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Pagan News Beagle: Faithful Friday, November 18

A look at how the Christian right in the United States has aligned itself with Republican politics. Ten questions commonly asked of atheists. And a disheartening look at how hatred is impacting the lives of young Muslims in America. It's Faithful Friday, our weekly segment on news about faiths and religious communities from around the world. All this and more for the Pagan News Beagle.

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On Passing

Let's talk about a fun topic. Let's talk about passing. Historically, it has meant that if you looked white and could pass as white, you would take that power and hide your actual racial background.

In this political climate and in this modern age, passing can mean a lot more. It can mean not wearing jewelry that indicates you're of a minority religion. It can mean not choosing to date a same sex partner if you are pansexual/bisexual or to be closeted about it. It could mean not being as open poly or kinky. It can mean stfu'ing about feminist issues such as abortion access. (A side note, since the election I feel like all I do is yell, WITCHCRAFT AND ALSO ABORTIONS)

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Midwinter Blood

It's one of the few known instances of actual King Sacrifice in the literature.

Dómaldi took the inheritance after his father Visbur, and ruled the land. In his day, a great famine and hunger engirded the Swedish thede (people). Then the Swedes offered great sacrifice at Uppsala. The first autumn they sacrificed oxen, but the following season was no better. The next autumn they held a man-sacrifice, but the next season was even worse. The third autumn a great many Swedes came to Uppsala when the sacrifices were to be offered. Then the chieftains took rede with one another, and agreed both that the famine was due to Dómaldi their king, and that they should sacrifice him that very year: take him out, kill him, and redden the altars with his blood.

And that is what they did.

So wrote Icelander Snorri Sturluson in his Ynglingasaga (1225).

Snorri's account implies a perpetrated violence, but in Swedish painter Carl Larsson's monumental 1915 canvas, Midvinterblot (“Midwinter Sacrifice”), the death of King Dómaldi becomes a moving act of willing self-sacrifice.

In this controversial painting, a festive crowd has gathered before the great stave-temple of Uppsala. Lurs blare, women dance, warriors march. Through the open doorway, we see the great golden statue of the Thunderer standing in a chariot drawn by golden goats. Before the temple the high góði stands with hammer raised to hallow the sacrifice. In the foreground, facing away from the viewer, stands the red-cloaked sacrificer, who holds the bright blade, ready but hidden, behind his back.

But the center of the painting is Dómaldi himself, his head thrown back, standing (like Þórr) on the sledge on which he has been drawn in procession to the temple.

Young, vigorous, bearded and redly beautiful, he is depicted in the act of shedding the red fox-skin cloak which is his only covering. Beneath it, in the Midwinter cold, he offers himself stripped for sacrifice, naked and ready. It is the ultimate act of royal kenosis: the voluntary self-emptying of one who willingly gives his life for the people.

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Pagan News Beagle: Earthy Thursday, November 17

Another city in the developing world gains the moniker of "most polluted city." Medical engineers pioneer a new, "artificial pancreas." And the Paris Agreement on climate change moves forward despite its uncertain future under President Trump and a Republican majority in Congress. It's Earthy Thursday, our weekly segment about science and Earth-related news! All this and more for the Pagan News Beagle!

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That Blood

It's a credo of the Fairy Faith.

If ever you should happen into That Land, Don't eat the food.

To eat it would be to bind yourself irrevocably to that world, from which you can “never return to your ain countree.”

Witches excepted.

All the stories agree that the Tribe of Witches are exempt from this taboo.

We have, shall we say, a special relationship with the Secret Commonwealth. As people of the betwixt-and-between, it is given to us to pass from world to world with something (dare I say it) akin to impunity.

Scottish witch Isobel Gowdie said of her visit to Elfhame: There I got meat, more than I could eat, nor did this hinder her comings and goings in the least.

Old Craft would have it that this right of free passage derives from being ourselves of That Blood, half-elven, from whence we draw our Otherness.

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President Elect Appoints Obscure Blogger as Liaison to Pagan Community

AP: New York

The transition team of president elect Ronald Rump announced today the appointment of obscure PaganSquare blogger Steven Posch as the administration's future liaison with the pagan community.

“Sure, he's a nobody from nowhere that nobody listens to,” said an aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “For an insignificant bunch of losers like the pagans, who cares?”

Critics faulted the choice as unrepresentative.

“Darling, Posch doesn't speak for anyone but himself, and that's on a good day,” said Glyph And/Or of Witches Against Negativity and Discrimination (WAND), adding: “He's so far out of the pagan mainstream that his hooves aren't even wet.”

Questioned about his choice, president elect Rump said: “It's so unfair. You don't even know what you're talking about. You're stupid, stupid.

“And you're ugly, too.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_web3_sm.jpgBeing an introvert, interacting with other humans is tiring. And yet I must, not only because the world is full of us, and I will be more healthy and live longer if I do, but because we all need each other in order to make our lives better. Every day we get help from others even if we never step outside our home or answer the phone. Short of moving out to the woods, building a shelter and finding all our food – an activity statistically likely to result in death – we are enmeshed in a web of human assistance.

This spring, my husband and I bought a house we are fixing up. We aren’t doing it alone thank the gods. We don’t have the time or skills to do everything that needs doing. We have a plumber, Kenny, and Steve, the fellow who did the gutters, but the fellow who has done a great deal of our work is Rey. Rey and his various helpers have re-roofed the shed in the back of the house, replaced the boards on the deck, cut doors in concrete and brick walls, and installed doors and windows. I too am a maker. I can do construction, sew things, and create art. But I physically cannot do everything. My body is not strong enough to do what Rey and his crew achieve in the space of a few weeks. If I did not have their help, it would take months, if it got done at all. I like very much that my energy is in this house. It is an act of magical creation to transform an space that has been empty and lonely for two years into warm and inviting nest. But it is not my energy alone. Rey enjoys his job. He takes pictures of everything he does. He teaches his helpers how to do things, and he keeps doing it, even when they abandon him to make more money working on their own. He helps me, he helps them. Yes, we pay him, and he pays them. But that doesn’t change the good feelings I have about a man who has made my life better. And he feels good about us too. He’s so happy with the amount of money that we have given him over the summer, that he offered us a half day of work for free. (And for the cynical, no, he doesn’t over-charge for his work.)

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