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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in responsibility

Posted by on in Studies Blogs

A video making the rounds on the social media circuit got me thinking. It showed a couple of Christian protesters, armed with signs, who showed up at a gay pride parade in Seattle … where they were confronted by several people involved in the parade.

The confrontation wasn’t pretty. In fact, it turned violent. One woman on the video can be seen pushing a street preacher with a Bible in his hand; later, several other people rip a sign from the second preacher’s hands and proceed to tearmit apart. Then another person barrels into the crowd and proceeds to start punching the man with the sign before police arrive to restore order.

As a supporter of LGBT rights, I was disheartened to see the aggression and violence on the part of the parade-goers. Violence is seldom appropriate, and it certainly wasn’t in this case.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    This is an excellent article, Stifyn; thank you for posting it. But the issues are a bit more complicted than even you have deline
  • Candi
    Candi says #
    I would completely condone standing up and shouting at a Catholic Mass. I know a gay fellow who has a rather visceral phobia of br
  • Joseph Bloch
    Joseph Bloch says #
    Bear in mind that pro-gay marriage advocates have a history of staging protests where "their presence - and the message they brou

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
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
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 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
Chancleta Deficit Disorder Part II

"The Case of the Consulting Shaman and the Crusty Client."

 

Consider the subtitle a nod to the BBC series “Sherlock.” I’ve recently become a fan after being introduced to the series by one of my friends. I swear, British television has ruined me, just ruined me, but in all the best ways, of course. This particular series is brilliantly written and quite inspiring to anyone who deals regularly with clients of any sort. It’s hilarious. But, before I digress too badly, where did I leave off my last post? Ah yes, with exhortations that my readers arm themselves with a good stiff drink before proceeding further. Ready? Drink in hand? Good, then I shall begin.

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  • Rebecca Buchanan
    Rebecca Buchanan says #
    *gurgle* Just ... Wow ....
  • Elani Temperance
    Elani Temperance says #
    I am... completely shell-shocked by this case. I've read it thrice now and still I can't wrap my head around it. This really happe
  • Christine L Berger
    Christine L Berger says #
    This is really a most extraordinary blog. There is so much information here and serious reminders about at the very least showing

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Once upon a time, in the not so distant past, “you are not the boss of me” was muttered any time two or more of us were gathered together. Wicca had erupted into a new tradition every few days, Druids were behind every oak tree and the rise of the Recons made everyone proud and bristly with new knowledge of old matters. We ate the prolific casseroles of endless potluck feasts and we went to each other’s rituals when that was allowed.  Afterwards we’d gather with folks of our own trads and we’d compare circle castings and elemental pairings, and gossip about the size of the high priestess’s crown.

The same thing goes on still, of course. We each choose the path that is laid for us and we seek out a tradition—old or new—that seems to fit what we believe, really believe, down deep inside. We go through the Seeker stage to the Neophyte stage. We read all those simple 101 books and go to workshops and public rituals. We buy or make flowing gowns and tunics and sport a big pentacle from Spencer’s gifts. We learn to pronounce “Samhain” correctly and at some point we choose a tradition that really fits or we proudly declare ourselves Solitaries. If we are very lucky, we have a succession of good teachers. There may be a circle or coven or grove in which we learn the arts of leadership and we begin to teach the next generation of Earth-loving, opinionated folk who are not going to be bossed around.

Lately though I’ve noticed a change in our crabby and electronic world. Instead of quibbling about whether it’s proper to work within a circle or if one can stand in a lineaged Wiccan tradition while also being a Sumerian Recon, we’ve gotten awfully pissy about right and wrong and…correct.  No longer content to go our separate ways and merely gossip about those goofy (fill in the blank), we seem to expend rather a lot of electronic air in actually trying to convert each other.

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  • Diotima
    Diotima says #
    I could not help laughing as I read this, thinking that anyone who tries to convert you probably doesn't try moe than once! Good p
  • Byron Ballard
    Byron Ballard says #
    You'd be surprised. :>)
  • Janet Boyer
    Janet Boyer says #
    Wonderful post, Byron!

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

In today's world, humans have become the major factor affecting our own environment - and I don't just mean ecology. Of course we are affecting the environment, causing creeping climate change and dramatic variations in weather. But we also have a huge effect on what's around us in the most mundane sense, the things that we work with and use on an everyday basis, what might be called our technological environment. One of the new things we've introduced to that technological environment is certain types of guns, and they're poisoning us from the inside out.

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  • Selina Rifkin
    Selina Rifkin says #
    I agree that violence has no place in a civil society. I would certainly not like to live in a place where I had to worry daily ab
  • Literata
    Literata says #
    Knowing those things or having those abilities doesn't make you evil. It does make you a different person. I'm not saying that yo
  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    @Elani: regarding "why own a gun?" It's a conundrum that better people than I have trouble explaining, so I'll stick with a person

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 Paths Blogs

Today is Lammas-tide, Lughnasadh, the festival of the grain harvest. Across the land, fields full of golden wheat, barley and numerous others have been growing tall, a feast for the eyes as they bend in the breeze, a feast for the birds, bees, mice and other creatures that run between the rows.

In centuries past, it would be entire communities who came out to help with the harvest, threshing, binding and preparing the crop to last them the winter. Fuel is needed for heat, nourishment and sustenance for livestock - without a successful harvest, a lean winter means walking the path between life and death.

These days, it's more the rumble of heavy-duty farming machinery at work that is heard as the harvest is gathered in - but it's no less valuable for that. Despite the knowledge that we can import food, fuel and whatever we need from other places, there's still the essential connection between us and the land as personified in the life of our fuel-stuffs. We celebrate it, we recognise and remember it. Children make corn-dollies, singers remember John Barleycorn.

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  • Hunter Liguore
    Hunter Liguore says #
    I ventured to make "corn" dollies from corn husks, only to realize that they are made from the wheat or barley. Amazing what can b

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Covered: the Pagan veiling controversy

This post is a bit of a tangent from my central focus of Frigga, fiber and wyrd--but, as I hope you'll see, it's only a bit of one, since it does concern, rather closely, the values around which I've built my own spirituality, especially the very Heathen themes of choice and responsibility.

As you can tell from my profile photo, I am a pagan woman who chooses to wear some type of head covering at least some of the time.  I've gone into detail on my own blog about my reasons for doing so, but just to recap a bit: I initially flirted with veiling a couple of years back, mostly as an extension of the semi-modest form of dress I had adopted.  My partner had already started veiling daily by then as a devotional act for her God (long before the practice became trendy), and I wanted to see whether I too could enjoy some of the practical benefits she reported, mainly protection for the crown chakra and an additional buffer against the thoughts and emotions of others--something invaluable for psychically sensitive people such as we both are.

I also liked the fact that wearing a veil sends a visual signal to others that you are somehow different, set apart from mainstream society.  This is in part a cultural signal; nuns wear veils, after all, and as the bride of a God I consider myself to be the pagan equivalent of a nun, more or less.  (The "less" part of that statement being because pagans unfortunately have no established system or architecture in place to support this path.) True, most people walking down the street would never mistake a woman wearing a colorful veil, or a hat, or a kerchief, for a nun, but for me it acted as a tangible reminder of my path.

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  • Soli
    Soli says #
    As one of those "pre-trend" head covering women, led me add nicely said! There is definitely a call toward this, and I can point t
  • Kathleen Farmer
    Kathleen Farmer says #
    I see both Beth and Sandra's viewpoints as having validity. A lot of women (including my mother) felt that there was a time period
  • Sandra
    Sandra says #
    "Traditional feminine skills" were not devalued by the feminist movement. Skills like weaving and spinning have been downgraded fo

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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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

An it harm none, do what ye will – Doreen Valiente

Most Pagans in this country were raised Christian. No I haven’t taken any sort of official poll, but since Christianity is the dominant religion in the United States, and Paganism is one of the fastest growing religions, the math is unavoidable. Coming from the structured dogma of a monotheistic religion into one that places all life-choices squarely in one’s own lap can be a heady experience, as is the vastly different image of the body.

Early Neo- Paganism – which was dominated by Wicca – held and still holds, that the body is a good thing, and the good feelings that arise from it are to be embraced and welcomed. Indeed, such feelings can be counted as acts of worship to a deity. This attitude has resulted in a good deal of healing for many around body image and sexuality. It has been a positive force for growth and change. Eating is something to be enjoyed, savored, and celebrated. Guilt is not necessary. Size is not equated with morality. Bodies are a gift, and we are glad to be in them.

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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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