A Pagan Almanac: Day One

A Pagan Almanac for July 19, 2012Lunar cycle: Day 1, first crescentRome: The LucariaAthens: First day of Hekatombaion, “Month of a hundred sacrifices,” sacred to Apollo. New Year’s Day.Martyred on this day in 1692: Sarah Good of Salem Village Elizabeth How of Topsfield Susanna Martin of Amesbury Rebecca Nurse Sarah Wilde of Topsfield They died in our name. Let us remember theirs.William Blake wrote: Let the Priests of the Ravens of dawn no longer, in deadly black, with … [Read more...]

The Three-Dimensional Structure of the Pagan Movement

In writing about the history of the Craft, I have been often perplexed about how to tell a story in which everything is related to everything else, and it all seems to be happening at the same time. Iit took me quite a while to realize that an adequate description of the movement requires a three-dimensional map, much like a tapestry.The first dimension is chronological, describing how groups evolved and proliferated over time. This dimension includes description of the “Traditions” with whi … [Read more...]

What Is a Witch?

I am not silly enough to suppose that everyone, or even a majority among Witches, will agree with everything I will be saying here. However, I have been thinking about this question for quite a while, and I think that some systematic consideration of the issues involved can provide some clarity.The vast majority of Pagans in America are those who call themselves Witches. But what exactly does “Witch” mean? As linguists know, the etymology of a word often has very little to do with how the wor … [Read more...]

Why the Craft Is an “In Your Face” Religion

Earlier today, on Charles Arnold’s e-group on Linkedin, someone expressed surprise that the fundamentalist Christians are attacking Pagans more and more viciously. I think such surprise can arise only from not understanding what Paganism is now all about.Most people, including Pagans, are not well-informed about their religion or about religion in general. However, the percentage of well-informed people in current Pagan religions, and especially in the Craft, is significantly higher than in m … [Read more...]

Aphrodiphobia, Part VI: Religion as Ecstasy

The woman whom I named Lilith has been my friend for more than forty years now. We were emailing each other a few years ago, discussing the year 1970. She has agreed to let me share part of her story. I have woven the following out of excerpts from those missives.Lilith:I was steeped in the Catholic mystic tradition. Our good Irish nuns were forever telling us about the lives of the saints. For me the whole notion of kneeling on tubercular knees, going into ecstatic states, was "normal" … [Read more...]

Aphrodiphobia, the Sistine Heresy, and Ecstasy, Part I

"If Catholicism were really like what Greeley describes, there would be no need for the Craft." Lady Epona (Julie O'R.)Given what I discuss in the next few installments, please understand that I am not a hostile non-Catholic. I was raised in the church and, after a commodius vicus of recirculation, was trained as a Roman Catholic theologian at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, receiving my Ph.D. in theology from the Franciscan School of Theology (the oldest seminary in the US, … [Read more...]

Why Wicca Is a Major World Religion

Gerald Brosseau Gardner, that strange retired Englishman, created Wicca because he could not find an adequate religion elsewhere. His museum contained hundreds of pamphlets from various minority religions, and dozens of documents about his memberships, initiations, and ordinations; he had been actively searching for many years. He did not create it out of whole cloth; he used many extant materials, but the structure he and his friends gradually evolved from the late 1930s to the early 1960s was … [Read more...]

A Very Strange Novel About Witches and Gnostics

As a writer, I have always been fascinated by historical puzzles, about how various religions actually began, and about the nature of writings and movements about which we know too little to be able to reconstruct them by merely logical methods. I had begun trying to answer the question of how Christianity actually began, and so learned about the existence of the Gnostics, who sounded fascinating, and of The Ante-Nicene Fathers, which contained almost all the information about the Gnostics … [Read more...]

The End of My Catholic Boyhood

Blessed_Virgin_Mary

In order for you, dear reader, to see why I think about religion as I do, you need to know what happened to me at age 14.One Saturday evening in the summer of 1955, I was sitting at my desk in an alcove of the basement suite of rooms my father had built for my brother Bill and me in our house way at the tail end of Tamalpais Valley, the southern branch of Mill Valley (California). I had been having severe cyclic depressions every two or three weeks for about a year; one was on me that … [Read more...]

“Human Life Is Sacred”: My Foray Into Blogging

The blog is launched!

I’m rather excited. Friendship with Star recently ambushed us both—so I have begun writing on here. Star tells me they’ll have me launched today. I like the idea that many people, not just my friends, will be able to read what I write. However, that idea feels like a big responsibility as well, because I will be writing a lot about religion. Religion is a universally important topic, about which the vast majority of people have unfortunately always been taught almost nothing but pernicious nonse … [Read more...]


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