Pagan Studies


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Studies Blogs

Advanced and/or academic Pagan subjects such as history, ethics, sociology, etc.

Posted by on in Studies Blogs

Question: why are we as Pagans still worshipping fertility at a time of overpopulation and global warming? 

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  • Erin Lale
    Erin Lale says #
    It is my understanding that the type of fertility we celebrate when we honor fertility gods like Freyr basically means "nature sta
  • Diotima
    Diotima says #
    I honor fertility because the fertility of animals gives us food, as does the fertility of plants -- in fact, the vast majority of

At one time you may have considered yourself a Christian - because you loved the persona of Jesus, and felt a deep intuitive understanding of his attitude and teachings, as though he was an exemplar of kindred mind, the like of which you might grow to become yourself in time. You may have heard him communicate with you in your prayers and meditations. But the churches in your part of the country insisted that to be a Christian, you had to accept him as your personal savior, whose status you could never hope to attain - and moreover, you had to be evangelical about it. You saw no need for either of these things. You felt that each initiate must make his own sacrifices and his own choices, and that Jesus would prefer that you learned how to stand up for yourself! But because you had such a stiff-necked, self-willed attitude about it, no minister bound by a literal commitment to the Nicene or Apostles Creed could admit you into church membership. 

You might have also considered yourself a Hindu - because you meditated and chanted the Gayatri Mantra, and you received loving messages and assistance from Mother Lakshmi, Lord Vishnu, Sri Krishna and Siva Nataraj. None of them ever turned you away, that you could tell. You were sure you had lived many past lives in India. Yet militant "born" Hindus sent you nasty emails telling you to stop insulting their religion and stop teaching Yoga; you couldn't possibly understand the depth and gravitas of the subject. You couldn't possibly be psychically or emotionally gifted enough to communicate its truth to others. (As though complete strangers would be in any position to make that judgment about you.) 

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  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    You're very welcome, Asa - and thank you, Lizann and Carol. You're so right, Carol, about the mania of looking for an authority!
  • Asa West
    Asa West says #
    Sometimes a post feels like a drink of cool, clear water on an unbearably hot day. Thank you.
  • Carol P. Christ
    Carol P. Christ says #
    Couldn't agree with you more. I find it interesting that many on the earth path also are looking for authorities, whether in the f
  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham says #
    Yes! The cultural turn from "right belief" to "personal experience" is happening in parts of all religious and spiritual communit

Posted by on in Studies Blogs

   ‘Tis the season for some traditional drink recipes![1]

 

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How Openness to Experience brings you to Presence

One of the values I ascribe to in my magical practice is keeping an open mind. A recent conversation with an acquaintance got me to thinking about what keeping an open mind means to me, and I consequently decided to revise that value to one which I feel is more accurate to who I am and how I approach life. I keep myself open to experience. There is a distinct difference to keeping an open mind and keeping yourself open to experience. Keeping yourself open to experience is a recognition that genuine openness isn't something you can keep in the realm of the conceptual. An open mind might conceptually consider an idea, but not engage it in a fundamental manner that actually enables real experience to occur. Keeping yourself open to experience, on the other hand, moves away from concept. The experience is important because it requires a level of engagement that goes beyond just thinking about something.

In Awakening the Sacred Body and Embryonic Breathing, both authors discuss the importance of maintaining a state of openness to experience. Both books are about meditation and experiences of altered awareness and what both authors recognize is that a conceptual treatment of the topic won't provide the necessary understanding and development of skills that the reader ideally wants. The only way the reader can learn about these topics is to open him/herself to the actual experience of doing the work. Even more important, for the person to get real value out of the work s/he must as best as possible avoid preconceptions that may shape the experience in ways that are less than helpful. Being open to experience means truly being open to the actual experience, allowing yourself to be present without analyzing or categorizing it. That can be hard for anyone to do, because so much of what we're taught is to categorize and label our experiences.

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Commitment to Diversity

Howard Thurman wrote, "Community cannot feed for long on itself; it can only flourish where always the boundaries are giving way to the coming of others from beyond them — unknown and undiscovered brothers."

This quote by Thurman is helpful in my own reflection of the work I do as a chaplain.  In the two years that I have worked as a chaplain I have provided care to a diverse group of people.  First as a hospital chaplain in West Virginia and then as a hospice chaplain in Ohio.  In these two years I have had the opportunity to provide care to two people who identity as Pagan.  In both cases it was family of the patient; although in one case the patient was Pagan but unresponsive.  

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Activist Clergy: Protesting from the Sidelines

I wrote this piece to the discordant music of police helicopters circling above.  Monday night my friends and colleagues marched through the streets of Berkeley, CA, protesting the killing of unarmed black men in the United States.  While many of them went home after awhile, some stayed to shut down Interstate 80 for a time.  Those dozen or so folks were part of a group that were cordoned off, surrounded by the police.  While they awaited arrest, the chaplains and ministers I spend my days with here at the Pacific School of Religion led the two hundred or so activists in Christmas carols, pop songs, and hymns.  Our Professor of Worship served a communion of almonds and tea to anyone who wanted to partake.  The group sang to the police for hours and the peaceful presence of the religious leaders kept things calm on both sides. It is the kind of work that I think religious leaders are well suited for.  I was with them many hours before, offering energy-based activist training and my loving support as they prepared for this action.  I've shed many tears this last week, filled with anguish for the injustice I see happening in my country and frustrated with my body's inability to march in the streets.

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  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    This brings back memories of my past protesting at Lawrence Livermore Lab when I, too, was a student at PSR. Though it's been deca
  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham says #
    Thank you for all the work you did readying the group and supporting in the long hours that followed.
  • Kai Koumatos
    Kai Koumatos says #
    THANK YOU, Lizann, for your gentle invitations and unwavering support. You are a gem.

b2ap3_thumbnail_IMG_9228.JPGDaily Practice helps me from going crazy. No, seriously, in a world where so little is in our control, seemingly less filled with compassion and more filled with injustice, my daily practice allows me to sink into the safety of the only thing constant in my life, the breath.

I encounter people everyday, whether direct or in passing, and wonder… are they breathing? I mean, really breathing? With faces intently locked onto phones, harnessed at the computer, walking briskly, or rapidly talking, I wonder are these people breathing? What might it look like for them to simply acknowledge the breath within their body. The simple, yet realchemizing breath that fills our lungs to energize our blood and move toxins, like stress, out of the body.

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  • Gwion Raven
    Gwion Raven says #
    Oh Erick, This is just what I needed to read this morning. I am drawing a bath right now. I will tend to my outside altar and then

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