PaganFM 06/04/14

PaganFM 060416

Musical selections
Heroes and Gods – Deirdre Hebert
Enchantrss, Gypsy, Enchantrsss
Telergy, The Burning of the Library of Alexandria, Hypatia
Wendy Rule, Elemental Chant, Wolf Sky
Earth Magick, Todd Alan and Lady Pythia, Earth Magick
The Dolmen, Gentle Breeze, Dolmenation
Maitri, Saraswayi Uandana, Maitri
Psicodreamics, True Spirit of Nature, Ancient Wisdom
S. J. Tucker, Valkyrie Daughter, Sirens
Spiral Dane, Rise Up, Through a Sylvan Doorway
The Moors, The Snake That Coils Within Without, The Moors
Damh the Bard, The Horned God – an Unofficial Biography, As Nature Intended
Featherscale, Hail and Fairwell, Gypsy Heart

PaganFM Almanac

Today is June 4, 2016 It’s the 156th day of the year.
The Sun in is in Gemini, and the Moon is currently New – or it reaches New at just about the time I’ll finish recording this episode. It will reach First Quarter on Sunday, June 12 – by which time, I hope the next episode of PaganFM will be out.

Friday, June 10, marks the anniversary of the date in 1692, when Bridget Bishop was hanged in Salem, Massachusetts, for the crime of witchcraft. She was the first of 19 executed that year during the witchcraft hysteria. While, currently, in most of the modern Western World, witchcraft is not considered a crime, there are many places on our planet where it actually is, and people are still dying for their religious beliefs.
More on that in a bit.

In our PaganFM Prayer List, please keep my daughter in mind, who will be having surgery on Tuesday, to remove chronic polyps from her sinuses – not in any way what I’d consider a comfortable or easy surgery.

If you’d like to add someone to this list, please find the PaganFM Prayer List over on Facebook.

So, talking in our Almanac about Bridget Bishop got me thinking about religious persecution, and persecution by religious groups.

If you listen to right-wing radio, you’ll hear how in some places, Christians are being persecuted and killed by Muslims – and this is actually true. But the thing is that it’s all religions who are suffering persecution. And which religions are DOING the persecution? It’s whichever religion wields the greatest political power – wherever they happen to be.

Here in the United States, you see Christians trying to deny civil rights to LGBT people – going so far as to deny that transgender people even exist, while, at the same time, trying to pass laws prohibiting us from using public restrooms. You have people like James Dobson, actually lamenting the fact that people like me aren’t killed more often.

Groups like Faith2Action are doing all they can to protest companies that will actually accommodate transgender people. One of their protests was to happen today – so I showed up at my local Target store, hoping to find some protesters. The group called for a protest to run from 10 AM to 2 PM. I showed up just after 10, walked around the store for a bit but saw nobody. At around 10:30, I saw a police officer – but he was, apparently there, for an unrelated matter. I hung around for close to an hour, and saw none of those protesters – I was disappointed.

I’d brought a recorder and was hoping to interview some of these people. I had some rather pointed questions to ask – such as why is it that since all this brouhaha has been going on, that pretty much the only “men” going into women’s restrooms have been men that groups like the American “Family” Association have been sending into women’s restrooms, in order to make the case that there could actually be a problem? Why is it that while these people claim to want to keep women safe, it’s been the protesters who have actually committed crimes? Why is it that they don’t even bother to mention that it’s some of their own – people protesting transgender people’s rights to pee, who were caught holding a young girl captive in a basement?

I don’t want this to be another episode about trans bathroom issues – but I bring this up because it fits in with the whole idea of religious persecution. The groups that are in charge, typically, make the rules for whatever game it is that will be played.

And it’s not just LGBT folk that the religious right have a problem with – it’s also humanism, Paganism, and even liberal Christianity. I remember when Bishop Gene Robinson became the first Gay bishop of the Episcopal Church, here in New Hampshire. That church has had a constant history of threats of schism when women were ordained, when Gay and Lesbian priests were ordained, and when the same were elevated to the position of Bishops. But I also recall the threats against Bishop Robinson’s life. I recall protests by more conservative local churches over what Episcopalians chose to do in their own churches.

Let me tell you this: Threats against an individual’s life, for their religious beliefs, is religious persecution. And it doesn’t matter the reason. If we feel that a religious group is threatening us, and we respond in kind, that’s religious persecution on both sides. It’s a religious war.

But the right-wing idea that conservative Christianity is being unilaterally persecuted is entirely false. Whatever animosity they are feeling is because they, first, have waged war against a society – a society that sees their dogmatic view of what society should be, as largely outdated and irrelevant. Society today doesn’t see homosexuality or transgenderism as a particular problem.

What we are seeing to be a problem is a dogmatic conservatism that refuses to honor personal choices and realities – a dogmatism that purposefully misgenders transgender suicide victims; a dogmatism that will demonize anyone else for different religious beliefs; a dogmatism that is so utterly filled with hubris, that it believes it has the authority to dictate to other Christian churches. It is this dogmatic conservatism that refuses to accept that any other religious institution – if it is not based on their understanding of Judeo-Christian principles – can even be legitimately called a church.

That’s conservative Christianity here in the United States – our local religious persecutor. But it’s not – around the world – only conservative Christianity that is doing the persecuting. It happens in any nation that is ruled by a religion – it could be Islam or Judaism. Recent stories have come out of Buddhist Monks being part of a mob that attacked a Christian church in Sri Lanka.

I suppose that all of this sort of fits in with the idea of Pagan Ethics month … and here is where I see the main part of the problem – whenever religion loses its humility, it is lost. And those who are part of such religions are lost.

I think the first ethic of any religious body must be to remain humble. Humility means that we have the right to make choices, only for our selves. We have no right, no authority, to make religious choices for anyone but us. And that includes, once our children reach the age of reason, for them as well.

As Pagans of any stripe, we ought to recognize that we can’t even decide among ourselves what the word Pagan even really means – we’ve got polytheists – of multiple varieties. We’ve Got Wiccans who believe in a male-female duality, but who see God and Goddess as more archetype than beings. We’ve even got Christo-Pagans and atheistic Pagans. We’ve got Heathens, and what I’d likely call “trans-Pagans” who we count among ourselves, but whose faith is based on things other than nature or traditional religions. A case in point might be the Church of All Worlds, or Druidic groups such as the Reformed Druids of Gaia.

I’ve been pleased to see how little religious intolerance there is among Pagans. It’s true that we do have some infighting, and occasional complaining, but we haven’t got to the point of actual religious persecution. I’m hoping that’s not simply because no groups actually have amassed enough political power to do so.

Certainly, I believe that if Conservative Christianity manages to consolidate enough power in government, that religions like ours, and LGBT people, and pretty much any nonconformist, would be in serious jeopardy. But I also believe that if militant atheists, exclusionary radical feminists, and even Pagans, gained enough political clout, that they would be every bit as dangerous as are conservative Christians right now.

The problem remains two-fold – too much power in the hands of people who lack humility. And humility is very easy to toss out the window, once one has attained a goodly amount of power. So, on the one hand, while I lament the fact that we are still a minority religion, lacking in any sort of clout, I see that also as something of a blessing – it keeps us honest and humble. It keeps us from becoming that which we don’t wish to become.

PaganFM 05/28/16

Paganfm 052816

Musical selections:
John McNair, I’m A Born Again Pagan
S. J. Tucker, Go Away Godboy, Sirens
Peter Bellamy, Oak and Ash And Thorn
Leigh Anne Hussey, Summertime, Uglytown
Vicki Logan, The Forest Glade, Dream Walker
Heather Alexander, Familiar’s Promise, Merlin’s Descendents
Doug Cox, Letter Home, Without words
Gary Stadler, Fairy of the Woods, Fairy of the Woods
Damh the Bard, Forgotten Never Be, Sabbat

So that song was On This Day, written by Charles Strouse. You may think you don’t know who Charles Strouse is, but you really do. Remember the song Tomorrow – The Sun’l come out tomorrow … Bye Bye Birdie, All in the family – these and many others were all his. Honestly, everyone knows at least some of his songs – even though almost nobody knows his name. I learned something today.

Anyway, as we get started, let’s look at our PaganFM Almanac …
Today is May 28, 2016. It’s the 149th day of the year. The Moon is just reaching Third Quarter at 8:13 AM on May 29. The Sun is in Gemini.

Some Pagan Calendars show June 1 of 1653 as being the date that the English Witchcraft act went into force. I haven’t seen a lot of historical data to suggest that’s true. There was a witchcraft act of 1563 – in fact, one in England, and one in Scotland – but I wasn’t able – yet – to show whether either of these went into force on June 1, but I’ll keep looking.

In our PaganFM Prayer List – again, please keep my daughter Mallory in mind for the next couple of weeks as she will be having surgery on her nasal sinuses. Not something I’d wish on anyone.

Hello, Dee!

Just wanted to say that I am so happy you are back to podcasting. I missed Pagan FM, my favourite pagan podcast, a lot.

I wish you all the best in everything you do,

Oxana Poberejnaia

PaganFM Almanac
Today is Saturday, May 28, 2016

Our history, and what we may become.

We’re coming to a unique time in Paganism. Our faith traditions are really quite young – not more than about 65 years or so. And it wasn’t that long ago, when everyone who practiced Paganism came to this faith from some other faith tradition.

Most of us were Christians; coming to Paganism was something of a big deal – we had to reject an indoctrination that told us we were risking eternal punishment by a loving God, who would cause us to burn in eternal flame, should we reject Him. Moving from Christianity to Paganism was literally an act of reverse-brainwashing.

Indoctrination is a word that some of us might not be entirely familiar with. Many of us might have heard it, but not fully understood what it means. Originally, indoctrination meant to “teach”. The doctrines were the teachings of the church, and indoctrination comes to us from the Latin, and originally meant nothing more than teaching.

Over time though, our religious teaching became something different than scholarly pursuits. Scholastically, we’re taught to question what we learn; that’s part of the scientific method. No matter what we learn, we come to understand that all of our “facts” are subject to modification, and even complete reversal as we learn more about our universe. For example, once upon a time, the smallest units of matter were atoms. When I was in school, I learned that that definition had been modified – atoms were the smallest units of matter that retained the property of the elements they comprised, but that atoms were made of smaller things, called protons, neutrons and electrons – and these were the smallest units of matter. Today, the theory is that these elementary particles are made of quarks, and now there is string theory – the truth is that while we were certain what matter was made of when I was young – we now really don’t know. The theory of atoms being constructed of protons, neutrons and electrons is still true, but it’s been modified. This is the scientific method – it’s rational, things are subject to question and modification.

Indoctrination is also teaching, but it has come to represent a form of teaching that is not to be questioned. It claims to offer a version of the truth that is not merely correct, but actually unassailable. This is what much of Christianity claims – a truth which is not to be questioned – and it calls disordered and wrong, anyone who would dare to question it. I find this personally curious, because this attitude does not exist in Christian scripture. Where many Christians today will tell us that the Bible is not to be questioned, even Paul, who to many conservative Christians, is the standard bearer, said in 1 Thessalonians 5:21 “Test all things. Hold fast to what is good”. This was Paul saying “If you believe it, prove it”. He was advocating for the scientific method – even in matters of faith.

But that’s not what Christianity has become. The Bible, the very teachings of Paul who told people to “question everything”, are not to be questioned. This is indoctrination. The word has changed in meaning from merely “teaching”, but to place those teachings within an individual, so fundamentally, that they cannot be questioned. They are taught not merely as facts, but eternal, unquestionable truths, never to be questioned.

This is a danger for any religion as it becomes more mature. This is a danger even for Paganism. There are those among us who still call our religion the “Old religion”, and actually believe it. There are those among us who believe that our religions are “family traditions” in the sense that they believe they are practicing a set of rituals that were passed down for hundreds of years. It is this sort of belief that eventually leads to indoctrination as opposed to teaching.

Now some of you might take a bit of offense when I suggest that there aren’t really family traditions. Here is the thing: If you believe that your particular family tradition has been passed down – perhaps from the Middle Ages – perhaps longer, I would really like to learn more about it. Many of these traditions were examined by actual historians – such as Ronald Hutton – and nobody has found actual evidence of any surviving religious cult from ancient times.

Certainly there are families that have folk traditions involving magical cures and the like – these exist even in my own family. But what hasn’t been shown to exist is any sort of complete system of belief and teaching in any form of witchcraft. Some individuals took modern writing – such as the works of Gardner, Graves or Leland, and mingling these things with their family folk traditions, created something unique, and often beautiful. But it wasn’t in any way, an ancient tradition of witchcraft.

In Hutton’s work, The Triumph of the Moon, he tells of a number of cases in which he was shown presumably ancient Books of Shadows, but in not a single case, was any shown to be of truly ancient origin. If you have, or are part of an actual family tradition that claims truly ancient origins, there are actual historians who would sincerely like to examine the origins of your faith. But here are some give-aways that your family tradition might not be as ancient as you suspect:

If you use an Athame. The word itself is of modern origin. Certainly it’s possible that an ancient tradition made use of a knife or dagger, and merely adopted the modern name, but the word “athame” is modern.

If your rituals look much like those of Wicca. If they do, it’s almost certain that they derived, not from some ancient faith, but from Gardner.

If your tradition is based on a “Book of Shadows”. This, too, is a term invented by Gerald Gardner, coming from an article he read in The Occult Observer, which told of using an indiviual’s shadow as a means of predicting the future. Again, there are many grimoires that are quite ancient, but any suggestion that a tradition has an ancient “book of shadows” is an indication that the tradition isn’t truly ancient.

The reason I bring this up is this: Our religions should be tools that are used to live honest, authentic, and effective lives. If our religions are built on fantasy or lies, they can’t do that. As I said before, we are at a turning point in our faith – we are now at the point, where our Paganism can have three or even four generations of practitioners. We can actually have people for whom Wicca or modern Pagan witchcraft represents the entire living history of a family’s religious heritage. It may be the faith of a child, her parents, and even her grandparents. Our faiths have gone beyond a curious experiment in religion, to something that has become a generational tradition.

It is at this point, that we, ourselves could go from mere teaching, to indoctrination. It’s up to us to teach the truth to our children – to let them know that our traditions are man-made, and that we don’t hold to dogma. There is a reason that our faiths – whether they be Druidism, Wicca, or any other Neo-Pagan path – do not subscribe to any revealed text. Certainly we have some that are inspirational – such as Robert Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land – but we hold none of these as sacred, revealed scripture, that are absolutely true.

The beauty of our faith traditions is that they are adaptable and malleable. They are subject to change and modification, and they are about us, and our relationships with nature. Even though we can now show multiple generations of Pagans, most of us are still here because we have rejected the indoctrination and dogmatism of faith traditions that have stifled an honest search for spirituality; we sought something that was more organic, something that was more about ourselves and who we are. It would be a shame to abandon this, only to turn what we have, into the very thing that we rejected.

June 4 counter protest

When Loretta Lynch announced her response to North Carolina’s HB2, which is one of the most vicious anti-LGBT pieces of legislation yet passed by any State, I responded to her comments in a most visceral manner. I was literally moved to sobbing tears. Writing about my response, I was asked if I would consider writing about my experience for a Pagan periodical, which I did. You can, if you wish, read that article in an upcoming issue of Green egg.

But in writing that article, I realized there was much more to say, and some of it that was very timely.

I began to think of conversations I’ve been having in recent weeks on PaganFM. It moved me to think of the Catholic Priest, Fr. Daniel Berrigan who engaged in activism well into his 80s, and who said that he would cease his activism on the day that he was embalmed.

I have seen many companies step up for equality; companies like Paypal who elected to not build a facility in North Carolina, and companies like Target who have explicitly offered open arms to the LGBT community. In response, self-styled “Christian” organizations like Faith2Action, the American “Family” Association and other groups have taken to loud, inconsiderate and obnoxious protests at Target. They have gone so far as to send men into women’s restrooms and changing rooms in order to instil fear, and to make the case that bad things will result if transgender people are permitted to pee in safety. They need to do this, because there are no reported cases of transgender individuals actually harming women or children in restrooms; they need to invent their own to make anything that resembles a plausible case to support their assertions.

Still, despite a complete lack of evidence that transgender people pose a threat to women or children, these people continue their protests. There is ample evidence in cities and counties that have implemented policies permitting access to public facilities for transgender individuals, that the fear these people are peddling is entirely irrational and unfounded. But these people, indoctrinated in a faith tradition of hatred and intolerance will not relent. They need enemies to fight, and having lost the battle over same-sex marriage, they are off to war against the next group of people that they can paint as abominations – as “icky”.

I’m a Pagan, in part, because I wish to celebrate diversity. I’m part of a coven that typically has about 30 – 40% transgender, or gender nonconforming participants. The freedom to be ourselves is part of what permits us to celebrate our rituals in fullness. We celebrate in fullness when we are fully alive, and fully human, and fully ourselves. Those things that cause us to hide some part of who we are in shame, are those things that hinder our ability to raise energy in circles, they separate us from our gods and goddesses. We can’t, at the same time, stand in power and stand in shame.

Activism is the means we use to stand in our own power. It’s not only a tool that we use to effect change in our societies, it’s also a tool that we use to effect change in our selves. We look up to those who take risks, who are willing to stand up for justice, for what is right. We see these people as brave. But the truth is that it is in the doing of these things that we actually BECOME brave. Activism changes not only society, but those who practice activism. It is something of an amplifier – it helps to make us more powerful versions of who and what we are.

Some of us don’t engage in activism because we are afraid of confrontation, we are afraid of up-ending the apple cart, we don’t want to be seen, we’d rather be invisible members of society who don’t call attention to ourselves. Some of us have more legitimate or more immediate concerns – we are afraid of going to jail, we fear for our physical safety. As a transgender woman, the concept of being jailed is honestly frightening. It’s one of the reasons that I’ve avoided the sort of activism that could be called civil disobedience. If I went to jail, not knowing whether I’d be stuck in a men’s cell or a women’s is truly disturbing. So I’ve taken to, for the most part, less dangerous routes of activism – calling and writing lawmakers; taking part in awareness campaigns – some of which have been quite public, but which still had the permission of local law enforcement and government officials. I engage street preachers, anti-abortionists and others, on a personal level.

But I’ve found that even this form of activism isn’t without risk. On the streets, I’ve had verbal attacks – and on the Internet, I’ve even had threats of rape and death. Fortunately, I know enough to know that the online threats are meaningless. But the first time you receive something like this, it can be unnerving. But it’s important to recognize that the only reason such threats are issued is to frighten and silence someone.

I’ve also had people try to dox and out me. And I’ve learned there is a very useful tool to completely disarm anyone who tries – and that is simple honesty. Online and in public, I’m honest and open about who I am. I’m Dee, I’m trans. I’m not ashamed of who I am. So, as when a couple of weeks ago, some idiot tried a line like “why are you talking about trans people like you aren’t one – what are you ashamed of?” when I spoke in the third person for a particular paragraph, it became more of an opportunity to show this person was an idiotic bully who simply couldn’t be bothered to read. They had, apparently visited my Facebook page and “learned” what I’m constantly open about, and somehow thought they had discovered some secret.

There was a time in my life when I was ashamed of who I was. I was filled with the self-loathing that years of indoctrination in Christian bigotry had cultivated. It nearly cost me my life, and the healing from that also took years. But I learned that when I could had recovered from that, that I was much stronger. We become trapped by fear – we believe that it is dangerous to step outside the lines – we know not what is there, and we dare not go. But when we finally break out beyond those barriers, at least when I broke out beyond those barriers – I found that the the fear didn’t actually keep me safe – it made me fragile. It was the truth and honesty that made me stronger.

The point of this is that truth is never our enemy. It is much more of a sword, a weapon which disarms our opponents.

All of this brings me to the reason I’m writing right now … this hate group, Faith2Action, is calling for protests of Target stores on June 4. I want to be at my local Target store on June 4, and if, and when these people do show up, I want to answer them directly. I want to be there with my own signs, with my own people, and if people are going to be there spreading lies and hatred, I want to be there spreading truth and love.

The hate groups are spreading the lies that permitting transgender people to pee is dangerous, where the truth is that children are more at risk at religious institutions than in bathrooms with transgender individuals. During the time that they have been protesting safe bathrooms for transgender people, multiple “Christian” pastors have been arrested for crimes against children. The only people who have committed crimes in bathrooms were heterosexual perverts, and those perverted hate-mongers who have entered bathrooms to sew hatred and discontentment.

And so, I intend to be at Target on June 4, to speak truth to hatred, and love to intolerance. I’m going to be there, and if these people show up, I’m going to speak to them. And if they don’t want to talk, then I’m going to offer a rigorous and truthful response to them. Whatever lies they offer, the truth will be told.

And I am asking anyone else who wants to get their feet wet in activism to join me. It’s pretty easy – just show up at your local Target store on June 4. And while these pesudo-Christian hate-groups are protesting, show Target shoppers what Loving, honest Pagans and trans-folk are actually about. If the hate groups are blocking doors, escort shoppers yourself. If these people are walking around stores, get in their way – disrupt them. Don’t fight them, and don’t get physical – but disrupt them. If you catch them spreading lies about trans-folk be there to offer a counter narrative. When they talk about “bathroom safety”, ask them directly why it is that so many more children have been harmed by “Christians” and even protesters such as themselves in recent weeks, than by transgender people in recorded history.

I can’t promise that this is a “safe” counter-protest. I can’t promise that none of these “Christian” protesters will do you harm. But if you’re respectful, and if you don’t engage in violence, you’re not likely to be arrested. And in speaking the truth, you’re likely to show shoppers the difference between hate and love. And they are likely to see the difference between Christianity and Paganism. And they will see that it’s the hate groups that are far more dangerous than the transgender community.

So, anyone want to go to Target on June 4?

Paganfm 05/21/16

PaganFM 052116

Musical selections:
Wayne Read, Song for Deirdre
Sede, Would You Say That I’m Mad, Priestess
S. J. Tucker, In the House Of Mama Dragon, Tales From the Road
Gwydion Pendderwen, Sometimes I wonder, The Faerie Shaman
Heather Alexander, Maiden of Spring, Merlin’s Descendents
Heather Dale, Three Queens, Avalon
Raven’s Call, The Wheel Turns, Call of the Raven
Sharon Knight, Double-Edged Sword, Incantation
Todd Alan, Morgan Le Fey, From This Moment On
Wendy Rule, Shine, Deity

Welcome to PaganFM. I’m Dee, your hostess, and guide.

Before we get into the show too far, I want to talk about an interaction I had this week on Facebook. With all of the discussions about North Carolina’s HB2, which basically outlaws transgender people from using bathrooms, at least without being safe, or without outing themselves to the world, there has been some pushback.

Some people have come out with signs – telling transgender people that it’s safe to use their bathrooms. One of these has images of traditional restroom icons – the man and the woman, but it also contains images of a figure that is half male and half female. It has a figure of Chthulu, a unicorn, a tellytubby – and basically says “just use the bathroom – we really don’t care who you are, or how you identify”.

But on Facebook this week, it seems that someone was a bit perturbed by this sign, and suggested that it contains elements of micro-aggression – that it equates people with non-existent beings, and that, in itself, is somehow objectionable. That such a sign is itself a micro-aggression.

I disagree – and I’ve tried to see the sign this way. I think that logically, I can see HOW someone could come to such a conclusion – the symbols of real individuals, and fictitious or imaginary creatures, on the same placard could be construed to be an equating of transgender people with non-existent beings. But just because a thing can be construed in a negative manner, doesn’t mean that it SHOULD be construed in that manner.

In the past, I’ve spoken about politically correct speech, and simple civil speech. I think that suggestions that signs like this might be offensive is really taking either way too far. In a very real sense, if we try to eliminate anything that could be objectionable, we’ll run into some serious problems – because pretty much every bit of humor, somehow, involves things that are in some way objectionable. We laugh at ourselves through the use of placing ourselves – at least in our minds, in situations that might otherwise be objectionable. That’s part of being human.

Take S. J. Tucker’s song Mama Dragon speaks of being human and being Pagan – it finds humor in very real situations. If we were actively looking to take offense, we could find it – we could look at parts of it as making fun of people – but that’s not at all what it’s about – it’s about celebrating our humanity – it’s about having fun – even though we’re all getting older. It’s about celebrating life, and having fun at our own expense.

I think that sometimes we really take ourselves too damned seriously.

Social justice is terribly important, and it’s hugely important to address real aggression. It’s important too, to address micro-aggression. Micro-aggressions can help to formulate and cultivate attitudes of actual aggression. But the question is this: where do we draw that line?

The point was made in this discussion that intention is irrelevant – that the sign is troublesome not because there was or was not any intention involved, but because somehow, it belied simple humor and suggested a more nefarious meaning – of hidden bigotry.

Again, I don’t see that. Further, the comment was made that saying something like “I don’t care if you’re pink with purple polka-dots” should be offensive, because it’s making a comparison with people who don’t really exist.

Again, I can see the mental machinations that might lead to that conclusion, but I can’t, myself, make such a leap. I see it simply as a way of saying I don’t care what you look like – that you could, in fact, appear as something nobody has ever seen – and you’d still be welcome here. I don’t see using hyperbole as equivalent to derision.

I do think that it’s important to have discussions like that, but I think that in the end, we need to come to a point where we are neither oversensitive, nor insensitive. We need to be able to make fun of ourselves, to be comfortable with our differences, and to be aware of our differences, without permitting those differences to divide us.

In our Pagan / Heathen groups, we have some fairly stark differences as well. There is a perennial discussion over whether a person may be truly considered Pagan, depending on whether she is an actual polytheist or not; there are huge discussions about the place of polytheism and whether or not that is the unique and identifying factor that makes us Pagan. There are those who are outright offended when others suggest that “all Gods are the one God”, or “All Goddesses are the one Goddess”

Seriously, if we look for it, we can find plenty to be offended about, and it’s not really pretty.

I’ve also come to find that the real micro-aggressions that we perpetrate, will often come back to bite us. There is a bit of Karma that will come about. There were jokes, for example, about people with bad teeth – I recall a joke about people from nearby towns and why a toothbrush was called a toothbrush and not a teethbrush. And now, that I’m getting older, my own teeth are a problem. I’ll say that I am a bit self-conscious about them, and I’m hoping in the future to have enough money to get that taken care of. I will say that those jokes I heard, laughed at, and told when I was younger, don’t retain the same humor that they once did. I suppose that part of the reason I’m self-conscious is because I actually place value in the societal ideals of what we’re all supposed to look like. I’m seeing a problem with my teeth, as somehow a deficiency in me. And that is the real root of the problem. The teeth will get fixed, but it’s up to me to recognize that they don’t define me.

In fact, just as I was writing this, I had a chance to meet an older gentleman – his name is Bob, and he came into the building looking for his nephew – to bring him a bit of supper while he was working. I spent a little while with Bob, going around the building looking for his nephew. What I realized was that this man certainly didn’t have more luck with his teeth than I did, but I didn’t view him as any lesser of a person because of it. I wonder why I judge myself more harshly than I do others.

In another interaction this week, someone was upset because they were called “An ugly drag queen”. I get that – that is certainly beyond micro-aggression – but I was reminded that I’ve been called at least as bad on more than one occasion. In fact, that was one of my greatest fears – I just didn’t want to look “like one of those”. I found myself giving that person some advice that I try to live with – I’m honest about who I am. I don’t hide the fact that I’m trans. And that is what takes the sting out of any such attack.

It seems to me, that when we take offense at something, it’s often us – ourselves – who put the sting into the weapons that are used against us. Certainly aggression is something to rid the world of. Hatred, bigotry, racism, sexism – these are poisons. And certainly, the victims of these crimes aren’t responsible for these crimes. But one thing that I can say is that we can help take some of the sting away – we can rid that serpent of a good deal of its venom. And one tool we have to do that is to not take the small attacks, or the non-attacks, as seriously.

Most of these people are trolls – they want reactions. When someone thinks they’ve dug up the dirt on me, and thinks they’ve “outed me” as trans – and then discover that they’ve learned nothing that I’m not already open about – just about everywhere – it’s they who are deflated.

But the people who are trying to be our allies – these aren’t the ones that we should be fighting. These people shouldn’t be the focus of our anger or frustrations. If something really hurts us, obviously we should speak about it, but when someone posts a humorous sign saying “everyone is welcome”, that’s not the right time – in my humble opinion – to put on our social justice warrior battle dress. I see it as more of an opportunity to learn a bit more about humor, and to find the funny rather than finding the faults.

The point is, that I’m learning the meaning of micro-aggression, aggression, and being able to find humor in a situation. If I can find the humor, I can ignore the perceived fault. But if I’m looking only for fault, I’ll always find it, and those around me will see me as a pissed off trans-woman with an axe to grind – and that will help to formulate their opinion of what trans women really are.

I’d rather have people get to know me first, as someone who is happy, who they can talk to, who they can ask questions of, and who they can trust. When they are comfortable enough with that, they’ll become comfortable enough to ask me about things that are micro-aggressive, and why they matter. But if I start there, I’ll turn them away every time.

We ought to know by now that we don’t build community by building walls.

Tonight, we will have an interview with Karen Tate. We had a great discussion earlier this week that touched on a wide range of topics – from faith and feminism to politics and activism. That will be coming up in a few minutes. Before we get to that, we’ll have a bit of music, and our PaganFM almanac.

PaganFM almanac

Today is Saturday, May 21, 2016. It’s the 142nd day of the year. We’re approaching a full moon, which will be on Sunday, May 22.

The Sun has just entered the sign of taurus.

It’s also the Birthday of Gwydion Pendderwen who was born on May 21 or 22 in 1946. Gwydion was a student of Victor Anderson and a high priest in the Feri Tradition. Gwydion felt himself to be a Druid and spent a great deal of time in seclusion. With a great love of trees, he chose his last name to be Pendderwen, meaning “Leader of Oaks”. Gwydion was an actor and musician, recording some of the first modern Pagan music. He died in an automobile accident in 1982 at the age of 36.

And, in our PaganFM Prayer list – please keep in mind my daughter Mallory who will be having some surgery on her nasal sinuses coming up in a couple of weeks.

paganfm 05/07/16

PaganFM 050716

Musical selections
Pandamonaeon, Chalice and Blades, Dangerous Beauty
Loreena McKennitt, The Mystic’s Dream, A Mediterranean Odyssey
The Waterboys, Gala, The Waterboys

Damh the Bard, The Wicker Man, Sabbat
Featherscale, Silent No Longer, Topaz Stars in a Violet Sky

Laura Powers, Trail of Her Tears, Echoes of the Goddess
Leigh Ann Hussey, The Witches Come Again, Homebrew
Lindie Lila, Gayatri Mantra, Sisters of the Moon

Damh the Bard, The Horned God – an Unofficial Biography, As Nature Intended

Re-launch of PBI

So a while back I had tried to get a Pagan radio network going. The service I was using made it difficult to schedule programming, and I couldn’t guarantee that programs would play at specific times. I’m now getting I’m calling Pagan Broadcasting International up and running with a new service. This platform will allow for both live and scheduled programming. We’ll have many of the podcasts you enjoy available, as well as news programming, such as Democracy Now!

I’m also looking at the possibility of affiliating with Pacifica Network. If this works out, it will provide a couple of different opportunities – first of all, it will provide some relevant content, but beyond that, it will provide an opportunity to feed content back to Pacifica network. This would, if we can take advantage of it, provide an opportunity to have Pagan voices speak to a much larger community.

I want to thank the first sponsor of the reboot – Central New York Pagan Pride. Sponsorship of PBI provides for continual streaming, and as that sponsorship increases, we may be able to air a larger variety of music, as we may be able to afford general music licensing. That licensing though, is about $1,000 per year, so that’s down the road a ways.

If you’re a musician, and you would like your music aired on PBI, or if you’re a podcaster, and would like your show to air, please let me know – you can reach me at

I’m still working on a website, but there is a link to the station at

I’ll have more on this in upcoming shows.

# # #

PaganFM Almanac

Today is May 7, 2016, it is the 128th day of the year.
The moon is just past new, Waxing crescent, and will reach first quarter on Friday, the 13th.
Today is the anniversary of the death of James George Frazier, anthropologist and folklorist Sir James Frazier, 1854 in Glasgow Scotland. (5), (6)

Frazier theorized that all religions began as a belief in magic, with man hoping to control his environment through sympathetic magic. As man’s understanding grew, he progressed to religious dogma, which is ultimately abandoned for science. His work The Golden Bough is a much sought after work by neo-Pagans, who find in it many descriptions of religious practices by untouched civilizations and early peoples.


The Golden Bough went through its own history and scandals. Originally published in two volumes in 1890, it grew to a massive 12 volumes in the third edition (1906 – 1915). Frazer had proposed that even the story of Christ was a recapitulation of more ancient pagan religions.


The abridged edition (itself more than 800 pages) of the Golden Bough, published in 1922 did not contain the more troubling comments on Christianity, but these were replaced in the Oxford University Abridged edition by Robert Frazer in 1994.

PaganFM Prayer List
Jenna Greene, prayers and healing energy for her knees and feet.

Tonight I want to honor someone who passed this past week.
In last week’s show, Phil Kessler and I spoke about “armchair activism”. But there are really different levels of activism. Daniel J. Berrigan was someone who certainly wasn’t an armchair activist. Rev. Berrigan was a Catholic priest – a Jesuit, who took on the Catholic Church, and he was an American citizen who took on the American government.

A staunch pacifist, in 1968, he, his brother, and seven other activists, went into the Draft Board offices in Cantonsville Maryland, and took hundreds of draft records from the workers there. They had told news reporters in advance to insure there would be coverage. They then burned these records in public with home-made napalm.

They released a statement which read, in part, ““We destroy these draft records not only because they exploit our young men but because they represent misplaced power concentrated in the ruling class of America.” and, “We confront the Catholic Church, other Christian bodies and the synagogues of America with their silence and cowardice in the face of our country’s crimes.”

Fr. Berrigan was arrested many times in his life – well into his 80s. Speaking of his activism, he said that he would stop on the day that he was embalmed.

Some of us are afraid to be arrested for one reason or another – for me, my reason has been that I’m transgender. But looking at the work that some Pagans, like Sparrow from the Wigglian Way, and their willingness to put their safety on the line, and then I see a Catholic priest, like Fr. Berrigan – and I start to realize that I’m not risking a whole heck of a lot. Certainly I’ve received my own share of threats, but for the most part, these are meaningless. Fr. Berrigan risked a whole lot more in his long life.

He was also a poet, and so, tonight, here is one of his poems:
A Dark World

As I walk patiently through life

poems follow close –

blind, dumb, agile, my own shadow;

the mind’s dark overflow, the spill of vein

we thought red once but know now, no.

The poem called death

is unwritten yet. Some day will show

the violent last line,

the shadow rise,

a bird of omen

snatch me for its ghost.

And a hand somewhere, purposeful as God’s

close like two eyes, this book.

Civility vs Political Correctness

It’s been disturbing to me, to see what has become an utter lack of civility among many people. While, originally, this was more confined to conservative rhetoric, it seems to be spreading. This abandoning of civility has been going under the guise of a dismissal of “political correctness” in order to “tell the truth”.

Political correctness refers to a manner of speech which is designed to not offend or disadvantage certain groups of people; it is speech that is crafted to be appealing to the widest possible group of people, in order to avoid political repercussions. If a speech disparages a wide swath of people, that, necessarily harms the speaker with a negative response from the public.

This is contrasted with civility, in which we simply show others respect. Certainly a lack of civility would be politically incorrect; if a politician is a rude boor, they will offend others, and, at least in the past, this was considered something negative. Today, it seems, among many, that rudeness is being equated with honesty, and civility as pandering.

The language we use when communicating with each other matters. Words, themselves, have power, and as Pagans, Witches and Druids, this is something we all should have learned in our training. But just as importantly, we should have learned that words matter – not only in our ritual and spell-work, but in our everyday life as well.

The way we speak affects not only the people who hear us, but it affects ourselves as well. If we use angry words, we can actually make ourselves angry too. Our words, our tones, our facial expressions actually work to modify our feelings. Civility, moderating our tone, can have the opposite effect – calming us, and those we are speaking to.

Here in the United States, there is a legal definition of “fighting words”. Sadly, I think, the definition of “fighting words” is being diminished, almost to the point of non-existence. But in my home state of New Hampshire, in a case in 1942, a man, Walter Chaplinsiy, was passing out pamphlets for the Jehovah’s witness church was confronted by a town marshal. Walter called the marshal a “damned fascist” and a “damned racketeer”, after the marshal called the religion a racket.

While what these men said to each other would be deemed quite tame – even in our political speech today, these were harsh accusations for the 1940s, and the court found that Chaplinsky’s speech amounted to “fighting words”, and the part of the resulting ruling read:
“There are certain well-defined and narrowly limited classes of speech, the prevention and punishment of which have never been thought to raise any constitutional problem. These include the lewd and obscene, the profane, the libelous, and the insulting or “fighting words” those that by their very utterance inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace. It has been well observed that such utterances are no essential part of any exposition of ideas, and are of such slight social value as a step to truth that any benefit that may be derived from them is clearly outweighed by the social interest in order and morality.

— Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire, 1942

I’m certainly not advocating that we temper our speech to the point of irrelevance, to the point that we say nothing for fear of hurting someone’s feelings, but might it be possible to consider our words before we use them? Could we make a conscious effort to use more words of blessing than curses? Might it be better to sow peace with our tongues than discontentment?

It’s hard – it’s very hard. It’s hard for me, and I certainly don’t always succeed. Sometimes I want others to feel as bad as I do. When someone says something that hurts me, I want them to feel that sting as well. So, right here, right now, I will be honest and say that I really don’t always practice what I preach. Rather, right now, I’m talking about how I want to be. I think there is language that I should be offended by. There is language I shouldn’t wish to resort to.

I wonder what the world would be like if each of us considered our words to be sacred. What would it be like if we considered each of our words to be part of a blessing, or part of a curse? Because really, that is what they are.

PaganFM 04/30/16

PaganFM 043016

Welcome to PaganFM

Musical selections:
Celia, Beltane Song
Damh the Bard, Hal an Tow, Tales from the Crow Man
Gaia Consort / Bone Poets Orchestra, Beltane Fires, Secret Voices
Gwydion Pendderwen, Beltane Wedding Dance, Songs for the Old Religion
Leigh Ann Hussey, Greenmantle, Homebrew
Psichodreamics, Beltane Moon, Ancient Wisdom
Cernunnos Rising, Blessings of Beltane, Wild Soul
Lindie Lila, Lady Water, Sisters of the Moon

Tonight we have an interview with Philipp Kessler- and it’s a bit of a long chat – when we get talking, we can just go on … so, it is what it is. But there will be a bit less music tonight, so I want to get into the show. We’ll hear a few Beltane pieces, and a bit later something from Leigh Ann to take us out, but for now, sit back, and enjoy.

PaganFM Almanac / prayer list
Today is Saturday, May 30. It’s the 121st day of the year.
The moon reached Third quarter last night, and will be new on Friday, April 6.

And tomorrow, Sunday, is Beltane – for us in the Northern hemisphere, while it’s for some in the Southern hemisphere, coming on Samhain. This creates a bit of controversy for some people – there are those who insist that the holidays be celebrated according to the date, while other maintain that they should be in keeping with the cycle of the seasons – with Beltane in the Spring, and Samhain in the fall – but, for my friends down under – whichever holiday it is that you’re celebrating, I hope it’s a blessing to you.

PaganFM prayer list –
Please keep in mind Rick, Zaracon, Greywolf and Joseph.

So I had an interaction with another podcaster on Facebook this week, in which he mentioned a negative review of his show on Itunes. Someone complained that a show sounded a bit “chatty”. I think the show is pretty good – and they only have three shows up so far, so they are really at the beginning of a podcasting career. The show is Part the Mist, with Jonathan and Arin, and they are a druidic podcast. Anyway, it’s a cool show – give it a listen.

But after the chat, I thought I’d go check my own reviews. And what I found was interesting – there are actually some really good reviews, and that makes me happy. But I found a couple of negative ones too. In general, I think negative reviews can be as- if not more helpful than positive ones – if I’m doing something wrong, I want to know it.

But a couple of reviews sort of made me chuckle – and these were two reviews from people who thought my show was too political. What they want is Paganism and no politics.

I doubt they will be listening, but I want to ask my listeners something here … what part of our lives shouldn’t our spirituality impact? Where should there be a dividing line? Should we say “I want a spiritual show, but don’t you dare talk about science”? Would you really suggest that we can talk about Paganism, but not the environment? What about Human sexuality? What about music, or history?

Certainly my show isn’t ALL politics, but sometimes, politics becomes important. As a transgender woman, politics is, right now, desperately important to me. There are places in this country where if I go out to eat, and need to go to the bathroom, that I’m literally making a choice between my safety and possible arrest. This is politics. But it affects my life, and the choice as to whether I should break the law or risk my own safety is very much informed by, and very much informs my spirituality.

Religion and politics have been intertwined since religion and politics existed. In some cases they were one and the same. Take the case of Jonathan and Arin’s show – they discuss druidism. In ancient times, the Druids were the counselors to the Kings – and the Kings wouldn’t make hardly a move without inquiring of the Druids.

It’s popular today to suggest that religion and politics should be kept separate. And in some ways, I agree – here in the United States, most of us value our religious freedom. And that freedom cannot be kept when government is involved in religion. Religious freedom is best guaranteed when the government remains secular. BUT, and here is the important bit, while our religious freedoms are best guaranteed when government stays out of religion, the reverse is not true. Each of us is guided by our moral views, and for most of us, this involves our religious views. We can’t make moral decisions while abandoning our religious points of view; they are intertwined. Nor are we expected to divest ourselves of our spiritual inclinations when we enter a voting booth. Freedom of religion never implied that we should become irreligious.

But there is another level to this. And that is the role of a teacher. I believe that part of my podcast is to teach. Not in the sense that I’m a professor, spewing my vast knowledge to the uneducated masses, but teaching in the sense that we all have something to learn. When my listeners ask me questions, when they might disagree with something I have to say – these are, for me, opportunities to learn. And one thing I’ve learned about teaching is that the best of teachers are always, themselves, learning.

There is yet one more level of this – and that is that many teachers find a clever way to keep those whom they don’t wish to engage with, away. Some teachers would require of potential students very difficult tasks, or extreme demonstrations of devotion before they were ever permitted to study. In any case, these teachers needed to know that the students who were there, were truly dedicated. And passing some sort of test of devotion was the cost for admittance. We recollect this in some of our circles – when facing the sword or athame, and are asked “how do you enter this circle”. While nobody would be slain today for an incorrect answer, the implication is still there – even if it’s only a faint echo of times passed.

Another interesting note, of at least one of these negative reviews was the name that went along with it. Now please don’t get me wrong here … I don’t want to knock any traditions at all, but there are some who are hijacking some of our traditions for their own political, and racist views. Sadly, some of these consider themselves Heathens – and one example is Odinia.

There was an interesting post on Reddit of late, where a screen shot of a text interaction took place. Someone asked of the Pagan Federation in Ireland “hello, my fiance and I are currently planning a trip to Ireland (from the US) next June of 2017 to get married and honeymoon for three weeks. We are odinists and would like an odinist or similar minded clergy to marry us. We would prefer someone who only performs heterosexual ceremonies and refrains from marrying those of mixed races. If you can help me find someone, that would be fantastic and very much appreciated. Thank you very much for your time and consideration and I hope to hear from you soon. ~ Sarah.

The response by The Pagan Federation was epic (and I don’t use that term often), and very appropriate. It reads: Hello Sarah,
We are 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 Pagan Federation Ireland.

I bring this up because one of the negative reviews came from someone who very well could have been an Odinist, given the screen name they used.

But to go on, that’s not where this particular exchange ended.

One S. Fenner, wrote to the Pagan Federation, saying:
I am writing to determine if the Pagan Federation of Ireland truly supports all Pagan paths, as stated on your website. Image recently received the attached screenshot of a query by an Odinist. (Attached below) Could you please advise us as to if this is indeed the attitude of your organization towards what are known as traditional folkish Heathens?

Best regards, S. Fenner

And again, the Pagan Federation replies in beautiful fashion:
Hello Senna,

Pagan Federation Ireland operates a zero tolerance approach to racism and homophobia, both of which were abundantly clear in the initial communication. Your values, as stated here on your website – – are incompatible with ours. If your religious beliefs or practices incorporate either racism or homophobia, then you will not find a home here. As you seem to wish to make some sort of political issue of this, might we suggest the following: Screenshots are so very amateur, and prone to being disbelieved. For a proven donation of €10 to any Irish Pagan organisation, not necessarily ourselves, or to the Native Woodland Trust –, we will send you a signed copy of the statement on headed notepaper. Laminated if you wish. We will also send you permission to distribute the letter, in its complete form only, as widely as you wish. The €10 will cover two copies of the letter, one of which we will have framed and put on the office wall, lest we ever forget. Yours most sincerely Pagan Federation Ireland
Here’s the thing about this exchange – it is at once, intensely political and intensely spiritual. The two can’t be separated, because they are both about the values that make us who we are. It’s for this reason that many people say that these are the two subjects that shouldn’t be discussed at family gatherings. But think about that for just a moment … when we say that we should gather and celebrate and not discuss religion or politics, what we’re saying is that “we want to gather and celebrate, but avoid talking about what makes us, us.”

The real reason we avoid discussing these things is because we’ve lost the capacity to discus what makes us, us, without resorting to insults and hurtful rhetoric.

But anyway, back to my show. To the individual who doesn’t like politics – here’s a simple answer – don’t listen if you don’t like it! If you don’t like my political views, it’s a sure bet that you won’t like my spiritual views either. I’m a liberal, and my liberal-ness isn’t confined to my political views. As a minister, I’ll celebrate with you whether you’re gay, straight, queer, black, white, Native, it really doesn’t matter. But if you’re a racist, a homophobe, a bigot, anti-trans, if you don’t like Wiccans or Druids or Heathens, if you disparage polytheism or pantheism or pretty much any view, with their believers as “stupid” or ignorant – in short, if you look down on people who simply aren’t like you, then I can’t support that. If you hold the view that only your way can be correct, then you have no business with me, because your way and mine are antithetical.

And that is where the concept of a test comes in. Consider some of my more political rants as that challenge that must be passed for those who might study a bit with me. If you can’t stand what I’m saying, then you haven’t passed the test. But the cool part is that it’s you who will shut the door. But unlike the old masters to whom one could never return, the podcast is here, and there is no key, no secret latch for you to find. The only test is in your own mind … can you stand Dee’s occasional political rants? If the answer is yes, you’re welcome here! Then again, if the answer is “no”, you’re still welcome here – I just don’t think you’ll want to hang around.

Interview with Phil Kessler

PaganFM 042316

Musical Selectionsshadowofthemoon
Peter Bellamy, Oak and Ash and Thorn, Oak and Ash and Thorn
Tuatha Dea, The Landing / Tuatha De Danaan (feat Spiral Rhythm), The Tribe
Damh the Bard, Merlin Am I, The Hills They Are Hollow
Laura Powers, Trail of Her Tears, Echoes of the Goddess
Crow Women, Song of Beltane, Crow Goddess
Loreena McKennitt, Beltane Fire Dance, Parallel Dreams
Jonas Kauffman – Felix mendelssohn, Die Erste Walpurgisnacht
Prince, Purple Rain Requested by Andrew
Emerald Rose, Freya Shakti, Fire in the Head (Live) Requested by Ryan
Telling Point, Legend of the Old Wood, Waiting for Nothing Requested by Elizabeth
Magicfolk, Beltane (Calan Mai), Saltarello
MaterDea, Satyricon, Satyricon
Blackmore’s Night, Ocean Gypsy, Shadow of the Moon, Requested by John
Bob McCarthy, Transfiguration (Electric), Star of the Sea
Brocc, Wren King, 13 Moons
Todd Alan, Gently Johnny, Carry Me Home
The Waterboys, Church Not Made of Hands, A Pagan Place

Well, I got a message from Donnie Harris of Cerulean Kentucky. Apparently, he’s a “Christian” who doesn’t like this whole idea of transgender people being safe in bathrooms. He posted on my Facebook page “Your a nasty pervert Deirdre Hebert!!! I’d like to catch you in the bathroom with one of my kids!!”

As a transgender woman, I need to speak out about all of these transgender laws coming about. Donnie Harris – in his post on my page, demonstrates part of the problem – most of this is about fearful people who simply don’t know what they are talking about. These are people who think they have never shared a bathroom with a transgender person, they are people who have been programmed, through the efforts of cult leaders, to believe that gay and transgender people are pedophiles – because when the real dangerous people can focus attention on another group, their own nefarious deeds will go unnoticed. The efforts that cult leaders go to, to show gay and transgender people as dangerous aren’t simply misplaced, they are an active distraction by people who would really do harm

So, this guy Donnie Harris is upset with me, for supporting the rights of transgender people to pee without being assaulted. I’ve received some comments from people that this is an over-blown issue – that if we just calmed down, this would blow over. But really, it won’t.

Look at the case of Tracy Murphree in Denton County Texas, this would be Sherriff Tracy Murphree, who said on his Facebook page that if a transgender person walked into the same bathroom as his daughter, he would beat the hell out of her. This is the chief law enforcement officer of a county, tacitly encouraging violence against transgender people.

In the movie Billy Jack, Billy once noted that “When the policemen break the law, then there is no law; just a struggle for survival”. And that’s what’s going on with all of these unconstitutional “laws” that are doing nothing but enshrining a perverted understanding of Christian dogma into the laws of a number of states. And it’s this same perverted gospel that informs people like Donnie Hariss and Tracy Murphree, that suggests that people like me are somehow an automatic threat to children.

It’s people like this who are the direct cause of countless beatings and numerous deaths of transgender people throughout the United States, and throughout the world.

And what’s worse, is that it isn’t only transgender people who are suffering. There have actually been cases of women who simply look a little too masculine being assaulted in bathrooms. These people – our American Taliban, are creating an unofficial gender gestapo, and real people are suffering. In one case, a woman, just because she had short hair, was physically assaulted by a security guard at a restaurant in Michigan, picked up and thrown out of a restaurant, because she used the women’s restroom.

But this is what happens, when people use religion to justify their own fears, when they use religion to try to control society. It’s what happens religious leaders use a group of people they don’t like as a scapegoat. But in the end, all it serves is to prevent people from seeing where the real evil happens to be. It keeps their members looking outward, rather than inward. It keeps the leaders of the cults safe.

What’s funny is that this discussion got started on Facebook with a meme posted by some idiot who goes by the name of Dr. Brown. He has a show called Ask Dr. Brown, where people can ask him spiritual questions. He speaks out often against homosexuality – enough, in fact, that one might wonder whether the good doctor protesteth too much.

Anyway, this guy posted a photo of Tim Curry in his role as Frankenfurter, with a question – “Is this a harmless, male-to-female transgender, or is this a heterosexual predator dressed like a woman? And how can your daughter know?”
Now, aside from the obvious – if a person is in a stall – you can’t see them, and they are probably peeing – there is no problem. And if they were at the sink, washing their hands, or touching up their make-up – again, no problem. But if they were peeking under the stalls, it wouldn’t matter what they looked like – those people are the problem.

But, anyway, my response was this: “This is neither – it’s Tim Curry playing a fictional role in one of the most popular cult-classid films of all time, designed to be campy and outrageous. The sad part is that too many people are too stupid to notice this …” I went on to point out that more Republican men – indeed, more Republican Federal legislators, have been caught in bathroom sex-crimes than have transgender women.

Anyway, the post is currently one of my top rated responses – with almost 1600 likes, and the conversation has gone on for almost 400 replies. I’ve had people concerned for my soul, I’ve had people try to say this law isn’t about transgender people, and then there was Donnie Hariss who felt so compelled to reach out to me on my Facebook profile picture.

Meanwhile, Kudos to Target, who said that they, as a corporation, support everyone, and that people can use the bathroom that corresponds to their gender identity. At least somebody in this country is thinking!

Anyway, I needed to share this – in part, because I’m transgender, and in part because I promised sweet little Donnie, that if he didn’t request that I not mention him on the air, he’d get his own shout-out! So congrats to Donnie, for being the first uber-bigot Facebook stalker that I call out on my show.

# # #

PaganFM Almanac

Today is April 23, 2016. It’s the 113th day of the year. The Moon is waning Gibbous, and will reach the Third Quarter on April 29. The Sun is in Taurus as of April 20.

It was on this day in 2007, that the VA formally recognized the Wiccan pentacle as an emblem of faith on VA issued tomb-stones. The case that brought this about was that of Sergeant Patric Stewart, who died on September 25, 2005, when his helicopter was shot down by an RPG in Zabul province, Afghanistan.

In 2006, the Attorney General of the state of Nevada said that the State governments – including Nevada had jurisdiction over state veteran’s cemeteries, and thus, could authorize the use of the Wiccan symbol, but this did not solve the problem for veterans in other states.

By this time in 2007, Wiccans had been fighting for recognition of their emblem of faith on tombstones for some nine years. Americans United for Separation of Church and State filed suit on behalf of Roberta Stewart, Patrick’s wife, on November 13, 2006. The argument was that by maintaining a specific list of only 38 religions entitled to have their emblems of faith, that the VA was showing favoritism toward those particular religions. The VA decided to settle the case, and on April 23, 2007, Wiccans throughout the United States, were able to have their own emblem of faith on their tombstones. There was also established, a legal pathway for individuals of other faiths not then recognized, to obtain their own symbols.

PaganFM Prayer List

For Holli Emore, who suffered a bad break of her arm, and has recently had surgery to fix it, and for Rick – High Priest of MoonPool Coven, who had surgery on Friday, and who is facing some 6 – 8 weeks of recovery.

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Being open to the unexpected …
We live in a world where we want everything planned out. If a meeting is supposed to begin at 1:00 PM, for example, we want it to start on time. If it lasts longer than expected, there is often hell to pay. We don’t like the unexpected, we don’t like twists in our plans.

Sometimes, we go so far to avoid things that disrupt us, that we will disrupt our own plans specifically to avoid encountering things or situations that we might not even be able to plan for. Consider how many of us will not travel on highways during certain times of the day – just because traffic might be more dense during those hours – even if we’re on vacation. We have this need to “avoid traffic” – we don’t want to drive slowly, we feel trapped, we need to move at a rate that is “comfortable” for us.

The problem with this avoidance of traffic and the altering of our plans to accomplish it, just so we can maintain a high rate of speed on the highway, is that it really gains us nothing. If we get up earlier to “beat the traffic”, all we managed to do is to start the day earlier, earning us less sleep than we might have otherwise had, and started our day off, already in a competition with other drivers.

And if we delay our departure to miss the morning rush, unless we’ve found something enjoyable or productive to do with that time, we’ve wasted it, and we’ve guaranteed that wherever we’re going, we’ll get there later.

So, why do we do this? Why do we feel a need to be so controlled by clocks and times and driving quickly enough for whatever journey we are taking? Why is it that someone driving at around the speed limit is so intolerable? Why is it that we can’t stand it if a meeting starts a couple of minutes late? Why can’t we stand the unexpected?

Another situation that might be problematic for us is with our children. As parents, many of us have hopes and dreams for them. This is natural – every parent wants a happy, successful, healthy child. Some of us go so far as to have plans for our children – by the time they are out of diapers, we have their lives planned out – from college to boyfriend to career, to family – we have our dream for them. We know what “should be”. And when those plans don’t grow to fruition, we feel let down, we feel resentful.

It might be that our child is sick, or gay, or trans, or that they have other wishes for their future, that we hadn’t considered. The problem with expectations for our children, is that as well as we might think we know them, they aren’t us. They have their own desires, wishes and dreams, and when we try to impose ours on them, we rob them of what is authentically theirs.

But sometimes those waits in traffic can give us the opportunity to try something new – maybe we can get off that highway and try a back way we didn’t know about. Maybe the child who follows a path we hadn’t chosen for them, will get an opportunity to fulfill their lives in ways that we could have never imagined. They might abandon our “safe” road, and wind up doing something we could only wish we might have had the courage to try.

It’s been said – at least by me, that expectations are the seeds of resentment. When we expect something, when we see something as how we believe it should be, when those plans change, we can take it personally.

It’s difficult to live in a world such as the one we have today, without expectations. Everything comes with its own set of expectations. We EXPECT broad-band Internet connections everywhere from our coffee shop, to the local pizza house. We expect trains and buses to be on-time, and certainly don’t expect them to be early! We expect people to be compassionate and civil. We expect physicians to heal what ails us. We expect the food to be to our liking at restaurants.

On Sunday, I had one of my own expectations challenged. I play guitar for a coven’s meetings in Haverhill, Massachusetts. It’s convenient for me. While this coven meets about 35 miles from my house, the local train station is 2 blocks from my home, and the station in Haverhill is a few blocks further from that station – still less than a mile away.

The circle starts at 6 PM, so I leave my house around 4, get into Haverhill at a quarter before 5, and at about 5PM, I’m at the UU church, where I can tune up, get a little more practice in, and relax. Usually our meetings get done around 10. We clean up, and I can take it easy, getting to the train station in plenty of time for the 11:48. I’m home easily by 12:30 and I can feed my cat, give her some attention, and then get to bed. It works out great! Except for the unexpected.

You see, last Sunday, our circle went on a bit longer. We got done at 11:30. But fortunately with the train station less than a mile away, I wasn’t really worried. That’s 18 full minutes – and someone gave me a ride. Then we hit a red light, and the sensor wasn’t working but we still had about 8 minutes to get there – and with 5 minutes to spare, we got to the train station – just in time – to see the train leaving 5 minutes early.

Well, the woman who gave me a ride needed to get home, so I figured I’d go into the parking facility to see what could be done about this situation. The next available train home was at around 9:00 AM. It was now about midnight, and I hate calling people, so I looked at a map. Between Haverhill and my home of Dover, there isn’t much. One city between, was Exeter – I could catch a bus from there, to my home – but even that wasn’t until around 9:00 AM. And I really didn’t have the money to spend on a hotel room, so I figured – what the heck – and with my crummy backpack (which weighed about 30 lbs with my computer, music books, music stand, etc.) and my guitar, which in the case, weighs another 6 pounds or so.

Anyway, I figured that a walk of about 18 miles wouldn’t be too bad – maybe six hours or so, and I could hang out in Exeter for a while, and then catch a bus home.

What I hadn’t expected was the weight of the pack, and that it wasn’t really designed for that type of walk, nor the fact that while my guitar weighs only about 6 pounds – that that can sort of add up over time … nor did I figure that the shoes I was wearing – quite light sneakers with little padding – would figure into this significantly.

Anyway, I did walk, and I did make it to Exeter – having walked around 20 miles that night – in somewhere between 7 and 8 hours total. But in the end, I’m really glad that I did it. I wasn’t expecting to be quite as sore as I was that day – and the next – but the experience of walking in what is pretty much a wilderness area – with few homes and very little traffic around was really wonderful. I heard frogs that I’ve never heard in New Hampshire before, I got to see lots of local wildlife – from skunks to wild turkeys, deer, and a few other creatures that I never got a chance to identify.

I suppose that what I’m getting to is that the unexpected doesn’t need to be something to be afraid of, or shunned, or suffered through – rather, it’s something that can bring another layer of fulfillment to our lives.

Certainly I’m not looking to repeat that walk soon – at least not without a better pack and better shoes. But what I am suggesting is that sometimes, the unexpected can be an opportunity. It can be an opportunity to challenge ourselves, it can be an opportunity to grow. It can be an opportunity to learn or experience something both new and exciting.

Expectations are the seeds of resentment, but the unexpected can, if we let it, lead to some of our most beautiful memories and experiences.

I guess that what I’m saying tonight is this: don’t fear the unexpected. Leave some room in your life for things that aren’t planned, for things that don’t have a certain outcome. Leave room for adventure, and be calm and open enough to experience it. Because, really, if we plan everything, how can we ever be surprised?

I’ve heard people say “I don’t like surprises”. Really, I don’t know anybody who doesn’t like surprises. What they don’t like is bad surprises. Be open to the surprises – they’re what make our lives worth living.

PaganFM 110214

PaganFM Prayer List

Weather, underwriting, etc.

Today we welcome the Rev. Dr. Karen Tate back to PaganFM.

Dr. Tate is a scholar, speaker, radio show host, tour leader, activist, and the host of Voices of the Sacred Feminine Radio – an Internet radio program that has been airing for the past nine years. Karen’s previous titles include: Sacred Places of Goddess: 108 Destinations, Walking an Ancient Path: Rebirthing Goddess on Planet Earth and Goddess Calling: Inspirational Messages and Meditations of Sacred Feminine Liberation Thealogy. On her radio show, she has spoken not only just about everyone one might consider a leader in the Goddess spirituality movement, but she has brought together many people from many different spiritual paths, and could be considered an important bridge-builder between many spiritual traditions.

Her latest work, Voices of the Sacred Feminine is a collection of essays and interviews that highlights the fact that feminism and Goddess spirituality aren’t simply things that some people do, but are arguably the only way out of the quagmire that none but the most ardently and purposefully blind must admit that our world is finding itself further and further submerged.

And that said, here is that interview with Karen.

PaganFM Almanac

Hi I’m Carl, and this is the Pagan FM Almanac for November 2nd, 2014.

Please note that all moon void of course data is courtesy of

Today is Sunday, November 2nd, 2014 and it is the 306th day of the year.

The waxing gibbous Moon is in Pisces, and the Sun is in Scorpio.

The Moon will be void on Monday, November 3rd at 8:52 AM and will enter Aries at 6:56 PM.

The moon will be void on Wednesday November 5th at 11:27 AM and will enter Taurus at 9:41 PM.

November’s Full Moon, the Mourning Moon, will occur on Thursday, November 6th at 5:23 PM.

The moon will be void on Friday, November 7th at 3:26 PM and will enter Gemini on Saturday November 8th at 2:06 AM.

On this day, November 2nd, in 1947, Howard Robard Hughes Jr. answered skeptics within the US Senate who were questioning his use of government funds to develop a heavy transport aircraft known as the H-4, but more commonly known as the “Spruce Goose”. Originally conceived for use in World War II, the aircraft was the largest airplane ever built, with a wingspan longer than a football field. The H-4 was capable of carrying 750 fully-equipped troops or two 30-ton Sherman tanks with full crews. Oh, yes – and because of a wartime shortage of metals, the plane’s body was constructed of birch and spruce wood, hence the name. Unfortunately, the H-4 was not completed until after World War II was over, and some members of Congress were questioning whether Hughes’ craft was airworthy at all and not simply a waste of taxpayers’ funds. In typical Howard Hughes fashion, he left the congressional hearings and returned to California, where he gathered several media and corporate figures and, with himself personally at the controls, took the H-4 prototype for what were supposed to be three taxiing demonstration runs. More precisely, Hughes went on two taxiing demonstration runs, and, much to the surprise of his press and industry passengers, a flight – the first and last the Spruce Goose would ever make, demonstrating the craft’s airworthiness and silencing Hughes’ Congressional critics once and for all.

On November 3rd in 1503, an Italian artist, having not had much work recently, accepted a commission for a private portrait of one Lisa del Giocondo. The resulting work sold for about $9,000 in today’s money. Good deal, yes? Except that the artist was one Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci, and the portrait, known today as the Mona Lisa, was valued at its most recent appraisal at just over three quarters of a billion dollars in today’s money. No wonder she’s smiling…

On November 4th in 1923, after seven years searching in the Valley of Kings against conventional wisdom that said all tombs in the area had already been found, archaeologist Howard Carter’s party discovered a series of stone steps leading down to a sealed doorway. It would be three weeks before the stairway was excavated sufficiently for Carter to breach a small hole in the upper left corner of the door, allowing him to peer in by candlelight while his fellow workers, as well as his benefactor, Lord Carnarvon, waited. In response to Carnarvon’s question “Can you see anything”, Carter responded with one of history’s most famous, and most under-stated, understatements – “Yes – wonderful things”. “Wonderful things”, indeed – nothing less than the most magnificent collection of Egyptian antiquities ever discovered, comprising the complete, undisturbed and intact tomb of King Tutankhamen, aka King Tut.

November 4th, as the Tuesday after the first Monday of November, is Election Day in the United States. If you are fortunate enough to live in Puerto Rico, Ohio, West Virginia, New York, New Jersey, Hawaii, Kentucky, Montana or Delaware, Election Day is a civic holiday. Otherwise, get out there and vote anyway!

November 5th is Bonfire Night, aka Guy Fawkes Night or Guy Fawkes Day, in Great Britain. It commemorates the day in 1605 when Guy Fawkes was arrested as authorities discovered a stash of explosives hidden beneath the British House of Lords, placed there by Fawkes and other members of what has come to be known of as the Gunpowder Plot. With a charming sense of propriety that is so distinctively British, apparently the appropriate way to celebrate the failure of a group to blow up a stash of explosives is to set off your own stash of explosives, or more sedately, light a bonfire. Rule Britannia indeed.

November 6th is International Saxophone Day, celebrating the birth date in 1814 of Adolphe Sax, the inventor of the saxophone. Sax wanted to combine the flexibility of a woodwind with the power and presence of a brass instrument. Strangely, despite its popularity today, the saxophone is still not considered a standard member of a symphony orchestra. Come on Maestros, it’s been two hundred years – let’s put an end to sax-based discrimination.

On November 7th in 1940, the Tacoma Narrows Bridge in Washington State suffered a catastrophic structural failure when it collapsed into the Tacoma Narrows as the result of a steady wind blowing at a mere 42 miles per hour – well below the bridge’s designed tolerance of 120 miles per hour, but precisely in tune with the bridge’s “pitch”, causing the structure to vibrate itself apart just as a glass will shatter if bombarded by sound waves of the proper frequency.

Finally, on November 8th in 1994, Salvatore Phillip Bono, aka “Sonny” Bono, was elected to the US Congress. Sonny, ex-husband to Cherilyn Sarkisian, aka Cher, distinguished himself as a congressman and won re-election in 1996, just prior to his passing as the result of a skiing accident in 1998. In 1995, Bono reportedly used his unique expertise to advise Newt Gingrich on how to handle his newly-acquired celebrity. Sonny, you are missed – luck for Newt he had you, babe.

And this has been the Pagan FM Almanac for November 2nd, 2014.

Practical Pagan, the power of the vote

Tuesday is the day that we elect our state representatives and members of congress here in the United States. To some people, the mid-term elections seem relatively unimportant – but I want to ask you – if they are really unimportant, why would our special interest groups have just spent something like $4 Billion on them?

The truth is that they are important. These offices aren’t merely symbolic – they will chart the course for the future of our country – at least for the next two years, and likely beyond. And it’s up to us to make that choice.

The four powers of the sphinx are To know, to will, to dare and to keep silent. These powers are important in Thelema, and they should be important in any magickal religious system. And we should remember them when it’s time to cast our vote.

Let’s look at each of these as it comes to voting.

To know. All too many of us are spoon fed the information that we have via a single source. Our favorite news source might be Democracy Now with Amy Goodman, or we might enjoy the cast of characters on Fox. But the problem is that if we get our information from one source, we’ve got just one point of view to inform our opinions and choices. Honestly, if we are informed by only one viewpoint, we don’t really “know”. It’s not without a bit of irony that one study found that those who got their “news” exclusively from Fox, knew less about current events than those who don’t pay attention to news at all. If we’re going to make wise choices, we need to have a much broader view of issues and candidates. Admittedly, with elections on Tuesday, we don’t have a lot of time to dig deeply, but we can still look at our candidates and find a variety of viewpoints.

To Will. Nothing happens, anywhere, without some sort of will setting that thing into motion. If I do a thing, I have willed it. I’ve never found myself eating, drinking, driving a car, having children, loving someone, responding in joy or anger, or anything else, without on some level, willing it. Our will is the most powerful force that we possess, and nothing comes into our lives that does not involve that will. When we cast votes, it’s important to know, for ourselves, what our will is. What sort of energy is it that we are wishing to cultivate in this world? When we cast our votes, that is energy we are supporting; that is our will put into action.

To Dare. Sometimes we can dare things that are beyond the realm of possibility. I recall a scene in Top Gun in which the commander said to Maverick “Son, your ego is writing checks your body can’t cash.” We need to be daring, but our daring needs to be informed with truth. I’ve heard many people say they will vote for a third party because they are disgusted with the other two. Here’s the thing – the time to support a third party is long before election day. If a third party doesn’t have a viable chance of winning, then your protest vote isn’t merely a vote for the lesser of evils – it’s a vote for the worst. I’d like to remind you that the lesser evil is still the lesser evil. And the time to change that evil to good isn’t merely on election day – it’s throughout the years, in the period between elections.

If you want to support a third party, by all means do! But if your motive for supporting a third party is one of disgust or because you don’t like something that’s going on, but you’re not willing to support that third party between elections, if you’re not going to get involved, then what, really, are you doing?

To stay silent. A number of Democratic Candidates have made news because they wouldn’t say whether or not they voted for Obama. Michelle Nunn, in Georgia was one such, whose silence made news in the last week or so. Some in magick say that to speak of a spell is to dilute it’s efficacy, or to weaken it. I’m not going to say much about that, but I know that those who are asking Democratic – or other candidates who they voted for, are doing so merely tie an albatross around the neck of the candidate in question. They are trying to impugn the character based on who that individual may have voted for.

The only advice I can offer is this – what sort of country to you wish to live in? What’s important to you? And who is credibly offering the best pathway to get there? And look at the way things are – and the way things were two, four, or six years ago? How do we get from where we were, and where we are, to where we wish to be? And ask those who promise a change in direction, exactly how they intend to get where they are promising to take things.

Lastly, don’t forget magic – cast spells if that is what you do – light candles, say prayers. And in the next two years – be active. If nothing changes, nothing changes – and that change is best found in each of us. It’s up to each of us to struggle for that change – not just on election day, but on the days between. Election day is important – but that is the culmination of the work.

PaganFM 091114

PaganFM Prayer List
Debra, Bill, Mike

Musical Selections
Artist, Track, Album
Arthur Hinds, Children of Cernunnos, Dance in the Fire
Bell Book and Canto, I Heard the Valkyries Cry Last Night, Invocation
Damh the Bard, Spirit of Albion, Spirit of Albion
Darlene Koldenhoven, Greensleeves, Tranquil Times
Kellianna, The Ancient Ones, The Ancient Ones
Spiral Dance, The Burning Times, From the Mist
The Gypsy Nomads, Yes I’m French, Happy Madness
MaterDea, Awareness, Satyricon
Lindie Lila, Lady Water, Sisters of the Moon
Sacred Ancestors’ Chant, Lisa Thiel, Invocation of the Graces
Jenna Greene, Believe, Crossroads
Gary Stadler, Fairy of the Woods, Fairy of the Woods
Gwydion Pendderwen, Harvest Dance, Songs for the Old Religion
Emerald Rose, Wheel of Fortune, Archives of Ages to Come
Celia, Red Alabaster and Blue, Red Alabaster and Blue

The Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions have announced the location for the 2015 parliament, which will be held here in the United States, in Salt Lake City.

For those who wonder what the CPWR is, this is their mission statement:
The Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions was created to cultivate harmony among the world’s religious and spiritual communities and foster their engagement with the world and its guiding institutions in order to achieve a just, peaceful and sustainable world.

To accomplish this, we invite individuals and communities who are equally invested in attaining this goal.

2015 marks the first time in more than 2 decades in which the parliament was held within the United States. Salt Lake City was chosen because of the natural beauty of the area

Past speakers at the Parliaments have included Nelson Mandela, HH the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, President Jimmy Carter, Nobel Peace Prize Winner Dr. Shirin Ebadi, Queen Noor of Jordan, Dr. Jane Goodall, Dr. Karen Armstrong, Swami Vivekananda*, Rabbi David Saperstein, Dr. Hans Kung, Deepak Chopra, and Amma the Hugging Saint.

It was last year that after a bombing in Madrid, the Council faced a huge financial shortfall, and Pagans here in the United States stepped up to the plate, lending their voices and support to the cause of the CPWR. A number of prominent Pagans have been part of previous parliaments, including T. Thorn Coyle, who said “Our time at the Parliament in 2009 was powerful. We spoke with religious people from all over the world – Aboriginal shamans, Coptic priests, Buddhist nuns, Zoroastrians, Shinto priests, Muslims, and Hindus. The Parliament makes space for this. The Parliament draws people together toward a meeting ground of mutual understanding. In a world divided by fear, this work is vital. “

Margot Adler also spoke highly of the CPWR, saying “Since 1893 the Parliament has been the primary place where the religions of the world have come together, exchanged ideas and fostered tolerance, cross cultural exchange and understanding. This is such important work!”

Personally, I’m hoping to attend in Salt Lake – we’ll see what the not so distant future brings.

Coming up on September 21, will be Eastern Mass Pagan Pride Day.
Magical traditions from all over New England will gather together on the field at Winnekenni Castle 347 Kenoza Ave, Haverhill, MA 01830 to connect with the powers of Mother Nature. Participants of this family-friendly event will enjoy educational workshops, entertainment, children’s activities and the bewitching wares of many vendors and craftspeople. Admission will be a donation of non-perishable food.

Some of the performers currently scheduled at this year’s event include: Kellianna, Brian , Derek and Ed, Alaina, Sharon Wells, Jennifer Lavigne, and Rich Roby

Yours truly is also planning on showing up – I’ll be offering a workshop on The Pagan in Recovery.
Hi I’m Carl, and this is the Pagan FM Almanac for September 11th, 2014.
Please note that all moon void of course data is courtesy of
Today is Thursday, September 11th, 2014 and it is the 254th day of the year.
The waning gibbous moon has been void of course since 4:11 PM today and will enter Taurus on Friday September 12th at 2:26 AM.
The Sun is in Virgo.
The Moon will be void on Saturday, September 13th at 8:57 PM and will enter Gemini on Sunday, September 14th at 7:58 AM.
The Moon will be void on Tuesday, September 16th at 5:34 AM and will enter Cancer at 5:17 PM.
The Moon will be void on Thursday, September 18th at 5:07 PM and will enter Leo on Friday, September 19th at 5:14 AM.
On this day, September 11th, thirteen years ago, our country was attacked by low men.
Men – because to call such bipedal vermin animals insults animals. Other species kill from instinct. Even a rabid dog’s behavior is caused by madness, not malice. Man is the only creature that kills for politics, for religion, for power, for greed, for vengeance, for spite…and for evil.
Low men (with apologies to Stephen King), because by any measure civilized society uses to gauge humanity, these nineteen fell woefully short. They hide their evil behind a mask of religion the way the Nazis hid theirs behind a mask of government. They “fought” by attacking the unwary, preying upon the innocent. But there is no honor in a blindsiding, no glory in a sucker-punch.
Enough about them – theirs are nineteen stories of evil incarnate, monotonously similar, equally vacuous and ultimately signifying nothing. More important are the three thousand tragic stories of lives cut short, as well as the thousands upon thousands of stories of bravery, compassion, heroism, selflessness and courage associated with that day.
For instance, the story of forty randomly-selected, typical Americans, untrained and unarmed, each of whom woke that morning, committed simply to getting on a plane and flying from Newark to San Francisco. Instead they found themselves faced with four low men, trained, armed, each of whom woke that morning committed to dying. Did I say they were unarmed? Actually, those forty Americans possessed one weapon that no one else that morning had – knowledge. Because their flight had been delayed, they heard what happened in New York, and armed with that tiny advantage, they took action. We will probably never know for certain the real target of United Flight 93 (my money’s on the White House, but the Capital Building would be easier to hit), but we can be assured that the target was not an empty field in western Pennsylvania. Those Americans, those heroes, at the cost of their own lives, defeated the low men and saved Goddess only knows how many other Americans’ lives.
Our northern neighbors in the Canadian province of Quebec have a motto: “Je me souviens”. Translated, it means simply “I remember”. It describes not merely the act of recollection, but an attitude, a mind-set that summarizes this pagan’s approach to dealing with the memories of September 11th, a strategy combining the duality that is the center of our existence with the yearning for balance that is the core of our spirit.
And so, on this September 11th, when the sun is in the sky, the God is with me. The fighter, the protector, the doer. With His guidance I will live this day. Carpe diem indeed – I will seize this day and reclaim it from those who would desecrate it with evil. I will feel the sunlight on my face, and I will celebrate, for there are things to be celebrated, not only epic feats like Flight 93’s hard-won victory, but everyday things – people were born (and will be born) on September 11th, people were married, deeds were done and milestones were reached, and I will commemorate them and enjoy the happiness that these things deserve, because to do otherwise is to allow low men to control me, and I refuse to yield to them that power, I refuse to give them that satisfaction.
Later, when the sun has gone, the God sleeps, and the moon rules the sky, the Goddess is with me. Mother, nurturer, feeler, carer. There, in the moonlight, in the privacy of my room, when this microphone is silent, the radio turned off, and I am at my altar, alone save for the Goddess and the spirits of this day’s dead. Then, je me souviens – I remember – je me souviens.
And this has been the Pagan FM Almanac for September 11th, 2014.
Practical Pagan
Free will vs determinism

Modern science has been answering more and more of our questions – with remarkable efficiency. When I was born, 54 years ago, we had not yet visited the moon. While there were computers, they were extraordinarily large and power hungry – the idea of a personal computer was a thing of science fiction. Most people didn’t have color televisions, and many programs were broadcast live. And what electronics there was, was far and wide based on vacuum tube technology. Genetics was an idea, but the DNA molecule wasn’t yet understood. Transplants were a thing of the future, and many diseases that are routinely fatal today were deadly and quite feared. Automobiles weren’t nearly as safe, and telephone calls to other countries were wildly expensive. There were no satellites, no GPS, there was no Internet, no Google, no Wikipedia, and certainly no podcasts.

By the time I got to school, things were already changing. I remember taking science classes, where we knew about DNA, RNA, cellular reproduction and other things that were mysteries merely years before. We were regularly visiting the moon, and by the time I got to high school, we were planning the shuttle program. Already, satellites were being used for network television and telephone systems. Personal computers were available for the technically inclined – though the were large, and by modern standards, quite slow. In the late 1970s, Seymour Cray had built the first computer to perform more than 1,000,000 floating decimal point operations per second.

Along with the advancements in hard sciences, came increased knowledge about human psychology, and scientists were becoming increasingly able to understand and predict what we might do next. EEG machines were probing the secrets of our minds.

Then came the 1980s and 1990s, with technology such as CAT, MRI and PET scans, and increaing understanding of chemicals that affect our brains and neural pathways. In electronics, the development of neural networks and artificial intelligence.

Years ago, it was posited by the French scientist Pierre-Simon Laplace, that if we knew the position and momentum of every particle in the universe, that we could predict everything that might happen afterward in that universe. Stephen Hawking recounts in his essay “Does God play dice?” that Napoleon asked Laplace where god fits into this equation, and Laplace replied that he hasn’t needed God in his hypothesis. This was pretty much the advent of scientific determinism – that there is no need for God, no need for mysticism, and, indeed, the idea that even what we think is predetermined.

I don’t expect most listeners of this program to know who Laplace is. When we’re in elementary or high school, he’s not one of the scientists we’re likely to hear of. We’ll hear of Newton, Einstein, Descartes, Edison and many others, but Laplace is often off the list, and we might be tempted to think that he wasn’t as important as many of the rest. But the truth is that he was one of the most brilliant scientists in our history. He had an unrivaled understanding of mathematics, and he was the one responsible for developing the modern understanding of the formation of our solar system from a nebula. Even in the early 19th century, he was talking about gravitational collapse and black holes. He pioneered the Laplace Transform, which is one of the most important mathematical tools used in physics and engineering, enabling many difficult problems to be significantly simplified.

So when someone like Laplace made the suggestion that by knowing the position and momentum of every particle in the universe would enable him to determine everything else that might happen, this wasn’t the simple case of just anyone making a bold claim – this was the case of one of the most brilliant minds in history stating something he truly had some understanding of. And when we think of it, it’s not much different, except on its unbelievable scale, than making a complicated shot on a billiard table. If we know the position of the balls, and how much momentum, and in what direction to apply it, we can predict the movement of the other balls. We might be tempted to think that the universe is really not much more than a very complex, three-dimensional game of billiards.

And if our universe is what Laplace expected it to be – a complex system of objects that can be mapped and understood, and if we could predict the outcome of such interactions, and if our thoughts could be represented as particles and bits of energy, then we might be able to say that everything we are, everything we think, everything we will ever be, was determined by the exact position and momentum of every particle of energy and matter at the dawn of our universe.

If Laplace and some other scientists are correct, every choice we make, every thought we have, every love we will ever have, all our children, all our ancestors, our religions, our spiritual experiences, our art, our music, our architecture, our literature, films, even this program – down to the last typographical error – all of it has been nothing but a mechanistic response to the conditions resulting from one exploding singularity that became everything we know to exist today.


Except firstly, that Pierre-Simon Laplace and Werner Heisenberg never had a chance to chat. While Laplace believed that if he knew the position and momentum of every single bit of matter, that he might be able to predict everything that would follow. Unfortunately for Laplace, Heisenberg determined that there is no way to possess this knowledge – that having one – position – implies that the other, momentum, cannot be known. That knowledge is mutually exclusive. The more we know one with greater exactness, the less we know of the other.

So, what does this mean for determinism? On the one hand, it means that there is a certain amount of randomness built into the system. Even prior to Laplace, Robert Brown had identified the random motion of particles suspended in a liquid – which has since come to be known as Brownian motion – which is a truly random process. Brown had seen bits of pollen suspended in water, and was unable to come up with a mathematical explanation for the movement of those bits of pollen. The water wasn’t moving, yet the pollen still moved through the water. Interestingly, it was Albert Einstein, in 1905, who, looking at Brown’s work, devised the idea that the pollen was being moved by collision with water molecules. It was, in fact, this paper by Einstein, that demonstrated that atoms and molecules actually exist. Parenthetically, looking back, when my grandmother and grandfather were born, we actually had no proof of the existence of either atoms or molecules. By the time they were my age, the power of the atom had already been exploited in nuclear reactors and bombs.

So, at this point, Laplace is partially out of the deterministic picture. He can’t say exactly what the universe will look like some time after knowing the exact position and momentum of every particle. But neither is his indictment entirely complete, and the concept of free will hasn’t been granted complete liberty. Brownian motion is what’s called a stochastic process. It’s probabilistic in nature, which means that if we know the position and momentum of all the particles involved, we can make a better guess as to where the bit of pollen will go. In this arena, we can think of the path of a hurricane – the closer it is, the better our chance of knowing where it will go. This is the same predictive method used to tell us how safe we might be days prior to a large, powerful storm system arrives. But even with the knowledge of larger systems, increasing granularity – the closer we get to the more intimate details, the less certain we are about those details.

Now while those bits of randomness do tell us that the state of the universe years from now, they don’t let us off the hook when it comes to the idea that we are the sole determiners of the paths of our own lives. And that is more the point of this little talk tonight.

Some in science are becoming more of the opinion that our personalities, wants, needs and desires are all functions of neural energy, chemicals, and the things that have happened to us in our past. Indeed, it’s very interesting to see how many violent and anti-social behaviors have been documented as a result of physical problems such as tumors and brain damage.

In 2002, New Scientist reported the case of a 40-year old man who developed pedophilia after an egg-sized tumor developed in his brain. When the tumor was removed, the man no longer had such desires. This doesn’t suggest that all cases of pedophilia are caused by tumors; in this man’s case, he showed no such proclivities prior to the tumor, and most pedophiles demonstrate those leanings far earlier in life. But this does bring to mind the question of responsibility for a criminal’s actions. If our behavior is determined by nothing but the conditions of our brains, how can we be held responsible for any of our actions? Indeed, if we are nothing but the result of 13 Billion years of random processes, how could any of us be responsible for anything?

So that idea of determinism presents us with one significant philosophical problem – if everything that we do is predetermined, what is the point of punishment? If things are predestined to be, and we have no choice – no human free will to do, or to not do anything, doesn’t that lend just a bit of an unjust nature to the idea of crime and punishment? And not only crime and punishment – if everything we do is nothing other than the result of natural processes, all interacting with each other, how is anyone ever deserving of praise or honor or condemnation or punishment? If everything is the result of atoms and subatomic particles in collision, why is there any cause to encourage or comfort or love or anything that we, as human beings do for each other? Seriously – if we live in this deterministic world that some posit, then our choice to encourage the student, the surgeon, the artist, the musician, the lover, the dying – it has no meaning – right?

So here’s the thing. I don’t believe in this deterministic model of our universe. I think that freedom of choice is real and legitimate. And here’s why.

There are lots of people who poo-poo the ideas of psychic effects and reincarnation and near-death experiences and many other phenomena that fall into the realm of noetics and metaphysics, but each of them suffers from one single flaw – they haven’t fully studied these things.

Sometimes it makes sense to look at a claim and to suggest that it makes no sense. We can look at the work of Dr. Emoto who suggests that water given “good feelings” will form crystals that will be more beautiful than those in a jar on which is written “hate”, and rationally we can say nonsense. We can look at his methods and recognize that these experiments aren’t controlled, that the individuals choosing the crystals know what was written on the jars, and are at liberty to choose any crystals they wish. It is nonsense. His work doesn’t represent a valid scientific experiment, because it has no controls. And a basic understanding of the physics involved would suggest that such an experiment would have no merit in the first place – individual atoms don’t have memory – nor do molecules of water. The mechanism doesn’t exist to produce the claimed effect. It would be like selling someone a car and telling them it will go from 0 to 100 in 4 seconds, carrying 4 adults, with a 3 horsepower motor. It’s nonsense.

The problem that we, in the occult and metaphysical community have is that everything gets lumped together – the legitimate and the nonsense.

The truth is that there have been studies that demonstrate that things like reincarnation and near-death experiences have some real validity. Many people have had psychic experiences that do suggest that there is more in heaven and earth than can be described by our still rather youthful scientific understanding.

The metaphysical community is undeniably filled with more than our share of charlatans. There are lots of people posing as psychics who are really nothing more than keen observers practicing the art of cold reading, whose objective is merely to separate each of us from our hard-earned money.

But the opposite is also true – there are many who have uncanny wisdom and insight. There are those of us who know things we shouldn’t know – that we would have no means of knowing.

The truth is that there are aspects of ourselves, and of energy and of matter that science doesn’t yet understand. Science – real science – cannot categorically claim that something yet unstudied does not exist – simply because we cannot understand the mechanism whereby it might.

I don’t expect science to embrace something yet unproved. And science shouldn’t. But I do expect that those of us who are in the metaphysical and occult communities should do more to expose the charlatans among us, and to refrain from making unsubstantiated claims about what we do; we should avoid trying to explain the things that we experience by claiming, for example, that quantum physics proves that something is possible, that higher vibrations (whatever that might be) make spooky things possible.

We do our ourselves a great disservice when we mis-use science to make what we are doing look more legitimate. To those who practice science, when we make the claim that quantum physics is what powered a spell, brought about a healing, or whatever effect it was that we saw, our credibility is in the toilet the moment we make such a claim.

The truth is that among those of us who have effectively practiced magick, all we know is that we did something, and saw an effect. When we try to explain the mechanism, we fall short. So when the scientist asks, we can’t claim that it’s some quantum effect – we’ve lost them then. What we can say is “I do this repeatedly, and repeatedly, this presumed effect occurs”. We can’t claim to know what the causative link is, but when the scientist sees that B follows A, repeatedly, THAT is when they will suspect that something more is going on – that there is truly some connection between the two. And that’s what science needs more when it comes to metaphysics – fewer BS artists, and more people finding the correlations and asking the questions.

But this has been a bit of a tangent – we’re talking about determinism. And it’s in this tangent that we just took that I base my claim that we don’t live in a deterministic universe. The truth is that for scientists and philosophers to make the claim that everything is determined at the moment of the big bang, a second claim must be made – that we, as human beings, are not more than mere matter and known forms of energy existing in three dimensions. But this is an assertion that has not yet been fully investigated, and making it is no more legitimate than it is for Dr. Emoto to claim that words on a jar will affect the formation of crystals from water that is in that jar. The experiments necessary to prove those assertions simply haven’t been performed.

So, without actual evidence that there is something within us that permits us to make choices for ourselves, is there a way that we can know that we aren’t more than the result of random processes stemming from a cosmological accident 13.8 Billion years ago?

I think we’re doing ourselves a disservice when we try to suggest that we actually “know” anything in a scientific sense. We can believe. And we can act “as if” we know in the scientific sense of the word. That is the purpose of myth.

Too often we confuse myth and fiction. We think that fiction means that a thing is untrue, but that’s not the case at all. Myth is what informs us when we don’t have observable, testable, science and facts to explain what it is that is going on. Those of us who have practiced magick, or the spiritual arts know that we have used them to real and legitimate effect – they are real for us, but this is still the arena of myth, because we don’t have a scientific explanation for what has happened. When we pass this information on, it may still be true, but it’s still myth – lying somewhere between faith and observable, testable, repeatable science.

And it is in this arena, for now, where we find that we do have our own freedom of will, that we make our own choices. It is certainly a myth, but that doesn’t mean that it’s untrue. In the Bible, the story of Jesus falls under religious myth – for now. We have no evidence, to date, that he was a real person, or that he actually rose from the dead. Yet the story of his life is still religious myth. Even if we found evidence that he did actually exist, the story of his life remains religious myth.

Our lives are also myth. Our choices, our dreams, our goals They are myth too, but they are not untrue. What we are, who we are, the things we believe – all of it is myth, and all of it is real. I am free to choose because I make my choices. I can balance my desires and my goals. I know that I can make choices, because I have made them.

I’ve also had experiences that can only be regarded as psychic. And the absolute truth is this: I know that science doesn’t have all the answers. So when a scientist says that the freedom to choose is an illusion, I realize that while science looks at the mystic and sees someone without answers, the mystic knows that she is but a mirror of the scientist. And how we view each other – well, that’s our choice. And we are free to choose.

PaganFM 082114

PaganFM Prayer List
The family and friends of Jim Foley and all those in our seacoast New Hampshire who are now affected by the brutality brought about by religious fundamentalism. Joseph’s wife, and also his friend’s daughter, Dave, Raymond, Sandy and Therese.

Musical Selections
Artist, Track, Album
Alexander James Adams, Fae Hollow Magic, Balance of Nature
Sede, Spider Web, Madgician
Damh the Bard, The Land of the Ever Young, The Hills they are Hollow
Wendy Rule, Oh How I Dreamed, Deity
The Moors, The Snake that Coils Within Without, The Moors
Spiral Dance, BLackthorn’s Rune, Magick
David Kydd, Joy Comes Again, The Gathering II
Kellianna, Ancestor’s Song, I Walk With the Goddess
Jenna Greene, Legends, Crossroads
Emerald Rose, Gwydion’s Song to Lleu, Archives of Ages to Come
Bell Book and Canto, I Heard the Valkyries Cry Last Night, Invocation
Arthur Hinds, Children of Cernunnos, Dance in the Fire
Kiva, Water Fire and smoke, Out of the Corner of the Eye

Jim Foley, a Rochester New Hampshire native, and a reporter, was brutally murdered by ISIS, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. ISIS had demanded a payment from the US of Millions of dollars to release Foley, and a number of other nations have actually made payments in return for their citizens from terrorist organizations – but I feel that the United States is right in not paying ransom. Despite the brutality of the killing of Foley, who was decapitated with a knife, the truth is that paying ransom to terrorists only serves to arm them and to perpetuate their violence. Saving one individual results in the killing of many more. It’s sad to lose one – but Foley, being a well-trained and seasoned journalist, knew the cost, and, I believe, knew that ransoming him would have cost more lives, and he would have objected to paying that cost.

That ISIS stated at the time of the execution, that Jim was being killed in retaliation for the US attacks in Syria is a blatant lie. It’s nothing but an excuse – a way to pretend they are being strong or resolute, when the simple fact is that Jim was killed because the United States would not capitulate to their demands. ISIS is a fundamentalist organization that will use death and terrorism to get what they want. Anytime we capitulate or lend them even the least bit of credibility, more people will die.

Here in New Hampshire, a Mass of Healing, Hope and Peace will be held at Holy Rosary Church in Rochester at 2:00 PM on Sunday.

For those who are TLC fans, and who enjoy watching the exploits of the Duggar family on the show 19 Kids and Counting, the family Matriarch, Michelle recently loaned her voice to a robocall that is fighting an anti-discrimination law in Fayettevill Arkansas.

Working with the cult-like “Family” “Research” Council, Duggar is contributing to the hate-speech against transgender people, once again, linking them to pedophiles. Despite the fact that in NONE of the places where transgender people now have access to public facilities that are in alignment with their gender presentation, has there been an instance where women or children have been in any way harmed, liars like Duggar and the FRC continue to present such legislation as a means whereby sexual predators will prey on women and children. The fact that it’s never happened doesn’t matter to these people – it’s their goal to make people afraid of those they don’t like.

Here is Michelle’s Robocall.

For those who are actual fans of this cult on TLC, it might be worth relating that a number of people who the Duggars actually follow are, in fact, child predators. Yesterday, Suzanne Calulu posted on Patheos an article going into some of the problems with the whole Quiver Full movement. It was interesting to note that while Michelle is talking about transgender people posing a threat to women and children, the family has photos taken with people who have actually harmed women. One photo shows the Duggar girls posing with Bill Gothard, who recently resigned his post as President of Institute in Basic Life Principles, after 30 women filed Sexual Harrassment charges.

Despite the fact that three children have died when parents followed the teaching of Michael Pearl, and the subsequent conviction of parents who have used these methods, as far as the Duggars have gone is to remove endorsements for Pearl from their website, and have never repudiated the methods. They also still endorse S. M. Davis. Both of these men teach that the wills of children are to be broken, and that physical punishment such as hitting with objects is a good idea. Pearl recommended 3/4” plumbing tube for that purpose.

It’s kind of interesting that people like Duggar will ignore real harassment and dangers posed to women and children by the likes of Davis, Pearl and Gothard, while fostering fear of imaginary dangers that have never been demonstrated as a real problem.

This is how cults work – instilling fear where there is no real danger, and ignoring the real threats in one’s presence.

Quiz result
Our latest quiz was won by Gary Neal – Congratulations Gary!

Our latest quiz will be a bit different. We’ve got a number of CDs and download cards from Featherscale, Lindie Lila, Arthur Hinds and Will Ackerman. So what I’m going to ask is that you write me at – or, if you want, to record a short .mp3 file, and just talk about your favorite memory of PaganFM – what is it that we’ve done that’s touched you in your own life. I’ll take the first 6 responses, and it will be something of a first-come, first choice on the CDs or download cards. When you write in, I’ll write back and let you know what’s available, and you get to choose. But we’ll need to have this done by say September 7 to insure that I have time to put the show together.
So again, just write me at and send your words or audio, and let us know what your favorite moments of PaganFM have been.

PaganFM almanac
Hi I’m Carl, and this is the Pagan FM Almanac for August 21st, 2014.
Please note that all moon void of course data is courtesy of
Today is Thursday, August 21st, 2014 and it is the 233rd day of the year.
The waning crescent moon is in Cancer and the Sun is in Leo.
The Moon will be void on Friday, August 22nd at 10:46 AM and will enter Leo at 10:53 PM.
The Sun will enter Virgo on Saturday, August 23rd at 12:46 AM.
The Moon will be void on Sunday, August 24th at 11:29 PM and will enter Virgo on Monday August 25th at 11:37 AM.
Meanwhile, August’s Dark Moon will occur on Monday, August 25th at 10:13 AM.
The Moon will be void on Wednesday, August 27th at 11:55 AM and will enter Libra at 11:53 PM.
Today, August 21st, is National Senior Citizen’s Day. Pagans already honor and respect this third aspect of the Triple Goddess and God, the Crone and the Sage. On this day, make a special effort to acknowledge the contribution of elders to your pagan community – pay a visit, make a call, spend some time. The life you enrich could be your own.
On August 22nd in 1966, the Beatles arrived in New York for the start of their final US tour. Hanging over the Fab Four throughout was the backlash associated with John Lennon’s observation earlier in the year that the Beatles were now “more popular than Jesus”. Taken out of context or no, the reaction in some Christian quarters to this statement, including demonstrations and record-burning bonfires, put a cloud over what would be the group’s final set of concerts. George Harrison, ever the pragmatist, commented regarding the record-burnings, “they’ve got to buy them before they can burn them.”
August 23rd is International Ride the Wind Day, in honor of the 1977 flight by Dr. Paul McCready in the Gossamer Condor, the first human-powered aircraft capable of controlled and sustained flight. By doing so it was the first winner of the Kremer Prize, a £50,000 award to the first human-powered craft capable of negotiating a one-mile figure-eight course while flying over a ten-foot pole at beginning and end. Hmmm…it’s no Nimbus 2000, but not bad for a muggle!
On August 24th in 1814, British General Robert Ross led his forces into Washington, D.C. after their victory at the Battle of Bladensburg. While most Congressmen and other officials were long gone by the time the British began approaching, then-President James Madison and his wife, Dolley (yes, Dolley Madison…) escaped virtually under the noses of the oncoming Brit troops, Mrs. Madison having paused long enough to oversee the safe removal of a classic portrait of George Washington that hung in the White House. Good thing, since the British forces, after a leisurely dinner in the captured executive mansion, proceeded to burn the White House to the ground in retaliation for the Americans’ earlier torching of Canada’s government buildings.
On August 25th in 1939, a children’s movie starring Judy Garland premiered in theaters throughout the United States. While a modest box-office success, the flick had legs, so to speak and has grown into one of the most enduringly popular and best-loved movies of all time. The Wizard of Oz, based on the novel by L. Frank Baum, was nominated for Best Picture but lost that Oscar to some chick flick called Gone With the Wind. The film did take the Best Song Oscar for “Over the Rainbow”, and Judy Garland received a special award for Best Juvenile Performer.
August 26th is National Dog Day, a day to honor service dogs, guide dogs, rescue dogs, and just plain dog dogs. Be sure to scratch someone special behind the ears that day…
Finally, on August 27th in 1883, the volcanic island of Krakatoa erupted, killing thousands in the worst natural disaster of modern times. Four unbelievably powerful eruptions took place within a five-hour period on this day, the last of which made a sound that could be heard 3,000 miles away in central Australia. Tsunamis hit shorelines in Java and Sumatra, pushing water miles inland and carrying coral blocks weighing hundred of tons onto the shore. Dust in the atmosphere dropped global temperatures noticeably for several years. Interestingly, the title of the 1969 disaster film Krakatoa, East of Java is incorrect. Krakatoa, or what is left of it, is actually west of Java. Never let mere facts get in the way of a catchy title…
And this has been the Pagan FM Almanac for August 21st, 2014.
For those who remember Julia, one of PaganFMs former co-hosts, and have been wondering what happened to her, she’ll be joining us on our 300th episode, so you’ll get to hear her then. She’s now making pottery out in Albuquerque, NM. If you’d like to see what she’s doing, you can check out her web site at

Practical Pagan

I want to talk a bit tonight about Magic – or Magick with a K if you prefer. Certainly it’s a part of Wicca, and it’s a part of many Pagan paths. In fact, I’ll say, and I’ll explain it in detail later – magic is part of every religion practiced on Earth – and it’s part of the daily life of most of us.

While this piece is necessarily short – I don’t have the time or room to present a complete course in magic in 20 minutes or so, I will recommend one book to listeners – and that is Isaac Bonewits’ book Real Magic – it is one of the best that I’ve seen.

When I speak of “magic”, I’m speaking of something different than illusion, something different than stage magic. Indeed, that’s the reason that Pagans speaking of Magic often add a “k” to the end of the word. They use the archaic spelling to differentiate what Isaac Bonewits called “Real Magic” from stagecraft or illusion.

Before we go on, I want to bring up two terms that some of you may not be familiar with – these are theurgy and thaumaturgy. Theurgy is magic in a religious / ritual sense. It is achieved via prayer or supplication to some God. In Catholicism, it is thurgy which accomplishes the task of transubstantiation – the changing of the substance of bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ. Theurgy comes from the words Theos meaning “God”, and Ergos meaning “Work”. So literally, Theurgy implies that “God does the work”. Miracles, healing, the works of Christ as described in the Bible, even the creation of the universe – if one were to accept the Bible as historical fact, are all demonstrations of Theurgy.

Some Christians might argue that works of God are not “magic”, that God doesn’t need magic – he’s God! But that is really a distinction without a difference. Recall that the most oft-used definition of magic – the one that we, as Pagans, are most likely to use is Crowley’s, which states that Magick is the art and science of effecting change in accord with will. To suggest that some God doesn’t use magic to do what he, she or it does, is to demand that we change the definition of the word “magick” to permit some other word to be used for what God might do, just because the people seeing the word get upset at the idea that God might use “magic”. The truth is that they’re simply upset at the word being used.

Thaumaturgy, on the other hand, doesn’t need to involve God. Thaumaturgy is what we, ourselves, do. This is the arena of spells rather than prayer; of ceremony rather than religious ritual.

Sometimes the line between Theurgy and Thaumturgy can be very fine. We can see the difference in sporting events when athletes are going through their rituals for success. The diver who crosses herself prior to her jump is practicing Theurgy, imploring of God to help her achieve perfection. The Baseball batter, constantly adjusting his gloves, or tapping the bat on the ground is practicing Thaumaturgy – a ritual that doesn’t involve any deity, but which he performs “for luck”. If you were to ask either of these individuals whether what they were practicinh were “magic”, they would almost certainly say “no”. But the truth is that they have a perception of what “magic” is, and they think they are doing something different.

Some people conflate magic and sorcery. And while sorcery can imply “magic” in general, sorcery tends to imply darker arts, including necromancy and the like. Also, the word “sorcerer” often implies maleficent types of magic. So as Pagans we tend to avoid terms like “sorcerer” and simply work with what we call magic.

Also, there is a difference between what I’d call “natural” magic and “ceremonial” magic. When you think of the two, consider again the baseball player who constantly adjusts his gloves or hat or whatever, and the priest presiding over a Catholic Mass. The folky way of the baseball player would be more akin to “natural magic”, where the priest, wearing the particular robes, with all the accouterments on the altar and the acolytes assisting him – this is more the realm of ceremonial magic.

But what’s really interesting is that no matter the “form” of magic, it is really the same forces involved. The most important force in all of our universe is will. Will is a bit different than simple desire – you might consider it to be “effective desire”, or a sort of desire that is possessing of a motive force behind it. It is a desire that is coupled with an irresistable, unquestioning force behind it. If we were to look once more to the Christian Bible, we see God, alone – with nothing but God in the midst of nothingness. And in Genesis Chapter 1, God creates the Heavens and the Earth, and says “Let there be light”.

This illustrates the steps of magick – there is first will. The second part is speaking. And it is in the speaking that will gains its power. Saying the words, bringing our own will into existence by the words we use is an essential part of any magickal act. Few human endeavors have ever come to fruition without words. If we think of any important human act, it is words that have made them come alive for us, and if we think back of any event that has touched us, they are almost all accompanied with words. Some of these are pleasant, some of them are lovely memories, some of them bring us back to dark times. Here are some words that might have touched you in various ways:

“Who shot J.R.?”
“Obviously a major malfunction”
“I am not a crook”
“I did not have sexual relations with that woman”
“Here’s Johnny.”
“Thrilla in Manilla”
“Ladies and Gentlemen, The Beatles”
“Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall,”
“From Dallas, Texas, a flash, apparently official, President Kennedy died at one p.m., central standard time, two o’clock eastern standard time, some 38 minutes ago.”
“That’s one small step for man, One giant leap for mankind”.

Most of these quotes should be somewhat evocative to most of us, for they represent powerful moments in our lives. Of course there are images that are evocative as well – the collapse of the World Trade Center towers is one event where there was such a flurry of emotion and disbelief and words – that we may remember more visually than with any particular words, but the main point is that words – speech, conveys more than simple, random sound-waves.

Words are important because they form our magic, they give our will shape.

What are words? Basically, they are nothing but vibrating air. When we speak, we vibrate the air just as if our throats were a musical instrument – we take the air which is nothing but randomly moving atoms and molecules of air, and we give them shape and form, and we impose meaning on them.

So here are the important parts of magic – will and words. These are the two most important parts of any spell.

Our will is important, because it is our expression of desire – it is our mental image of what we wish to see changed in our world. Our words represent our first effort toward effecting that change. We might be in love, but often, until we say the words, the one we love will long to hear it. The words make it much more real.

Our will is our vision of our future, our words bring that future into existence.

The “ritual” part of spells are about raising and directing energy. What they do is to impart a certain force to our words. The energy takes the shape of our will, it becomes focused and directed with our words, and helps to shape the reality according to our own desires.

But nothing in magic is very likely to happen without our own effort. When we want something to happen, we have, after we have cast our spell, we need to act on it; it’s up to us to help bring it into fruition. We can’t for example, cast a spell to help us find a job, and then just sit on a couch and wait for the job to come to us.

When we have acted on our will for that job, and have said the words and cast a spell, it’s time to act. We need to get out and look. It’s like giving a car a tune-up, filling it with gas, and starting the engine. That’s the spell part, it’s established the means, but we still need to put the car in gear, step on the gas, and steer to our destination.

Will is one thing – words are another, but the third part is action.

Some will say that if we “act”, then it really wasn’t the magick that accomplished something, but our own actions. The point is that our own actions are part of that magic. Remember the definition – “the art and science of effecting change in accordance with will”. Nowhere does it suggest that action isn’t relevant!

PaganFM 080714

PaganFM Prayer List
Therese, Raymond and Dave

Musical Selections
Artist, Track, Album
Arthur Hinds, Dance in the Fire, Dance in the Fire
Damh the Bard, The Horned God – an Unofficial Biography, As Nature Intended
Ray Spiegel Ensemble, Moksha, Moksha
Akashik, Long Forgotten
Annwn, The Bard’s Exhortation to the Salaryman, Come Away to the Hills

Cara Shulz over at The Wild Hunt is taking on a new endeavor – Jason reports that she will be running for city council of Burnsville, MN. This is a non-partisan office, but it’s likely that Cara is one of the few – if any – Helenic Polytheists seeking office in the United States. We wish her luck. Those interested can find some of her videos on her Youtube channel here:

The Open Halls project is a group that seeks to
Support heathens in the armed forces
Connect military heathens supporters and each other
Advocates for the rights of heathens in the armed forces
On July 29, they posted the following to their Facebook page:
I was going to wait till tomorrow, but I want to make a brief official Open Halls Project statement on some awesome news.

For the last five years, the Open Halls Project has been working to get our religious preference added to any and all Department of Defense official lists. We started with the Army, and are very very close to having everything in order to have that request finally approved. (I don’t want to say it is approved or will be, until it is, but at this point, we’ve done nearly everything we can to get it squared away)

That isn’t the great news, though! Following our campaign to raise awareness for our drive to get the Army to add Asatru and Heathen, the solid and professional Air Force Msgt Matt Walters began the process of adding those same preferences to the AF system. Today he received approval for Asatru and Heathen to be added to the official AF list!!!

This is an awesome victory for us, and one that has required a lot of awareness raising and a lot of paperwork. We want to officially thank Msgt Walters for making this happen for the Air Force. Now all our Airmen need to go change their Religious Preference!!!

We aren’t stopping there either. We will continue to push the Army request, and our loyal and dedicated members are already talking about using the Air Force victory to get the Navy and the Marines to add these two preferences to their official lists.

Keep up the good work everyone!

PaganFM Almanac

Hi I’m Carl, and this is the Pagan FM Almanac for August 7th, 2014.
Please note that all moon void of course data is courtesy of
Today is Thursday, August 7th, 2014 and it is the 219th day of the year.
The waxing gibbous moon is in Capricorn, and the Sun is in Leo.
The Moon will be void on Saturday, August 9th at 5:08 AM and will enter Aquarius at 2:36 PM.
August’s Full Moon, the Grain Moon or Corn Moon, will occur Sunday August 10th at 2:09 PM.
The Moon will be void on Monday, August 11th at 4:13 AM and will enter Pisces at 1:39 PM.
The Moon will be void on Wednesday August 13th at 4:06 AM and will enter Aries at 1:57 PM.
Today, August 7th, is National Lighthouse Day. If you are in the Portsmouth area, give a nod and perhaps a wave to the Portsmouth Harbor Light, reputedly haunted by the spirit of Keeper Joshua Card. Card manned the light for thirty-five years until he retired in 1909 at the age of eighty-seven. When asked what the letter “K” on his uniform stood for, Keeper Card would always laughingly say “Captain”. A native of New Castle, Card seemed to enjoy living at the light, taking only one extended vacation in his thirty-five year tenure. Apparently his fondness of the location continued after his passing – during a paranormal investigation at the light in 2005, a digital recorder picked up a male voice responding to the spoken question “who are you?” with the words “The Captain”.
August 8th is a hat trick day in US Presidential history. On August 8th in 1968, running mates Richard Milhouse Nixon and Spiro Theodore Agnew received the Republican Party’s nomination to run for the presidency. On August 8th in 1974, Richard Nixon became the first President in history to resign the position, rather than face almost certain impeachment over his role in the political scandal known as Watergate. Finally, also on August 8th 1974, Vice President Gerald Rudolph Ford Jr. was sworn in as President to replace Nixon, becoming the first President in history to attain that office as a result of appointment instead of election.
Under the category of serendipitous juxtapositions, August 9th is International Book Lovers Day, perhaps a good time to go out and pick up that new book you’ve had your eye on, and Sunday, August 10th is International Lazy Day, the perfect time to kick back and enjoy the book you splurged on the day before.
On August 11th in 1984, then-President Ronald Reagan made an off-the-cuff remark while sound-checking a microphone before a radio broadcast: “I’m pleased to tell you today that I’ve signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes.” While the quip was not broadcast, it was recorded, and later played back to the predictable chagrin of the Soviet government, which managed to turn its attention away from its collapsing “evil empire” long enough to register official disapproval. In commemoration of that event, August 11th has henceforth been known as National Presidential Joke Day – a day on which we celebrate the sense of humor found inside the Oval Office.
And so, tonight we present the first Pagan FM Almanac Top Thirteen List, category – Presidential Jokes. The criteria are simple: the joke must involve a deliberate attempt at humor by a sitting President. For example, Richard Nixon’s “I am not a crook.” – not a deliberate attempt at humor. Also, John Kennedy, addressing complaints that his father’s fortune was “buying” the presidential primary, “I just received the following wire from my generous Daddy: Dear Jack, Don’t buy a single vote more than is necessary. I’ll be damned if I’m going to pay for a landslide.” – unfortunately, not a sitting President (yet).
13) Harry Truman; “If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.”
12) Lyndon Baines Johnson; “Making a speech on economics is a lot like peeing down your leg – it seems hot to you, but it never does to anyone else.”
11) Barack Obama; “I got my first name, Barack, from my father. And I got my middle name from somebody who obviously didn’t think I’d ever run for President.”
10) Abraham Lincoln, when accused of being duplicitous; “If I were two-faced, would I be wearing this one?”
9) Ronald Reagan; “Politics is supposed to be the second-oldest profession. I have come to realize that it bears a very close resemblance to the first.”
8) George W. Bush; “You can fool some of the people all the time and those are the ones you want to concentrate on.”
7) Bill Clinton; “Being President is like running a cemetery. You’ve got a lot of people under you and nobody’s listening.”
6) Ronald Reagan; “I’m not worried about the deficit. It is big enough to take care of itself.”
5) Barack Obama; “There are few things in life harder to find and more important to keep than love. Well, love and a birth certificate.”
4) Ronald Reagan; “I have left orders to be awakened at any time in case of national emergency – even if I’m in a Cabinet meeting.”
3) Bill Clinton; “My esteem in this country has gone up substantially. It is very nice now when people wave at me, they use all their fingers.”
2) George W. Bush; “These stories about my intellectual capacity really get under my skin. You know, for a while I even thought my staff believed it. There on my schedule first thing every morning it said, ‘Intelligence Briefing’.”
And, the number one Presidential joke, combining a tip of the funny-bone to the day’s founding inspirer with bonus points for ad-libbing under stress:
1) Ronald Reagan, to a phalanx of masked and gowned surgeons standing over him as he was rolled into an operating room after being shot by a would-be assassin in 1981; “I hope you’re all Republicans.”
On August 12th in 2010, Phillip Emmons Isaac Bonewits, Druid, author, singer/songwriter, founder of the Aquarian Anti-Defamation League, and the first person to graduate from an accredited university with a degree in magic, passed to the Summerland at the age of sixty.
August 13th is one of the days of the Goddess Hecate. Leave an offering of food at the place where three roads meet – especially sweets like honey cakes, to appease the Mother of All Witches and prevent storms from disrupting the coming harvest.
Finally, August 13th is International Left Handers Day, a day to celebrate sinistrality. Interestingly, while only about 10% of the population at large are left-handed, seven of the last fourteen US Presidents have been southpaws, including Ronald Reagan, George H. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama. Sinister, indeed…
And this has been the Pagan FM Almanac for August 7th, 2014.

Trivia contest

Who was Dafo?

The winner will receive a copy of Arthur Hinds’ new album Dance in the Fire
Practical Pagan
Neo-Pagan history.

It’s important in most human endeavors – excluding perhaps politics and sales – to strive for honesty. Now, it might be admirable to be an honest salesperson, and it would certainly be refreshing to see an honest politician, but I’m not really holding my breath for either of these two to show up. Nor would I expect any such to be especially successful in their endeavors. But as individuals, honesty is a laudable goal.

When we get into the realm of religion, that honesty is even more important. One of the biggest problems we face as people of faith is the incredulity of others, that is often fueled by charlatans who pose as people of faith. It’s interesting that sometimes the people who consider themselves faithful, almost consider it a mark of pride to express a state of being that is so credulous they will believe almost anything.

The problem is that many of us are unsure of our own faith. It really doesn’t matter what the religion is – the simple truth is that most of us who are adherents of any faith, really, when it comes down to it, know very little about what it is that we say we believe. And really, this lack of a solid foundation isn’t limited to matters of religion. As an experiment once, while at a Pagan Pride Day celebration, I asked quite a few people what they were celebrating and why – and fewer than half of those that I asked knew anything about the Stonewall riots.

Those of us who don’t really know what it is that we believe, and who at the same time hold on so fiercely and would fight and argue and rage against anyone who disagrees with us aren’t doing ourselves any favors. But what’s probably more dangerous is that those of us who don’t really understand what it is that we believe, are more likely to be sucked into error or to be taken advantage of.

One example of this is Peter Popoff and those who, despite the fact he’s a demonstrated fraud, still believe in him. Mandy and Deo, some years ago, had a bit of fun at Peter’s expense, and this guy is a good target. Peter came to prominence in his faith healing ministry, and part of his act was telling people important details about themselves. He’d be on stage, and he’d tell people their addresses, what was ailing them, and make the claim that God wanted them healed.

His ministry was investigated by James Randi, and it was discovered that Popoff’s wife was simply reading the information that people had written on cards- names, addresses, ailments and the like. Still, people bought the act as if Popoff was getting messages from God.

Shortly after being exposed by James Randi, Popoff’s ministry went through a bankruptcy, but he’s back in business. And he’s got a slick website, and he’s still offering his “miracle spring water”. And what’s funny is that there are still demonstrable lies – even in his own history. For one, he claims that his grandfather and father were raised behind the iron curtain. The problem is that the Iron Curtain didn’t exist until about 1945, and Popoff was born in 1946. So, while his family may have been in Eastern Germany, his father couldn’t have been raised behind the Iron Curtain – because it didn’t exist – it was part of the Cold War.

Certainly he may be using the fact that during World Wars 1 and 2, his family lived in a tumultuous area, but the truth doesn’t always sound as dramatic or compelling as the fabrications.

Another popular lie that many believed was the story of James Frey in what he initially called a memoir. The book A Million Little Pieces was featured on Oprah’s Book Club in 2005, and it was a hit. Frey had a number of interviews, but it was soon pointed out that much of the book was fabricated. Even then, Frey stated that the book represented “the essential truth of my life”. But after the lies were exposed, it’s now sold as a “semi-fictional novel”.

The thing is that as human beings, there are some things we want to believe in, and other things aren’t as important to us. We want to believe in a God. We want to believe that people can change. But sometimes the facts of particular situations don’t seem to matter to us.

George Carlin once sagely noted: “Tell people there’s an invisible man in the sky who created the universe, and the vast majority believe you. Tell them the paint is wet, and they have to touch it to be sure.”

It seems to me that this is true because if things are difficult to prove, we take the easy way and simply choose to believe, while, when things are easy to test, we refuse to believe them until we check for ourselves. The truth is that we can’t prove either the existence, or the non-existence of any God by such an easy means as touching.

Our faith is something that must be reached internally. We test things of faith by the way we live our lives, and by our own personal experiences in our acts of worship – and it’s the same for any religion – be it Wicca, Druidism, Christianity, Islam or any other.

I suspect that most everyone listening today recognizes that we can’t transplant our faith to another individual – it must be something they arrive at organically. But people can be attracted to a faith by the way that faithful live their lives. The problem though, is that when someone asks, we need coherent answers.

One of the places where those answers seem woefully lacking, to me, is in our own Pagan history; especially that of Wicca. I’ve seen lots of bumper stickers – and you can see them all the time at Pagan Pride celebrations – about “The Old Religion”. It seems to be a popular mythology that Wicca is simply the continuation of an ancient religion that has existed since the days of Matriarchal cultures in Europe.
Gerald Gardner really didn’t do us any favors when he presented Wicca as such.

But the problem is that this tale is demonstrably false. If we want to believe ourselves, and if we want others to believe us as well, it’s important that our own faith be based in things that are true. So, what is the true history of Wicca?

In the early 20th century, there was a resurgence of spiritualism, and there was a growing dissatisfaction, among some, of traditional organized religion. This was the day of the Rosicrucians and the Masons. The Masons do date back to the early 18th century – with the first lodge being founded in 1717. There are documents dating back to the 15th century that some say demonstrate a Masonic tradition to those times, but that’s something for historians to figure out.

In any case, in the early 20th century, the Witch Cult hypothesis was popularized by such writers as Margaret Murray, which suggested an earlier, magical, matriarchal cult throughout Europe. Armed with mystical Rosicrucian and Masonic teachings, some people in Europe were trying to recreate some of these earlier religions. In some ways, this had been going on as far back as the 18th century with organizations like the Ancient Order of Druids, but 20th century writings helped spur things along.

Anyway, in 1954, Gerald Gardner published the book Witchcraft Today, in which he claimed that he met some people who were part of an ancient witch cult. He said that he met these people through Rosicrucian meetings.

It’s from Gardner that we get what is called Wicca today, as it is from his pen that the rituals of Wicca were communicated. The thing is that when those rituals are examined, they contain a good deal of spiritualism and Rosicrucian ritual. Gardner’s answer to this was that the rituals he had received from the New Forest Coven were incomplete and he needed to add materials to form them into a coherent whole.

So, the thing is that even if there were an ancient witchcraft cult still existing in England in the 1950s, there aren’t complete rituals extant from that cult. Gerald Gardner himself admitted that he wrote much of that material. We know, also, that Doreen Valiente, Gerald Gardner and others wrote much of the rest of the material that makes up what is the closest to sacred texts that Wiccans hold on to.

Does this mean that because Wicca isn’t really ancient, that it’s somehow tainted? Not at all! What taints Wicca or Druidism or Reconstructed faiths of any sort isn’t their lack of antiquity – every religion ever practiced by anyone, was, at some time or other, new. What taints a religion is false claims.

When we make the claim that the Christian Church killed 9 Million women, when we make the claim that Wicca is the old religion practiced by our ancient Celtic forebears, when we claim to have powers that we don’t, when we claim an ancient family tradition that doesn’t really exist – these are the things that taint a religion.

I’ve found many Pagans tend to fall for New Age spirituality, feeling that it represents some authentic aboriginal tradition, and there have been many such things that have infiltrated over time. Again though, it’s not necessarily the practice that is harmful, but the misrepresentation of such things as authentic traditional practices.

Native Americans have a term for people who try to pass off New Age philosophy as authentic – such people are called Plastic Shamans. One example of a practice that seems to have no authentic basis in tradition is Huna, as described by Max Freedom Long and others. Ho’oponopono is being popularized by those who claim to practice Huna – and while I can’t say much about the practice of Ho’oponopono, it’s obvious that the whole practice of Huna is nothing but cultural appropriation by new age scam artists.

There are countless people pandering Peyote experiences and sweat lodge experiences, claiming to be Native American Shamans – and such as these really have nothing to do with Native American spirituality at all. People who do this create two major problems for both indigenous peoples and those who wish to practice something of an authentic spirituality that is connected to the land: Firstly, they divide us from relationships with indigenous peoples. Some of us who have studied with these “plastic shamans” leaving us thinking we really know something of that culture – that we may have been “initiated” into a secret, ancient tradition. That’s simply not true. What they have done is to take our money, leave us poorer, and gifted us with a greater ignorance than when we first met them. As a wise person once noted, “it’s not what you don’t know that makes you look stupid – it’s what you do know that just ain’t so.”

The other problem is that when we accept the foolishness of such “teachers” as truth, we become even more credulous, and we stop thinking for ourselves. The moment we stop thinking for ourselves, we become excellent targets for those who might take advantage of us.

How do we avoid being taken advantage of? We do this by knowing our own history and not being afraid of, or ashamed of it. So what if we’re Wiccan and Wicca is really only about 60 years old? Remember that the Baha’i Faith only came into existence in the late 19th to early 20th century. The Mormon faith only dates to about 1820, and Christian Science to about 1879. There are new religions forming all the time, and it isn’t in their antiquity that we find truth.

History is only important insofar as it is true history. We can make up various tales and mythologies, and these can be important teaching tools, but they can’t be realistic substitutes for authentic history. When someone challenges us on some element of our own history, that’s not a time to become defensive, it’s a time to learn. If we know our history, we’re on safe ground. But if we are uncertain, if that ground might be shifting beneath us, it’s not a time to become defensive – it’s a time to say – you know, I don’t know, let me look that up. Ignorance isn’t the enemy – certainty in falsehood is.