It’s back to school time, and that has me thinking about those of us who no longer spend much time in a classroom. I’d like to encourage us to think deeply about different purposes and practices of learning so that we can shape our own back-to-school intentions for ourselves. One of the biggest ways to make a difference is to practice what's not perfect.
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It used to be simple. Wiccans and NeoPagans in general were polytheists in contrast to Christians and other mostly monotheistic religions. NeoPagan polytheists usually spent little time on theology and considerably more creating and practicing rituals. Most of us became Pagans by virtue of personal attraction enriched by our involvement with a teacher or a coven or similar group.
Today many NeoPagans first learn about our traditions from books or the internet. The net in particular has expanded easily available information about our religion but at a cost. That cost is to be severed from NeoPagan history and practice except as available through pixels or the printed word. Instead of starting with learning and practice with others and then studying written sources, many NeoPagans now go from the study of texts to practice. They hope to interpret experiences they anticipate having through the texts they have read rather than judging whether the text illuminates or contradicts the experiences they have had....
For this months shadow card, we find ourselves working with the Hierophant, being represented by the Teaching card from the Snowland Tarot.
In this particular card, we see an owl standing before an open book resting on a tree stump. His audience of forest animals seems attentive as he shares his wisdom while the snow gently falls around them....
The first steps on the Druid path aren’t the most important. In fact, it is the continuing progress we make along our path that is crucial to understanding the nature of our spirituality. However, simply finding a path in the first place can be the most difficult task of all.
Leaves, golden and deep, russet red, fell to the forest floor as I climbed to the summit. I could smell the burgeoning leaf mould amid the acrid pines, winter on the wind. As I approached the tree line I knew he was there, waiting for me. I changed quickly from coyote to woman and stepped out of the shade into the autumn sunshine. The wind was cool, and the view from the mountaintop was spectacular, as the fall colours glistened in the lazy golden glow. I stepped forward towards the crystal clear pool, and cupped my hand, drinking the clear, cold liquid. A small yellow leaf fell into the pool as I finished drinking, and twirled there in the breeze.
I gazed a while at the little leaf, floating on the water, before turning away and approaching my guide. He stood, his leathers and feathers blowing in the afternoon wind. He looked out over the lands and sky before him, silent. I stood next to him, silent too for a space.
It's been a while, but I'm back again, lovely readers! I'm currently hard at work on my second book (amongst other projects, as you'll see below), but I will certainly continue to post here as and when I can. Comments and topic requests always welcome.
At this time of year, it's easy to understand why our ancestors (both actual and spiritual), those wise women and cunning men, were considered remote, unusual, untouchable, even fearsome.
As Autumn moves into Winter here in the UK, we feel our natural, animal pull to dig in, hibernate, take time within the darkness to assess the previous year and anticipate the time to come - but I doubt any busy society has ever really allowed that to happen, except when they have no choice. Stoke up the fire, head to the pub or communal house, light and laughter against the outside world.
(Photo - 'Autumn in the New Forest', from Glastonbury Goddess Temple)
I’ve very grateful for all of the on- and off-blog posts to me about the question of evil. It is gratifying to know that I’m being read. Before we go deeper into specific subjects, I want to take a step back and gain some perspective on our project. This blog is an experiment in what is technically called Systematic Theology. It is systematic in that it endeavors to cover core issues pertaining to a religious tradition, here Pagan, in an orderly, coherent, where appropriate rational, and hopefully complete way. This is different from Practical Theology, which has to do with applying theology to life (although we’ll do some of that too). Practical theology has a variety of sub-disciplines like pastoral, political or liturgical theologies, dealing with theology in the context of the practitioner’s service to a population, or in application to political or social discourse, or with respect to ritual practice, respectively. But now, I want to talk about the idea of theology itself.