Monday, August 4, 2014

Gaza, The Goddess and Grounding in Compassion

World events once again have manifested violence on an un-imaginable scale. Across our nation protests are raging, some against the violence of Palestinian organizations and some laser sighted on the state sponsored violence perpetrated by Israel.

Pressing upon our community is our response and “position” on these issues. The temptation is to take sides, engage the established dialectic and choose  allies.  Internationally the established narrative is one of blame, distrust and division.

What I propose for the Goddess community is a third way,  less traveled yet holding infinitely more promise of eventual peace and mutual understanding.  In our hearts we know that violence as a means of resolving cultural conflict is unproductive and feeds the hungry beast that perpetuates the deaths of innocents.

Let us speak to solutions, compromise, the ability of humanity of engage compassion and oppose all violence no matter its source.  Let us set the example that discussion of who is in the right is absurd when innocents are perishing in the name of principles that lack the very moral high ground they pretend to be based on.

This is a case of nations unable to transcend schoolyard violence as recourse for offence.  Let us espouse the love of the Goddess, the compassion of humanity, the deep knowledge that however profound a grievance it does not justify violence.

May the Goddess manifest compassion, peace and understanding;  three principles that have the potential to erase the corrupt path of violence, hatred and conflict.

So Mote It Be

Friday, August 1, 2014

A Loss for Humanity – Margot Adler

With the news of the passing of Margot Adler our community manifests remembrances of a pillar of the Pagan community. Even more, there is the recounting of her considerable contributions to journalism, activism, and National Public Radio.

It was years after becoming Pagan that I first read her foundational book on the emerging Pagan community.  As such, I have little connection to the awakening referenced by others as a result of exposure to her work.  Nor do I count my self as a member of her inner circle of friends.  Yes, I shared a number of meals, drinks and conversations with her, yet our relationship was casual with the exception of the profound effect she had on me.

In Margot,  I witnessed the best of what the community can be.  My interactions with her left me in awe of her class, grace, humanity and sense of humor.  I never witnessed anyone come away from meeting her feeling they had met a BNP: instead, there was a realization of a profound human connection, the touching of inner beings, the effect of her presence on any group was comforting.

One year at Florida Pagan Gathering I was honored to have Margot invite me to share a presentation she was giving.  I was stunned, when I asked her why she simply said, “you have something to contribute”.  I was deeply touched.

Our world will miss her iconic voice on NPR, our community will miss her insightful, humorous presentations, and those of us who knew her socially will miss her rye sense of humor.

What I will miss is the wonderful spirit who embodied everything I believe our community aspires to.

Margot was the best of us, may we all manifest the qualities she so easily displayed in everything she did.   The loss to our community is beyond measure, yet, we can celebrate her life by insuring her qualities live within each of us.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Social Justice, the next step

Over the course of the last few years my social justice work has led me to be involved in many causes.  Each effort has deeply affected me in ways that I struggle to verbalize. One of these causes is Transgender rights.  Working to have all of humanity recognized as sacred, valuable and deserving of human dignity is for me the very foundation of social justice.

As part of following the issues I am involved in I joined a Face Book group called "Transgender Day Of Remembrance". The site collects and distributes stories of murders of and assaults on members of the Transgendered community. Below find a listing of the headlines from just June 2014

Ohio man indicted on six counts in robbery, murder of transgender woman

Police arrest homicide suspect after garbage truck driver finds body in Walnut Hills
Transgender activist found dead in O.C. mourned as leader

Bashed for being transgender'

Body of transgender woman found burned, dumped behind garbage bin

Guilty plea in killing of transgender woman in New Westminster
Anaheim police investigating suspicious death of transgender woman
To put this in perspective the Transgender community is about 0.030 % of the population. Frankly if such high numbers of any other demographic in America were being murdered or assaulted there would be national outrage!  The fact that there is not is telling as to old stereo types that live in the subconscious of even the most progressive of our communities.

Today I urge you my readers to make this issue, your issue, stand in support of the transgendered community. Not because you know transgendered individuals, not because you are progressive in belief, but because every human being deserves the advantages of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  

It is just the right thing to do!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Fake Activism

Activism is by its’ very nature is an activity that transcends social norms and calls attention to issues and situations that have not gotten enough attention from established institutions, organizations and communities.

Recently Activism has become a popular subject with individuals who are long-term members of established organizations touting their credentials as activists. While these individuals may be incredibly effective members of service organizations they are not necessarily qualified to claim the title activist.

Over the past few months these individuals, in an attempt to harness the popularity of activist culture, have offered their experiences as a framework for activist engagement.  What is lost is that being engaged in organized social justice work does not an activist manifest. These social justice volunteers seek to focus the yearnings of an activist generation on their narrow organizational goals and interests.

Encouraging activists to surrender their personal agency in choosing social justice actions has the potential to sap the very life force from a generation that is committed to real change, change that these long-term organizations have failed to deliver.  Surly these organizations have accomplished much in setting the stage for change, yet their intense interest in narrow agendas confine their willingness to engage in revolutionary social actions that are needed in this century.

As an activist culture continues to emerge we should question those who seek to influence our actions. Those presenting themselves, as “experts” should be questioned; have they risked their own freedom to manifest social change? Have they lead protests? Have they demonstrated their willingness to exchange a measure of personal safety for social change?  These are important questions.  Volunteers for social change are an incredibly important component of social justice work, they have my respect, yet, to be an activist means so much more than simply volunteering for causes that resonate.

So the next time you take a class or workshop on activism ask your self; is this really about activism or is it an attempt to lasso the energy of activists into supporting well meaning but narrowly focused established organizations.

As a member of many great Social Justice organizations I respect and support their work.  I am however, not ready to surrender my agency as an activist to their organizational framework that looks more like a corporation than an organic outpouring of revolutionary energy.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Old White Guys, Sex and Beautiful Women

It is tempting to give into the idea, sold daily by our culture, that we as “Old White Guys” are still attractive to young gorgeous women. We are repeatedly subjected to the narrative that our status, our money, our influence, our “handsome” graying temples transcend what the mirror makes obvious.

These cultural messages tempt us to engage in beliefs that support the idea that “power over” relationships are acceptable. They are not! As we grow older we have a place of privilege in our culture. By consequence of our birth we have achieved the stereotype of the wise mature man. One only needs to listen to conversations among “mature” white males to understand that the pre conception is flawed.

Frankly, those who engage in these power over relationships, based on wealth, status or influence perpetuate their privilege and support the subjugation of women. Even worse they reinforce the idea that societal power and status is an appropriate currency to purchase sexual relationships. Such actions contribute greatly to rape culture in our communities.

The messages sent to young men are that women are objects to be possessed by those who are successful or influential. Confronting our own privilege means standing up and proclaiming that such power based relationships are not acceptable in our communities.

Images of powerful men 60+ with women in their twenties are celebrated as examples of virility when in fact they represent delusional emotional immaturity bolstered by the willingness to believe that the possession of power transcends ethical behavior. It is time to stop sending the next generation the message that the “possession” of women is acceptable.

Today I call on my fellow “Old White Guys” to confront these beliefs when you witness them in our collective communities. They represent an abuse of power, a perpetuation of un earned privilege and a disregard of the fundamental human rights of women.

Originally posted at Face Book page "Old White Guys Confronting Privilege"

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Spiritual Healing and Prophecy Rock

Black Ogre's Uncle

There is an undeniable pulling of my heartstrings that goes unnamed as time passes. As these strings are pulled I am drawn to the realization that I am in need of healing, re evaluation and centering.  With ever more force the yearning to take action, delve deep and manifest healing upon this unnamed affliction overwhelms me.

This is an internal call to spiritual healing, as every day life encroaches upon my spiritual center I find my self out of balance, seeking the sour fruits of the corporeal world instead of the sweet and satisfying harvests of service, meditation and worship. This is about personal Magik, healing Magik that transcends the abilities of the rational mind to heal its self.

When I find myself in this situation I return to a basic truth in life. When adrift, lost or wondering return to where you started. Such an approach always brings clarity, spiritual healing and grounding. For me returning to the place I started means returning to the place of my spiritual birth.  As a young man I was first touched by divinity when I randomly engaged in a short prayer at Prophecy Rock in the Hopi Lands.

 Prophecy Rock At Hopi
Image from the Internet, I take no Photos at Hopi

My heart remembers well the experience of being touched by the divine, overwhelming beauty, warmth that spread from deep within my heart and a sense of awe as I gazed upon creation.

Recently I returned to the Hopi Lands and spent time praying at Prophecy Rock. There are no words for the sense of wholeness and interconnectedness this experience brought me.  My journey into divinity featured some of the most awe inspiring vistas, a sunset over the Hopi Lands that would drive an atheist to belief in the divine and a passionate reminder of the power of magik in my life.

Hopi is a special place to awake in the morning, following Hopi tradition I stepped outside to greet the sun rise, welcoming the Sun King, I decided to call the directions and establish my actions on this journey as wholly conducted with in sacred space.  As I turned and spoke the word AIR, a huge whirlwind engulfed me out of seemingly nowhere; I was blessed with new breath, new insight and the deep knowledge that my journey would provide a bounty of insight and self-healing.

Over the years I have learned many spiritual principles, yet it is this most basic lesson of beginning again at the beginning that has so often brought me into contact with divinity.  Home again I am blessed with divine insight, nothing profound for the world, but even more important transformative for myself.

Where ever your spiritual birthplace, if you are feeling adrift upon your path, I would urge you to return to the beginning, reengage divinity in the simplest of terms, open to what she has in store for you.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Arizona Passes An Anti ___________ Bill

As the world watches the incredible events in the Ukraine,  Arizona quietly retreats social justice into the Dark Ages.  By passing a bill that allows establishments to refuse to serve individuals who place a "substantial burden on their sincerely held religious beliefs" the state has opened a Pandora’s box of discrimination, hatred and bigotry.

The national discussion of the law has focused on LGBT rights and the bills intent to focus on what the right wing terms a “religious freedom” issue.   Be there no mistake, this bill opens the door to discrimination against those wearing a Sikh headdress, a Star of David or a Pentagram.  Such legislation should sound the alarm for Progressives everywhere that our rights are precariously perched on a precipice soon to be violently shoved down the slippery slope of intolerance under the bogus cover of a religious liberty claim.

Progressives, be alarmed, very alarmed, those seeking to frame Freedom as the source of their hatred and intolerance are a threat to all who embrace true religious, social and economic freedom.  Once again, those promoting hate have wrapped themselves in the flag of our nation expecting immunity from a populous deceived by their use of the vernacular of Freedom.

Those who would frame this as “just a LGBT issue” miss the point; unless you are a blue eyed, blond haired, straight, old male Christian this kind of legislation is a profound threat to your freedom, to social justice and to the very foundations of our constitutional form of government.

Today, Arizona’s diverse population is backed against the wall. The choices are clear,  go quietly into the night, deceived by those who would pervert our founding principles or resist with the understanding that this is the moment when we as a nation have the opportunity to defend the foundational freedoms that protect us all.

Progressives, minorities, Muslims, Pagans awake, this is a fight we must participate in!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Shinny Shoes and Mindfulness

Over the years I have taken some flack and good-natured kidding from many individuals about my shoes. From my friend Patrick McCollum saying I was displacing him as the only “wing tipped Pagan” to co-workers teasing that if I take my shoes off my socks would shine also!

A 15 Year old pair of shoes

These comments prompted me to explore this life long habit of taking excessive care of my footwear. At first I suspected that it was just a habit instilled in me by my successful and old school father.  What my exploration revealed was, however, much more profound and related to my personal sense of well being, reduction of stress levels and a consistent source of grounding in my life (no pun intended)

As I engaged in shining my shoes I discovered that the process took my full attention; gone were my concerns, thought processes and every day planning.  Additionally I noticed that as the process progressed that it was so familiar that I was not thinking about the shining process but rather in a state of mindfulness, my mind blank. As I fully considered the process it was evident that my pulse slowed, my stress disappeared and a sense of joyfulness settled over me.

Strange how the most basic rituals of daily life can so fully support a healthy state of mind.  So now I am looking for other activities in my life that bring me to this place of connectedness and openness to divinity. My question to you my blessed community is, what long-standing rituals of daily life support your ability to reduce stress, live in the present and find peace?

Magik surrounds us, even the most basic of activities, established long before we embraced our current path, are rituals that can bring much comfort and sense of well being.

 May you all be blessed with rituals of comfort!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Expanding the Definition of Marriage Equality

The Defense of Marriage Act, Virginia’s attempt to criminalize oral sex, the debate in Utah over same sex marriage, all reflect this countries obsession with religious principles and invasive interest in the private bedroom behavior of our citizens.

 By participating in this debate society gives implied approval that the government has a legitimate interest in the private behavior of its citizens.  Left out are individuals who engage in plural marriage, the trans gendered community and those who just wish engage the legal rights of those closest to them to enter into a binding contract that protects the rights of their families.

At the base of these events is an emerging ethic that all citizens should have the right to engage in the legal benefits of marriage regardless of personal private behavior. In a Plural society, the government should have no interest in “what the marriage contract means in terms of private behavior”.  The legal rights and protections of marriage should be accessible to all Americans.

If you are single and wish to engage these rights to insure that your best friend can make decisions for you, have access to your funds in the event of your death etc., the protection of a legally recognized contract should be available to you.

While I do and will continue to support the efforts of groups like the HRC, just maybe, the time has come to abandon the obsessive and invasive Victorian framework that has dominated these discussions.  Government has no justifiable interest in the private legal behavior of its’ population.  Lets define the marriage contract as available to everyone and remove the arrogant assumption that personal behavior should even be considered when engaging our rights.

The religious arguments about marriage belong within religious communities, not enshrined in law!  

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Musings On Service And Leadership

You work where? Why?  These questions that I have been asked multiple times involve a complicated web of the need for service, meaning in life and the desire to make a difference in the world.

Every year, in the off-season for the fire teams, I take a job. It has always been my guiding principle that I will only engage in employment that has a positive impact on the world. Several of my friends who are also Chief Officers on the Incident Management Teams have put their skills to use by manifesting leadership training organizations, not so for me.

Yes I work in a Detox unit because that is where people need help, the hours are long, the pay poor and the stories sad, yet I am invigorated.  Until humanity values those most in need as having the same inherent human value and dignity as everyone else there will always be work that feeds my inner need for service to humanity.

My urge for making a difference also leads me to engage in social activism. Currently I am organizing a protest calling on my city to establish a minimum wage that is equitable and livable.

In my book, leadership is about being willing to engage in what needs to be done; it’s personal.  Divinity has blessed me with a body that has a given amount of days upon this earth.  The question is what will I do with this time?  The leaders who I admire are not those who have vast numbers of followers, but those who are willing to get their hands dirty, engaging in service where society sees little value in their actions.

To the thousands of individuals who engage in service to humanity with little or no recognition; you are the true leaders, able to set aside personal need for accomplishment, monetary reward and security in a quest to have a meaningful impact on the lives of others.

Every day I lead myself,  if some join me, they are welcome,  yet when I take a turn in the road, engage in the dirty work, I have no expectation that they will follow.

  Where do you lead yourself?

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Thank You International Pagans, Happy New Year!

As part of a year end review of this blog and its' readership I took a glance at the statistics provided by the platform provider.  I was truly surprised to see that the countries listed below represent more than 25,000 reads. It is clear that the readership is more diverse and multinational than I had expected.

In 2014 it will be my goal to engage in writing about subjects that address this amazing group of Pagan In Paradise readers. I am keenly interested in what issues are of import to Pagan communities in these nations. So I ask you my international readers to drop me an e-mail, let me know about Pagan subjects of interest in your countries.

It is my hope to highlight the actions of pagan groups and organizations in your home country. We all live upon Gaia and it is my intent to adjust my writing to reflect this global ethic. With sincere regret at having not addressed this issue sooner I look forward to presenting a more inclusive platform for international Pagan discussion.

To all my friends and readers in:

United Kingdom



U.S. Virgin Islands







Happy New Year! 

Hope to hear from you soon

Peter Dybing

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Ten Pagans Who Made A Difference In 2013

This years Top Ten post features individuals who quietly engage in making a meaningful difference in the world as well as those who have made very public contributions to the greater Pagan community. I believe this subjective list reflects that there are thousands of Pagans engaged in meaningful service around the world.  So here is my list, my question to my Pagan sisters and brothers is who would be on your list?

Jerrie Kishpaugh Hildebrand

Having worked on several, in process, projects, this year with Jerrie, I have come to regard her as one of the most positive leaders in the Pagan community. Always ready to contribute as a Designer, a Minister or just a supportive worker she is an unsung hero of our community. Her status as the go to person for positive insights, advice and assistance in our community makes her a Pagan who made a difference in 2013.

Elizabeth McNally

If you are part of the DC area community it is impossible to not stumble upon this individual of compassion, understanding, and healing energy. Elizabeth’s contributions include involvement in both local and national Pagan efforts.  She has been a guiding light to her local coven, a national Pagan Magazine and countless efforts within the Pagan community.  This year her steadfast compassion has made her a Pagan who made a difference in 2013

Zenah Smith

Those who know Zenah do not have enough fingers and toes to count her many accomplishments within our community. This long time servant of the Covenant of the Goddess, not only has volunteered for years for positions that would overwhelm us mere Pagans, but also has remained as an emeritus in her many roles, always willing to step up, always professional and always a purveyor of wisdom. There is many a Pagan organization that can credit Zenah with their continued success.  Zenah you are my favorite quiet Hero, always deserving of recognition, but to humble to step into the lime light to receive it.  Your years of service place you as one of the 10 Pagans who made a difference in 2013!

Brian Rasmussen

Between Brian’s service to his local Pagan community, his work as a sign Language Interpreter and his volunteer efforts with wild birds at Wildlife Rescue Inc., it is almost impossible to site any single thing he is involved in that defines his efforts. Brian is a shinning example of a Pagan that has dedicated his life to service.  This no bounds servant of the community, the planet and his fellow human beings stands as an example of Pagan belief in action.  Brian, living your beliefs in everything you do makes you one of the Ten Pagans who made a difference in 2013.

Teo Bishop

Teo began the year as probably the hottest emerging Pagan personality. His writing at Bishop in the Grove stood as an outstanding example of authenticity and self-disclosure in spiritual process. Teo’s transition back to his former beliefs also demonstrated great courage and prompted a much-needed conversation within our community about authenticity, compassion and the need to support spiritual seekers on their path, not just the multitude of Pagan related paths. Thank You Teo for your insights, honesty and integrity. Your actions place you among the Pagans who made a difference in 2013.

Alane Brown

Pagans across the country learned of the sacrifices of Alane this year.  For a Princeton educated PhD and full time College Professor to surrender her comfortable life for one of service with the Peace Corps in Peru, is no small commitment. Further, Alane’s actions in manifesting sustainable economic activity in Peru reflect her belief in real world action.Thank You Alane for reminding us all that service to humanity is a higher calling that reflects the best of Pagan belief. Your worldwide efforts place you on this list of Ten Pagans who made a difference in 2013.

Kathy Lezon

Kathy’s service to the community has been impressive this year.  First she runs for National First Officer of COG, a rewarding commitment to be sure, but one that I can tell you personally, is also akin to painting a target on your back during hunting season. Second, she applies to found a new Pagan Pride day event. Finally, as if the above was not enough, she stood as a guiding light of compassion and service during the multiple Pagan rights issues that arose in Florida this year. Kathy, your over the top commitment to community service places you high on this list of Pagans who made a difference in 2013

Selena Fox

One could go on for hours about the contributions of Selena Fox.  Generally, individuals do not appear on this list for multiple years. In this case however, an exception is being made. During recent Pagan rights issues in Florida this writer received some positive attention for his actions. The fact is, that attention was not deserved. Each action, each word, each engagement was taken only under the wise guidence of Selena. I could not be more impressed with the depth of knowledge, wise counsel or measured engagement that she advised.  For being the guiding force in the defense of our communities rights Selena is being named, once again, as a Pagan who made a difference.

Heather Greene

Wow where to start? Heather could be named as the National Public Information Officer of Pagandom. National PIO for COG, Public information advisor for Circle Sanctuary, outstanding writer at The Wild Hunt, she does it all.  With class, integrity and great skill Heather has emerged as the voice of the Pagan community. Most remarkable, she has done so with out the need to build a reputation for herself or falling into the minefields of speaking for all Pagans. Heather your outstanding professional communication skills and willingness to engage, place you not only on the list of Pagans who made a difference but among those that I personally greatly admire.

Alley Valkyrie

There is an old narrative we all have heard many times; that of the Hero that takes up the cause of the down trodden. In service to those who have no voice, this Hero makes great sacrifices, overcomes great obstacles, and fights the good fight mindless of self-preservation.  In my book, Alley is such a Hero. Evidenced by her tireless advocacy for the homeless population in Eugene Oregon.  She fights business interests, governments, individuals of privilege and never wavers in her commitment.  Alley, your efforts make you a personal Hero of mine and I believe the best of what our community can be.  For heroic action in the face of daunting odds you sit atop the list of Ten Pagans who made a difference in 2013.

So that's this years list, Who would be on your 2013 list? Please let me know in the comment section.