Youtube link: http://www.youtube.com/user/WayfaringJo?feature=watch
What gave you the idea for your username?
I’ve called myself Wayfarin’ Jo because this life is a pilgrimage, we’re on a journey. I don’t know where we’re going, but that’s not as important as HOW we get there… For example, peace is not just an end, it is both the means and the end. The same with love, it is both the means and the end… Anyhow. I’m a student and a seeker, always have been, always will be. (What a long-winded way to say; “I’m nosey!” lol!)
Have you always been magickal?
Yes. Have I always been magickal? Define magic? I’ve always been in touch with the Divine, from my earliest days. I’ve always believed that everything that breathes is animated, sentient, has a soul and power – I’ve always been pantheistic —> the one tradition that runs through every religion, interestingly enough. Not sure where I got those ideas, when neither of my parents believe them, when no one in my family believes them. But I remember having them from the time I was 5 or 6 on.
What got you started, and why?
I was born to an Anglican priest and a Roman Catholic mom. My first favorite tv series was “Kung Fu”. And we always spent our vacations on the Cherokee Indian Rez… My earliest years were formed with a healthy respect for all religions, races, cultures. So, I’ve never been afraid to ask questions, of anybody. In fact, I’ve been driven to ask questions of everybody! Truth is truth, and wisdom is wisdom, wherever you find it. And when you find it, when you practice and it works, it’s always a healing joy for you and everybody else.
If your path didn’t exist, what would you follow?
My path, at this point, is Zen, informed by both the Episcopal tradition and my ancestors’ Asatru practice. The Buddha has taught us, our prime directive is to relieve suffering. Unfortunately, there are no Buddhists in Cincinnati who are practicing social justice. They are meditating and collecting money. So, when I looked around Cincinnati, I found that the Episcopal Church is practicing social justice, saving homeless shelters from being torn down, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, etc. So I joined my practice with theirs. Lucky me, they have a Zen mass, so I feel more at home!… My path is flexible, it depends much more on action than on words. Doctrinarism does not unify, it divides – it does not heal, it rips apart. love and healing are the same in every language, smile and someone will smile back, tear your loaf of bread in half and hand it over the hungry person understands you care… Magick is about transformation, turning water (ordinary) into wine (extraordinary), or as the Buddhists say; Kwan Yin transforms the Hells into Paradise. Nothing is more transformative than a healing act… So it doesn’t matter if Zen exists, it doesn’t matter if Episcopal or Asatru or any religious path exists – transformative love and healing exists everywhere and in every language.
What is my secret to staying spiritual? – I’ve always been obsessed with spirituality, ever since my earliest years, even as a toddler. I don’t know why? Everyone in my family has been, I suspect some of it is nature and some of it is nurture… It doesn’t help my obsession either, that I’ve always been haunted. Everywhere I go, I experience ghosts or spirits. For the longest time, I thought religion would be able to tell me something about these experiences, tell me something about these spirits – but I’ve never found any answers that really satisfy. Not in any religion, not in regard to the topic of hauntings’ anyway… But I have found this satisfying and it is what propels my journeying these days; if religion doesn’t help me get out of bed in the morning, if it doesn’t help me cope when my neighbour gets on my last nerve, if it doesn’t move my hands to create a better world than the one I entered then it’s worthless and I won’t waste my time. Real religion isn’t so much about “other worlds” as it is about transforming this one.
And do you think labels such as ‘fluffy bunny’ or ‘flaming pagan’ are okay or harsh?… You’re going to get two answers for this one question. My first answer is this; It’s harsh. My baptismal vows, which are renewed every year, call me to “respect the dignity of every human being.” I would be forbidden to call someone a ‘fluffy bunny’, ‘flaming pagan’, ‘Jesus-Freak’, ‘Rag-head’, ‘Greedy Jew’, etc… My second answer, however, is that we learn a lot from these words. We learn a lot more from our enemies sometimes than we do our friends, because their criticisms are often a lot more honest, even if sharp and cutting. We do well to listen to all voices, to learn from them all. Sometimes, our best practice is take a derogatory title that is flung at us and make it a “reclaimed” word. For example, a lot of pagans today prefer to take the name “Witch” and wear it proudly. They’ve taken the name back, reclaimed it and turned it from something shameful into something honourable. Laurie Cabot’s website calls her the “Official Witch of Salem”, and Laurie for her part, dresses the part of a Witch every where she goes – regardless of the ridicule and the praise, she remains the same. I love that about her. It’s a very Zen quality, she takes the ridicule and the praise with equanimity, neither changes her. She is what she is and she retains her dignity either way. )
I’ll put you in a scenario. If someone sent you negative energy or went out their way to upset/hurt you, what would you do, and why?
I’ve been in this situation many times, in different ways…My first reaction has always been the same. To call on my ancestors and the Divine to surround me, encircle me for protection. Then, to call on my community. And take whatever measures necessary for self-defence. At times, I have been ready to kill in self-defence or in defence of an innocent. I have never taken offensive measures, always defensive measures; mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually… But I want to tell one specific story.
Talk about negative energy, and someone going out of their way to upset & hurt me? I was a college intern, working at Church of Our Saviour for Rev. Paula Jackson. One day, our church received a threat that went like this; “I’m a Promise Keeper (fundamentalist Christian), and I promise you this; if you don’t throw the gay trash out to the curb, I’m going to firebomb your church.”… Our doors were (and are still) open to everyone; gay, straight, rich, poor, educated, under-educated, cross-dressing or transsexual, black, white, Hispanic, etc. And all of these people show up! Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote; “the most segregated hour in the USA is the church hour”. Half a century later, it’s still true, but NOT at Church of Our Saviour… This threat was a horrific trauma for me. It opened my eyes to the world of Christian Terrorism and it to all of the violence and blood within the Christian realms of Bible and Ritual. I got to where I couldn’t read the Bible, I couldn’t hear the Mass without gagging. And I sat in the pew in complete apprehension, in fear, waiting for the KA-BOOOM!, waiting for the breaking glass and screams of all the people I loved. Eventually, I had to leave, in fear, in resentment, in disgust… In the meanwhile, here’s Rev. Paula Jackson, a straight woman, a woman with a husband and 3 kids to love and protect, continuing to enter that church every day, faithfully, regardless. And it didn’t matter that the threat was credible, that local Jewish synagogues had been vandalised or that our local Islamic mosque was indeed bombed. Paula wasn’t going to be intimidated, she wasn’t going to let some prejudiced jerk stand alone to define Christianity in his way to the exclusion of others, she opened the doors of her Church to EVERYONE, day in and day out regardless. She’s my hero for that, my living Saint. After years of wandering through my ancestor’s Asatru and through Zen, I came back to Church of Our Saviour and to my Saint. As I’ve said before, I came back because religion is supposed to heal and transform the world, not just people, but all of ecology. And when I looked around Cincinnati, it was Church of Our Saviour that is doing that. If I were in Wisconsin, I’d probably be with Selena Fox’s pagan community, because Selena’s community is healing and transforming Wisconsin. If I were in California, I’d be with Thich Nhat Hanh’s Zen community, because his community is working social justice. To heal the world, to transform the world, we go to where the Saints are; like Selena Fox, Thich Nhat Hanh, Rev. Paula Jackson. Where they are is where thunder is happening, where the earth is shaking, where some people are rejoicing because change is happening and others are hailing down death threats because change is happening. (I’d be willing to bet Selena got death threats for going to the Supreme Court to have the Pentacle issued for USA military grave stones.) The question is; do we believe in that transformation enough, do we believe in that healing enough to risk our very lives?… I do. It took me YEARS to get to that point. But I do. I pass the test. Because to this day, my church receives threats, my Priest receives threats, I do too. And twice a week, I walk into that church with my Priest. And on occasion, we do protests together. like this one to save a homeless shelter from a corporation that wants to tear it down so they can “develop” the land;
Along with the link to the article which you can see, I’ve sent an attachment, a photo of my beloved Priest at the same protest.