Recently I was asked a question that gave me pause. It was a simple question that opened up whole worlds of inquiry which have echoed through many hundreds of years. The question was, “Do birds have souls?” This is not such an unusual question. For a very long time in history, we have been told that only humans have souls. As God gave mankind dominion over the animals (Genesis 1:26), this seems to imply that, though animals have the ‘breath of life’ to animate them, they are not connected with the Divine in the same sense as mankind. They do not have souls nor do they go to heaven. We have come a long way in appreciating that animals have thoughts and feelings. Anyone who owns a pet (and this implication of ‘ownership’ becomes interesting language itself) can attest to the different, particular personalities that come through. Many of you reading this likely have already answered the question of animal’s souls in your own minds. For me it was an invitation to a more expansive question, “What exactly is a Soul and does it differ from Spirit?”
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Why are Wiccan ceremonies held in a circle? Do I always have to draw a circle when I’m going to do something witchy?
Although we’ve all seen the popular horror movie trope of occultists drawing magical circles on the floor to protect themselves from demons and other nasties—a great example is the movie The Devil Rides Out, if you’re interested—the circle in Wiccan rituals demarcates sacred space and is meant to contain any energy you may raise inside it during your ritual. It can serve as a protection to keep out certain distractions or unwanted energies, but it’s not a demon-trapping device.
What Does It Mean?
The circle symbolizes different things to different Wiccans. Some say when they are inside the circle, they are “between the worlds,” meaning in a space between our material world and the otherworld or spirit realm. Other Wiccans believe the circle is a microcosm of the universe or cosmos, or the womb of the Wiccan goddess. And some believe more than one of these things....
What does Egyptian religious practice look like in the 21st century? Maybe more to the point, why do we turn for inspiration to a culture which disappeared nearly 1800 years ago?
The second question makes me think of my friend Marion who just loves to travel. He’s been in more countries, more times, than I can count. He and I have mused together about how deeply one is changed by stepping outside of everyday life and being immersed in something completely new and different. For some of us, religious travel is just the tonic needed for a weary soul....
Welcome to Ahimsa Grove, which is meant to be a site of information, inspiration, and reflection about the intersections between veganism and paganism. I hope that readers will not only be those who are currently self-identifying as both vegan and pagan. I want to share information and ideas with others who may be vegan but not pagan, or vice versa. I welcome the ideas of others, as well. I ask only that all ideas be given respectfully and in good faith, and in keeping with the ideal of “perfect love & perfect trust.”
Another ideal that many pagans, often specifically Wiccans, aspire to is the concept of “harming none.” This is often known as “The Wicca or Witches’ Rede (meaning advice or council). It is an ethic at the core of veganism, as well. It is called “ahimsa,” which also means “harm none.” Ahimsa is a term within Sanskrit rooted traditions including Hinduism and Buddhism.
As an integral part of many people's lives across the world, religion naturally intersects with just about every other aspect of society: politics, entertainment, morality, law, etc. This week, for Faithful Friday, we take a look at some of the ways religion impacts our lives outside of purely denominational settings. Join us as we look at the politics of religion in the United States, the way in which religion (and other strong ideologies) affect scientific progress, and even how the popular sci-fi franchise Star Wars is impacted by religious values.
Ever since I’ve been on a Pagan path I’ve heard of BNPs. The acronym was told to me to indicated Big Name Pagans. Over time, as more people found their way to one Pagan path or another, or began to create their own paths more specific to their particular worldviews, the term BNP took on a negative connotation. I started to hear it explained as Big-Nosed Pagans.
Most of those referred to as BNPs had published a book or several and were known for that. Of course, when I was coming up, there were few books, and those there were tended to be elementary. They lacked depth, refinement, and nuance. Today, thankfully, creative Pagans have explored Paganisms in much greater depth. They’ve done academic and historical research, as well as incorporating anecdotal evidence for their theories – good ol’ UPGs. Practitioners of reconstructed traditions of many kinds have explored the traditions they’re reviving, and thereby have advanced this learning tremendously. As well, walkers on more personal Pagan paths, including “hard polytheists,” have contributed to our growing body of resources....