Pagan Studies


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Studies Blogs

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

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Note:  This project is for intermediate to advanced beaders. 

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The Question of Soul

Recently I was asked a question that gave me pause. It was a simple question that opened up whole worlds of inquiry which have echoed through many hundreds of years. The question was, “Do birds have souls?” This is not such an unusual question. For a very long time in history, we have been told that only humans have souls. As God gave mankind dominion over the animals (Genesis 1:26), this seems to imply that, though animals have the ‘breath of life’ to animate them, they are not connected with the Divine in the same sense as mankind. They do not have souls nor do they go to heaven. We have come a long way in appreciating that animals have thoughts and feelings. Anyone who owns a pet (and this implication of ‘ownership’ becomes interesting language itself) can attest to the different, particular personalities that come through. Many of you reading this likely have already answered the question of animal’s souls in your own minds. For me it was an invitation to a more expansive question, “What exactly is a Soul and does it differ from Spirit?”

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  • Tiffany Lazic
    Tiffany Lazic says #
    Hi, Linda ~ Yes, I have had a similar experience with old beloved friends. You look into animals' eyes and you know there is a sou
  • Linda Margaretha OReilly
    Linda Margaretha OReilly says #
    I like to believe that animals have souls...I have visited with my dog in dreams and she was laughing and very happy.
  • Jean Bastide
    Jean Bastide says #
    THE ELFIN MAY-POLE Death and Bereavement: The May Queen Lord Alfred Tennyson (1809–1892) http://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2015/

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BNPs, PPPs, & Leadership

Ever since I’ve been on a Pagan path I’ve heard of BNPs.  The acronym was told to me to indicated Big Name Pagans.   Over time, as more people found their way to one Pagan path or another, or began to create their own paths more specific to their particular worldviews, the term BNP took on a negative connotation.  I started to hear it explained as Big-Nosed Pagans.

Most of those referred to as BNPs had published a book or several and were known for that.  Of course, when I was coming up, there were few books, and those there were tended to be elementary.  They lacked depth, refinement, and nuance.  Today, thankfully, creative Pagans have explored Paganisms in much greater depth.  They’ve done academic and historical research, as well as incorporating anecdotal evidence for their theories – good ol’ UPGs.  Practitioners of reconstructed traditions of many kinds have explored the traditions they’re reviving, and thereby have advanced this learning tremendously.  As well, walkers on more personal Pagan paths, including “hard polytheists,” have contributed to our growing body of resources.

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  • John Halstead
    John Halstead says #
    Thank you Macha! I'm honored by your mention. (And I love new acronyms.)

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Seasons & Reasons

 

We live in private worlds mostly of our own creation, and though you may take that metaphorically or metaphysically, in this case I mean the physical conditions around us. I would wager that most of you that are reading this blog live in homes where you have the power of day and night by clicking the lights on or off. You, or someone associated with your home, probably controls the seasons of your home through heating and/or air-conditioning. Water comes to you through a faucet, and the roof keeps the storms at bay. If you so choose, and you have the coin to pay with, the fruits and vegetables of almost any climate and season can be brought to your plate. Unless you are in dire straits or have chosen an ascetic life, these domestic powers are generally taken for granted. Not that long ago in the grand scheme of things, they would have been seen as marvels to be only found in Fairyland or in a wizard’s keep. All magick has a cost, even the very tame magic that is brought about by wires, plumbing, and pistons. Although it is true that our creature comforts have economic, political, and ecological costs, it is one of the costs to our psyche that this blog will explore.

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In like a Lion, Out like a Banshee

It has not necessarily been the easiest of winters. We had fair warning. We were told it was going to be a doozy. In my part of the world, we were expecting record snowfalls which thankfully did not come to be. Instead we got record freezing temperatures. Day after day of minus 40 Celsius (which actually puts the US and Canada on par). In our household, we went through weeks of frozen pipes, washing dishes in the bathtub, and burst pipes during a brief temperature respite. I heard similar tales from many corners, not least from the incredibly busy plumbers who arrived to save the day, darting from one home in need to another.

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Ok everyone! We made a few more videos. This one deals with the chapters in Ronald Huttons book Triumph of The Moon "Finding a Structure" "Finding a High Magic" and "Finding a Low Magic". I only went mildly crazy trying to make this video. Check it out if your too busy to read and just want bite size clips on these chapters. As always thanks so much for watching and if you liked it ... well, maybe you could like the video on youtuber subscribe? Just throwin' that out there. Mull it over. 

Blessings!

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Rún: A Facsimile of a Grimoire

I picked up a copy of this fascinating book from Strandagaldur (The Museum Icelandic Sorcery & Witchcraft). I love to see historical grimoires. Rún is particularly wonderful because it's a facsimile. Although the manuscript copied dates only from 1928, the material within it may date back as far as 1676. Two other copies of the material from around the same time exist, created in a belated attempt to gather traditional materials in the age of rising national identity. The early modern witch trials probably eliminated many more texts; it is interesting to note that like Finland and unlike the rest of Europe, men made up the greater part of those tried for the craft.

The book is full of cool information: first come the sets of runes, as the name suggests. There are alphabets for "black men" and "old women" and fools and "vagrants. There are magical staves from the simple to the complex for all kinds of magical purposes. Some look almost as complicated as vevés, others are more stark. As you might expect, there are lots of variations on the ægishjálmur.

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