49 Degrees: Canadian Pagan Perspectives

Canadian Paganism has a style all its own. Have a look at events, issues, celebrations, people, trends and events north of the border from the eyes of a Canadian Wiccan and Witch.

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Sable Aradia

Sable Aradia

Sable Aradia (Diane Morrison) has been a traditional witch most of her life, and she is a licensed Wiccan minister and a Third Degree initiate in the Star Sapphire and Pagans for Peace traditions. Author of "The Witch's Eight Paths of Power" (Red Wheel/Weiser 2014) and contributor to "Pagan Consent Culture" and "The Pagan Leadership Anthology," she also writes "Between the Shadows" at Patheos' Pagan channel and contributes to Gods & Radicals. Sable is just breaking out as a speculative fiction writer under her legal name, and a new serial, the Wyrd West Chronicles, will be released on the Spring Equinox this year. Like most writers, she does a lot of other things to help pay the bills, including music, Etsy crafts, and working part time at a bookstore. She lives in Vernon, BC, Canada with her two life partners and her furbabies in a cabin on the edge of the woods.

ProstitutionI read a blog called "The Honest Courtesan" written by a retired call girl named Maggie McNeil, that discusses sex, sex workers and our attitudes about it.  I don't always agree with everything she says, but she wrote an article recently that I've been ruminating on.  The long and the short of it is this:

For many years, prostitution has been decriminalized in Canada; but everything around it has been illegal, from the keeping of a place of business to "living off the avails" of prostitution (so if, for example, a hooker hired a driver/bodyguard to protect her, he could go to jail.)  On September 28, 2013, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that, at least in the province of Ontario, these laws were against our Charter of Rights and Freedoms (our equivalent of the Constitution) and the government was given a few months in which to try to appeal or to draft a new law.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

CyberwitchI recently wrote a couple of articles for my column at Patheos’ Pagan channel about cyberspace and witchcraft.  This sparked a very interesting discussion among my clan about the nature of cyberspace in general.  I don’t know if any of you are science fiction fans, but a theme in the genre that you often see or read about involves someone projecting their consciousness into a computer system and navigating it as though it were its own internal reality.

Did you ever try to have a conversation with someone while he or she is on Facebook or Twitter?  Kind of like talking to a wall, isn’t it?  As my life partner pointed out, “when you’re surfing the net, you’re not really here.”

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  • Dan Talis
    Dan Talis says #
    Glad to find someone who thinks similarly.. Yes and if Cyberspace is an aspect of the Astral then it would be valid to do all ritu
  • Laine
    Laine says #
    That was a marvelous article, and as someone who has often had trouble keeping herself safe emotionally while scanning the Interne
  • Alay'nya
    Alay'nya says #
    Dear Sable - What an interesting and thought-provoking blog! I like the detail with which you've developed your thoughts. Your
  • Sable Aradia
    Sable Aradia says #
    I am an admirer of Sun Tzu, and I like your analogy as well; thoughts as armies, directed thoughts as troop deployment. I think I

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Importance of Remembrance

In Canada we call November 11th “Remembrance Day” and it’s a pretty big deal for us culturally.  It’s not just a bank holiday, like Veteran’s Day in the US.  Though it is that, we also take time as a culture, in our schools prior to it and at our daily grind otherwise, to observe a moment of silence for the dead of our many World Wars, to which we now must add the Gulf War and the War in Afghanistan.  As children in school, we make construction paper poppies and listen to the stories of soldiers.  As adults, often we stand in the rain as our veterans stand solemnly in their uniforms and their medals, and we try to give their experience meaning and find hope in a time of darkness.

I think as Pagans, it is especially important that we engage in this practice of remembrance.  Whatever your view on war (some traditions strongly respecting the warrior path, such as the Asatru; some being adamantly opposed to war, such as Reclaiming Witches,) our empathy for the experience of it is a valuable service we can contribute to our culture and the world.  The many reasons connect to the uniquely Pagan experience of our spirituality.  Now granted, these are all generalizations; and as such, not everyone will fit these moulds.  But we seem to have these commonalities that make remembrance, especially of powerful and terrible events such as war, much more immediate and intense.

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  • Carlee Barnes
    Carlee Barnes says #
    As a retired US military member, I take offense at the first paragraph. We have more than a bank holiday. There are parades, fla

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Building BridgesTwenty years ago, there was no Pagan community to speak of in the Okanagan Valley.  My sister in spirit Rowean met a girl named Unruhe, and they started talking about forming a Yahoogroup for Pagans in the Okanagan.  Rowean had come from Prince George, where a couple who had been trained by the Wiccan Church of Canada in Ontario had opened a shop and formed a community years ago; and Unruhe had moved up from the Coast, where there was a very large and established Pagan community; and they missed it.  I was a solitary from the time I was 14 years old and the idea of connecting with other Pagans appealed to me.  I knew a few others from the Society for Creative Anachronism and so I encouraged Rowean to call Unruhe up.  We met in a coffee shop - I think a Tim Horton's, but don't quote me on that - and discussed the idea.  Unruhe and her friend Perchta formed the Yahoogroup, I was the third person on it and Rowean was the fourth.  We decided to meet for Sabbats and the first ritual was at my place, led by a Celtic Witch named Havoc.

Over time, the group split over the typical ideological differences that split Pagan communities, compounded by the fact that most of us went through the stuff that I would now, as a Witch, refer to as "Second Degree ego issues," all at the same time.  There were hard feelings and bad blood.  Some people bowed out of the community for a long time.  Some spread rumours about other groups.  Some bowed out entirely and disappeared.

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  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Sable Aradia, Thanks for sharing! Praise the Goddesses and Gods, that your community came together in such an awesome way.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

In 2011, I launched the Pagan Pathfinders' Podcast, which got some attention at places like the Wild Hunt Blog and the Canadian National Pagan Conference.  My vision was one of a panel of knowledgeable Pagans of various traditions and locations, discussing a topic online as panelists do at conferences.  As I say in the preview video, people were really quite accommodating and friendly and open to the possibilities.

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  • Taylor Ellwood
    Taylor Ellwood says #
    I'd be interested in participating. I'm the managing non fiction editor for Immanion press and author as well.
  • David Dashifen Kees
    David Dashifen Kees says #
    If the live stream causes any problems, Google Hangouts can be done and then uploaded seamlessly to YouTube to create a show-like
  • Sable Aradia
    Sable Aradia says #
    Thank you very much for the offer! Expect that I will take you up on it. Certainly the Google Hangouts thing would also be excel
All Acts of Love & Pleasure Are Her Rituals: In Defense of Polyamory

A couple of weeks ago, I posted an article from the BBC to my Facebook page about polyamory, which I thought was a very intelligent and sensitive article that portrayed how it works with honesty and authenticity.  A few of my more supportive friends re-posted it, which I appreciate, either because they are poly or poly-friendly.  One friend of mine made a reference to it and promptly took it to task on her page.  I stumbled across it and was a little hurt.  So this was my reply . . .

Hi, I'll take up your challenge! I am the original source of this article in the current community. I posted it because I am polyamorous and happy in this choice, and at a place in my life where I feel, to be authentic and genuinely loving and respectful of my partners, I need to be "out" about it. I think I'm going to take the points on individually here, and I'm going to take the time to challenge them because you can't just say, "Oh, I think that anyone who is not monogamous is cheating, lying, jealous, irresponsible, incapable of intimacy and unfulfilled in their relationships . . . but that's just my view on it" like it makes these statements anything less than they are, which are judgmental character slurs. Granted, I recognize that this appears to be what the rest of the world thinks (and notice the contradictory nature of a couple of those statements when phrased as bluntly as that, which of course means that both simply cannot be true,) so I relish this opportunity to help the enlightened people who are our mutual friends and associates understand something that may otherwise confuse them. And I hope to build understanding with you as well, since you are a loving and giving person and I am sure that this view of condemnation stems from either misconception (which is only to be expected in our compulsorily monogamous, heterosexist culture, because how would anyone have ever been shown another example other than what they've been taught?) or a bad experience (which, again, is fair, but just as one should not assume that all people of a particular group are jerks because one beat you up in high school, one should not assume that all polyamorous relationships are bad ones - though of course, some are, just like in any other relationship.) Please understand that I do not mean to say that you, or anyone else here is a judgmental person; indeed, metaphysical people tend to be refreshingly open-minded. I phrased things the way I did to point out how you may feel you have been coming from a place of love and acceptance in this, but these are not really loving and accepting statements you are making.

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  • Sarah Eccles
    Sarah Eccles says #
    Hi, I'm the Sarah mentioned in the BBC article you linked and I'm glad you liked it. One of the big things I didn't mention in the
  • Sable Aradia
    Sable Aradia says #
    Sarah, I am delighted to see you here! Thanks for telling your story to BBC so that we can all be more out, and thanks also for y
  • Sarah Eccles
    Sarah Eccles says #
    Just added you on Twitter. I'm Limnaia.
  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Ms. Aradia, Thank you for sharing your story with us. I've read several polemics on the internet, by Pagans, against polyamory. I

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Sacred Ink

On the weekend of Vancouver Pagan Pride, one of my tradition sisters offered to touch up my new sacred tattoo that I had received about six weeks prior.  "It's really great for someone who was new, and her lines are excellent," she said, "but it's fading a little already and I want to dress it up a little, if that's okay with you."

My spirit-sister Jennica had done the tattoo - a triple moon with a blue pentagram in the center of the full one - in a cast circle as part of sacred ceremony.  It was my first tattoo ever and that meant a lot to me.  I had insisted upon this because I had been told the story of how my initiator Lord Redleaf had received the Green Man tattoo on his chest as part of ritual in a cast circle and it moved me.  I told my trad sister Amity Loyce this and let her know that it was very important to me that it remain sacred, and still done in a cast circle and empowered.  "Sure, that's fine," she said with a nod.  "I don't have any problems doing that!  I always wanted to tattoo in a cast circle . . ."

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  • Gwion Raven
    Gwion Raven says #
    Hello Sable, A lovely piece on sacred tattooing. As you've mentioned, you and I have a lot of similarities. I'm looking forward t
  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    They're very nicely done! Thanks for sharing.
  • Rebecca Buchanan
    Rebecca Buchanan says #
    *This* is awesome. Sacred tattoos done during ritual are a wonderful idea. I'll have to keep this in mind for my next tattoo in h

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