Pagan Visions for a Sustainable Future began like so many adventures—with a sequence of events and their inevitable consequences.
It had been easily twenty years since I’d attended any form of pagan gathering, but I was invited to give a workshop at one in the spring of the end of last century.
Did I want to attend? No. Fortunately, in retrospect, two of the other witches in the Coven of Wildwood Gate did want to go, and wanted the experience.
I contacted the organizers and suggested I do something utterly out of the ordinary—provide a couple of classes teaching archery and morning sessions of good, hearty martial arts stretch sessions (as those of us in the coven are all rather fit and several of us are archers). I was certain there’d be others like me who had been around for a long time and had heard it all before and might just want something physical to do.
The organizers put the word out and many people were excited at the idea. So be it.
The three of us drove to the bush-land venue and set up our camp. Within hours I wished I hadn’t come. The usual assortment of nude or semi-nude people were busily going about the venue, replete in a multifarious assortment of symbolically significant jewelry; most looked unfit, pasty, and flabby, and many were exceedingly arrogant.
To cut a long story short, with the exception of two people, those attending the archery sessions arrogantly and naively treated the very expensive and potentially deadly equipment we provided as if they were toys, and were offended when we suggested they treat the session seriously and respect the bows.
Between “Burn the Barbie” rituals for fat people, “Nude Boot-Scootin’” rituals for some other reason, and the suggestion of a public initiation so that everybody could watch and know what goes on … we left.
Back in Byron Bay, discussions went down thick and fast; not only amongst the coven members but amongst the wider pagan community. What are we doing—collectively—of a practical nature, and as pagans, to actively participate in the overwhelming disease of growing human anxiety and its devastating effects on Earth?
Initially the intention was to hold a festival within the region whereby, apart from bringing together the many factions of paganism in an entertaining way, forums could be established to form lobbies; an integration, to have a voice on a larger scale.
That idea never happened, but then my dear friend Thom van Dooren came to visit.
Pagan Visions for a Sustainable Future was his idea.
He ran with the concept of a multiple voice that did more than prop up the egos of existing pagans; he wants us all to think, to act, to take the risk of being visible and united.
There are many, many more topics that could have gone into the book; in fact we discussed putting out one a year. Other pagans had much to give and we had only touched the surface of suggestions regarding future sustainability.
Then life took over; all those wonderful contributors have gone onto other projects.
What can we change? Can we, collectively, set up a forum that links with others who are already active in matters pertaining to climate change, animal and human rights, in support of those who are actively involved in preserving seed for the future–displaying, actively, our opposition to the gargantuan corporations that are monopolizing industry and working for their own monetary gain?
The Internet is the one form of networking that has not, as yet, been silenced. Let’s use it. Let’s get international magazines happening that are pagans’ answers to personal, ecological, and environmental anxiety and disease. I mention a mere handful of websites:
- The Environmental Media website has a list of links.
- Witchvox has a series of articles in its Healing Planet Earth section, one of which is worth reading, the idea of a Grand Coven being put forth where any and all can join.
- Starhawk hit the nail on the head in her book The Fifth Sacred Thing, when, futuristically, she turned San Francisco into a self-sustainable paradise; what is inspirational is Cuba setting up state-run gardens to help keep people healthy and curb food shortages.
- The things closest to my heart? The human species is okay, but familiarity does breed contempt, and I mostly feel a closer affinity to other species than my own. How does this make you feel? What about this?
Humans are simply a species. The sooner we remove the blindfold of being “God’s chosen,” the better!
Prophesies are dire. Things will get worse before they reach a boiling point, particularly in so-called developed countries where people seem more determined than ever to kill themselves, through overindulgence and greed, than at any other time in history. I get the distinct feeling that so-called developing countries, which are currently major polluters, will learn faster than us and amend the possibility of crisis before our current regimes implement anything decisive (but, then again, we’re not even to 2012 yet).
My section in the book? Initially I couldn’t think of anything I hadn’t said before, but then I saw a bumper sticker on the back of a truck: What Would Happen if Everyone Started Telling the Truth? That was it for me. I drove home and began writing the article. It’s all common sense, really, but so much fear and anxiety seems to exist in humans that we don’t simply say what we mean. Not only that, we don’t really listen. I run workshops on this stuff simply as part of the Tarot Collectives because assumptions and expectations, innuendo and hidden agendas (for many reasons) blur relationships of all kinds and because an adept psychic can’t afford to wallow in that rubbish.
I’m a Sagittarius, and we are known to suffer with "foot-in-mouth" attitudes: blurt out the first thing that comes to mind. It’s taken me many years and a great deal of training to perpetuate this with intention. Now I say whatever I want because I know there will be consequences and I’ll face them; I’ll face them because to not say what is important—even down to very small annoyances—can result in resentment. Besides, it’s hubristic to think that someone will clean the bathroom in a share-house or make the right decision for the country without consultation with those who are involved; people need to discuss these things and to ask the right questions to allay any unforeseen fallout.
Is this magic? Of course! Amazing things happen when we are clear. It’s as though the gods poke their heads out of the fog of human ignorance and recognize us.
I’ve since written two novels: The Quickening and The Shining Isle, both published by Llewellyn, with the latter, thanks to the foresight of the clan there, listing the entire United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, just in case some people were unaware that some of the worst human rights’ offenders signed it . . . but that it’s never been ratified. If it were, the world could be very different than what it is today! Last year (2006), I also wrote the book I never thought I could write because I’ve always taught the subject by word of mouth: Tarot Theory and Practice, and, my newest trick, four screenplays!
Akkadia Ford has written more books, Thom has completed his doctorate and is off to the UK for a while, Marina Sala is busy writing a novel, and Douglas Ezzy is as busy as ever. I don’t know about the others. And I’m still frustrated.
The pagan community in all its diversity and beauty still does not have a collective voice on the world stage.