Pagans get ready to celebrate Earth Day. Oklahoma Pagans face persecution from neighbors. And the role of magic in anarchism is considered. It's Watery Wednesday, our weekly segment on news about the Pagan community! All this and more for the Pagan News Beagle!
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“What do you know of the negative associations with the word Witch? How do you feel about the fact that so many witches were persecuted and burned in medieval times? Would you like to see witches and Goddess-religion made acceptable in today’s society?”
–Shekhinah Mountainwater, Ariadne’s Thread
While perhaps the answers to these questions seem very obvious when posted to a blog on a forum called Witches and Pagans, to many women interested in women's circles and Red Tents they are significant ones. And, they are very relevant to priestesses like me who work with the general public, rather than specifically pagan-identified groups, for Red Tent Circles and other gatherings. It is important to turn over and acknowledge the ways in which the word "witch" can be used to oppress people or to stifle their curiosity and personal expression as well as even prevent involvement with the work you offer.
This year I began a small study group using the book Ariadne’s Thread. I’ve wanted to work through this book with a group of women for years and it finally is working out to do so. One of the topics of our first meeting is the fear many women have of the word “witch.” This comes up in the Red Tent and Practical Priestessing classes I teach also. Indeed, when I plan Red Tent events, though I do use goddess imagery and I am extremely goddess-oriented in my personal spirituality, I am careful not to include the word “goddess” in the chants or rituals, because I want to make sure to speak to the womanspirit within all of us, rather than being associated with any one framework of belief. Red Tent spaces have the ability to transcend any particular belief system and welcome women of many backgrounds, inclinations, and beliefs. They aren’t specifically “Goddess circles,” though they honor the divine feminine through their very being.
I've been quiet here for the last while—er, the past several months, actually. It hasn't been intentional, but things happen--and I don't know about you, but for me personally, the longer I've been silent the harder it is to start talking again. I've been running my business (during my first year of working for myself full time), dealing with my usual constellation of chronic health issues, and struggling with something new.
As regular readers of this blog probably know, I've been dedicated to Odin (via vows of sacred marriage—similar, in my case, to a nun's vows in Christianity) since 2002. In all of that time, He has been more or less my sole deity, and Norse paganism more or less my sole path.
Until this year.
Should we link our politics and our faith? This is a question that is beginning to be asked in our community. Some of that has to do with the stir that Gods & Radicals has created, especially the recent controversy.
I try to stay out of online bickering, and when I feel I must get involved I try to do it in the form of a column so that we can have a mature, intelligent debate rather than a bunch of back-biting, pot-stirring and name-calling, with the usual wake of vultures showing up to cannibalize whomever looks weakest for their own self-glorification through gossip. Hard experience has taught me that wading in to the mix while the shit is still flying is never helpful. But even I was drawn partway into this one. I guess it’s because it’s such an emotional issue for me. It’s a button-pusher, and my buttons were pushed....
Ye shall be free from slavery.
Witchcraft begins with a slave revolt.
C. G. Leland tells the story in his 1899 Aradia: Gospel of the Witches.
In those days there were on earth many poor and many rich.
The rich made slaves of all the poor....many slaves escaped. They fled to the country....[I]nstead of sleeping by night, they plotted escape and robbed their masters, and then slew them. So they dwelt in the mountains and forests as robbers and assassins, all to avoid slavery.
The Moon, as all-seeing Lady of the Night, witnesses her people's troubles and, in her mighty ruth (mercy), she sends her daughter Aradia to teach them magic and herbcraft, so that they can hex and poison their oppressors.
When I was a kid my mom used to write my name in permanent marker on the tag inside my jacket so everyone would know it was mine. We monogram pillowcases and purses; we register the serial numbers of electronics with the manufacturer. We sign deeds to homes and titles to cars. There are many, many ways to identify things as 'ours' these days, but have you noticed that they all involve writing?
In ancient Crete, most people couldn't write. Sure, they had a writing system, the famous-but-still-undeciphered Linear A (and a hieroglyphic script to go along with it, also still undeciphered). But as was common in the ancient world, only the scribes and perhaps a few wealthy people knew how to write. Writing simply wasn't necessary for most people in their daily lives. But it was necessary for the big temple complexes - they had to keep track of all the donations people made, how much each plot of farmland and orchard produced every year, and so on. So they wrote things down on clay tablets and probably also on papyrus as well, though none of the perishable papyrus has survived as far as we know (I'm still hoping for a secret cache in a sealed jar somewhere). But the Minoans also did the ancient version of writing your name on your jacket tag: They used seals....
Is climate change a form of "violence?" What actually happened when the Spanish conquered Mexico? And was the U.S. intervention in Libya the right call to make? It's Fiery Tuesday, our weekly segment on political and societal news from around the world, with stories addressing these questions and more. All this and more for the Pagan News Beagle!