Intersections

Exploring the crossroads of religion, culture, and science through a Pagan lens


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Top 10 Pagan Quotes of 2016

2016 was a difficult year in Pagan quotes.  It has been a year of radical change.  It included painful losses of beloved musicians and actors.  It has seen the international stage struggle with surprising and potentially world-changing transformations in the status quo. Marginalized communities feel threatened and unsure of the future.

 

In the midst of mainstream lurches in the norm, the Pagan community was embroiled in political and theological arguments even as we were grasping for answers to the larger questions in world’s sudden changes.   As I prepared this annual list, I realized just how much the Pagan microcosm was reflected in the international macrocosm.

me-2016

And yet, through darkness comes light.  Our bodies heal when we sleep, and we learn valuable lessons from life’s difficult moments.  This year’s top 10 quotes embody the many struggles the Pagan community has been through, both internally and externally.  As usual, these quotes must have been said or written by a Pagan (large umbrella).  They are based purely on my reading and my tastes, so I undoubtedly missed something you loved.  Please feel free to continue the discussion by adding your favorite quotes to the comments.

 

Alright Witches and Pagans, here are my votes for the Top 10 Pagan quotes of 2016.  We’ll begin with a quote from January that, looking back, seems quite prophetic:

* * *

10. “You may not know how to embrace change, but I am here to show you the way. Let me introduce you to my Lord, Loki.”

Heather Freysdottir, January 11

 

9. “If we hope to create societies without domination, violence, and war, then we must transform the distorted images of masculinity and femininity that have been developed in patriarchy. We must insist that domination, violence, and war are no more part of masculinity or male nature than passivity and lack of consciousness are part of femininity or female nature. It may feel good to speak of reuniting the masculine and the feminine, but feeling good will not help us to transform cultures built on domination, violence, and war.”

Carol P. Christ, January 25

8. “But self-reliance is a myth. We are all co-dependent upon everything else on this planet. We do not exist in a vacuum. We need others in order to exist, let alone thrive. We are not separate. Without the innumerable other factors in our lives, beings seen and unseen, we simply could not be. I think that this is why I believe in the gods.”

Joana van der Hoeven, November 14

 

7. “I find Power in the things Christians shout at me–damn straight, I am Lucifer’s f*ggot spawn!”

-Pat Mosley, May 12

 

6. “You know who a lot of those newbs were? Young women. You ever notice how we make fun of anything young women like?

“The internet is full of people bitching about what is and isn’t real witchcraft. Jesus, just look at Patheos’s pagan section and be bored to tears after the tenth article on the subject. That hasn’t changed since the dawn of the internet, and it never will. The only thing that changes is the target everyone is trying to tear down. Pastel Instagram-worthy witchcraft is a fucking easy target because it looks shallow as hell.”

-Mama Fortuna, May 29

 

5. “We don’t run away from the monsters.  We make the monsters run away from us.”

-Greywolf Moonsong, December 21

 

4. “Seriously? When did Witchcraft become a pissing contest?”

-Jason Mankey, April 7

 

 3. “Power comes from all kinds of places, even the places you think are trivial.  Remember that when your sisters that you were so eager to step on as you were coming up get strong enough to come for you.”

-Deborah Castellano, June 1

 

2. “We are most happy to report that none of our clergy subscribe to your views on mixed race or gay marriage, and so we cannot assist you in your upcoming visit to Ireland. Fuck Off. Yours very sincerely, Everyone at the Pagan Federation of Ireland.”

-Everyone at Pagan Federation of Ireland, April 24

Source: theoutmost.com

Source: theoutmost.com

 

1. “In drawing on the momentum of emotions and saying what he pleases, with no apology, Trump has trumped American politics.”

-Taylor Ellwood, March 3

 


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Newt Scamander, Politics, and the Value of Caring

In “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” J.K. Rowling presents the familiar wizarding world she originated with Harry Potter, but turns it on its head.  Instead of Britain, the film takes place in the United States.  Different laws apply to the witches and wizards of America, a fact which becomes a source of both humor and tension.  Our main characters are not children, but adults.  Instead of spending multiple installments worldbuilding and introducing a magical system, the new series is able to jump us right into a fully fleshed out world where we all know the rules, allowing more focus on storytelling.

But more importantly, our new hero is very different.  Newt Scamander is nothing like the Boy Who Lived.  Where Harry knows from the day he enters Hogwarts that he is marked out as the savior of the wizarding world, Scamander is really nothing more than a dedicated animal lover who seeks only to rescue and preserve the world’s most misunderstood creatures.  He’s a conservationist, not a warrior.

This brilliant article explains it much better than I can.  While Harry was a swashbuckling Gryffindor, focused on courage and great deeds, Newt is a Hufflepuff – a member of the most underappreciated house at Hogwarts.  If the houses are elemental, Harry is a fire and Newt is an Earth.  Harry must focus on strength and justice and the will to fight.  Newt’s goal is to save the earth’s magical creatures, care for them, and educate others about their importance.  He’s much happier digging in the dirt to feed his beloved “beasts” than fighting wand-to-wand with dark wizards.  Hufflepuff’s key word is Loyalty, and Newt is unfailingly loyal to the animals that depend on him (and he’s happy to fight and dark wizards who might happen to threaten them).

Harry exemplifies the classic Hero’s Journey.  Newt’s largest concern is ensuring that his thunderbird gets fed.

Harry Potter. [Source: Playbuzz.com]

Harry Potter. [Source: Playbuzz.com]

Newt Scamander [Source: Warner Brothers]

Newt Scamander [Source: Warner Brothers]

The two heroes couldn’t be more different from each other, but in truth they complement each other.  They represent two different ethical ideas from psychological research: The ethic of justice and the ethic of caring.

Psychologist Lawrence Kohlberg was studied the moral development in children.  His method was to give children a problem, known as the Heinz Dilemma, and ask them their reasoning.  In short the Heinz Dilemma is as follows:

In Europe, a woman was near death from cancer.  One drug might save her, a form of radium that a druggist in the same town had recently discovered.  The druggist was charging $2000, ten times what the drug had cost him to make.  The sick woman’s husband, Heinz, went to everyone he knew to borrow the money, but he could get together only about half of what it should cost.  He told the druggist that his wife was dying and asked him to sell it cheaper or to let him pay later.  But the druggist said no.  The husband got desperate and broke into the man’s store to steal the drug for his wife.  Should the husband have done that?  Why?

Kohlberg would collect the children’s answers and categorize their reasoning.  In his research, he identified a three-level system of moral development with two sub-stages per level.  The first level focuses on following rules and avoiding punishment.  The second is more about social approval and maintaining order.  The final stage is when a person guides their reasoning based on higher, philosophical ethical principles.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Source: Wikimedia Commons

 

It all sounded fine until Carol Gilligan, one of Kohlberg’s students, noticed a trend.  Young girls and women tended to score on the lower levels of the scale more often than boys and men.  Males were more likely to be scored in the upper categories of moral reasoning.  

This did not sit well with Gilligan.  What she realized was that Kohlberg was bringing a masculine bias – a concept referred to in the linked article as “Toxic Masculinity” – to rate his respondents.  Gilligan theorized that men tend to reason through an ethic of justice, while women tend to utilize an ethic of caring.  She developed the Dilemma of the Porcupine and the Moles to test this theory:

It was growing cold, and a porcupine was looking for a home. He found a most desirable cave but saw it was occupied by a family of moles.

“Would you mind if I shared your home for the winter?” the porcupine asked the moles.

The generous moles consented and the porcupine moved in. But the cave was small and every time the moles moved around they were scratched by the porcupine’s sharp quills. The moles endured this discomfort for as long as they could. Then at last they gathered courage to approach their visitor.

“Pray leave,” they said, “and let us have our cave to ourselves once again.”

“Oh no!” said the porcupine. “This place suits me very well.  If you’re not happy, then you should leave!”

As with the Heinz Dilemma, what is important is not the answer, but the reasoning.  Gilligan developed a model of morality that placed self preservation at the bottom, self-sacrifice in the middle, and the principle of nonviolence at the top.  She found that female participants scored higher overall than they did in Kohlberg’s model.

 

I don’t believe that the two ethical approaches are as clear cut across binary gender lines as it may seem.  Indeed, two men – Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Ghandi – famously exemplified Gilligan’s highest principle of nonviolence.  However, I do see both ethical models as valid.  And, rather than pitting them against each other, I think we should see them as partners.

The world needs its Harry Potters: the young (or young-at-heart) people willing to risk life and limb for justice. Especially now, we need our activists on the front line protesting DAPL, taking to the streets to advocate for equal rights, and taking to social media to light the fire under under everyone else’s collective asses.

We also need our Newt Scamanders.  We need those who stay calm, assess the situation, and select their battles out of concern for those they care for.  We need our Hufflepuffs who are willing to help those in physical and emotional pain, see to the physical needs of our more vocal activists, and to tame the wild spirit of rage that can sometimes get diffused. We need those who process calmly but get the job done.  As Newt Scamander placidly states while he approaches a dangerous capture: “My philosophy is that worrying means you suffer twice.”  

We are entering into a dark time, both in the Wheel of the Year and in American politics.  Dark times are painful, but they can lead to growth.  Dr. King intentionally led his followers into painful situations to stimulate change.  The discomfort of dark times can stimulate growth and manifest will, but it takes the Hufflepuffs caring for the wounded and as much as the Gryffindors on the front line.

It was Albus Dumbledore, the wisest Harry Potter character of all, who said that Love was the most powerful force in the world.  Love inspires frontline activism as much as nurturing of those who fight and those who fall.  In dark times, each person needs to choose where to focus their love.  Justice is vital, but so is Caring. When the future looked bleak, all of Hogwarts, even the Hufflepuffs, had to come together to defeat Voldemort’s fascist coup.


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Virtues of the Goddess: Reverence

As the calendar moves through October, our local theater options tend to turn toward plays with darker themes.  Early in the month, I was privileged to see two beautifully realized musicals that turn a shaded eye onto humanity’s condition.  The first was Sweeney Todd, the classic tale of the murderous barber of Fleet Street.  The other was a surprise: a powerful stage musical adaptation of Disney’s animated film The Hunchback of Notre Dame (itself adapted from Victor Hugo’s novel).  

Both of these musical feature pious, powerful men who become villains in their thirst for even more power and control over a woman who is unlucky enough to catch their fancy.  In both cases, these men result to a scorched Earth policy to force themselves upon the women they lust after, all the while maintaining an air of haughty propriety – a sense that everyone should be like them, and those who are not are unfit to live.  And yet, each show features an intense musical number where the pious villain breaks down in his weakness, turns to mush, then commits to his vile course of exploitation and murder.

Sweeney’s Judge Turpin whips himself in shame, then sexually advances on his adopted daughter.  This, of course, years after he acquired that daughter by raping her mother and falsely sending the girl’s father away to prison for life.

Hunchback’s Frollo, a Catholic priest, prays to his God, begs for help, then strikes out to burn Esmeralda at the stake if she refuses to submit to his sexual desires.  

Both excuse their actions through prayer, begging their god for mercy while offering none to the women who deny them.  Both use their positions of power and prestige as a sword to the throat of the innocent.  Both are objects of reverence in their own community who aren’t worth the ground their victims spit on.  

At the end of Hunchback we are give a powerful riddle to solve:

What makes a monster,

And what makes a man?

What Makes a monster? Wikimedia

What Makes a monster? Wikimedia

 

What makes a monster? Source: Playbill.com

What makes a monster? Source: Playbill.com

 

At the darkness of Samhain approaches, it came to me that the answer is the final virtue in this series: Reverence.  You can tell a “man” (to be inclusive, a person) by whom and what they revere.  In this case, actions speak louder than words.  Both villains make a show of revering their Catholic God, but in truth they revere power over others, control, abuse, and manipulation.  Without getting political, I think we can find a lot of people in our modern society like that.  These are the monsters.

Yet, there are others, people from all faith traditions and those who claim no faith, who revere the ideas and morals than make them “a man,” and their actions also reveal their loyalties.  Do they stand up for love?  Equality?  Fairness?  Do they live that every day?  Do they speak out for these things?  Do they truly live up to the moral code they espouse?  All of these can be done regardless of religious practice.  And if you truly revere these qualities, you live them.

And What Makes a Man? eddieonfilm.blogspot.com

And What Makes a Man?/ Source: eddieonfilm.blogspot.com

 

We get tested when things get dark in our lives.  As we approach Samhain, the time of darkness, we face toward our ancestors and we know that they know our true selves.  We come face to face with our death, and we know that what we revered in life will follow us in the memories of those who live after us, those who will call us ancestors.

What do you revere?  Would you rather be a “monster” or a “man”?

Virtues of the Goddess is a series on the eight virtues mentioned in the Charge of the Goddess and their relationship to the sabbats of the Wheel of the Year.  This is the final installment – Part 8: Reverence.


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The Top 10 Pagan Quotes of 2015

2015 was a dynamic year in the world of Paganism.  Social justice dominated the year, and members of the Pagan community struck out against racism, religious favoritism, and environmental destruction.  At the same time, 2015 saw polytheist and anti-capitalist groups underneath the Pagan umbrella truly hit their strides and stand up for their own views, whether or not those views were popular anywhere else.  2015 was a year of owning our identity, fighting for that of others, and standing up for our beliefs.

With such a diverse community, there is inevitably disagreement over what justice looks like, the ideal political landscape, and how our individual identities fit into the picture of larger society.  So while we planted many flags of identity this year, we also engaged in profound internal dialogue about how we interact as Pagans within the larger world.  We challenged each other spiritually and politically.  There was friction, but friction leads to fire, and fire burns away the deadwood, giving us a new vitality.  Friction, as the sign of free thinking and free expression, is healthy.

Once again, here are my selections for the top 10 Pagan quotes of this year. As usual, they must be written or spoken by a Pagan.  I use a very large definition of “Pagan” here.  The “Pagan-ness” of some of these writers may be arguable, but I felt that they were all a part of a broad definition of our community.

These are based on my reading and my tastes.  I love a good turn of phrase, but I can’t read everything.  If I’ve missed something that you loved, please feel free to add it in the comments section.  The more the collection of our words grows, the better, so please add any words that inspired you.  With the rules our of the way, here are my choices for the top 10 Pagan quotes of 2015:

10. “Alex portrayed us as exotic beings who are equally eccentric as we are connected to something that makes us feel strong. And while everyone has a right to how they feel, this doesn’t make me feel exploited. It makes me feel like a witch.”

– David Salisbury, October 29

9. “If a teaching leads you to take action in accord with your soul’s will, take action. Find others to take action with you, but do not assume that the action you take is the action everyone should take, or must take, or you fall into the traps of more institutionalized religions.”

– Christopher Penczak, August 29

8. “There are plenty of areas in the United States crying out for a counter-balance to existing graven tributes to archaic Abrahamic barbarism. Arkansas is looking rather appealing.”

– Lucien Greaves, July 7

7. “[I]f who you need to be is a polytheist, if something deep inside whispers the Gods are many, if the call you feel is from one of those many Gods, then be a polytheist. Stop trying to square your beliefs with the mainstream – you can’t.”

– John Beckett, December 8

6. “If someone is seeing something that you’re not, then you should treat that moment as an opportunity, not a nuisance. There’s a whole other reality hidden from view! If you work at it, you might gain access to that hidden reality! You’d think that, as mystics and magic practitioners, we’d be chomping at the bit for such an opportunity.”

– Asa West, February 28

5. “We hold that living a fulfilling and meaningful life, and allowing the same for future generations, is only possible if the entire Earth is healthy. We will therefore strive as individuals, as groups, and as members of a global society to promote the current and future health of our entire Earth, including the water, air, land, and the web of life.”

– From “A Pagan Community Statement on the Environment,”April 22

4. “If you don’t hear the scream, you are choosing to be spiritually deaf. Stop. Listen. Act.”

– Courtney Weber, February 19

3. “So once again, I’m making friends with my discomfort, because until we live in an equitable, post-scarcity world, making friends with discomfort is the only way through to justice that I can see.”

– T. Thorn Coyle, December 2

2. “Patriarchy and Capitalism are cozy bedfellows. They are happy to convince women that their bodies are disgusting, so they can sell us one more product to make us more “productive”, to make my vagina smell like candy or flowers, anything that will stop these cunts from bleeding.”

– Niki Whiting, May 19

1. “We don’t care if you call our gods devils. That is just another power you give us. We would sooner kiss the ass of a thousand ‘devils’ than bow to your fears.”

– Jason Thomas Pitzl, February 17

View story at Medium.com

 


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Top 10 Pagan Quotes of 2014

The words we write leave a record. They help define us to others and to ourselves. They tell us where we have been, the struggles and joys we have experienced, and give hints at the future. When I was writing for the Juggler, I began compiling an annual list of the top 10 Pagan quotes of the year.  I find it to be one of my favorite projects of the year.

This year we seem to have struggled with identity. Some of that was defining ourselves to the rest of the world, but a good portion of it was negotiation within our intertwining traditions. Honest disagreements flared up now and then, as always, but there were also deeper questions of self-identification and marginalization. In the WTF department, Time magazine compared witches to terrorists, proving that we still have a long way to go in defining ourselves within mainstream culture.

We also dealt with tragedies – the loss of two deeply loved elders among many others who crossed over this year, and the ongoing mainstream racial and gender tension. This was the year of Ferguson and the misogyny-fueled UC Santa Barbara killings.

On a lighter note, who can forget this little girl:

I’d love to include “Piehole: Shut it!” on this list, but sadly I don’t know if the girl is a Pagan. So she gets an honorable mention.

As always, these quotes came from articles that I read.  They are just my opinion. I can’t read everything, so if you feel I missed something, please feel free to share it in the comments. We can all benefit from seeing more of the great work done by Pagan writers. The quotes must have been said or written by a Pagan. I choose these based on significance of topic and use of language.  Alright, with that out of the way, here are the quotes:

10.  “In 1964 the future was supposed to be flying cars, cities on the moon, and 20 hour work weeks.  Instead, we got the internet, smart phones, and Wal-Mart.”  – John Beckett, March 9

9.  “I think that the “herding cats” myth we tell ourselves does us a disservice, just like shrugging and saying, ‘Oh, that’s Pagan Standard Time.’ It excuses rudeness and poor leadership.”  – Shauna Aura Knight, January 20

8. “In the chaos of busy lives, I find that we often forget that immanent love surrounds us and is as close as the dirt at our feet.”  – Erick DuPree, September 24

7. “I know that no harm was meant by equating witches to terrorists, but given the general level of stupidity in this country maybe it’s not a good idea?” – Jason Mankey, October 31

6. “Perhaps our interfaith work as Pagans needs to begin with ourselves.  If we cannot find tolerance and an ability to work together between the various forms of Paganism, what chance do we have of finding it in the outside world?”   – Carol Kirk, March 20

5. “I have to keep questioning, struggling, fighting and dancing with the complexities of power. If I do, maybe I will grow personally. Most importantly, these lessons might help me do more good than harm in this world.”  – Cecily Joy Wilowe, August 26

4. “Cooperation is possible, it is not easy. It is messy, but it can be done.”  – Ivo Dominguez, Jr., March 12

3. “Yesterday we laid Morning Glory’s body into the Earth, to rest in the bosom of Mother Gaea until she may return again in new flesh. I planted an apple tree over her loving heart, that someday her substance may return to us all as sweet nourishing fruit.” – Oberon Zell Ravenheart, May 17

Morning Glory Zell-Ravenheart

Morning Glory Zell-Ravenheart, 1948 – 2014

2. “The world is a better place because of Margot. Let us remember and give thanks for Margot, her brilliant mind, her loving heart, her beautiful voice, her activism, her writings, her news reporting, her other works, her magic, her bright spirit.” – Selena Fox, July 28

Margot Adler

Margot Adler, 1946 – 2014

1. “You’re certainly not alone in your megalomania. Everyone feels that way—and for good reason.

Because it’s true!” – Lon Milo DuQuette, March 17

Update: quote number 5 was originally attributed to Crystal Blanton. This attribution was incorrect and the accurate attribution has now been made. Special thanks to Crystal Blanton for bringing this to my attention .


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Painful Truths: The Fear of Discussion

I just wrote a whole post on Ferguson, white privilege, and racism. It was all about overt and institutionalized racism and the difficulty of seeing your own privilege. It recognized my own privilege as a white man and asked people of color to have patience with those of us who have a melanin deficiency as we try to figure out how to handle these successive rounds of evidence of systemic racism in society. Then I threw it out.

It was way too “Great White Father.” I was speaking to the white community, not the African-American community, but it still smacked of power and privilege. I can afford to sit down and think about these things because they don’t affect me. That’s privilege.

Yet I still want to get beyond the immediate injustices because they are symptoms of a much larger problem. We are afraid to talk to each other. People of color fear having their very real problems marginalized (again). Their white allies fear to say the wrong thing, knowing they can never fully understand the Black American experience, so they censor themselves. Plus, people of color need white allies to be vocally on their side. And that is a huge problem in all of this: we need to communicate, both to each other and within our communities.

In my presentation at the Pagan Activism Conference, I proposed this elemental model of activism:

elemental model

Fire represents that immediate, get out on the streets and march element of seeking social justice. That is a vital element, but there is so much more to it. At some point, the different combatants in a dispute need to talk to each other. They need to understand each other’s problems. Otherwise one side sees only the angry picketers and burning buildings that the media shows them on TV and the other side sees only privileged, smug silent observers sipping their Cabernet as others fight for their basic legal rights. If no discussion happens, the sides don’t understand each other. The problem escalates.

We need that lesson of Air. Communication includes both speaking and listening. Argument is good, but screaming over each other as if we are guests on Fox News is not. Going forward in this fight for justice, I hope people of all opinions can quench their fire enough understand that there are real people suffering. Listen to their concerns without becoming defensive and without belittling their true experience. Speak your beliefs in a way that helps the other side truly understand your point of view.

There is so much pain in all of this. Listening to the voice that has hurt you will not be easy. But successful movements must convey their message to the other side in a way that helps them understand it. Protests bring attention to an issue, but it is negotiation and clearly framed messaging that changes hearts and minds, especially the way our media covers these events.

privilege

Crystal Blanton

Crystal Blanton

We who live with privilege can no longer ignore it. This constant denial of the basic rights of safety from harm that our brothers and sisters of color suffer cannot continue. It’s not one instance; it’s the pattern.  The Wild Hunt’s Crystal Blanton, a stalwart advocate for real equality puts it so poignantly:

The fear that I carry as a mother of Black children is not different than the fear of mothers from any historically oppressed population. On Monday night, as my son walked out of the door, I stopped him to tell him not to wear his hoodie on his head and to put his dreads back in a ponytail. The fear that he may be mistaken for a thug because people will see him as a Black man first is a sad reality for many parents.

 

That’s not OK. Experiences like Crystal’s need to be communicated to those of us who are free to wear hoodies with impunity.  We need to see and hear and understand these little bricks of privilege. The problem is clear, but let’s begin to focus on communication and healing for the long term.

Sometimes that may include that may include uncomfortable choices like writing a blog post you’re afraid to post or keeping a racist friend on Facebook so that you can scrape away at them with messages like Crystal’s. But then, if that’s the most uncomfortable decision you make in all of this, you’re ahead of a lot of other folks who are afraid to go to the corner store in a hoodie.


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No Service

“No service.”

That’s the terrifying and baffling message that so many iPhone users saw at the top of their smartphone last week.  Many people who updated their phone’s operating system to the new and highly publicized iOS 8 as soon as it came out found that the new software, great as it may be, had one rather significant bug: it disabled their phone service. It prevented your device from connecting to your cellular service. It made your phone no longer a phone.

To be clear, I’m not one of those Apple haters. I love my iPhone (which I haven’t updated yet). I love my iPad (tried to update it, but got an error message). I don’t care what kind of phone anyone out there uses, but I’m fascinated by the idea that the company that essentially invented the smartphone created an operating system that negated such a basic function.

I have a theory as to how this happened. I can’t prove this theory. I have no evidence for this theory whatsoever. Those who actually know anything about the tech industry or computer code would probably laugh me out of the room. This is just a guess. I think that Apple’s software developers were so focused on the sexy new features they were working on, so pressured to get their new system out to meet deadlines and get in front of the competitors that they completely forgot about the bare bones basics, the lowest part of the Maslow phone pyramid: making phone calls.

It’s not a rare thing. We do this often in our lives. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in competition for goods, having the nicest stuff, or proving how good we are that we forget some of the very basic things about living an effective life.

  • We do it when we get so wrapped up in work and our to-do list that we neglect to put effort into our most important relationships.
  • We do it when we neglect our body’s basic needs because we’re always hurrying from one commitment to another. We neglect to eat right, take care of health problems our bodies scream at us about, or get enough sleep.
  • We do it when we assume that, as spiritual people, it is somehow wrong to be financially secure. The truth is, when your finances allow you to meet all your needs without worry, you are in a much better place to work on your spiritual needs.
  • We do it when we become so convinced about the “rightness” of our spiritual path that we look down on or are openly hostile to others. This happens both underneath the Pagan umbrella and outside its bounds. Some people within the Pagan community are just as likely to make fun of a Wiccan as they are a Christian. Both serve no purpose in your own spiritual growth. Plus they make you look like an asshole.
  • We do it when we think of ourselves as so advanced in our path that we neglect its essentials like meditation, ritual, daily practice, and reading.

It’s so easy to seek out attractive extras in life. They make us feel good. Sometimes they are even convenient excuses to ignore some of the basic functions in life. How convenient it is to say, “I don’t have time to meditate,” when really you just want to sleep a little longer, or use “I’m too busy to make dinner, I’ll just go to [fill in name of your favorite fast food joint here]” as an excuse to indulge your unhealthy craving.  Every choice like this brings short term pleasure but slowly wears away at your physical, mental, or spiritual health. They eat at your personal operating system.

Maybe you can think of some things you do that aren’t on this list, but qualify. What are your sexy but destructive behaviors and ideas? As we approach Samhain, maybe it’s time to put those fun but harmful habits into their graves. We all have them. Me included. To pretend otherwise would be just another self-destructive deception. This is a good time to recognize them and start working on a new system that may be less attractive but transforms us into happier, healthier people. As we move toward the Witch’s new year, maybe it’s a good time to ensure that, when the Wheel turns, you don’t get that dreaded message:

“No service.”