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

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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In Defense of Pop Culture Magic


When I first wrote the Invoking Buffy article for Newwitch Magazine I got a lot of flak from the occult and Pagan communities. I was accused of being flaky, a fluffy bunny, and a variety of other labels. When I wrote Pop Culture Magick these criticism increased ten fold. Once, when I was talking with a Celtic Reconstructionist friend, she pointed out that her Gods had been around thousands of years, which seemed to automatically confer more validity to her spiritual practices, compared to my own. When I pointed out that the stories around her Deities were the pop culture for the people who had told the stories, I was told that such a perspective was blasphemous and that because her Deities had been around for millennia they were automatically more powerful than any pop culture Deity. And when I was interviewed by Pagan Centered Podcast it was a hostile interview, with their goal being focused on trying to disprove what I practiced. I could probably tell you a few more stories along these lines, but I think you get the idea: Pop Culture Magic, and any associated beliefs, spiritual practices, etc. are considered to be the bastard child of Paganism and Occultism by a good number of people who inevitably seem intent on proving why their beliefs are more valid, more spiritual, more anything than pop culture magic is.  And if you, like me, are associated with practicing pop culture magic you'll be told what a flake you are and how your spiritual practices aren't as good as the person to your left or right who believes in more traditional deities. You'll be told it's fiction and that you're wrong and they're right.

Some of this bias comes from a tendency to revere something that is older or more traditional (older is better), and perhaps even purportedly rooted in nature. While I think its important to maintain a connection to nature, I am skeptical as to how older religious systems automatically ensure that particular connection. If anything, I have found that developing a genuine connection with nature is much more primal and based on your willingness to spend time and effort in nature. For example, choosing to deweed your yard and really put your hands in the dirt to take care of the land is an action that is very connective to nature, with no Deity required to facilitate said interaction. A long hike can also be just as connecting, allowing you to become part of the land by choosing to be in it, instead of merely observing it. The smell of the land, the feeling as you walk it is a spiritual experience that again needs no Deity in order to facilitate it. All that is really needed is you and your willingness to connect with the land and learn from it, as a result of the connection.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Taylor Ellwood
    Taylor Ellwood says #
    I think the recons would argue that they have allowed the gods to find and shape them. As for myself, any entity I'm working with
  • Rhiana
    Rhiana says #
    Let me start off by saying I find both arguments be they pro or con to have valid points. Having said that, I often wonder why we
  • Frater Isla
    Frater Isla says #
    Good point. And I've found that most internet 'discussions' are just ego dancing. I've maybe gotten two actual responses where I f

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
First thoughts on VIKINGS

This past Sunday, the History Channel debuted its first scripted drama series, VIKINGS. (If you missed it, or if, like me, you don't actually have a television, iTunes had the first episode available for free, at least at the time of writing.) 

VIKINGS follows the exploits of a de-mythologized Ragnar Lodbrok, a hero of Viking myths and sagas. Going by the first episode, the show hardly appears to be a straight adaptation of Ragnar's Saga; little about the show's hero remains the same as either the sagas or, as best as I can tell, the best guesses at the historical life of Ragnar. (I suppose that's not necessarily a bad thing, though it's a strange choice - nobody in America except serious Viking buffs will even recognize the name, and the people who recognize it will be confused as to why the character doesn't resemble the Ragnar of the sagas. Who knows.)

In the first episode, "Rites of Passage," Ragnar (Travis Fimmel) and his twelve-year-old son set out to their tribe's Thing, where, after a few matters of law and punishment are settled, the tribe's leader, Jarl Haraldson (Gabriel Byrne) will announce their destination for the summer's raids. Haraldson announces they will strike east, into Russia, as they have for several years; unfortunately, while it is known territory, it's also a poor place to make a profit, as the Slavs aren't any richer than the Scandinavians. Ragnar, with the help of a few new technologies, believes they should strike west, instead, but Haraldson won't have any of it. In secret, Ragnar hires a half-crazed shipwright, Floki, to build him a vessel so he and a crew can go exploring, putting him into direct conflict with Haraldson, who doesn't want one of his subjects making him look weak by defying his orders.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Janneke Brouwers
    Janneke Brouwers says #
    I watched a terrible film called Walhalla Rising, and both the VIking homelands and the America's were shot in Scotland. Seeing bl
  • Eric O. Scott
    Eric O. Scott says #
    Really, you thought Valhalla Rising was terrible? I'll grant you that it was super-artsy to the point of incomprehensibility, but
  • Trine
    Trine says #
    This sounds really interesting, I'll have to see if the episode is also available in Europe. Thanks for the introduction! As for

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
'Devil's Night'

Some slightly more modern history and a slight indulgence: witches always end up in the news around this time of year. Suddenly every news paper or local news station wants to do a 'did you know there are real witches?!' story.

It all gets a bit tiresome.

I originally wrote this poem for my annual Halloween cards (a habit that has been lost to my gypsy ways and busyness). My father reminded me that he associated 'Devil's Night' with much more unpleasant memories: 1960s Michigan it was often a time of angry destruction. If you've seen the original Crow movie, they use it in a similar way -- an excuse for serious mayhem.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 I was born into Wicca, and for the most part, that's where I have stayed. I celebrate the sabbats and the esbats with my family coven, Pleiades, just as I have since I was a boy. But I have been curious about other religions, especially others that fall into the umbrella of “Pagan,” since I was eight or nine, and thanks to the magpie ethics of eclecticism, I've been quite happy to sample what those other paths had to offer. I studied Taoism in the 4th grade, had a Kemetic period in high school, and today study a little bit of Kaballah (Thelemic and otherwise.) But there's one brand of Paganism I don't think I could ever try, much less commit myself to, even though I have friends who follow it and recommend it to me.

 I'm afraid I could never be a Druid.

 This may seem unusual. If you're into the Pagan community at all, you've probably heard plenty of nice things about Druids. Alaric Albertsson, Llewellyn author, member of the prominent Druidic organization Ár nDraíocht Féin (ADF), and all-around swell guy, says he thinks Druidry is the future of Paganism. Well, I bloody hope not.

 Why, you might ask.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Freefire Cauldron
    Freefire Cauldron says #
    Had me going for a second! LOL
  • Lauren
    Lauren says #
    I love your style and I am really looking forward to more of your blog!
  • Elani Temperance
    Elani Temperance says #
    A Cleric or Druid, that would be me. Nothing better than barreling through a group of enemies as a Dire Bear, carrying an Elven Ra

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