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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Pagan Culture

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Witches (along with many other denominations of Paganism) view sex as sacred. 

The Charge of the Goddess says that all acts of love and pleasure are rituals of the Goddess, and not only do I believe that to be true, it's one of the things that drew me to this religion.  In many ways, we're more open about sex (some of us say that we're more "sex positive") than the members of many/most other religions.  Similarly, we're more likely to be quite accepting of QLTBG, etc. sex/sexuality/identity, polyamory, public nudity, and various less-than-mainstream forms of sexual expression than the members of many other religions.  Our on-line discussions and our festivals and conferences often reflect this reality. 

I consider those to be some of our strengths.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Diotima
    Diotima says #
    Not every criticism has to be explicit, Max. I saw the criticism as implicit in the context. It seemed pretty clear to me that sh
  • Max Dashu
    Max Dashu says #
    I read your post perfectly well the first time. Feminazi is an offensive slur that is used to insult women on the regular. Your us
  • Hec
    Hec says #
    Max, The sentence says: "Third, I'd like to suggest that we all consider that those who want to discuss ways to make Pagan even

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Magick Jukebox

Merry Meet! I am David Banach (pronounced like ganache, but with 20% less chocolate.), a new contributor to PaganSquare.com and Witches and Pagans.

I am an eclectic Pagan living in the greater Charleston, South Carolina area of the Unites States. I began my journey on the Pagan path about 1995 when I discovered that there were more ideas and paths to follow than the one I had been told was the only way. I studied new age philosophy and spiritualism until I discovered Paganism about 2000. I attended my first ritual on New Year's Eve, 2000. Since then, I have studied eclectic Wicca, Druidry, a small amount of Shamanism, and some Asatru.

Somewhere along that path I discovered Pagan Podcasts. The popular ones at the time were Lance and Graal, The Spiral Dance with Hawthorne, and a brand new show called The Wigglian Way. All of these shows would play Pagan music now and then. I was enthralled. To be able to hear my thoughts, visions and ideals put to my favorite form of media, music, was amazing to me. I developed an instant respect for the people that make this music and began collecting it.

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  • debra strasser
    debra strasser says #
    I enjoy your podcast and I appreciate your hard work.
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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  • 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
All Acts of Love & Pleasure Are Her Rituals: In Defense of Polyamory

A couple of weeks ago, I posted an article from the BBC to my Facebook page about polyamory, which I thought was a very intelligent and sensitive article that portrayed how it works with honesty and authenticity.  A few of my more supportive friends re-posted it, which I appreciate, either because they are poly or poly-friendly.  One friend of mine made a reference to it and promptly took it to task on her page.  I stumbled across it and was a little hurt.  So this was my reply . . .

Hi, I'll take up your challenge! I am the original source of this article in the current community. I posted it because I am polyamorous and happy in this choice, and at a place in my life where I feel, to be authentic and genuinely loving and respectful of my partners, I need to be "out" about it. I think I'm going to take the points on individually here, and I'm going to take the time to challenge them because you can't just say, "Oh, I think that anyone who is not monogamous is cheating, lying, jealous, irresponsible, incapable of intimacy and unfulfilled in their relationships . . . but that's just my view on it" like it makes these statements anything less than they are, which are judgmental character slurs. Granted, I recognize that this appears to be what the rest of the world thinks (and notice the contradictory nature of a couple of those statements when phrased as bluntly as that, which of course means that both simply cannot be true,) so I relish this opportunity to help the enlightened people who are our mutual friends and associates understand something that may otherwise confuse them. And I hope to build understanding with you as well, since you are a loving and giving person and I am sure that this view of condemnation stems from either misconception (which is only to be expected in our compulsorily monogamous, heterosexist culture, because how would anyone have ever been shown another example other than what they've been taught?) or a bad experience (which, again, is fair, but just as one should not assume that all people of a particular group are jerks because one beat you up in high school, one should not assume that all polyamorous relationships are bad ones - though of course, some are, just like in any other relationship.) Please understand that I do not mean to say that you, or anyone else here is a judgmental person; indeed, metaphysical people tend to be refreshingly open-minded. I phrased things the way I did to point out how you may feel you have been coming from a place of love and acceptance in this, but these are not really loving and accepting statements you are making.

To start with, my husband Erin and I have never, in the twenty years of our relationship, been monogamous. We met over a Dungeons & Dragons game, and we developed a relationship in our first experience with "swinging." We made our existing relationships work for over a year, but both of them were emotionally abusive situations and we found that since we were not emotionally abusive in our relationship, it was not necessary to tolerate such things from a lover. After our existing partners forbade the experiment from continuing but continued to see each other behind our backs, and after their particularly poor treatment of us while they continued an affair, we decided to leave them both and make a go of it together.

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  • Sarah Eccles
    Sarah Eccles says #
    Hi, I'm the Sarah mentioned in the BBC article you linked and I'm glad you liked it. One of the big things I didn't mention in the
  • Sable Aradia
    Sable Aradia says #
    Sarah, I am delighted to see you here! Thanks for telling your story to BBC so that we can all be more out, and thanks also for y
  • Sarah Eccles
    Sarah Eccles says #
    Just added you on Twitter. I'm Limnaia.

Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Pagan Values, Pagan Morals

Please excuse the delay of our intended post on the supernatural. That will come next month. However, due to the Pagan Values Blogject event this month, I have decided to weigh in on the topic.

I have previously touched this matter in some of my previous Arkadian Anvil posts: Better than Belief, Evil, Ethics and Freedom, and God’s Boredom or Why we are not Enlightened. . .

But today I wish to look directly at the idea of values through the lens of ethics and morality. . .

If we want to discuss Pagan values first we need go back to a much older mode of thought. To do that we need to first separate Ethics from Morals.

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  • Stifyn Emrys
    Stifyn Emrys says #
    Thank you for your insights. I enjoyed this piece.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

I dislike the term "world music"; it's basically an inaccurate catch-all term used for Mediterranean, Asian, African, and often enough Latin American folk music in a culture where "folk music" is based on the folk music traditions of the British Isles and regions of France and Germany and maybe a few other "Northern Europe" regions.  But already, I digress....


I also dislike most "pagan music".  I've gotten very selective about my cheesy gothic pop-rock with my old age (no offence to Inkubus Sukubus fans in the room), and when your paternal grandfather and both maternal grandparents got off the boat from said Isles, your step-mother, who was not Anglo-Celtic in any ancestral manner, becomes obsessed with Irishness after marrying your father, and half your teachers feel compelled to tell you about how they felt when they say Michael Flatley in Riverdance, or that Michael Collins film, the Celtic folk-based filks that often uncritically dominate the pagan community get really boring, really fast.  To make things  worse, when interacting with "pagans" on an interfaith level, rather than other Hellenists exclusively, my opinion is not a popular one:  My religion encourages competition and bettering oneself --it is completely fair to offer a constructive critique of another's "musical offering" among Hellenists.  Many ancient Hellenic festivals featured contests where, yes, there would be a winner and sometimes even a clear loser.  I once hosted a Mouseia poetry contest where a participant later harshly criticised me in their own blog cos they didn't win for a very good reason --they submitted a very generalised poem of Olympian reverence, and the contest guidelines were for a poem dedicating a community website to the Moisai.  In what basically amounts to an experience-based community with a large interfaith focus, where the status quo is that all good faith efforts to produce something "good" necessarily produce only "good" works, the idea that some works are necessarily better than others will not make one many friends.

I may be an extrovert, but as a Leo with a necessarily high opinion of himself (save when the seasonal depression sets in during winters, but that's another story for another time), I'm OK with fewer friends I'll have regular squabbles with, especially when such "friendships" may necessitate me to compromise my ethics by either holding my tongue when I feel there is room for improvement, or apologise later because I thought highly enough of them to want them to do better.

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Gaia Gathering: The Canadian National Pagan Conference


Dominique SmithThis weekend, which is a holiday long weekend north of the 49th Parallel, Pagans from all over the vast expanse of the Canadian landscape will be meeting in Gatineau, Quebec (which is just across the river from our capital city Ottawa) to discourse on what it is to be Canadian and Pagan, exchange ideas, study workshops, exchange chants, review scholarly works in our field, and of course, socialize.  It's called the Gaia Gathering (the Canadian National Pagan Conference,) and I believe this to be the most exciting thing currently going on in the Canadian Pagan community.  I made an epic journey to the 2010 conference in Montreal to present at a couple of panels, as well as one of their first workshops, and it was a life-changing experience.  This year, I am unable to attend but I was able to interview "Winnipagan" Dominique Smith, the current Chairperson, via Facebook about this outstanding event:

Question: So from your perspective, what is Gaia Gathering all about?

Dominique: The Canadian National Pagan Conference: Gaia Gathering at its most basic is about the identity and culture of Canadian Pagans. As Canadian Pagans we have unparalleled perspectives on the world and on the Craft. Our politics, our environment, and our Canadian culture influence us Pagans in a profound way. We see the world and react to it quite differently than most other people. Gaia Gathering is a way to explore and honor our uniqueness. Gaia Gathering is also an opportunity where Pagans from across Canada can interact, learn and create with a diverse group of individuals that have peerless perspectives and experiences on issues facing Canadian Pagans. Figuring out what makes Canadian Pagans different also opens us to identify our similarities and in a country this large its important for Canadian Pagans to feel connected and not alone, especially in rural areas where access to information and other Pagans can be quite limited.

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Because I released a new CD in these past two weeks since my last blog entry here, I have had music on the brain, and it occurs to me that Canada has a few talented Pagan musicians who deserve recognition.  Because we have a smaller population than the US, it’s harder for our musicians to make a living.  Let’s face it; it’s a niche market, and our market is smaller, so most Canadian Pagan musicians make US appearances too.  If you’re a Pagan music fan you might want to check these folks out.  Disclaimer – I have learned that music is very subjective and these are strictly my opinions.  But because I like these artists and I want you to check them out, I will provide as many links as I can to their music so you can listen for yourself, and maybe support also if you share my love.

The Ancient Gods

The Ancient Gods http://www.reverbnation.com/ancientgods – I met these three when I went out to a little town called Fruitvale to officiate my first legal Wiccan wedding.  They’re from Castlegar, BC, and they’ve just quietly been performing their own unique rhythmically-driven filk and folk music with growling male vocals, acoustic guitars and violin for many years.  I once likened it to heavy metal with acoustic instruments and a djembe.  They don’t have a website but they’re starting to get their word out on the web.  If you don’t hear them on their ReverbNation site you can find them at CBC Music.

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Source Struggle

 

A number of years ago I was attending and presenting at a conference that was focused on physical and mental health concerns for queer people. I was in the audience listening to panel discussion on queer people, spirituality, and religion. At the beginning of the session they asked if there were any clergy present in the room. It turned out that I was the only person in the room that identified as clergy. They wanted someone to offer a prayer or a blessing of some sort to open session. I explained that I was pagan, and that I could do something that would be short and sweet and germane to topic at hand.

 

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 

Happy holidays, people! Or, should I say Merry Christmas? Or Good Yule? Or maybe Happy Hanukkah?

 

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

Before I start, allow me to take a moment for some blatant promotion of fellow blogger Star Foster's radical experiment: getting money for a blogging day job. She's absolutely worth it, so please check out her plea and IndieGoGo campaign!

Alright, on to the post!

Because I'm both a lesbian and a Pagan, I get send a lot of things people think I may find interesting. I love it when people do this; most of the stuff is really good, poignant, or simply hilarious. One of the things that got send to me a lot is the new UK series Switch. I guess this is because I blogged about Pagan characters we would like to see, and Pagan webseries

 
This post contains spoilers.  


Switch is a television series about a group of four girls who live in London, deal with boy/girl trouble, jobs, and friendship. Most of that dealing is done through magick, because all of them are witches. A few days ago, I caught up with the series, of which three episodes have aired. I didn't have high hopes for it, and most of my fears were realized, but I have found I like the girls, and the stereotypes aren't offensive.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

Through a fellow blogger, I came upon an article about an author's loathing for the Pagan sellers of all the Witchcraft stuff one can buy. The post boiled down to saying that monetizing your faith takes power away from you, and simply buying your equipment will lead to hollowed out rituals. The post is here.

There is a long discussion in this from the Witchcraft perspective, but I'm not going there. I'm not going there because I left that path behind and the more I look back, I realize what a tangled--but beautiful--mess it is. Instead, I'm going to write about this from the Hellenistic point of view and take you back to Ye Olden Days when the Ancient Hellens still practiced their faith in their temples.

Religion was entwined with daily life to such an extend that you'd be hard pressed to find a pottery seller who had not depicted one or more of the Theoi on his work. Near just about every temple was a stand which sold small statues which one could sacrifice to the Theoi at said temple. Every temple complex had a treasury where the various gifts of the devoted were stored. Religion, back in the day, was big business--as it should be. It helped instill the presence of the Theoi in daily life.

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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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Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Kool-Aid & Amrit

 

In the last several weeks I've seen links and posts buzzing around in the Pagan social media realm related to the topics of dishonorable leadership, the warning signs of a bad magickal group, cult awareness, and so forth. This is nothing new and indeed at least once a year there seems to be a flurry of this kind of interest. One of the earliest Pagan writers on this topic was Isaac Bonewits, founder of Ár nDraíocht, who in 1979 created the first version of his Bonewits Cult Danger Evaluation Frame. It was quite good and updated versions of it are readily available online. Certainly wherever human beings are involved, there is the potential for all manner of dysfunctional behavior. I certainly think that we should be vigilant and on guard against systems, groups, or individuals that make the fulfillment of their needs paramount over our personal spiritual development. On the other hand, and this is where this blog post is headed, our fear over the potential for exploitation has its own unhealthy cost.

 

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  • Gwendolyn Reece
    Gwendolyn Reece says #
    Let me start this comment by saying that I agree with the primary sentiment that we ought not to be overly afraid of having teache
  • Ivo Dominguez Jr
    Ivo Dominguez Jr says #
    This is exactly the sort of discussion that is needed. Thanks Gwendolyn! I think it is important to create formal relationships i
  • Jae Sea
    Jae Sea says #
    The amount of mis- and dis-information out there does make it more difficult to parse out informed teachers for one's chosen path

Posted by on in Studies Blogs
How to apply art to magical work

I've always been a creative person and that creativity has extended past writing to painting, singing, and other artistic pursuits that I continue to pursue to this day. And as with all my other interests, I'm always looking for ways to apply my artistic skills to my magical work. I figure that the art gives me another way to express my magical talents as well as my creative vision.

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  • Carol Frierson
    Carol Frierson says #
    Thank you Taylor! This came to me just at the right time! This may seem a little crazy but...I have never painted before but I ha
  • Taylor Ellwood
    Taylor Ellwood says #
    Hello Carol, I'm glad this article helps. It's not crazy. I felt such an inclination myself at one time. Good luck!

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 

Yes, I feed my Ancestors.

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  • Joseph Bloch
    Joseph Bloch says #
    As part of their Samhain celebrations, my wife and her coven always do a Dumb Supper. I don't partake myself, as my faith has its
  • Tess Dawson
    Tess Dawson says #
    I enjoyed this Byron. What you do sounds very similar to the kispu rite in Canaanite and Amorite tradition. A living family would

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

First, many apologies for posting this a bit late.  Life seems to be passing at lightning speed with both my pregnancy and my writing.

Whether you homeschool because you are Pagan, or are a Pagan who homeschools, finding resources may be a challenge.  There are many excellent sites, books, magazines, etc. geared toward Christian homeschoolers.  There are also secular resources, which are not as abundant as religious ones, but usually more attractive to Pagan homeschoolers.  However, what about Pagan-specific resources?

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  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    Not to toot our own horn (BBI Media owns and operates PaganSquare) but I'd like to point out the eight (8!) years of back issues o
  • Wendy L. Callahan
    Wendy L. Callahan says #
    I absolutely second the recommendation for parents to check out the back issues of "The Blessed Bee"! Oh, how I miss it.
Crossing the Sacred Threshold: The Gods of Small Things

 

I am a Latin teacher currently (and laboriously) working my way toward a PhD in Classics. I read a lot of Latin texts (in Latin and usually with quite a bit of cussing along the way as I attempt to untangle classical Latin syntax). Fortunately, for the most part, I enjoy this and one of the tangential elements that I find particularly satisfying in my studies is occasionally coming across an interesting reference to ancient Roman [polytheistic] religion along the way.  It happens a lot and for all that I am Heathen, not a practitioner of Religio Romana, I find that every time I read about how a man or woman, raised in Roman culture, steeped in its religion honored his or her Gods, I find my own practices enriched.

When I started in Classics I was told (by a PhD candidate) that no one really understands Roman religion. I admit to being a bit taken aback. It always made perfect sense to me: honor your ancestors, honor the living spirit of your city, its genus loci, maintain the proper household and public rituals, and live in a world where everything has its spirit, everything is alive. It made perfect sense to me and I’ll tell you why: for all of their diversity, polytheistic religions – which are indigenous religions-- seem, in my opinion, to share a common thread, one quite alien to monotheistic thought; that common thread is rooted not just in a polytheistic and by extension pluralistic worldview, but in one that is, to greater or lesser degree, animist.

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  • Galina Krasskova
    Galina Krasskova says #
    Anne, I"ll try to write something on that soon.
  • Joseph Bloch
    Joseph Bloch says #
    I've been pushing for a re-recognition of the spirits of the land and household for years, now, both in my personal practice and e
  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    I'd love to hear more about *how* to connect with the small gods of place; although I'm quite well acquainted with the larger deit
What "The Rock" Taught Me About Witchcraft

I have a small confession to make, I used to watch wrestling on television. I know, I know, I was younger, I had a television, and I got caught up in all the fireworks, loud music, and drama that goes with it. I haven't seen any of that stuff in over a decade; it gets repetitive pretty quickly, and my brain isn't a fan of repetitive. however, one persona on that show, "The Rock", taught me a valuable lesson with his catch phrase, "Know your role, and shut your mouth."

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I have been enjoying the wonderful world of web-series for a couple of days now and it got me thinking; there are web-series for every minority you can think of so why don't we have one? If we do, please let me know in the comments and I will eat these words for tomorrow's breakfast. Seriously, though, there are (NSFW) web-series about super heroes, people with a disability, geeks, video games, lesbians, gays, washed out actors, you name it. Where are the Pagans?

A web-series is a series of short episodes about a certain topic or focussing on a specific person or group, created specifically for viewing on the internet. With all the diversity and the many stereotypes we either embrace or feel the need to debunk, we could surely make a good web-series? Here are a couple of proposals for those with the ability to act, some extra funds, time and a camera:

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  • Maggie DeMunda
    Maggie DeMunda says #
    There is, after a fashion. Through Witchschool.com. They have different video series.

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