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Archive for December, 2009

The new pagan movement has been going long enough now that it began needing its own line of theology. The discipline of theology is part of the credibility of a religion and something to bring to the table at interfaith gatherings and discussions. Recently pagans have been taking a greater part in the ecumenical scene as well as the political scene to powerful effect. There are two elected pagan officials in the United States (both ran publicly as pagans in their respective races and each is from a different political party).  And I think we all remember the role Selena Fox and Circle Sanctuary Coven played in helping Wiccan veterans gain the right to pentacles on their graves. Over the last few years there was seemingly a vacant spot for much pagan theology, but pagans have stepped up to the plate and their are a lot of great books out there.

Frankly, theology is heavy stuff, and I can’t say I have read everything out there. But, I have read four very good books on specialized topics in the pagan sphere: polytheism, henotheism, pagan ethics, and magic over psychology.

A World Full of Gods by Michael Greer

This is pure theology on the subject of polytheism. This is an unapologetic appraisal of the philosophical arguments for athiesm and monotheism and the way in which polytheism trumps the issues between each an arises a viable option. Much of this book is focused on atheism and classical monotheism and so sometimes can feel a little off topic for a polytheist, but a survey of those theologies is necessary to create the space for a new polytheology. Greer is a druid, but little of his discussion focuses on anything celtic. More often than not, Hinduism as the large scale polytheist body holds the most powerful examples and has a greater history of theology for him to draw on. Believe me, it works and aids in crediting the pagan movement as what we who practice it to know it to be: a better option for living today and on this planet.

Four out of Five stars!

Devoted to You Edited by Judy Harrow

One of the ways of being polytheist, is henotheism. Henotheism is worshipping specifically one god among many. All the pagan’s focus is on that one god or goddess. This book, although it is subtitled as a Wiccan publication, actually has essays relevant to Egyptian, Celtic, Reclaiming and Greek pagan practices. While all four essays are excellent, for myself, the Essay by Alexei Kondretiv on Brigit was most excellent and relevant to my life. I am not a henotheist, I, like most pagans today, worship different gods and goddesses at different times based on the season, need, or holiday. However, henotheism is a valid and fascinating path, and understanding more about it, will help pagans understand each other.

Five stars, something for everyone!

The Other Side of Virtue Brenden Myers

There are several ethics books out there today for pagans. Myers breaks from the standard harm none rhetoric and examines an Aristotelian virtue based ethical system. Couched in classical polytheist history, virtue ethics is a great lens to focus on what the myths and legends can guide us through life choices and a code of honor. The strange part of the virtue ethics is they seem to be gendered and Myers does not spend very much time examining the female aspect or reconciling the dichotimy of a gendered virtues system. Don’t get me wrong he does address it, but I felt like I needed more, being a female reader.

Four out of Five Stars

UnderWorld Initiation by RJ Stewart

This classic out of print book is needed more today than ever. RJ Stewart takes on the emasculation of magic from psychology head on. He explains why magic falls beyond the reach of psychology and urges magicians to look deeper than the popular discipline to find enlightenment. Stewart examines the symbols in English folk songs to fish out an authentic magical tradition. He merges the trees of initiation together with the Qubala Tree of Life and makes his own corrections to the system to lead the magician on a shamanic path to underworld initiation. This book is very heavy. Often the words although plainer language than some ceremonial jargon were still over my head. I needed a dictionary on hand to expand my vocabulary. Don’t read this book while you are distracted, the meaty stuff takes quiet and concentration to absorb. I suspect I will need multiple readings of this book. However, I think that the struggle is worth it. This book delivers.

Four out of Five stars.

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Coven and Family

Coven and Family

Gushing begins:

The other day, a new friend came over. I was running out of things to talk to her about, so I went to get my tarot and oracle card collection. It is only about five sets, so not too overwhelming, but something interesting to look at and to prompt conversations. The cards were pretty and we talked about the purposes of the different sets: The Celtic Shaman set is for aiding journeying, the Tarot sets have multiple uses including divination, The oracle sets are easier to use than tarot, the various types of tarot, etc. What my friend really liked was the bags that I kept my tarot in. She noticed that most were handmade and that someone must really love me to put so much care into a present. Well, as a matter of fact several someones love me very much! My various tarot bags were all given to me by fellow witches. Three of witch were handmade by each of my coven mates. I have a knitted one with a sweet little crescent moon and star charm, an applicayed one with Spanish image of the La Luna trump card on it, and a velvet silk lined one with a stag charm. The magic and handcrafted love that goes into these adds to their power and make the perfect homes for such special items as my tarot and oracle cards.

These simple material items aren’t, of course, all that my coven and witch friends provide me. Meeting other witches and working in any sort of group provides close friendship, help and assistance when you need it, opportunities to learn new skills and advanced interpersonal skills. I would never be rude about someone being a solitary, in fact I think it is a normal stage in any witches life to retreat and focus on the self. However, I would persuade others to consider a witch group as an option. My group doesn’t push me to do things some weird way. We plan rituals together, and we come together on things. I am not giving in, I am entering into win-win situations. (Which are similar to compromise but even better). When we plan together we all get what we want and then even more, because new ideas are introduced that provide even better experiences.

My coven mates give me opportunity to explore my storytelling interests, we grow gardens together and share tips, and we make things together. When I am sick or one of them is sick we perform healing rituals and make healing potions for each other. I never ever ever feel the need to write to an online community asking people I don’t know and love to send me healing energy. I have an abundance of people I trust fully to take care of that for me, and I for them.

Oh and the holidays, the holidays we celebrate together. If you could see them: A chosen family of friends dancing around a maypole, sitting by the fire roasting marshmallows for s’mores, eating a dumb supper and sharing stories of ancestors until you can feel the words shared present in spirit with you.

Coven at Lughnassadah

Coven at Lughnassadah

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Hekate

Hekate by Sara Star

In my attempts to keep you updated on what I am doing, here are some paintings I have been making for a coven mate:

Above you can see the goddess of crossroads, Hekate. She is also the goddess of where sky, sea and land meet. In recent folklore, she is associated with the three faces of the moon, and the three ages of woman. She is also, in recent folklore, considered a Witch goddess. Here here crone face and the void moon are facing the viewer.

Demeter

Demeter by Sara Star

Demeter has already found her place on a makeshift altar my coven mate’s daughter put together. In fact, a five year old took this photograph. Both of these paintings are based on ancient sculptures and reliefs, but of course I add my own touches. Demeter is the patron goddess of the Elysian Mystery Cult. And for this reason, the image of her with golden grain is very descriptive. Demeter is also a two faced goddess of summer and winter. When her beloved daughter Persephone is with her lover in Hades, Demeter is sad and desolate.

Despite moving this into a new house a week ago, I have already set up my Yule tree, and I will get a good photograph to share with you soon.

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