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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 

 Fire Island (2022) - IMDb

Not a Review of Kim Joel Booster's Fire Island

 

I am pagan. Therefore, I support the right to discriminate

As pagans, we understand the importance—not just the importance, but the value and, in fact, the cultural necessity—of any given self-selected group's right to exclude non-members while associating freely within itself: with the necessary proviso, of course, that such a right cannot be universal, but always (by necessity) time- and place-bound.

If this is so, then Kim Joel Booster's Fire Island may well be the most pagan movie of the summer.

 

Can't stand feel-good movies. Don't like rom-coms, especially gay ones. No big fan of Jane Austen, whom I really can't help but suspect would, if she weren't a woman, be read today only by English Lit grad students.

Here's what I really liked about this summer's gay feel-good rom-com, the newest iteration of the Pride and Prejudice franchise, though: with the exception of one nightmarish flashback scene, there are no straight people in the film. None.

A group of gay friends go to Gay Island for one last dizzying swirl of what passes for gay male “culture”, in all its shallow, abs-obsessed dysfunctionality.

Gods: how incredibly refreshing.

One lesbian. (Margaret Cho's character, though, is anything but token.) No straight characters. No (current media darlings that they are) trans characters. Not even any bisexuals. Just men for men telling our own story, for a change, with lots of gratuitous nudity, sex, and good-looking guys.

The Horned One be praised.

Not that I have nothing against trans folk, straight folk, or lesbians, mind you. Those stories, too, I value. It's just that everyone deserves a chance to talk about themselves every now and then. Enough about you: let's (finally) talk about me for a change, OK?

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 River, Stream, Movement, Turbulent, Stormy, Flow, Turbulence, Commotion,  Water, Wave, Aquatic | PixCove

A Thought Experiment

 

I believe in the peoplehood of pagans.

Here's my contention: that, collectively, pagans constitute—in effect—a transnational and transethnic people.

I would contend, in fact, that pagans are, essentially, an emergent ethnic group.

 

So: a pagan and a non-pagan fall into a river. You can only save one. Which one do you save?

In reality, of course, moral decisions are rarely so clear-cut. But ask yourself: under these circumstances, which one would it be?

The pagan moral universe is one of graded responsibility. (Yes, there may be a few heroic souls out there who have managed to transcend such petty restrictions and truly love everyone equally. Well, good on them. I'm talking here about the rest of us poor unwashed unenlightened.) I have more responsibility to immediate family than to more distant relatives. I have more responsibility to distant kin than to non-kin. I have more responsibility to non-kin members of my tribe than to those not of my tribe. And so on, expanding outwards from self.

That said, would I save the pagan, or the non-pagan?

Usually, of course, a question of this sort implies some sort of moral weighting. I'd be more likely to save someone that I knew over someone that I didn't know, the one that I liked better, the one that I perceived as less able to help themselves.

(In the funniest set of pre-flight instructions that I've ever heard, the way-gay air steward mugged: "If you're traveling with a child, please see to your own needs first. If you're traveling with two children, please see to the needs of the most promising child first.")

All that being equal, though, Posch, which one would you save?

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It doesn't take much reading in ethnology to notice that many tribal ethnonyms—the names by which a people knows itself—tend to mean “the People,” with an extended sense of the “Real People,” the “True People,” the “Original People."

Well, that's how I see pagans.

Pagans are the Original People, by definition. Up until a few thousand years ago, we were all there were. Until recently, all non-pagan religions grew out of pagan soil. To paraphrase Terry Pratchett, it's pagans all the way down.

(Of course, back in pagan times, we didn't know that we were pagan; we just were. In this, we're like Native Americans. Encounter with others always imbues a new sense of self.)

Now there are more non-pagans in the world than pagans, but that doesn't change history. We were here first; we're still here; we'll always be here.

Savor this delicious corollary: human beings are inherently, instinctively pagan. Left to our own devices to figure the world out for ourselves, what we come up with is (by definition) pagan. To be human is to be born pagan; anything else you have to be made into.

Therefore, even those of us who (like myself) were raised in the ways of the un-Original people, by our embrace of the Old Ways, thereby rejoin our birthright status of being one of the Original People.

The implications here are dizzying, paradoxical. No matter how much paganisms may change, they're still Original.

A danger inherent in this way of looking at things, of course, is the potential to view non-pagans as somehow less than human. That way always lies danger.

But non-pagans were born pagan too, just like us; they've just, in a sense, forgotten who they are.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 

 

All right, I'm just going to say it.

If you think that your paganism is just a matter of your personal relationship with the gods, you're wrong.

Or, at least, you're only partially right.

All realized paganisms are tribal. They're the religions of a particular group. If in the old days you had asked someone “What's your religion?”, they would (assuming that they understood what you meant by “religion”) have answered you: “My religion is the [Name of Tribe or People] religion.”

That's the way that the Kalasha—the last remaining Indo-European-speaking people who have practiced their traditional religion continuously since antiquity—talk about their religion to this day.

Let me give you an example. I'm a Witch. My religion is the Witch religion.

The ancestors, of course, didn't know that they were pagan. Now we do. It's a situation analogous to that of American First Nations. Before Columbus, they didn't think of themselves as a collective group. They thought of themselves in terms of their own people: Dakota, Anishinabe, Ho-Chunk, etc. It wasn't until later that they began to see themselves as Indigenous Americans, a group sharing a common identity.

It's like that with us, too. Now we see that, beyond our immediate tribal affiliations, we've got shared concerns with others that we perceive as being unlike ourselves: that, in fact, we share a common identity.

 

 

The old Hwicce (Witch) language had two words that dictionaries define as “tribe, people, nation”: thede and lede.

(1000 years ago, that would have been þéod and léod, but of course, that was 1000 years ago, and language changes just like everything else.)

Here's the difference between the two terms: your thede is your immediate tribe; your lede is your tribe's tribe.

So as for me, I'm Witch by thede, Pagan by lede. The Kalasha girls shown above dancing at the Joshi (Spring) festival are Pagan by lede, Kalasha by thede.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Poloandbike Bikes & Bicycles at best price

 

Do the gods hear petitionary prayer?

Well, let's take one example. Does Earth hear petitionary prayer?

Different people would give you different answers to this question. Speaking for myself, while it would be easy to say no, that's not quite right.

Here's what I would say. Whether or not Earth qua planet hears our petitionary prayer, we don't know. Here's what we do know: Insofar as we ourselves are Earth and of Earth, Earth does indeed hear our prayers.

In some ways, the entire question strikes me as wrong-headed. We all have work, including the gods. Why would we think that answering our prayers is among the work of the gods? The gods, in fact, are already doing their sacred work all around us every day: the Sun shines, the Storm gives rain, the Earth brings forth. If you ask me, it's not their job to make sure that—to quote Quentin Crisp—I get that blue bicycle that I always wanted.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Is Witchcraft a Religion?

According to the Twitter witches, witchcraft isn't a religion, it's a magical technology.

According to Margaret Murray, Gerald Gardner, and several million Wiccans worldwide, witchcraft is primarily a religion with a strong grounding in magical practice.

So who's right?

If I had to pick a side of the hedge to stand on—I can scarcely believe that I'm saying this—I would be among the nimble-thumbed Twitteratti. But let me add a caveat.

As I see it, the Craft is an inherited magical technology. It's the ancestral magical technology of the Tribe of Witches. As such, it does not per se constitute a religion.

But here's the caveat: just like everything else, magical technologies are not culturally freestanding. Every magical technology is, of necessity, grounded in a particular culture.

Ours roots in the tribal culture of the Tribe of Witches, in which—like pretty much every other pre-modern culture—religion and everyday life are so thoroughly interlaced as to be indistinguishable from one another. There's no separate word for “religion” in the old Witch language.

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  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I would have said that witchcraft is a way of looking at and interacting with the world that is contrary to the general beliefs of

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Find Your Elemental Tribe

Spring is, in my opinion, the best time of year to really connect with nature, the elements, and elementals. Everything is coming back to life and is fresh and new. 

Fire, the first element and initiating spark and spirit of all life makes its vibrant, solar return in spring and continues to gain strength and heat until the peak at midsummer. Fire burns, water flows and rains down, the fragrant air stirs and the earth bears new growth. All the elements have returned in all their glory. 

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