Culture Blogs


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Culture Blogs

Popular subjects in contemporary Pagan culture and practice.

Category contains 2 blog entries contributed to teamblogs

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Sing Oak and Ash and Thorn

A Victorian nationalist wrote the lyrics. The king of British folksingers wrote the tune. The father of modern witchcraft made it part of the Book of Shadows. And across the English-speaking world, pagans sing and dance to it every Midsummer's Day.

How good is that?

Poet Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) first published the poem A Tree Song in his childrens' novel Puck of Pook's Hill in 1906. Folk-singer Peter Bellamy (1944-1991) wrote a musical setting for the poem (you can hear it here), retitled Oak and Ash and Thorn; it was released on the album of the same name in 1970.

Meanwhile, some time in the 1950s, Gerald Gardner (1886-1964) had written the last verse of the song into the liturgy for Beltane. How did a Midsummer's song (“Sing Oak and Ash and Thorn, me love/all of a Midsummer's morn”) end up at Beltane? Well, the cross-quarters were the original sabbats of Gardner's revived “witch-cult,” as in Murray, and the quarter-days (solstices and equinoxes) didn't come in until later. That explains the truncation of the lyrics in the BoS version as well.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The World's Oldest Solstice Ritual

Remember when New Age discovered the Winter Solstice? Christmas Lite, without the baggage.

As a pagan, I grew to resent this. Not that the sunsteads—solstices—belong to us; they're a common inheritance. But don't be telling me about solstices, now. Some of us have been keeping them since, oh, the end of the last Ice Age or so, thank you very much. If not longer.

Somewhere around the third self-satisfied little sermon, I'd had enough, and started turning people into toads.

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GROWTH INTERFERENCE CRYSTALS - A Lesson in Adaptation

Today we're going to talk about Growth Interference which is a condition in which a crystal changes shapes as it grows due to the presence of another mineral which acts as an obstruction. These shapes might be squares and triangles, and more often than not, it looks like a buzz saw was taken to the crystal. Sometimes there is a little bit of mineral left in part of the crevasses.

Here are some crystals with the buzz-saw type of Growth Interference:

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Primal Fire

There's no true religion without fire.”

Robert Cochrane

 

A horn calls: the Voice of Thunder, speaking the Primal Word.

 

A young man runs in, bare-chested. He's carrying a torch. The flame streams behind him as he runs, like the tail of a comet.

He rings the clearing once, then darts to the center and lights the laid and willing wood.

And so we begin.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Watchtowers

Q: What's the difference between a Jehovah's Witness and a Wiccan?

A: Three Watchtowers.

These days witches' circles are often cast complete with invocations to the guardians of the Watchtowers, one in each cardinal direction.

According to researcher John Michael Greer, the Watchtowers most likely entered the Craft from the Golden Dawn, which in turn derived them from John Dee's Enochian magic. During the original Enochian workings, during the 1580s, scryer Edward Kelly had a vision of four great towers at the quarters of the earth, the seats of guardian archangels (Greer 581).

Down the years, the Watchtowers and their guardians have acquired a deal of lore, little of which has anything to do with the original metaphor. But rising above the amassed archangels, elements, and Enochian tablets stands a simple, clear image: an image with implications.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Piper
    Piper says #
    Well, maybe the bible, but I share 2 lodges (Blue and SRICF or SRIA)with these three guys: Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers Willia
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I thought the watchtowers thing was taken from the freemasons, and that the masons in turn got it from the Bible. I can never rem
Facilitating an Effective Feedback Session: Part 2

 

This is part of a longer series on feedback. The links to the previous posts are at the bottom.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Rick
    Rick says #
    This is great stuff - almost straight out of management textbooks. However many times we have a different issue - that being if y
  • Shauna Aura Knight
    Shauna Aura Knight says #
    Indeed; I have a background doing graphic design and user experience design as a consultant, and this particular feedback method i
  • Rick
    Rick says #
    True many won't bother, particularly if they didn't enjoy the experience, but the ritualists are there to serve the participants,
Facilitating an Effective Feedback Session: Part 3

 

This is part of a longer series on feedback. The links to the previous posts are at the bottom.

Hearing Feedback

There can sometimes be an emotional difference between getting feedback from an event participant directly, or via email, and getting feedback sitting in a group of your peers and mentors. Whether you're getting feedback on an event, on ritual facilitation, on your volunteering work or on teaching a class, hearing feedback can sometimes be difficult. I try to be very sensitive when offering feedback, particularly to new volunteers and ritualists. By far, the most common feedback I offer to facilitators is, "I had a hard time hearing you." That's a good, concrete feedback that they can work with, and I can help them to learn to project.

I'm not going to give a new facilitator deeply nuanced or nitpicky feedback about their engagement of the group, their body language, or their word choices in facilitating a trance journey. Of course a new facilitator will have nervous body language, of course they will stumble over some words, of course they'll have a harder time making eye contact, and a dozen other rookie mistakes. I'm going to bring those up slowly over time as the facilitator gains the confidence to know that they can do this. Some of those mistakes will shake out naturally as the facilitator learns and gains confidence.

There are times when I may have to offer specific feedback on something like chanting, drumming, or trancing. Sometimes someone will be so eager to step in as a ritual drummer, and then it becomes clear during the ritual that they have no sense of pacing their drumming to the energy of the group--they are used to setting the pace. Some people want to lead the chant, and they have difficulty keeping the chant's rhythm, or they forget the words, or they are singing off key. Or someone steps into leading trancework and they are so quiet, so tentative, that they aren't audible at all. Or they're talking too fast, or their voice isn't pitched low and rhythmic for trancework, which makes it hard for the group to get into a trance state.

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