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
Fairy Folks Are in Old Oaks

It's well-known in Iceland that elves make their homes in certain boulders.

Some years ago, a certain farmer near Reykjavik resolved to blow up a particular boulder in order to make room for a new henhouse. With this in mind, he went out and bought some dynamite.

From that day, his hens began to lay fewer and fewer eggs.

Every day there were fewer eggs, until finally there were none.

The farmer called in the vet. The vet examined the chickens. The chickens were in fine health; nothing was wrong with their feed. There was no organic reason why the hens should not be laying.

The farmer decided not to blow up the boulder after all. He gave the dynamite away.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Northern Mandate

Call it the Northern Mandate.

For some, Spring Cleaning is an annual rite.

But here in the Uttermost North, we have Fall Cleaning too.

During Summer, our attentions and efforts are outward-directed. We're out doing things. (Quickly, there's not much time.) Doors and windows are open. In-house work gets neglected.

But now it's Winter. Our attentions and efforts turn inward. Windows and doors are closed, and we're facing the prospect of being shut in with all this for the next six months.

It's only natural to do what you can to undo Summer's lapses: to make where you are as bearable as you possibly can.

Well, the White Ravens have flown. Yet again we give in to the age-old urge.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Gods speed the work.
  • Kile Martz
    Kile Martz says #
    Just such has gripped me. Moving furniture, dispatching dust bunnies, and moving broken things on to their next lives.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Foundation Offerings

The offering bears the prayer.

The ancestors thought long and hard about their foundation offerings.

In their choices, we see their intent, their wit and (like enough) their humor.

When the New Stone and Copper Age ancestors of Old Europe built a new house, they buried beneath its floor a little model of a house, lovingly rendered in ceramic detail.

No one needs to tell you what that means.

To the ancestors, it was obvious that when you built something important like a house or a temple, you first laid an offering in the ground to bear the embodied prayers of the builders.

We too have thought long and hard about what offerings to lay beneath the Bull Stone, when we raise it to mark the Marriage Point of Earth with Sky, of Land with People.

There will be three.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
So, a Druid Walks into a Bar...

In the days of Queen Boudicca, there was a young woman who aspired to become a Druid.

“For the first three years of your training, you will keep the Great Silence,” the Chief Druidess tells her. “From one Samhain to the next, you will speak not so much as a single word. Then at Samhain you and I will meet to review your progress, at which time you may speak as many as two words, if you wish.”

The first year of the woman's training goes by. At Samhain she is summoned to the Chief Druidess.

“Well,” says the Druidess, “You have completed your first year of the Great Silence. You may now say as many as two words, if you wish. What would you like to say?”

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Joanna van der Hoeven
    Joanna van der Hoeven says #
    Love it!
  • Tasha Halpert
    Tasha Halpert says #
    Good one! Thanks for the giggles, and a belated Blessed All Hallows. Tasha

So last year I got to play the 14 foot “Das Madchen”–the harbinger of doom who appears in the darkest days of the year--at Parade of Spirits, Liberty Lands in Philadelphia. Formerly known as Krampuslauf, the parade has taken place every December since 2011. A teeny bit about Krampus: This furry, red-tongued, chain and/or switch-wielding character has been St. Nicholas’ companion in Alpine regions for millennia, and may even pre-date the jolly old elf. On December 5–Krampusnacht–Krampus brought Karma to the naughty before St. Nick made his appearance on his own day, the 6th.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Krampus-Postcard-1.jpg 

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I had other plans... meaning, that I had other plans for the start of this blog, or should I say, the re-start of this blog. As I'm sliding into the end of Saturn in my sun sign (gather round, fellow Sagittarians!), I've been obsessed with streamlining, simplifying, being more efficient, not wasting time (hahaha), but, here I am. In short: Broomstix is still available as an archive on Blogger.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Broomstix-blog-header-032113a.jpg

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Samhain 2017

Whatever Samhain’s personal impact has been on our lives this year, rarely has its power and symbolism been greater for us as a people. Samhain honors the power and meaning of death, and death comes as inevitably to political orders and societies as it does to people and to the rest of life. As our Wheel of the Year reminds us, death is followed by a new beginning.  However, today new beginnings are but faint hints extending in different directions, some better than others. What seems clear to me is that the political and cultural order long taken for granted by Americans, is passing.

At the most visible level, we see cultural divisions and political conflicts destroying our constitutional order.  While there are many causes, one central one is the Republican Party. The Trump presidency is ‘simply’ another step along a path it has followed for decades.

Regardless of who wins in 2018, the Republican Party’s slide into right wing authoritarianism with a Mussolini wannabe at its head marks the end of our traditional constitutional order. Its survival depended on enough shared agreement among the major players for compromises to serve the general well-being. There is no compromise possible when some people seek to destroy what they cannot rule.

There are many possible outcomes to this destruction. Trump and his strongest supporters would like a dictatorship. However, in his effort to subvert the constitutional and legal order, he has broken laws and violated traditions necessary for its survival, but still having legal weight. Two days before Samhain the first charges and confessions of guilt by his apparatchiks have been made. The struggle between an American fascism and a freer society has crossed a crucial line. I am heartened by the symbolism.

If dictatorship is avoided, the old order will not re-emerge. It is dead.  We might see emergence of a multi-party system if electoral rules are changed to allow ranked choice voting. This would end a two-party monopoly controlled by corporations and vulnerable to capture by authoritarian movements.  This relatively gentle change might make a huge difference.

We might see the weakening of national power if states as different as California and Alabama increasingly go their own way.  We might end up governed more like the Articles of Confederation  than our more centralized constitutional system.  This decoupling might lead to what I call “divorce over irreconcilable differences.”

Or the worst possibility of civil conflict might take place, as the ‘altright’ obviously wishes to happen. Whatever emerges from this conflict, it will not be a return to the old order. Its days are done.

Unless…

Unless the even more deeply rooted culture of patriarchy, social and corporate domination, and ‘Biblical’ religion comes to a well-deserved end. And it might. These people now control all branches of government.  Try as they will, they cannot blame their failures on anyone else but themselves.  And, so far, we have seen little but failures, as we might expect from a group that rejects science, rejects any regard for truth, rejects collaboration with opponents, cannot look ahead, and seeks only power and domination over all unlike themselves.  They represent a culture long past its time to die, a gangrenous culture poisoning healthy societies all around them. Perhaps their obvious failure will trigger a deep rejection, to be replaced by something better.

But there is still more bringing the old order to an end.

Most obviously, the old order will pass because its impact on our planet has become destructive. What emerges might be far worse, if the direst predictions of scientists studying global warming, (excuse me, ‘climate change,’) come to pass. On the other hand, to prevent that outcome, new technologies and attitudes will have to arise, and today we see them arising all around us, as with the amazing decline in the cost of solar energy. The alternative to global environmental catastrophe is a civilization relying on sustainable energy, and a changed cultural attitude that accepts this as obviously true and good. The seeds for this change are very much with us, but either way, the old order is finished.

The other challenge is the breakdown of capitalism as we know it. Inequality is rapidly growing, wages are sluggish for most, and social mobility is slowing. In the near future, we will see even more mainline jobs taken over by AI and robots   Yet capitalism depends on consumer spending.  When most have little, they cannot spend.

Equally significantly, unlike the captains of industry of the past, most of today’s ultra-rich have contributed nothing to society to remotely justify their wealth. For every Bill Gates or Elon Musk, there are innumerable bankers, hedge fund managers, and those who gain wealth from political deals. Had these latter individuals never existed little would be different. We would arguably be better off. We are witnessing the rise of a dominant parasite class that feeds off a culture it cannot sustain because, in their lust for wealth, they are undermining what supports them.

As with the ecological challenge, these economic challenges have attractive alternatives. One is the possibility of the nation emulating Alaska’s “Permanent Fund”  and requiring all who use our natural resources to bid for their use, with the proceeds returned to every person equally. Income from capital increasingly would go to all citizens rather than a few parasites.  Alaska’s many decades long successful experience proves this works.

There is no reason to despair. The old order generated changes it cannot handle, and it will die.  The jury is very much out as to how much damage it will do in its death throws. But in any Winter, however harsh, there are seeds that will come forth in the Spring. We can help that Spring to be a beautiful one if we not despair into a passivity that guarantees the worst will prevail.

There are signs of hope that this might happen. I think women and the feminine are at the heart of the most important. I am impressed how rapidly once inconceivable changes transformed marriage. Today the political and business world is in the midst of endless reports of sexual abuse by powerful men. This issue is now spreading to other countries as developed and free as the U.S. Some of the worst are paying a high price for their behavior. These events are part of a bigger picture. Women, women’s issues, and feminine values have dominated the opposition to Republican tyranny, from marches by millions when Trump took office, to ongoing struggles over abortion, birth control, and Planned Parenthood to radically different approaches to health. They are largely in harmony with ecological issues, which along with women, constitute the main domestic target of the Republican right and strongest reservoir of committed resistance to them.

We NeoPagans, most of us, represent these values perhaps better than any other spiritual force today. We and those who share these feminine and ecological values represent the growing tip of a culture that, if it establishes itself, can create a future we will be happy to leave to our descendants.

We are in a position to nourish the best seeds of the future during this dark time, and perhaps help keep the darkness to a minimum.

A blessed Samhain to you all.

 


 

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