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Studies Blogs

Advanced and/or academic Pagan subjects such as history, ethics, sociology, etc.

Posted by on in Studies Blogs

When I taught Yoga and Meditation at Glendale Community College, I was friendly with the Chair of the Religions Department. We often discussed how the purpose of the Comparative World Religions class was not to convert students who already had a faith (as some paranoid individuals feared), but to facilitate tolerance between the citizens of a shrinking world through a better understanding of each others' beliefs. In that same spirit of education, I propose an open exchange of views - not to argue among ourselves as to who is right, but to share our mutual human inspirations and yearnings.

It has been many years since I felt compelled to convince others of my position; I simply put it out there, now, as a point of information. In my view of the universe, each mind has its own little piece of the Truth. For reasons we can only guess at, some of us were destined to appreciate Creation in terms of many Gods, while others were meant to see it in terms of only One - yet other brothers and sisters of ours were meant to believe in no God at all! Yet we are all children of a common Source, seeing reality as best we can from different points of view. If we combine all of our perceptions, this vast multi-dimensional hologram may begin to come into focus. 

I have gone through many stages in my life. I've had my mind opened to possibilities that I was afraid to acknowledge as a child, and which are still denied by many in my culture. Such people hope that refusing to think about something can make it go away, or that demonizing it may relieve them of the responsibility of having to understand it. But I'm pretty sure that we can only evade responsibility for a short time, and that ever-more challenging initiations lie before us.  

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  • Arwen Lynch
    Arwen Lynch says #
    Thank you, Ted. I, too, have had a long journey to get where I am. I tell folks "From the Void, the One. From the One, the Two. Fr
  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    This is wonderful, Arwen. My understanding is the same as yours, and you have found an excellent way to express it. I like to chat
  • Roslyn Lighthouse
    Roslyn Lighthouse says #
    Thank you. It would be nice if people could discuss their beliefs without the need to condemn others. Beautifully put. Blessed

Now, I know a lot of people like to tout Samhain as the pagan new year, but for me, my year always sort of starts on Imbolc.  I think of it as "time to make the doughnuts," in a way.  It marks the end of my hibernation.

This year in particular is going to be a very big one for me- it marks the biggest Witchcraft 101 class I've taught in ten years, and it also marks the last of that series I'll be teaching for a while.  For the last decade, I've dedicated myself to the education of witches in the basics, teaching everything from healing and conjuration to ritual practice and different models of deity work.

I've had a huge love for this work.  It has been the single most rewarding thing about my career- the ability to watch people come to know the wonder inside of them, to help them grow into gifts and strengths they didn't know they had.  It's been a blessing.

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs
What Young Pagans Like

Writing and marketing my new book, Teen Spirit Wicca, has been a very interesting process. Most people know that my prime work in the community is based on advocacy and youth outreach/support. Advocating for young Witches and Pagans means constantly engaging with this demographic and being open to their interests, likes, and dislikes. I learned so much while interviewing teens during the initial writing of TSW, but I continue to learn as I pose new questions to the community that has built up around it. So for the next few months I'm asking the young Pagan community about their thoughts on a number of topics that I'll report on here. Some of them will be deeper and more intellectual, and some will be based on simple feelings. I ask these questions through a number of outlets including Facebook pages, groups, and via email to the youth I know.

Last week I started with a simple question: What in your opinion is the best part of being a young Wiccan, Witch, or Pagan? How is it helpful for you? What are you most proud of?

Here's a recap of a small number of the many responses I received along with some observations on what I noticed about them. I've only shared initials to protect privacy, although I also share age when it was given.

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  • Nova
    Nova says #
    I think most people take younger people for granted sometimes forgetting who they were and how they thought when they were younger
  • Julie Chedzo
    Julie Chedzo says #
    I am new to Paganism. I love Nature and i love the freedom Paganism gives you. I don't like rules and being free is great. I like
  • Julisa
    Julisa says #
    I am also a younger Pagan and I chose this religion (coming from a firm Christian family) because I feel a strong connection to na

Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Perspectives on Deity

 

Perhaps central to Neo Pagan practices is the petition of Deity. The crudest of formulas for Neo Pagan ritual would be: create a sacred space, invoke deity, pay homage and/or petition, and dismiss. Though some petitions might be spontaneous and overlook some elements of space or decorum ( i.e. Penczack’s “instant magic”), the desires and force of will are almost always necessarily in conjunction with some form of request to a higher power. Linguistically, one could simply put it as; “to petition”, a subject must have an object to call upon.  Even in the instance of petitioning the self, drawing forth some sort of believed, hidden energy from the depths of the practitioners psyche, the petitioner is calling upon an “other” to change or work with the “self”.

 

What must be maintained through all of this is the concept of petitioning an “outside” identity, but just who do we call upon when we admit there is something beyond our scope of capability? The primary idea of this outside force is that of Deity or God. Familiar attributes we assign Deity are the three “omni” qualities: Omnipresent, Omniscient, and Omnibenevolent. Abrahamic overtones aside, when one sets out to define Deity, the curious habit of assigning human characteristics also follows suit after our triformula of Deity. However, in our attempt to humanize Deity, what is often overlooked in favor of a more favorable god, is that to include human characteristics to an inherently transcendent idea is anathema to a logical definition of Deity. Put colloquially, you can’t have your cake and eat it too. This problem arises due to the limitations of human qualities; If we maintain Deity is all knowing, why do certain pagan deities have areas of expertise or realms of import? If the God in question is truly a God, would not specific realms of importance be superfluous?

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How I'm working with Bacteria: An example of non-anthropocentric magic

Some of my latest magical work has taken an interesting turn, where I'm exploring my connection to the microbial life in my body. This work is not entirely new, as I've done similar such work with connecting with the neurotransmitters in my body, but how it is different from my earlier work as that I've decided to, as best as possible, approach working with the bacteria from a non-anthropocentric approach. What this means is that instead of trying to apply my human perceptions and the perspectives to the experience, I'm trying to be consciously aware of such perspectives as well as open to engaging the bacteria on their own level of consciousness. Part of my inspiration for this work can be found at this post and the links included in it. But part of my inspiration is simply my desire to experiment with magic, to see what I can do and how I can explore the universe around me.

In choosing to work with the bacteria in my body, I did some research. Usually when you see the word bacteria its associated with disease, but humans actually have  bacteria in our intestines (among other places), which exist in symbiosis with us and help us to process the food we eat. Bacteria also exist on the skin, mouth, and other parts of the body, and play some role in protecting us from harmful bacteria. This symbiosis is one of mutual support, where both the human host and the bacteria benefit. What strikes me the most is how even though human beings consider themselves to just be one identity, one life, in reality we are a universe all our own, full of life that we support, often without recognizing we support it. I suspect most people would be uncomfortable recognizing that they support a wide variety of microbial life. Instead we find it more comforting to just see the body as part of a singular identity we construct in relationship to the world around us.

In my approach to connecting with the bacteria in my body, I have initially focused on connecting with the bacteria in my stomach. There are actually a variety of different types of bacteria, but I haven't focused so much on the types as just connecting with the bacteria in the gut. I could just as easily focus elsewhere, say in the mouth or on the skin (and actually I have just started doing some connection work with the bacteria on my skin), but for this article I'm just going to describe my work with the bacteria in my gut. I want to note that in doing this work, something I've consciously recognized is that to effectively engage bacteria its important that I don't categorize them with human emotions or attributes, or assume that they'll appear in a human shaped form, or even assume they'll communicate with me using language, or visuals. I figure if I make that assumption what I'm really doing is applying an anthropocentric perspective to the magical work and consequently not effectively engaging the bacteria. At the same time I also realize that at a certain point I may need to interpret what I'm experiencing in terms that are more human oriented. The key is to recognize that and be aware of it as I continue to connect with the bacteria.

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  • Travis Crockett
    Travis Crockett says #
    Pardon, *exploring not expelling.
  • Travis Crockett
    Travis Crockett says #
    This is pretty cool. I think its particularly praise worthy that you maintained the non-anthropocentric perspective. That's incred
  • Taylor Ellwood
    Taylor Ellwood says #
    Thanks Travis, It's something I'll be continuing to explore in more depth. I've found that by employing such an approach it real

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