Sunday, March 30, 2014
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
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
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.
Sunday, February 16, 2014
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.
Friday, January 10, 2014
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
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
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:
Thursday, December 26, 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.
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
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!
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 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.
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’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
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.
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.
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.
Thursday, December 5, 2013
There are few figures in modern history that inspire the human spirit as completely as Nelson Mandela. For decades he has stood as the ultimate example of the struggle for human dignity in the face of oppression, confinement and political intrigue.
For those of us in the U.S. his struggle represented an ideal. In our deepest thoughts and desires we aspired to emulate this great man who was able to engage his oppressors with dignity, honor and true courage. Many of us believed by his example that a new world ethic of mutual respect, peace and cultural understanding was not only possible but also achievable. If Nelson could defeat the abomination that was Apartheid with love and compassion then all things were possible.
For activists world wide, his example lead to a well spring of young idealists willing to engage in the great struggle for universal human dignity. It may be decades before the world realizes how profound his influence has been on international events.
Of course, in South Africa he is considered an iconic figure, the father of his nation. Millions are now free as a result of his brave example. An entire people have lost their standard barer, their father figure and the hero of their generation. There are those who would tarnish this image with debate of the accomplishments of the political party he was associated with. National politics aside; South Africa and the world have lost an individual who stands among the greats of social justice.
Today we can imagine him being welcomed to tea by Gandhi, seated next to Dr. King, and engaged in conversation with Mother Teresa. It is a portrait that needs to be painted,; a legacy that will not be diminished.
Rest in Peace Mr. Mandela, you made the entire world a better place.
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
There are moments in history that prompt changes. Within our Pagan community I believe we are experiencing such a moment. The disaster in the Philippines has brought to the surface the desire of Pagans to engage more effectively in humanitarian response. Our community faces the same obstacles as everyone else in terms of discernment of the best course of action. As a minority faith group we would like to collectively focus our giving on organizations that reflect our values and provide real relief to victims in an accountable and transparent way.
Today in the Philippines members of the local Pagan Federation are attempting to do something they have not engaged in before, namely disaster response. While I personally support their efforts, as a professional disaster responder I know the course of action they are taking is fraught with pitfalls and a steep learning curve.
If the Pagan community were to establish a standing cooperative response network our co religionists could have access to disaster professionals with extensive knowledge in the areas of planning, fundraising, logistics, inter NGO relations and health care response. Their efforts and the value of each dollar contributed would be multiplied. Such an effort would have to be cooperative among all the major Pagan organizations. Simply stated, none of our organizations alone have the depth of fundraising ability, trained responders or organizational expertise. Such an approach will require the setting aside of organizational ego and a focus on what serves humanity as a whole.
Being Pagan the organizational model for such a response network would look radically different from those developed by other faith groups. The modal would include:
A focus on service to all, not just co-religionists
Building webs of mutual support with the affected population, as rapidly as possible, turning over direct operations to local responders, while maintaining responsibility for accountability and transparency as related to funds and supplies.
Understanding that the reach of our mission will be limited to providing specific services to a specific area due to our knowledge that small mobile responses are the most effective means of providing effective relief in the early days of disaster.
The understanding that a direct response is not always the best form of support. The organization would provide well-researched recommendations for donations when direct response is not the best use of resources.
Some of the basics of such a model would include trigger points for cooperative activation, a board made up of representatives of major organizations, minimum training standards for all responders, an initial small fundraiser, commitments from organizations to give a pre determined amount when an activation is declared by the board and organizational commitments to engage fundraising efforts in member communities during any response.
This concept is in the contemplative stag, I urge you to provide ideas on how to make such an organization successful. At this time the best approach is to support these conversations in any way you can. Discuss this concept in your Pagan group. Post your positive ideas on how to make the concept work, make lists of interested individuals. Share this post or write your own on the subject. Urge major Pagan organizations to come to the table to discuss this issue with out the need to be the “leading” organization. We all have something to contribute, Together We Can!