Saturday, November 30, 2019

The Power of Peace, Holding the Light

Last night, after seeing a movie, I went to Mont-Royal metro to meet with a friend for a drink. When I got onto the Orange line at Berri, there was some drama unfolding. A young guy (ball cap) and an older drunk man were hurling threats and insults at each other from across the metro car. Finally, Ball Cap had had enough and put his headphones on, drowning out the older man who was still yelling. When I got out at Mont-Royal, so did they, but another young man joined in (hoodie). The two young men crowded the older man against the wall, threatening to beat his ass, while the older man stood his ground and postured against them. When I came up to them, I could smell the alcohol coming off the older man. I got between them and told the young guys to back off, telling the older man that they weren't worth his rage. Ball Cap said he wasn't going to jail for this fool and tried to storm off. Unbelievably, Hoodie ran after him and tried to goad him into fighting the old man. When that didn't work, he ran back to the older man to insult him and tried to goad him into attacking Ball Cap. By now, we're on the escalator going up and I'm standing between the older man, Hoodie (still goading), and Ball Cap who was still yelling threats back, but still trying to put some distance between him and the older man. He reached out and snatched the old man's toque and threw it down the stairs, presumably as a distraction so that he could put more distance between them. Hoodie was telling me to mind my own business, that the older man had insulted him, and somebody needed to pay. "C'mon man, leave the old guy alone. He's old enough to be your grandfather and I guarantee you he's seen more horrible things in the last 10 years than you have seen in your lifetime!" This seemed to soften Hoodie somewhat, especially the "grandfather" bit. He pushed past us both, muttering "You're lucky that this guy [me] was here, or we would have beat your old man ass." Once we got out, the young men were gone and the old man was still raging. I tried to calm him down, but he stormed back into the metro (which I assumed was to get his hat). Once the adrenaline wore off, I ducked into alleyway and had a bit of a cry. This altercation was incredibly scary and I was convinced the entire time that fists or knives were going to come out and I'd be caught in the middle. But I could not walk away. I'm telling you all this to highlight the idea that most conflicts can be de-escalated through talk rather than more violence. With the power of words, you can appeal to people's humanity and reason to get them to back off rather than give in to ego and violence. The way of the warrior is not to pick up the sword first: it is to find solutions to conflicts in any way possible to avoid violence. Once the warrior needs to pick up the sword, he has failed in his duty and is now left with his last resort. There is power in words, there is strength in peace, and there is magic in kindness and compassion. We are coming into the darkest part of the year, so share your light with those who fear the darkness around them, but especially the darkness within them.

Friday, May 3, 2019

Star Wars Geek Creed

I believe in the almighty Force, the energy field that binds the universe together.

I believe in Luke, the greatest of the Skywalkers, he who walks between the dark and the light. He was conceived by the Dark Lord of the Sith, and born of the Queen Amidala. He suffered under Palpatine, was electrified, exiled, and found again. He projected his being to face Ben Solo. On that same day, he ascended into living Force, and is seated at the right hand of the Jedi before him. He will come again to offer wisdom to those who walk the Force in his stead.

I believe in the power of the Force, the ideals of the Republic, the reunion of friends, the forgiveness of sins, the ascension of the Skywalkers, and adventure everlasting.

May the Force be with you.
-- JD Hickey

Monday, February 25, 2019

First Nations Declaration

This post serves as a template that you can use to make a First Nations Declaration at your Pagan events. We recommend that you read these texts before your event begins (in one or both languages, as appropriate). You can read more about the different acknowledgement statements that have been crafted per organization, per province here. These are guides, not scripts.

Find out which Nations are appropriate for your area and adapt as needed.


"We begin by acknowledging that the land on which we gather is the traditional and unceded territory of the Kanien’keha:ka (Mohawk) and the Algonquin. This has been a place which has long served as a site of meeting and exchange among nations.We give thanks to the people who have cared for this land throughout the generations, throughout all that has been and all that will be, and who have brought all of us to this moment in time."


Nous reconnaissons que la terre sur laquelle nous nous rassemblons est un territoire ancestral des Kanien’keha:ka (Mohawk) et des Algonquins qui n’a jamais été cédé.  Cet endroit est depuis longtemps utilisé comme un lieu de rencontre et d’échange entre nations.Nous offrons nos sincères remerciements à ceux qui ont pris soin de cette terre au travers des générations, au travers de tout ce qui fut et de tout ce qui sera et qui nous ont permis de nous rassembler aujourd’hui. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

OkCupid Rebellion

Before I kill my Okcupid account again, I've updated it with a Dating profile written from the negative zone with distortions of all the profile clichés I'm sick of seeing:

"I am a highly-frazzled peon working for a heartless corporation destined to bury me chained to my ergonomic desk chair.

I hate laughter (it rings hollow in my what's left of my shattered heart) and having fun is for losers who cannot afford Netflix and a puppy with only 6 months left to live.

I would like to tell you I'm a glass half-full kind of person, but all my glasses are cracked from gripping then too tightly in a hootch-filled rage. Consequently, all my clothes stink of cheap Scotch and poor life choices.

Unsurprisingly enough, I tend to see the worst in every situation because THERE IS SO MUCH OF IT, IT BLOTS OUT THE MOON.

My life is fab, but I need someone to validate it since I'm no longer on speaking terms with my parents (as sentenced by the court). I am looking for a partner in crime, but who is also a short-distance sprinter. This means when we are on the run from the cops, I only need to outrun you. Family and friends are important to me, if only to provide believable alibis.

I love travel, especially to countries without well-documented extradition treaties.

So if any of this sounds interesting to you, re-book an appointment with your therapist and refill your prescriptions. Telling me your troubles may rekindle my love of deep, ironic laughter, the kind that causes children to cry and milk to curdle.

Just kidding. I'm a normal guy looking for love. PM me babe! I'm a catch. "

If anyone wants to copy this to their Dating profile, please do so with my permission.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

No explanations needed

Note: Although this is written from a male-hetero perspective, it is written specifically to address the toxic masculinity that all too often gets expressed violently when a woman rejects a man's advances. However, the philosophy applies to all genders and orientations.

Maybe this is the first move, maybe you have gone on a few dates, maybe you've been dating for a few months. This article probably does not apply to longer-term relationships, but the philosophy is still sound.

Ultimately, she decides that this relationship is not the right fit for her. That you are not the right fit for her. She is kind, but firm in this declaration. It stings, it hurts, it's insulting, it's a mess of emotions for you to deal with.

DO NOT ask her to tell you what's wrong with you. DO NOT ask her to explain why you're not good enough.

Honestly in this moment, you don't actually want to know. If she does tell you what's wrong with you, the final result will not change and your self-esteem will take a beating for no good reason. But really, you're asking her this question because you think she made the wrong decision and you want to explain how she got this so, so wrong.

The reality is that she doesn't need your explanation. She has a mind of her own, she has  lifetime of hard lessons learned. Assume she is the expert in what she needs right now, even if you disagree.

If you really want to find out how to be better, ask the people who truly love you and have your best interests at heart. Don't ask someone who barely knows you or doesn't appreciate you.

If she has decided that this connection isn't right for her, you should safely assume that she knows what she is doing. It's likely you are not her first lover; there may have been a few bad break-ups or a few abusive relationships in her past. Even if you think she might not know what she wants, she definitely knows what she DOESN'T want. She knows her limitations, she knows what shit up with she will no longer put, and she has a better idea of where she wants her life to go.

You can assume all of this in that horrible moment she is telling you that you're not the right fit for her, not now and likely not ever.

In the end, the best thing you can do is listen. Really listen. Apologize if you can if you did anything hurtful, and if possible and if applicable, promise that you will work on being better just for your own edification. Accept her decision with humility, being kind and calm, and make your exit with grace and style (see below), even if that is not how you are really feeling.

If you are angry, don't express it through rage, threats, or violence. Your rage will not change her mind, and if anything, it will cement her decision. Find a way to burn off that rage that leads to positive change, either for yourself or for others or both.

I'm going to assume that this was not an easy decision for her to make and it pains her to have to deliver this news. You can honor that process by not making it worse with rage and abusive tactics.

But even if it was easy for her to tell you, or if she takes some perverse pleasure in hurting you, the advice still applies. Take the high road, accept her decision with grace and style. Don't give her the satisfaction of your pain. Expressing your anger will only hurt you in the long run, so don't indulge in it.

Although I'm not one for shifting blame, but one of the reasons why we get this wrong (and statistically, it's men who get it violently, horribly wrong), is that our culture and media are constantly telling us that No really means Try Harder Until She Gives In. For more on that idea, I refer you to the brilliant Pop Culture Detective video on Stalking for Love.

TL:DR: If you get rejected, assume that she is right in her decision, and accept the rejection with grace, kindness, and style.

About the Graceful Exit

You've been rejected, either by a new love interest or an established one. She's just given you the news and you're feeling a rush of emotions. To be able to take the high road out of this situation, here's what the Graceful Exit can look like. 

Thank you for being honest with me. I know this must have been difficult for you to say to me, but I really appreciate you saying it to my face and in person. I feel respected and cared for. Obviously, I'm disappointed that this is over, but I'd rather know now than later, so thank you. Do you have any questions for me? Anything you want to talk about?

[some discussion, mostly listening]

Okay... I'm going to go now, but again, thanks for your honesty. Take good care of yourself and if we cross paths again, I hope we can be friendly and good with each other. Goodbye.

Once you're away, get yourself to a safe space. This can be a quiet place to reflect on what's happened, finding a trusted friend to which to vent, or you might want to hang out with a group of friends to remind you that you are a good person. Do what you need to do to heal from this event that does not hurt you or others.

Grieve, mourn, and move on to better things. There are out there, waiting for you. Go find them.

Friday, June 8, 2018


It's been a difficult day. A day of surprises, disappointment, frustration, and isolation.
And in the middle of all this, we learn that the brilliant Anthony Bourdain, suffering from the isolation of depression, took his own life.
Suffering from depression myself, I am familiar with that kind of isolation. Fortunately, I am surrounded by a strong support system consisting of friends, family, and loves, so I've always been able to pull myself back from the edge.

Maybe this one time, Mr. Bourdain was not able to claw his way back from the isolation that comes with depression. When you feel that cut off from the world, it is difficult to see clearly or even remember what the light looks like. Isolation is the killer. Being turned away, left out, cut off from those you depended upon.

I know we are all afraid and frustrated, seeking comfort, retreating to the safety of our tribes. But it is this kind of divisiveness that has led people to being so isolated that they voted out of fear, voted for a world that included them in a way that has recently left them feel excluded.

What we need now is more unity, more community, and more attempts to find the common ground that brings us together. If you can, please don't unfriend or cut people off to isolate yourself or them. If you fear for your safety, get yourself to a safe place at all costs, top priority. But if you have the spoons available, find new ways to invest in those who walk a foreign, even offensive path. It is through investment and understanding that we can fight those who seek to keep isolated, alone, and frightened.

Let's pull together to keep us all away from the edge. If that is the only thing we have in common, let it be enough.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

ADF, Non-Officer Director Q&A

I was greatly honored and surprised to be nominated to sit on the ADF Mother Grove as a Non-Officer Director in 2018, but I did accept the nomination.

There are a series of questions that have been posted by the membership which I am currently trying to answer in time before the Voting phase begins. I will post my answers in this space as I am able.

Election Q&A

@@ In progress @@

Before we get started, let me just say that as an elected Non-Officer Director, my first task will be to clearly define what this position is exactly, what duties does it entail, and what are the expectations of the role. The website is not very clear on any of those details.

1. What sort of Vision do you bring to the table for the future of ADF?
Are there any *specific* problems or goals that you want to tackle? How do you hope to address those problems/goals?

I think we need to continue to apply a critical eye to our core beliefs and methods by which we operate. As the world continues to evolve, we need to evolve with it and ensure that ADF continues to meet the needs of its members while maintaining its core values and vision. It is a tricky balancing act and requires constant vigilance.

2. If you win the position you are running for, what will be the biggest obstacle you will have to overcome? How do you plan to do so?

3/4. Volunteer recruitment and burnout are big problems. Do you have any plans to address either of those issues?

Having a clear vision and being consistent in our messaging and practices will encourage more volunteer involvement. People want to support a system that has clear and defined boundaries and expectations so that everyone can contribute efficiently. Burnout occurs when people take on too much responsibility and are not supported properly. Working within our means will result in more successful projects upon which we can build.

5. What special skills would you bring to the position?

I have been an active member of my local Pagan community since 2000, taking on more leadership roles in the past 10 years. I have helped organize several Pagan conferences with the Canadian National Pagan Conference: Gaia Gathering and I have held a Board position for several years. These projects have taught me how to work well with people, but also how to keep projects in line with its vision and limitations. I am hoping these experiences have brought me some insight that I can share with the MG.

6. How will you contribute to building a culture of consent in ADF?

By taking a strong stance against all forms of bigotry, misogyny, and intolerance, while supporting inclusivity, informed consent, and celebrating what is beautiful. Sharing information is important, but elevating the ideals of taking the higher road in ensure the well-being and safety of all will catalyse this kind of change. Culture is a living, breathing being and it is our responsibility to cultivate it in a way that keeps us all safe and cared for.

7. Were it up to you, where would you take this organization 5 years from now, and how would you get us there?

As a NOD, I would not have that kind of influence. However, I would love to see ADF Canada to flourish to a point with a Canadian Arch Druid could be possible.

8. What other roles have you held within the organization, and what have you done while in them?

This would be my first official position with MG, although I am the Grove Bard for Thornhaven Grove.

9. How will you encourage ways of making ADF accessable to children (with parental consent, of course)?

In my experience, children tend to want to experience Pagan spirituality within the safe spaces of family and close friends. That being said, I would like to see a 16-21 clerical class geared towards the concerns of teens and children (8 yr+).

10. How do you view environmental issues within the context of ADF? What, if any, goals do you have to change the current actions or lack of actions currently present within ADF?

11. How do you view the role of solitary members within ADF and how do you anticipate that role will change over the course of your proposed term?

12. How would you work to make ADF as respected and legitimate as any other church in the USA, and the world.

ADF as an organization needs to reach beyond its own borders and get involved in the non - Druid world, but with an ADF Druid perspective. Not to recruit or to build a brand, but just to be actively involved in community/state/world affairs. We have spent too much time looking inwards and "supporting our own first".

13. Why doesn’t ADF have a family membership plan? 

If families are supporting ADF, then we should recognize that in terms of membership fees and resource distribution.

14. Lately, ADF has been rocked by several 'scandals' for lack of a better word, and frankly, the MG has floundered. If elected, how would you go about navigating the issues facing the organization around bringing more transparency to processes while still responding to crisis in a timely manner?

As a NOD, I don't have this kind of influence. That being said, I believe the recent crisis was handled in a timely manner, especially considering the process that was in place to ensure that everyone was consulted before taking action. People have non ADF jobs, responsibilities, time zones, and time constraints that significantly impact reaction times. 

Also keep in mind that each crisis is relatively unique and if there are no processes in place, reaction time will always be slow and clumsy. We can strive to be better (why not excellence indeed?), but let us not wish for a myriad of tragedies and scandals so that we can practice. MG is doing the best it can with the constraints it has, so let's balance a desire for excellence with a recognition of the complexities involved.

15. In real actions, how would you, if elected, improve on the great job the MG has been doing?

Everyone needs to learn how to do an Arch-Druid impersonation. ;) Bardic magic!

16. I would like to hear the candidates thoughts on strategic planning for ADF. Where do you see us in 10 years? 20 years? How are we going to get there? What are your goals on the MG?

See #12.

17. How would you ensure fair treatment of members regardless of ethnicity, nationality, gender identity, sexuality, or immigration status?

Have representation from each group to speak their needs to MG 4 times a year.

18. How would you look to heal divisions in the organization, bring the organization to a sense of more inclusive wholeness and create a positive vision for all members regardless of wether they are clergy, dedicants, solitaries, old-timers, newcomers, etc. Do you feel that all members are equal?

While I believe all members are equal in terms of their rights and expectations of respect, the investment of time, effort, and office should accord some members more weight. As always, respect must be earned, but having a way to recognize leaders in ADF based on their contributions to the organization cannot be a bad thing. 

19. How do you take feedback and criticism from peers and those you serve?

Excellently. Ask anyone who agrees with me. ;)

20. How do you react to people who disagree with you?

21. In response to the recent allegations against Isaac Bonewits, the ADF Mother Grove unanimously voted to provide (and fund) training for our Mother Grove, Regional Druids, and Clergy in the Consent Culture Course from Cherry Hill Seminary. [...] I would like to see our candidates briefly discuss their responses to this course, specifically regarding how it may inform their leadership decisions.

22. How are you going to improve the communication between MG members?Not with the membership, but between individual members of the Mother Grove.