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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Gidden and Two Roberts

In 2009, poet and scholar-at-large Grevel Lindop published two previously-unknown letters from Robert Cochrane (1931-1966), father of the modern Old Craft movement, to poet Robert Graves (1895-1985), whose book The White Goddess had been seminal (to say the very least) to Cochrane's thinking.

The first of these letters, unfortunately undated, begins:

I have read and re-read your book, 'The White Goddess,' with admiration, utter amazement and a taint of horror. I can see your point when you write of inspirational work, and realize that it must have resulted from quite an internal 'pressure,' since from my own experience, that is the way she works. However, I am just pointing out some other factors that might interest you in the manifestation of the 'Guiden Corn' (Lindop 6).

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Toilet Snobs and other Modern Problems

There is a certain kind of mindset that says that we, the current oh-so-modern inhabitants of the world, are the epitome of social and biological evolution, that we are an improvement over everything and everyone who has come before us. This concept was very popular in Victorian times thanks to Social Darwinism, a misapplication of the concept of evolution to social and cultural contexts. It was simply an easy way for well-off white Westerners to feel superior to non-whites, non-Westerners and pretty much every single culture that had come before them. So it came as quite a shock to Victorian society when Sir Arthur Evans uncovered the ruins of Minoan civilization and discovered complex architecture, beautiful naturalistic art and (gasp!) enclosed sewers and flush toilets. It turns out, ancient Crete wasn’t alone in this kind of ‘modernity.’ Almost every house in the ancient Indus Valley cities of Mohenjo-daro and Harappa had flush toilets attached to a sophisticated system of sewers.

The concept of linear cultural and social evolution, of simpler and cruder things leading to more complex and elegant things, derives from the Judeo-Christian worldview that offers a beginning (creation) and steady progress to an end (Judgment Day). This viewpoint colors our expectations of ancient cultures and our interpretations of what we find. But many cultures around the world, especially the ancient world, had a non-linear view of history. They did not see a straight path from beginning to end so much as an ever-spiraling cycle, like the seasons but on a larger, almost epic, scale. I think this circular/spiral mindset is more helpful than the linear one as a lens for viewing ancient cultures. It allows us to recognize the ups and downs of history and prehistory, the fact that people have always been intelligent, ingenious and adaptive.

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PaganNewsBeagle Fiery Tuesday April 21

In today's Fiery Tuesday post, we concentrate on politics and activism of interest. Wendell Berry on how to face an increasingly fraught future without losing hope; John Beckett on what good is Earth Day; Crystal Blanton on "colorblind" Paganism; how to fight racists in your (Pagan) community; John Halstead sounds off on the "anti-capitalism Pagan" movement.

Philosopher, farmer, and activist Wendell Berry has been fighting for the environment for decades. Here's how he faces the future.

Some Pagans have recently posted that EarthDay is useless (and even a fraud.) John Beckett begs to disagree.

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How Simply Taking a Walk Can Activate Your Intuition and Magical Power

While taking a walk might not seem as glamorous as, say, dream interpretation or tarot, it can be just as effective, if not more so, when it comes to aligning with the Universe and gleaning the divine wisdom at the heart of it all.

For a huge percentage of the time that humans have been present here on earth, after all, we have spent most of our time outdoors, and even when we were inside, we were in structures that were much more organically connected with the earth, such as caves and huts made of natural materials.

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Recent comment in this post - Show all comments
  • *d.*
    *d.* says #
    You need to attempt a walk in my neighborhood! When your feet are over the stings, bites, & stickers (if they can stand the burns)

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
A Birthday Party for Mother Earth

Our planet needs all the love it can get. Treat her well and she will return the favor. I propose not just doing this, but throwing her a party as well. Round up a group of your closest pals not afraid to use the term "climate change," and volunteer to clean up a park or river in your neighborhood. Bring along the following to store in cars until you are finished with your day project: a loaf of fresh-baked bread, a large bottle of distilled water (plus extra for all of you), a pretty collected stone, a sage stick with matches or a lighter, a birthday cake (also preferably homemade with organic ingredients), a cutting utensil, recycled napkins, and 15 birthday candles. Have everyone attending bring one of the items listed so this is a united group effort.

Most parks should have a grill facility that you could use to set the smudge stick, if not, bring a small plate or dish to let it rest on and ensure that it goes out safely. When you and your amigos have staked out a picnic bench and brought out all of your packed supplies, light the sage stick and smudge each member of your gathering, clearing them of any residual negative energy. Cast a sacred circle around the group in the tradition that you use. Pass around the bread and have everyone break off a small piece. Leave pieces on different areas of the ground within your circle as an offering to earth's fellow creatures. Then pass around the designated water bottle and have each person sprinkle a little on the ground to nourish the grass and soil. 

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Melinda Judy/Lyndie Diamond
    Melinda Judy/Lyndie Diamond says #
    Great post. I agree we should appreciate mother earth. Nothing could live without her. I'm new to paganism and just wrote this blo
  • Colleen DuVall
    Colleen DuVall says #
    Hi Melinda, Glad you liked it! The person you'd want to contact is Anne Newkirk Niven. Her email is editor2@bbimedia.com. Thank

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Gidden and Robert Cochrane

While rereading the surviving letters of Robert Cochrane (1931-1966), the father of the contemporary Old Craft movement, I was surprised to observe (not having noticed it in previous readings) that he references the Old English word gyden (“goddess”) in at least two of them.

In his third (unfortunately undated) letter to Norman Gills, Cochrane writes:

I think a certain amount of physical discomfort is essential so that the ‘Muse,’ or to give Her proper Name, the White Goddess, can descend and inspire. Likewise the (Alba) Guiden is a harsh Mistress in return for Her gifts (149).

To avoid repeating "White Goddess" in two consecutive phrases, Cochrane (in characteristically allusive style) translates the phrase into a Latin adjective and an Old English noun.

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FADEN CRYSTALS - For Astral Travel or Connecting

This week we’ll be discussing Faden crystals which fall under the category of internal structures.

Faden Line in crystal

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