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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Imbolc Introspection

I've always thought a little introspection was good for the soul, and the sabbat, Imbolc, certainly lends itself to that. If creativity can play a part in your ritual, all the better. The last two seasons of my monthly personal podcast, "Women Who Howl at the Moon," I've turned the recording device on myself. I make a point to ask aloud some challenging questions and try to be honest and open with my spontaneous answers. In a way, it's not all that different than when I used to employ my favorite toy growing up, a tape recorder. I'd record everything with that beloved instrument, and rarely—if ever—edited myself. I'd record friends, my younger brothers, conduct interviews with grandparents, act out beloved movies or spoofs on TV shows, all in the form of  a free-wheeling radio play. In some ways, little has changed, although I do admit to cleaning up too many "ums" or "tsks" if they bug me. All in all, it still remains one of my favorite communication devices of choice. You don't get hung up on the visual and distracted by that but are forced to listen closely and imagine what story you are hearing unfolding.

So Many Ways to Look Inward

In the past, I've suggested going on a peaceful winter cross-country ski in a nature setting, turning up the heat and meditating with a cup of piping hot herbal tea, or simply embracing the act of unplugging—literally all electronic devices and unnecessary noise. You can hug your inner introvert by way of a mini silent retreat with yourself. Or this year you could dim the lights, make sure you're in a sound-proof setting where you won't be disturbed, and hit record for a little self-talk. You certainly don't need any fancy recording devices or software to do this. Most Smart Phones come equipped with a recording device. Whether you choose to share your innermost thoughts or no, is distinctly up to you. At the very least, play the recording back to yourself at a later date—perhaps at the Spring Equinox, or even Lammas, since that is one of the four major sabbats, and opposite Imbolc on the calendar wheel. Check in and listen to you express your thoughts privately. See what's changed and what's remained the same. Take note in your journal and act accordingly.

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 Charlie Murphy | Discography | Discogs

Charlie Murphy

1953-2016

 

What is the least that we have a right to expect from our fellow human beings?

Acknowledgment of shared humanity, yes? Surely that's the least that we have a right to expect?

 

With its faux herstory, shallow outrage over the Nine Million, and mindless eclecticism, Charlie Murphy's 198X song The Burning Times (“In the cool of the evening, they used to gather...”) just hasn't withstood the test of time. (“Isis, Astarte, Dee-AH-na, Hecate, Demeter, KAH-li...Inan-NA!”) Still, for a while in the 80s, it gave a voice to our collective longing, and became something of a marching song for the New Old Religion.

I met Charlie Murphy a couple of times back in those days. The memory still rankles.

 

We met first at a Gay Pride block party one evening here in Minneapolis. A mutual acquaintance introduced us as we stood in the middle of Hennepin Avenue, surrounded by a crowd of hundreds, in all our milling, bare-chested glory.

There's a cruel and deeply broken thing that gay men regularly do to one another. (Oh, not all gay men, and not all the time, but enough...gods help us, enough.) We disappear one another.

Here's how it works. When we meet, you have five seconds to exist: long enough for me to decide whether or not I want you.

If I don't, then poof! I disappear you. After that, we may be standing mere inches from one another but, baby, you no longer exist. I don't see you, I don't hear you. You're simply not there.

That's what Charlie Murphy did to me. He sized me up and, poof! I was gone.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 

 Some Thoughts on a Pagan Catechism by Ezra Pound

 

“Think what god it may be.”

According to American poet and critic Ezra Pound (1885-1972), this is what you should do when encountering a god.

Published at the very end of the First World War, in 1918, Religio, or the Child's Guide to Knowledge is a curious work, a kind of pagan catechism: variously flippant, obtuse, and profound.

Do we know the number of the gods? he asks, and answers: It would be rash to say that we do. [One] should be content with a reasonable number.

Pagan for more than five decades now myself, I would still be hard put to come up with a better answer.

One phrase from Religio has haunted me for years.

How should one perceive a god, by his name?

It is better to perceive a god by form, or by the sense of knowledge, and after perceiving him thus, to consider his name or to “think what god it may be.”

“Think what god it may be.” For all its sense of playfulness, Pound here touches upon the warm, beating heart of polytheist experience. When encountering the divine, the monotheist has no need to wonder Who; but the pagan—the thinking pagan, at least—always must. Which god, among all the Many, might this one be?

“Think what god it may be.” Pound cites the phrase in quotation marks: is it really a quotation, or just meant to present as one? Certainly, it bears the hallmark of being the words of some venerable Greek or Roman author, wise in the ways of the gods: Cicero, perhaps, or Homer. Certainly it evinces a depth of understanding beyond what we would expect from irascible old Ezra Pound, Fascist sympathizer and anti-Semite that he was.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
The Tragedy of Growing Up

“I don’t know what to do. They wonder why I don’t visit but when I do it’s so painful.” My friend, just cresting her forties, was dealing with a difficult relationship with her parents. They refused to accept any responsibility for—or attempt to change—the behaviours that she’d found hurtful since childhood. She was struggling to find forgiveness, to be able to maintain some connection with them, but every interaction reopened old wounds.

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Dreams: You Are Missing a Body Part

If you find yourself looking down in a dream only to discover that you’re suddenly missing an arm, a leg, a finger, etc., that can often be a sign of some kind of loss in your waking life. Whether the dream involves the traumatic loss of a limb or its simply disappearance, the symbolism is deeply tied to feelings of abandonment, helplessness, and sacrifice. This dream can stem from a fear of losing something or someone important to you in real life. The body part lost likely connects to something you felt was a vital part of yourself that you aren’t ready to let go of.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 Prophecy or Chemistry? The Mystery of the Oracle of Delphi | by Paul  Halpern | Medium

 

“How long will I be emperor?” the emperor Nero asked the Delphic Oracle.

“Beware the seventy-third year,” the Oracle told him.

 

You are the Hierophant, the high priest and guardian of the Mysteries of Eleusis.

You receive a command from the Roman emperor to mount an out-of-season celebration of the Mysteries, in order that he may attend while he is in Greece. That emperor is Nero.

What do you do?

 

At the time of his visit to Delphi, the emperor Nero was 34 years old.

Needless to say, the Oracle's response delighted him.

 

Shockingly, but unsurprisingly, the then-Hierophant of Eleusis acceded to Nero's demand and—for the only time in their 1000-year history—the Mysteries of the Grain Mother were enacted out-of-season.

Alas: knowledge of mystery does not necessarily entail courage.

 

His whirlwind tour of Greece completed, Nero prepared himself to return to Rome.

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 Portrait Head of a Philosopher | The Art Institute of Chicago

"An Outstanding Mediocrity"

A near-contemporary of Plato, Mediocrates was a fourth-century BCE Athenian philosopher best-known for his controversial teaching that one should avoid all extremes.

Mediocrates apparently taught that a balanced life requires conscious effort to avoid standing out from the norm: in fact, the deliberate avoidance of all extremes, even extremes of virtue. In this, he differs from virtually all of his contemporaries, from whom the pursuit of aretê, “excellence”, was the ultimate goal of life.

For his doctrine of deliberate non-striving, he came to be known as the “Philosopher of the Middle”; indeed, his very name itself may be translated “halfway up the mountain.”

If Mediocrates wrote down his teachings, none of his writings have survived. He is, however, credited with originating a number of common sayings, including “Keep your head down,” “Just go with the flow, man (voc. ἄνερ, áner),” and "The higher up the tree the monkey goes, the more of its bottom you see."

According to the only known story about Mediocrates, a student of Aristotle once quoted him in the course of a debate.

“Who?” replied Aristotle.

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