Cornwall Council has told its schools that pagan beliefs, which include witchcraft, druidism and the worship of ancient gods such as Thor, should be taught alongside Christianity, Islam and Judaism.
posts tagged "paganism"
On a visit to the original Stonehenge in Wiltshire, Quaker Sam Hill heard stories of dark doings and ritual killings. What better way to mark the Great War then raging, he thought, than to construct a replica near his estate in Maryhill, on Washington state’s southern rim with Oregon.
He argued that combat between nations was an irredeemable folly and the dead soldiers an offering to the “god of war”, so he built a West Coast incarnation of Stonehenge in tribute.
Hey there my fellow Pagans, Witches and Heathens who are under 35. I’m doing a little research and I’m curious. What would encourage you to be active in your LOCAL pagan (etc) community? What would make you stay? Are there things that may have driven you away? Are there things that stop you from attending events and rituals and so forth in the first place? Same questions for attending a big festival.
Thanks a bunch!
(PS You can respond to this any way that works best for you, a chat, a reblog, PM etc)
»> weavingittogether said: Just out of curiosity, why the age bracket? Why does age matter to you in this subject?
That’s where the Millennials start. I’m writing a piece about attracting and keeping the young people. Also I’m sitting on a roundtable discussion for KG (Canada’s biggest festival) and one of the topics will be “where we need to head to better accommodate and work with the next generations of pagans”.
I think first & foremost, I need to feel like I’m going to get something out of it — & unfortunately, I rarely do. When I was in my teens I scraped money together from an after-school job & several times journeyed to festivals in the States (because there were either no festivals in Ontario or their advertising never reached me), only to get creeped on by much older men & spend the entire time listening to people talk about computers & roleplaying & bondage & other non-pagan things that I had zero interest in. I realized quickly that I wasn’t going to learn anything from these people, & mostly gave up on the whole thing. I kept believing what I believed, but didn’t practice with other people or seek them out.
Later in my 20s I moved to Toronto & set about searching for the pagan community, & realized pretty quickly that Toronto is dominated by Wicca & Wiccan practitioners who are big into secrecy & initiations & hierarchies & others things I have little patience for. I persisted though, & ended up discovering a little new age shop that welcomed me to their events, & eventually I got a job & worked there for more than four years. In that time a lot of customers asked me if I put them in touch with a practicing group, & I never could. Practitioners are just too guarded here. I did meet lots of pagans working there, but in all that time I only ever became aware of one practicing group (& did practice with them a bit, but they’re not totally my style).
I also sought out pagan pub moots, but was thoroughly turned off by the people I met & never went back. I found, & I’ve heard others complain that this is common at pagan events, that pagans want to talk about anything *but* paganism (& can even occasionally be offended if you ask them point-blank about their paganism). I ended up cornered most of the evening by an older gentleman who wanted to tell me all about how great Buddhism is. Which is another issue: the casual appropriation of eastern & indigenous philosophies/religions into paganism, & the merging of paganism & Buddhism into self-help new age culture, so that paganism, especially among women, is all tangled up with positive energy & vague notions of karma & spirit animals & half-assed yoga etc—which I think is also contributed to by this idea that we have to come together as community & get along, despite actually often having radically different beliefs, so when we meet up at moots or festivals or whatever, out of politeness & inclusiveness we have to vague everything up & talk in big sweeping generic terms. Which brings me back to not getting anything out of it.
I eventually solidified some relationships I made through the shop, friends of friends, & online, & now there are four of us (myself, sparrowqueen, littlecitywitch, & kitzuneh) who are close friends & (very) occasionally practice together — though mostly we’re all too solitary now. & the reason the relationships between the four of us work is because we’re close friends regardless of whether or not we’re pagan.
Myself & littlecitywitch have made a point of attending the last two Gaia Gatherings (the Canadian pagan conference, for those not in the know), but it’s always an unfulfilling experience at best, & after dedicating a significant amount of resources to the last one & failing miserably on a panel, I had to step back & question why I’ve been persistently trying to connect with a community that I’m not sure at this point I even like. I don’t need other people to validate my beliefs, & when I feel I need guidance or renewed spiritual connection, I’ve found other ways to get it.
-there is a lack of accessible public pagan space to meet people and to practice or worship in. In the absence of this space, pagan or new age shops tend to be used, which is not a good idea. Shops are always about making money, not providing free community space.
-Canada is a big place & journeying to festivals can, even within one’s own province, be a big undertaking. Especially if you don’t drive. Festivals also suck up a lot of resources — you have to arrange a car, camping gear, probably time off work, etc. & you don’t know what you’re getting into — are you going to meet people who will actually want to talk about & do pagan stuff, let alone the pagan stuff you’re into? Or are you going to end up sitting in a soggy tent all weekend while it rains & children are restless & crying, & some woman who has no self awareness is dancing around in a loose skirt & doing high kicks & flashing her nether regions at everyone, & some guy dressed all in black is talking to a teenage girl about bondage & how spanking is fun, & someone else is all pissed & yelling because someone took more than their share of the stew, & everyone sitting around by the fire is either arguing about roleplaying or singing folk songs with an acoustic guitar (WHY is it always folk music?), & one of the people selling goods is accusing the only black kid of stealing. ALL TRUE. Anyway, I digress.
-Advertising for pagan events invariably sucks. I’m only aware of as many as I am because I actively seek them out. I periodically spend time online searching for pagan stuff that’s happening in the area. For example, when the Gaia conference was held in Toronto, I was working at a new age/pagan shop *right around the corner from the host venue* & the only reason we found out about it was because I was doing one of my periodic internet scourings & stumbled across it.
Woah I did not mean to write so much.
PS, you should give littecitywitch a nudge. She’ll have a lot to say about this.
The whole Maiden, Mother, Crone thing doesn’t work for me.
I’d rather be:
Free Spirit, Spinster, Crazy Cat Lady.
Or how about Wild Child, Spirit Worker, Wise Woman.
Or Rebel, Freedom Fighter, Philanthropist.
Daughter, Aunty, God Mother
Seeker, Student, Teacher
Fuck You, Fuck Off, Fuck It
Wanderer, Traveler, Teller of Tall Tales
What do you think?
Why I Believe New Age Thinking to Be Harmful in Magick and in Life
I think this is an important issue to discuss so let’s discuss!
A lot of people come to find out about ceremonial magick because they have become familiar with similar concepts that appear in what is colloquially known as the “New Age” movement. It has been garnering a lot of popularity recently especially on Tumblr and other parts of the Internet. This is unsurprising, considering that large portions of the New Age movement has its roots in ceremonial magick and the Secret Teachings—for instance sacred geometry, chakra work, yoga, herb medicine, belief in angelic beings, and meditation. New Agers teach that spirituality is an open forum and that no matter what peoples beliefs if they think positively enough, they too will be able to transcend. New Ageism combines philosophies from indigenous, Buddhist, Hindu, and Western mystery traditions as citation for how to live, especially emphasizing harmony with the earth and environment.
New Agers often like to adopt the stance that everything can be conquered through the philosophy of Free Love, where there are no rules, and no restrictions for how a person should live their lives, so long as it revolves around the philosophy of Free Love. They also apply this to the entities they work with—aliens, angels, spirits, and gods love us and would never deceive or harm us because they are transcendent beings themselves. Other byproducts of the New Age movement include a rejection of traditional medicine for holistic treatment, positive motivational thinking, and a culture of “spiritual self-help” such as Doreen Virtue’s books that were mentioned a few asks ago. Another frequent phenomena of the New Age movement is something called “indigo children”—children who supposedly are spiritually and intellectually advanced and are supposed to lead us into a New Age of peace, tolerance, and spiritual transcendence.
At first glance this doesn’t seem to be so terrible. What’s wrong with a philosophy of Free Love, or retaining a hopeful and positive attitude about the new Aeon? Well…let’s examine the philosophy a little deeper by examining my objections.
- New Ageism believes in belief, not hard work. No matter how positive you may be about the outcome of your magickal working, merely hoping and retaining a sunny outlook is not going to be the primary driving force behind your success. As I said before, magick takes hard work. And so does any legitimate spiritual system. One does not just pick up skills with little to no effort because they remain positive, and telling people they can get whatever they want, magickal or no, just through telling themselves they will, is false hope. And that sets people up for disappointment and failure.
- New Ageism promotes communication with astral or other divine beings without giving you the safety precautions necessary for such an interaction. New Agers’ belief that all spirits are essentially “good” and would never harm a human being is simply, excuse my French, fucking ludicrous. While I believe that essentially YHVH is good and loves His creation (“He saw that it was good”) I’m not silly enough to just apply the label to every aspect of Him. He is a complete being just like you or I and that means He has a side that can be not so pleasant—just like you or I. If you’re a seasoned Wiccan or pagan that has worked with deities before you know very well that just because gods appreciate us doesn’t mean they don’t think taking you for a ride won’t be some funny shit, or that they won’t get a kick out of it. And some spirits or entities are just plain malicious. That’s a fact, Jack! Telling people that they can just contact entities casually, whenever they want, from whatever tradition, is setting people up for a dangerous encounter. Entities deserve respect and don’t think that they can’t tell if you’ve done your homework or not. They can. That isn’t to say all entities are bad or all entities will hurt you—but there are some that will. You’ve been warned.
- New Ageism promotes racist colonialism. This is more of a social justice issue but it’s still valid and it’s still harmful. New Age people have been stealing holistic techniques from indigenous and First Nation people for years without permission or respect, and have been repackaging these techniques and traditions as their own, to sell for profit, to (usually) other white people, with very little accuracy or legitimacy involved. The desecration of these cultures is absolutely unacceptable and removing them from their original context not only destroys their spiritual power but also continues to perpetuate racist stereotypes of brown people. New Ageism, in short, promotes racist colonialism in return for “feel good” nonsense.
- New Ageism prefers Free Love to practical wisdom. New Agers talk about love—but they don’t talk about much else. We all know that ideally we should strive to be good people, but being a good person doesn’t mean that one day you won’t have to defend yourself. We all know loving your enemies only gets you so far—especially if said enemy holds power or authority over you in the situation, can take away your financial or emotional livelihood, or has the power to continue to abuse either you or someone you love. And sometimes, we just can’t solve these problems by going to a teacher, a friend, or an authority figure. In fact sometimes our enemies are these people. This is where magick steps in. There is nothing wrong with calling on a higher power for help when you need it and there certainly isn’t anything wrong with sticking up for yourself, whether you use magick or not, for making somebody fuck right off. Some people (like the entities we discussed) are just plain bad news and they won’t be anything but bad news. You should never feel bad or wrong for feeling like you need to defend yourself from someone who is out to hurt you. Free Love isn’t practical, Free Love isn’t real, and most importantly—to believe in Free Love isn’t safe. We live in a dangerous world and to believe otherwise is just plain naive. As the saying goes: “God grant me a sword, and never a reason to use it.”
- New Ageism has a tendency to encourage the belief that “not doing any harm” is the same as “doing good things”. The philosophy of the New Age movement is predominantly anti-violent and anti-society. But rarely do I ever see New Agers actually doing anything to give back to the community besides introducing people to New Ageism. Rather than live in the real world or offer solutions outside of their own belief system, New Agers would prefer to live in the world they have built for themselves—and if you aren’t a New Ager you’re not going to be a part of that world. They oftentimes prefer to meditate, even for hours and hours, rather than sort out their problems other ways, or they depend constantly on their crystals and tarot cards to make them feel safe or acceptable in different environments instead of actively adjusting to that environment. I’m sure not all New Agers are like this but this is predominantly what I have seen in real life.
I don’t have anything personally against New Agers. But I do have genuine objections to their psychology and movement, and I think some of the ideas that New Ageism presents—while in a spirit of hope and giving—is setting people up for some dangerous situations. Especially in something as intricate and detail-oriented as ritual magick—just hoping and meditating isn’t going to get you where you need to be. A bright disposition is certainly a plus when beginning the high magickal arts but tempered with a prepared realism you will be in a much better place for making snap decisions and avoiding unnecessary disappointment.
What do you guys think?
I have a lot of mixed feelings about the New Ageism, and this post covers a lot of them. As mentioned, I agree that overall it doesn’t have to be a bad thing - and can be a good thing depending on the person - as long as the problems within are taken into consideration and balanced out in personal action.
One of the issues I’ve noticed in my local community while trying to find pagan groups is that “pagan” is pretty much synonymous with “new age” here. Obviously there’s some overlap in most groups, but here our events feel pretty merged. This could be because I’ve only been able to find out about and attend a handful over the past year or two, and maybe I’m just not hearing about more pagan-specific or magic-focused things, but… I’m also pretty skeptical based on the things I have seen.
Being a person who was introduced to paganism and magic from a new agey perspective, there are pieces of it I like, but I’ve found that the more I study there’s a lot more to the things I’ve learned than what the general new age introduction provided. This goes along with what was said above regarding a happy broad view which rarely covers even a fraction of the whole truth of the matter, often avoiding mention of dangerous aspects of practice.
In conclusion, I think New Ageism might be an okay fit for some people, but I really hope those people are capable of working around (or better yet solving) the problems within the movement.
I completely agree with the OP. I spent four years working at a witchy/new age shop, & saw these attitudes demonstrated every day.
Two more complaints to add: they want to throw money at their problems, rather than make any kind of time, emotional, or skill investment in problem-solving (new ageism is a perfect embodiment of capitalism), & they gender everything. Everything has to be viewed in terms of masculine & feminine energy, which drives me up the wall.
"If you will think of ourselves as coming out of the earth, rather than having been thrown in here from somewhere else, you see that we are the earth."
When the triple aspect of the goddess doesn’t fit with your spiritual worldview…
Totally agree, & am tired of being told that I should take it metaphorically. I don’t need my practice suffused with metaphorical motherhood any more than I need it suffused with literal motherhood.
Goddess of the Week: Sedna
In Inuit Mythology, Sedna is known as the Mother or Mistress of the Sea. She is often the most celebrated diety in the Inuit pantheon. There are many different myths surrounding Sedna, especially how she came into being. Typically she is the daughter of Anguta, a type of all-father god.
In one version Sedna is filled with an insatiable hunger which causes her to attack her parents. Angry, her father takes her out to sea in a kayak and throws her in the waters. He then chops off her fingers as she clings to the side of the boat and Sedna then sinks all the way down to the underworld, and becomes ruler of the sea and all sea animals.
In another version, Sedna is dissatisfied with the men her father is considering her to marry, and she instead marries a dog. Angry at her insolence she is then thrown into the sea, and yet again sinks to the underworld and becomes the sea goddess.
In this version Sedna mated with dogs and other creatures and the offspring of these enemies were said to be the common enemies of the Inuit peoples (typically whomever they were warring with at the said time).
Sedna comes to rule Adlivun, which is both the name for the underworld as well as the name for the departed spirits who dwell there. This makes her particularly important in Inuit mythology, as the Inuit believed in reincarnation, and that a soul must spend a year in Adlivun until it would be able to reincarnate. For this reason, and the fact that Sedna was is considered a vengeful goddess, the Inuits had a great deal of respect for her. She was particularly important to fisherman because there was a belief that if there were no fish or sea animals to be caught or killed that it was because they were tangled in Sedna’s hair.
The idea here is that the god Sila (a formless god, never depicted by the Inuits), the personification of a concept known by the same name (the primary component of life, the substance souls are made from), while spending time with Sedna’s father purifying the corrupted souls of the deceased, extracts taboos from the souls and these taboos become knots and filth stuck in her hair. When her hair becomes so polluted that she cannot stand it anymore, Sedna gathers up all the sea animals to (so they can share her burden).
Both to give Sedna relief and to keep a very necessary part of Inuit life alive (fishing), shamans would have to be called upon to cosmically untangle Sedna’s hair (she cannot do it herself, she does not have fingers, remember?).
Want more info on her? http://www.polarlife.ca/traditional/myth/sedna.htm Have a gander.
I love Sedna’s story, not in a happy butterflies way obviously, but it’s such a really amazing story.
I don’t talk about it much because serious issues of cultural appropriation, but Sedna is the deity I work with & am connected to most strongly. I was minding my own business & bam she was in my life, & in the years since her influence hasn’t let up.
When I was in Glastonbury a few months ago, my visit was luckily timed with one of the semi-regular healing sessions done at the Goddess Temple*. I laid on a massage table while two women sang & moved their hands over me & played homemade instruments, & it was all about Sedna, & my legs shook after.
* Absolutely if you are a witchy type or similar & if you have the means, you must visit the Glastonbury Goddess Temple at some point in your life.
"While cremation possessed ancient roots, it was little known among Victorian-age Americans. Indeed, to most late nineteenth-century Westerners, the concept of cremation seemed otherworldly and even un-Christian. Americans associated funeral pyres and crematoriums with pagan antiquity or the mists of the Far East. Modern people buried their dead, and that was that.
But Olcott saw cremation (mostly) as a commonsensical social reform: He considered it more sanitary than burial, a deterrent to disease, and a help in freeing up land and labor from inefficient burials. And then there was the deterrence of vampirism, which Olcott took seriously. “If any [further reason] were needed by thoughtful persons,” he wrote, “…there are no vampires save countries where the dead are buried.” In Olcott’s eyes the practice had produced such benefits in India, where “we do not hear of Hindu vampires.”
To promote the practice, Olcott organized the nation’s first public cremation service — or “pagan funeral,” as the press called it — at New York’s Masonic Hall on the westside of Manhattan. So controversial was the idea of cremation, that the proceedings on May 28, 1876, caused a near riot and raised cries that the colonel was spreading heathen rites in the city.”
I’m going to this with the rockin littlecitywitch. Pagan national conference in Toronto! For some reason it doesn’t seem to have been very well advertised, so pass the word!
"The seventh Canadian National Pagan Conference, Gaia Gathering, will be held at New College, University of Toronto, Ontario over the May long weekend, May 18th - 21st, 2012.
The theme will be “Building the Mosaic.”
In addition to conference panel discussions, workshops and talks, the artistic element of the conference will focus on a photographic art exhibit …”
For some reason, my faith has always been tied to weather. Certain things with the weather really trigger the witch in me. This is Pagan air. This reminds me why I am, who I am.
It is crisp and carries the sounds of the birds that have come to signify my release from depression. It carries soft rain drops and memories of my early school years, before things spun out of control for me.
And it makes me thankful for this Earth we are given.
This is the kind of air that drives me to ritual when I haven’t done so much as a spell in months.
The annual Imbolc festival celebrates the awakening of the land and growing power of the sun.
The pagan ceremony marks and half way point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox.
Hooded torchbearers led the winter procession through the snow near Marsden, Huddersfield, in northern England.
The idea that pagans are “fending off” winter kind of makes me sad. I love winter and feel most at home in the cold and snow, and I recognize that winter, at least where I live, is essential for the cycles of the land.
I think as pagans we collectively spend too much time in our winter festivals emphasizing the return of the spring, the return of the sun, the awakening of the land, etc., instead of simply appreciating the seasons as they are, without needing to drive one out and bring another in.
Early last month the New York Times published an essay by Eric Weiner on the rise of the religious Nones – as in None of the Above. I’ve been critical of the “spiritual but not religious” crowd, but Weiner appears to be a None who is sincerely searching and not just being spiritually lazy.
The Dallas Morning News’ Texas Faith panel addressed Weiner’s essay this week, in particular his claim that “we need a Steve Jobs of religion.” Their responses ranged from thoughtful to dismissive to wishful thinking that what Weiner describes already exists in their own religions. Here’s Weiner’s last paragraph, which Texas Faith used as their jumping off point:
We need a Steve Jobs of religion. Someone (or ones) who can invent not a new religion but, rather, a new way of being religious. Like Mr. Jobs’s creations, this new way would be straightforward and unencumbered and absolutely intuitive. Most important, it would be highly interactive. I imagine a religious space that celebrates doubt, encourages experimentation and allows one to utter the word God without embarrassment. A religious operating system for the Nones among us. And for all of us.
EarthRhythms’ Amy Martin had two excellent points in her response. The first was “whatever the future of religion is, it will be done bottom-up Wikipedia style, generated from shared concepts rather than the revealed word of a transcendent personality.” And second “what is emerging must be articulated, but not defined.”
Amy’s right. New religions – or new ways of being religious – are a response to the needs of a particular group of people living in a particular place and time. No one or two or five persons have the breadth of experience and depth of intuition to coalesce those needs and responses into a set of beliefs and practices. A new religion will not be created, it will evolve.
While Weiner’s call for a Steve Jobs of religion is off base, his call for an Apple-ish religion is right on target.
First, a new religion for the 21st century will be like Apple because it will be intuitive. More importantly, it won’t be counterintuitive. It will not ask people to believe what their experiences tell them is false. It won’t claim that good people are damned because they can’t accept someone else’s special revelation. It won’t claim that who you love is more important than that you love.
To paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, it will be a religion that makes your dog and cat – and your neighbor – better for it.
It won’t make claims we wish were true but intuitively know are false: that humans are really perfect but just don’t recognize it. Our experiences of violence, cruelty, and addiction, of guilt and shame tell us we are far from perfect. As William James said over a hundred years ago: “Here is the real core of the religious problem: Help! Help! No prophet can claim to bring a final message unless he says things that will have a sound of reality in the ears of victims such as these.”
Instead, it will teach spiritual practices that help us find wholeness and live in integrity according to our highest values.
A new religion will be like Apple because it will be interactive. It will be participative and it will appeal to the body as well as the mind. There is a time to sit and listen but religion isn’t entertainment – it’s something you do. Sing, drum, dance, and feast! A new religion will also be experiential – it will encourage religious experiences by everyone, not just a special few. While it is true that mystical unity with God / Goddess / The Universe comes when it will and cannot be controlled, it can be facilitated with proper training and techniques. The leaders of a new religion must master these techniques so they can be demonstrated to all.
A new religion will be like Apple because it will be expensive. Cheap and easy religion is weak religion. If it is to be any good a new religion will require a significant investment of time: daily meditation, prayer, reading and contemplation. Regular meetings for group study and practice, and periodic intensive retreats. Work to put beliefs into action and make the world a better place. And money to support all of those activities.
Like Apple, there will be those who find it too expensive for their tastes. So be it.
Unlike Apple, though, a new religion for the 21st century will be humble. It will recognize that its religious experiences are unverified personal gnosis – meaningful for those who share them but not binding on those who don’t. It will freely acknowledge that doubts and uncertainty accompany any exploration of the limits of human understanding.
At the same time, it will not be paralyzed by those doubts. In the absence of certainty it will confidently proclaim “this I believe” and move forward boldly. And when some of those beliefs and practices are found to be incorrect or unhelpful, it will change them and try something else.
This religion is evolving even as we speak, but it is unlikely to become a wholly new religion. Instead, these new ways of being religious are being incorporated into existing religions both large and small. People are reinterpreting their sacred stories in new ways to fit our needs here and now.
This new way of being religious doesn’t need an inventor. It needs evangelists.
Lots of them.
good-witchcrafting: love these symbols from cunningham.