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Culture Blogs

Popular subjects in contemporary Pagan culture and practice.

Category contains 1 blog entry contributed to teamblogs
Financial support in the Pagan community

There has been some wonderful online discourse about the role of institutions in modern Paganism.  There are those who believe the price -- of leaving behind our counterculture roots -- would be too high.  Others believe that this is the only path to a mature religious movement, and still others propose solutions that include both.  I believe it's important to include the idea of financial institutions in this dialogue.

I'm not necessarily talking about banks and credit unions, although nothing is off the table.  While Pagans are frequently loving, giving people, our community lacks any institutional ways to support one another financially.  A credit union would certainly fit part of that bill, but not every problem can be solved with a loan.  Each of us face challenges and opportunities that could look very different with a bit more money:  wardrobe for a new job, affordable day care, credit counseling, even basic money management skills.  These challenges are quite effectively addressed by some religious communities.  Should they be in ours?

"There's a certain amount of self-reliance expected by Pagans," I was told by Melanie Swaim, a Heathen who accumulated a large helping of medical debt that she's trying to pay off.  "I had to go to another religion to get help with my finances."

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  • Carl Neal
    Carl Neal says #
    Once again you have explained my feelings in a more eloquent way than I could have. I agree with this wholeheartedly. "Instituti

One of the main signifiers of many Pagan traditions are the way in which they seek to reframe the material and specifically the body as holy and sacred.  Unlike other religions which might cast the affairs of the flesh as sinful or of a base nature, Pagan traditions seek to break up these associations and honor things like sex, desire, and pleasure. Many traditions today still do their rites naked, as a way of proclaiming their freedom from the slavery of shame modern society places on the body. 

I will just put this out there:  I struggle with this embrace of the body, and I suspect my history as an addict and an alcoholic play no little part in this.  Addicts and Alcoholics historically have problematic relationships with our bodies.  Our addictions are embodied obsessions.  We experience them as physical cravings that crawl through our nervous system, scrambling our brains ability to think clearly or cogently.  The fierce need to experience pleasure becomes a thirst that drowns out all other concerns, a strong steady drumbeat that gets louder and more insistent until you finally feed it.  I’ve often experienced my body as a prison, a needy demanding egocentric organism that keeps my spirit-which in my ignorance I think is my TRUE self-- from being truly free.  

It is difficult for me to trust my body.  My body seems designed to deceive me.  Its way of reacting to sugar, sleep, caffeine, or anything else that can even slightly alter my mood or mind is quite startling.  Pretty much immediately upon experiencing it, my body will flood me with hormones and chemicals demanding more, more MORE!!! I wonder where this leaves me when it comes to that famous in the Charge of the Goddess, “All Acts of Love and Pleasure Are My Rituals.” What does that mean for someone who has a sex and love addiction?  For whom the experience of love and sex is dangerous and pathological?  What does that mean for someone that has a complicated relationship with pleasure, a person for whom pleasure can cause a series of binges and non-sober behavior?

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  • Alay'nya
    Alay'nya says #
    You've written an amazing and thought-provoking blogpost, Hope, and I'm so glad you've given this topic so much depth - and have s
  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham says #
    Thank you for your wise words.
  • Taylor Ellwood
    Taylor Ellwood says #
    Good article. I find that this rings true and that its something not overtly addressed in general.
But what am I to do with all this fury, all this rage?

As you know, I am a woman of a particular place, a woman who is from and of the southern highlands of the Appalachian mountains. From my west-facing window, I look out on the third oldest river in the world, framed by the oldest mountains.

The energy is deep here, hoary, implacable. If you are brave and crazy enough to connect your energy to this land, there can be no turning back from it. And no turning your back on it, not for long, not if you value sleep and quiet thought.  This land will haunt you and you need only ask those whose families left here for greener pastures and died longing for a remote and drafty cabin set on a rolling hillside.  Those who still think of themselves as mountain folk--though they have lived in the flatlands for a long, long time.

For almost a week now, word has been coming out of West Virginia about a chemical leak into the old Elk River. Bits and pieces, then the full horror. But little on the mainstream media, not surprising.  All about the Olympics and Christie and the president of France's girl friend.  Was there some problem with the drinking water in West Virginia?  Was there some weird incidence of corporate incompetence and toxic materials lightly tended and rarely monitored?

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  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham says #
    Blessings on your land. May those of us who live far away sit up and take notice.
  • Greybeard
    Greybeard says #
    Good rant! The Progressive/Liberal campaign to kill energy production in the US has fallen hard on the people of West Virginia an

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Rufus, the shih tzu puppy, was so excited he could barely keep still. Even though he tried to stay calm, his tail seemed to have a mind of its own. It wagged furiously as he danced around and around Mama's legs.

“OK, little boy, settle down,” she said, as she read over again the piece of paper in her hand.

He didn't care what was written on it. All he cared about were those nine words Mama said when she unfolded the mail. “Oh! The Mid-Winter Pagan costume ball. Want to go?”

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

A few months back, I wrote a column on books about the sea (or mermaids, to be exact). While digging through my library, it occurred to me that different columns for each of the traditional Elements might be a good idea. Just one problem: when I went looking for books on Air (and, by extension, wind and storms and so forth), I could find virtually nothing.

Sure, science books aimed at all ages are plentiful -- and I recommend some of the better written ones out there. The atmosphere is kind of important, after all. But books which deal with Air (and air and wind and atmosphere and so on) from a non-scientific point of view are few and far between. I could not find a single text written from an explicitly Pagan or polytheist perspective. So, I was left with lots and lots of science texts, some poetry, and a few mythological texts. And that's it.

Here, then, are my recommendations -- along with a hearty prayer that folks out there will be inspired to write the books that we need.

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  • Rebecca Buchanan
    Rebecca Buchanan says #
    Oooh, thanks for recommending "Shiva's Fire." I would love to see your Recommended Reading list for the Season of Earth. And I'v
  • Alay'nya
    Alay'nya says #
    What a wonderful idea, Rebecca! I'm going to look through your titles. More to the point, I'll put a link to your blog today (an

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