Urban Witchcraft: The Power of Rot

Decomposition : creative commons

In Ireland,  the chthonic energy of decay is experienced as Crom Dubh, the dark, bent one who takes the grain under the ground.  He was a sacrificial god heavily associated with Lughnasadh.  In fact, while many Irish people may never have heard of the ‘festival of Lughnasadh’ (apart from the movie), they have certainly heard of Crom Dubh’s Day: Dé Domhnaigh Crum-Dubh.  This is a day of pilgrimage to the high places: a custom maintained with the yearly climb of Croagh Patrick.  More anciently, Cro … [Read more...]

Urban Witchcraft : Spirit Roads

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Most U.S. witches live in cities.  This probably holds true for most of the western world, since urbanization is on the rise and predicted to grow.  I recently found myself back in an urban environment.  Granted, Austin prides itself on its small town vibe, and funky eclecticism, but it’s no rural Ireland!  The sounds I hear, and the other-than-human-persons I encounter, are different.  Yet, they are still animate, and very eldritch.Since I plan for this to become a multi-part series, let me … [Read more...]

Beauty In Other People’s Faith

Quilts rest on the backs of pews at Peace Lutheran Church in Colfax, Washington, USA, before a special service to bless them and send them out to people in need.

I sat in the back of Peace Lutheran Church this past Sunday, a guest along with my mother in a religious space that is not our own. I was there to support my mom. She was there as part of a special blessing over quilts that she had helped make.Quilts the community had made before were sent to refugees of the conflict in Syria and to evacuees from Hurricane Sandy, and each time the community sent another batch out into the world, they made sure to say a special blessing over the quilts and … [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...]

Naturalizing: Bringing Our Practice Home

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My years in Ireland were like graduate school.  They challenged my thoughts on spirituality, witchcraft, and culture.  While living outside my culture of origin, I chose to drop my identifiers and preconceived ideas.  I sought to experience my culture of residence with fresh eyes and an insider perspective.  Irish mythology and folklore have shaped much of our understanding, and practice of paganism.  The very names used for significant seasonal celebrations are influenced by Irish language and c … [Read more...]

Returning To America : Place As Cultural Experience

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Each time I return from abroad, I am struck by just how different things are here in ‘Murica.  Spaces are large, cars move fast, and people are pointy.  Life in the U.S. is like an oil painting, with layered color, defined texture, and not-so-subtle edges.  Contrast this with the watercolor world that is Ireland, where I have lived for the past three years, and suddenly the two cultures, though shaped and influenced by shared or similar values and forces, appear at polar ends of a cultural spec … [Read more...]

Japan’s Fukushima Disaster and Its Impact on Fish in the Pacific Northwest

A fishing boat in my home port of Auke Bay, Alaska. By Gillfoto, via Wikimedia Commons.

If you have environmentalists as Facebook friends, you may have seen an image and headline making the rounds suggesting that leaking waters from the Fukushima nuclear reactor in Japan is poisoning the waters of the Pacific Ocean. As a passionate lover of wild Alaskan salmon, that had me worried. I've had moments of mild panic thinking that the bounty of the seas may be gone forever.Salmon are the major fruit of harvest season for me. I was raised subsistence fishing in the waters of … [Read more...]


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