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
The Magic of the Quill

Ic seah wrætlice     wuhte feower
samed siþian     swearte · wæran lastas
swaþu swiþe blacu     swift wæs on fore
fulgum framra     fleotgan lyfte
deaf under yþe     dreag unstille
winnende wiga     se him wægas tæcneþ
ofer fæted gold     feower eallū


The riddles of the Exeter Book give us oblique snapshots of everyday life for the monks in the Middle Ages. You can easily imagine the scribes fixing on something within site and coming up with a poetic and misleading description where metaphor can throw a reader off the track. But the metaphors reveal power, too. Riddle 40 (51 in the Krapp-Dobbie edition) refers to one of the ubiquitous items in their lives: the pen or quill.

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Birch: The Tree of Midsummer

 

 

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Ruminations on the Soul: Mental Illness and Suicide

**This post is rooted in recent current events, and has foundations in my experience as a mental health chaplain. The content may be upsetting or triggering to some**

"Regrets collect like old friends
Here to relive your darkest moments
I can see no way, I can see no way
And all of the ghouls come out to play

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Recent comment in this post - Show all comments
  • Mark Green
    Mark Green says #
    Thank you for this post.

Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Riddle Me This

One of the genres you may not expect to be popular in the Middle Ages is that of riddles. They're not usually as straightforward as the riddles we know. They tend to be more metaphorical. I mentioned before in The Magic of Names the riddle that has 'magpie' as its solution (probably). Many of them are scatalogical or full of double entendres, which also doesn't fit our image of pious monks -- but it's our picture of monks that's wrong.

The myth persists that the church ruled the Middle Ages with a heavy hand. Like the myth that people thought the world was flat, it's just wrong. Many people who thought of themselves as Christian went to church once a year to confess and that was enough for them. Many monks who were part of the church were no more devoted to their religion than the average slacker working for a giant corporation is. It gave them a living if they weren't inheriting any wealth. For many it was an easy life (see Chaucer's monk for example).

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Tasha Halpert
    Tasha Halpert says #
    Sweet riddle! Love it. Thanks for sharing! A most interesting blog.
  • Dragon Dancer
    Dragon Dancer says #
    Haha, I was gonna say apple.
  • Kate Laity
    Kate Laity says #
    The answer is of course -- an onion!
Snake Spirits: Health and Wealth

"Snake, snake, come swiftly 
Hither come, thou tiny thing,
Thou shalt have thy crumbs of bread,
Thou shalt refresh thyself with milk."

-The Brothers Grimm, “Stories About Snakes: First Story”

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs
The Orphic Hymns

Orpheus, the famed oracle orator hero of Greece, began to teach a new religion at the dawn of the Archaic Age.  Deeply rooted in ancient paganism, Orphism taught a doctrine of peace-seeking, reincarnation, and universal brotherhood.  The followers, like their leader, worshiped their gods with song.  Eighty seven of these ancient hymns have survived to the present day, and are called The Orphic Hymns.  They've been translated into English many times.  Most familiar is the 1792 work of Thomas Taylor, which is lovely verse, but sometimes diverges quite far from the original meanings.  The most popular recent translation by Apostolos N. Athanassakis and Benjamin M. Wolkow holds very close to the original text, but utilizes neither meter nor rhyme, making it less effective for ritual use.  These new translations shoot for the best of both worlds; I've stuck to the original text closely, rendering them in modern English in rhymed couplets suitable for both oration and singing.  Accompanying each hymn are historical context, essays on the gods, and suggestions for spell craft utilizing the hymn.  Several are illustrated with original full-page ikons, which you can photocopy out and frame.  You can read many of the translations in progress by following the project at www.facebook.com/OrphicHymns or www.OrphicHymns.com


The "basic" edition of the book will include a prefatory essay about the hymns and their historical and religious context, an original telling of the myth of Orpheus, and a new translation of each hymn, with some black and white illustrations.  The "special" edition of the book will include all that, as well as essays to accompany each hymn, and as many full-color illustrations as we can afford to produce and print.  (hopefully, that's all of them!!) . You can read an example chapter here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1uV70IGBIj6D0Ck89aH5pzeH5k-3bqoqN/view?usp=sharing

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Ruminations on the Soul: Forgiveness

I've taken some of my group material I used as a Chaplain Fellow with my PTSD and substance abuse program veterans and modified it here as blog material. I feel the content and message of the material is universal enough that it needs to be shared, even if the context is different. I hope you enjoy.

"Regrets collect like old friends
Here to relive your darkest moments
I can see no way, I can see no way
And all of the ghouls come out to play

And every demon wants his pound of flesh
But I like to keep some things to myself
I like to keep my issues drawn
It's always darkest before the dawn..."

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