Pagan Studies


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Studies Blogs

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

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(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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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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“The very same people who “can’t afford” to donate to a Neopagan temple, community center, website, or other organization on a regular basis have no problem finding the money to buy science fiction books, videotapes, DVDs, game cartridges, music CDs, comics, beer, pizza, cigarettes, movie tickets, necklaces, earrings, bracelets, crystals, robes, capes, etc.  -- Isaac Bonewits.

     In issue #28 of Witches and Pagans magazine columnist John Michael Greer wrote an article titled, “A Bad Case of Methodist Envy: Copying Christian models of clergy is a Pagan dead end.” In this essay Greer recommends against Pagan clergy and specifically full time compensated clergy. I would like to note that I have admired many of Greer’s books especially Inside a Magical Lodge, A World Full of Gods, and Druidry Handbook; however, I can simultaneously admire his work and disagree with some of his thoughts. 

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  • Anna M.H.
    Anna M.H. says #
    While I am, in general, a big fan of Greer's, I really disagree with his point of view on this, and feel you made many good points
Creating Sacred Space with Pagan Prison Inmates – III

Next Steps

Now that we have the banners, we await other supplies, primary among them being incense.

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