Pagan Studies


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Studies Blogs

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

The Broom Closet in the 21st Century

When I was 18, in 1995, I was outed from the broom closet. I had kept myself in that closet, because I was afraid of how people would react if they realized I practiced magic. A friend's parents (both fundamentalist Christians) found a book I'd let my friend borrow and contacted my mom about it. She was also a fundamentalist Christian and needless to say did not approve of my spiritual choices. I was still living with her as I was in high school and I didn't have a job at the time. She told me I had a choice. I could move out or burn my books. I had a half hour to decide before she kicked me out. A half hour isn't a lot of time to make such a decision. I made a very practical choice and decided I would burn my books, because I didn't have a job and I wanted to finish high school. I hid the books I hadn't read yet and took the books I had read and told her I'd burn them. She marched me out to the back yard and I burned those books. That incident didn't discourage my practice of magic. If anything, it only made it more attractive and also made me more determined to continue learning. That incident also convinced me that staying in the broom closet wasn't going to help me, and so I decided I'd be open about my beliefs and practices, and I have been to this day.

A short time after the book burning, I was contacted by the father of my friend (I didn't know who he was at the time). He was drunk, had a cold, and told me how he was going to come kill me in 48 hours and he'd call me on the hour, each hour before he came. He started singing hymns to me. I told him if he came over I'd defend myself. I also called the police. He kept calling and eventually I disconnected the phone. The next day, in school, my friend told me that his father and step-father, in a rare moment of collaboration, had decided they were going to try and kill me. The step-father would drive the father over to do the deed. It never happened, but it illustrated to me how intolerant Christians were when it came to any religion or spirituality that wasn't of their own practice. It also illustrated what a risk it could be to be out of the broom closet.

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  • Rebecca Kinney
    Rebecca Kinney says #
    I have also found that the most intolerant and vocal of any religion are the ones with the most to hide. It is as if they use the
  • Taylor Ellwood
    Taylor Ellwood says #
    Unfortunately many Christians are intolerant and interpret freedom of religion to only pertain to their religion. Not all of them
  • Joyce ORourke
    Joyce ORourke says #
    I find most Christians to be intolerant of any religion other then their own. If you want to know what a religion is like read hi

Posted by on in Studies Blogs

Sometimes a grumpy old man can come up with a sage observation, and even a sage can have a day that makes him pretty grumpy. But, generally, a man tends to be one or the other. He is born with clear tendencies either way, and all the experiences of his life thereafter simply serve to reinforce his natal qualities. 

I spent a good part of my youth wishing that I were a wise old man of 60 or more. I believed that people of that age no longer had any anxieties, having gained complete mastery over their minds. It was an accepted assumption in our society, reinforced by early TV and movies, that older men could be trusted with young women (and, for that matter, young boys), because men over 50 no longer had any sexual desires. By the age of 60, I thought, all my youthful fires would be quenched. In their place would reign rationality, wisdom and imperturbable tranquility. A long and eventful life would give me the perspective of a saint. Young people would flock to me for advice, inspiration and emotional comforting. I would be a valued elder statesman of my society. 

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  • Archer
    Archer says #
    "Everything seems to be harassing me personally"...I know just what you mean! I really appreciate the reminder to stop and think a
  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    Thank you, Archer. I had a friend in high school who decided to be "radically honest" with everybody for a couple of months...whic
  • Jill Swift
    Jill Swift says #
    Always, Ted! Brightest Blessings!!
  • Jill Swift
    Jill Swift says #
    Touche!!!! That's just about what I am thinking these days!! Couldn't of had said it better! But i'm not sage, I am a CRONE. I gu
  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    Ah, Jill - It is so nice to communicate with a kindred spirit. Thank you.

Posted by on in Studies Blogs

Four years ago, when I first started my Pagan Music Project, I got asked "What's the difference between Witchcraft and Paganism?"  That was difficult for me to answer. I struggled with it for a while, and then forgot about it.  Now, I think I've got it.

Witchcraft is about energies and powers that be.  Witchcraft spells and Witch magick are about working with the energetic machine that the world and universe are part of.  It's almost more of a job than it is a religion. Witches around the world are people that "do." Whether good or bad, Witches "do" things.

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  • Amarfa
    Amarfa says #
    @lizann: Even though I myself find it hard to believe in Christian religion and tradition, I am so glad you've found a balance.
  • Amarfa
    Amarfa says #
    Thank you. It was a random 3am type of writing. Sometimes, those are the best!
  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham says #
    Lovely and nuanced wisdom, thank you for sparking my continued processing of those concepts as a witch whose deities tend to be in
  • Terence P Ward
    Terence P Ward says #
    I very much appreciate how you've presented this viewpoint as your own insight, rather than as an established fact. That makes it
  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    Nice insight, Candi. I like how you've teased out the differences between the two.

Posted by on in Studies Blogs

Sutin, Lawrence. Do What Thou Wilt: A Life of Aleister Crowley. New York: St. Martin’s Press. 2000.

For better and worse, Aleister Crowley is one of the pivotal figures in the recent history of magic. He is also one of the more inscrutable, and the difficulties of his deliberate misdirections are multiplied by the revulsion that his actions and ideas can create. He proclaimed himself the divinely inspired messenger of a vast cultural shift and a magician of the highest achievement, but was widely reviled and - much worse from his perspective - often ignored. Capturing the breadth of these paradoxes in a single personality is not easy, and Sutin tackles it well in his biography of Crowley, which makes an excellent introduction for anyone trying to gain the necessary perspective on Crowley and his work.

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs

I recently wrote about what it meant to priest for the Goddess. In it I quoted, noted Buddhist roshi, Pat Enkyo O'Hara, who once said, "When asked of all the wisdom traditions why Zen, I said, because I live a life of Zen."  In a reframe, I suggested that I live a life of Goddess. Many have messaged me to clarify what I mean by that?

Goddess is the everyday constant in my life. She is the immanent divine within me, around me, the all and the vast nothing; but also the transcendent manifestation standing before me. She is the totality of my life experiences, regardless of circumstance, and I manifest the life I have in Her service because She is worship for me. I confess worship is one of my favorite words. When I was growing up my grandmother would say, “Worship is a verb!” Meaning that there was more to being a Christian than just showing up on Sunday morning or worse, just at Christmas and Easter! She was not wrong, as worship is in fact both a noun and a verb.  But what is worship? 'Worship is the action of religious devotion often directed towards a deity."

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  • Connie Lazenby
    Connie Lazenby says #
    Every word resonates within me and expresses worship so much better than I ever could, thank you.
  • Courtney Weber
    Courtney Weber says #
    Beautiful, Erick! Thank you once again!
Youth Q&A: Swordless in New York State

In the correspondence-based work that I do with Pagan youth, much of my communications revolve around answering questions and giving suggestions about how to live a Pagan life with both the restraints and opportunities that being a young person represents. This Youth Q&A column will be updated regularly with my questions and answers, shared with permission from the questioner. Only the names will be removed for privacy and safety.

Question: 
Having a sword or athame is the only thing my mom won’t let me do. Everything else is fine with her. I have to have one for my altar, right?
Age 16, Syracuse NY

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  • Jennifer Bisson
    Jennifer Bisson says #
    I also started out using a letter opener. I have also used a pointed crystal, a wooden folding fan, a pencil, a small spear point
  • Finn McGowan
    Finn McGowan says #
    In the bad old days when living with my parents or unsympathetic partners I would use secret, mundane tools. The Athame was a Swis
  • Diane Hedden
    Diane Hedden says #
    I am a witch who has worked both as a solitary and with a coven for over 25 years. I have met quite a few other witches who do
  • Terence P Ward
    Terence P Ward says #
    For my handfasting, the priest was more than happy to use the titanium spork I provided.
The never ending process of Internal Work

A lot of the magical work I do and have been doing for the last ten years is focused on internal work. Internal work is a combination of inner alchemical techniques, energy work, meditation, ritual magic, and psychology. The focus of internal work can vary, based on the particular purposes you apply it to. For example, internal work can be used to help you develop a better understanding of your body, or can be used to refine your internal energy, while also releasing emotional and mental blockages (also known as dysfunctional behaviors). Internal work can also be used to deepen your connection to the spirit world, or it can be used to cultivate your creative resources. Ultimately, the purpose of internal work can be boiled down to it being used as a catalyst for change.

I use internal work for all of the above purposes and have been doing internal work for ten years, as I mentioned above. I woke up, one day in March, in 2004, with the realization that if I didn't change my life I'd end up in a bad situation. I'd been living my life reactively and I suppose I had a glimmer of realization about that reactivity, which consequently led me to start doing internal work. I realized I didn't want to live a reactive life, constantly responding to what came into my life. When you live life in that way, you live in a chaotic environment, with little control over yourself, let alone anything else, because you are letting what happens to you dictate your life and the choices you make in life. You are living a life of reaction instead of a life by design.

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