Today's Watery Wednesday focuses on community news for Pagans, Heathens, polytheists, pantheists and all our allies! North Carolina Pagans in the spotlight; Pagan interfaith progress; a new book on devotional polytheism; real vs "fake" names on Facebook.
It's October, the season when mainstream culture focuses on Paganism. This week, the Tarheel state seems to be in the focus. Kelley Harrell describes contemporary Witchcraft in this piece at a Raleigh website. The Asheville Citizen-Times highlights an unique program that includes Witches (like H Byron Ballard) in a program that shares various religions in a once-a-year program to local high school students.
Have you ever tried to bake a cake from scratch? Not terribly difficult, right? But what if you didn’t have a recipe? That’s pretty much what we’re doing over at Ariadne’s Tribe these days. Bear with me here and I’ll do my best not to flog the metaphor too badly.
Reconstructionist traditions like Hellenism and Ásatru rely on written texts from earlier times for a lot of their information. The Hellenists have all the works that have come down to us from the classical writers, many of whom were devoted to the Hellenic deities themselves; the Ásatru folks have the eddas, the sagas and more. Though the ancient Minoans left us their writing in the form of Linear A, we can’t read it; in fact, we don’t even know what language the script records. So, essentially, we don’t have a recipe. But we’re good cooks, at least, I’d like to think so.
The first six months of its existence my ritual group mostly floundered. We had a good circle of people around us and did some nice rituals, but we didn't really have any sort of structure. To find a solidity for ourselves we had to do a ritual for someone else.
When my wife and I put our ritual group together we did so with low expectations. We were basically just looking for a group to ritualize with, we weren't necessarily seeking anything formal. During those early months our rituals were continually different. We never used the same quarter calls twice or called to the same gods and goddesses for that matter! The circle was scripted but eclectic, details constantly in flux.
I'd like to imagine that starting a coven is a completely organic process. Perhaps a few friends get together and decide that it's time to form a coven or at least begin operating as one. On the traditional side it's easy to imagine a Priestess and Priest recently elevated to Third Degree and hiving off to form a new coven, perhaps taking a few of their old coven mates with them in order to do so. Both of those scenarios sound better then how our group started. Our coven began with a question: "who should we invite over for ritual?"
A little while back I wrote an article about The Broom Closet in the 21st Century. Recently the New York Times had an opinion article about the persecution of Witches in various parts of the world. In that article the opinion writer argued that the age of the internet has increased the witch hunting that occurs. One of the problems is that many of the people accused of witchcraft may not even be witches. They are accused for reasons that may have nothing to do witchcraft, but nonetheless it is used because it's convenient. In such places, the brutality that occurs involves burning people alive, or beheading or stoning them. The majority of such atrocities occur to women and the the people doing the assault are men doing it for prestige or as a way to enforce dominant social values. I mention all of this make a point: That such atrocities, far from being history, are still happening. In some cases, they are even happening in the U.S. And even here in the U.S. we also see the proliferation of ignorant perspectives about magic, because of how the mainstream religion fears the spread of any spiritual beliefs that run counter to that religion. Now whether every single one of those victims did or didn't identify as a Pagan or a Witch doesn't really matter, because those people were still labeled as such and punished for beliefs they may or may not have held.