American Indian / Native activists challenge the Catholic Church on its history with colonialism. A UN investigation determines that a majority of women suffer from online abuse worldwide. And report details the unequal access to education in parts of rural India. It's Fiery Tuesday, our weekly take on political and social news from around the world. All this and more for the Pagan News Beagle!
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Since I’ve been researching what darkness means—what it means to dive into dark depths and exploring those hidden places of spirituality and human-ness that are so unnerving they are considered mythic, I was fascinated to learn recently about something quite human and relatively normal: the pineal gland. This gland, which I vaguely remember from high school biology as being a fingernail-sized gland above the brain stem, is also called "the third eye” and is associated with telepathy and the seat of the soul. It is considered the place from which we see the brightness of our futures and recognize our potential from the darkness of uncertainty. But I was surprised to learn that the pineal gland actually has photoreceptive rods and cones just like the retina of the eyes. The pineal gland, tucked deep into the folds of the brain and nowhere near the eyes, is what allows us to perceive, while asleep, whether it is day or night, and it makes me wonder: How do we perceive dark—the real Dark, with a capital D?
How does a darkness so mythic and powerful as the dark of unknowing reach into our minds and even our souls? Darkness is a part of our lives—we call it various names, including uncertainty, confusion, sadness, and grief. We call it fear and trepidation and danger. We have common phrases such as “afraid of the dark” and we use darkness to symbolize bad things (unfortunately at the expense of dark-skinned people who bear the brunt of a limited vocabulary of symbols). We install light bulbs in every room, carry cell phones with built-in flashlights, and we generally work to “shine a light” for others....
In the Northern Hemisphere, and particularly in New England where I live, the leaves are starting to turn, the temperature is cooling off... soon enough the leaves will be falling off the trees, frost will cover the ground, and it will continue to get colder. But right now, where I live, it's still warm for this time of year and there's some green on the trees still. The dark half of the year is here, but it's more like "twilight" than full-on darkness. Still... time to start lighting candles, asking the Powers to guide the way into the dark night.
When Samhain/Halloween approaches, many Pagans remember the dead, and the Pagan blogosphere will often get into the topic of ancestor veneration. A couple of years ago, I was not in the habit of this practise because I have abusive family members, and the abuse was generational, and I felt highly uncomfortable reaching out to these people's spirits; I also believed there was no point in reaching out to people who have probably since reincarnated. But my views on this have changed considerably over the last two years, and today, I not only honor the dead - and my ancestral dead among them - but I also believe that honoring the dead is an important part of a Vanic practise....
Hail to the beauty of the Libran New Moon. Hail to the Maiden who restores and brings the mysteries of her healing bubbling up to her surface. Hail to She who is cloaked in the mystery of tears and laughter, She who fills my soul with longing for her embrace and She who reminds me that deep within the darkest of nights and radiance shines brightly and fully awaiting its revealing in the fullness of my understanding.
A biographer captures the tale of D&D creator Gay Gygax's life. A mythology-themed strategy game gets a new, Asian-themed expansion. And one writer considers the difference between blackface and cosplay. It's Airy Monday, our weekly take on magic and religion in pop culture. All this and more for the Pagan News Beagle!
This month I will be featuring various members of the Bat Family.
The Bat Family (The Order Chiroptera) accounts for one fifth of the mammal species on earth. The only Mammals on earth to fly, Bat Family is divided into two groups – Megachiroptera, the large Fruit Bats of the Old World, and Microchiroptera, the smaller Bats that people know worldwide.
Known as “Flying Foxes”, Megachiroptera have foxlike faces with large eyes. Flying with steady wing beats, Flying Foxes rely on their sense of smell and sight to navigate. With wide spans the size of a small adult, These Bats, also, use their wings as flippers for swimming. Flying Foxes feed on fruit, pollen, and nectar.
Vital to the forests they live in, They promote the growth of new plants.
Microchiroptera hunt at night, using echolocation to locate Insects. In addition, these Bats eat fruit and pollen. They roost in caves, under bridges, any place where the temperature of the air remains stable.