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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in culture

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

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I wrote this article to encourage us, as pagans, wiccans, polytheists, earth lovers, weirdoes, wanderers, and alternative folk to move beyond the sterile concepts of acceptance and equality. For many, being wholly accepted by the mass-produced mainstream becomes our goal. But why? Perhaps being equal to means being complacent to and abiding of habits and norms that are destroying species, lands, waterways, air quality, indigenous communities, traditions, and languages. Rather than hope to acquire the status of affluence and static commonality, sometimes we do greater service to our spirit by moving from comfort to challenging the perimeters of a “normal” existence.
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Pagan Culture and Experience: Definitions and Practice

Who gets the right to define you? To label you? Is that right solely your own, or does it belong in some measure to the culture with which you identify? I've considered this question for a long time, and I've concluded that there's no easy answer.

I've long been an advocate for the principle of self-identification: If you choose to identify yourself in specific terms, who are others to challenge it? But things really aren't that simple, are they? What about frauds who have ulterior motives for adopting a label? What about people who don't really understand what the label means?

A Huffington Post article titled "Striking Photos Challenge The Way We See Blackness" recently explored the idea of self-identification in terms of race. The writer interviewed several individuals from diverse backgrounds who identified as black, postulating that "Blackness must be recognized as something other than just skin color and specific physical attributes."

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Samaire Provost
    Samaire Provost says #
    Nope, not at all awkward, Steve
  • Stifyn Emrys
    Stifyn Emrys says #
    Not awkward at all, Samaire. I'm sitting right across the table from you!
  • Samaire Provost
    Samaire Provost says #
    Well isn't this an awkward meeting
Desperately seeking Druid: The over-sexualised images in D&D fantasy games

I love playing Dungeons and Dragons.  It is where I first came across the term, "Druid".  In the Forgotten Realms series, there was a Druid whose concern was in the balance, in keeping encroaching man out of the wilderness, and who could shapechange into a white hawk, summon insects to harangue enemy spellcasters, throw down lightning bolts and other such things.  I left the Druids in the realm of fantasy until much later in life, when I found out that Druidry is a reality, albeit a little different to the fantasy novel character…

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  • J'Karrah
    J'Karrah says #
    What? You don't find a chain mail brazier, leather thong, and 9 inch platform stripper heels to be appropriate female battle atti
  • Joanna van der Hoeven
    Joanna van der Hoeven says #
    It's such a shame that you had to modify all the miniatures, isn't it? Elder Scrolls is quite good, but I don't do computer game
  • ScarletteSpider
    ScarletteSpider says #
    When i'm looking for a picture to represent my character, do you have any idea how long and hard i have to look to find a female i

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
The Apache Sunrise Dance

I am majoring in Anthropology, and this semester I’m taking a couple of classes on Native American history and one on the anthropology of religion, which all go together rather nicely, and I’m having fun because it’s all right in my wheelhouse, as an animistic Pagan Hedge Witch and lover of culture, especially indigenous and ancient cultures.

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  • Paola Suarez
    Paola Suarez says #
    I really enjoyed your post Lia. I went to give it 5 stars and the iPad messed up to to 2.5. Wanted you to know so you wouldn't thi
  • Lia Hunter
    Lia Hunter says #
    Thank you for the comment, and I'm glad you enjoyed it, Paola. Blessings to you, too!

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

"Even though modern culture has done it's best to corrupt art into a celebrity production machine, simply another form of entertainment, designed specifically as an opiate to the downtrodden, gluttonous, and vapid, it fails because the artist knows better. Art is magic. Art is one of the rawest shamanistic forms of connection with the universal source of everything, but only if the artist is brave enough to give the audience what it needs rather than what it thinks, or has been told, it wants." --Peter Beckley

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Magic isn't always Glamorous

I've been thinking about what to write for this column for the last week and I've been coming up blank. No topic has really seemed right. There was nothing exciting going on or anything of real note standing out to me. If anything my life has been pretty mundane. Get up, go to meetings, meet with clients, come back and work on a project, spend time with the family, and of course throw some meditation and exercise in the mix for grounding purposes. Nothing very glamorous at all, and yet it strikes me that perhaps there is something to write about that, on this blog and its this: Magic isn't always glamorous or full of drama or anything else that we might associate with pop culture references to magic. Sometimes magic is just part of daily life, something you are doing to make your life easier or more meaningful or to connect with the spirits, but not something which necessarily has a lot of glamour associated with it.

My latest book, A Magical Life, has just been published. I'm excited to have it out, but something that the author of the introduction, Storm Constantine, wrote has been on my mind. In describing the book, she explains that magic isn't a colorful garment we put on, but rather it is an integral part of our being, woven into our lives everyday. And that is how I think of magic. I meditate each day and my meditations are an essential part of my life, something done as a way of bringing order to my mind, while allowing me to connect with the spiritual forces I work with. Nonetheless I'd have to say there is nothing inherently glamorous about the meditation. In fact, there are days I don't want to meditate or do anything else along those lines, and yet I make sure I do meditate because it is part of my life, and because not doing it takes away from the quality of my life.

I think to some degree your average magician is in love with the idea of magic being glamorous. Certainly at the beginning of a person's spiritual work with magic, there is this sense that you need to get all the ceremonial tools and that every act of magic must be an overt, explicit affair that screams to the universe: THIS IS MAGIC! And there is something to be said for doing those loud acts of magic that are glamorous and over the top and amazing in their own right. I've done and still do those kinds of acts of magic when the time is appropriate. But I recognize that fundamentally magic isn't always that way, nor does it need to be. My meditation practice isn't over the top and yet it still fills me with a sense of wonder and amazement. Indeed, if anything my daily work speaks more loudly to me than an over the top ritual because the daily work is where the discipline of the magician is tested. In that daily work, I don't necessarily do magic to solve problems (at least not overtly), but what I do is connect to the magic in a meaningful way that allows me to deepen my relationship to the spiritual forces I'm working with.

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  • Taylor Ellwood
    Taylor Ellwood says #
    Thank you Erik. I'm glad this article was helpful!
  • Erik M Roth
    Erik M Roth says #
    Thank you Taylor. This is a great reminder about the nature of magic and it's ability to weave into everyday life. I appreciate
  • Taylor Ellwood
    Taylor Ellwood says #
    Indeed you are not. There are many people out there who realize this.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Nona Sabbata

Nona Sabbata is my Latin jargon for "The Ninth Sabbat."


For over five years now our Coven has been providing open public [Wiccan] community rituals a minimum of twice a month. In all that time, of all of those rituals, we only cancel one of them each year. Because we're at PantheaCon. And by "we're" I mean over eight of us. We all load up one very large van, and pile into one very nice hotel suite. It's like a non-stop four day slumber party with your best friends, at your favorite intergalactic spiritual space station. Which no one seems surprised to find located in California's Silicon Valley.

Our events are an opportunity to disseminate important information in our community. We are always promoting articles from Witches & Pagans, Newly released books, news and current events via The Wild Hunt or the Newswire Collective and anything else we can remember. We start promoting PantheaCon at our circles fairly early in the season, read off some the the events when the schedule is released and keep reminding everyone that "we won't be here that weekend."

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I join the chorus of voices reporting on the general wonderfulness of the 9th Annual Claremont Pagan Studies Conference.1  I found the overall quality of presentations exceptionally high, as they were the last time I attended two years ago.

I arrived Friday night after a long solo drive from the SF Bay Area to Los Angeles, through rain and the hairy Grapevine Canyon through the Tehachapi Mountains, stressed and with intense pain between my shoulders.  Cranky, in other words.  Soon Lauren cheered me up.

Saturday morning's first session consisted of four speakers.  Joseph Nichter, an Iraq war veteran, spoke of using Tarot in healing PTSD.  I loved his ideas about what he calls "peripheral exploration," wherein the querent draws a single card, places it on a larger sheet of paper, and draws a scene that embeds the image in the card in a larger picture.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

I am in debt. Even when I do not count my study loans, I'm chronically--but not deeply-- in the red on my bank account. I don't have credit card loans, however, and I don't owe money or goods to anyone. I have had a tough year, but it's slowly getting better. Although I work, next to getting an education, my income does not cover all my costs. I am extremely lucky, though: I have a working partner who will gladly jump in and cover costs until my education is done and I can get an actual job that pays the bills.

I don't like being in debt. It's against the spirit of Hellenismos--or at least the two were antagonistic in ancient Hellas. Debts were paid off at the Deipnon--the end of the month--and those who could not pay them became serfs to their creditors. It was one of the main ways a citizen could become a slave.

It sounds a bit harsh, becoming a slave because of a missed payment. Yet, is modern life any different? Am I not tied to all people, companies and foundations who pull money from my bank account on a regular basis? Will not strong men and/or women show up on my doorstep if I can not afford to pay my bills and take items I own to pay off the debt? If all else fails, won't the government take my freedom? Aren't all of us a little enslaved to a economy which requires monthly contributions for protection, huge debts for housing and education, and for an ever-increasing number of people; financial support from their government simply to eat and have a roof to sleep under?

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Terence P Ward
    Terence P Ward says #
    Give a pledge, and ruin is near. It's as true today as when it was first written, but our complex economic system makes it seem o
  • Peter Beckley
    Peter Beckley says #
    It's not even a fine line between the 'freedom' I was talking about, and the 'enslavement' you were, Terence.
  • Terence P Ward
    Terence P Ward says #
    My phrase "to the contrary" was likely a bit hasty. As you said, Peter, people think freedom from debt is unnatural now; we have

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

It's been a while, but I'm back again, lovely readers! I'm currently hard at work on my second book (amongst other projects, as you'll see below), but I will certainly continue to post here as and when I can. Comments and topic requests always welcome.


At this time of year, it's easy to understand why our ancestors (both actual and spiritual), those wise women and cunning men, were considered remote, unusual, untouchable, even fearsome.

As Autumn moves into Winter here in the UK, we feel our natural, animal pull to dig in, hibernate, take time within the darkness to assess the previous year and anticipate the time to come - but I doubt any busy society has ever really allowed that to happen, except when they have no choice. Stoke up the fire, head to the pub or communal house, light and laughter against the outside world.

(Photo - 'Autumn in the New Forest', from Glastonbury Goddess Temple)

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O, Etsy. You purveyor of all that is desirable and yet sometimes dubious. I didn't appreciate Etsy (and probably still don't) until my hip daughter introduced me to Regretsy. Mothers of gods, what a hilarious mess.

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  • Peter Beckley
    Peter Beckley says #
    A wonderful post. While my wife and I derive a significant portion of our income from Etsy, not selling the types of things mentio
  • Byron Ballard
    Byron Ballard says #
    Thanks, Peter. We talk so much about community in Pagandom and Heathenry but we sometimes don't walk our talk. I hear from too m

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

In the essay Photo of boy in public housing with an iPad prompts debate over what the poor should have, blogger Jarvis DeBerry describes the moral outrage expressed by some readers over a little boy occupying himself with an iPad in a poor neighborhood. Further outrage, as well as outrage over this outrage, was expressed in the comments section and reflects the ongoing dilemma of what to do about the poor and our understanding of what is fair.

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  • Angela 	Gamblin
    Angela Gamblin says #
    After having read some of the posts in reply to that image over on DeBerry's blog, I was truly struck by those comments of people
  • Carol Maltby
    Carol Maltby says #
    "Fair" probably starts with knowing the context of the photo, and knowing what assumptions we are making that may or may not have
  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    Questions of redistributive (I prefer the term "restorative") justice vs. meritocracy actually *do* come back to religion. If you

Over at Patheos, Star Foster recently blogged about the paganizing influence of books such as the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. It is a conversation I have had many times, online and in person: do such books really bring people to Paganism (of whatever tradition)? Based on my own completely unscientific survey, I believe the answer is yes. Books like the Percy Jackson series -- and possibly Rowling's Harry Potter, Neil Gaiman's Odd and the Frost Giants, Anne Ursu's The Cronus Chronicles, and others -- do seem to spark an interest in the old Gods and mythologies. Or, perhaps, fan a flame that was already there.

 
At the same time .... I have to confess, I did not particularly enjoy The Lightning Thief, the first book in the Percy Jackson series. I got so little enjoyment out of it, in fact, that I did not bother to continue with the books, or even pick up Riordan's other series (The Kane Chronicles and Heroes of Olympus). I was ... disappointed. Let down. I had so been looking forward to a story which drew upon the ancient mythology and treated the Gods of old respectfully that ... eh ... shallow characters, shallow use of mythology, et cetera and so on.
 
I suppose I should have known better. This is a series written for mass entertainment. Riordan (so far as I know) is not any persuasion of Pagan, and he did not write the books with a Pagan audience in mind. This series was written for people who treat the old Gods and myths as fictional characters, not as real beings or sources of wisdom.
 
Which leads me to the second half of the title above: yes, we can do better. We -- the Pagan community at large -- need to be writing stories for our children about the Gods we honor and the traditions we practice. We need to offer them positive role models, kids just like them who struggle with the same problems and who do their best to act honorably. Heck, we need to be writing such stories for the non-Pagan community, too; show what we're all about.
 
So, consider this column a call to arms ... or rather, pens. Get your collective butts in your chairs, offer up a prayer or two for guidance and inspiration, and get writing! And here are a few ideas, free and clear, to do with as you please. Adopt them whole, take pieces here and there, use them as a launching pad for your ideas. Whatever. Just get writing!
 
One) Ecological. Ages 4-8. A dryad who lives in Central Park befriends a group of young children who play hide and seek near her tree. She introduces them to the wonders of the Park, to the amazing plants and animals who make it their home. For fans of The Magic School Bus series by Joanna Cole and Bruce Degen, The Cat in the Hat's Learning Library series, and the Reading Rainbow books. 
 
Two) Mystery series. Ages 7-12. A young devotee of Athena uses math and science to solve crimes. The Goddess Herself makes at least one appearance in each story, offering the young girl guidance by explaining mathematical theories and principles, scientific concepts, and so forth. For fans of The Magic School Bus series by Joanna Cole and Bruce Degen, The Magic Treehouse series Mary Pope Osborne and Sal Murdocca, and The Goddess Girls series by Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams.
 
Three) Adventure series. Ages 7-12. In 8th century northern Europe, a young boy accompanies his father as they sail around the Baltic Sea, down the Atlantic coast of  Europe, and through the Mediterranean to distant Byzantium. Along the way, he encounters strange new cultures, languages, religions, and animals. A stealthy way to teach kids about geography, history and even map reading. For fans of The Ranger's Apprentice series by John Flanagan and the Young Samurai series by Chris Bradford.
 
Four) Paranormal. Ages 10-13. In the early 1800s, the young woman who will become Queen Victoria befriends three sisters. Unbeknownst to Victoria, the sisters practice British Traditional Witchcraft in secret, and they use their abilities to protect the future Queen. A great way to explore British history, women's history, and pre-Wicca Witchcraft. For fans of the Hex Hall series by Rachel Hawkins and the Sweep series by Cate Tiernan.
 
Five) Alternate history. Ages 12-18. In this what if ... series, the Pharaohs still rule a polytheistic Egypt. Follow the adventures of one of Pharaoh's daughters, as she solves mysteries, undertakes diplomatic missions, and romances handsome princes -- with style, of course. For fans of The Princess Academy series by Shannon Hale, the Luxe series by Anne Godbersen, and Oh. My. Gods. by Tera Lyn Child.
 
Six) Fantasy. Ages 12-18. Too many fantasy books draw on Greek mythology, or maybe some mash-up of Middle Eastern mythology. Time for a change. Go Aztec. It is an incredibly rich source of fantastic creatures, terrible monsters and great warriors, peopled by amazing Gods. Treat the source material with respect and go for it. For fans of The Forest of Hands and Teeth series by Carrie Ryan, The Wolves of Mercy Falls series by Maggie Stiefvater, and The Last Apprentice series by Joseph Delaney.
 
Seven) Paranormal. Ages 13-18. In the years immediately following World War II, an American teen accompanies his family to occupied Japan, where his father is stationed. When he befriends several Japanese teens, he gets caught up in a mystery involving an ancient ghost. How better to sneak in important lessons about war, peace, forgiveness, Shinto, Buddhism, and Ainu traditions? For fans of Soldier Boys by Dean Hughes, Farewell to Manzanar by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston, and Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata.
 
Eight) Science fiction. Ages 13-18. When the Earth can no longer support human life, generation ships filled with colonists flee for the nearest habitable planet. But it will take decades to reach their new home. Follow one Wiccan coven across the years as they adjust to life on the ship, adapt their traditions and practices to their new surroundings, fall in and out of love, marry, pass those traditions on to their children and grandchildren, and finally make landfall on their new home. For fans of the Across the Universe books by Beth Revis, the Matched series by Ally Condie, and the Sirantha Jax books by Ann Aguirre.
 
So, there you have them: eight ideas for Pagan- and/or polytheist-centric books for kids, tweens and teens. Choose one or two. Pick up your pen, your pencil, your laptop, whatever. And get writing! 



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  • Tess Dawson
    Tess Dawson says #
    It seems I have taken you up on your challenge, Rebecca: http://witchesandpagans.com/Pagan-Paths-Blogs/the-man-who-wailed-at-the-s
  • Rebecca Buchanan
    Rebecca Buchanan says #
    @Brian: give it a shot. You might discover you have a talent for writing after all.
  • Rebecca Buchanan
    Rebecca Buchanan says #
    @Amy: thanks for the suggestion. I will add Bird's book to my To Read list.

This past summer, science fiction readers mourned the passing of Ray Bradbury, the author of such classic literature, as Fahrenheit 451 and Something Wicked this Way Comes. For this installment of Well at World’s End, we’re going to take a look at the pagan themes present in Bradbury’s short story collection, Sound of Thunder and Other Stories, and more specifically the title story.

Sound of Thunder” tells the story of Eckels, a safari hunter living in 2055, who signs up with Time Safari Inc., a service that will take him to any destination in the past to hunt big game (now extinct). Eckles wants to go back to the dinosaur age to land a T-Rex. As preparations are made for departure, the team discusses the presidential election that’s underway, between a fascist candidate, Deutscher, and a more moderate one.

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  • Hunter Liguore
    Hunter Liguore says #
    Yes, someone asked, this story was done as a movie, and does take into account the And it Harm None principles. You can check it o

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
A good story is both a siren and a muse. 
 
Like the sirens of lore, it lures you in, beguiles, bewitches and mesmerizes. It holds you still, a prisoner in awe of its beauty and horror. And like a muse, a good story sits you down and teaches you to think, to sing, to paint pictures with words. It shows you how to use the beauty and horror of words to change the world.
 
Some days, it is the siren I desire more than the muse. I just want to lose myself. Escape. Forget the world, and the ugliness which too often stains it. I want to flee to another world. Who needs screaming, hypocritical politicians, mad snipers, oppressive legislation, and mounting natural disasters? Give me a world where all butterflies are wizards and the rain takes on the color of the bow. Or a sea-bound world of sentient turtles, where mermaids are born of black pearls. Or a haunted metropolis, where Earth Witches wield bronze bullets in defense of the Mother and her children.* Or a world where true knights, lead by a blind priestess, loyally serve their Goddess.** Or a whole universe of worlds, where an Oracle's prophecy is the only hope for peace on a planet torn apart by war.***
 
But then, as much as I may desire the siren, I know the muse is waiting for me. Sometimes, she is patient. More often, not. As I sit there, lost to the siren's tales, she pokes and prods at me, whispering. Isn't this just fascinating? How do you suppose this world came to be this way? Think there are any parallels in your world, hhhmmm? Think any of those parallels need, oh, fixing? Maybe you could write a story. You know, tell people a tale and get them thinking, too.
 
Yes, the muse is a sneaky bitch. And I mean that as the highest of compliments.
 
So, I go away -- but only temporarily -- into a world of my own making. I weave a tapestry of words, craft a tale in which wrongs are righted, the good prevails, and ignorance is transformed into wisdom. With tree wives. And crocodile prophets. Sometimes wizards in blue robes.
 
And then I let those stories out into the world, and hope they inspire others to act as I have been inspired.
 
Now, if you will excuse me, the siren is calling. I am going to lose myself in a tale of reluctant shamans, eco-warriors and purple people eaters****, and forget the ugliness of the world. But not for long. The muse is waiting.
 
* The Earth Witches series by Lee Roland
** The Light Blades series by Kylie Griffin
*** The Interplanetary League books by Liz Craven
**** Owl Stretching by KA Laity 
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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

A few days ago, I got into an interesting discussion with PaganSquare founder Anne about Hellenismos in general and slavery in particular. The discussion focussed on what should and should not be part of Recon practice and slavery, obviously, was one of the things we both thought had no place in it. I realized, though, that not everyone may know what slavery entailed in ancient Greece and the many difference there are between the ancient Greek form of slavery and the modern history version of the same practice.

Now, first off, I do not condone slavery in any way, shape or form and the whole idea of people owning people has no place in current society. This blog post is not about slavery in current time. I will get back to this a little later on, but no modern Hellenic in their right mind would think to bring that back. And even if they did, there are laws against that sort of thing now. 

With that out of the way, indulge me as I paint a picture of slavery in ancient Hellas. First, its prudent to describe the life of ancient Greek slaves, as slaves, too, could acquire rank and even slaves of their own. The word 'slave' wasn't known in ancient Hellas, in fact, the first mention of the word dates back to the seventh century C.E.. A Greek slave was called a doûlos (δούλος), which would translate best as a 'servant' or 'serf'.  In ancient Greece, doûlos were the working class. They were teachers, farmers, shop owners, herders, doctors, city militia, cleaners, etc. Because many performed a public service, they had a house of their own as well as a salary. Household serfs were called oikétês (οἰκέτης) and lived in the house of their master who was called a kyrios (κύριος). The female head of the household was charged with teaching--and keeping order amongst--the household serfs.
 
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  • Joseph Bloch
    Joseph Bloch says #
    Are you familiar with the Theodish practice of "thralldom"? They have essentially taken the ancient practice and turned it into a
  • Elani Temperance
    Elani Temperance says #
    Even before checking out that link, I have to tell you that I literally woke up my girlfriend with my giggling at the use of the w
  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    Thanks for an interesting post, Elani; the only part I didn't get was the disclaimer in which you disavowed the practice of slaver

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