China. The world's largest country by population, third largest by area, and second largest by production. What's spiritual life like in this rising power? Although the state publicly disavows religion and most of the population is officially irreligious, it turns out there's a deep current of spirituality and religion throughout much of the country, beneath the surface. This week for Faithful Friday we take a look at the religions of China, the Middle Kingdom, and where they stand today. Taoism, Buddhism, Confucianism, and even new religions like Falun Dafa (Falun Gong), all this and more for the Pagan News Beagle!
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This past Valentine’s Day I wrote about celebrating Valentine’s As a Self-Married Woman, and in that post I quipped that I’d never forget my anniversary.
Well, I did. So much has happened this year, and I filled my birthday with so many activities, that celebrating my first anniversary as my own wife completely slipped my mind. Fortunately, I forgave myself…no flowers, chocolate, or wine necessary. Okay, there may have been some chocolate......
For me, Litha is about balance and light. For others—as I found out when I gathered with a fiery group of ladies at our Midsummer Celebration here on Martha’s Vineyard—it’s about the color yellow, fire, beauty, happiness, joy, and potential. That last one interests me in particular, because I’ve been studying quite a bit about potential lately; specifically, the possibilities that lie dormant in our minds and hearts that surface when we are ready for them.
We connect with these possibilities through the rhythms of our lives, and I’m especially called to the rhythms of descent and rising, such as what Kore experienced when she descended and arose new and fresh as Persephone. We all know her story—she goes down as an innocent virgin and arises a woman, Queen of the Dead. She now knows about sex and maturity and life and death; she’s tasted of the pomegranate, or like Eve, of the apple. In other words, she’s tapped in to her potential, opened it up like a fruit to see the shape of the seeds inside. She’s pulled from the depths and the dark and has brought the juicy knowledge of her own being out into the light.
"Come to me in whatever form You want, and share with me whatever You choose."
It's almost July for Loki again, and because He is a Man of many faces, my kindred is talking about doing a ritual to ask Loki to show us a new face or facet of Himself - or Herself, as Lady Loki* has been the subject of much discussion lately. The main point, however, is to learn more about Loki. Lore is great and all, but people grow and change, and so do our Gods....
Reader discretion advised. Contains material of a sexual nature.
In October 2001 I was privileged to see Joffrey Ballet's Domingo Rubio in the title role of the reconstructed Nijinsky-choreography Après-Midi d'un Faun. It was an unforgettable performance: the queerest faun ever.
You know the story. (You can see it here, danced by Rudy Nureyev.) A faun wakes up in mid-afternoon, after, presumably, sleeping off the night before. (You know fauns.) Enter a group of nymphs, come for an afternoon bathe in the river. The faun shows himself. The nymphs are frightened. He singles out one and dances with her, flirtatious. Finally she runs off with her girlfriends, but in her panicked flight she drops part of her outfit. The faun rushes over, picks up the wrap, and cradles it in his arms, kissing it. Then he spreads it out lovingly on the ground and slowly lowers himself onto it. With a single convulsive thrust of the pelvis, he ejaculates all over the fallen shawl. You can practically smell the squirting semen.
I am looking forward to the final episode of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell on Sunday (I think it's begun in the States more recently). It's been fun seeing an 'alternate' history of magic, though I will be sad to see it end. It got me thinking about a period in history that leads to a lot of confusion. When people say 'witch hunts' most people still seem to think of the Middle Ages, though the worst years were part of the Early Modern era, sometimes known as the Renaissance (a much disputed term for a variety of reasons). While many see the dividing line as the Reformation, the roots of that change can be see in Wycliffe and the Lollards in the 14th century. I tend to see Gutenberg's innovation as a technological change, though even there printing existed before his moveable type -- but the speed of the technology has all kinds of impacts as we know in the internet age.
We may not think of magic as technology, but all knowledge is technology. A revolution in technology may be regarded as good or bad or something in between, but it usually hard to deny once it happens. A big change happened in the history of magic that had a huge impact that leads to the widespread witch hunts of the Early Modern era (and on into the so-called Age of Enlightenment). For background, I highly recommend you get Michael D. Bailey's Battling Demons: Witchcraft, Heresy, and Reform in the Late Middle Ages. Perhaps easier to obtain is his briefer essay, 'The Feminization of Magic and the Emerging Idea of the Female Witch in the Late Middle Ages' (available via Project Muse in many libraries)....