Culture Blogs


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Culture Blogs

Popular subjects in contemporary Pagan culture and practice.

Category contains 2 blog entries contributed to teamblogs
Direct Democracy: A Part of Our Pagan Heritage

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Ahl al-Kitab

I guide without need of scripture,

for my words are written on the hearts of my people.
 

Muhammad was right.

There are the ahl al-kitâb—the People of the Book—and then there are the pagans.

One of the things that impresses me most about the New Paganisms—and this is one of the ways in which we have remained most true to the ways of the ancestors—is that, from our very beginnings, we have been, and remain, non-scriptural religions. Occasional jokes about Edda-thumping aside (“Snorri said it, I believe it, That settles it”), we have, for the most part, managed to dodge the silver bullet of Canon. In a world in which religions are defined by their scriptures, this is an impressive achievement, rendered all the more striking by the apparently unconscious nature of the decision.

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  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis says #
    Yes!

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the Pagan Experience: Voice
Although they are only breath, words which I command are immortal --Sappho

When I was a younger woman, I wanted to be a Writer; I wanted to be an Author, and I wanted to write literary fiction and poetry. In 2002, that changed dramatically, because my Muse sidled up to me and suggested a romance story. I'd never done that sort of thing before, and while I wasn't morally against it, I wasn't sure if I could do a good job of it. And it didn't particularly match my mental map of myself - I dabbled in romance reading, mostly well-written historical romances, but the genre blending of speculative romance was in its infancy then.

But I jumped in and found that I loved writing romance. There are people who think that writing to that genre is easy and formulaic; I think they should try it themselves and see how "easy" it is to write to the guidelines while making the characters and situations fresh, fun, and invigorating. There's also more than a little whiff of sexism about those who are dismissive of romance entirely; romance is a genre that concerns itself with women's desires and inner lives.

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The 5 of Pentacles & Spiritual Lessons Learned from Snow-Shoveling

This post also appears on www.tarotbyhilary.com.

This week may have been the week of the “Snowpocalypse That Never Was” in the media, and people complaining about how the press and the people making the decisions overreacted. Me? I’m firmly in the “better safe than sorry” camp in that regard. Even my card of the day for the start of the storm was the 5 of Pentacles… I was tending to agree with the weathermen that the storm would be as bad as they said it would be.

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  • Janet Boyer
    Janet Boyer says #
    What a great post, Hilary. I'll never look at snow-shoveling. winter volunteering, or the 5 of Pentacles quite the same way again.

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Of Goddesses and Squirrels

Hey, it was the 80s, and we were Gay Urban Pioneers. Of course we over-planted the yard.

If you Google Earth our address (yes, that is a verb: what a language!), you won't see the house at all. The neighbors' houses, yes, but in between them: the magic forest. Think of it as warding: urban invisibility.

Living in a sea of trees as we do, of course we're well populated with squirrels. We've got a whole clan of them living around us; just now in late January, the trees are filled with their drays. (Yes, English actually does have a word referring specifically to a squirrel's nest. When I hear people bemoaning the poverty of our language, I smile and say nothing.)

I call them the White Ears clan. They're standard issue Midwest gray squirrels, Sciurus carolinensis, but unusual in that their outer ears are white, not gray like the rest of their fur. Clearly there's a gene for albinism in this population, and every few years we actually see a white squirrel among them. In fact, there was one just last summer.

White squirrels don't usually last for very long: their hyper-visibility puts them at a disadvantage when it comes to predators. But for me a Year of the White Squirrel is always an opportunity to take a little extra time to appreciate the beauty of squirrels. Living among so many of them as we do, it's easy to forget just what amazing little beings they actually are.

Albinism and melanism are both recessive traits, but they're actually pretty common among the urban squirrel population here; most neighborhoods have at least one black or white squirrel. I'd never given this fact much thought until I heard something that Arvol Looking Horse said in 2009.

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Traveling with the Maid of Orleans


    Sometimes, I wonder if my mother regrets raising me to believe that all things would be possible for me, because when I was a sophomore in college, I bought a plane ticket and went to Paris by myself on my way to a summer study abroad program in Italy.  It was an amazing experience: I spent three days desperately trying to blend in and not appear to be an obnoxious traveler, while at the same time I kept sneaking glances at my guide book as I soaked up the City of Lights. 
    I fell in love with the cathedral of Notre Dame, and I made a point to visit there each day before I began my wanderings. In three full days, I crammed in visits to classical and modern museums, cafes and bookstores, snapping photos and wandering beneath the changing clouds that hang over Paris.  To this day, I have never seen a sky that is quite like the one over this French city.

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    Traveling alone is an interesting experience.  There is no one to cooperate with, no concessions to be made.  Any kind of travel is transformative, but without the voices of others to cloud your mind, I believe that a person will undergo deep psychic and mental changes if she takes the risk to venture out into the world alone. 
    And a risk it is, although at the time I don’t think I was consciously aware of that fact.  I stayed in a hostel, sleeping in a co-ed dormitory with five other travelers.  My first night in the city, I realized that two of my roommates were male, and I felt a bit unsettled.  I slept in my clothes behind a barricade that I constructed using my backpack, waking up at every sound and breath.  It was a miserable night, but thankfully, my fears came to nothing.
    Even so, I haven’t traveled alone since that trip. My husband has as bad a case of wanderlust as I have, and we’ve been lucky enough to travel together, even returning to Paris a few years ago; the city still enamors me, even after all this time.

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  • Sable Aradia
    Sable Aradia says #
    Joan of Arc is a personal heroine of mine too. I can't wait to hear your tale.
  • Jen McConnel
    Jen McConnel says #
    Thank you, Sable! She's such an inspiring heroine!

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From the Ashes

February is probably my favorite month.  It has little to do with the season and a lot to do with it being the month I was born.  For such a short month, I always feel like there is so much going on in it. 

Imbolc, Candlemas, Brigid

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