Pagan Studies


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Studies Blogs

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

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On *A* Pagan Community Statement on the Environment

If you’re reading this, you’ve seen notifications of a Pagan Community Statement on the Environment.  Inspired by the environmental statement released by CoG in 2014 and statements from other religious organizations, blogger John Halstead invited 66 assorted Pagans, about 48 of whom collaborated on the piece that became the final product.

The final statement was a months-long, complex collaboration of diverse Pagans.  That fact in itself is, to me, remarkable, given that Pagans can be a fractious lot.  For me personally, the fact that this exists demonstrates a certain sense of solidarity.  We Pagans are a fringe demographic, and each Pagan path, sect, and individual is an even smaller fringe demographic.  We tend to work hard at distinguishing ourselves one from the other.  And that tends to fragment us as a demographic.  So when this many Pagans from many Pagan perspectives can come together and manage to agree on something of paramount importance to all of us, and to publicly proclaim our stance — well, that speaks to a stronger presence in society, and perhaps a louder, clearer voice not usually heard in the clamor of other Abrahamic dominion-inclined, religio-spiritual voices.  I think Pagans bring an important perspective to society.  And I think if this small effort can grow big enough, we might actually make a difference beyond ourselves.  Needless to say, this statement is meant to be noticed. 

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Aline "Macha" O'Brien
    Aline "Macha" O'Brien says #
    No, you're not dreaming, Steven. :-)
  • steven manley
    steven manley says #
    Am I dreaming? Or did I just find a rallying cry for our Blessed of all Mothers, our planet Earth. Finally some greater interest a

Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Meditations on Hávamál: 57-60
57.
Brandr af brandi
brenn, unz brunninn er,
funi kveikisk af funa;
maðr af manni
verðr at máli kuðr,
en til dælskr af dul.
Torch from a torch
burns, until it burns out,
flame kindles itself from flame;
man from a man
knows truth from speaking,
but folly from the fool.
 

Like breeds like we might say: just as the flame passes from torch to torch, so the light of learning passes from a wise one to a willing student. It burns brightly as long as there is fuel for it -- an eager mind. It's a constant refrain of the verses, but if you listen to fools you learn nothing but foolishness. Be mindful of where you sit. Better silence than foolishness.
 
58.
Ár skal rísa,
sá er annars vill
fé eða fjör hafa;
sjaldan liggjandi ulfr
lær of getr
né sofandi maðr sigr.
He must rise [early]
who would gladly have
the wealth or life;
seldom will the lolling wolf
get the lamb's thigh
nor the sleeping man victory.
 

We know all about the early bird getting the worm; here the advice is the same but with the vivid example of the busy wolf grabbing the lamb's 'ham' or thigh. The sleeping warrior will not get victory any more than the sleeping wolf her dinner.
 
59.
Ár skal rísa,
sá er á yrkjendr fáa,
ok ganga síns verka á vit;
margt of dvelr,
þann er um morgin sefr,
hálfr er auðr und hvötum.
He must rise early
who has few workers,
and get right to his work;
many things will delay,
he who in the morning slumbers,
yet half the wealth to he who's keen.
 

In typical Nordic litotes, to have 'few workers' is to have only yourself. Rise up early and don't procrastinate, because there is no one else you can count on. Half delayed is half unpaid! While this may seem more puritan than viking, they have in common a harsh life with a lot of tedious chores to maintain food and comfort.
 
60.
Þurra skíða
ok þakinna næfra,
þess kann maðr mjöt,
þess viðar,
er vinnask megi
mál ok misseri.
Of dry sticks
and bark roofing,
of this a man ought know the measure;
of this wood
which should last
a quarter or a sixmonths.
 

This stanza is a little more tricky. The basic sense is clear enough: practical knowledge will save you work. Knowing what kind of wood lasts longest before you use it as roofing is very wise. It plays with the concept of 'measure' both as a way to evaluate knowledge and as actually measuring wood for building. The lengths of time aren't terms we use as often now; some translators just use "short and long" for the seasons, but clearly the difference was more specific and meaningful in this agricultural community.
See also Meditations on Hávamál, 52-56, Meditations on Hávamál, 48-51, Meditations on Hávamál, 44-47, Meditations on Hávamál, 40-43, Meditations on Hávamál, 35-39, Meditations on Hávamál, 31-34, Meditations on Hávamál, 27-30, Meditations on Hávamál, 23-26, Meditations on Hávamál, 19-22, Meditations on Hávamál, 15-18, etc.

 I use the Evans edition of the poem to begin and compare with translations here and here. The original text comes from the Heimskringla site in Norway. I also received a new translation of The Poetic Edda from Hackett Publishing; when I get a chance, I'll review it.
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The Value of Taking a Moment of Stillness

Every day I make it a point to give myself a moment of stillness. That moment of stillness isn't a short moment either. It's as long as it needs to be. Usually it occurs shortly after I've had breakfast and before I've started my work day. I do it then because I'm still just waking up and its an optimum time to still myself before getting into whatever the day will involve. This moment of stillness is my meditation time. I do a series of meditation exercises, all of which lead me deeper and deeper into a state of stillness, which unfolds within it non-conceptual awareness.

Non-conceptual awareness is the experience of being without doing, judging, categorizing or filtering anything. You just are. The value of that experience is that it allows me to just be without stressing about anything I need to do. Sometimes in the process of doing that work, some emotions will come up or some thoughts will happen and I don't go out of my way to dismiss them. I just let them be as well, because I find in doing that it really brings my awareness to where I need to be, present with whatever is coming up that needs to be worked through, accepted, or otherwise processed.

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs
How Old is Art? And Does it Matter?

Once upon a time, there was a little girl named Helena who liked to make drawings. She went off to kindergarten and on the first day of school, each child in her class was given crayons. When the time came for recess, Helena went out into the school yard and saw very large rocks that already had drawings on them. (She did not know yet that this was graffiti). She figured the rocks must be a very good place to make pictures, so she started drawing very large pictures on the rocks with her crayons. She didn’t realize what was happening when her teacher came up and began yelling at her. She was in very big trouble indeed.

As we can see from the perspective of my five year old self, that urge to leave a mark somewhere is fairly basic and perhaps even primal. In this article, I will be exploring how old that urge is and where it might come from.

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  • Byron Ballard
    Byron Ballard says #
    Lovely. Thanks for this!
  • Helena
    Helena says #
    Thanks so much Byron - just seeing this now. Yay Mercury Retrograde!

Posted by on in Studies Blogs

As many in our community have pointed out, we know very little about the original practices of Druids and Pagan priestesses; the only extant writings we have are propaganda pieces by their conquerors, Roman historians and Catholic clerics. Ours is a "reconstructed religion" based on whatever clues we can glean from other traditions of Goddess and Nature worship, such as Hinduism, Shinto and Shamanism.  

But if even a fraction of what their detractors claim is true, then my 21st century Neopaganism - a benign blend of John Muir, Mists of Avalon, J.R.R. Tolkien, Henry David Thoreau, Rachel Carson and Swami Vivekananda - has to be a kinder, gentler form of Mother Nature worship than that practiced by our ancient forbears. What's more, I feel that it is fitting and proper that it should be so. I may have lived back then, but I definitely live now. Thank God and Goddess that I can reconstruct my religion to suit my inner nature and the age in which I now find myself! 

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  • irene boyce
    irene boyce says #
    Hi Ted, I really enjoyed this post. Common sense with added humour. It is interesting that you should wish to retire to Glastonbu
  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    Irene, thank you for reaching out. In the Mists of Avalon chapter you quote, she mentions "the Shining Ones who had come there fro

Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Art, Spirit, and Wonder

Greetings Pagan Blogosphere!

I am very happy and honored to be here on Pagan Square. For those of you who don’t know me, I am Helena Domenic, and I am a Pagan, an art historian, and an artist. I am one of the Elders of the Assembly of the Sacred Wheel, and I am also the creator of the Fellowship of the Fool Tarot deck, as well as a Lenormand deck that I am still working on. Some of the questions I seek to find an answer for are “How does one talk about the Ineffable? How have humans tried to express their beliefs and feelings about the divine through Art? Where does art become ritual? Where does ritual become art?”

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  • Diotima
    Diotima says #
    It sounds like this will be a fascinating column, Helena. Hope you continue to post lots of pictures as well -- love both of these

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