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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

The Crown Jewels | Tower of London ...


We're American pagans. We live in a democracy, and think democratically.

(For the time being, at least. If we want to keep it that way, we'd bloody well better get our pagan butts out there in November and vote.)

So what's with all the aristocratic/monarchic language—lords, ladies, kings, queens—when we talk about the gods? Having dumped the institutions, why do we retain the language, and wouldn't it be better to replace it with something more in keeping with our own politics instead?

In my more than 50 years in the pagan community, I've heard these questions raised any number of times, and acknowledge their validity.

Experientially speaking, though, I find that this nobility-speak terminology doesn't really bother me. Why not?

Well, for one, I live in a democracy. (Note above-cited caveat.) That monarchy and aristocracy can be profoundly oppressive of yeomanry like yours truly, I have no doubt whatsoever—to quote my friend Volkhvy, if there's any noble blood in my family, it's only because a horse outruns someone on foot—but I also have no personal experience of it. I've never been in a situation where the laird and his hunt ruin my crop by riding through it, or his son rapes my daughter, and I have no recourse to the law because the laird is the law. Thank the gods.) Precisely because I'm American, kings and queens, lords and ladies have, in a sense, lost their political reality and become metaphors of status and power.

(That the gods are bigger and more powerful than I am, I readily acknowledge.)

Add to this the fact that nobility language has become so ingrained in religion, both Western and Eastern, that it seems perfectly natural to speak this way in religious situations. The elevated and the archaic have characterized religious language for as long as we have record of religious language. So I find no fault with these metaphors, social fossils that they are, on this account, either.

To this, I'll add a third argument, a pragmatic one. When I hear objections raised to “lord” and “queen,” my very practical response must be: okay, so what do we have to put in its place? Better the imperfect metaphor that we have, than the perfect one that we don't.

Obviously, our political institutions have nothing to offer here, precisely because of their essentially egalitarian nature. Speaking of the gods as presidents or senators evokes nothing but laughter.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs


Of Necklace and Torc



See now that necklace she wears, the Lady of Witches; even when wearing nothing else at all, she wears it.

Circle of Life, they call it.

Amber, jet, amber, jet: life, death, life, death; unending circle, round and round.

Life Unending, they call it.

They say she went down into darkness to get it, she the Lady of Life.

They say that Death gave her the necklace.


(Along with pearl, do they not together comprise the Three Living Jewels of Witchdom: white pearl, red amber, black jet? But that's another tale, for another night.)


See now that torc he wears around his neck, the Horned; even when wearing nothing else at all, he wears it.

Circle of Life, they call it.

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Two Hearts Beat as One: Ritual Rub

I always giggle when I see over-the-counter sesame body oil in the pharmacy. Unknowingly, a woman will apply the oil and never understand why she feels so much sexier and attracts more glances her way. While that marketplace version will do in a pinch, a potion you’ve made yourself will be ten times as effective. You can use it as a skin softener or a massage oil.

In a cup of almond and sesame oil, add twenty drops of musk, sandalwood, or orange blossom oil. Shake well and heat very slowly and carefully. I use a clay oil warmer with a votive candle beneath, but the stovetop will do.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 In Our America, Love Wins



My law is love unto all beings, says the Lady of Witches.

Nothing without the hand of love, she told the people of New Crete.*

Through the election season to come, ask yourself:

  • Who speaks with love?
  • Who thinks with love?
  • Who acts with love?

(Bear in mind that hard love is also love.)

Ask yourself also:

  • Who speaks with unlove?
  • Who thinks with unlove?
  • Who acts with unlove?

Me, I'm a values voter, and this is my value: Nothing, nothing, nothing without the hand of love.

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 Now there's a real-life Grinch cave ...

 “Behold, in the nostrils of the nations, they have caused the name of the LORD to stink.”


Once upon a time, the Mainstream churches assumed—and maybe at the time they were right—that most of America was Christian.

In such a cultural environment, what mattered most, then, was not that you were Christian—which was largely taken for granted—but rather what kind of Christian you were.

So the Mainstreamers pretty much stopped using the C-word in public. To call yourself a “Lutheran Christian,” after all, smacks of the redundant.

Then along came the Evangelicals, who picked up the disused term and ran with it.

The media—which mostly, generously, calls people by their preferred name—unthinkingly acquiesced.

Shame be upon them, the media still parrots conservative Christians when, in effect, they claim proprietary rights to a name that is not theirs alone. In plain words, the media—not, let us admit, particularly well-versed on matters religious—not only let them get away with it, but abetted the theft.

That's how the nazzes stole “Christian.”

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Sensuality Spell: Full Moon Goddess Invocation

At the next full moon, make a vow, alone or with your partner, to bring forth all erotic powers. Begin with a blissful bath in oil-scented water; this essential oil must be the one that makes you feel sexiest. For me, it is an equal mix of vanilla and amber, which I call “Vamber;” it has never failed me. When I wear this unguent, I feel as if a cloud of sensuality surrounds me.

Sit in a darkened room, encircled by flickering jasmine, musk, or “vamber” candles. Raise a cup of jasmine tea or a glass of wine from a vintage that represents a lucky year for you, and speak this spell aloud:

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Every Dragon in 'House of the Dragon ...

NOT a Review of the HBO Series


A local dungeon daddy once invited me over for a tour of the chamber.

"Well, why not?" I thought.

I'll spare you the details. I left having learned two things.

First—as expected—bondage doesn't really interest me.

Second, that my friend Paul was absolutely right in his characterization of BD/SM as essentially an elaborate and extended form of foreplay.

Now, I like foreplay as much as the next guy, but I have to admit that, at several points during the encounter, I couldn't help thinking, “Um...can we just screw already?”


Let's just admit it: House of the Dragon is Silmarillion to Game of Thrones' Lord of the Rings.


It's an old question: why did the gods make the world? The answer, as any artist can tell you, is that making is the best drug of all.

If making is a drug, then world-making must be the most addictive drug of all. Alas, both Tolkien and Martin fell  prey to traps of their own making, forgetting what—say what you will about Narnia—C. S. Lewis never did: that, no matter how intrinsically interesting the world, the story always has to come first.

That's why GoT and LotR are both such romps, and HotD and the Silmarillion such bores.


Could it also maybe have something to do with the fact that, while the former are suffused with gentle humor, the latter are, by contrast, utterly humorless?

Or is that just the nature of story vs. history?


Hearing fans effuse about the first season of House of the Dragon always leaves me wondering just exactly what I was missing. The show always seemed to be building to a climax that somehow never came.

I kept being reminded of those bad pagan rituals of the 80s and 90s in which you were supposed to stand in an interminable line, waiting for your one-on-one with a (supposed) deity.

Spoiler alert: it's never worth the wait.

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