Pagan Studies


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Studies Blogs

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

Most of us are familiar with the lovely quote by Graham Greene's wife, Vivien: “Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, it's about learning how to dance in the rain."  That's a wonderful aphorism, but as I'm sure she herself would have admitted, there are times in life when a person has to do both.  Sometimes you have to stay in your cellar until the tornado has passed overhead; then you can come out and dance in gratitude for still being alive, in the gentle drizzle that follows.  Life encompasses every situation; the two statements are not mutually exclusive.  Over an entire human lifetime, they are equally true. 

Here's another similar saying, attributed to choreographer Vicki Corona: "Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away."  Again, a great pithy aphorism.  But of course she was referencing a particular situation under certain specific conditions.  In reality - ask any Yogi - our life is measured, quite literally, by the number of breaths we take!  And yet, at the same time, how boring would life be without those miraculous moments that take our breath away?  Again, the two statements are not mutually exclusive.  

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  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis says #
    Ted, lovely, deep, sincere, as always. Thank you. As someone who's always talking about bringing together polar opposites and livi
  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham says #
    I always appreciate your wise words.
  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    Thank you, Lizann. And I appreciated learning what Poison Oak teaches.
How to Create a Pop Culture System of Magic

In Pop Culture Magic 2.0 I discuss how to create pop culture systems of magic , but what I thought I would share here is the actual creation of such a system. I'm in the process of developing my own system around the Batman mythology. I picked Batman, because I've always liked Batman and felt a connection to that particular mythology. However instead of starting with the obvious approach of working with the characters of the mythology, I decided to take a different approach.

My initial work has been around connecting with the prominent places in the mythology Batman, starting with Gotham City, but also including places in and around it that factor significant into the Batman mythology. One of my reasons for focusing on the spaces of the Batman mythology is because of how the characters (and the writers of the comic) refer to those spaces as living beings. For example, there are numerous references to how Gotham is alive and how different characters need to be careful because of how Gotham can interact with them. Now this might be meant metaphorically, but what it creates is a mythological narrative around the actual spaces in the Batman mythology and that narrative can be worked with as well as working with the characters. I think it can actually enhance the work you do with the characters in this mythology and would suggest that you can apply this concept to any pop culture system of magic.

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  • Dragon Dancer
    Dragon Dancer says #
    LOVE THIS! What a cool idea! I'm not a fan of Batman myself, but I definitely see what you're talking about. Have a quick questio
  • Taylor Ellwood
    Taylor Ellwood says #
    Batman is just an example. You ca take what I'm sharing here and apply it to a pop culture of you own choice. Pop Culture Magic 2.

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When I was young, I used to chafe when an older person would say (smugly, I assumed, though that was probably not the case), "You'll understand better when you're older."  I was well-educated.  I had a sharp, agile mind (certainly faster than it is today); so why should this person think that I couldn't understand something? 

Of course, one grows and inevitably gains experience.  And he finds that "understanding better when you're older" is more a matter of tingling nerve endings recognizing something they have felt before, than of intellect.  

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What is Pop Culture Magic?

When the phrase pop culture magic (or magick) is thrown around, what comes to mind for you? Do you imagine doing a magical working with your favorite pop culture icon or character? Or do you think of developing a magical technique based off a TV show or book? Or do you think of pop culture magic as something else? What I've noticed is that the majority of people who practice pop culture magic tend to approach it in terms of working with pop culture characters and the mythologies around those characters. There's certainly nothing wrong with perceiving pop culture magic in that way, but I think pop culture magic can be much more than just working with your favorite pop culture character (although that can be a lot of fun!)

In Pop Culture Magick, I defined pop culture magic in terms of its resistance to mainstream culture, arguing that the reason to work with pop culture magic was as a means of subversively resisting mainstream culture. I also argued that you needed to work with whatever was popular at the time. In Pop Culture Magic 2.0 (now available for pre-order!) I've revised my definition of pop culture magic substantially, arguing that pop culture is an expression and extension of mainstream culture (as opposed to it) and that a person's pop culture interest doesn't have to be popular in order to be worked with as pop culture magic. However, I don't think pop culture is just about the characters you can work with or the mythologies created around those characters.

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  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    There are collector card games like Magic the Gathering. I suppose that the water cards could be used in a spell to catch pollute
  • Taylor Ellwood
    Taylor Ellwood says #
    Those are some excellent examples of pop culture magic and why you might do a working using pop culture mythology and the like.

Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Parting Gifts

 

This past Saturday, I attended a remembrance circle for a member of one of our covens. It was held on her birthday, about one year after her death. There had been ceremonies immediately after her death, but the passage of time allowed this ritual to focus more upon a celebration of her life than upon loss. Almost everyone present chose to speak about the times that they had shared with her. It is often said that funerary rites are more for the living than for those who have gone ahead. For the most part I agree with that statement, though in this case I believe that there were mutual parting gifts.

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  • Ivo Dominguez Jr
    Ivo Dominguez Jr says #
    Better than I can sing. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eisW0skJ9fU
  • Byron Ballard
    Byron Ballard says #
    Beautifully sung. Thank you.

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What is Pop Culture Paganism?

The term Pop Culture Paganism has only shown up in the last few years. When I wrote Pop Culture Magick no one was using the term Pop Culture Pagan. Now the term is used by some people to describe their spiritual work and its distinct enough from Pop Culture Magic because not all pop culture Pagans practice magic or view it as an essential part of their spiritual work. That's not the only distinction however, between pop culture magic and pop culture Paganism. Pop Culture Paganism involves what I would consider to be a devotional approach to working with pop culture spirits. In other words, there is a recognition that the pop culture spirits are beings that the person wants to work with in a devotional manner, which could include prayers, offerings, and rituals done for purposes of honoring the spirit, as well as other activities that the pop culture spirits feel are appropriate. Given that we're dealing with a modern context those activities could include a different type of devotional behavior that's dependent on the pop culture media that the spirits show up in.

I consider myself both a pop culture Pagan and magician (in my next post I'll define what I think of as pop culture magic). In the context of being a pop culture Pagan, I find that there is a blending of magic into that Paganism, but that's because magic is an essential part of my spiritual work. In that context, let me share what my pop culture Pagan practice looks like. I work with the Dehara, which are based off Storm Constantine's Wraeththu series and are hermaphroditic deities. Each day I offer them a prayer of thanks for their presence in my life. Additionally I've integrated them into my magical work. For example, Thiede is the Dehar of Space and plays an integral role in my system of space/time magic. In addition, in Grimoire Kaimana, Storm laid out a wheel of the year associated with the Dehara, which can be worked with in terms of connecting with them. I've lately been looking into creating some correspondences around the Quabalistic Tree of life for the Dehara, as well as exploring some other alternatives to developing this particular spiritual path further. For me, this work is part of my spiritual work, a communion with spiritual beings that I feel a strong resonance with because of their nature and perspective that falls outside traditional gendered polarities. I'm not the only one to work with Dehara and what I've consistently found is that people involved in that path feel it fits them and that they fit it, which I think is an essential part of a spiritual calling.

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Bee Charms

My friend Kelly Meyer reminded me of the Lorsch Bee Blessing today. The 9th century Old High German charm captures the importance of bees in the medieval world, something we're beginning to realise anew as we discover just how perilous life is when they're endangered. As I've written about before, the importance of mead, the alcoholic drink made from honey, cannot be overstated in the Germanic world.

In Old High German, the charm goes like this:

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  • Kate Laity
    Kate Laity says #
    Ah, a cunning plan!
  • Byron Ballard
    Byron Ballard says #
    Ah, but we are hoping for a late season swarm for our new top-bar hive! Perhaps we are the cunning women who are luring the Golde

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