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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Kerr CuhulainKerr Cuhulain is an influential Canadian Pagan author. The first openly-Pagan cop in North America, Kerr’s work with the Vancouver Police Department, and his regular column at Witchvox, “Witch Hunts,” along with his book, “The Law Enforcement’s Guide to Wicca,” probably did more to help eliminate the systematic persecution of Pagans from the Satanic Panic than any other source. Recently retired from his involvement with the law enforcement to the Sunshine Coast, Kerr has retreated into a quiet life of writing and contemplation. I caught up with Kerr when discussing Vancouver Pagan Pride Day:

Question: Thanks for agreeing to do this interview! Tell us a little about yourself. Who is the man behind the story?

Answer: I am a retired police officer/dispatcher who has been a Wiccan for 45 years who was involved in anti-defamation activism and hate crimes investigation for the Pagan community for decades. I was awarded the Shield of Valor by the Witches League for Public Awareness.

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PaganNewsBeagle: Earthy Thursday July 23

It's Earthy Thursday and today's feed features stories of our beautiful living planet, including amazing trees, free herbal education, an organic skyscraper, and Pagan responses to climate change.

Farming, Art, and the Preservation of Heirloom Fruits are just part of the awesomeness of this Tree of 40 Fruits.

Mountain Rose Herbs announces the latest in free herbalism education events.

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Witch Hunting in the 21st Century

 

A little while back I wrote an article about The Broom Closet in the 21st Century. Recently the New York Times had an opinion article about the persecution of Witches in various parts of the world. In that article the opinion writer argued that the age of the internet has increased the witch hunting that occurs. One of the problems is that many of the people accused of witchcraft may not even be witches. They are accused for reasons that may have nothing to do witchcraft, but nonetheless it is used because it's convenient. In such places, the brutality that occurs involves burning people alive, or beheading or stoning them. The majority of such atrocities occur to women and the the people doing the assault are men doing it for prestige or as a way to enforce dominant social values. I mention all of this make a point: That such atrocities, far from being history, are still happening. In some cases, they are even happening in the U.S. And even here in the U.S. we also see the proliferation of ignorant perspectives about magic, because of how the mainstream religion fears the spread of any spiritual beliefs that run counter to that religion. Now whether every single one of those victims did or didn't identify as a Pagan or a Witch doesn't really matter, because those people were still labeled as such and punished for beliefs they may or may not have held.

In the majority of cases discussed in the article, it's a women's right situation, with women being accused of witchcraft and/or attacked whether they do or don't practice magic. But it also highlights how ignorance about the practice of magic is used as a way to demonize magic. This a problem that goes beyond the Pagan community, but nonetheless its a problem that the Pagan community should speak to. We should speak to it, not because we are Pagans and Witches, but because this kind of action isn't something that should happen to anyone. We speak up about it because we know that if such violence is condoned in any place because of what a person believes, all it does is continue the discrimination that justifies one person saying my religion is better than yours and you better change what you believe or die. One of the reasons I think we should speak to it, is to counter the ignorance that says its OK to persecute anyone who believes something that isn't in line with the majority social values or majority religious values that a community holds.

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New Moon in Leo - An Erotic Edge

I'm thrilled to announce the launch of my brand new weekly Sun-Sign column, that will be posted to this blog - beginning this weekend, on the New Moon!


The New Moon this month occurs in the sign of Leo (3’ 52) on Saturday, July 26th, at 2:41 pm (PDT).  Leo is the archetype of the Queen/King and embodies the principle of Sovereignty – the entitlement to freely express one’s unique personality with radiant confidence and self-possession.  Leo has faith in the abundance of life, and is associated with the heart center, echoing themes of love, courage, affection, and luminous warmth.  Leo is also associated with the pleasure principle: living with intent, and luxuriating in the fruits of life with unshakable joie de vivre.  The Arts, entertainment, recreation, creative expression and romance all fall under the sign of the Lion.  Creativity in all its forms, including our children, is also Leo terrain.  Leo is radical self-expression, and delights in dramatic displays of personal adornment.  Leo loves to play dress up, and is usually not shy about flaunting their personal style, whatever his or her personal tastes.  This doesn’t mean that every Leo is a fashionista; you’re just as apt to see the characteristic Leo flair for costuming fun at Burning Man as on the catwalk.  It’s all about playing with possibilities.

Ishtar Gate

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Even in this era of artificial lighting, the longer days seem to encourage reading. I can sit out on my front porch well into the evening, and still have enough light to curl up with a good book. Of course, it helps that I have an ereader, too -- not just because I can stay in my rocking chair longer, reading and listening to the tree frogs, but because it means that I can (re)discover so many good books.

Many many years ago, I read a few books in a choose your own adventure-style series. I could not remember the titles or the author, only a few key scenes, so it took me a while to track them down. When I finally did, I was thrilled to discover that not only had author Rhondi Vilott* reclaimed the rights to the series, but she was releasing them as Kindle ebooks. Instant gratification! The Dragon Road series (originally Dragontales from Signet) features strong heroines, brave heroes, Gods, monsters, and plenty of derring-do. Sword Daughter and Legend of Greenbriar were (and are) particular favorites; I spent one quiet afternoon last month with a plate of cookies, reliving my childhood.** My only complaint is that the books need a much more thorough edit; there are a surprising number of typographical and grammatical errors. 

Since I only have a brief lunch break at work, I find it easier to read short stories rather than full-length books. Thus, my nook is filled with issues of Apex, Asimov's Science Fiction, and New Realm. I recently added Fantasy Scroll Magazine to my digital pull list. A nice mix of science fiction, fantasy, interviews and reviews, I particularly appreciated the first issue's "In the Shadow of Dyrholaey" by KJ Kabza, which is inspired by Icelandic myth.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Sonoma, California

Continuing the story of my early experiences that led me to my heathen path, when I was 9, my family moved from Ripon, California, “Almond Capitol of the World,” to Sonoma, California, the wine country. By then I had really connected with the desert and its natural ways, but I was happy to move to a place where one did not have to belong to a Christian church to have any friends at school. My Fifth Grade teacher was openly Buddhist, and that really impressed me. She wasn’t a Christian and they let her teach children!

When I was done with all my schoolwork, she let me read real books. My favorite was a version of Robin Hood. The other children were reading middle readers, and I was reading in Middle English. The public school system which segments children by age instead of ability was not serving me well, but being allowed to read real books instead of just stare out the window when I was done with the busywork was wonderful. Going to school in a rural area back then did have one big advantage over today’s modern, urban schools: I was allowed to fight back against bullies and it didn’t ruin my life.

One of the life experiences I had that was later used as evidence that I was born berserker and qualified to learn the martial art of Bersarkrgangr was a playground scuffle during my Fifth Grade year. The following is a quote from my autobiography, Greater Than the Sum of My Parts, which I wrote when I was 30 and later published in 2011.

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When I first started writing for W&P my intent was to focus more on nature and Spirit here, more technical, interfaith, and political issues over at Patheos.  Such plans are nice, but rarely maintain themselves, and that one was no exception. On either end.

I just published what I think is an important post on Pagan religion and environmentalism over there as part of a big discussion on the topic.  Perhaps some of you who do not watch that site regularly might want to take a look at it.

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