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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Revising My Successful Book

I'm nervous about messing with success. Nonetheless, it's time for a new edition of Asatru For Beginners. Modernism has arisen in Asatru since I wrote my book, and a beginner's book needs to describe that. Also, on some topics in heathenry, we know more than we did around the turn of the millenium. I'm tempted to subtitle the new edition, "New and improved! Now with more gods!" 

One thing that won't be changing in my book: in my intro, I mention that my father was Native American. That information is right up front for three reasons. 1. to tell racists that my book isn't for them, unless they stop being racists. 2. To tell other mixed-race people like me that if they are called to this path, that is OK. There are a lot of mixed-race people in American Asatru, reflecting the wider American society of which we are a part. 3. Because my father's advice, "listen to the wind, listen to the corn, listen to your heart" was one of the major spiritual influences on my life which started me down the path that led to Asatru. 

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  • Thesseli
    Thesseli says #
    Awesome!

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Sun Worship

On Equinox morning, the light of the rising Sun streams in a golden torrent down the hall.

I stand in worship, bathed in light.

Before such savage beauty, I bow and kiss the ground.

I rise and kiss my hand, adoring.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Review: Pop Culture Systems

Over the last few years the use of pop culture in magickal practices has grown by leaps and bounds.  As pop culture magick practices grow, becoming more widely accepted and practiced, so does the the need for more cohesive systems for sharing and deepening those practices.  In Pop Culture Systems: How to Create Your Own Pop Culture Magic System, Taylor Ellwood outlines some of the many ways that a practitioner can draw upon pop culture to create a coherent and powerful magickal system. 

Pop Culture Systems aims to help the experienced practitioner take disparate one-off pop culture practices in a particular pop culture universe and combine them to create a fully developed system of magick.  Ellwood defines a system of magic as: “a series of processes and techniques developed by a magician for the purposes of connecting with the divine (in whatever form the divine shows up) and for turning possibilities into reality.  The system is used to organize these processes and techniques so that they can be shared with other people, either through books (such as this one) or through classes or in-person transmission.” (p. 19)  The beginning of the book covers how to choose the pop culture universe you want to work with and the various elements within that universe that would be specifically incorporated into magick.  For example, if a practitioner felt pulled to work with the Firefly universe they would need to examine what resonated with them and why, and how that might harmonize with magickal practices, as well as ways canon behaviors and ideologies might clash with magickal goals. 

The middle of the book goes into the details of creating your own system.  This is done largely by mapping characters, tools, symbols, locations, and other elements of the chosen pop culture, to magickal correspondences or mechanisms in existing magickal systems.  For example a practitioner wanting to work with the Harry Potter universe might map the four Hogwarts houses to the four elements, or someone wanting to work with the Dresden Files universe might map the main characters onto the traditional eight sabbats.  This part of the book also touches on ways to create a system based on systems of magic in fiction and gaming mechanics.  Ellwood emphasizes that once correspondences have been mapped the practitioner must do meditations, pathworkings, and small magickal tests to make sure the correspondences hold true in practice. 

The end of the book examines some of the reasons and ways a practitioner might choose to share their system.  Some of the reasons cited include being able to solicit outside feedback, deepening practices collaboratively, and having a way for your system to live on beyond the practitioner’s own personal practice.  Ellwood suggests reaching out to mundane fandoms, beyond known magickal practitioners, as a way of sharing a system.  The book concludes with a few essays from other pop culture practitioners giving their take on pop culture systems.

Pop Culture Systems gives the reader a quick and easily understandable overview of how to create a system of magick based on a pop culture universe.  One of the book’s strengths is its use of a wide variety of fandoms in concrete examples to illustrate the core concepts.  With example taken from everything from Lord of the Rings to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, there is something to resonate with almost everyone.  Further, while most of the methods discussed seem fairly common sense once read, they’re not necessarily things that would occur to the average practitioner on their own.  Ellwood effectively addresses a lot of the complications and stumbling blocks a practitioner can face developing their own magickal system, saving the reader a lot of unnecessary trial and error.  While solidly aimed at the experienced practitioner, this book can be enjoyed by newer folks with an eye to prioritizing what they learn and how to begin putting together some of the foundational pieces of a pop culture practice. 

For me, there were two main drawbacks to this work.  First, the writing style is somewhat repetitive.  Ellwood goes over the main concepts many times, and while some repetition is helpful for memory retention it does grow stale.  Second, Pop Culture Systems focuses exclusively on systems based on a single pop culture universe.  Most of the pop culture practitioners I know work across multiple fandoms, and while the core concepts of the book can be applied to a multi-fandom practice with a little tweaking it’s never addressed.  These drawbacks are fairly minor and don’t take away from the validity of the core content.

Overall I would recommend Pop Culture Systems for experienced pop culture practitioners looking to deepen their practices within a specific fandom/universe or those wishing to include others in their practice.  The book is a quick and easy read that gets the reader thinking and asking the questions they’ll need to answer to create their own magickal system.  If you’re looking to create a system of magick that is all your own and includes the pop culture you love, this is a great place to start.

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Sexual Initiation, Discrimination, Consent, and Rape

 

I have heard from many people who felt pressured to undergo a sexual initiation with a teacher, coven leader, or other person in a leadership position. If someone's been pressured into sex, that's manipulation and abuse. And in circumstances where there wasn’t actually consent, by definition, it’s rape.

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  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis says #
    Shauna, thank you for writing an important, detailed article with ideas that are carefully thought out. I saved the link so I can
  • Thesseli
    Thesseli says #
    This is an excellent article.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Spring Dreams

All summer long the little clay goddess has stood in the good, brown earth of the garden.

All summer long she has watched over the waxing of the crops.

Now, standing in a bowl of seed wheat, she presides over the Harvest Supper.

(On Midwinter's Eve we will eat this self-same wheat, made sweet with honey, rich with almonds and poppy seed, perfumed with rose water, from this very bowl.)

And when the last bite has been taken, the last toast poured, she will go to her bed in the storage cupboards, with the fruits of summer all around her.

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Art Shows and Goddesses for Our Times

It is a great pleasure in the life of an artist to be able to share one's vision with the world. The internet and online libraries are a lot of fun, but being able to showcase one's work in a place where people can come and view it in person is so much better. This September has kept me super busy as I have had three shows, all opening in the same week. 

The image that heads this blog is my "wall" of art from Cheyney University's faculty art exhibition. I had created a number of canvases this summer for a solo exhibition, ranging in size from 11" x 14" to 30" x 40," and all of those were headed to a show in Wilmington, Delaware (more on these shortly). one of my colleagues was dumbfounded when I told her I wasn't sure I'd have work for the faculty show. "What about those hundreds of Goddess drawings you've been doing," she asked. I was a little stuck. I did indeed have hundreds of drawings as part of my "Goddess a Day" project, however, they were small, on paper, and would have to be framed.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Equinox to Equinox

It's the morning of the Autumn Equinox.

The kitty is playing with something, up and down the hall.

Clacketta clacketta clacketta.

What is that damn cat playing with now? I wonder.

Turns out, it's a jelly bean.

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