Ad Hoc Angels

A place to sit and pay attention

There is a story that I've heard a few times about a little boy born and raised in Nazareth in Israel whose parents were from Russia. Like many toddler children of immigrant parents, he spoke his parents' native tongue as well as the Hebrew, so when the family went back to Russia to visit the grandparents, the little boy had no trouble communicating aside from a slight accent that was doubly cute in a three or four year old. One day, while on that trip to Russia, the little boy was playing in a … [Read more...]

The puzzle of the Mother of Modern Witchcraft — a village witch who lived in a tower block

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It's almost a fortnight now since Doreen Valiente - author, poet, and hailed as the Mother of Modern Witchcraft - was honoured by the public unveiling of a 'blue plaque' at her place of residence, campaigned for and paid for by the efforts of The Centre for Pagan Studies.Blue plaques are permanent - and rather lovely - signs mounted on buildings to commemorate famous, important or influential people who lived or worked there.You might think, being one of founders of Wicca, and … [Read more...]

Celebrating Dissent

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Back home in the States today, fireworks explode, symphonies play the battle hymns of our Republic, picnics and apple pie bring family and friends together; all in celebration of the nation's birth--the birth of the American Myth.  The American mythos and story of Place center around freedom, democracy and the ideal of patriotism.  These are bold, and modern, mythologies that stir the blood and sense of national pride.  But just what is it that Americans are proud of?  Giving the two finger sal … [Read more...]

Syncretism: An Immigrant’s Path

Diversity Quilt, Image by Oregon Department of Transportation, click to see on Flickr.

Finding the spirit and flow of the place where I am is an important part of my spiritual practice, but not every practice I hold is specific to place. Just as I eat foreign foods and local dishes, and just as I say uniquely Scottish words with an obvious California accent, my practice is blend of here and there. My practice has always been a bit of a blend of things, certainly in my adult life, but even in my childhood I had an internal religion that did not map exactly to the conservative … [Read more...]

She cries: Summer Solstice in Scotland

The view from my office window earlier today. Yes, that is a hawthorn covered in 'May' blossom.

Early this morning was the moment of the summer solstice in the northern hemisphere. Happy Solstice one and all!This past week has held more sunny days than I think we've had all year so far in my neck of the woods. Usually, Oengus shows us his glowing face from mid-April to the summer solstice, off and on. This year, as far as the hawthorns are concerned, it may as well still be Beltaine. Instead of spring, we've had a protracted winter, which is only now warming into something more … [Read more...]

When the Sun Stands Still: Summer Solstice in Ireland

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The light, gold, like the deep raw honey of summer, washes the front garden.  The sun rests just over the eastern ridge, risen less than 30 minutes, but the first light, the uncanny gold--like a crown--wakes me.  This mysterious morning light rouses me every time, every year.  By half five I am called out of my warm bed to crawl, on all fours, to the low cottage window and peer sleepily out at the waking world.In truth, it may be the dawn chorus that stirs me from my slumber with its song.  M … [Read more...]

Dreaming My Way Through The Labyrinth

Footpath in Queens Park, Glasgow

There was a period of about seven years in my 20s when I thought I knew what I was doing with my life. I had plans and goals. I was doing things that moved me along a clear path. I put one foot in front of the other, I did my work well, and there was no reason to think that something was going to throw me completely off that path and send me into some strange journey into the unknown. It's not that I knew the future exactly. It's just that I knew the basic shape of what I was doing, and things … [Read more...]


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