Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Pagan Social Activism

Pagan Social Activism Cover One of the first well-known pagan leaders to actively promote social activism as an outgrowth of her religious practice was Starhawk. After her first book (The Spiral Dance [1979], an introductory text to witchcraft), Starhawk wrote several books about social and political activism from the perspective of promoting ecofeminist values. By the late 1990s and early 2000s, Starhawk had emerged as a public figure as renowned for her activism as for her religious beliefs. Her work includes training others in nonviolence and direct action, and supporting the peace movement, women's movement, environmental movement, and the anti-globalization movement.

In her book Truth or Dare: Encounters with Power, Authority, and Mystery (1987) Starhawk suggests that power can function in three ways: "power-over," "power-from-within," and "power-with." "Power-over" is power wielded by the privileged to dominate or control others. "Power-from-within," by contrast, is power not concentrated in the hands of a few, but rather power that emerges within individuals to enable them to reach their full potential and to engage creatively with others. "Power-with" is the healthy social alternative to "power-over." "Power-with" is the egalitarian and truly democratic exercise of power in which peers join together to share power in common. Most of what is wrong in contemporary society can be traced back to toxic forms of dominating power. Thus the way to transform society is to encourage all people (and particularly those who traditionally have been denied access to power) to manifest their power-from-within, and then to join together with others as equals to create shared, healthy, non-dominating power structures in order to create a truly just and good social order.

Selena Fox, the founder of Circle Sanctuary in Wisconsin, engages in a variety of social and environmental initiatives. She is the founder of the Lady Liberty League, devoted to promoting religious tolerance, especially (but not exclusively) for Pagans; through Circle Sanctuary she has led efforts toward nature preservation and environmental education. The Circle community engages in a variety of social ministries, including prison ministry, food drives, and public education on nature spiritualities. In 2005 Circle was in the forefront of "the pentacle quest," the successful legal effort to force the Veterans Administration to permit pentacle-marked headstones and memorials for wiccan military veterans.

Books You Might Enjoy:

Anonymous - Pagan Stones And Gems
Starhwak - The Spiral Dance
Sepharial - A Manual Of Occultism
Baron Tschoudy - Alchemical Catechism