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Peter on the Soul and Magic and Matter

I was out in the back yard a few weeks ago, and I looked up and saw the full moon, brilliant and sharp in a clear night sky.  Seeing it, I found myself quietly singing a song by the ritual performance group Mothertongue:

"The Moon is high at the witching hour,
Children come to this place of power;
Our hands are raised to four directions,
Spirit force is born again."

I felt a wave of awareness of the magickal quality of its beauty, very like the feeling I once had of walking into a Benedictine monastery when I was a young man and feeling the Holy Spirit settling over my shoulders like a warm blanket.

And somehow, the beauty reminded me of how important it is to me that the Gods are persons.  I’ve been reading Plotinus, a neoplatonist philosopher, and he’s fascinating.  His Enneads are one of the foundational texts of western mysticism and magick…but he’s missing something.  It’s the same thing I found missing in the Tao Te Ching.  Taoists and neoplatonists both strive to be passi…
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The Return of Quaker Pagan Reflections

Welcome to the new, hopefully improved Quaker Pagan Reflections.

Between leaving Patheos Pagan and this post, Peter has finished the last edit on his novel and begun to pitch it to agents, I have been in negotiations with Anne Newkirk Niven of Pagan Square to carry our blog starting this fall, we have redesigned our layout, and--oh yes! I have also retired from my work as a high school English teacher.

It has been a summer like any other, in many ways: bike rides and trips to the beach, gardening and canning and time with friends.

It has also involved daily trips to Peter's parents in their assisted living center, grief and worry over their failing health and their futures, and for me, a fair amount of soul searching around what to do with Act III of my life.

We have spent more time in meetings with caseworkers and at protests than at the beach, and I have been focused on trying to discern how to be faithful to the promptings of Spirit in the personal and political spheres, having…

Goodbye to Patheos Pagan Channel

The Quick VersionThis will be our last post for the Patheos Pagan channel.

We’ll keep writing, and you will always find us at Quakerpagan.org. Our archives will appear both here and also at Patheos, as is customary for their bloggers who leave that site. (We will not be transferring comments, so if you are looking for an old discussion after one of our posts, you will find it there.)
For Those Who Want to Know: Why We Are LeavingLike a number of other Pagan bloggers, my husband and I were not happy with the most recent contract we Patheos offered us.
Actually, I haven’t been happy with the overall direction I’ve seen here for some time–not because of the content of the Pagan blogs here, which I continue to enjoy, but because there’s an increasing push to monetize our writing.  And while there’s nothing wrong with that in and of itself, but I’m not sure that’s how my writing works–at least here on this blog.

The strapline at Quaker Pagan Reflections has long been “Blogging in a …

Facing Death/Facing Life

Our hemlock tree is dying.

Seventy feet tall or more, its feathery top boughs filter the light below.  Its triple trunk, hard roots, and burnished needles dominate the yard.  It cradles the altar Peter shaped to fit its branches.  

We have celebrated Lammas beneath this tree, watched its branches snare the moon, and carefully skirted the faerie ring at its feet.


World Tree, Tree of Life, stubborn, strong, it shelters hundred wild creatures. Our hemlock tree is sacred.   And it is dying, in spite of anything we can do.

Two summers ago, my husband moved his parents to live in the house next door.  Their home in Ohio had become too hard to manage, and it was clear that Peter’s father’s dementia was worsening.

We hoped that moving them across the country to live next door would improve their quality of life. We didn’t reckon on how much their moving here would improve our own.  New traditions sprang up for all of us: Friday nights are for pizza and Star Trek at our house; Satur…

Peter on Mysticism and Facebook in a Time of Crisis

I read poetry in the mornings. Or theology. Or I journal. Sometimes I meditate, occasionally I will put a prayer into words. It’s a daily spiritual practice, and it helps keep me grounded and centered and sane.

It also draws me into thinking about the deepest levels of reality. I wonder about the relationship between human consciousness and the Divine. I read Plotinus and the Sefer Yetzirah and Erwin Schrödinger and I sit with their thoughts as I might sit staring into the heart of an intricate puzzle, working at it some with my mind but also just letting their insights soak into my unconscious. I’ve been carrying around Rilke’s Book of Hours the way some Christians carry around their Bibles, and lately I’ve been going back to the original German and hammering out my own translations. It leads me into a much deeper reading, and here and there I think I’ve picked up shades of meaning in the text that were missed by more literate translators. They are poets reading mystica…

Peter on the Election

Stunned. A week later I still find myself waiting to wake up and find it was all a bad dream. I hear on the news about Trump’s transition team, and I think, wait a minute, where’s Hillary’s transition team?
I’ve been processing. Not putting feelings into words, because I need to let the knowledge settle enough so that my feelings aren’t the flash-in-the-pan of incredulity and anger. Let those burn off, then take a good long look around at what my America has become.

What we lost by electing the bastard: Health care, environmental protections, regulation and accountability for Wall Street, and any chance of overturning Citizens United. And the Supreme Court.

But even if he’d lost, the bastard would have done much of his damage just in running. Defeated, he would still have made hate speech part of ordinary political discourse. When his followers admire him for “telling it like it is,” they mean he’s not pretending a respectable tolerance he doesn’t feel and not asking th…

A Time of Retirement

"Do we take time away from the press of society, the demands of peace and justice concerns, the obligations of the workplace, and even our family? The word retirement can call us to a time of refreshment, not the end of our work. This may be as simple as a period of meditation in the early morning or before we go to bed…

" …Making retirement part of life includes times of retreat – personal retreats especially where one can take a day or a few days alone, in the quiet, to renew inwardly. Similarly, when I take time to write in my journal at the start of the day, or sit quietly and clear my mind, the whole day goes much better."
(From "A Tender, Broken Meeting," by Margery Post Abbott.)

I have been writing this post in my head for a very long time.

In the months that have passed since my last post, my life has spun out of control.  Not everything has been bad, but any sense of calm and order I have had in my life has been thrown to the winds, and I’v…