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

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

Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Agent Of Change, Agent Of Stability

Over the years I have committed much of my energy to a variety of organizations and movements. Currently, I am seeing lots of growth and turbulence in many groups so I am sharing some observations of patterns that I have seen repeated. This post is mostly aimed at organizers but is of benefit to all.

 

The Self-Empowerment, Drama, & Big Picture Factor

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  • Jae Sea
    Jae Sea says #
    Yes, please share more on this topic and anything else you'd care to blog about. There is always useful and insightful informatio
  • Robin Fennelly
    Robin Fennelly says #
    Wonderful information, Ivo. Thank you and please continue.
  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    Great work, Ivo; I vote for more on this topic.

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

A cross-post this week, if I may - between here at my first blog 'home', and the wonderfully eclectic 'Witches & Pagans' site (because if you can't 'moonlight' as a Pagan, then who can?).

I am very aware that I haven't written anything at either location for a couple of weeks. I could give excuses - ultimately, the days have flown past and life has been more important. I'm sure we all know how that goes. Instead, take a wander with me, if you will.

Regular readers know that one of my favourite places for inspiration is as I walk the dog across the hilltop where I live. This evening I wandered the streets, looking out at the fierce clouds parting after an intense rain and thunder-storm just a few hours ago, the remnants of a rainbow, and the slightly 'stunned' feeling of a normal, modern, country village after a violent and unavoidable incident of Nature. The grass is rich and green, the snails appear to have made a small bypass across the path outside one particular row of houses, and the occasional early bat is swooping overhead.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

Hellenismos, as a modern Recon Tradition, is young. It's only a decade or two old and while it's starting to get off of the ground and come together, there are a lot of issues which have not been worked out yet. I broached this in my post about suicide and I want to delve deeper into it today. There is a promise of greatness in Hellenismos, but unlike the slightly older Wicca and its younger cousin Neo-Wicca, Hellenismos can't function on a 'coven-by-coven'-basis. This means it needs a doctrine.

The definition of Paganism I use is the one from the Cauldron;

"A Pagan religion is a religion that is not Jewish, Christian, or Islamic and self-identifies as Pagan."


Emphasis on 'self-identifies'. If you feel your practice fits under the Pagan banner, you are free to call yourself Pagan. It's not a protected term like Wicca is, and Hellenismos should be. Above, I stated that Hellenismos can't function on a 'coven-by-coven'-basis. What I meant to say with that is that the few Hellenic organizations there are can, of course, function wonderfully on their own, but they will both be practicing something different; their own versions of Hellenismos which are, most likely, incompatible. They don't form a whole, a unified religion. They would practice on that 'coven-to-coven' basis which, in my opinion, does not work with a Recon tradition.

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  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    And this, my dear, is why I can't be a true Recon: my experience with deities is not structured around how they were worshipped in
  • Elani Temperance
    Elani Temperance says #
    I completely understand, yet it's exactly that which draws me to Recon Traditions. Worshipping a pantheon instead of a specific De

Posted by on in Studies Blogs
What Do You Call That?

This is part three of an arc of related ideas that can stand alone but would benefit from the additional context of the earlier posts. If you have not read the two previous blogs, I hope that you take time to read them. In this post I’ll explore the use of names and labels such as Pagan, Wiccan, etc.

 

Though it would be lovely to come up with some equivalent of Linnaean taxonomy (Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species) when it comes to the various magico-religious streams, I do not think that it is practical. Physical living things have relatively distinct boundaries whereas systems of culture that are passed from and through individuals and communities through non-genetic means have a high degree of form complexity and overlap. Moreover the overlapping domains of the magico-religious streams are not limited to nesting hierarchies of set and subset. Also, the Traditions of the magico-religious streams are anchored in more than just the physical plane and the rules of the other planes also apply. 

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs

First, I want to thank all the folks who have posted kind words about my starting this blog. It is deeply encouraging to be so warmly received. Thank you!

Before turn to my topic for this post, I wish to reflect on the interesting conversation about the use of the term ‘pagan’ in this, its uncapitalized form. I’ve given my opinion already, in that I feel it has no referent, and that it represents a distortion of the past, but for that please see the original post and its comments. What is interesting to me is that folks would defend its use. It was and is an insult, as common in use as the ’n-word’ was at a time. By naming ourselves ‘Pagan’ we proudly turn that opprobrium into an honorable name for a new and defiant religion, ours. . . . . .

So, then, what is ‘religion’? I’ll start by citing a not-bad version of the dictionary definition for religion: “a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.” (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/religion)

You will no doubt notice the primacy of ‘belief’ in this definition. Ritual also gets a mention, as does morality, but only as a optional quality.

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  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    Good thinking, Sam; in this day-and-age the words "religion" and "spirituality" have become so entangled that reasoned discourse s
  • Gareth Storm
    Gareth Storm says #
    Another fascinating thought experiment captured in little "black" pixels surrounded by "white" ones, showing us just how much gray

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

One of the key foundations of modern (and ancient) Paganism is also one of the most contentious. We find it very hard to talk about, it seems, and yet it's fairly key to many people's personal practice. When I've talked about it in the past, it almost seems like I'm breaking a taboo, with the words themselves being 'dirty' or embarrassing. And yet, learning from my passionate and heartfelt Heathen friends, that embarrassment is itself disrespectful, dishonourable and, ultimately, rather foolish.

Who are your Gods and Goddesses? What does Deity mean to you, and how does it influence and affect your Paganism? From the Platonic 'ultimate Male/Female' images (tallying with 'All Gods/Goddesses are One') to the pantheistic, international eclectic transference of pretty much any deity with any other no matter where you yourself live, talking about Deity is a tricky business. Especially because ultimately, nobody can really tell you you're wrong. Or right. Except, perhaps, those Gods themselves.

The Judgement of Paris (Classical)

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  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    Cat: Like Elani, you are articulating one of the major cutting edges of contemporary Paganism -- what *do* we believe? I, for one,
  • Rebecca Buchanan
    Rebecca Buchanan says #
    Wonderful post. I think about the Gods in general, and my patron/matron Gods, all the time. But too often I forget to stop, liste

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Patheos has been in a bit of a kerfluffle this past week -- or, at least the Pagan Channel has been. It all started with Catholic blogger Mark Shea's post of his views on small-p paganism and neo-paganism. Patheos bloggers Star Foster and Jason Mankey counter-responded, and there were lots and lots of comments below each of those posts, ranging from the thoughtful to the angry to the wtf??

Considering the focus of this blog, and in the interests of interfaith dialogue (or, at least, interfaith not-screaming-past-one-another), a few literary suggestions. Each of these books in some way addresses the relationships between Jesus, the Christianities that rose out of his teachings, the ancient Paganisms, and modern Paganism. Hopefully, they will open a few eyes, broaden a few horizons, and allow for clearer dialogue.

(And, yes, I do mean Christianities, plural. Considering the vast theological differences between Catholicism, Mormonism, Unitarian Universalism, Valentinianism, the Cathars, and et cetera and so on, Christianity is as much an umbrella term as Pagan. Thus, Christianities.)

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  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    Even though it's a novel, anybody interested in this subject will greatly appreciate Marion Zimmer Bradley and Diana L. Paxson's "
  • Rebecca Buchanan
    Rebecca Buchanan says #
    @Brian: yep. An interesting enough book, but I found it to be rather repetitive. It read like an essay that had been padded out t
  • Brian Shea
    Brian Shea says #
    Are you familiar with God Against The Gods by Jonathan Kirsch?

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

People are often under a certain impression about homeschoolers. We are pegged as religious fanatics who want to create little "armies for God", teach our children Young Earth creationism without any regard for science, and all the mothers are bun-headed denim-jumper wearers.

While it is true that a fair segment of the homeschooling population fits this stereotype, it is only a segment.

Those of us who choose to homeschool are as diverse as the paths my fellow Pagans follow. There is a growing openness about the need for secular home-education and community, where all people are welcome. I know many more Atheist and Pagan homeschoolers, than I do Christians.

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  • halolain
    halolain says #
    I'm Pagan & I've been home schooling for for fifteen years & am loving every minute of it. I did it partly because of bullying but
  • Wendy L. Callahan
    Wendy L. Callahan says #
    Thank you so much for commenting! While most of my concerns were academic and age-related (my son has a December birthday, and I

If you know your fantasy history, you’ll spot that the title of this blog comes form the very first fantasy book written by William Morris in 1896. For the first time, Morris deviated from writing “reality” and ventured into another realm, one inhabited by otherworld creatures, like giants and wise hermits, a place governed by the laws of magic.

In Well at World’s End, Morris takes the reader into a mythical region where a magical well grants the drinker immortality. He quests with helpers to find the well, facing danger at every step. The story sounds familiar, because we’ve seen similar ones over the ages, like Percival who quests for the Holy Grail, or Ponce de León’s journey for the Fountain of Youth.

But if we go a little deeper we will find that even this road leads right back to Pagan origins. Morris, like Tolkien years later, saw that magic once held an integral part of daily life, but had slowly faded from the countryside. His book, if nothing else, is a reminder of what was, and more so what could be.

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  • Hunter Liguore
    Hunter Liguore says #
    Oh, my, let's skip right to the hard stuff! Adding it to the list--certainly a provocative pick and one I'm sure will lend to a ni
  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    Are you planning to cover, ahem, "popular" culture fantasy/sci fi? I'm thinking of a famously popular HBO show, the thealogy of wh
  • Lex
    Lex says #
    My favorite stories are the kind that resonate with the truth that comes from all of history, for we are all from pagan roots! T

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Nota bene—I had planned to post this second part earlier in the week but have been drawn—lured!—down the tricky rabbit trails in our community. Some of you will understand this guilty pleasure: following link after link in a circuitous, riotous and ultimately informative research effort.

These are not issues exclusive to the Pagan/Heathen communities but—as with many other sticking points—it is writ large here. Sturm und drang—polished and deliberate language used as both weapon and shield. The bristling armed camps face each other across a wide gulf. After many months of observing, listening and analyzing, I did what any curious person would do. I went to the edge of that deep gap and simply looked in. It seemed the best way to understand the level of disconnect that I was encountering as I pondered the situations and the reactions to them.

Slick, clever, running both hot and cold, the talk (in person and on-line) surrounding some relatively simple questions of protocol belies the complexity of the times, the personalities and the issues involved.

The great scholar Gerda Lerner has often been my guide as I attempt to look through the lens/lenses of that construct we call “history.”  Her work has been instrumental in revealing the hidden roots of ostensibly modern problems.

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World mythology is a rich resource for comic book and graphic novel creators. Characters as varied as Marvel's Thor, Hellboy from Dark Horse, Image Comic's Age of Bronze, and Wildstorm's Promethea -- to name just a few -- draw on the spiritual, mythological, magical and occult traditions of the world.

The newest publisher to join their ranks is Campfire Graphic Novels. Inspired by the age-old image of family and friends gathered around a fire to share tales of adventure, danger and virtue, Campfire has launched four distinct lines of graphic novels: Classics (adaptations of great novels and plays), Mythology (to date, Greek and Hindu stories), Biography (inspiring leaders, scientists, authors, and philosophers of the past), and Original (new stories).

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Paganism is one of the most democratic of spiritualities, right? It allows each of us to maintain and explore our own relationship with deity, practice pretty much as we like, and generally find like-minded people to work with along the way.
Except that it's not that simple (of course). We like to think that it's all sweetness, light and friendship, but as with any human philosophy, there are speed-bumps on the road that we're travelling.
 
Something that I've been really coming up against in recent months is the issue of hierarchy. If Pagans can each hold their own method of worship, then why do we even need leaders? Perhaps rather naively, I used to assume that each person understood that following a spiritual path involved investigation, constant challenging of the self and their chosen Way - otherwise it'd be far simpler to just find one of those other faiths with a set doctrine and follow that (less thought and effort required all round).
 
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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

     The Genius Loci or Spirit of a Place has always held great emphasis and value in my personal spirituality, world view and cosmology. I have always purposefully sought out to engage the spirit of any land I have held residence with. As a veteran this includes numerous civilian domiciles and military bases both foreign and domestic. In my experience I have often found the most direct route to connecting with Genius Loci is through the community market places, like the local Farmers’ market.

     It was only recently that I heard the term Locavore, which is someone who makes an effort to consume from locally produced food sources. There are many benefits to being a locavore and shopping at a Farmers’ market; the food is often organic or at the very least, fresher, much healthier and always seems to just taste better. Every one benefits financially as well when you buy direct from local growers, the cost is lower, the money stays in the community and stimulates the local economy. But for me, the greatest benefits are by far more Magical.

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  • Joseph Merlin Nichter
    Joseph Merlin Nichter says #
    Thank you for this important information. The possibility never occurred to me based on my own limited experiences, here in the va
  • Sandra
    Sandra says #
    Buyer beware in Ontario as well. Farmers markets can advertise "grown locally" as long as the product comes from Ontario. That m
  • Selina Rifkin
    Selina Rifkin says #
    I recently learned that just because something is sold at a farmer's market, that does not mean it was produced or grown locally.

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