Pagan Studies


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Studies Blogs

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

Creating Sacred Space with Pagan Prison Inmates – II

Be advised that I will have no photos to illustrate anything that goes on inside the prison walls unless I happen to come across them on the Web.  Needless to say, we volunteers are not permitted to bring cameras inside.

Neither will I be revealing any names or personal descriptions that might indicate the identity of anyone other than our supervising chaplain and myself.

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  • Diotima
    Diotima says #
    Macha, your experiences are very similar to mine, though the prison I volunteer at is much smaller -- only a few hundred men. I br

The writing scripts of humankind may look completely different from one another, but the sounds formed by human mouths can be very similar. For example, the sound Ma—and variations thereof—mean Mother all over the world. 

J. Robert Oppenheimer said that when the first atomic bomb was detonated, he remembered a quote from the Bhagavad-Gita: "Now I have become Death, destroyer of worlds." That ancient sentiment was written in Sanskrit—not the oldest language of humankind, but one of the few which are still in use today. 

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  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis says #
    Ted, lovely article, thank you! I love Latin, and learning more about its roots was awesome. I also loved hearing about the Cel
  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    Francesca - It's a lonely feeling, to be ahead of your time with ideas that you can't get anybody to listen to - and then to find
  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis says #
    Ted, you are so sweet, thank you. Yeah, it does get lonely, as you clearly have experienced. But I am also grateful for deep think
  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    Blessed Be to you, too.
  • Greybeard
    Greybeard says #
    Despite a century of misinterpretation, humans are not evolved from chimpanzees. We both share ancestry with some common ancient

Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Alliances

 

 

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  • Terence P Ward
    Terence P Ward says #
    I think the application of hospitality is a good idea. What I've seen more in these flare-ups is not so much bristling over someo
  • Aline "Macha" O'Brien
    Aline "Macha" O'Brien says #
    I agree, Terrence, and people who come in with that attitude in an interfaith setting soon leave, without any converts. Of course
  • Greybeard
    Greybeard says #
    Thanks for your thoughtful and helpful article, Ivo. In the last few months we have seen far too many pagans picking nits and de
  • Aline "Macha" O'Brien
    Aline "Macha" O'Brien says #
    Thanks for this, Ivo. We who work in interfaith certainly live by this attitude. I daresay that the various trads, covens, and i
Creating Sacred Space with Pagan Prison Inmates - I

Why We Work in a Sacred Circle

Some non-witchen Pagans have criticized Witches and Wiccans who do interfaith work and in other ways represent the Pagan movement and Pagan religions in secular situations for what they consider to be witchen-centrism, for want of a better term.  In the next few blogs I’ll attempt to describe the reality of the situation, and why I, ostensibly serving a Wiccan circle, in reality am about as eclectic as one can be.  First, the setting…

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I had been teaching Yoga for three decades, telling students every day to center themselves, when one of them spoke up and asked me what that meant. I was gob-smacked that anybody wouldn't understand this universal expression, which I had known all my life. It made me really think about it; and I soon realized that this is exactly why we teachers are here—to explain the things that are so obvious to us, to those who haven't got a clue. 

Yogis tell us that too much Moon energy (Feminine, Yin, Ida or Left Nostril) can make us depressed while too much Sun energy (Masculine, Yang, Pingala or Right Nostril) can make us manic, like a pendulum swinging uncontrollably from one extreme to another. The modern psychiatric term for this is Bi-polar disorder. Too much Moon will cripple us; too much Sun will make us self-destruct. But the proper balance of Sun and Moon will keep us healthy and functioning. 

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Veritas is boldly tattooed on my left forearm. In time it evolved to be surrounded by acanthus leaves and three pomegranates, creating a half sleeve down to wrist. In shades of grey, it is only augmented by single red thread.

Often, I am asked what it all means. Both the tattoo and the thread?  Many mistakenly assume I came to Qabalah through Madonna and that veritas refers to being a wino, in vino veritas or Harvard alumni whose motto is veritas. All are false. I am not a big fan of the Material Girl, or wine, and I did not go to Harvard.

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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

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