17th. 2013 ...
Top Ten Stupid Mistakes I made as a New Pagan... Part One
Gardening with Crystal Energies
A Call from the Ancestors
Moon Musings, Planetary Preponderances and Black Water Snakes
February 10th. 2013 ...
We Are the Weirdos, Mister: A Completely Uncool Story of Origin
February 3rd. 2013 ...
"I'll Grind Your Bones to Make my Bread": Pagans and Animal Husbandry
The Role of Contemporary Culture in Magic
A Pagan Response to Endangered Earth
The Great Mother's Gift, Heinlein, and the Nature of Squirrels
13 Keys: The Glory of Hod
January 27th. 2013 ...
Why We Do Need Wicca
The Cosmos In the Coffee Shop
On Travel Spirituality and Magick
January 20th. 2013 ...
Beloved Backs and How to Save Them
Building or Burning Bridges?
Plants, Magic and Intuition
Plagiarism - How It Harms Our Community
January 13th. 2013 ...
Ramblings of a Pagan Guy: Stupid Clichés
The Magick and Power of Words
Aging Is Not Easy
The Riddle of Who We Are?
January 6th. 2013 ...
Wicca v Witchcraft
A Witch in the Closet
How Many People Can You Fit Under An Umbrella?
Gut Hunches, Mouse Dreams, and Pinkie Sense
December 30th. 2012 ...
Ritual "Cheat Sheet" Bracelet
Magick is All Around Us
Confessions of a Living Satyr
A Tiny Bit of Belly Dance History
December 23rd. 2012 ...
The Warrior Goddess and You.
World Change: A Message from Greece
What's the Meaning of Life, Anyway?
My Brother's Keeper
December 16th. 2012 ...
Keeping Christ in Xmas
Love is the Law
Listen to Your Heart's Wisdom
NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.
Earth Religions on Earth Day
Article Specs |
Article ID: 6265
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 3,687
Times Read: 3,734
Author: H. Byron Ballard
Posted: April 20th. 2003
Times Viewed: 3,734
It used to be that the media only wanted to hear from folks like me--you know, Witches, Pagans, Wiccans--once a year. Like clockwork, the phone would start ringing around 20 October, and every reporter and her brother wanted to talk to a "real" Witch about "Sam Hane". Well, no more! That's old hat now--the media is so savvy they've done articles on Beltane and the Winter Solstice, along with the seemingly ubiquitous Samhain pieces. And that's in a newspaper here on the Buckle of the Bible Belt. The press in other locations has been even more astounding.
But the phone's been ringing at another time of year, too, for a holiday that doesn't appear on my charts of the Wheel of the Year, and that holiday is Earth Day. It's a little tricky for those of us who celebrate Beltane because it's only a couple of weeks before, but I've grown to love the inherent possibilities of such a secular holiday.
Earth Day is a good interface between the dominant culture and the Pagan one. You don't have to be a bona fide dirt-worshipper to enjoy the parades with giant puppets and the lectures on recycling and the pretty blue flags. You can be a school-aged child or a soccer mom or a dreadlocked activist. Of course, some of us wear Birkenstocks as well as pentacles, so we move easily through these peaceful waters. Earth Day presents a lot of opportunities to talk to our neighbors--as well as the media--about our love and reverence for the Big Blue Ball. While everyone's feeling warm and fuzzy (or ashamed and guilty) about the planet, we are often encouraged to talk about Gaia-focused theology. A couple of years ago, I was even asked to do an interfaith Council of All Beings. Amazing.
I encourage all of you "Earth religionists" to write letters to the editor and op-ed pieces, to take leadership in your interfaith communities. Our time has come to talk clearly and sensibly (maybe even poetically) about one of the things we do best--loving the biosphere.
There's a catch, of course, at least in my community. Mainstream and liberal Christian churches--bless them!--are taking up the cry of "stewardship" and earnestly reading books by Berry and O'Murchu (even Thomas Merton, who went to his reward decades ago, has a new book about environmental justice) and attending meetings. I was part of an interfaith dialogue on the subject in which we were asked to brainstorm some scenarios. #3 began, "If you had a magic wand..." and the facilitator went round the focus group so each could speak. When my turn came, I carefully explained that I actually had a wand (polite titters) but what was really needed was energy and courage and a strong stomach. Less talk and more action. But we weren't there to discuss action--we were only there to talk about guilt and sin and stewardship. We didn't even go out and clean-up the roadside after the meeting and, as I recall, the coffee was served in styrofoam cups.
As I've said before, it's vitally (and I mean that quite literally) important that the majority religions in our culture realize the extent of environmental degradation and begin to speak publicly about it. I applaud them for their efforts. No one does conferences, workshops and teach-ins better than those well-intentioned and passionate liberal Christians. Maybe they'll even convince the Methodist-in-Chief in the White House that caring for the environment is what his god would like for him to do. Now, that's a tall order.
And though I don't think the notion of stewardship goes far enough regarding respect for and love of nature, we members of earth-based religions are certainly here to share our knowledge and experience. To be there when the discussion about "magic wands" finally turns to action. I encourage those who can to take opportunities by the media to make points about the interconnected web and the natural world. Fill in those gaps between "taking care of God's creation" and "this earth is not our real home". Be helpful and knowledgeable--remind them of the power and bounty of the natural world and how we are part of it, not separate and superior. And to be a part of such a complex and beautifully balanced system is paradise enough.
If you belong to an interfaith group (and I suggest you check out your local Cooperation Circle of the United Religions Initiative), watch the reactions of your colleagues when you speak about the planet and the concept of connection. Another interfaith meeting found us discussing what we nurtures us most about our spiritual path. A Jewish friend talked about the tradition of learning and scholarship in her chosen religion. A colleague from the United Church of Christ spoke movingly about the concept of grace. When it came round to me, I talked about the joy I find in waking each morning, connected to the world around me. As I spoke, I looked at the outdoors through the nearest window and explained why I always take a seat near a window for our interfaith gatherings and why the moment of silence never works for me because it's too short for a deep meditation and too long to just practice deep breathing. My colleagues laughed. Then I talked about the deep peace I feel when I look out the window at a tree. Any tree really, I'm quite the tree-hugger. I like them in all seasons and I've been known to talk to them and listen intently for their reply. I told the group that I never felt alone and rarely fearful because the earth was so strong, so powerful, so giving. And that I am part of all that. When I turned back to the folks assembled at the table, I noticed tears in some eyes. And a retired Episcopal priest said, "I want what she has."
Earth Day is another educational opportunity for the Pagan community. So take advantage of the heightened publicity, my tree-hugging dirt-worshippers. Right wing talk radio may think anyone who's environmentally canny is a Satanist, but this holiday is a chance to connect with other people in your community on a subject you know well. Let them know it's okay to love our home--there's no place like it! Happy Earth Day!
H. Byron Ballard
H. Byron Ballard
Location: Asheville, North Carolina
Bio: H. Byron Ballard has deep roots in the mountains of western North Carolina where she is active as a priestess of Inanna, Pagan activist, playwright and mom. She holds an MFA in Theatre from Trinity University and circles weekly (and occasionally weakly) with an American Tribal Pagan group. She is a member of WARD, an elder of SerpentStone, an affiliate of the WHISPER community, a founding trustee of the Coalition of Earth Religions for Education and Support and a Willful Harpy. Her interfaith affiliations include the United Religions Initiative and the Interfaith Council. She is also a board member of the local chapter of the ACLU. And in her copious free time she is still learning Irish Gaelic and to play the fiddle. And gardening, for the sake of her sanity.
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