Can a human being be the spirit of a place?

My Marie Laveau altar for St. John's Eve

 Marie Laveau has been on my mind of late.  Ever since I went to Mardi Gras, actually, and visited her (reputed) tomb and left a token there among the offerings left by tourists and other pilgrims. I do that sort of thing fairly often, actually, usually at the grave sites of writers I admire. (William Faulkner and Eudora Welty both like bourbon). When I went back to New Orleans recently, I stayed in a hotel, the Inn on St. Ann, that according to legend was once run by Marie Laveau as a … [Read more...]

The Witchcraft of Place

pokeweed

Every so often, I teach a workshop I call "Ditch Witch:  Magical Uses of Common Roadside Plants."  When I first started working on the idea, I sat down and wrote all of the names and uses of plants I could think of, restricting myself to ones you would normally see just walking around.  When I got to twenty-five, I decided I had enough to go on with and started culling it down to the few most useful and common ones, to prevent overload.It helps that I have the vast well of knowledge that is S … [Read more...]

The Past is a Place We Still Inhabit

Roman Aqueduct in Segovia, Spain (CC Manuel González Olaechea y Franco)

...what allows historians to historicize the medieval or the ancient is the very fact these worlds are never completely lost.  We inhabit their fragments even when we classify ourselves as modern and secular.--Dipesh Chakrabarty, Provincializing Europe As I've stated before, the disenchantment of the earth is not only something that happens "to us," but something which occurs through us, whether conscious or not.  Recognizing our complicity in the disenchantment of the  world is essential if … [Read more...]

Oiche Fhéile Bhríde: The Eve of St. Brighid’s Feast

Tomorrow night is perhaps one of the most celebrated in Ireland.  No, there won’t be any mad parties or green beer; not even wild heathen drumming on the High Places.  Instead, the evening is about family, purification, and continuity of ancient practice.You see, the last night of January is the eve of St. Brighid’s Feast–the eve of Imbolc–and it’s a big deal.  The indigenous Irish marked the beginning of their festivals at sundown, and deemed that dark time especially potent.  [Consider … [Read more...]

Paganism’s Messiah Complex

Red Moths

Or, the Anthropocentrism of Western PaganismOccasionally, within pagan circles, I happen across a troubling component of the western centric world view, and one that I find particularly antithetical to pagan values: anthropocentrism.  The belief that human-persons are the most significant species on the planet, plays out within paganism in subtle and tricky ways.  Most of us would balk at the outright notion that our species is superior, yet I often hear how humans have a divine role as m … [Read more...]

Cycles of Cultural Destruction

As I drove my mom's car South from her home towards my son's winery, I enjoyed the beauty of Eastern Washington while my mom read articles to me from the collection I'd recently added to Pocket. I didn't expect her to be interested in the Pagan articles, but she surprised me by reading Echoes of an Older God, a post about Arthur as a Pagan deity. As she read that post and we drove through miles of wide open American land, my thoughts wandered off to the problem of colonialism, empire builders, … [Read more...]

The Place Where I’m Not Weird

Sea Creatures.  Art in Beacon Hill Light Rail Station, Seattle, Washington

Once again I find myself on the West Coast of the United States for a short while. There is something about the cultural space from about San Francisco northward and into lower British Columbia that makes me feel "normal". This is the geographic region where, for the most part, I can be completely me without worrying that I'm saying or doing something culturally inappropriate. My tone of voice is understood within various contexts. My tendency to say nice things to people -- including total … [Read more...]


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X