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
Patience & Fury, Part 1

 

This is the first of a series of blog posts on how to move more gracefully through the turbulence caused by the pain and strife that is besetting so many parts and so many levels of the world at this time and for some time yet to come. I am pointedly and intentionally not naming the myriad of issues because I do not want to call out or inadvertently suggest a hierarchy or prioritization of troubles or oppressions. If you need to do that take a moment now and think about your own concerns.

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  • Byron Ballard
    Byron Ballard says #
    Thanks, Ivo. Much appreciated.
When the Path Isn't Clear: Doing the Work of Pagan Activism

The last week or so has been quite eventful in the Pagan community. Without rehashing specifics, I reference these posts which speak to the second and third order effects of speech and the power of words: 

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/aloneinherpresence/2015/11/i-wont-shame-my-elders/

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  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    Denora, thought you would like to know that Macha (Aline) posted the following on her Facebook page about an hour ago. "Recently

Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Scrying Stones

For hundreds of years collections of small objects have been used as a tool by people with psychic talent to answer questions about the hidden nature of a problem or situation.  Such items as bones, shells, and nuts—left in their original state—are thrown and read.  In Obi and Diloggun divination cut cowrie shells are used for the same purpose.  Sangoma diviners from the Zulu tribe use bones and other items in a large set which is thrown using a bowl.  The Mongolians use four sheep bones known as astralaugus or knuckle bones in a system called shagai.  Each side has its own particular conformation and so creates thirty-six possible answers for each query. American hoodoo/rootworkers use small bones along with other small objects;[1] Santerians use cowrie shells or coconut pieces.[2]

 

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Art, Social Justice, and Some Ranty-ness

It has been far too long since I published a blog here, and although my original intent was to post mostly about Paganism and Art History, I felt I’d better write about SOMETHING else I lose my train of thought all together or be forgotten. (Sniff). What kept me away from my blog, and a great many other things that bring me happiness are general bureaucratic pains occurring in my job. As I’ve mentioned here, I am a professor of art history at a state university, and this semester – although I have been through this here several times – I have really felt that the arts are under attack, and have been hard at work defending both our arts program, and the need for arts in society in general.  I won’t get into the bitter details of this ongoing fight, except to say I thank those who have been by my side in this fight, and the hope that in the end, we will of course win.

 

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We Have Work To Do: A Reflection on the Parliament

I am finally reaching a point where I can begin to unpack my feelings concerning this year's Parliament of the World's Religions. On many levels this was a life changing experience, and one that I won't soon forget. I have read several other posts concerning the event as folks return home and back to daily life--taking the time to unpack their own feelings and put them in words. The majority of what has been written is positive, which I won't deny is a good space to hold for all the amazing occurrences and connections that were made. But allow me to be a dissenting voice for a moment...because despite all the positive aspects of this event, there is work yet to be done.

I'd like to start by quoting one of my favorite professors: "Stop focusing on what all religions have in common, and start doing the work of learning to live with the differences. Some religions are concerned with reaching the top of the mountain, others don't even care that there is a mountain." --Jacob Kinnard

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  • Earl Nissen
    Earl Nissen says #
    Thank you for the reflection. I like "asking for the understanding and the respect to be unique and legitimate." I also enjoyed t
How to Build a Pop Culture Magic System part 4

In part onetwo, and three of this series I covered how spaces, characters, and symbols could be used to create a pop culture magic system. In this part of the series, we'll explore the role of pop culture tools and how they can enhance your pop culture magic workings. One of the benefits of pop culture is that you have a plethora of tools you can draw upon. These tools don't need to be conventional magical tools either, but can be specific to the pop culture you are working with, and you'll usually find that you can draw some type of correspondence between a traditional tool and a pop culture tool, though you may also find it more interesting to come up with your own specific purposes for using a tool as it relates to the pop culture you are working with.

With your given pop culture, you can usually find pop culture tools in toy stores, comic book stores, as well as conventions. And if you can't find it in those places, you can usually either find someone making and selling pop culture tools for your fandom, or you can get crafty and make your own tools. For example if you work with Dr. Who, you can easily order a sonic screw driver or create your own variant and have that stand in as a wand. In the case of Batman, you might have multiple gadgets you utilize for various purposes. Part of this comes down to your creativity and your ability to recognize if there is an actual magical purpose for the tool. For example, I might use the batarang as an athame or sword. Alternately if I don't want to rely on a traditional correspondence, I still need to determine what purpose the Batarang would serve as a magical tool in my pop culture magic system. If the tool has no purpose, it becomes a distraction to the actual work.

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Get Charming

I'm teaching a course this semester called 'Witches, Healers & Saints' mostly so I could teach a lot about witches. One of the themes developing in all my courses is how the few people with power often abuse it (honestly, it's always been there -- I'm just making it more overt now), but a major theme in this class is magic as technology.

My aim is to get away from the modern impulse to see magic only as 'superstition'; our belief in our superiority to the past causes us to dismiss too many things. If you think of magic as the best knowledge available at the time about some very mysterious things, it's easier to understand the role it played. I'm introducing the students to sympathetic magic and the power of charms (like the Anglo-Saxon Charm for Bees or the Charm against a Wen).

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  • Byron Ballard
    Byron Ballard says #
    I'd like to take that class.
  • Kate Laity
    Kate Laity says #
    That would be fun!

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