Why We Need Ritual

Elizabeth Barrette
Impressions by Elizabeth Barrette, PanGaia editor.

Why We Need Ritual
by Elizabeth Barrette

 

Click for full description.The actor searches vainly for the sound of a vanished tradition, and critic and audience follow suit. We have lost all sense of ritual and ceremony — whether it be connected with Christmas, birthdays or funerals — but the words remain with us and old impulses stir in the marrow. We feel we should have rituals, we should do something about getting them and we blame the artists for not finding them for us. So the artist sometimes attempts to find new rituals with only his imagination as his source: he imitates the outer form of ceremonies, pagan or baroque, unfortunately adding his own trapping — the result is rarely convincing. And after the years and years of weaker and waterier imitations we now find ourselves rejecting the very notion of a holy stage. It is not the fault of the holy that it has become a middle-class weapon to keep the children good.
                     
– Peter (Stephen Paul) Brook

We need rituals. We need ways to mark the milestones of life, our accomplishments and passages, holidays and anniversaries, joinings and partings, all the important changes that make up our journey from cradle to grave. We need ceremonies to make sense of events, to celebrate, to comfort, to formalize arrangements. Rituals can impose a pattern on occurrences that seem otherwise random, and place them into a context where we can understand what has happened. Ceremonies can define who a person is — or is becoming. We need these things.

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Getting Real with Gaia

Elizabeth Barrette
Impressions by Elizabeth Barrette, PanGaia editor.

Getting Real with Gaia
by Elizabeth Barrette

 

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A town is saved, not more by the righteous men in it than by the woods and swamps that surround it. – Henry David Thoreau

Or not, as the case may be. I’ve observed a year full of natural disasters. Earth, air, fire, and water all do things from time to time that humans find upsetting. We face earthquakes, landslides, hurricanes, tornados, wildfires, epic droughts, floods, tidal waves, and many other challenges. In every case, the overt force of damage is one that we cannot control; forces of nature aren’t weapons or punishments, they simply are. In almost every case, however, we have opportunities to increase or decrease the amount of mayhem caused by said forces — and we increase it more often than we decrease it.

Read more: Getting Real with Gaia

Working with Celtic Traditions

Elizabeth Barrette
Impressions by Elizabeth Barrette, PanGaia editor.

Working with Celtic Traditions
by Elizabeth Barrette

 

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Read these faint runes of Mystery,
O Celt, at home and o’er the sea;
bond is loosed – the poor are free –
The world’s great future
        rests with thee!
Till the soil – bid cities rise –
Be strong, O Celt – be rich, be wise –
But still, with those divine grave eyes,
Respect the realm of Mysteries.

—The Book of Orm

Hills of emerald under a sky of rolled gray wool, laughing creeks between banks of heather, deep lochs and shallow fens, ocean waves crashing against cliffs of white chalk, stone circles and hills full of legends — these are the features of the Celtic lands. For those of us who walk a Celtic path, by choice or chance, by blood or wanderlust, this terrain holds a special magic. It is here our hearts wander, even in our dreams. Some part of us remembers, and longs for this as home.

Along with the land come the people: sturdy folk and fey, dark and fair, wild and practical. They speak languages that murble like the running brooks and twist back on themselves like knotwork. Even in English you can hear the distant burr of water chuckling. The “wild geese” — emigrants and their descendents — often find themselves drawn back to the land and languages of their ancestors. Sometimes, too, the Old Religion resurfaces.

But what does it mean to be Celtic, or to be a Celt?

Read more: Working with Celtic Traditions

Can’t Buy Me Love

Anne Newkirk Niven
On My Mind by Anne Newkirk Niven, PanGaia editorial

Can’t Buy Me Love
by Anne Newkirk Niven

 

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“My experience is what I agree to tend to; only those items I notice shape my mind.”
William James

As the editor of three magazines, I see a lot of spam. Entirely too much of it consists of a veritable sandstorm of press releases for bizarre, superfluous, and downright stupid products. Among the most egregious I’ve seen recently are the following notable examples:

At ShopLaTiDa.com (real name!) you can pick up fashion faux-pas fixers that erase unsightly bumps, lumps and imperfections. Products include Commandos no-undie undies, Hollywood Fashion Tape and Miss Oops Deodorant Sponges. At the advanced age of forty-eight, I’ll admit to plenty of “unsightly bumps,” but whatever “Hollywood Fashion Tape” is (I have visions of sparkly duct tape being deployed in, let us say, delicate locations) I am certain that I can spend the rest of my life happily ignorant of the finer points of acquiring and (gasp!) applying it.

Read more: Can’t Buy Me Love

Heathenism: a return to tribal-based religion.

Witches & Pagans #24 - Heathen & Northern TraditionsToday’s Northern traditions represent an entirely different way of doing religion.

I’m writing this editorial the day after Thanksgiving, which seems to me an eminently appropriate occasion to address the conundrums of Northern/Heathen culture. Why? Because, like Thanksgiving Day, Heathen/ Northern traditions are centered in trying to promote the bonds of kinship and family tradition.

I’d like to begin by acknowledging that I have little first-hand experience with Heathen rituals and theology; I’m a thorough-going Neo-Pagan and my personal experience lies entirely within the rather porous boundaries of West Coast Paganism. But I’ve been fascinated for some time with what I’ve observed of Germanic-based reconstructionist religion, and thus the concept of this issue — our most detailed look at a specific tradition to date — was born.

Read more: Heathenism: a return to tribal-based religion.

If one of us are chained, none of us are free.

Witches & Pagans - Law & Chos

Our treatment of Pagan prisoners and ex-cons is a litmus test of a sustainable Pagan culture.

This was supposed to have been the “Law & Chaos” issue of Witches & Pagans but it turned out more like the “Law & Order” issue. I always imagined that — like the dual-themed PanGaia #37 (“Good and Evil”) which turned out to simply be the “Evil” issue — that one side of this topic would overwhelm the other, but I never imagined that the forces of Law would prevail.

Once upon a Full Moon, not so very long ago, Paganism2 (at least on the West Coast) was all about “running nekkid through the woo-ids/drinking fermented fluids,”3 but everywhere I look today I see attempts to bring order to that juicy-but-hard-to-sustain chaotic culture. Whatever happened to Hippy-Dippy Paganism?

Read more: If one of us are chained, none of us are free.

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