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Culture Blogs

Popular subjects in contemporary Pagan culture and practice.

Category contains 2 blog entries contributed to teamblogs

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

I saw the first Jurassic Park movie the day it came out. We spent hours waiting in line to get into the special midnight showing at a theater that billed itself as the “largest screen west of the Mississippi.” The anticipation was palpable as we played cards, read books, and talked to our fellow moviegoers about what we were about to see. Some had read the book and knew what to expect. I hadn’t, but their excitement served only to pump up my own even more.

Watching that film on that screen with a house full of excited fans, all of whom were viewing it for the first time ever, was one of the greatest movie-watching experiences of my life. We were all shocked together; we all screamed together; we all felt the constant rise and fall of tension together. The climactic sequence in which the two velociraptors hunt Lex and Tim through the park’s kitchen, nearly killing the children over and over, was the tensest few minutes of film I’ve ever felt. There is no doubt we were all in a group mind by that time, entranced after two hours of thrills and kills.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Crooked Art

In English, the adjective "crooked" generally means "bent, twisted, out-of-true." In senses both literal and figurative, it contrasts with "straight," and this contrast is true in Indo-European languages generally (West 413-4).

But Old Craft sees it differently.

In the Indo-European world at large, the gods are the *déiwôs, the "celestials." But the witch's gods are first and foremost the earthly gods, the powers of Here. Even in pagan days, we were (of necessity) Other; every culture needs its other. We were (and are) the institutionalized Other, necessary source of disquiet and critique from Within. Yes: even then, we straddled the Hedge.

The elder witcheries are sometimes known as the "Crooked Way" or the "Crooked Path": witchery as the Way of Indirection. Results indirectly achieved are nonetheless results. Witches rarely go in for frontal assault. We're far more likely to go around. Or under. Or over.

Small wonder, when He Himself is known (among other things) as the Crooked Serpent, Who is our teacher in the art of indirection, the Great Horned Snake whose Serpent Path we tread.

 A while back, I found myself humming an old Mother Goose rhyme. I hadn't thought of it in years.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
How to Make an Oak Leaf Crown

Across the North, the two preeminent sacred trees of Midsummer's are the ("male") oak and the ("female") linden.

On the linden, whose spicy flowering perfumes the longest nights of the year, more in a future post. But for today, the oak.

The Oak is the tree of Thunder, most virile of gods,* whose thunderstorms rumble spectacularly across the prairies at this time of year—the Ojibway call July "Thunder Moon"—and, they say, "holds fire in its heart." (In his youth, the Horned hid the fire of the gods there after he had stolen it from Thunder's hearth, but that's another story.) Fire drills used to be made from oak, and their "cradles" from linden wood. Extinguishing all the fires in the village and kindling the New Fire from wood on wood is an old, old Midsummer's tradition.

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Why Pagan theology is so unimportant among Pagans

When I first become a Pagan many years ago, I tried to find theological studies of What It All Meant within our literature.  I found many discussions of rituals, magick, and how Witches were correctives to patriarchy. But beyond some brief (and good) discussions in Margot Adler’s Drawing Down the Moon and the Farrars' The Meaning of Witchcraft,  there was almost nothing on the underlying meaning of a Pagan reality.  As I learned more about the broad Pagan tradition I began exploring literature discussing African Diasporic and Native American Pagan religions. Here to, by monotheistic standards the pickings were remarkably thin.

In Brazil I learned most Pagan literature consisted of spell books and details about rituals.  Among the traditional Crow people in Montana, individuals had different interpretations of their practices’ deeper meaning and of the status of figures like Coyote, but no developed theology.  Within my own coven I learned my coven-mates had different beliefs about who the Gods were. Classical Pagan religious writing was rarely sectarian and the major one that could be so described, The Golden Ass, was more an adventure story than a treatise on the Gods.  Pagan cultures were not particularly peaceful, but I know of no adherents to a Pagan religion waging war on those of another for not worshiping the right Gods. Unlike the monotheisms, unity of belief didn’t seem very important in the Pagan world.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • P. Sufenas Virius Lupus
    P. Sufenas Virius Lupus says #
    Can you see the irony in the fact that you've defined Paganism as superlatively permissive, but then have marginalized an entire f
  • Gus diZerega
    Gus diZerega says #
    Absolutely no irony here at all. None. Beginning in your first paragraph you distort my argument. I wrote Pagan religion is room
  • Gus diZerega
    Gus diZerega says #
    I will add one more point about thinking theologically about our own experiences as a way to deepen them and perhaps improve on ou
  • Gus diZerega
    Gus diZerega says #
    I also tried to "like" your comment Macha, but it doesn't work either. So thank you!
  • Aline "Macha" O'Brien
    Aline "Macha" O'Brien says #
    Thanks, Gus. I think I'll print this for the men in the San Quentin circle.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Summer Yule

Yule : Midwinter :: Lithe : Midsummer.

8th century Anglo-Saxon historian Bede of Jarrow calls it Líða: Midsummer. Along with its winter equivalent, Yule, it was one of the two hinges of the Old English year.

Like Yule, we don't know what Líða meant originally. According to Bede, the word denotes “gentle” or “navigable” because at this time of year “the calm breezes are gentle, and they were wont to sail upon the smooth sea” (Shaw 49). Likely this is just a guess; it's certainly not a particularly compelling explanation.

In the English-speaking pagan world, many today refer to the summer sunstead (solstice) by its Anglo-Saxon name. If the word had continued in current use, as Yule did, we would today speak of Lithe. (Rhymes with scythe.)

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Thanks Janette and Greybeard both: the OED confirms that well into early Modern English "lithe" retained its old association with
  • janette nash
    janette nash says #
    As a Brit, I have no trouble believing it means smooth, and refers to the water - a lot of old sayings relate to the weather, and
  • Greybeard
    Greybeard says #
    Our best guess is that Litha was a Saxon word that essentially meant June. And "after-Letha" meant July.
Who Wants to Win a Mini Silver Charming Oracle Set?

Who wants to win a Mini Silver Boyer Charming Oracle? It comes in a sparkly snowflake bag and includes twenty silver charms (it was one of my beta sets I used to test our oracle).

You may have saw me mention our shiny charms and how they can be used for meditation, ritual, vision boards, altars, creative writing and divination. Now, you can have a chance to win a mini-set to see how this particular tool can work for you.

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It's so hard to do the work, Charmers. I really feel you on that.  It's hard to constantly grind, do magic and not live likeGloria-Steinem filthy hamster.  Also likely on deck for you: the natural disasters you call your children, trying to lose weight, trying to get ahead in your career, trying not to eat like you are actively trying to slowly kill yourself, exercise so your heart keeps ticking and you calm the hell down, creative endeavors and, oh yeah, you're supposed to have some kind of magical/spiritual practice so you don't bang your own head against a wall until you stop moving/can get ahead on all of the above/ have some vague semblance of internal peace that does not look like a shipwreck/insert your own completely unique manic pixie dream girl reasons here.  I don't care.

So, since Momma has been super stressed as usual because I need to craft All the Things for my show on Sunday so I can pay for medication that enables me to continue yelling at you, we just upgraded our ancient system at work which required me to do so much freaking reconciliation that if it was a marriage, I would have long since left for a pack of cigarettes as well as: the usual f*ckery I call my social life, writing, signing contracts, trying not to eat like a savage and do yoga twice a week so I don't snap and start killing,  (Namaste.) I'm going to go out on a dangerous limb here.  I'm going to assume that if you've been reading me for any length of time, you also are either a type A psycho like me or you are trying to pick up the useful aspects of it without sending yourself into hyperspace a la Mona from Pretty Little Liars.

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