Pagan Studies


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Studies Blogs

Advanced and/or academic Pagan subjects such as history, ethics, sociology, etc.

Burchard's Corrector: Rooting Out Medieval Magic

This week in my Women as Witches, Saints & Healers course, we read the Corrector of Buchard of Worms. This early 11th century handbook guided priests with questions they ought to ask their confessing parishioners in order to root out bad behaviour -- and a lot of the bad behaviour was pre-Christian practices that persisted. The insight these questions offer is rather magical, but the style of his rhetoric makes this much more fun to read than the usual sort of penitential.

Here are a few snippets to entertain you:

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Jön Upsal's Gardener
    Jön Upsal's Gardener says #
    I'm glad to see I'm not the only person interested in these sorts of texts as source material for modern Heathenism or Paganism. I
  • Kate Laity
    Kate Laity says #
    That's very good to hear!
How to Create Pop Culture Magic Systems part 2

In my previous post, I discussed how spaces in a pop culture mythology could be worked with as astral temples, and used to help develop a pop culture magic system. Another way that you develop a pop culture system of magic involves working with the characters of the pop culture mythology. Whether you consider these characters to be archetypes or actual spirits is up to you, but I consider them to be actual spirits that have been brought into existence by the creation of the pop culture mythology and the interest and belief of the fans. While I don't think a system of pop culture magic automatically needs characters/entities to interact with, you'll find it's a very rare system that doesn't have some type of character that people interact with.

With a pop culture system of magic, you aren't doing a one-off working, so you need to make sure that the pop culture you choose actually fits your interests. Additionally, its useful if you already have some type of relationship with the characters. What that means is that you may not have worked with them magically, but you identify with them already on an emotional and spiritual level and enjoy the mythology they are part of and are invested in exploring that mythology further as well as possibly expanding it. If you already have a connection to those characters it makes it easier for you to develop your pop culture magic system. However, you shouldn't take that connection for granted. Part of developing your system involves getting to know your characters.

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Already Enchanted

 

I'm a witch; it's one of the many terms I use to describe my religious and spiritual nature. For me being a witch is inextricably connected to being a practitioner of magick and communing with spirits both great and small. I also identify as Pagan, a Polytheist, a Wiccan, a magician, and a whole list of other terms that is longer than is needed for the purpose of this blog. I'd like to talk about the reality of magick and of nonphysical beings. Rather than engage in debate about the terms, the tenets, or the tribulations of the various communities that are wrestling with these topics, I will speak from my direct experience of them. I've had many spiritual and overtly supernatural experiences. I have selected a few of them, that from my perspective, are all the proof that I need for myself.  These vignettes are brief but I hope that they contain enough detail for you to understand why I considered them a confirmation of my sense of the universe.

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  • Byron Ballard
    Byron Ballard says #
    The Swan! I am grateful for your enchantment, dear man--and how it helps enchant us all. Much love to you.

Posted by on in Studies Blogs
The Role of Belief in Magic

Belief is a powerful tool in magic, and in spirituality in general. Belief is a funnel for attention and intention. Whether you believe in something because you genuinely believe in it or believe in it for the sake of something you are trying to achieve, belief has a purpose in magical work. I find the following passage to be illustrative of the importance of belief in magical work:

Be it noted that we do not have to believe or disbelieve in the actuality of such inner agencies per se. what we must believe in is the possibility they exist in their own state of being, yet are capable of interaction with ours by unspecified means or degrees...We need not believe in 'spirit' unless we want to, but we positively must believe in our capability of living and behaving as if the energies available to such entities might be employed on our behalf. From Exorcizing the Tree of Evil by William G. Gray

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Most of us are familiar with the lovely quote by Graham Greene's wife, Vivien: “Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, it's about learning how to dance in the rain."  That's a wonderful aphorism, but as I'm sure she herself would have admitted, there are times in life when a person has to do both.  Sometimes you have to stay in your cellar until the tornado has passed overhead; then you can come out and dance in gratitude for still being alive, in the gentle drizzle that follows.  Life encompasses every situation; the two statements are not mutually exclusive.  Over an entire human lifetime, they are equally true. 

Here's another similar saying, attributed to choreographer Vicki Corona: "Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away."  Again, a great pithy aphorism.  But of course she was referencing a particular situation under certain specific conditions.  In reality - ask any Yogi - our life is measured, quite literally, by the number of breaths we take!  And yet, at the same time, how boring would life be without those miraculous moments that take our breath away?  Again, the two statements are not mutually exclusive.  

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  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis says #
    Ted, lovely, deep, sincere, as always. Thank you. As someone who's always talking about bringing together polar opposites and livi
  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham says #
    I always appreciate your wise words.
  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    Thank you, Lizann. And I appreciated learning what Poison Oak teaches.
How to Create a Pop Culture System of Magic

In Pop Culture Magic 2.0 I discuss how to create pop culture systems of magic , but what I thought I would share here is the actual creation of such a system. I'm in the process of developing my own system around the Batman mythology. I picked Batman, because I've always liked Batman and felt a connection to that particular mythology. However instead of starting with the obvious approach of working with the characters of the mythology, I decided to take a different approach.

My initial work has been around connecting with the prominent places in the mythology Batman, starting with Gotham City, but also including places in and around it that factor significant into the Batman mythology. One of my reasons for focusing on the spaces of the Batman mythology is because of how the characters (and the writers of the comic) refer to those spaces as living beings. For example, there are numerous references to how Gotham is alive and how different characters need to be careful because of how Gotham can interact with them. Now this might be meant metaphorically, but what it creates is a mythological narrative around the actual spaces in the Batman mythology and that narrative can be worked with as well as working with the characters. I think it can actually enhance the work you do with the characters in this mythology and would suggest that you can apply this concept to any pop culture system of magic.

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  • Dragon Dancer
    Dragon Dancer says #
    LOVE THIS! What a cool idea! I'm not a fan of Batman myself, but I definitely see what you're talking about. Have a quick questio
  • Taylor Ellwood
    Taylor Ellwood says #
    Batman is just an example. You ca take what I'm sharing here and apply it to a pop culture of you own choice. Pop Culture Magic 2.

Posted by on in Studies Blogs

When I was young, I used to chafe when an older person would say (smugly, I assumed, though that was probably not the case), "You'll understand better when you're older."  I was well-educated.  I had a sharp, agile mind (certainly faster than it is today); so why should this person think that I couldn't understand something? 

Of course, one grows and inevitably gains experience.  And he finds that "understanding better when you're older" is more a matter of tingling nerve endings recognizing something they have felt before, than of intellect.  

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