Culture Blogs


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Culture Blogs

Popular subjects in contemporary Pagan culture and practice.

Category contains 2 blog entries contributed to teamblogs

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Millennials leaving the Right

Since I founded the Pagan Educational Network in 1993, I have kept a close eye on the religious right (or “evangelicals”). I thought it was pointless to reach out to them since they had such strong prejudices and felt we’d have much better luck with moderates (which was true). But the religious right is dangerous to Pagans, from efforts by Senator Jesse Helms and Representative Bob Barr to strip us of constitutional protections to church-motivated violence against Pagans and damage to Pagan businesses.

 

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A War on Women: An Open Letter to the Legislators of 'Heartbeat Bill' States

Dear State Legislators of Ohio, Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi, and Alabama:

You've made your position clear. Your anti-choice legislation constitutes nothing less than a War on Freedom, and a War on Women.

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What I Saw in the Woods, or: Stepping Into the Firelight

I was 17. I didn't know much, or anyone else, at the time, but it was Midsummer's Eve and, dammit, I was going to do something. So at sunset I went down to the woods that lined the cliffs above Lake Erie.

I knew these woods well; they were my refuge. At night, when life was too much to bear, I would stash my shoes under a log and walk the deer-paths for hours. (Bare feet will always find you a path in the dark.) Those woods saved my life.

I had no ritual, no plan, that Midsummer's Eve. As darkness grew, I followed the deer-paths farther and deeper into the forest than I'd ever gone before.

Then suddenly, through the trees: firelight. Drawing nearer, I saw that it was a large fire, very large.

I heard the violin, and the voices of people, many people. Cautiously, through the underbrush, I approached. Some were standing, talking. Some were dancing, a ring-dance around the fire. Old people, young people.

I'd gone out to find Midsummer's Eve, and I'd found it. I was fascinated. I was terrified.

I don't know how long I watched. It felt entirely natural that this should be happening: all very Old Country, somehow. Finally, moving quietly as well I knew how, I turned and made my way back through the woods.

Midsummer's Eve of the next year I went back, hoping to find them again, hoping for the courage to step out of the woods and into the firelight.

Who are you? I wanted to ask.

But that year they weren't there. I never saw them again. Who they were, or why they were there, I don't, and never will, know.

Years went by. Now I'm one of those ring-dancing around the fire, knowing full well as I do so that there are new young eyes out there among the trees, watching and waiting.

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Interview of Genn John by Sheryl Sitts of Exploring Possibilities

Would you like to hear a little bit about my crystal journey in my own words? Are you curious about crystals and how best to work with them? Do you wonder about programming crystals or want to know details about the process of an Ask Genn Crystal Reading?

Recently I had the honor of being interviewed by my new friend, the lovely and gracious Sheryl Sitts of Exploring Possibilities. This is a fun and informational podcast recording that lasts about 43 minutes.  Take a listen to this interview!

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
A Journey with Hermes, Part 2

How can a journey up a stream turn into a mystical experience? My visit to the Aegean island of Samos showed me how I could connect with archetypal figures from Greek mythology through the beauty of nature.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The First Walpurgisnacht

Folks, we have a problem.

It's the Eve of Beltane. The time has come to go up to the top of the Holy Mountain and enact the ancestral rites that bring Winter to an end and assure a fruitful Summer to come.

Well, but: the king has turned to the new god, and forbidden—on pain of death—the Old Gods and the Old Worship. He has sent soldiers to ring the Brocken, our Holy Mountain, and ordered them to kill anyone who attempts to ascend.

But the ancient rites must be enacted, lest the Wheel should cease to turn.

So what do we do?

 

This is the story that the poet laureate of German Romanticism, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832), tells in his poem Die Erste Walpurgisnacht, “the First Walpurgisnacht.” Goethe's poem was later set to music by composer Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847) in a pagan cantata of the same name (Op. 60), which premiered in 1843.

In Germany, Walpurgisnacht looks a lot like Halloween does here in the States: it's a haunted time, a night when the ghosts and monsters come out. How did it change from Holy to Haunted? That's the tale that Goethe and Mendelssohn tell in Die Erste Walpurgisnacht.

 

OK, so here's what we're going to do.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Fain

 “...ye who are fain to sorcery...”

 

There shall ye assemble, ye who are fain to sorcery, yet have not won its deepest secrets: to these shall I teach such things as are yet unknown.

So speaks the Goddess of Witches to her people in Doreen Valiente's foundational masterpiece, The Charge of the Great Mother.

Valiente's evocative phrase is based, nearly word-for-word, on Charles Leland's English rendering of “Madalena”'s Tuscan text: She who fain would learn all sorcery yet has not won its deepest secrets, them [ i.e. the deepest secrets] my mother [i.e. the Goddess of Witches] will teach her, in truth all things as yet unknown.

Fain. Already in 1899, when Leland published his Aradia: the Gospel of the Witches, fain read archaically, mysteriously.

Don't confuse it with fane: that means “temple,” from the Latin fanum. Nor (speaking of homonyms) is it the same as feign, “pretend, fabricate” (< French feindre). (Which is not to say [snarkiness alert] that we all haven't met some who are feign to sorcery.)

No, fain is a good Old English word. In the dialect of the Hwicce, the original Anglo-Saxon Tribe of Witches, faegen (pronounced, more or less, fain) meant “glad, joyful, rejoicing.” (The Old Norse cognate, feginn, means “joy” tout court.)

As a verb, fain means “to rejoice in, enjoy; to take to gladly.” As an adjective, fain is “disposed, inclined or eager toward, willing.”

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