Incense Magick: Art & Ritual of Incense

Incense fanatic Carl Neal walks you through the joys, wonders, and science of making and using natural incense. From making your first basic cone to creation and use of elaborate incense rituals, Incense Magick is your guide to the sometimes secretive world of incense and incense making. Every article explores different facets of incense, incense making, ingredients, rituals, tools, or techniques.

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Blurring The Lines Of Community: Jury Duty

This is part of a continuing series exploring ways that Solitary Pagans can connect not only with the Greater Pagan Community, but how we can connect with our local communities and bring our unique perspectives and beliefs into the fabric of those communities.

Few words elicit dread the way that “jury duty” does for a lot of people.  Personally, I find this drive to “get out of” jury duty to be disturbing as I have always wanted to serve on a jury but have never had the chance.  I personally think this anti-jury duty perspective is based on the quite unrealistic way that juries are portrayed on television and in movies.  I think most of the rest of it is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the importance of jury duty and how it works.

In the last article on community I talked about how much more powerful our votes become as we work on a more and more local level.  While your vote for president is diluted by the volume of other voters, the more local a vote or issue is, the more significant each individual vote becomes.  More than one local election has been decided by 1 or 2 votes.  When you participate in jury duty, however, your vote becomes incredibly powerful.  You will be one of 12 (or just 6) voters and even your single vote can totally change the outcome of a trial.  Jury duty is one of the most significant civic duties anyone can perform for this very reason.

What has this got to do with being a Pagan?  A lot!  The concept of the jury trial is that a jury is a representative group of citizens from your community.  A jury should be a cross-section of the people in your area so that the “common values” of the local community are represented in every jury trial.  This is why it is so important that Pagans serve on jury duty whenever the opportunity presents itself.  Many people enter jury duty with a strong sense of morals often based on their religious beliefs.  Pagan beliefs, as varied as they are, also belong in the jury room.  Our morals and ethics are just as much a part of the community as any others and since we are a smaller population, serving on jury duty is critical to ensure that ideas and beliefs beyond the Judeo-Christian ethic are represented.

I have found that there is also a fundamental misunderstanding of the purpose of juries.  Some people are angry at how they (or loved ones) have been treated in the courts.  Many people object to serving on jury duty because they do not want to “work for” the government or the judicial system.  The truth is that juries usually do the exact opposite of that.  In a criminal trial the real purpose of a jury is to evaluate the case that the government has put forward and decide if they have proven a person guilty.  In essence, criminal juries sit in judgement over the government just as much as over the defendant.  If you are unhappy about how you or others have been treated by the courts, serving on a jury is your opportunity to provide justice in a place where you might feel it has been lacking in the past.  How often does a citizen have the opportunity to tell the government “no, you are wrong” and override a bureaucratic decision?  It is equally important to convict people who pose a genuine danger to our community – what better way is there to serve the community than to protect it from threats?  That means that jurors are not working for the government or for the prosecution or the defendant – they are working for their friends and neighbors to ensure the government is doing what they should and removing dangerous people from the community.  Having a Pagan voice in the jury room is critical to our religious communities becoming part of the greater communities in which we live.  Is there a better way to avoid a miscarriage of justice than to listen to all the evidence yourself and make the decision that you know is fair?



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  Carl Neal has walked a Pagan path for 30 years. He is a self-avowed incense fanatic and has published 2 books through Llewellyn Worldwide on the topic. For many years (and even occasionally these days) he was a vendor of altar tools and supplies which led him to write The Magick Toolbox for Red Wheel/Weiser  


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