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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in pagan-cowan relations

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 

 Tales from the Pagan Resistance

 

In the days of the Byzantine emperors, long after most of the empire had been converted—forcibly or otherwise—one little Anatolian town held resolute to the Old Ways. Despite repeated warnings to accept baptism or suffer the consequences, the entire community stood firm.

One day imperial forces marched into the city. After the massacre, they sawed the arms and legs off every man, woman, and child, and hung the severed limbs along the streets as a warning.

 

 I regret to inform you that the above story is true. In Catherine Nixey's 2018 The Darkening Age: The Christian Destruction of the Classical World, you can read similarly grim stories on virtually every page. Be warned: this is no easy read.

I have to be careful reading books about the history of what we really must call the Christianities; reading too many tends to make me morbid. I get angry; I start making stupid and thoughtless generalizations; I fall into an “us and them” mode of thinking that, down the years, I have come to eschew as ultimately counterproductive.

But we are who we are because we remember, so I read on. Many times during the reading of Nixey's engagingly-written, but devastating, history of the horror show that was 4th- and 5th-century Christianity, I've found myself laying the book down because I simply couldn't bear to read any more. Each time, though, I find myself picking up the book once again, needing to know the rest.

Let me quote from Nixey's introduction:

As Samuel Johnson...put it, pithy as ever: “The heathens were easily converted, because they had nothing to give up.”

He was wrong. Many converted happily to Christianity, it is true. But many did not. Many Romans and Greeks did not smile as they saw their religious liberties removed, their books burned, their temples destroyed, and their ancient statues shattered by thugs with hammers. This book tells their story; it is a book that unashamedly mourns the largest destruction of art that human history has ever seen. It is a book about the tragedies behind the “triumph” of Christianity (Nixey xxiv).

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 taking blood without using blood work needles: new age blood sampling

 

“So, are you ready for Christmas?”

Och, other people's holidays. The question comes at me from out of left field: I'm sitting on the table in an exam room, having my blood drawn.

In past years, I might have answered defensively.

“I don't celebrate Christmas!”

“Sorry, not my holiday.”

More recently, my response would likely have been more conciliatory.

“Actually, we're Solstice people.”

“Where I come from, we still call it Yule.”

Maybe I've lost my fire. Maybe I've mellowed with age. This isn't spiritual imperialism, or proselytizing. The nurse is just being friendly in a thoughtless kind of way; her question has no more meaning than “How are you?” or “Cold enough for you?” Yes, there are assumptions going on here, but really, what matter does it make?

Where I come from, we call it the Yule-frith: the peace of Yule. In the old days, it meant that you could safely travel unfriendly territory.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 

 

 

 Dear Cowan (that's “non-pagan” in Pagan),

 Yes, I'm pagan, and no, I don't want to talk about it.

That may surprise you. Here in the US, we're lousy with people who can't wait to tell you all about their religion, usually in excruciating detail.

Well, I'm not one of them.

I'm not just being froward here; this is an integral part of who we are. For us, religion is tribal; it's ours to us, and—quite frankly—none of your damn business. Think of the religion of Zuñi pueblo. It's not for talking about with non-Zuñi. As a Zuñi elder once remarked about missionaries, “They throw their religion away as if it isn't worth anything, and then they expect us to take it seriously.”

In fact, what seems to you mere friendly curiosity—and we are interesting, I acknowledge that—strikes us as both rude and deeply intrusive.

Oh, I understand that your questions are well-intentioned. What you need to understand is that, as a non-pagan, you're operating out of privilege, and in fact—if you'll pardon me for putting it quite so baldly—a sense of entitlement. You think that you have the right to ask me anything that you bloody well please, and that I somehow owe you an answer.

Well, I'm here to tell you that you don't and that I don't owe you shit, my friend.

If you really want to know about me, my people, and our ways, there are plenty of resources out there. Go and educate yourself. Then if you come to me with questions, you won't be coming from a place of ignorance, and I may just consider answering.

Maybe.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 

Herd of Vigilante Florida Cows Helps Police by Corralling Suspect |  Southern Living

 

“You stinking cowan,” I say, fondly.

My friend returns my grin. He's no cowan, and we both know it.

“Now, now,” he says in mock-offense. “No need to get insulting.”

 

Cowans. (First syllable like the animal.) What is it about non-pagans that makes them so...well, cowanish?

You're cowanish if you're:

  • Clueless to the point of offensiveness, especially about things pagan.
  • Unobservant, especially of your environment.
  • Ignorant of the natural world and its processes.
  • Uncomfortable with the body and things bodily.
  • Incapable of seeing other people's perspectives.
  • Unquestioning.
  • Insensitive.
  • Incurious.

Of course, these stereotypes are utterly unfair, and largely a product of pagan self-conception. You certainly don't have to be a cowan to be cowanish.

But, then, that's kind of the point of the exercise, isn't it? Nobody wants to be cowanish, not even cowans.

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Your Warlockry:

I'm not a witch, but many of my friends are. Over the years I've noticed that, while my non-witch friends all throw their Halloween parties on Halloween Saturday, my witch friends usually throw theirs two Saturdays before.

Not that I'm complaining, mind you: double the pleasure, double the fun. Just wondering.

Clueless in Cowanistan

 

Dear Clueless Cowan:

There's a simple and obvious (to a witch) answer to your question, which (if you had asked them) any of your witch friends could have told you before you could count to thirteen, and it has to do with convenience and the fact that, just like everybody else, most witches hold down day jobs.

This means that, most years—ah, the times!—most witches don't actually hold their Samhain rituals on Halloween itself. The vast majority of Samhain rituals end up taking place, by default, on Halloween Saturday instead.

In short, my dear cowan: witches tend not to hold their Halloween parties on Halloween Saturday because, for many of us, that's Coven Night. Hence—witches liking a good Halloween party as much as anyone—the forward displacement.

If Boss Warlock were a different kind of warlock, he might decry what, on the face of it, might seem to be a disconnect, but in fact this Long Samhain actually has a profound theological basis. Samhain isn't just a single day on the Gregorian calendar; it's a tide of axial change in the natural year.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 

 

“You one-a them Wick-ins?”

The pentagram must have slipped out of my shirt when I reached for my wallet. His question is not curiosity, or interest; there's a sneer to it.

I'd stopped to fill up the tank while driving through deepest, darkest Trump Country. Now there's a Central Casting Capitol invader leering over the counter at me.

I fix him with my eyes and wait just a little too long for comfort before answering. The little will o' the wisp smirk playing on my lips is not really intentional. Actually, I've wanted to say this to someone who deserved it all my pagan life.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

The Green Man - Home | Facebook 

My friend and I couldn't have been at the Renn Fest for more than two minutes when we ran into a gaggle of fellow pagans.

This, of course, is hardly to be wondered at. Renn Fests are famed pagan Meccas, and this particular one happened to be the Paganistani (i.e. Minnesota) Renn Fest, after all. There are so many pagans at the Minnesota Renn Fest that for a while it actually because fashionable to wear a cross, not so much out of religious conviction, as to stand out in the crowd.

They ask where we're headed, and we explain that we always start off our day there by pouring a libation for the Green Man. Pagans generally being game for spontaneous religious observance, they come along.

A pagan landmark of the MN Renn Fest—“Let's meet up at the Green Man,” people say—the Green Man stands probably 20 feet tall: a large, archaic-looking wooden mask mounted on a tree trunk, and bodied out all around with a tangle of fox grapes. This being September, the grapes are usually just coming ripe around now.

We stand before the Green Man, make our prayers, and pour out our libation, relishing the opportunity to indulge in public pagan worship. We'd like to dance around Him—that's the traditional observance—but there aren't quite enough of us to join hands.

Fortunately, this is the Renn Fest.

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