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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Culture of the Imagination, Part 3

Last month, I wrote about the psychological dynamics behind the sacred spaces we create together and the ways we might utilize the power of sacred space to create a better world. This month, I'll be writing about what happens when the people to whom we have given power abuse it, and in doing so weaken both the internal and external cultures of the imagination we've worked so hard to build. Specifically, I'll be writing about the work of Marion Zimmer Bradley (MZB), its influence upon a generation of Pagan women and the destructive effects of the recent pedophilia allegations against her.

The younger Pagans among you might not recognize the name, but if you're a Pagan woman of a certain age, you'll remember that MZB is the author of a much-beloved novel called The Mists of Avalon. This novel tells the Arthurian story from the point of view of its women and follows the life of Morgaine, otherwise known as Morgan le Fay. It was released in 1983, just a few years before I left an abusive family of Jehovah's Witnesses to live with my grandmother, who was also a Christian conservative. An avid reader, I found the novel in 1986, and it changed my life in ways that echo even now. It was the world I wanted to live in; a place where women existed in community with one another, where they wielded the ancient power of the divine feminine, where the sacred was protected from the mundane. Because of that book, I was drawn to Western European Paganism, and then to Celtic Pagan spirituality, and then to a degree in Celtic Studies, and then to Cape Breton. In a very real sense, The Mists of Avalon shaped my own culture of the imagination and helped make me the woman I am now.

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  • C.S. MacCath
    C.S. MacCath says #
    In hindsight, it sounds uncomfortably like what Moira Greyland has written of her mother. Interestingly, that passage struck me a
  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    C.S. and Carol: I actually have found a paragraph from one of the Avalon books which could, in a certain light, be construed as a
  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    In re: Diana Paxson and the MZB situation, please see Diana's public statement here: http://www.diana-paxson.com/writing/avalon/ma
  • C.S. MacCath
    C.S. MacCath says #
    Thanks for this, Anne.
  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    Thank you, Anne. Good enough for me, too.
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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  • 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

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Culture of the Imagination, Part 2

Last month, I wrote about hiraeth, the cultures of the imagination we create as a Pagan community and the empowerment that occurs when we cultivate sacred spaces together. This month, I'll be expanding upon that theme with a discussion of the psychological dynamics behind this process and some suggestions about what we might do with the power inherent in it.

"I think the search for community, be it within the traditional cultures in Alba Nuadh1 or the various pagan cultural communities, is the proof of how crazy global consumerist culture has made us and, indeed, how wrong it is for us. We are instinctively looking for what felt right. I don't think that a homeland of the imagination is better than an actual community of people who see and speak to each other, but perhaps it can form a useful bridge to sustain isolated cultural thoughtful pagans during this period of global cultural and environmental decline." - Sylvain Grandcerf

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Creating Sacred Space with Pagan Prison Inmates - I

Why We Work in a Sacred Circle

Some non-witchen Pagans have criticized Witches and Wiccans who do interfaith work and in other ways represent the Pagan movement and Pagan religions in secular situations for what they consider to be witchen-centrism, for want of a better term.  In the next few blogs I’ll attempt to describe the reality of the situation, and why I, ostensibly serving a Wiccan circle, in reality am about as eclectic as one can be.  First, the setting…

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Hand, Heart, & Eye

 

There are many of late who have written about abuse in the Pagan community. This is not the first time that I have seen a rise in the discussion and the debate on how to deal with these serious problems. After a time, when the acute triggering incidents have faded from the collective memory and from news coverage, we drift back towards business as usual. I have seen this pattern wax and wane several times in several communities. Some people focus on the specific individuals, their transgressions and how they should be dealt with. Others respond by creating policy statements or rules that are to be adopted and enforced by organizations. Some, and we should offer a special blessing for them, choose to focus their efforts on supporting and healing those that have been injured. Like all crises, when troubled times like these arise the best and the worst comes forth.

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  • Carol P. Christ
    Carol P. Christ says #
    Thanks Ivo. This is good advice. In addition, I think we need to have a critique of patriarchy and all forms of domination includ
  • Ivo Dominguez Jr
    Ivo Dominguez Jr says #
    Dear Carol, I certainly agree with you on this. I believe that critiques and analysis are a part of the solution.

Morning Glory ZellFor those who live under a Pagan rock, Morning Glory Zell is a Pagan elder who has contributed significantly to the development of the modern Pagan community.  Along with her partner Oberon Zell (and their other partners) she is one of the founders of the Church of All Worlds, one of the first legally incorporated Pagan church organizations, and an editor/publisher of the very influential Green Egg Magazine.  For many years, Morning Glory has been fighting cancer, and she is now very ill with pneumonia which caused kidney failure, for which she is on dialysis.

There is a crowd funding campaign at GoFundMe to aid in Morning Glory's medical expenses.  They have already surpassed their goal but I remember what it was like to live on the charity of others when my husband was in the hospital after a life-threatening car accident, and I want to help.  If we don't take care of our Pagan elders, who will?

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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.

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