The Blooming Staff: Praise Ialdabaoth!; or, Notes Toward a Treatise on Averse Gnosticism

In his essay “Base Materialism and Gnosticism,” French philosopher Georges Bataille extols the potential value of a kind of Averse Gnosticism — a Gnosticism in which the demiurge of the material world, considered by the ancient Gnostics to be the “chief guard” of the prison of matter, and therefore a malevolent being, is in fact the object of worship and devotion. [Read more…]

The Blooming Staff: Getting Up on Our Stilts, or, Notes Toward a Manifesto of Catholic Decadence

Unlike the doomed protagonists of the Gothic novel and the later weird writers (H.P. Lovecraft and his circle), who attempted to subdue the forces of darkness with their philosophical reason and were crushed by the noumenal terror of a cosmos indifferent or hostile to humanity, the Decadent Catholics made themselves the villains of a gothic tale of their own making, an appropriate role for English Catholics who were the villains of the Protestant imaginary of the earlier generation. [Read more…]

Happily Heathen: Know Your Lore — The Poetic Edda

As a new Heathen, people are often told to read “the sagas and the Eddas.” However, this can be a bit overwhelming to those unfamiliar with Old Norse spelling and pronunciation. This situation is further worsened by the somewhat stilted, archaic-sounding translations of the key texts. So what’s a newbie Heathen to do? [Read more…]

The Blooming Staff: Under the Hill

What is the meaning of this column’s title, The Blooming Staff? For a long time I tried, and failed, to choose: between decadence and morality, between paganism and Christianity, between individualism and the collective good. Certain dualities—the constant back and forth between division and unity, between devotion and blasphemy—recur frequently, an unresolved dialectic. [Read more…]

Star Made Witch: Shakespeare and the Stars (Book Review)

Learning planetary magic and astrological systems hasn’t come easy to me. So when our channel editor, Jason Mankey, offered up Shakespeare and the Stars for review, I thought maybe this will finally be something I can easily relate to in astrology. [Read more…]

Hills of the Horizon: Narrative Theology III – the Doughnut and the Dice

One of the things about stories is of course the way they keep turning up, over and over, in variable forms. A story about the voices of the ancestors. And about meditating doughnuts. And an imaginary alien. They’re all the same story, in the end. [Read more…]

Star Made Witch: The Witch of Portobello (Book Review)

The Witch of Portobello is about a Romani orphan who was a refugee to London with her Lebanese parents. This variety of heritages Sherine Khalil, nicknamed Athena, has access to makes this story a globe trotter. Everywhere the woman stops we get a sense of the unique struggles of each country. Increasing the diversity this novel can portray is the interesting narrative structure of storytelling via several dozen characters who Athena touched throughout her life before it was cut too short by her violent and random murder. [Read more…]

Making Light: My Little Pony on My Little Altar

Never mind that the unicorns described by Ancient Greeks were actually rhinoceroses, “unicorn horn” was often narwhal, or that in Greece in the 5th century BCE “unicorn=purity” may not have been a thing. That’s not relevant. That connection was there in my brain before I even knew that I’d be following a Hellenic path. This wee smidge of syncretism is more about my very own brains and the experiences and knowledge tangled up in there than it is about “what the Ancient Greeks did.” [Read more…]

Irish-American Witchcraft: Books On Irish Paganism and the Fairy Faith

When it comes to my particular flavor of witchcraft people occasionally ask me to recommend books that would be good for people interested in following the same approach. There are many other really important books that a person should be familiar with and I thought for this week’s blog I’d give a short list of some of them as well as a few other mixed media items that can be enormously helpful in familiarizing people with the mythology and folk practices. [Read more…]

Adventures in Wortcunning: Spelling as Witchery

“I never had any large respect for good spelling. That is my feeling yet. Before the spelling-book came with its arbitrary forms, men unconsciously revealed shades of their characters and also added enlightening shades of expression to what they wrote by their spelling, and so it is possible that the spelling-book has been a doubtful benevolence to us.” ~Mark Twain [Read more…]