Pagan Studies


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Studies Blogs

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

Posted by on in Studies Blogs
An Open Heart and A Naked Soul

Twenty years ago today, I self dedicated to the Goddess. Not any one Goddess, or tradition, but simply just The Goddess. The only guild I had was The Spiral Dance by Starhawk. At 16 years old, steeped in the evangelical movement of Christianity, I took a deep breath and inhaled the Goddess' warm embrace of hope and exhaled the patriarchy, shame, and sorrow brought about by the God of Abraham.  Even though I had no formal connection to Reclaiming at the time, and knew even less about 'witchcraft' what Starhawk wrote about in The Spiral Dance resonated with light inside my most darkest spaces. There would still be years filled with nights of terror and dread, there would be more fear, more shame, and yes more suffering. Unlike the faith of my childhood, The Spiral Dance and this Goddess never promised deliverance from suffering in exchange for servitude, rather instead simply offered space. 

Twenty Years after that first reading of The Spiral Dance, my spiritual path has matured and my toolbox is far more expansive. Yet, in a sea of labels, unverified personal gnosis, rhetoric and opinion, I still have no real name for space I share with the the Goddess. I just have the path. My mentor, Rev. Kim Crawford Harvie once said, "there is misperception that arose that if I committed myself to a spiritual path, that I would rise above suffering.  I have come to learn the opposite is true:  If I commit myself to a spiritual path, I will suffer with an open heart and a naked soul. "

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Creating Sacred Space with Pagan Prison Inmates – V

“Ministry”?

We Pagans, at least most of us, or at least most of us in our incipient forms, worked in small, intimate, closed circles.  We had no concept of ‘ministry’ as such.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Aline "Macha" O'Brien
    Aline "Macha" O'Brien says #
    Perhaps, Sam, you are correct about your experience and your education. However, that has not been my experience from an entire c
  • Sam Webster
    Sam Webster says #
    "I think that term carries baggage from its use in the Christian context that implies that clergy people either know more, or are

b2ap3_thumbnail_TOWGoddessaltar1.jpg

(Photo by Adam Sartwell - Temple of Witchcraft Grounds)

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Creating Sacred Space with Pagan Prison Inmates – IV

Altars

As I mentioned in a previous post, our altar went from a 24” square of white cloth with two pillar candles, a leather pentacle about 4” across, a stick of incense, a bowl and a shaker of salt to one with larger purple altar cloth bearing a Celtic design, an abalone shell, some feathers, and a chunk of amethyst crystal.

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Hierarchy, Musical Harmony, and Magic

In Music Power Harmony, R. J. Stewart presents an interesting take on the concept of hierarchy as it relates to musical harmony and how that can be applied to magical work. He argues that hierarchies aren't inherently linear or spatial and that treating a hierarchy as a series of separate entities with linear connections ignores holistic aspects of the hierarchy that could be useful in magical work. When examining hierarchy from a harmonic perspective, Stewart notes that harmonics can open our awareness to resonances and relationships between the patterns and entities involved, in such a way that it provides order without necessarily bringing authority into the mix. It's an interesting take on hierarchy, which is typically treated as a linear structure with temporal authority included in it.

The problems that most people have with hierarchy is the abuse of authority or the bureaucracy that makes it convoluted and unable to do anything. Typically hierarchies are associated with corporations, governments, and other such institutions. These institutions enforce hegemonic authority and standards that keep certain agendas in power, while keeping others out. It's not a surprise then that people have knee jerk reactions to hierarchy. Yet I think R. J. Stewart makes some interesting points about hierarchy as it relates to both music and spiritual work.

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs

The Anglo-Saxons often explained disease and inflammation by the presence of small creatures or their “weapons.”A well-known charm seeks to remove the evil influence of “elf-shot” and several others fight the effects of other poisonous arrows.  This may seem quaint to our modern sensibilities—unless we consider this to be a metaphorical understanding of germs and viruses. Maybe our medieval forebears weren’t so naïve after all. 

The following charm appears in a manuscript that dates to the 12th century (BL Royal MS 4 A xiv).  It tries to cajole and threaten a wen (“a lump or protuberance on the body” per the Oxford English Dictionary) to take up residence elsewhere and leave the afflicted person.The tokens of the wolf and the eagle may well have been used in the healer’s ceremony—many scholars believe the Anglo-Saxons to have had a shamanic  tradition.  This charm can easily be adapted to remove from your life any unwelcome presence (and works well, in my experience!).  Underlines indicate the alliterating pairs of words: the primary arrangement of Anglo-Saxon poetry is repeated sounds at the beginning of words (as opposed to end rhyme, the more familiar "moon/june" type of rhyming). It helps that any vowel alliterates with any other vowel.

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I am excited to have been invited to participate at Coph Nia this summer, at the invitation of Julian Hill. Held in rural Pennsylvania, at the stunningly beautiful Four Quarters retreat center, I confess this adventure at first left me a bit apprehensive and yet deeply honored at the same time. I have never been to a large Pagan festival before, let alone served as a featured presenter. Generally I shy away from anything exclusively "gay male" oriented having had unsavory experiences in the past, or too public, I am despite my verbose and possibly loquacious blogging, terribly introverted by way of Meyer's INFJ personality typing. 

Yet in talking with Julian, I came to understand that Coph Nia was the ideal place to talk about the Goddess, to teach about Ecstatic Monism; the Goddess as immanent and transcendent, to explore Eastern Tantra, and most importantly lead men on the quest in this ever expanding dialogue on masculinity in a way that affirms ourselves as sovereign and still honor women as sacred. This is why I am editing Finding the Masculine in Goddess' Spiral: Men in Ritual, Service and Community to the Goddess

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