A Typology of Pagan Groups

Given the commonality of the basic Gardnerian liturgical pattern, it is useful to propose a typology based on how closely the various Pagan groups resemble the Gardnerians, resemblances created because it was the “Gardnerian magnet, as Chas Clifton labeled it, that set off the Pagan Renaissance in the 1960s. I must emphasize that this typology does not reveal an organizational structure. Resemblance to Gardnerian practice does not imply that Witches of other Traditions regard the Gardnerians as h … [Read more...]

Songs for the Book of Shadows[1]

I. Conjuration of the Charging OilI conjure salt for savor,I conjure oil for pleasure,I conjure water for the lightning hour,I conjure the fivefold leaf for power. Lady, comb the threads through thorns,Lead the light between the horns,Ring the circle from the world,And all the snarls of karma be uncurled.II. The Prayer of the FeetBlessed be the feet that have walked in the kingdom of Death.Blessed be the feet that have returned from the … [Read more...]

The Fascinations of Gnosticism, Part IV: The Gospel According toMary

A copy of this document had been in a library since late in the nineteenth century, but its significance was not realized until it also turned up as one of the Nag Hammadi documents. If I were writing this as a scholarly paper, it would be overwhelmed with footnotes, but I’m keeping this readable. If you are interested in all this, please see the research by Elaine Pagels and other current women scholars.What follows is from its ending.[I know enough about Coptic to improve the t … [Read more...]

The Fascinations of Gnosticism, Part III

Now it’s time to let you see some of the most interesting and easiest to understand passages from the Gnostic writings. [From the Gospel of Thomas]His students said to him, "When will the kingdom come?"Jesus said, "It will not come by watching for it. It will not be said, 'Look, here!' or 'Look, there!' Rather, the Father's kingdom is spread out upon the earth, and people don't see it."Jesus said, “If your leaders say to you, 'Look, the (Father's) kingdom is in the sky,' … [Read more...]

The Fascinations of Gnosticism, Part II

I hope you were able to hang with the personal history in Part I. It’s there because for me Gnosticism is not merely an academic historical puzzle, but instead highly relevant for current religious concerns. For example, the vision of an utterly different sort of Christianity allowed by the Nag Hammadi documents is a vision of a religion that could not only be compatible with the Craft, but also enrich it. I have played with such possibilities in my Goddess Murder novel, such play having been t … [Read more...]

The Fascinations of Gnosticism, Part I

As I recall, I first read about the existence of Gnosticism in about 1971 or 2, perhaps from R.M.Grant’s Gnosis and Early Christianity  (that may not be the exact title) or from Richard Cavendish’s The Black Arts. Both of them said enough about it to fire my curiosity. I very much liked the antinomian flavor of this alternative Christianity they described.At that time, I was interested in the Synoptic problem; I don’t remember why or how it first came to my attention. Alta wondered, during ou … [Read more...]

Four Pagan Poems

In a Barber's Chair[1]  "Before me and, I know, behindTunnels the mirrored mirror of myself.""At least, your self that reflectsOn where the edges of reflection meet.`I breathe the mountain air of numbers.'He's ascetic too; he'd seize every minuteTo look between the stars,Wants time diamond-cut, and pure as glass.""In a distant glass, I, illogical,Blackgnarled, a tree."I have mountainsides on every sideWhere one and one are a forestThat … [Read more...]

“Mary Has Chosen the Better Vocation. Do Not Take It Away from Her.”

One problem for a Catholic, even an ethnic Catholic like me, is that getting a Ph.D. tends to make you think you have the right to argue with the Pope, even if he doesn’t think so. Actually, one has a duty to argue with the Pope, because few laypeople have had enough theological training to even know what the conversation is actually about. When the Pope is wrong, it is a sin of omission not to tell him so.Recently Benedict XVI gave a public statement in which he said that pedophilia com … [Read more...]

Turning Point, Part III

[This is Part III of the first chapter of my autobiography. You do need to read the first two parts in order to follow the plot here.]From 1974 to 1976, I freelanced almost fulltime for Freeman. But then, in late 1976, when Gunder Hefta, my good friend from the poetry program at San Francisco State, who had become Managing Editor after John retired, decided to move on, the Germans sent Elaine (we have completed that loop), with orders to cut loose all those uppity editors with ridiculously … [Read more...]

Turning Point, Part II

[This continues the first chapter of my autobiography. If you have not read the first installment, posted yesterday, you do need to in order to follow the story here.]After I had graduated with my M.A. in Poetry from San Francisco State in June of 1968, I went to John Gildersleeve, then the Managing Editor at W. H. Freeman and Co., for whom I had done some freelance editing, and asked if he had an opening for me.“Ordinarily I wouldn’t,” he said, “but there is a possibility.”So, becaus … [Read more...]