I took this photo a year ago today:
That’s midwinter solstice light spearing through Newgrange.
You maybe know the story. Maybe not. I was selected from 30,000 people by Irish schoolchildren to be inside the tomb on that day. They pick 50 every year.
I didn’t put my name in; a friend did, instead, because he’d had weird visions where he kept thinking he saw me in Dublin.
Lots of things have happened in the last couple of years which utterly awe me, and I’m still shaking my head in wonder. The wild success of Gods&Radicals is another of those things. So was the incredible turnout and intense feeling we were all doing something powerful at Many Gods West this year.
Peter Dybing wrote this really kind thing on his yearly list of ‘influential’ Pagans” yesterday:
As the co-founder of Gods and Radicals and the editor of A Beautiful Resistance Rhyd has nearly single handedly manifested Second Wave Paganism. This is not the Paganism of our parents, filled with fierce compassion, revolutionary thought and determination to seek social, economic, political and environmental justice these publications have the potential to become the most influential manuscripts of the Pagan community in our time. As a force for revolutionary change on a planetary scale they are eloquent, deep and profound. Rhyd’s courage in taking on these projects, which represent great personal sacrifice, is astounding.
I’m pretty humbled. Maybe also a little exhausted. And definitely still shaking my head in wonder.
A few asked me to explain what was meant by ‘Second Wave Paganism.; It’s not my phrase, it’s Peter’s, but I’ll admit it does feel like there’s something different about what the people I work with on Gods&Radicals have been doing. But it’s also what Peter Grey’s been doing, too. And folks like T. Thorny Coyle and Crystal Blanton and Langston Kahn and Elena Rose and Heathen Chinese. But also what many of the polytheists like Sannion have been doing. And what many, many of the witchpunx have been on about.
All of ’em, in varying and sometimes conflicting ways, have been birthing into the world an engaged ‘Paganism’ (though many of ’em wouldn’t call what they’re doing Paganism at all). Something that matters and changes things, that treats gods and humans and the earth as fully real things with their own meanings, their own agency, their own magics while at the same time rejecting everything we’re told about how the world should be and, instead, manifesting some greater current into the world.
Basically, refusing to swallow the idea that the world as-is is all there possibly can be.
My friend Li Pallas, who did the cover for A Beautiful Resistance, Your Face is a Forest, and my upcoming book A Kindness of Ravens, reminded me of something a few days ago.
I was talking to her about how kinda damn awesome it was to become a publisher, and she said–“wait. You were a publisher when I met you 14 years ago, remember?”
She’s right. That was awhile ago, and I sorta forgot. I’d started a punk literary zine called Earl Grey is Dead. Gathered 20 of my awesome poet and writer friends, put their stuff together, and using a color printer, made 250 copies and sold ’em in bookshops and coffeehouses. We did 4 issues, sold out of each one. It was pretty awesome. It was also just as the War on Terror started and life kinda ground us all down.
Printed on the back of one of the issues was the phrase, “Fuck Their World…Let’s Make Our Own.” It sorta became a rallying cry. I’m just realising now it’s been my mantra ever since.
We get told the world must be one way or another. Capitalism must exist, we must have police and government. Racism can’t end, the poor must exist, the forests must get cut down, we must drill for more oil, we must have war because that’s the way the world is.
But it’s only ever been their world, belonging to the rich and cynical, the powerful and white and terrified. And we get cynical after awhile, too, forgetting that we’re just letting them decide for us what the world actually is.
But we forget, and we should remember…we can make our own.