Friday, December 9, 2011

Walking the Talk, 10 Pagans Who Made A Difference in 2011

This is my highly subjective list of Pagans who “Walked the Talk” in 2011. As I write this I have a list of dozens names sitting next to me, what a great community. Most of the people on this list you will know, some maybe not. All have created a lasting impression on me during 2011. Being the list author this year I have used my discretion and, however tempting, not selected any of those named last year for this years list.

10. Michael York

Some of those with whom I interact in the Pagan community may not know who Michael York is. Over the past year this Pagan, from across the pond, has become very influential in my life and the broader Pagan community. Mr. York hosts a closed group on facebook titled “Pagans” When I was first accepted as part of the group I had reservations about the concept of a closed group. Over time it became apparent that Michael’s vision for the group was positive, productive and successful. You see Mr. York is a true theological academic and the Pagans group is no place for light hearted Pagan banter. The discussions among its members are focused, deliberate and meaningful. Mr. York has created a place for those who are serious about exploring Pagan theology, which benefits the entire community. I am deeply grateful for both being a member of this group and for all I have learned from the group members. His accomplishments in educating and influencing many well-known members make Michael York a Pagan who Walked his Talk in 2011.

9. Wendy Griffin

When Wendy Griffin accepted the post of Academic Dean at Cherry Hill Seminary the Pagan community had no idea how fortunate we were. Ms. Griffin’s background includes being the department Chair, Department of Women's, Gender & Sexuality Studies, University of California, Long Beach. It is tempting to list her other accomplishments as part of this post, however it is her performance at Cherry Hill that gained her the respect of the Pagan community. Wendy is always available to community members, ready to support projects within the community and does not shy away from difficult issues. Her leadership skills and academic record have enhanced the reputation of Cherry Hill and made her an invaluable resource. From organizing panels at PantheaCon to leading the way in creating a credible Pagan educational institution Wendy has established that she is a Pagan who makes a difference while walking her talk.

8. Greg Harder

Greg exemplifies putting your belief into action. As the former Public Information Officer for Covenant of the Goddess he established that the way to create interest within the Pagan community in the digital age was by creating, managing and consistently contributing to public access facebook pages, something that he continues doing to this day. CoG’s page now has more than 4,200 followers. His additional activities managing the People of the Earth page have also been highly successful. Add to all this involvement with many other organizations including the Bay area Pagan Newswire Collective and you have intention in action. While Greg may seem quiet and unassuming I can assure you that he knows full well how to challenge what he has questions about in the community. Greg deserves the appreciation of the entire community for his own quiet way of walking the talk.

7. Crystal Blanton

During the last year Crystal has established herself as one of the new breed of Pagan leaders. Bringing her professional experience to the Pagan table and applying it with such compassion and pure selflessness is impressive to say the least. Her efforts in helping communities heal from past experiences have benefited the community as a whole. Add to all this her contributions to the Patheos Pagan Portal, multiple speaking events and her service to national Pagan Organizations and you have a Pagan who does far more than walk her talk

6. Galina Krasskova

Galina may be a Second Year Dean at The New Seminary for Interfaith Studies, but she is much more than that. She is a Heathen academic with a master’s degree in religious studies. More to the point her writings and engagement of the Pagan community have brought a new and deeper understanding of Heathenry among more traditional minded Pagan practitioners. Always open to questions and conversation, even from the unlearned, such as my self, she sets an example for what Pagan unity could be. Academic, teacher, presenter, writer, these are pursuits familiar to the Pagan community. It is her grace, dignity and compassion in these endeavors that make her a Pagan who walks her Talk.

5. Nels Linde

Going over a list of Pagan organizations that Nels is involved with is like reviewing a who’s who list of Pagan organizations. I admire him for his willingness to speak out and act when necessary. What put him on this list are his efforts as a member of the Pagan Newswire Collective. As a writer he is insightful, accurate and always interested in the human aspects of a story. Much has been made of the “new” Pagan media and all it represents in terms of the future of our community. If these predictions come true it will be because of Nels and his fellow PNC members. His consistent professional and articulate pursuit of high journalistic standards with a heart is amazing. For some walking your talk is a goal, for Nels it is seemingly second nature. Here is to you teacher, friend, activist, and writer Cheers! The world is better with you in it!

4. David Salisbury

It was difficult to find an individual photo of David for this post, as he is always involved with people, causes, protests, fundraising etc. David is another one of the “new” Pagan leaders whom I so much admire. Focused on service to communities of which he is part David never rests. Gay rights, Pagan rights, Animal rights, you name a progressive issue and David is involved. If the concept of service to community could have a middle name it would be David! His tireless efforts on behalf of community, humanity and the planet make David a Pagan leader we can all support. From his first breath in the morning to his last at night David seems to very much walk his talk.

3. Anne Newkirk Niven

This longtime Editor of Sage Woman magazine had a particularly challenging year in 2011. After the largest distributer of Sage Woman went bankrupt Ann found the courage to ask the Pagan community to come to the aid of Sage Woman and Witches & Pagans. Oh, did I mention that the community responded gladly. That response is a testament to the value of this publication to Pagan women. This would be of little note if Ann were the kind of editor who published only fluff pieces that pandered to the lowest common denominator. As we all know, she is not. Her editorial this year urging the community to embrace ex offenders was controversial and well thought out. The world could use more leaders who are willing to take on the hard issues and not shy away from dissent. For her courage in confronting adversity, in both editorial policy and business, Ann deserves our respect as a Pagan woman who walks her talk.

2. Ms. Rabbit Matthews

Few individuals in the Pagan community have put so much effort into building a community only to see it thrust into the middle of a drama filled controversy. What is so remarkable About Ms Rabbit is the emotional authenticity with which she dealt with the assault on her organization. With openness, honesty, courage and heartfelt concern for others she worked on healing the community rather than seeking to protect what she had manifested. Today CAYA is a leader in inclusiveness. While we should all admire her response to this issue, we can learn much from her in terms of applying the Pagan ethic of Love and Trust to even the most divisive of issues. Ms Rabbit is truly a Pagan who walks her talk!

1. T. Thorn Coyle

There is so much to admire in the work of T. Thorn Coyle. Over the course of this year she has been involved in multiple fundraising efforts for worthy causes. It is however her accomplishments in another arena that put her at the top of this list. Her daily posts have become a kind of daily spiritual nourishment to thousands of Pagans. Never trite, always insightful, these posts offer spiritual solace in a world gone mad. She is a teacher, author, Occupy activist, fundraiser, friend in the craft and more! She also has taken it to another level, through the internet she has managed to create a sense of personal relationship, intimacy even, with those that follow her posts. Mentor to thousands would not be an exaggeration. Thank You T Thorn Coyle for helping us all Walk the Talk!

On another subject let me take a moment to thank all the spouses, partners, roommates and business associates of these Pagans who make a difference, your sacrifice helps make them who they are.

In Service to the Goddess

Peter Dybing


Christine Kraemer said...

Perhaps because she's only "reviled" by a certain conservative section of the Heathen community, the part that usually doesn't consider itself to be Pagan anyway. The statement you're making is like saying that Matthew Fox is hated by Christians because the Catholic Church defrocked him for his progressive politics. The Catholic Church is not the sole representative of Christianity. Conservative Heathens are not the only representatives of Heathenry either.

Anonymous said...

I second what Christine said above.

Cant we just be glad for what people do, rather than throw them under the bus every chance we get? Yeesh.
I for one am thankful for Galina's contributions to the community.

Pagan In Paradise said...

Anonymous, Your negative comment about a listed individual has been deleted. On this Blog, if you wish to "throw someone under the bus" You will need to post your comment using your real name. Dissent is fine, dissent while not taking responsibility for your words is not.

Newport Baby said...

I kept reading this wondering "But what about Peter Dybing". Then Duh, made the connection. Such kind words for these people, but you deserve a place among them too. Heading up the relief effort for Japan last spring with Doctors Without Borders made a world of difference, not only for the people of Japan, but for raising the profile of Paganism as a source of goodness. It was an act of unity that caused others to act in unison and feel important and humble at the same time. For that I thank you.

Birka said...

Kind Blogger,

I would just like to comment and say that Galina is reviled by most of the Heathen community, not just the conservatives. She is very much representative of the fringe and the reason why she is so reviled is because some of the things she does in rituals, are downright dangerous. If we thought Dan Halloran cast us in a bad light, it is nothing to how Galina will cast us if someone is killed in one of her ordeal rituals.

Kenaz Filan said...

@Birka: exactly what sort of life-threatening "ordeal rituals" do you think Galina is engaging in? If you have some specific information as to things Galina is doing which are putting people at risk of life and limb, please speak up. Who has Galina harmed? When and how did she harm them? Where did this happen? And where did you get this information which you are so confidently spreading as fact?

Accusations without specifics smell suspiciously like mindless parroting of gossip at best and a deliberate mud-slinging campaign via whispers and innuendo at worst.

Carole Ballard said...

Maybe on this list should be all those who work for the Goddess and don't make a sound.

Pagan In Paradise said...


Greg Harder was on the list. He is a great example of someone who works quietly for the Goddess.

Pagan In Paradise said...

As requested a link to last years list n

Rev. Crystal said...

Peter, thank you for the honor. I am truly humbled and was very surprised. I have such respect for those you chose and find it amazing to be included. I also think it is great that so many of them I have the chance to rub elbows with here in California. that is such a blessing. Thank you again.

TD said...


It's rather amazing how so many Heathen's email her, write to her, ask her to speak at their engagements both domestically here in the U.S. but also in dozens of countries abroad, and know her by her good works. Just because the circles in which you travel has some very vocal folks, does not mean that they represent the Heathen community as a whole.

She is the only Heathen author I know of who is continually being solicited to publish books for professional publishing houses and not just texts self-published by the author. Surely this indicates that there is indeed an audience of heathens who don't revile her and while you may not know them, they're certainly speaking with their wallets to the publishers--which is in the end the only way that counts.

I work in Marketing for the Entertainment industry, and we have found that in many cases, just because you hear a very vocal online presence saying one thing that buying patterns tell you the truth about the audience. If we listened to those nay-saying online consumers, we'd have run ourselves out of business years ago since our sales data points to something else entirely. Its easy for someone to pick a soapbox and garner attention online and through the media outlets we have today.

Not to mention, as a 'true' heathen, which you no doubt perceive yourself as and Galina as not, you should know that once upon a time if you had serious concern over the comments you mention with ordeal practices, that anyone life's would be in jeopardy, then we would have taken it to a thing or moot where ALL parties involved would come together to resolve the issue. In many ways this system was an ancient basis and tradition for our judicial court system today.

I find it remarkable that no such attempt has ever been done, yet the gossip-mongering continues. It amazes me how some sectors of the heathen community can't seem to move beyond the silly antics of teenage girls gossiping in the high school bathroom.

Yet here is someone who is not just saying things, but doing them. Here's someone with not only an academic background, but a religiously trained one as well. Who has more certifications than you could dream of, and has brought more people to these Gods than many of the haters.

But beyond all of that, has the only certification that matters, she is blessed by the Gods, and blessed by the ancestors. And I know this as surely as I know that I am breathing.

Just imagine, how much we could accomplish if we actually you know came together across our commonalities and worked toward a common good. Instead, here we are tearing it down. It's no wonder that we as a religion run off so many who would join us.

Ultimately religion comes down between a person and the Gods, and I'm not about to deny anyone their right to worship in the way that helps Them to connect with the divine.

She is one of the hardest working people I know, juggling yet another academic degree, while being a dean and teaching at a seminary, to publishing, traveling to do conferences, erecting god poles in her yard, bloting to the Gods, honoring and giving offerings to our ancestors, and counseling. And yes, she has taken classes for that too!

But of course I doubt that means anything to you, because sometimes at the end of the day it comes down to a very basic fact: haters gonna hate.

Rede Seeker said...

'Shaman' is a Yikes-Worthy profession. Galina is not the first Shaman to be denounced by people from the outside, looking in, and being shocked by what they see. Judging the results of a shamanic action/intervention from outside the Tradition which developed it takes less effort than learning to see things from someone else's perspective.

There is also the threat-factor to consider. As Pagans/Heathens reclaim their authentic roots, they will be encountering resistance from people who take it upon themselves to correct their actions - to bring them back to the fold. There will always be people who do not want to be left behind but who are too fearful to move forward.

Anonymous said...

Have you ever actually read through any of Galina's "life threatening" rituals? They aren't perfectly safe, as you are suppossed to take something from them as a reminder, but the actual over-all safety of people participating is always a big concern. I'll admit, I'm a bit of a Galina fan-boy, but this means I have read her works and can actually seperate the truth from the baseless accusations.

Anonymous said...

Funny how an anonymous post asking a simple question (nothing negative), is removed on the basis of anonimity... but posts that clearly state they are biased (Galina fan-boy)are not removed.

Typical double standard.

Anonymous said...

Being a good writer does not make one a good Heathen. Edred Thorsson/Stephen Flowers, Founder of the Ring of Troth, Magister of the Temple of Set (Neo-Satanic), Magister of the Order of the Triskelion (A BDSM magical Society), Grand Master Emeritus of the Order of the Trapezoid (Third Reich Era Occulltism), is a perfect example of this truism.

As for the dangerous happenings at Cauldron farm, I suggest you contact Svartsol of Gullenbursti Press who was witness and participant to the odd happenings at Cauldron Farm and Krasskova. She has publicly denounced and addressed what she witnessed.

Anonymous said...

Who is Tamyris???? Please wake up and see a power tripping sadist for who and what they are.

Anonymous said...

Hey Anonymous up there, quote Blood for the Divine:

I went and read that entry, and yes, I can see where you would come away thinking that Tamyris, whomever they may be, has sadistic tendencies.

However, I *kept* reading, and found this article as well:

I found it very enlightening.

Rede Seeker said...

When did this become a sniping copntest - first Galina and now Edred? Let's get back to celebrating the accomplishments of our Pagan Leaders.

Rede Seeker said...

Sorry for the typo...contest not copntest

Helene said...

I for one find it quite interesting that these posters whom speak so freely against this woman Galina and would tear her down know so little about the process of trancending through pain.. These practices are far from new, well established through history and across cultures. Perhaps its time to get back to studying. That being said as their posts state these acts are NOT for everyone. Certainly not for me but i will not belittle anothers process simply because it doesn't fit myself to do so would be small minded. Perhaps if those who revile her as well those who walk her path would open their minds our community would be a better place.

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