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
Witch Hunting in the 21st Century

 

A little while back I wrote an article about The Broom Closet in the 21st Century. Recently the New York Times had an opinion article about the persecution of Witches in various parts of the world. In that article the opinion writer argued that the age of the internet has increased the witch hunting that occurs. One of the problems is that many of the people accused of witchcraft may not even be witches. They are accused for reasons that may have nothing to do witchcraft, but nonetheless it is used because it's convenient. In such places, the brutality that occurs involves burning people alive, or beheading or stoning them. The majority of such atrocities occur to women and the the people doing the assault are men doing it for prestige or as a way to enforce dominant social values. I mention all of this make a point: That such atrocities, far from being history, are still happening. In some cases, they are even happening in the U.S. And even here in the U.S. we also see the proliferation of ignorant perspectives about magic, because of how the mainstream religion fears the spread of any spiritual beliefs that run counter to that religion. Now whether every single one of those victims did or didn't identify as a Pagan or a Witch doesn't really matter, because those people were still labeled as such and punished for beliefs they may or may not have held.

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs

AGAINST A SWARM OF BEES
Ms. 41, Corpus Christi College, Cambridge

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An Open Heart and A Naked Soul

Twenty years ago today, I self dedicated to the Goddess. Not any one Goddess, or tradition, but simply just The Goddess. The only guild I had was The Spiral Dance by Starhawk. At 16 years old, steeped in the evangelical movement of Christianity, I took a deep breath and inhaled the Goddess' warm embrace of hope and exhaled the patriarchy, shame, and sorrow brought about by the God of Abraham.  Even though I had no formal connection to Reclaiming at the time, and knew even less about 'witchcraft' what Starhawk wrote about in The Spiral Dance resonated with light inside my most darkest spaces. There would still be years filled with nights of terror and dread, there would be more fear, more shame, and yes more suffering. Unlike the faith of my childhood, The Spiral Dance and this Goddess never promised deliverance from suffering in exchange for servitude, rather instead simply offered space. 

Twenty Years after that first reading of The Spiral Dance, my spiritual path has matured and my toolbox is far more expansive. Yet, in a sea of labels, unverified personal gnosis, rhetoric and opinion, I still have no real name for space I share with the the Goddess. I just have the path. My mentor, Rev. Kim Crawford Harvie once said, "there is misperception that arose that if I committed myself to a spiritual path, that I would rise above suffering.  I have come to learn the opposite is true:  If I commit myself to a spiritual path, I will suffer with an open heart and a naked soul. "

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Creating Sacred Space with Pagan Prison Inmates – V

“Ministry”?

We Pagans, at least most of us, or at least most of us in our incipient forms, worked in small, intimate, closed circles.  We had no concept of ‘ministry’ as such.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Aline "Macha" O'Brien
    Aline "Macha" O'Brien says #
    Perhaps, Sam, you are correct about your experience and your education. However, that has not been my experience from an entire c
  • Sam Webster
    Sam Webster says #
    "I think that term carries baggage from its use in the Christian context that implies that clergy people either know more, or are

b2ap3_thumbnail_TOWGoddessaltar1.jpg

(Photo by Adam Sartwell - Temple of Witchcraft Grounds)

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Creating Sacred Space with Pagan Prison Inmates – IV

Altars

As I mentioned in a previous post, our altar went from a 24” square of white cloth with two pillar candles, a leather pentacle about 4” across, a stick of incense, a bowl and a shaker of salt to one with larger purple altar cloth bearing a Celtic design, an abalone shell, some feathers, and a chunk of amethyst crystal.

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Hierarchy, Musical Harmony, and Magic

In Music Power Harmony, R. J. Stewart presents an interesting take on the concept of hierarchy as it relates to musical harmony and how that can be applied to magical work. He argues that hierarchies aren't inherently linear or spatial and that treating a hierarchy as a series of separate entities with linear connections ignores holistic aspects of the hierarchy that could be useful in magical work. When examining hierarchy from a harmonic perspective, Stewart notes that harmonics can open our awareness to resonances and relationships between the patterns and entities involved, in such a way that it provides order without necessarily bringing authority into the mix. It's an interesting take on hierarchy, which is typically treated as a linear structure with temporal authority included in it.

The problems that most people have with hierarchy is the abuse of authority or the bureaucracy that makes it convoluted and unable to do anything. Typically hierarchies are associated with corporations, governments, and other such institutions. These institutions enforce hegemonic authority and standards that keep certain agendas in power, while keeping others out. It's not a surprise then that people have knee jerk reactions to hierarchy. Yet I think R. J. Stewart makes some interesting points about hierarchy as it relates to both music and spiritual work.

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