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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
A Wiccan on Wiccanate Privilege

There's been a lot of talk since PantheaCon in the blogsphere recently about Wiccanate privilege.  I was not at PantheaCon, but to the best of my ability to determine, it is a general sense of being marginalized in the Pagan community that exists among a variety of Pagans who do not follow a path that resembles (at least superficially) Wicca.  They feel that most "Pagan" rituals and gatherings are Wiccan-normative, and they would prefer that this assumption is not made in pan-Pagan ritual, conversations and gatherings.  There have been some excellent articles on the topic; here's one at the Wild Hunt; here's one at Finnchuill's Mast; here's one by T. Thorn Coyle in regards to a controversial "Wiccanate" prayer she gave at the gathering; here's one at Of Thespiae (a Hellenic Reconstructionist blog); here's a couple by fellow PaganSquare writers Stifyn Emrys and Taylor Ellwood; here's a couple by fellow Patheos writers Yvonne Aburrow, Niki Whiting, Julian Betkowski, John Halstead and Jason Mankey at Raise the Horns; and P. Sufenas Virius Lupus, writer of "Queer I Stand" at Patheos, has commented about it extensively around the internet though I couldn't find a specific blog post on the topic in my search (though e was at the conference).  If you read all of these, you'll probably get a good handle on the many different sides of the issue and what various people's take on it is: and if you read the comments, it will be more informative still.  If you haven't done so yet, do it; then come back here in an hour or three if you still want to hear my opinion.  Don't worry, I'll wait . . .

Here's my thoughts as someone who identifies as a Wiccan: I think that those who are advocating for this are right!  I think that most people, within and without the Pagan community, do assume that "Wiccanate" paths are the norm.  And I do think we need to be more inclusive and accommodating in our language and form.  No question about it!  Our community is still small enough that I don't think we can afford to alienate each other.  Let's try to get along in a climate of mutual respect.

I think it might help to have an idea of where the problem came from.  Back in the early 90s, when we were all using bulletin boards and Yahoogroups to open these conversations in a collective way that wasn't in-person at festivals, most of the books out there were indeed about essential solitary "Outer Court" Wicca.  Most people came to Paganism through these books.  Most of us still do.  So I (being one of those sorts) got on a bunch of different Pagan groups to chat and learn about stuff, and identified myself as a "solitary Wiccan".  I suppose the reactions I got were fairly indicative of what was typical: some initiated British Traditional Wiccans (who, don't get me wrong, are justifiably proud of their accomplishments because it takes a lot of work to earn those degrees) told me that because Wicca was a special initiatory mystery tradition descending from either the unbroken line of the Craft back to Neolithic days, or Gerald Gardner, I could not be Wiccan because I was not an initiate.  I imagine that my reaction was very similar to that of others like me; I found the term "Pagan" or "Neo-pagan" (which both Oberon Zell and Isaac Bonewits have claimed to have coined; I wasn't there so I don't know) and began calling myself an "eclectic Pagan" instead.

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  • Samuel Wagar
    Samuel Wagar says #
    I guess "Pagans for Peace" is a derivative of Reclaiming in some way, although we haven't done Reclaiming style stuff forever. Wel
  • Christine Kraemer
    Christine Kraemer says #
    Sorry to ignore most of your article in favor of a minor point. Speaking as someone initiated into both Feri and Alexandrian Wic
  • Sable Aradia
    Sable Aradia says #
    Thanks Christine for clarifying! I must admit that to me as an outsider who comes from Wiccan and "Wiccanate" roots, Feri does lo

We've arrived at the Spring Equinox again, which means its time to strike a balance. Use your Book of Shadows to develop and track this magical work.

Weigh Your Words. Four months have passed since Samhain, the new year, where you probably planned all sorts of wonderful changes for yourself. Draw a scale on a clean page in your Book of Shadows. One one side, write or draw all the things you've managed to accomplish since Samhain. On the other side, write or draw those things that are still in progress or waiting to happen. Look at both sides of the scale. Which side is heavier? Of the things you still have to do, are there any that you found difficult? What did you do when you were faced with that challenge? Did you put it off, or try and succeed? Or fail? How did you feel about that? Maybe you're in the midst of a task right now--how is that coming along? What about your accomplishments? Even if that side of the scale has less on it, perhaps those things took a great deal of work. Think about it and write down your feelings.

b2ap3_thumbnail_balance_20140326-160609_1.gif

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Women in Druidry

Within Paganism, there appear to be an equal number of women and men in leadership roles.  One of the most popular Druids today is Emma Restall Orr, one of the most popular Wiccans is Starhawk.  Heathenry has Galina Grasskova and Diana L Paxon.  There are countless others in all pagan paths and traditions that stand alongside the men in equal roles of leadership, teaching and more. 

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  • Joanna van der Hoeven
    Joanna van der Hoeven says #
    I hadn't heard that about Welsh bards - interesting!
  • Lia Hunter
    Lia Hunter says #
    This post makes me want to go explore Welsh mythology more. I hadn't picked up on a passivity in the females of the stories, but I

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

The Gods made only one creature like them—man.  Greek TV documentary

The sight of a reptile or an amphibian usually provokes, at the very least, a feeling of repulsion in most people. Natural History of Lesbos

In the past days and weeks the two tortoises with whom I share my garden have woken up from a long winter’s sleep.  Henry, testudo marginata, has been up for a while now.  More than a month ago when I was cutting back and weeding in the area of the garden where he had been sleeping, Henry roused himself to sit in the sun near me for a few hours each day before creeping back under a shrub.  At first I thought I had disturbed him, but when he came back out day after day while I worked, I began to wonder if he was coming out to say hello.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAScotty, testudo graeca, was nowhere to be found.  As I moved my work around the garden, I did not find him in the corner where he had slept the previous winter.  This worried me slightly, but I figured he must be under the rue in the one area of the garden still to be trimmed back.  Imagine my surprise when I almost tripped on him on my way down the stairs to the cellar.  Clever boy, he must have found the garden entrance to the cellar open one day in early winter and slipped in.  The fact that I found him at the foot of the stairs and not in a dark corner was evidence that he too had heard the call of spring.

What we love we protect and what we know we love.  Natural History of Lesbos

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  • Brea Saunders
    Brea Saunders says #
    ...I look forward to your posts here at W&P ever since you did that one entry about the spirit of dolls. Now I find you have tort

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
SPREAD: Inner Stillness

--Stephanie Arwen Lynch-Poe

b2ap3_thumbnail_ArtofLife_9Pentacles.jpg“When you lose touch with your inner stillness, you lose touch with yourself. When you lose touch with yourself, you lose yourself in the world.”

—  Eckhart Tolle

I read this quote a few years ago. It stuck with me. I wanted to use Tarot to explore how to regain that state of being in touch with my inner stillness. I see it as a breach of faith with myself when I lose this quiet place in my spirit.

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

Sometimes it is easier to just sit back and not try to take that step forward. Maybe dealing with the negativity that has become so common in my life is easier than stepping into the unknown. But by dealing with this negativity I have noticed that over the pasts two years my health has declined, my motivation has declined, as well, my positive attitude and outlook has declined.

 

I have sat through almost two complete new moon cycles since my last blog post without writing or reading, just taking my free time to contemplate and reflect.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

Hi Everyone!

I've just switched computers and am checking to see if this blog actually posts. If it does, expect a new blog from me by the weekend. Salve!

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More about that Polytheist Devotional Meme

Well, folks,

Firstly, happy spring. Winter is slowly starting to loosen its grip--I know it may not feel like it for those of us in the east but soon, very soon we'll be complaining about the warm weather. I for one, can't wait.

In the meantime, I've been working through more of my devotional meme. I would like to share the next few questions with you. Feel free to post links to your own blogs in the comments section, if you too are tackling these.

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  • Christine L Berger
    Christine L Berger says #
    I am so behind on emails and this was one that I wanted to read. Interesting, what you triggered this morning was remembering thi

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

A few weeks back I took archaeologist William Dever to task for his unwillingness to extend to contemporary Goddess-worship the same sympathy that he clearly feels for ancient Goddess-worship in his 2005 book Did God Have a Wife?: Archaeology and Folk Religion in Ancient Israel. http://witchesandpagans.com/Pagan-Culture-Blogs/an-open-letter-to-william-g-dever.html I'd now like to return to this topic with greater attention to specifics.

Dever describes himself as a “former Christian now turned secular humanist” (46). He distinguishes between “mainstream”—i.e. secularist—feminists and “doctrinaire” feminists, for whom ideology trumps scholarship (xiii). These latter are the “more radical secular feminists” (309) who “style themselves [sic] 'Neopagans' or 'Wiccans' (witches)” (310). This “'Goddess movement'” (a phrase which he consistently delivers in quotes) preaches “without any evidence” a monolithic primal Great Mother who prevailed until dethroned by male deities in early historic times, evidence of whom was later suppressed. The prophet of these “various New Age Goddess cults and 'Neopagan' religions that selectively resuscitate the beliefs, images, deities, and practices of ancient religions” is Marija Gimbutas, whose “pseudo-scholarship” he dismisses without discussion (307). This movement, while it may have “comforted some women superficially, has left them still in need of the truth, not a naïve Utopia where all is women's supposedly unique 'strength, beauty, fertility, love, harmony, and peace'” (308-9).

This is pretty virulent stuff, coming as it does from someone who has worked hard for years to convince his colleagues in academia 1) that ancient Hebrew religion took many forms, some of them overtly polytheist, 2) that the Goddess Ashera was widely worshiped in ancient Israel, and 3) that what remains of her cultus offers a posthumous voice to the silenced women of ancient Israel.

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  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Several years ago the Museum of Russian Art here in Minneapolis hosted a breathtaking exhibit of recently-found Trypillian (Ukrain
  • Carol P. Christ
    Carol P. Christ says #
    Steven, thanks for this. It is amazing to me that "academics" continue to caricature the Goddess movement and to disparage the wor
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    I should add that he cites your anthology Womanspirit Rising as an example of a "much more radical" "'school' of feminists" who "e

I've spent much of the last month engrossed in Reverend Lauren Artress's Walking a Sacred Path: Rediscovering the Labyrinth as Spiritual Practice, about the labyrinth as spiritual movement and spiritual practice. I've been walking the labyrinth since 1998, and within the last few months I've taken what has been a deeply personal practice and begun sharing it with the Women's Spirituality here in Dallas-Fort Worth, through monthly labyrinth walks at some of the public labyrinths in the Metroplex. Artress writes movingly of the Holy Spirit as feminine, and of the way in which the labyrinth helps us reconnect with the Divine Feminine.

So it seems wholly fitting that my Goddess for this week is Sophia -- the spirit of Feminine Wisdom within the Christian tradition.

Sophia asks us to listen to the wisdom of our souls this week.

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The Pagan as Professional Chaplain

Imagine the following scenarios…  

  • You have recently finished your education at Cherry Hill Seminary and you’ve been hired as a healthcare chaplain at a local hospital.  The Director of Pastoral Care turns to you and says, “Well, since you’re the newest chaplain you get to preach at our bi-annual memorial service for all who have passed away at the hospital since our last service.” 
  • You are sitting at an interview for a position as a staff chaplain at a prison.  The warden who is interviewing you says, “I expect my chaplain to be the pastor of the whole prison community.”
  • You get a call in the middle of the night.  A Catholic patient of yours is near death and the family can't find a priest to anoint the patient.  You've been asked by the nurse at their bedside to attend to them. 

Good advice for anyone interested in chaplaincy would be to suspend your sectarianism.  Institutional settings that have chaplains need their chaplains dedicated to interfaith ministry.   Chaplains need to be of service to all of those within their institutional setting. Suspending your sectarianism doesn’t mean sacrificing who you are as a minister, priest, or cleric.  It means being open to diversity and being able to embrace that diversity to be of service to others where you find them.  This means being strong in your own religious conviction.  Your identity as a Chaplain should flow from your theology and that theology should be expansive enough to embrace the needs of others both within and outside of your tradition.  Suspending your sectarianism means your agenda is one of service and compassion; and the person with whom the Chaplain serves sets the agenda. 

Does being a Chaplain mean I’ll have to do things I don’t want to do?  If you have no tolerance for the spiritual beliefs of others then you might be out of your comfort zone as a Chaplain; however, being a Chaplain doesn’t mean being someone you are not.  If someone asks you for something you do not feel comfortable doing, you should decline in such a way that protects their dignity as well as your own.  For example, if you’re a hospital Chaplain and a Christian patient asks for communion, you don’t have to hold Mass in their room but you could politely refer the request to another Chaplain or someone in the community.  It is how you handle the request that is important.  A Chaplain should be able to recognize what is going on inside themselves emotionally and spiritually and act in a professional manner. 

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  • Carol Kirk
    Carol Kirk says #
    Valerie Cole is my thesis chair, and David Oringderff is also on my committee. I'll be glad to share the thesis with you when it
  • David Oliver Kling
    David Oliver Kling says #
    Very interesting topic. Who is your thesis advisor? I'd be interested in reading it. I'm a Gulf War veteran myself.
  • David Oliver Kling
    David Oliver Kling says #
    Carol... congratulations on your studies! That must have been a lot of hard work. What are you writing your thesis on? I imagin

Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Three Knots

 

Dear readers I hope you'll forgive me for not posting as frequently to this blog as I would like to. I'm in the midst of finishing my next book, and have a heavy teaching and ritual schedule for the next several months. The blog post after this one will return to the topic of the mechanics of how rituals can be done from a distance. I did feel moved by a third degree initiation that just occurred this past weekend to quickly share a few thoughts.

 

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Being Solitary Can Be Dangerous

Pagan activities with a group of people can draw strange looks and even the occasional nutter who wants to “save” everyone.  I have discovered that, sometimes, practicing your spirituality alone can lead others to think you are actually insane.  I suppose I should add this to the list of differences between Traditional Pagans and Solitaries.  It isn’t that we are crazier than Traditional Pagans (at least I don’t think so), it’s just that Solitaries seem to be more suspect than groups.

Perhaps when someone sees a group of people doing something out of the ordinary it is viewed as strange but nothing more than “a bunch of wackos”?  Perhaps when the same behavior is practiced by an individual it crosses the line into “crazy”?  Let me give an example.

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  • Witch Nikki Porras
    Witch Nikki Porras says #
    REALLY? I have been Solitary for too many years now, I do not feel safe in GROUPS....which might contain some negative people....(
  • aought
    aought says #
    Always the conundrum, I think that those of us on solitary paths realize that there is danger in being isolated. But, it's difficu
  • Neda Marin
    Neda Marin says #
    Haha I absolutely loved this post! I am still very new in terms of self acceptance and awareness in regards to my own path. While

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

The next deity that I’m honoring from the atheist graveyard is Veles (#12) of the Slavic Pantheon.  Now I’ve written several posts about deities from this pantheon under different names and every time I write about them, I grow a little more in knowledge.  There is a lot of variety in names but with similar roles.  Before I’ve described this divinity as the bad guy, but he reminds me a little bit of Loki in that he isn’t necessarily the bad guy but he does take on the adversarial or trickster role.  It seems Christian influence made him appear worse than he really is.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Veles.jpg

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  • Melia Brokaw
    Melia Brokaw says #
    Thanks for commenting! I admit I've had a hard time wading through all the information I've read about the Slavic Pantheon so I a
  • Shirl Sazynski
    Shirl Sazynski says #
    Thanks for writing about one of the Slavic Gods! Veles has not been viewed remotely as evil by any Rodnovery I have yet encounter
Pagan savings challenge, week twelve:  looking back

I called this post "looking back" because, scurrilous wag that I am, I wrote it a week later than the date it was posted.  Oh, the technology!

My week twelve savings:  $78, 15% ($12) of which I added today.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

I've gotten a few messages about reincarnation and how--and if--it relates to Hellenism. Time to talk about it. The idea of reincarnation probably dates back to the Iron Age (so around 1200 BC.). It enters the Hellenic stream of thought and philosophy around the 6th century BC, although there is mention of the theoretical subject in pre-Socratic philosophy.

The ancient Hellenes most likely did not use the word 'reincarnation'; 'Metempsychosis' (μετεμψύχωσις) is a better word for the phenomenon they believed in. It is a philosophical term in the Hellenic language which refers to the transmigration of the soul, especially its reincarnation after death. The notion that the human soul enters another body upon death, though unfamiliar in Hellenic religion, was widespread in Hellenic philosophy. The doctrine of transmigration is first associated with the Pythagoreans and Orphics and was later taught by Plato and Pindar. For the former groups, the soul retained its identity throughout its reincarnations; Plato indicated that souls do not remember their previous experiences. Although Herodotus claims that the Hellenes learned this idea from Egypt, most scholars do not believe it came either from Egypt or from India, but developed independently.

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  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Ms. Temperance, Thanks for discussing the topic of reincarnation, et cetera! As a Platonist, I really do believe in the transmigr

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

On a Saturday in early March the seminary in Berkeley,  where I serve as Campus Pastor, was hosting a youth spiritual retreat for middle school, high school, and college age youth and young adults.  When the first group arrived that morning, I broke out the sidewalk chalk.  More youth and adults arrived from all over Northern California until the place was covered with humans of many colors, ages, and genders transforming the grey cement surfaces of benches and walkways into a vibrant and beautiful (if ephemeral) landscape of greens and pinks, purples and yellows.

 

As the day unfolded this eclectic mix of people shared their personal images and experiences of The Divine.  They explored ways to reclaim and use ancient myths and texts.  They listened to, and politely challenged, each other’s varied opinions around a host of social justice and cultural issues.  They sampled different ways to embody and know the many aspects and faces of The Divine.

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Years ago, in desperation, I made a sacred doll to represent what I felt to be the “wounded masculine” part of myself — a creature jaggedly cut off from his core; his heart barren, cold, barricaded; his perception limited to logic and analysis, rejecting what’s fluid and intuitive.

Creating this three-dimensional image helped me externalize — literally objectify — his way of being, placing me in a position to observe him and his schemes.

I’ve known this character as he’s inhabited my inner world, and my outer world as well. I’ve judged him harshly, treated him with resentment and disrespect. I've operated with a large, weighty and ultimately dysfunctional chip on my shoulder regarding all I've tagged as "patriarchal."

Mercifully, life is giving me opportunities to release these judgments, invoke compassion and forgiveness in both inner and outer realms. What a relief!

I recently created a ritual to signal this release and invoke healing all around. The ritual involved placing the icon in the neighborhood of joy, inviting him to sit in the lap of the Sacred Feminine and finally burying him near a Native American ceremonial mound in a nest of moss, holly berries, seashells and feathers.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
A Dubious Balance

For most of us on the East Coast, this has been a long, wintry season to be sure. And I’m certain we are not done with weather yet, March having come in like a wee lamb. We are ready–more than ready!–for spring to arrive in the hills and the hollow places.

I follow a path that teaches me that spring arrives with the snowdrops, in the dark drear beginnings of February. I have learned that spring is still a terribly changeable beast and filled with chaos and longing. When I observe the Vernal Equinox, it will be as mid-spring–just as the Winter Solstice is mid-winter–and I will know I am halfway to Summer, at Beltane.

Most likely, I will balance an egg tomorrow, for fun. And I have a funny package ready to send to my daughter and her beau, to celebrate the season. As you can see from the photo above, the hellebores that are commonly called Lenten roses are blooming in the yard. The daffodils are blindingly yellow this year and the crocus are larger and lusher than in years past. Some things need a long cold rest to do their best work.

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  • Byron Ballard
    Byron Ballard says #
    Thanks, wild woman.
  • Kate Laity
    Kate Laity says #
    Just the words I needed to hear today.
Encountering the Monomyth

 

Today, we begin a discussion of the hero’s journey.

The hero’s journey—also called the hero’s quest—is a profound metaphor infusing each magickal and mundane path we take throughout our lives. The writer and comparative mythologist Joseph Campbell is credited for his work in identifying the common threads winding throughout world mythology and tradition and linking these under a common idea, which he called the monomyth: the “one story.” Campbell developed this idea of the monomyth after discovering that all of the world’s great cultures tend to tell the same stories, albeit with regional variations. To folklorists and mythologists, a “myth” is a story that a culture tells about its most sacred nature and origins. Thus the monomyth captures the story of humanity, retold over and over in a number of guises.

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  • Susan “Moonwriter” Pesznecker
    Susan “Moonwriter” Pesznecker says #
    And I apologize for the typos above. Augh. Wrote this rather fast before dashing out the door-- that'll teach me!
  • Susan “Moonwriter” Pesznecker
    Susan “Moonwriter” Pesznecker says #
    Thanks, Pegi, for your comments. I am aware of "Campbell criticism"-- I'm a college English professor and a trained folklorist. On
  • Pegi Eyers
    Pegi Eyers says #
    You need to know that there is a a huge critique of the "monomyth" that has been underway for some time. Now criticized as an over

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