Selena Fox – Paganicon Guest Interview

Selena Fox

Selena Fox is a well-known priestess, environmentalist, religious freedom activist, writer, teacher, and psychotherapist. Also known as Rev. Selena Fox, she is senior minister of Circle Sanctuary in Wisconsin, which has been serving Nature religion practitioners worldwide since 1974.

Selena will appear at Paganicon March 13-15, 2015 and offer several workshops, participate in panel discussions, lead a ritual, and facilitating the Military Pagan Honoring Ceremony . Tickets are available at the door for the day, weekend, or for special events. Selena responded to written questions:

Nels: Tell me about your Cauldron Magic workshop?

Selena: I have been studying folklore and folkways for many years, and old folk traditions are an essential part of the Circle Craft tradition that I practice. In my Cauldron Magic workshop, I will share some of the ways that cauldrons have been used in ceremonies as well as in daily life through time and across a variety of cultures and spiritual traditions. I also will share some of my own experiences working with different types of cauldrons as well as ways that Pagans today can use them as ceremonial tools and symbols for celebrating the seasons, home blessings, and other sacred work. In addition, I plan to facilitate some Cauldron meditations and experiences during the workshop.

What will you include in the Pagan Death Passages workshop?

Selena: Creating and guiding Life Passage Rituals is an important part of my services to Pagan community and has been since I began priestess work more than forty years ago. In addition to creating and performing weddings, baby blessings, coming of age into adulthood rites, cronings and sagings, I also do several types of end-of-life passage rituals. The Pagan Death Passages workshop emerged out of my experiences working with individuals and their family and friends prior to, during, and after death. I realized that there was a need to do end-of-life preparation education as well as facilitate crossing overs, funerals, and burials when the need arises.

In my Pagan Death Passages workshop, I share ideas and information about ways to support end of life planning and processes for family and friends, and I also express the importance of considering your own needs and making your own end of life plans. This workshop also is designed to help facilitate community discussions and considerations about dying and death, topics that some are reluctant to talk about with others.

In the workshop I not only present some information about types of end-of-life ceremonies but also give practical tips on end-of-life planning. We will explore ways to support a loved one at the time of being diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, and discuss approaches to maximizing quality of life in the time remaining. We will talk about working with life review during the last part of life. We will examine crossing over support, including the use of music, touch, presence, readings, and ritual. We will also look at post-death rites, including customizing wakes, funerals, memorials, and celebrations of life. In addition, I will be talking about natural burial as a death passage option.

Part of my work with Circle Sanctuary includes being the director of Circle Cemetery, a national Pagan cemetery and one of the first Green cemeteries in the USA. It is located at our headquarters near Barneveld, Wisconsin and this year we will be celebrating our cemetery’s 20th anniversary. We inter cremains at our cemetery and also do full body natural burials. Natural burial, also known as Green burial, is an ancient Pagan practice – it is placing an un-embalmed body in the earth in a shroud or other biodegradable container. In the workshop, I will describe some of our work in doing burial rituals at our cemetery, as well as things to consider in selecting a cemetery as part of end-of-life planning.

Is the Goddess Brigid one of your personal patrons?

Selena:  Yes, and I’ve been working with Brigid for most of my priestess life. I keep a Brigid Shrine at my home and also am among the caretakers of Brigid’s Spring, an outdoor healing place dedicated to Her at Circle Sanctuary Nature Preserve.

I had already been working with Brigid for many years, when I discovered while reading a book on Scottish history that I am descended from some who were caretakers of a Brigid site in Fife, Scotland.

In addition to doing personal Brigid work, I also facilitate Brigid rites for small and large groups at various conferences and festivals across North America. The Brigid Healing Ritual which I will be facilitating at Paganicon has evolved over time as my own work with Brigid has deepened.

In this rite as well as in my own person work, I work with Brigid in a variety of forms. In addition to honoring Brigid as the Triple Goddess of Inspiration, Healing, and the Forge, I also work with Her as a Sun Goddess, and a Goddess connected with the Land, Oak, Swan, Flames, and Waters of holy wells and sacred springs. Included in the Brigid Healing Ritual are invocations and chants drawing on these different facets of Brigid. We will be doing different types of healing during the ceremony — healing for ourselves, healing for each other, and healing for loved ones at a distance. And we also will be doing a community working for the well-being of Planet Earth and will energize Brigid crosses, charms, necklaces, and other items participants place on our central altar during the rite. I am looking forward to bringing the Brigid Healing Rite to Paganicon.

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Christians and Pagans Collaborate on social issues

Last Wednesday, Rev. Selena Fox of Circle Sanctuary and George Hinger Coordinator of the Madison Interfaith Dialogue group participated in  the first of two scheduled dialogues between Christian and Pagan religions.   The first dialogue explored common ground and looked at American religious pluralism and Christo-Paganism.  The second dialogue, scheduled for tomorrow evening, covers experiences with  interfaith organizations and projects.

Moderator Penny Eiler, member of Prairie Unitarian Universalists; Selena Fox of Circle Sanctuary; George Hinger, Catholic.

Last weeks dialogue, hosted by the Prairie Unitarian Universalist Society, attracted  about two dozen attendees from diverse religious backgrounds.   The evening began with both Fox and Hinger reminiscing  about when they first met one another.  “George and I described our first meeting at the Parliament of the World’s Religions in 1993 at the Palmer House in Chicago,” said Fox.  “We were among several hundred people awaiting for the elevators.  We both shared the memory with those attending and celebrated the start of our long, deep, and enduring interfaith work with each other over the past 19 years,” she continued.

During the hour and a half session they went on to explore the common ground the religions share and why they were involved in interfaith work.  Hinger said the changes made in Catholicism during Vatican II was what called him to interfaith work.  The evening ended with questions from the audience about rituals, convergence of Christianity and Paganism, and how people of different faiths can work together in harmony.

left to right: Rebecca Malke, Director of Religious Education Prairie Unitarian Universalist Society & Rev. Selena Fox, Senior Minister, Circle Sanctuary

Rebecca Malke, Director of Religious Education for Prairie UU Society and organizer for the series, said the dialogue was more than she expected and she hope[s], “through more of these dialogues people from all faith traditions can gain not only a better understanding of Paganism but a better understanding of their own faith to see how we’re all connected. No matter what you believe in we’re all searching for the same thing in life: love, happiness and peace.”

The next dialogue is scheduled for tomorrow evening and is titled “Collaboration.”   In addition to relating their experiences with local and global interfaith organizations, Fox and Hinger will look at how the interfaith movement is working towards peace, social justice, and environmental protection.  There is no charge to attend and everyone is welcome.

Wednesday, April 25: Christian-Pagan Dialogue: Collaboration

Selena & George discuss their experiences with local and global interfaith organizations, conferences, and projects and the contributions that the interfaith movement is making toward world peace, social justice, and environmental protection.

7-8:30 pm
Prairie Unitarian Universalist Society
2010 Whenona Drive, Madison, Wisconsin
Free & open to the public.
For more Information, contact Rebecca Malke, Director of Religious Education, 271-8218