It is early evening, in mid-March, in Maryland. I am sitting in my bedroom, gazing out my window at the melting patches of snow which still cover large portions of the ground in these parts-and at the horrible gashes cut into the breast of Earth-Mother by the bulldozers of developers who have converted the beautiful fields, forest, and hedge- rows behind my house into the site of a future subdivision. The sun has just set behind the hill I call, privately, Cerne’s Knoll, for the deer I used to see there; now there are no deer, and precious few trees, left of this formerly vibrant woods. I reflect that the developer responsible is considered a pillar of his community-he sits on the board of trustees of my undergraduate college-and his church. I think on the connection between church and community: and on the at times chasmic dis-connection between church and land-community, and between the traditional Christian church and those who are not, whether by choice or happenstance, part of it.
I do not think I am anti-Christian. I do not wish to be. My grandfather was a Methodist minister; my family is, for the most part, devout, and I spent a childhood remark ably free from the religion-related traumas which have led so many to flee the church. But I am definitely “anti” those aspects of conventional Christianity which strike wedges between humans and non-human nature, between Christians and non-Christians, between women and men. I recall being condemned to Hell, literally and feelingly, by an Orthodox Christian on a computerized electronic mailing list, for daring to suggest that Witches and other Pagans-some of whom I have known and worked with for more than ten years, know to be honorable and ethical persons, and some of whom I count among my closest friends-are anything other than evil and depraved. I think of a friend of my parents, telling them that he decided not to go to a Methodist church because he heard the bishop was going to be preaching on environmental concerns; he went to an Pentacostal church instead, heard a nice hellfire-and-damnation sermon, “and that I could get into!” I reflect on an article which recently appeared in the newspaper: an Anglican vicar of a parish in the north of England, in opposition to the upcoming ordination of women in the Church of England, stated that “priestesses should be burned at the stake because they are assuming powers they have no right to.” Though the Church formally opposes his stance, it is hard to escape from the spectre of two thousand years of Scripture and history which support his vengeful vitriol. It is hard to escape the smoky stench of the Burning Times lingering on his words.
And so I find myself at a point of personal crisis, and it is out of that crisis that I write. It would not be difficult to write a condemnation of Christianity; sadly, that faith has provided all too much fuel for such a critique. My desire, rather, is to present alternatives: not in the sense of evangelism, or seeking converts, not to suggest that any one religious path is objectively “wrong” and another “right” (and in this caution, already, I stray from the Christian tradition of evangelism), but just that-to present alternatives. And not just any alternatives, but alternatives which address the deep- seated alienation and structures of dominance which exist in this world: men over and against women, (male) humans over and against Nature, a transcendent and male- imaged God over (and frequently against) humankind in our physical, sensory, Earth- related context. Dominance and alienation are themes which are so closely interwoven that one cannot fully understand, much less seek to correct, either one without taking account of the other.
Recent decades have been a time of great change on this Earth, our home; much of it, sadly, change for the worse. The forces of ecosystem destruction-grounded as they are in patriarchal patterns of dominance and in our overall alienation from our sense of place, and from our non-human sisters and brothers who share this Earth-have gained in force and in momentum. Pesticides and nuclear waste poison the earth. Chemicals in the atmosphere punch holes in the ozone layer and greenhouse gases threaten to initiate vast changes in our global climate. In sacred and secular contexts alike, there is a palpable sense of impending doom, a millenarian expectation which may take the form of capitalistic “grab for all you can while you’ve still got the chance,” Fundamentalist promises of otherworldly paradise to replace this mortal world, if only one will “repent” and be “saved,” or the technotopian drive upward and outward, to find a new world to replace this tired, worn-out one.
A bleak picture? Yes. That cannot be denied, that the peril is great. But so is the hope. In those same decades which have seen such an acceleration of world-denying, even world-destroying, modes of thought, being, and action, there has been as well a counter-movement, an upwelling of world-affirming, life-affirming alternatives to the ethic of domination, and the patterns of of alienation. This counter-movement has taken many forms, including the most progressive wing of the Judeo-Christian cultural- religious complex. But one of the most promising, most vibrant, and fastest-growing of these alternative spiritualities and worldviews is that known as the Neo-Pagan movement. “Pagan” is a word which resonates strangely and perhaps fearfully to ears tuned by the cultural constraints of 2000 years of Christianity, and it is important to define this term-and related ones such as Wicca-before discussing how this move ment may serve as one important path by which we may begin the process of re- weaving the rifts which have been torn between humankind, Nature, and God/dess.
“Pagan” derives from the Latin word paganus, meaning “country-dweller,” or less politely, “bumpkin.” As Christianity spread first in the cities, among the educated elite, the country folk continued with their time-honored ways, and “pagan” came to take on the meaning of “non-Christian.” Neo-Pagan, or “new Pagan,” refers to that loose complex of newly emergent and re-created folk religions which take their historical and spiritual inspiration (and some of the forms and rituals used) from those aspects of pre- Christian traditions most relevant to the modern world, and combine them with contemporary creativity and inspiration in art, music, ritual design, and thealogical studies. Neo-Pagan religions tend to be characterized by an animistic, pantheistic, and frequently (but by no means always) polytheistic approach to divinity; emphasis on the female aspect of deity (the Goddess, the Great Mother, the Lady, or simply Gaia) as the primal genetrix and ground of being, even when most traditions also work with a balanced (female-male) polarity; deep veneration for the natural world as the “body” of immanent Goddess; and an attitude of deep respect toward women-as reflected in the number, and importance, of Pagan priestesses, especially in Wicca.
Wicca, or neo-Pagan Witchcraft (also known as “the Craft” or “the Old Religion”), itself made up of a variety of autonomous “traditions” (similar to denominations in the Christian Church, and just as fractious), is one of the largest and most influential branches of the neo-Pagan movement. Witches trace the descent of their religion from the time of the palaeolithic “Lady of the Mammoths” through the civilizations of the ancient Near East, and north to Greece and the Celtic regions. Formerly, many claimed a direct and unbroken lineage from the shamans of the Ice Age hunters and gatherers, through the priests and priestesses of the planting cultures of the Ancient Near East, and on via the pre-Christian religions of Europe and Asia Minor to medieval days. Craft tradition holds that the religion survived even the conversion of Europe to Christianity, and the “Burning Times” of the 15th-17th centuries. At that point, some say, the ancestors of modern Wiccans went underground; from this period sprung the concepts of the covens, Books of Shadows (a combination ritual manual and magical/spiritual journal), and many other features commonly associated with Witchcraft today. Neo-Pagan Witches firmly believe that the false confessions extracted under torture during this time, combined with deliberate distortion on the part of ecclesiastical authorities, are the source of most if not all of the modern misconceptions many people have about the Craft.
In the last decade or so, however, an increasing number of Witches have begun to question the factual truth of this story, while continuing to value it for the mytho-poetic truth it contains. While what we now know as Wicca may not have evolved in this specific way, in an unbroken line, and especially not as the organized, universal religion once claimed, Witches still feel that this interpretation of religio-magical history retains validity due to the continuity of spirit it represents. This view-mythic truth being seen as more important than factual, literal truth-is common to almost all traditions of the Craft today.
Wicca emerged from myth into history in 1949 when Gerald Gardner claimed to have found a coven in the New Forest in England which was said to have been in existence since at least the 12th century. Whether or not this was actually the case, interest in the Craft grew over the next generation and new traditions were formed. Although the first covens following Gardner were very formal, with strong links to ceremonial magic, many contemporary covens-such as those which came into being after the publication of Starhawk’s The Spiral Dance in 1979-stress a mix of historical, anthropological, and literary scholarship, creativity, and intuition to develop rituals which are meaningful and relevant in the modern context.
The Wiccan world-view is a dualistic one, but rather than good-evil, the duality is male-female. These are not seen as polar opposites, but rather as complementary aspects, one of the other, somewhat similar to the Eastern yin-yang concept. Most witches believe in some form of reincarnation or “transmigration of the soul,” although the specific understanding of this idea varies from tradition to tradition, and even from Witch to Witch within a coven; in any case, the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth is seen as something to be welcomed as an opportunity for learning, even rejoiced in, not escaped from as in Eastern traditions.
There are two basic deities invoked in most Wiccan traditions, the Great Goddess and the God, typically seen either as the Horned One-a god who is analogous to Pan or the Celtic deity Cernunnos, not the Christian “Devil”-or the Green Man. In some traditions, the Goddess is considered to “rule” the summer months (from Beltane to Samhain), and the God the winter half of the year, a distinction reflecting, respectively, the planting and hunting seasons. Both Goddess and God are often called by a variety of names based on European mythology, depending on the tradition and specific ritual. More detail will be given on the Goddess and God, and the ways in which these deity- concepts can become powerful metaphors for synthesizing the insights of ecofeminism and deep ecology, in Parts II and III, below.
Wicca, and Paganism generally, provide a life-affirming spiritual path to somewhere in excess of 100,000 Americans today, and an unknown number of persons abroad. While not all Pagans-by any means-are environmentalists, Paganism and Wicca do provide a spiritual opportunity practically unique in the Western world: a religious path which places a reverential attitude toward Nature (Gaia, Mother Earth) at the center, not the periphery, of belief and practice. In addition, the centrality of the immanent Goddess as primal genetrix and ground of being means that Paganism, Wiccan and otherwise, is highly resistant to (though of course, not proof against) the ethics and structures of patriarchal dominance which are characteristic of Western, and much Eastern, religion. Paganism, therefore, provides a vehicle, a model, a means of bringing together the ecofeminist concern for structures of dominance, male over female, (male) human over Nature, and the deep ecological concern for human aliena tion from Nature, from the “land community” (Leopold, p. 240). This is the great promise of Paganism, and this is the subject and premise of my paper. I. In the Belly of the Goddess: Earthbody as Sacred Body
Starhawk states (Starhawk 1989, p. 10; Diamond & Orenstein, p. 73) that the three “core principles” of Goddess religion are immanence, interconnection, and community; Margot Adler (Adler 1986, pp. 24-5) characterizes Paganism as animistic, pantheistic, and polytheistic. It is worth looking more closely at these assessments, and at how they relate to each other and to ecofeminism and deep ecology. Immanence, though given equal billing here with interconnection and community, is the focus of much of Starhawk’s work, and perhaps the one factor which most distinguishes Paganism from the transcendent monotheism of the Judeo-Christian-Islamic complex. Immanence means that godhead is not seen as “up” or “out,” transcendently above and beyond the world; rather, God/dess is seen as present in the world, throughout the world, as close as a friend’s face, a leaf, the touch of the wind. Adler uses immanence, in fact, as part of her definition of pantheism, commenting (p. 25) that “divinity is inseparable from nature”; Starhawk comments (1989, p. 91) that when asked if she believes in the Goddess, she responds, “do you believe in rocks?” Adler (1986, p. 25) goes even further, however, in asserting that neo-Pagan groups participate in divinity. The widely-known (within the Pagan community) saying of the Church of All Worlds, “Thou art God/dess,” makes this explicit in a way some may find problematic. It is clear none theless that, in an immanent worldview, we are all living, as it were, “in the belly of the Goddess.”
Furthermore, many Pagans hold the ancient animistic viewpoint, still held by indigenous cultures today, that everything which is, is in some way alive-not merely as a result of being imbued with immanent divinity, although that is part of it; but truly, individually, alive. Such a worldview both pre-supposes and requires both interconnection and relationship, or community. Goddess religion, Starhawk (1989, p. 11) points out, is “lived in community”-community which includes “not only people but also the animals, plants, soil, air and water and energy systems that support our lives.” This leads to a form of polytheism, broadly defined, in which “reality (divine and otherwise) is multiple and diverse,” where “all nature is divinity and manifests itself in myriad forms and delightful complexities” (Adler, p. 25). In this way, Paganism has the potential to both embrace the ecofeminist concern for particularity and relationship and the deep ecological desire to extend one’s “Self”-identity beyond the confines of merely personal self-and then to go beyond them both: Paganism has the potential to revitalize, re-animate, and above all re-sacralize the world.
While some ecofeminists are hesitant about utilizing Goddess-imagery in speaking about the world of non-human as well as human nature (see Merchant & King in Diamond & Orenstein), others, including Starhawk, Eisler, and Spretnak, see the cojoining as empowering to women-and potentially to humanity as a whole, as an antidote to millenia of patriarchal domination. For these women, and those of whatever sex and gender who think as they do, Goddess-centered religion breaks through the templates of patriarchal myth and metaphor which reinforce patterns of domination and suppression of women and nature alike.
Deep ecologists, on the other hand, have to my mind drastically under-utilized the potential of Paganism and Goddess religion. This is not a discussion of deep ecology in specific, but it is important to briefly introduce the ways in which deep ecology can work in harmony with ecofeminism and Paganism. Deep ecology presents not so much a new way of “looking at” Nature as a new paradigm for humanity’s involvement in and relationship with Nature. Although deep ecology thus far has looked primarily to Eastern traditions, such as Taoism and some schools of Buddhism, and to a lesser (and problematic) extent the Native American faiths, for its spiritual dimension, I believe that Paganism can provide a more culturally appropriate Western path to this goal.
The central tenet of deep ecology is biocentric equality in principle. This viewpoint is radically different from the traditional worldview, dominant in today’s mass culture, that the natural world is little more than a gigantic resource base to support the human population, and as such may be exploited freely for human ends. Even the reformist Christian perspective expressed in the concept of “stewardship of Creation” still places humanity in a paternalistic, “overseer” position, at the top of the “Great Chain of Being”-although it is a definite step forward over the traditional Christian view! Deep ecology, in contrast, holds that all aspects of non-human Nature, from other species and ecosystems to natural processes, have inherent or intrinsic value or worth, aside from and beyond their value as commodities or resources for human consumption.
To begin to appreciate the harmony possible between Neo-Pagan spirituality and deep ecology concepts, consider this passage from Deep Ecology:
Deep ecology is emerging as a way of developing a new balance and harmony between individuals, communities and all of Nature. It can potentially satisfy our deepest yearnings: faith and trust in our most basic institutions; courage to take direct action; joyous confidence to dance with the sensuous harmonies discovered through spontaneous, playful intercourse with the rhythms of our bodies, the rhythms of flowing water, changes in the weather and seasons, and the overall processes of life on Earth Š This is the work we call cultivating ecological consciousness. This process involves becoming more aware of the actuality of rocks, wolves, trees, and rivers-the cultivation of the insight that everything is connected. Cultivating ecological consciousness is a process of learning to appreciate silence and solitude and rediscovering how to listen. It is learning how to be more receptive, trusting, holistic in perception, and is grounded in a vision of nonexploitive science and technology (Devall and Sessions, Deep Ecology, pp. 7-8)
Substitute “Paganism” for “deep ecology,” and “developing a Pagan perspective” (or similar phrase) for “cultivating ecological consciousness,” and the connection between these ways of becoming aware of and interacting with the world immediately springs into sharp relief. Likewise, “becoming aware of the actuality of rocks, wolves, trees, and rivers” seems highly apt for an ecofeminist mode of honoring the particularity of other subjects. Ecofeminism, Paganism, and deep ecology, properly understood, share a common concern for personal experience, for praxis. Albeit with some differences of emphasis and manifestation, the triple themes of immanence, interconnection, and community-of earthbody as sacred body-run through them all.
It is well known that ecofeminists (see Kheel in Diamond & Orenstein) frequently critique (primarily male) deep ecologists for what they consider to be an excessive concern for the universal at the expense of the particular. This critique is valid, so far as it goes, but it falters when it goes beyond specific manifestations or expressions of the movement or of individuals within it to become a critique of deep ecology as such. Yes, deep ecology does have a tendency to emphasize connection and interrelation among the varied members of the biotic or ecosystemic community-what Aldo Leopold called the “land community” (Leopold, p. 240). But anyone who has read Leopold’s seminal A Sand County Almanac will recognize that his appreciation for the land community as a whole stems from close, personal awareness of particularity within it, built over decades of fieldwork-Kheel’s critique of the hunting ethic notwithstanding. Similarly, Bill Devall, in Simple In Means, Rich in Ends: Practicing Deep Ecology (1988) makes a point of emphasizing concrete, particular examples in his outline of a deep-ecologically based praxis. Deep ecology’s emphasis is on connection and interrelation, specifically contrasted both to the “minimal self” characteristic of the population at large in Western society today and to the “oceanic self” characteristic of the (usually male) mystic (Devall 1988, pp. 40, 48). Development of the ecological self is the goal of deep ecology, and as Devall states categorically (p. 46) that any awareness of “organic wholeness” is possible only after personal, relational identification with that which is immediate and tangible: the particular precedes the universal, and the universal is predicated upon the particular.
This process may occur in a number of ways, but one of the most notable in deep ecological theory and praxis is the development of bioregional consciousness (Devall and Sessions, pp. 21-28; Devall, pp. 57-69). In this process, one comes to know intimately the particular place in which one resides and in the process comes to develop an identification with that place and its inhabitants. It should be noted that identification is not synonymous with identicality! One may identify oneself as human without failing to recognize other humans as individuals; in the same way, one may identify oneself as a member of a biotic or ecosystemic community-or the bio/ecosphere as a whole- without necessarily succumbing to “oceanic feelings of oneness” with the place, a stance which leads to abstraction and, thus, to even greater separation in the long run. I believe the sense of closeness to specific beings-trees, animals, herbaceous plant species-and more general categories, such as water and wind patterns, found in a bioregional consciousness to be congruent with both ecofeminist particularity and relationship and Pagan interconnection-in-community.
To such a degree as the ecofeminist critique is accurate, however, it still fails to take into account the differences between female and male view of themselves and the cosmos. When ecofeminists claim that male deep ecologists are overemphasizing the universal at the expense of the particular, they may be failing to realize the extent to which males have been taught, practically since birth, to see only in terms of the partic ular-or more correctly, the separate. A sense of connection between self and nature which is apparently almost a given for many women, and a condition which some women see as something to be overcome or grown beyond, is for many men all but unknown and something to be cherished as an antidote to the feelings of separation and alienation which seem very nearly our birthright. It is my belief that balance is the key in this situation, but men and women may find themselves moving in different-and perhaps seemingly opposed-directions in their quest for this balance.
A second ecofeminist critique of deep ecology, that it fails to take into account the extent to which human domination and exploitation of nature is linked to male domina tion and exploitation of women, is an argument which, in my view, must be conceded. Deep ecology has not taken sufficient account of this dynamic. But it could be argued that this is, at least in part, because this is not the issue deep ecology was formulated to address; ecofeminism was formulated to address this issue, and is doing so splendidly. Deep ecology, on the other hand, came into being to address issues not of domination per se but of alienation, of which domination is an important, but not necessarily the sole, component. Deep ecology and ecofeminism alike, then, are limited by their viewpoints, a limitation which the addition of a Pagan perspective might go some way toward alleviating. A Pagan critique of both deep ecology and ecofeminism might go something like this:
Both deep ecology and ecofeminism have identified important aspects of the root problem; that is, the crisis currently facing our planetary environment-including the human environment and even the noosphere, as de Chardin phrased it (Berry, p. 22). They have identified facets of this crisis, but not its ultimate root (a Pagan critique might run), which is the total de-sacralization of both human and non-human nature. Although this process may have begun, as some hold, with the arrival of the militant sky-gods of the Indo-Europeans millenia ago (Eisler, in Diamond & Orenstein, pp. 28- 29), there can be no question that it accelerated markedly with the advent of Christianity. In antiquity, as Toynbee phrased it, “godhead was diffused throughout the phenomenon”; with the coming of Christianity, “the divinity was drained out of nature and was concentrated in one unique transcendent God” (Adler, p. 18). The process accelerated yet again under the impetus of the so-called “Enlightenment” and first the Agricultural, then the Industrial, revolutions. Starhawk comments (1982, pp. 205-6) that both the Old Order, the feudal aristocracy and allied Catholic Church, and the New Order, the largely Protestant professional-commercial classes, “located God, as the source of true value, outside the living world.” She notes, however, that at least the Old Order was based on an organic model-the human body (p. 189)-and that its close ties to the land connected it with the cycles of nature in a way that the urban professional class was rapidly losing. The rise of mechanistic science, supported theologically by Deism and intellectually by an increasingly secularized philosophy, dealt a near-deadly blow to human awareness of immanence.
A Pagan critique might suggest that a reawakening of human awareness to immanence could present both a model and a means for restoring balance to the areas of both ecofeminist and deep ecological concern. It is able to do so precisely because of how this immanence is conceived: the figure of the Goddess provides an image and model of empowerment for feminists struggling against the wholly-transcendent, male- oriented models of divinity so prevalent in Western theological speculation; and while deep ecology does tend to have a vague and rather abstract sense of immanence, Paganism focuses this semi-intuitive sense on the concrete, though symbolic, mytho-poetic imagery of the Goddess, and her specific manifestations in and through the things of sensory, material nature.
There is a saying in the Pagan community: “it is all real, it is all metaphor, there is always more.” Paganism is short on doctrine, but long on myth, metaphor, and poetry: with its grounding in a multiple and diverse perception of divine reality, it is resistant to the sorts of “one, true, and only way-ism” characteristic of the monotheistic, transcendent Western religions. What are some of the symbols and mythic images in which the immanence of the Goddess is represented and embodied? As its very name suggests, neo-Paganism is a religion at once both old and new. Thus it is not at all shy about borrowing myths and symbols from the Pagan past-though it may rework them in ways that might not have occurred to the originators. This is not the place for an in- depth study of the myriad faces of the Goddess, but it is worth looking at some of the ways in which the immanent Goddess is portrayed or perceived by Wiccans and other Pagans.
It is, perhaps, too broad a statement to suggest that Wicca provides a “typical” view of Paganism, but since Witches appear to form a majority of Pagans today, at least in the U.S., and since many who are now involved in other forms of Paganism entered the movement through Wicca, it seems most appropriate to take a closer look at the two typical manifestations/embodiments of the Wiccan Goddess, the Great Mother and the Triple Goddess symbolized by the phases of the moon. These are not mutually exclusive; rather, they are complimentary, two ways of looking at the same divine reality. Witches, and Pagans generally, prefer images of birth and evolution over images of creation as being more organic and alive, less mechanistic and structural. Thus, the Great Mother is she who is eternally giving birth to the glorious multiplicity of human and non-human beings: we are not the result of a potter’s work with clay, with spirits later breathed into us, but rather we are brought to birth, body and spirit together. In this aspect she is identified with the Earth, the only planet which we know for certain is capable of bringing forth life, making this a particularly important aspect for those- including deep ecologists and ecofeminists — who are concerned with the future of our common home. But she is also the Star Goddess, the Queen of Heaven (Starhawk 1989, p. 92), bringing forth not only trees, wolves, fungi and individual human beings, but also planets, stars, and galaxies. The Great Goddess is more than primal genetrix, however; one insight Paganism shares with ecology, be it “deep” or feminist, is that death and decay is also a part-a vital part-of the cycle of life. Death sets limits: just as unmitigated death is annihilation, so unmitigated life is cancer (a state toward which, deep ecologists argue, the human race is well on the way, if indeed we are not there already). So the Great Mother is also the Sow Who eats her young; she is the womb which becomes the tomb, as in the megalithic passage graves of western Europe (Gimbutas, pp. 151-4). Thus is the cycle of life, its dynamic ebb and flow, preserved.
It is just this flow and ebb which is represented in the Triple Goddess of the lunar cycles. It hs long been noted that “women’s fertility cycles are closely tied to lunar cycles, and these in turn are linked to the measuring of seasonal cycles for the favourable planting and harvesting of crops” (Keller, p. 45), an identification which is both ancient and intuitive. In Wicca, and other branches of Paganism using a similar mythic structure, these lunar cycles represent not inconstancy or mutability in a negative sense, but rather the dynamic cycles of life, death, and rebirth. The waxing crescent is the Maiden Goddess; she represents youthful vigor and playfulness, but more than that untamed freedom, and erotic desire-which can embrace far more than sexual desire, although that is definitively included. The full moon represents the Mother, Lady of fruition and nurturance, whose aspect overlaps with that of the Great Mother discussed above. The waning crescent, and in particular the dark moon, is the aspect of the ancient Crone: the Wise Woman of hidden wisdom, and of the death which leads to rebirth; she is both mourner and midwife. Every phase of a woman’s life is honoured in Paganism, and every phase in the cycle of all life.
Note that these are concrete images, embodied, not abstract; if they are anthropomorphic (or occasionally zoomorphic), they are also cosmic. Unlike, for example, mystical Christianity, in which the theoretical goal is “pure” contemplation of a God- essence totally divorced not only from gender (despite persistent male imagery) and anthropomorphism but from all contact with the physical/sensory world, Paganism embraces the language of the senses, and of metaphor. This is characteristic of Paganism: the use of mythic imagery in the guise of everyday things-the moon, a sow, subterranean passages, and others even more mundane-to metaphorically point the way toward that which is deeper than everyday reality, but which also contains and is contained by that reality. II. Earth-God Rising: non-patriarchal images of masculinity for Earth-healing
Goddess monotheism comprises a significant stream within the Craft, particularly among the Dianic tradition, while some other Pagans emphasize the Goddess almost, or completely, to the exclusion of the male principle. This is especially common among women who have come to Wicca or other forms of Paganism as a result of pyscho-emotionally traumatic experiences with patriarchal religion; for them, Goddess monotheism, whether seen as myth, metaphor, or objective reality, is a therapeutic experience to set against the dominance of a strongly male God. Other Pagans, particularly those working to reconstruct particular traditions such as the Celtic, Norse/Germanic, or Greco-Roman paths, are radically polytheist, attributing objective, personal identity to the various deities of the numerous pantheons. The mainstream position in Wicca, however-insofar as it is possible to make such a generalization-is for a balanced polarity which allows humans to experience and internalize, through myth and metaphor, the ecstatic dance of union of the “female” (Goddess) and “male” (God) energies.
Any acknowledgement of a male god-principle may be questioned by some feminists, who may view it as a potential or actual return to patriarchal modes of religion. But the God as conceived by Pagans is a far cry from the authoritarian “Lord of the Heavens,” Lawmaker and Judge, of the Judeo-Christian-Islamic complex. To begin with, he is thoroughly embodied: in his less anthropomorphic aspects, he is seen as stag or stallion, bull or boar. As the Hornèd Lord of the Hunt-success at which could be a matter of life and death to our hunter-gatherer forbears, especially in the cold season when nothing grows-he is both hunter and hunted: he who takes life, and he whose life is taken. As the Green Man of agriculture, he is the Dying God, the grain cut down in the fall to rest in the womb-tomb of the Mother and rise again in the spring, the vine which withers in the cold and returns, lush and green, as the weather warms. It has been suggested over and over that one reason for Christianity’s success in converting Europe (force of arms aside) is that the people saw, in the Christ-figure, just another aspect of a well-known archetype.
The Green Man aspect/archetype is one which deserves a more in-depth treatment, for he is not only the most obviously “ecological” of the God’s aspects, but is one which continued to survive long after the Christianization of Europe, even making his way into Christian churches and cathedrals. Furthermore, the image of the Green Man has caught the imagination of the contemporary public in a way few other Pagan survivals or revivals have done-at least as yet. Like the Goddess, and like Paganism itself, the Green Man is a figure who is both new and old. He typically takes the form of either a foliate mask, a male face whose features are formed of leaves, or else a male head disgorging vegetation from his mouth, and perhaps nose and ears as well (Anderson, p. 14). He is linked, however, to such legendary figures as Robin Hood and the Green Knight, and may be linked as well as to much older archetypal forms in antiquity and even pre-history, although the lines of descent can no longer be traced with certainty.
The Green Man can be indicative of wild nature, cultivation, or both; Toynbee’s assertion of pre-Christian religion, that “divinity was inherent in all natural phenomena, including those that man [sic] had tamed and domesticated” (Adler, p. 18) continued into the Christian Gothic in the person of the Green Man carved on cathedral column- capitals and vaulting-bosses. Anderson comments of a triple Green Man head found in Chartres cathedral that the “Green Man of the oak is the Green Man of the forest while the Green Man of the vine is the Green Man of agriculture”; the central, acanthus-leaf mask “signifies the plants that cross the boundaries of farm and wild land, the herbs that flavour, heal, or poison” (p. 86). Thus, the leafy face of the Green Man is seen as thoroughly embodied in the Goddess’ immanent presence throughout the world: he is both symbol and embodiment of her own fructifying bounty, and furthermore he is an image of male strength, of “power-from-within,” which flows from connection with the Earth, not separation. The Green Man represents an image of maleness which knows its place in the natural order of things-just as do the plants and trees whose leaves he bears. Not self-effacing or falsely deprecating, but yet totally lacking in the kind of over- arching hubris which can and has become characteristic of male power based on the image of a unique, transcendent, omnipotent God, the Green Man is a potent image for an ecological age.
Anderson (pp. 40-43) also links the Green Man with the Celtic Cernunnos, a god whose name means Horned One, another of the manifestations of the God in Pagan (especially Wiccan) practice. Cernunnos is a god of animal life, and of the hunt, and as such-in a time when “all that most of us hunt for on a regular basis is a parking space”-the value of such an image may be questioned by some. This is, nonetheless, a powerful and potentially helpful image: the Hunter reminds us that life must always feed on life, no matter whether animal or vegetable. Anyone with any knowledge of traditional hunting cultures (not the weekend sport-hunters which come to mind when most contemporary Americans think of hunting) also knows the tremendous respect for and connection with the prey animal felt by the hunters: the personhood of that animal is deeply valued, and its sacrifice revered. The Horned God of the Hunt, representing both Hunter and Hunted, provides a means of connecting-not only with the life which feeds our life-but also with a past era in which the connections between human and non-human nature were lived, not merely speculated upon. Tom Brown (1983, p. 145) points out that there is a responsibility in the taking of any life. To pull up a plant by its roots for no good reason is the same as wantonly killing an animal. But it is only natural to feel a greater burden in taking the life of an animal they are constant reminders of our dependence on other life.
The Lord of the Hunt reminds us of this constant interplay, of life feeding on life, in a way that more “genteel” God-images fail to do; he is valuable to modern humans precisely for his strangeness, and the challenge he presents.
This challenge may take many forms, for the Hunt is more than just the search for physical sustenance: as Starhawk points out (p. 113), the Hunt is also the Quest-which may involve limited, well-defined goals, or may be broad, open-ended, and lifelong- and so the God of the Hunt is also the Guide on the Quest. There are, of course, Hunter- Goddesses, of which Diana/Artemis is only the best-known; the Hunt, whether for meat or vision, is by no means a male prerogative-nor should the “gender” of the Goddess and God be taken too literally as reflecting human biological sexual or gender roles. Yet it is clear that he who guides the human spirit on its quest for fulfilment is a wholly different model for male god-energy than a God who holds all the answers, and who dispenses them from “on high” to those who please him through obedience to his decrees, or through sometimes unreasoning faith.
The Hunt, on these terms, represents the acquisition of power-from-within which comes about through self-examination, self-challenge, self-discipline-not through buying into a “plan of salvation” which is granted or imposed from without. Our focus, then, shifts from transcendent otherworldliness, with its attendant ecological dangers of devaluation of this world, to the spirit of a quest within the human and natural worlds. This does not exclude, in fact it encourages, the possibility of reality being far broader and deeper than the world of the physical senses, or even the rational mind; still, the quest-from its inception to its completion-is a thoroughly embodied one. The Lord of the Hunt does not draw us out of the world, but rather calls us to synthesis between the material and spiritual.
The Pagan god can also help to heal relationships between women and men, for he takes his being from the Goddess: born from her as ground of being, he is her Son; joining with her in the never-ending dance of union he is her Lover who becomes her Consort. Again, the parallels with the Christian story of Mary, the mother of Jesus who becomes his bride, are surely more than coincidental-though the two traditions interpret a markedly similar story in dramatically different ways. In some traditions, the God is his own father, joining with the Goddess in erotic union at Beltane (May Day), dying in Autumn, and being reborn as the infant Sun Child at the Winter Solstice; in others, the god-essence is perceived as twin brothers, God of the Waxing Year and God of the Waning Year, who succeed one another eternally as the Wheel of the Year turns.
The Wheel of the Year, as Pagans refer to the perpetual dance of the seasons, is closely linked to the God in his solar aspect as the moon-phases are to the Goddess; it is another image worth exploring in the context of ecological awareness. That we, despite our carefully controlled climates and insulated existence, are still closely attuned to the changes of season-psychologically and physically, if not emotionally and ritually-is clear in academic institutions from the onset of “spring fever” as the light lengthens and the weather warms. More negatively, “Seasonal Affective Disorder” is becoming a medically recognized term for extreme forms of the ennui and depression many of us feel in the colder, darker months of the year. The eight “sabbats,” or feast- days, used by Witches and many other Pagans, are drawn from both Celtic and Norse/Germanic sources, and both symbolize and embody significant moments in the seasonal round. Samhain (sah-wen or sow-an), which lent its date and much of its symbolism to Halloween, was the Celtic “New Year,” and also the start of winter; it was and is a time of introspection and spiritual disciplines-a time when humans direct their attention inward, as the sap is drawn inward to the root of plants and trees. Its opposite, Beltane, falls on May Day and is both the start of summer and a celebration of life in all its physicality-including sexuality. The ancients posited a close link between fertility and virility of humans and the fertility of the land, living out in their bodies a close connection to the natural world that most contemporary Westerners (including a majority of Pagans, if truth be known) have long since lost. The other “Cross-Quarter” Festivals, Imbolc (mentioned earlier in this work) and Lammas also reflect important moments in the relationship of humanity to the non-human world: the first signs of new life in the spring and the first harvest of the Earth’s fruits in the fall, respectively. The Solstices and Equinoxes, which comprise the so-called “lesser” sabbats, have less direct connection to the agricultural year, but a great deal to do with the quality of light- which scientists are beginning to discover has quite as much effect on humans as it does on supposedly more “primitive” organisms. Celebration of these feast days can serve to help us connect, not only with the cultural traditions of our ancestors (those of us who are of European descent), but with the cycles of the natural world around us.
That this is not only of ecological, but of psychological benefit seems all too clear. Within my own experience, the drear of winter is easier to bear when it can be taken in stages, Samhain to Solstice, to Imbolc, until finally the Equinox and spring arrive together. This understanding of the Wheel of the Year, the seasonal cycle, provides another way to connect our own lives to the life-cycle of birds, trees, plants and animals around us. Even after the (at least nominal) Christianization of Europe, the cycle of the Church year provided some vestige of this understanding, as is not surprising in the agrarian culture which then existed. Unfortunately (from a Pagan perspective), the twin forces of Protestantism-which condemned many of the traditional Church festivals (many thoroughly Pagan at the core, with only a veneer of Christianity) as “superstition”-and the Agricultural and Industrial Revolutions combined to destroy the mutually-nourishing phenomena of the seasonal festivals and the sense of connection to the land they both reinforced and embodied. When neo-Pagans dance around the Beltane fires, or decorate a Lammas altar with grain and vegetables, they are not merely play-acting. They are making connections: both with ancient and timeless traditions (though often in new and creative ways), and with archetypal imagery within their own psyches, and with the sacredness of the Earth and all nature. When Pagans celebrate the festivals of the Wheel, they are also re-enacting the joyous, erotic union of opposites which drives all life: the Sacred Marriage of Goddess and God.
The Pagan God, whether Horned One of the Hunt or Green Man of agriculture, teaches balance and connection in ways that the unique, transcendent God of the Judeo- Christian-Islamic cultural complex all too frequently does not. In no case does he possess the attributes of patriarchal authority of a YHWH or an Allah. But that he is not “God-the-Father,” seen as the distant cosmic disciplinarian, does not exclude the possibility of aspects of “god-as-father.” A Witch of my acquaintance has referred to him as “God the Plumber,” who fixes things that are broken, while Starhawk mentions a friend of hers as calling on “He Who Changes Dirty Diapers, or He Who Makes Up Silly Games, or He Who Teaches Through Play” (Starhawk 1989, p. 233). Thus the Pagan God provides a model of nurturing which is all too rare in the dominant religious paradigm. Ecofeminism teaches us that human domination of the Earth is inextricably linked with male domination of women. Paganism teaches us that male models of godhood which dominate neither women nor Nature are not only possible, but extant, waiting for us to recognize and celebrate them. III. Gaia’s Voices: Paganism, Ecology, and Ecumenical Dialogue
I hope that I’ve succeeded in demonstrating, in the above sections, that Paganism provides a viable spiritual path through which to overcome the barriers between women and men, and between human and non-human Nature. But Pagans are also uniquely positioned to speak for the Earth: to be, in effect, “Gaia’s voices.” They may do so in the same ways as non-Pagans, naturally, through recycling, supporting environmental organizations, letter-writing, or more direct action such as that performed by Greenpeace or Earth First!. It has long been my own view (along with that of many, though not all, in the Pagan community) that those who call themselves Pagan, who claim to honor the Goddess and revere the “total biosphere of Holy Mother Earth,” have a particular obligation to live in ways that tread as lightly as possible on the Earth.
But there are Pagans who are taking much greater and more visible steps in this direction, raising their voices in public and political forums on the local, national, and even international level. The most dramatic example of this was last fall’s second Parliament of the World’s Religions, held once per century, in Chicago. Witches from several traditions, along with Goddess worshippers from the Fellowship of Isis, the Druids of Ár nDraiochte Fein, and representatives of the Church of All Worlds were invited to attend. The Covenant of the Goddess, a Wiccan “umbrella” organization which is federally incorporated as a church, was among the co-sponsors. Although the Greek Orthodox Christian Host Committee pulled out to protest the inclusion of “pseudo-religious pagan groups that profess no belief in a God or Supreme Being”-a statement resulting in much bemusement on the part of the Pagan groups in question- response from other Christian and non-Christian groups seems to have been overwhelmingly positive. Witches and other Pagans from COG, Circle, EarthSpirit Community, and other groups not only sat on interfaith panels but also led or moderated several, maintained a hospitality suite-which was well-attended and became a major networking center-and operated informational booths. They gave a variety of workshops on Pagan topics; several were so well-attended that they had to be moved to larger rooms, and even then people were turned away at the doors for lack of space!
COG, with EarthSpirit Community, held a major Full Moon ritual in Chicago’s Grant Park, attended by some 500 (mostly non-Pagan) Parliament and media representatives. This ritual, reported as “moving,” “impressive,” and “fun” by those who attended, was also a remarkable example of interfaith cooperation. Originally denied a permit by the city, the Pagan contingent was granted one at the last moment: partially due to well-focussed media attention, but partially due also to the intervention of both the ACLU and-somewhat surprisingly-the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago. Admittedly, Cardinal Archbishop Berrigan may have been feeling some pressure by that point, but pressure need not necessarily lead to obligation. The fact that he felt moved to intervene at all on behalf of Pagans says a lot about the “coming of age” of the Pagan movement among the world’s religions-as does, of course, being invited to the Parliament in the first place.
One of the outcomes of the 2nd Parliament of the World’s Religions was the “Declaration of a Global Ethic,” a document recognizing our collective culpability for the current state of our Mother Earth, and calling for “respect for the community of living beingsŠ and for the preservation of the Earth.” The Rev. Deborah Light, a Wiccan priestess who holds her clergy credentials from COG, was among the signatories of this declaration-parts of which have a distinctly Pagan “feel” to them. She signed on behalf of the specific organizations she represented and “all other Pagans now and forever,” inscribing a pentacle and the words “so mote it be!” below her signature.
This historic second Parliament, which Andras Corban Arthen called “the coming-out party for Pagans and Witches into the community of the world’s religions,” was clearly a time of enlightenment for Pagans and non-Pagans alike. One may hope that it will be only the first of many occasions for visible and productive discussion, compassion, understanding, and cooperation between Pagans, Christians, and members of other world religions. Whatever the future may hold, there is a ring of truth to the banner carried by ADF’s Isaac Bonewits, Archdruid and Parliament representative:
YOU WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO IGNORE HER AGAIN!
I hope I have succeeded in articulating what I feel to be some of the great strengths and tremendous potentialities of the Pagan movement. But given that balance is one of the great Pagan virtues, I would be ethically as well as factually untrue to the movement if I were not to concede that it is far from perfect.
Pagan theology (or thealogy) is still a relatively new phenomenon, and although there have been a few forays into the field of theological ethics, they remain as yet few and far between. The Pagan view of “sin” (though rarely called by that name) as resulting in consequences and not punishment is, for many Pagans, extremely positive and affirming. These consequences are taken seriously by most Pagans; the “Wiccan Rede,” to which many non-Wiccan Pagans also subscribe, states simply, “An ye harm none, do as ye will.” However, combine the lack of divine retribution with the common belief in reincarnation, and there is unquestionably an “I’ll worry about that in the next life” tendency among certain Pagans. This is true despite the so-called “Law of Karma,” which states that “what you send returns to you”-according to some versions threefold-in this life. M. Brian Patrick, a Christian minister strongly sympathetic to the Pagan path which he walked himself for several years, comments,
A significant minority of those who call themselves Witches or Pagans seem to be using this authentic spiritual path as license for living in a blatantly adolescent manner: especially through irresponsible and addictive behavior regarding sex, drugs, food, alcohol, and relationships. Subtle self-deception, denial, and dishonesty seem widespread. This is particularly tragic because it affects the large number of Pagans and Witches who operate with a high degree of integrity and self-discipline. (Patrick, in FireHeart No. 5, 1990, p. 16)
He goes on to add that “another factor affecting Paganism’s ‘Earth-witness’ is a subtle form on anti-intellectualism.” As a reaction against the rather arid intellectualism and mechanistic objectivism of the contemporary scientific-academic establishment, and an attempt to reclaim more intuitive and holistic modes of thought, this is understandable and even healthy to a degree. Unfortunately, some Pagans do carry this to the extreme of strongly distrusting those who act or write in an intellectual or academic mode; I have seen this myself in the pages of Pagan books and journals, and in the actions and attitudes of Witches and other Pagans I have known. I have also, I hasten to add, known Pagans of the most rigorous academic and personal standards. Still, there is a fair amount of “fluff” circulating under the guise of serious scholarship in the Pagan community: a fact which seems particularly sad and ironic in a movement which, justifiably, questions the often anti-intellectual stance of traditional Christianity. It does not strike me as helpful to replace one form of this malaise with another!
If the sort of scathing critique recounted above came from someone hostile to Paganism, it might be tempting to dismiss it as irrational, vindictive, or simply stemming from lack of understanding. But coming as it does from someone with demonstrated sympathy to Paganism, it deserves to be taken with utmost seriousness, as should the comments of Chrys Thorsen, Director of the American Buddhist Congress, who in the Winter 1993-4 Green Egg (p. 27) suggests that “many Pagans are still in that militant mode that is a normal part of ‘coming out,’ an early phase that should be matured past “This is, again, somewhat understandable; but the critique is on-target, I feel, in addressing those who are unable or unwilling to progress beyond this stage. I have, again, seen this myself; Paganism is not a religion which most people-within it or without-are yet able to take for granted: its followers tend to either remain “in the broom-closet,” or, if they “come out,” to do so in often flambouyant and sometimes antagonistic ways-a reaction not entirely dissimilar to that of some gays, radical feminists, and members of other self-aware oppressed or marginalized groups. Yohalem (FireHeart No. 7, pp. 79) points out both the similarities and differences between the “coming out” experience of gays and that of Witches and other Pagans, and although the differences must not be downplayed, the parallels are rather striking.
Still, these are stages in the development in what is a very new, as well as very old, religion; they need not become traps unless Pagans themselves allow them to. If Pagans can find the self-discipline to work around or grow beyond those elements (adolescent- style rebellion, anti-intellectualism) which detract from the internal and public credibility of the movement, Paganism may become a means not only for providing common ground between ecofeminists and deep ecologists, but for beginning to heal the still-gaping rifts between God/dess/the sacred, non-human nature, and humankind. Earth-witness in the Pagan context, in which Witches and other Pagans take up the role of “Gaia’s voices,” is not only appropriate, it may be essential. No other Western religion or religious complex has reverence for the Earth, for nature, at the very core of its worldview and practice; perhaps no other religion or religious complex of any kind already contains within it or is able to so easily embrace the insights of both deep ecologists and ecofeminists. To quote Patrick again (pp. 15-16):
I believe that future generations will some day see that the supreme religious irony of our times was this: that those who claimed to be followers of Jesus Christ crucified Paganism (both in Europe and North America), and at the “appointed time” Paganism was resurrected from the dead, bringing with it the gift of new life for all, the salvation of our worldŠ The world needs conscientious Witches to guide the human community back home. The planet needs Pagans of integrity who will be midwives to the birth of a mutually enhancing Earth-human relationship. This is an awesome calling and destiny.
It was mid-March when I began this paper; it is mid-April, now, as I finish it. The Maryland snows have given way to Tennessee rains, the freezing temperatures to floods, both here and in the Midwest. The Wheel of the Year turns, and floods, lightning storms, and tornadoes remind us that humans, for all our knowledge and puissance, are not-yet-the most powerful forces on this planet. I choose to take that as a positive sign. As I look out my tenth-floor apartment window at the lights of streets and buildings, and hear the whoosh of cars driving past, I also smell the faint but soul- nourishing scent of wet earth, and new grass: the earth somehow still contriving, despite the damage even now being wrought by human greed or simple thoughtlessness, to renew itself. While the grass grows and the rains fall, there is hope. Our responsibility is neither to tame the earth and subdue it to our will, nor yet to imagine in our pride that we can “save” it. Our job, it seems to me, is to learn to walk lightly upon our homeworld — our ecological mother as surely as the woman who bore us was our biological mother-and to live, so far as we may, in a symbiotic relationship, human to human, human to non-human, human and non-human alike to God/dess. Paganism is not the saviour of the world, but it may serve as an important strand in the web of life. Perhaps, at this stage in humanity’s development, that is all that can asked.
Works Cited and Bibliography, with Annotations
Adler, Margot: Drawing Down the Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess-Worshippers, and other Pagans in America Today (revised and expanded edition). Boston: Beacon Press (1986). This is unquestionable the best overall survey of the modern Neo-Pagan movement, although only through 1986.
Anderson, William: Green Man: the Archetype of our Oneness with the Earth. San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1990. Discusses the Green Man archetype as he has appeared since pre-Christian times up to the present. Extremelywell-illustrated with excellent color and black-and-white photographs by Clive Hicks.
Berry, Thomas: The Dream of the Earth. Sierra Club Books (1990). One of a new breed of “geologians”; though coming from the Christian tradition, his “new cosmology” is deeply ecumenical and his style almost poetic.
Brown, Tom Jr.: Tom Brown’s Field Guide to Living With the Earth. New York: The Berkeley Publishing Group (1984). One of an extensive series of “Field Guides” to various aspects of living in close contact with nature as a way of life. Emphasizes long-term living, close to the Earth.
Brown, Tom Jr.: Tom Brown’s Field Guide to Wilderness Survival. New York: The Berkeley Publishing Group (1985). Concentrates more on short-term practicalities of survival, but without ignoring the spiritual side.
Campanelli, Pauline: Ancient Ways: Reclaiming Pagan Traditions. St. Paul: Llewellyn Publications, 1991. This and its sister volume, Wheel of the Year (1989), are thoughtful, “homey” discussions of “kitchen witchery,” with lots of fairly accurate historical information.
Devall, Bill: Simple in Means, Rich in Ends: Practicing Deep Ecology. Salt Lake City: Peregrine Smith Publishers, 1988. A well-thought-out and useful discussion of deep ecology as praxis, with plenty of concrete examples.
Devall, Bill and George Sessions: Deep Ecology: Living as if Nature Mattered. Layton, UT: Gibbs Smith, Publisher (1985). The theory of which Simple in Means, Rich in Ends is the practice.
Eisler, Riane: “The Gaia Tradition and the Partnership Future: An Ecofeminist Manifesto,” Reweaving the World: the Emergence of Ecofeminism, Irene Diamond and Gloria Feman Orenstein, eds. San Francisco: Sierra Club Books, (1990). One of a collection of essays on ecofeminist themes; follows MarijaGimbutas’ assessment of Old Europe as peaceful and matrifocal, and portrays this era of peace and plenty as a model for contemporary practice.
Fox, Selena: “1993 Parliament of the World’s Religions,” Deborah Ann Light, “Assembly Representative Report,” and Alice Cascorbi, “Some Parliament Impressions,” Circle Network News: Nature Spirituality Quarterly Volume 15, No. 4. Mt. Horeb, WI: Circle (1993). First-hand reports on the Parliament from Pagan participants, including a signatory of the “Declaration of a Global Ethic.”
Gimbutas, Marija: Goddesses and Gods of Old Europe: Myths and Cult Images (new and updated edition). Berkeley: University of California Press (1982). Survey of Old Europe as a peaceful, matrifocal, Goddess-oriented agrarian culture, as portrayed in its artifacts.
Gimbutas, Marija: The Language of the Goddess. New York: HarperCollins (1989). Continuation of and expansion on the themes of the above work.
Gundarsson, Kveldulf: Teutonic Religion: Folk Beliefs and Practices of the Northern Tradition. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn Publications (1993). A manual for Norse/Germanic reconstructionism, but coming from a strong scholarly stance.
Hutton, Ronald: The Pagan Religions of the Ancient British Isles: Their Nature and Legacy. Cambridge: Blackwell Publishers (1991). Something in the nature of a sympathetic debunking of some popularly-held misconceptions of ancient British religion, combined with a great deal of historical and archaeological data.
Judith, Anodea and Melissa Ellen Penn: “Riding the Great Wheel: A Report on the World Parliament of Religions,” Green Egg Vol. XXVI, No. 103. Ukiah, CA: Church of All Worlds (Winter 1993-4). An account from a CAW perspective.
Keller, Mara Lynn: “The Eleusinian Mysteries,” Reweaving the World: the Emergence of Ecofeminism, Irene Diamond and Gloria Feman Orenstein, eds. San Francisco: Sierra Club Books, (1990). Contemporary ecofeminist perspective of one of the best-known gynocentric traditions of the ancient world.
Kheel, Marti: “Ecofeminism and Deep Ecology: Reflections on Identity and Difference,” Reweaving the World: the Emergence of Ecofeminism.
Leopold, Aldo: “The Land Ethic,” A Sand County Almanac. New York: Ballantine Books, 1966. Deeply ecological before deep ecology existed, this is a classic.
MacCrossan, Tadhg: The Sacred Cauldron: Secrets of the Druids. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn Publications (1991). A rather scholarly manual for Celtic reconstructionists, only slightly marred by MacCrossan’s strongly expressed views.
Patrick, M. Brian: “Pagan-Christian Connections,” FireHeart No. 5. Maynard, MA: Earthspirit Community (1990). Wonderful article exploring the possibilities for true ecumenical dialogue between these traditions. Russo, Vinnie with Sarah Stockwell and Michael Thorn: “Three Perspectives on the Parliament of the World’s Religions,”
Tides: A Journal of Wiccan and Neo- Pagan Spirituality, Volume 2, No. 1. Boston: Tides (1993). Additional first-hand accounts of the second Parliament, held in Chicago.
Spretnak, Charlene: “Earthbody and Personal Body as Sacred,” Ecofeminism and the Sacred, Carol Adams, ed. New York: Continuum Publishing Co. (1993). Very comprehensive and well-written discussion of the “Old Religion”/Gaianspirituality from an ecofeminist perspective.
Starhawk: Dreaming the Dark: Magic, Sex, and Politics. Boston: Beacon Press, 1982. Notes on ritual, small-group process, non-violent resisting; the Appendix on the social history of the Burning Times is worth the price of the book.
Starhawk: The Spiral Dance: A Rebirth of the Ancient Religion of the Great Goddess. San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1989. Probably the most influential single volume in the rebirth of the Pagan movement.
Starhawk: Truth or Dare: Encounters with Power, Authority, and Mystery. SanFrancisco: Harper & Row, 1987. Picks up where Dreaming the Dark left off, and then goes deeper. The Starhawk article in Diamond & Orenstein is an amazing condensation of the basic premises of this book.
Thorson, Chrys: “An Open Letter to the Pagan Community,” Green Egg Vol. XXVI, No. 103. Ukiah, CA: Church of All Worlds (Winter 1993-4).
Yohalem, John: “Coming Out: A Magical Rite of Passage,” FireHeart No. 7. Maynard, MA: Earthspirit Community (1993). Subtitled “Magical Initiation and the Experience of a Non-magical Minority,” reflects on similarities and differences in “coming out” between Pagans and gays (Pagan or otherwise).
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