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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in religion

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

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Earlier this week Bill Nye, the "Science Guy", debated Ken Ham, founder of the creationism museum in Kentucky, and it was billed as "Science vs the Bible", among other things. I watched it, and participated in a Twitter discussion for a short time during it, and then moved over to a Facebook discussion among a friend and others who are all Atheist, as far as I can tell. When the debate was over, I was left with a few thoughts.

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  • Greybeard
    Greybeard says #
    If "the word of an infallible god" has any place at a debate the infallible god should show up and say so. Otherwise its just her
  • Arwen Lynch
    Arwen Lynch says #
    Very true words, Peter. "religion, faith, and belief should never be tools used to destroy others" Thanks for an interesting loo

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

"Bunch of wanna-blessed-be's. Nowadays every girl with a henna tattoo and a spice rack thinks she's a sister to the dark ones." - Willow, Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Photo by Katie Tegtmeyer

I love that quote. It speaks to every judgment that can be made, one Pagan to another, that there is a right and wrong way to "do" Paganism, and that we all think we're better for our way. Not to mention how it characterizes non-Pagans...

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

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Pagans are human too.  Sometimes I have to remind myself of this.  The latest kerfuffle in the wider Pagan community leaves me surprised and yet not surprised all at the same time.  I like to think that Pagans, as a group, are better than this but obviously we are not.

When a person, prominent in another religion, leaves that religion to become Pagan, do you cheer?  Do you proclaim it loudly from your blog, twitter or other social media outlets?  Do you feel satisfaction? Do you cheer them on because obviously they made the right choice? Do you discuss it continually, stewing over it, celebrating it, etc?  I don’t and I hope you don’t either.  Such changes are hard enough without the hype of unknown others.

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  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Ms. Brokaw, Whilst I don't feel that a website devoted to Pagan community issues is necessarily an appropriate venue for a de fac

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
The Gods in Druidry

Who are the gods in Druidry?  There is no one answer to this question, as deity, like religion, is such a personal thing in Paganism.  There is no single authority telling us who our god is, or what She is saying.  There are books, teachers, Orders, Groves etc that can offer paths of a tradition that may lead to a relationship with the gods, but again they won’t tell you exactly who they are – we’re given a map and a compass but we have to find our own way.

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  • Emily Mills
    Emily Mills says #
    This is something that I've been thinking about lately as I try to deepen my spirituality. I'm a member of OBOD, which has a lot o
  • Joanna van der Hoeven
    Joanna van der Hoeven says #
    I love the concept of The Mystery... x

Posted by on in Studies Blogs

With a movie adaptation of Orson Scott Card’s popular novel Ender’s Game being released soon, QUILTBAG individuals have spoken out to challenge potential viewers to consider whether they really want to give money to Card, considering the hateful things he has said about QUILTBAG people, and the anti-equality causes he has financially supported. Like many others, I was intrigued by Ender’s Game and its sequels as a teenager, but drifted away from sci-fi and fantasy over the years. I actually first realized that I had problems with the way Card’s approach to religion in a separate book, Pastwatch, reveals an underlying tendency to objectify others. Today, when I look back on that book as a Pagan, I find a disturbing similarity in the fundamental reasoning for the two problems to stem from a single root.

CAUTION: SPOILERS for Pastwatch are ahead.

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  • 1
    1 says #
    I didn't know he was still writing, read a few of the Alvin Maker books back when.
  • Rhyd
    Rhyd says #
    Thank you for this. Pastwatch is the only book I've ever torn to shreds after reading. I was particularly incensed by his assert
  • Rebecca Buchanan
    Rebecca Buchanan says #
    When it comes to time-traveler-deliberately-changing-history stories, I highly recommend Jane Yolen's "The Traveler and the Tale"

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

I love the Norse Gods, and I love stories. Whether you think they are people or think they are characters in stories, I'd like to share that sense of wonder with you, exploring ethics in the thorny places where beauty and brutality interweave to speak eloquently about the human condition in all its flaws and grandeur.

As an artist and writer, my work is steeped in mythology and ancient literature which I find surprisingly relevant to modern life. Human nature does not change much, but the way we explain it— through stories and the shifting values of our cultures— does.

Like the Gods I worship, I travel frequently. It's made me keenly aware of how similar people are beneath the surface differences, wherever (or whenever) you go. It's also shown me how much we influence one another, through our ideas and relationships, and of the value of face-to-face relationships and community during a time in which both our wilderness and connection to other life is rapidly eroding.

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  • Shirl Sazynski
    Shirl Sazynski says #
    It's an intriguing way to raise awareness for a deity, and a lovely thought. Thank you for the compliment about my writing. He (an
  • Heather Freysdottir
    Heather Freysdottir says #
    I don't know if this is of interest to you, but there's a Freyr spouse proposing a month for Him: http://shannonkotono.wordpress.c

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

             (This is a column I meant to post about eight days ago, when all the other great ancestor-related readings were being proliferated.. but I suppose this is my “fashionably late” addition to the season.)

             A lot of my time as a spirit-worker and teacher involves helping people to come to a better relationship with their blessed dead – ancestors of both blood and “other-than-blood relation” – and in general addressing many of the issues that arise in the typical 21st century American “spiritual seeker” around such things. My own religious and spiritual work is deeply entrenched in “theism”, but I tend not to default to deity work with most people whom I am seeing as either clients or students. The reasons for this are various, but the main element is that in my tradition, one must prepare oneself before approaching the gods. Many of these preparations should have been undergone in our developing years – e.g. as children and teens going through a process of enculturation and initiation-based rites of passage – but as most of us in America did not grow up with the benefit of a traditional polytheistic or animist upbringing, we need to return to these basic principles as adults. This process, in my experience and observation, can involve years of developing foundational platforms of spiritual and personal/emotional essentials.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

Fasting is a very ancient phenomenon. In fact, an original starting date can not be given. Still, fasting--for the purpose of this post--should be distinguished from its non-voluntary counterpart of going hungry due to a lack of food and/or resources. Fasting is the act of voluntarily withholding food from your body for a longer period of time than you would normally be without it. As today is the second day of the Thesmophoria, I'm fasting.

I have fasted in the past, finding it a very useful tool for purging my body, clearing my mind and regaining focus on the things that matter. After a fast, I am more aware of what I put into my body and of the signals my body gives me. After a fast, I take better care of myself. My girlfriend hates it when I fast, and not just because I'm a little bit cranky the first day. She thinks it's unhealthy to go without food, but regulars fasts have actually been proven to be very healthy, if you do it right. There is a method to fasting, and it depends greatly on the length of the fast.

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Evil, Ethics and Freedom

Theodicy, the theological study of evil, is one of the stumbling blocks of religion. I have a few thoughts on the subject, which I doubt will end the matter, but perhaps shed a certain Pagan light on it. In general theodicy is trying to answer the question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” “Because God wills it,” to test or to strengthen the adherent, or “Karma,” the result of past actions, are two of the more popular answers. As a Thelemite, I am not so interested in what happened but in what to do, so I tend to look at this from the other side: “How do I avoid doing evil?” This leads me to a systems-analysis approach to evil that shows how hard it is to avoid doing Evil, but there is some hope in that too.

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  • Tom Terrific
    Tom Terrific says #
    Coincidentally, this subject came up a few days ago on a Pagan board I frequent. I offered my view and was excoriated by one parti

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Pagans and the flustercluck over Chik-fil-a: Many of the same organizations that are responsible for anti-LGBT hate speech are involved in anti-Pagan propaganda and continue to stoke the fires of potential Satanic Panics. How do Pagans make economic choices in response to this? I advocate boycotts as a magical action in defense of our own rights.

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  • Greybeard
    Greybeard says #
    I sometimes see way too much "hatred" in pagan activism. Its easy to point fingers and call names.
  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    I'd like to have seen quite a bit more about the zinger at the end of your article: "Boycott is a strong word. It's also potential
  • Literata
    Literata says #
    Personally I'm thinking about adapting the approach I have used before when communicating with my elected officials: I do ritual t

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

I have written before about the differences between general (Neo-)Wiccan/Witchcraft Traditions and Reconstruction. In that blog post, I focussed on the practical, on the part you can see. This is not the most important part of Reconstruction Traditions, though. It's a part of it, but it only exists because of a mental component. It's this component I want to talk about today.

In general, 'reconstruction' is the practice of rebuilding something. This can be a crime-scene, a broken vase or any number of things. In Paganism, Reconstruction means the practice of reviving lost religious, social and practical practices from a specific time period or people. It is not that different from reconstructing a vase, actually, and I will be using that analogy a lot today.

Imagine this; long ago, a potter made a vase. He needed to make one because he had something which needed a holder. He shaped it in a specific form, inspired by his culture and need, and when the shape was done, he decorated it with imagery that was also culturally inspired. Somewhere over the years, the vase broke into a dozen pieces. There was no need for that particular vase anymore, so no one put it back together. Now, people need a holder again, and it seems logical to put the original holder back together instead of making a new one, because the first one functioned very well. They realize that in order to put the vase back together, they need to understand the culture and whatever was going on in the head of the potter who made it; without that knowledge, they won't be able to figure out how the pieces fit together and they can't restore the imagery without knowing what the potter created in the first place.

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  • Robert Scott
    Robert Scott says #
    Very good points which I think apply to any variety of recon, thank you.

A few days now, I have tackled controversial topics on this blog so to give everyone, including myself, a rest, I'm going to tackle a good old fashioned ancient Greek topic; the peculiar place of beggars in ancient Greek society. After all, of all professions there were in ancient Greece, the profession of beggar is, perhaps, the most difficult to understand.

A beggar, or ptóchos (πτωχός), was both a welcomed and a loathed sight at the gates of ancient Greek cities. According to some sources, most notable Hesiod's Works and Days, being a beggar is a profession, equated with potters and minstrels. They performed a public function simply by being who they were and doing what they did. But what did they do?

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  • Luke Hauser
    Luke Hauser says #
    Good research on an unusual topc -- thanks for the post
  • Elani Temperance
    Elani Temperance says #
    Unusual topics are the most fun ;-) Thank you for your kind feedback.
  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Thanks for the great post! There is nothing so modern as the problems of the ancient world. Except the problem of 'purifying' our

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

I woke up this morning with absolutely zero inspiration. It happens every once in a while when you write a blog post every day and try not to work ahead as much as possible. Zero inspiration gives me the opportunity to look around and find something that I simply love to do, to read or to watch and blog about that. As I've been on a Falling Skies binge lately, trying to fill the void of the Olympics, that show fueled this post, although it's not much about that show.

Falling Skies, if you will indulge me the introduction, revolves around the survivors of an alien invasion as they deal with the constant threat of the aliens, the threat of humanity driven to the brink, and the challenges of reconstructing civilization.

I am a huge fan of post-apocalyptic stories and a big fan of their respective series, movies and books. Anything from Falling Skies, The Walking Dead, Carriers, Resident Evil, The Hunger Games, The Books of Amber (books preferred), The Stand, Dark Angel, and The Book of Eli, to games like Fallout, books like Orson Welles' War of the Worlds and even T.V. series like Lost. But it's not all about entertainment; it's about a very important (religious) question: what would you do?

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

No, that title is not a typo. I do mean theoilogy.

Theology, to quote the ever-handy Wikipedia, derives "from Ancient Greek Θεός meaning "God" and λόγος-logy, meaning "study of." God. Singular. By its very nature, at its very root, the word assumes a single Godhead. As such, I find the term best suited only to those religious systems which are explicitly monotheistic or monistic, eg Islam, most strains of Christianity, some branches of Judaism, and some sects within Hinduism.*

But, it is an ill-fit with explicitly polytheistic or even duotheistic systems, such as some branches of Judaism, some Christian sects, most sects within Hinduism, and the majority of Pagan and indigenous traditions. When I write about the nature of Zeus, I am not engaging in theology -- I am engaging in theoilogy. Zeus is not God Alone. He is part of a vast family of Deities; He is part of a web of relationships and responsibilities, and I cannot even begin to comprehend him outside of that web. Thus, theoilogy, from the Ancient Greek Θεοί meaning "Gods." Plural.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

I often get ask how I know Deity exists. I must have some sort of proof to spent so much time on Them, after all. Well, yes, I do. I'm just not sure non-religious people would find it satisfactory.

I find the Gods in the little things and one of those things is synchronicity. Synchronicity is the experience of two or more events that are apparently causally unrelated or unlikely to occur together by chance, yet are experienced as occurring together in a meaningful manner. For me that means experiencing two separate events and trusting, in my gut, that they are connected--and then making the leap to contributing the second (or both) event(s) to Deity.

I understand this will never convince a sceptic.

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  • Brian Shea
    Brian Shea says #
    You have a mix tape for Hermes? I'm curious, what pray tell is on it?
  • Elani Temperance
    Elani Temperance says #
    I'm sorry, I am usually more dilligent with my links. The mix-tape to Hermes is here: http://baringtheaegis.blogspot.nl/2012/08/mi
  • Elani Temperance
    Elani Temperance says #
    Hudley; you have made yourself very clear. Thank you for your addition to my post. I, too, feel listening and trusting yourself an

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 Studies Blogs

The unexpected death of a friend this week brought into sharp relief the differences between traditions around death and grief, not only between different communities but also between different generations. How we handle the dead and our sorrow shows a lot about our culture.

For the Anglo-Saxons, much of what we know of their material culture -- apart descriptions in poems and histories -- come from discovered burials. But burial wasn't always the norm. We have a magnificent pagan shipboard funeral of a king in the opening lines of Beowulf. For a long time people dismissed it as a rather fanciful thing.

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  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    My condolences on your loss, Kate; I thank you for sharing your wisdom and reflections with our community.
  • Kate Laity
    Kate Laity says #
    Thanks so much, Anne. The power of community in bad times reflects the strength of its joy in good times. And the fluctuation betw
  • Kate Laity
    Kate Laity says #
    Thank you, my dear. It's never easy, but the weight becomes more familiar as we age, alas. It's the first time I have felt 'away'

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

I've returned today from performing a Handfasting with my partner - not unusual at this time of year. But this was our first on a beach.

Yes, this is Britain. Yes, we've just had semi-monsoon conditions for the last few months. Summer was rumoured to have been cancelled. So much could have gone wrong.

It was beautiful. Golden sands, blue sky, bright sun, lush green grasses and flowers on the path leading from the couple's home to the beach itself... everyone commented that you couldn't have wished for a better day.

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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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