Nine Things I Think

I know, other bloggers do “Ten Things I Think,” but I’m a Druid so I’m doing nine.

Nine Things I Think will be an irregular feature whenever I have a list of things I want to talk about that aren’t long enough for their own individual posts. Some may be expanded later, but most won’t. There’s no theme, just nine things I want to bring to your attention.

1) Prince Herne has a nice ring to it, don’t you think? It’s an English name, it has historical associations with royalty, and it’s definitely different from the usual Charles or William or Edward or George. I suspect his grandfather might approve… his great-grandmother, not so much.

2) Like many Americans, I’m fascinated (though not obsessed) with British royalty. I love the history, the tradition and the pageantry, even as the egalitarian UU in me screams about the unfairness of spending millions to support a few in luxury based solely on their bloodline. I suppose it’s not much different than spending millions to maintain old buildings in the name of heritage.

Instead of royalty, we Americans obsess over celebrities, and like everything else in this country, when we get tired of them we tear them down, throw them away and find new ones. There’s something to be said for the British way.

3) The Hyundai Elantra is a nice little car and I don’t mind driving it, but I want my Prius back from the body shop. Again. Preferably with deflector shields installed on the rear bumper. Time to compose a heavy-duty warding spell.

4) Journeys of the Soul is another book that should be on every Druid’s must-read list. It’s Philip Carr-Gomm’s biography of OBOD founder Ross Nichols. Part factual biography, part tribute by a student to his beloved teacher, and part collection of Nichols’ writings, it’s a look into the life of a quiet man whose importance has only been recognized after his death.

Nichols was a friend of Gerald Gardner (they belonged to the same naturist society) and did some editing on Gardner’s books. If you’ve read Gardner’s original Book of Shadows you know he needed a good editor. They make an interesting contrast: Nichols, a very private educator and Druid, and Gardner, a flamboyant and public Witch. It’s no surprise Wicca became far more popular – it’s also no surprise I ended up in the order Nichols founded.

5) I’m not enjoying this season of True Blood. The show broke completely away from the Sookie Stackhouse books last season (never a good thing), then producer Alan Ball left. I had high hopes the new producers would create tighter stories focusing on the main characters, but instead they’ve gone even further into fantastical and weak attempts at social commentary (good social commentary is fine, but without a good story the message is forced). Too many storylines, characters acting out of character, weak plots, and ridiculous dialogue. There are four more episodes (this season only has 10 instead of 12 like the first five seasons) – hopefully it will all make sense by the end. Ratings are down slightly, but True Blood has been renewed for a seventh season in June 2014.

6) Morpheus Ravenna is doing some excellent scholarly work on ancient Celtic religion and on the goddess Morrigan. Her most recent blog post “Ghost stories of Gaul” is a description of a pre-Roman Gaulish temple. We’ve all heard the Celts had no temples, but what is absent from the written record (because of the Celts’ oral tradition and because of the Romans’ propaganda) is clear in the archeological record. I love the way Morpheus blends history, myth and mystical experience into her worship of and service to Morrigan. The more good sources we can incorporate into our religion, the more robust it will be.

7) Cynthia Talbot and I could talk all afternoon on our ideas about the origins of religion. Cynthia is an anthropologist by training, while my scientific interest in the origins of life has spread to the origins of humanity, of language, and of religion. But in a four hour class on Modern Pagan Religion, there’s only so much time we can allocate to our ideas about the ancients. We managed to cover paleolithic religion, classical paganism, the Axial Age, pagan survivals (and the lack thereof), and the beginnings of the Pagan restoration in about an hour and a half, which left us two and a half hours for our presentation on what modern Paganism is all about.

How much history do you really need to be a good practitioner of Paganism or any other religion? I don’t know, but considering how much bad history I see in Paganism, in Christianity, and in our mainstream culture, I don’t think you can get too much.

8) I’m as excited about Denton CUUPS upcoming Cernunnos Ritual on August 3 as I’ve been about any public circle in years. I’ve led rituals honoring Cernunnos before, but always along with another deity or deities (most notably this past Winter Solstice). Three weeks ago I wrote about the inspiration for this ritual. Now I’ve got the script finished – Cynthia and I are getting together this weekend to fine tune it. But while there’s a script, the main event will be mostly unscripted. What will happen depends on what Cernunnos decides to do and how everyone in attendance decides to respond. I’m not comfortable with open-ended responses. But as a priest, it’s not my job to be comfortable. It’s my job to honor Cernunnos and to create an environment where people will hear him. So that’s what we’re doing.

9) I’m glad Patheos exists, and not just because they host my blog, and not just because my pageviews are double what they were on Blogger. I like being a part of a multi-faith website that doesn’t try to diminish the very real differences between religions, but instead brings together dedicated practitioners of many religions to talk about what they think, what they believe, and what they do. I like reading commentary from Evangelical, Progressive, and Catholic Christians. I like reading thoughtful essays from atheists, Buddhists, and Muslims. And I especially like that Pagans get equal billing with everyone else. If you haven’t wandered through some of the other channels here at Patheos, I encourage you to do so. You never know what you might learn.

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About John Beckett

I’m a Druid in the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids. I’m an ordained priest in the Universal Gnostic Fellowship. I’m the Coordinating Officer of the Denton, Texas Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans. This year I’m also serving as a member of the Board of Trustees of CUUPS National. I’m a member of the Denton Unitarian Universalist Fellowship.

I write as a spiritual practice. It helps me organize my thoughts and work through ideas and concepts. It helps me evaluate my beliefs and practices against my core values and against what I know (or at least, what I think I know) to be true. It helps me interpret my experiences (religious and otherwise) in ways that are both meaningful and honest.

  • Lēoht Sceadusawol

    I do believe that the (half) royal sprog will have to be named after an existing monarch, which means Herne is off the list.

    Personally, I’d like him to be named Arwald, after the last pagan king of the Anglo Saxon period of England. (He was a Jutish king of the Isle of Wight who fought against conversion, but the Christians did one of the most vile things I can imagine.)

  • http://www.patheos.com/Pagan Christine Kraemer

    Very glad you’re happy here! We’re thrilled to have you. :)

  • Morpheus Ravenna

    Thanks for the shout out, John. I had a lot of fun writing that little tale. And anyway, the ghosts wouldn’t let me sleep until I did. :)
    That sounds like an excellent class on religion. You didn’t record it, did you?

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnbeckett/ John Beckett

      No recordings. It’s less of a lecture and more of a conversation between me, Cynthia, and the other participants in the class. I don’t think it would translate well to audio or video. We’ve talked about putting something together, but it would have to be a lot tighter and shorter.


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