Showing posts with label T Thorn Coyle. Show all posts
Showing posts with label T Thorn Coyle. Show all posts

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Double, Double Toil and Trouble

It is tempting to wade into the discussion about a prominent individual disavowing the label Pagan. There is, however, significant evidence that such decisions are commonplace within our community.

Over the last couple of years we have heard from T. Thorn Coyle that she will no longer teach Feri Tradition courses, We have witnessed this author (Peter Dybing) announce the decision to withdraw from Pagan Leadership.

Well-known Witch M. Macha Nightmare eloquently announced her resignation from Reclaiming tradition after decades of service.  Ed Hubbard at Witch School International has given up his ministerial credentials and announced his intent to step down as CEO of Witch School.

An incredible emerging Pagan Leader who founded Firefly tradition has left religious life completely. 

Couple with these events the reports of splits within traditions and one can easily get the idea that the community if rife with drama, conflict and tumultuous changes: well, not really, there is another explanation.

Pagans are known for their independence, their insistence that each of us has a personal relationship with deity.  We espouse the idea of independence in spiritual practice.  When the need to manifest change in order to experience growth is obvious we, as Pagans, tend to act decisively.

Each of these individuals have acted boldly and followed their path with dedication to personal relationship with deity.  Their actions are a great example of why community fears of “Pagan Institutions” are groundless; our focus is not on accruing power, or achieving popularity, but on personal growth. Sometimes that means speaking our own truth, disengaging, even disappointing others.

Over the years as the ‘fire burns and the caldron bubbles’, more Pagans will evolve, emerge, leave, step up and step down.  They will inspire us and then move on in the well-established tradition of seeking their own relationship with the Goddess.

These changes are not a cause for concern, but an opportunity to celebrate the unique character of our community. Self-empowerment, reclaiming, personal relationship with the divine, these are not small concepts; they are foundations of our beliefs. They also drive me to congratulate those making changes along the path and wish them well; no drama needed. 

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