Monday, June 21, 2010

Pagan Peace-Making: A Call for Submissions

Voices of Pagan PacifismSix months ago, I resolved to write a book. Or, at least, to try. I gave myself a year, to flush out all the insecurities and psychological stumbling blocks that were in the way, and begin the work of articulating my vision and song of practical Pagan peace-making.

Six months later, the journey has changed shape. The process I committed to has come to demand that, first, before the sojourn of writing there must be a period of pilgrimage, a going-out along the peace-forging path in a new and more social way, learning from others as I go. Back at the beginning of May, I was invited to join the blogging project Pagan+Politics, and the familiar anxiety swept over me again as I wondered if I was up to the challenge. The experience has been both simpler and more difficult than I anticipated, with a great deal of stress and distraction as I have fought the urge to follow arguments far off course, into unfruitful bickering and petty fact-checking. Yet it has helped me to clarify my own thoughts, as well as get a better sense of where the detractors and dismissers of peace-making are coming from. Most importantly, however, it provided an opportunity to hear from readers the relief and gratitude at discovering they were not the only Pagan Pacifists out there, and to discover just how important it is for us to hear the voices of others and to know that we are not alone.

I hear quite often that there is an assumption that all Pagans are pacifists. Yet when I do a simple Google search for the phrase, what I find are almost entirely websites that promote a Christian peace in rejection of a violent pagan past, or modern Pagans trumpeting warriorship and bravado despite "the pacifistic Pagan stereotype." Where are all of these peace-making Pagans, then? Where might we find a space in which they speak for themselves about their values, intentions and practices? That I have received such feedback from readers about the need for Pagan pacifists to know they are not alone, it seems vital now to provide a forum where their voices might be heard, clearly and strongly, without the diluting reinterpretations of those who promote the impracticality of peace in the service of some other agenda.

And so, my partner Jeff and I set to work to create just such a forum. Though the website is still in development, to catch the peaking energies of mid-summer (and in honor of Pagan Values Month 2010) we would like to introduce to you, in a pre-launch Call for Submissions: Voices of Pagan Pacifism.

We hope this website will become an ever-growing forum and archive for the modern Pagan peace-maker, full of resources, personal essays, philosophical and well-researched articles, as well as practical suggestions for ritual, meditation, magic and prayer. The highlight of the website, however, will be the Featured Pagan Pacifist of the Month, where a rotation of interviews with leaders and practitioners of everyday Pagan peace-making will share, in their own words, the stories, inspirations and lessons-learned of a Pagan spiritual life informed by pacifism, peace-making, activism and social justice.

Our first month's issue will be published during the "Official Launch" of the website on Lughnasadh. August 1, 2010. For the next six weeks, we will be finishing the site's design (so please excuse the dust) and accepting submissions for this first as well as future issues. Please peruse our Submission Guidelines for more information about the types of articles, essays and how-to guides we're looking for. All submissions can be sent to submissions [at] paganpacifism [dot] com, along with a short bio of the writer. (We gladly welcome articles that have already appeared elsewhere in personal blogs or websites, as long as we have the original author's permission and a reference to the original publication.) We look forward to reading your work and working together with all of you to sing a song of peace that will resonate through the Pagan community. Warm up your voice, fellow peace-makers, and join the chorus!


  1. I am looking forward to this project. As I said elsewhere, I do not self-identify as a pacifist, but I do identify with the role of peace-maker. I am curious though... there seems to be a conflation of the terms pacifist and peace-maker in the above. Do you consider pacifism to be both a necessary and a sufficient condition for the role of peace-maker? (this question meant in the spirit of non-confrontational intentional enquiry :-) )

  2. Adam, I ended up answering this question (sort of) in response to your other comment! Just to give a brief rehash here, for anyone else who is also wondering:

    For the most part, I do use the words "pacifism" and "peace-making" interchangeably. The Latin origin (through French) of the word pacifism come from two roots: pax, meaning "peace," and facere, meaning "to make." So pacifism quite literally means "to make peace."

    As far as how others use these words, it varies a great deal. Some see pacifism primarily as a political philosophy that is strongly anti-war and supportive of diplomatic alternatives. Others, such as Gandhi and King, extended pacifism into the realm of social justice and use its philosophy to support efforts like nonviolent resistance and civil disobedience. Still others approach pacifism much more deeply, as a a philosophy of radical nonviolence that seeks to avoid ever using brute force or causing harm or suffering for others.

    To me, peace-making is both a political strategy and a spiritual discipline (and I tend to use the term "pacifism" to indicate the more political/social side, and the term "peace-making" to evoke the spiritual side). I look to both Jesus and Brigid as gods of peace-making and social justice as ways of seeking Spirit in community and within ourselves. For me, that means spending time contemplating "spiritual" questions like what is the nature of violence, honor, love, death and peace, and how does our engagement with the world reflect these aspects in various ways.

    For the Voices of Pagan Pacifism project, we're looking for submissions from anyone who works for peace and sees this work as an aspect or outgrowth of their spiritual path. Pacifism and peace-making are such broad philosophies, they deserve to have a broad representation within the Pagan community, instead of being dismissed or laughed off as ineffective and impractical by those who have never bothered to give it a try or learn from those who have.