49 Degrees: Canadian Pagan Perspectives

Canadian Paganism has a style all its own. Have a look at events, issues, celebrations, people, trends and events north of the border from the eyes of a Canadian Wiccan and Witch.

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Sable Aradia

Sable Aradia

Sable Aradia (Diane Morrison) is a licensed Wiccan minister and a Third Degree initiate in the Star Sapphire and Pagans for Peace traditions. A writer, musician and vlogger, she makes her living through writing, psychic readings, music, and by teaching workshops. Author of "The Witch's Eight Paths of Power: A Complete Course in Magick and Witchcraft," (Red Wheel/Weiser) she also writes "Between the Shadows: the Craft of a Liminal Witch" at Patheos' Pagan channel. Her channel on YouTube features her music, instructional witchcraft videos, and her many projects in the world of geekdom. Born and raised in Vernon, BC, Canada, she has been actively involved in the Canadian Pagan community for a little more than 20 years.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Longest Night

I have always loved the colour of the night sky in winter.  It almost never seems entirely black; instead, it blue with refracted gloaming, even at the dark of the moon, even at midnight.  And yet, the stars are never so clear as they are in the midst of winter, as Orion charges out from the horizon to chase Taurus with Canis Major barking at his heels.  The jewel in the Great Dog’s collar, Sirius, sparkles like a radiant prism diamond as it cycles through white, red, green and blue (though of course this is only atmospheric refraction) just over the Southern Horizon; Castor and Pollux wink out of the sky’s zenity; and the Pleiades sparkle like a celestial diamond ring.  Meanwhile, in the Northern Horizon the Dragon rears his head, and the Big and Little Bears point the way.

It’s dark for a long time here above the 49th Parallel at this time of year.  The sun sets at around 3:30 pm and it doesn’t rise again until almost 8:30 in the morning.  That’s seventeen hours worth of night.  I find it challenging to deal with.  But it gives you a long time to contemplate the stars and the celestial mysteries.  Maybe that long night is part of the reason why the stars are so clear; there’s so much less sunlight leaking into the sky by the time one considers the stars in winter.  Or maybe it’s because high-pressure fronts coming down from the Arctic Circle chase the clouds away and the sky opens up to reveal the vastness of the celestial firmament.

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Recent comment in this post - Show all comments
  • Martin
    Martin says #
    I often find the winter months trying, so I enjoy reading works like this. Thank you for taking the the time to brighten my dark
Book Review: The Other Side of Virtue by Brendan Myers

Brendan Myers is a Canadian Pagan author who has done two very difficult things.  One is that he has broken out of the Canadian market; the other is that he has broken out of the Pagan market.  He's a professor of philosophy in Gatineau, Quebec and this, plus his background in Druidry and Humanistic Paganism have come together in his 2008 book The Other Side of Virtue: Where Our Virtues Come from, What They Really Mean, and Where They Might Be Taking Us.  I've had a signed copy of this book sitting on my "to read" shelf since I saw Brendan at the Western Gate Festival a couple of years ago, but only now finally got around to finding time to read it.  I'm sorry I waited.

This book could be a modern manifesto for humanistic Paganism; but its theories can also be applied to most modern Pagan practice.  And it could also be read and enjoyed by humanists and naturalists of any faith. It could possibly even be held up to Neil deGrasse Tyson and Stephen Hawking as an answer on the value of philosophy.  Philosophy is not dead, Myers argues.  It has merely changed form.  A hard-core rationalist might ask "What use does philosophy have in the modern scientific and rational world?"  The answer is "to teach us how to live a good life without faith to fall back on."  But that being said, it does not challenge the existence of faith; rather, it suggests that ethics and values are essential and positive driving forces that cross the boundaries of religion or spirituality, and are equally applicable to everyone.

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Source: Wikimedia Commons.
Police officers using tear gas during the first wave of the Ferguson unrest. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

I was twenty-one when I took a Greyhound across the country into Maine.  It was a long and brutal trip, and I was travelling from BC; so I was on the bus for five full days.  Needless to say, on Day Five, when I went through Niagara Falls and Buffalo, NY, I was exhausted and hoping to get some sleep, so I pretended that I was sleeping and guarded the seat beside me jealously.

But the bus was really crowded; packed like sardines.  And so eventually, because I present like a tough cookie but am actually a marshmallow, I invited a young man to sit beside me.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Carol P. Christ
    Carol P. Christ says #
    I could not agree with you more. We have to be taught to hate and fear and no one wants to kill others, until taught. Our white ex
  • Sable Aradia
    Sable Aradia says #
    It sure would be nice if we could remember how not to want to kill each other. Thanks for your thoughts!
  • Joan Stringer
    Joan Stringer says #
    Sadly it is becoming apparent that violence is an increasing part of our lives in North America. Even if you haven't been personal
  • Sable Aradia
    Sable Aradia says #
    When I was six, I used to take off on my bike to the beach in the summer with a couple of bucks in my pocket to buy lunch at the c
Pagan Shops of Western Canada: Enderby, BC

Recently I had an opportunity to visit all kinds of fascinating Pagan shops throughout Western Canada when I was on a book tour, so I'm writing about them to share them with others.

Enderby is the tiny sort of town that you usually drive through on your way to somewhere else.  It's just on the north side of my home city, Vernon, BC, along Hwy 97; which is already 45 minutes north of the big urban center in the Okanagan Valley, Kelowna.  The first thing you notice when you come into town is a giant building with a Super Save Gas station in front, operated by the Splatsin First Nation, followed immediately by a dedicated site for a huge ongoing Farmer's Market and a large powwow center, also owned by the Splatsin.  Just past that, right along the highway, is a Kingdom Hall, a small cluster of apartments, then an antique shop with an elaborate mural, a community center with giant First Nations' wooden sculptures, a 50's retro diner, and a few quaint little coffee shops and tea rooms.  This should give you an idea of the unique cultural stew that is Enderby.  You would think they would rest together uneasily, but you never hear about any of that, and the town itself feels peaceful and the people are always friendly.

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Pagan Shops of Western Canada: Gaia Rising (Nelson, BC)

Travelling around the country on my book tour gave me an opportunity to explore some of our lovely Pagan shops.  So I'm starting a new feature; once a week or so, I will profile a new shop for your perusal.

Gaia Rising is located in the heart of beautiful downtown Nelson, BC; a pretty town in the Kootenays with heritage homes that hearken back to Victorian times, vast and amazing scenery, and a large and prestigious arts college.  Needless to say, metaphysically oriented people are attracted to this area in droves, so finding ways to meet "our peeps" is not difficult!

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Remembrance DayHello there, hope you all had a good Remembrance Day (or Veterans' Day in the US).  I though I would drop a quick note to share a link to an article I wrote at my other column, "Between the Shadows," because I figured this was definitely relevant to a Canadian Pagan's perspective.

"Spontaneous Ritual": Sable and a small conglomeration of local Pagans went to the cenotaph in their city to honor their war dead in a Pagan way. Instead they were witness to the birth of a communal ritual that brought their city together. Lest we forget.

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