At the Mercy of the Elements

So here it is again: evacuation in the face of wind-driven wildfires.

Second time in two years.

Climate change is real, y’all. More severe winds, higher temperatures leading to lower humidity: boom. Fire.

It disturbs me how little the subject comes up as the whole community freaks out over the fires.

This is not a random event. Once? Maybe. It happened in 1964, and again in 2017.

But two years later. Again?

After continuously record-breaking temperatures, month after month, year after year, this is not a random event. It’s an inevitable event.

I’m sitting at friends’ house, glad to have a place to retreat to. We even still have power, which most of the region does not.

When you start to experience how fragile the bubble of what we take for granted really is, you realize how quickly so-called “civilization” could crumble, given proper circumstances.

I would much prefer to be at home tonight, but home is off-limits and I don’t know when it will again be available.

Still, life goes on. If we lose our home, it’s still just stuff.

But it’s hard to get my mind around the fact that this is not strange.

It is the new normal.

Things End

I’m in an odd space right now.

On the one hand, excitement about The Book and the newness of all the Author Stuff like promoting it, doing interviews, etc. is really thrilling.

But on the other, beloved things are coming to an end, and I’m sad about that.

Pantheacon, which has been the largest gathering of Pagans in North America, has announced that 2020 will be its last year. The owner of the event is retiring and no one else has been willing to take it over.

Now, I’m skeptical that this will come to pass. There is enough of a population of people who love the event—and enough money to be made from it—that some person or group will come along and keep it going in some form. I hope that is the case.

Meanwhile, a ritual group that I have practiced with for many years, The Spark Collective, appears to be on its last legs. Attendance has plunged, and we are hemorrhaging money. We had conducted monthly ritual circles, but the Core Group, of which I am a part, has decided to cut back to quarterly gatherings in 2020 to see if we can succeed at that scale.

As I said, I’m sad about these changes. To me, they signal even fewer opportunities to spend time with people who share, by and large, in my values and worldview.

I led last night’s Spark ritual. The theme was Autumn: the Coming of Darkness, and the four directions I called corresponded to the phases of grief: Cherishing, Mourning, Surrendering, Remembering. As it turned out, what I ended up grieving in the tiny, less-than-critical-mass ritual was Spark itself, as it had been, with robust attendance and palpable energy in the room.

Things end. Even things that have existed for a long while. I just hope that new things then spring up to replace them which provide something like the context and experiential flavor of what has gone before.

All that said, I’m willing to do work to make it happen, too. I went onto the Spark Core group because I wanted to serve the community with those events and that space. If Spark is going away, I will have more time and energy available for other things. if Pantheacon is to rise again in a new form, I’m up for helping to make that happen.

Unlike members of major religions, we can’t just expect that religious community will be available to us simply by joining an existing church, temple or mosque. We have to create it. And—as with all human endeavors—that is often a process of two steps forward, one step back.



As of tonight, I am out.

I acknowledged the publication of my book and publicized a radio interview coming up on Sunday to my entire friends list on Facebook, which includes professional and political associates.

For my entire career, I have kept my religious life out of my professional life. It doesn’t belong there, and the last thing I would want to do is to make anyone uncomfortable.

But now I’ve written the book, and I’m about to do an interview that could be heard by thousands of local residents, and honestly? I just don’t care any longer.

I’m out of the Atheopagan closet.

Now, I live in a progressive, tolerant, largely civilized area. This revelation is unlikely to hurt me. Not everyone has such a luxury, and I am fully cognizant of this.

But it’s an interesting moment for me. I have kept a careful partition between my personal life and my professional life for a very long time, in the name of maintaining my credibility.

But again: I don’t care any longer.

Ours is a worldview substantiated absolutely by science. A set of values that are moral and valid. And a practice that is meaningful, humane, and kind.

Nothing to be embarrassed by. Nothing to be ashamed of. However radically different it may be from the Christian substrate of this country, our way is one to be proud of.

So I’m out.

I’ll let you know how that works out for me.