Culture Blogs


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Culture Blogs

Popular subjects in contemporary Pagan culture and practice.

Category contains 2 blog entries contributed to teamblogs
TV Remote Oracle: Roulette-O-Mancy

The TV remote oracle is the most punk rock form of divination possible. You can think of your remote control as a wand, and as  self-described “White Wizard” Thelemite  and bestselling author Lon Milo Duquette says, “TV is a medieval magician’s dream come true—a magic mirror that informs, entertains, and (if we’re not careful,) enchants.” So whether you spend all of your time watching the Syfy Channel or Game of Thrones, or even if you only watch Lord of the Rings and Hobbit reruns you can still wield your magic powers with your remote control.

,The next time you sit down to watch your favorite show, try this:

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Lose Yourself in the Magic of Lilacs

For about two weeks every May, a dreamy scent drifts throughout my neighborhood. The source is the common lilac (Syringa vulgaris), also known as French lilac. Most of the houses in my area of town are Victorians and the plethora of lilac shrubs are due to a long-standing tradition in North America to plant one by the front door. With spreading roots that tend to go out of bounds, lilacs end up in neighboring yards. Luckily, no one seems to consider this a problem and we all get to enjoy the sweet fragrance. The scent is beloved by so many people that arboretums in a number of states have a special event called Lilac Sunday.

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Post-Industrial Primitive

“So, what look are we going for?”

It was a good question. The general planning and walk-through for the Hunt ritual had gone well. Now the Hunters were meeting.

Well, what aesthetic were we after? Plaid and day-glo, no, but likewise loincloths and feathers were out, too. One reads funny, the other reads wannabe, and this is ritual: it needs to be real.

Well, the only pagans that we can honestly be is the pagans for our own time and place.

“Post-industrial primitive,” I said.

Which left most of us in jeans, skin, and face paint.

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'Ulei: A Tale of Madame Pele

During the 1955 eruption of Hawai'is Mount Kilauea, a large section of Puna was cut off from the rest of the island by two massive lava-flows. As a safety precaution, the authorities evacuated the entire area.

Three men from a local sugar company chartered a plane to check on canefields in the impacted area. The plane set them down between the two lava-flows. Much to their surprise, they came upon a striking native woman in a red dress, with a great cloud of black hair down her back, sitting at the edge of the cane-field.

“Hi,” said the men.

“Aloha,” said the woman.

“What are you doing here?” they asked.

She smiled. “Just resting here in the shadow of the sugarcane.”

“This area was evacuated two weeks ago,” the men told her. “You're in terrible danger: you're between two lava flows here.”

The woman just smiled.

“What is your name?” they asked her.

“'Ulei,” she said. 'Ulei is a Hawai'ian shrub with small, white, rose-like flowers.

The men offered to take her to safety with them on their plane.

“Oh, I'm not leaving yet,” she said, “At least, not today; I still have work to do here. Perhaps I'll be ready to go next week.”

The men warned the woman that they would have to report her to the authorities, as her presence in the area was illegal. "These laws exist to protect people," they told her.

For the first time, the woman looked displeased.

“I follow my own laws,” she told them.

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Cryolophosaurus: Use Your Imagination

In 1991, the first dinosaur to be found in Antarctica was Cryolophosaurus. This opened up a new continent to dinosaur discoveries. Named for the geologist David Elliot, who first excavated this dinosaur, Cryolophosaurus’ full taxonomic name became “Cryolophosaurus elliotti.” In 1994, He became the first Antarctic dinosaur to be named. This dinosaur’s name means “frozen crest lizard.”

 Life in the Antarctic during the early Jurassic was much different than today. At that time, Antarctica was further north and closer to the equator. Also, the warm Jurassic oceans allowed for plant and animal life to flourish there. However, there were still long periods without a sunrise. This continent was also cooler than other places. Not many large dinosaurs of the Jurassic could tolerate either condition very well. Medium sized Cryolophosaurus did and thrived. This meat-eater had little completion for the Pterosaurs and Prosauropods that He hunted.

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Goddesses in the News

Since Kilauea began its most recent eruption a fortnight ago, we've been hearing a lot in the news about Madame Pele, Lady of Kilauea.

Every pagan should sit up and take notice.

Even from here in Minnesota, I've heard Hawaiians of many different ethnic backgrounds talking about Her. It's well worth listening closely to what they say.

No one tries to explain Her away as a metaphor or an archetype. No one mounts a defense of Traditional Hawaiian religion. They simply speak of Pele as an indisputable datum, as real as the old lady next door.

In fact, people do see Her in human form all the time. “With great regularity Pele stories appear, usually on Page One, of every Hawai'i newspaper from Hilo to Hanalei,” writes Rick Carroll, editor of the anthology Madame Pele: True Encounters with Hawai'i's Fire Goddess. “Over the years, I clipped Pele tales from Time magazine, the New Yorker, National Geographic, and mainland newspapers” (Caroll xiii-ix).

I've noticed that people usually (although not always) give enough qualifying explanation for us non-Hawaiians to understand what they're saying: “the goddess Pele,” “Pele the volcano goddess.” Information needs to be contextualized, after all; your hearer needs to know enough to be able to understand what you're saying.

I doubt that most of the folks that I've heard speaking of the Red Lady to reporters would describe themselves as practicing Traditional Hawaiian religion.

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The Secret to Thomas Edison's Genius: Crystals!

Thomas Edison carried quartz crystals with him at all times and called the stones his dream crystals. He believed they inspired his ideas and inventions. Literary legends George Sand and William Butler Yeats also relied on crystals to help spark their considerable creativity.

Data has also been gathered to show the effectiveness of quartz in certain healing techniques, such as chakra therapy, acupressure, and light-ray therapy, as we will discuss in depth later. But the simplest way to promote healing with crystal is to wear a stone.

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