Nine Things I Think is 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. There’s no theme, just nine things I want to bring to your attention. Feel free to expand on any of these topics in the comments section.
1) I’m really enjoying reading the accounts of Pagan Tea Time conversations. There’s nothing quite like meeting someone in person, but Skype is a very useful – and affordable – substitute. This is a good start to the kind of conversation and collaboration I had in mind for a Druid college.
Along these lines, Jason Mankey and I will be hosting a Pagan Tea Time Google Hangout on Wednesday, February 5 from 7:00 PM till 8:30 PM CST (that’s an 8:00 PM start in the East and a 5:00 PM start on the West Coast). We’ve already had a few responses – come hang out and talk Pagan stuff with us.
I’ve had a couple requests for one-on-one calls and I’d love to do more, but they’re going to have to wait till after Pantheacon.
2) And that’s because I’m in the middle of John’s 2014 Winter Pagan Intensive. Last weekend I drove to Houston for the Melting POT – Pagans of Texas gathering. This Saturday is Denton CUUPS’ Imbolc Circle, and Sunday I’m officiating a handfasting. Next weekend I’m driving to Central Texas for the ADF Texas Imbolc Retreat where I’ll be leading two workshops. The weekend of February 14 is my first trip to Pantheacon in San Jose, California.
At the same time, I’m leading a class in Magical Theory and Practice, facilitating a deeper practice group, and trying to maintain my own studies. Plus keep up with this blog and my paying job.
If you’d like to do a Pagan Tea Time chat, contact me some time after February 18.
3) I’m thrilled to be part of this year’s Pan Druid Retreat, May 8 – 11 in Virginia. I’m honored to be part of a panel discussion on Approaching the Sacred Through Ritual with fellow OBOD Druid Art Scarbrough, ADF Archdruid Kirk Thomas, and Ivo Dominguez Jr. When I talked about Five Ritualists at Dinner, this is very close what I had in mind.
Ideas that were expressed symbolically are manifesting in our world – ah, magic!
4) Damh the Bard has a new single titled “The Wicker Man” inspired by his experience of Wicker Man camps, where huge wooden effigies are built and then burned in sacrifice. There’s not enough talk – or enough action – in the modern Pagan community about sacrifice: what it is, what it isn’t, and why it’s necessary. This song goes a long way toward correcting that.
“The Wicker Man” is, in my personal opinion, Damh’s best song since “The Cauldron Born” in 2008. The video for it is pretty good too.
No uptight British police sergeants were harmed in the making of this video.
an album of transformation … of stripping back and letting go of everything that was holding me back, and of reaching a point of vulnerability that allows for true growth … Even though the 12 songs explore my own journey, they are really celebrating universal themes of death and rebirth, of descent and re-awakening. It’s your story, too! And it’s Mother Earth’s story.
Black Snake is clearly inspired by The Descent of Inanna, and not just the song “Ereshkigal.” It sounds and feels like what I’ve come to expect from Wendy Rule: spiritual, mystical, and ethereal. If you like Wendy’s other music, you’ll like Black Snake. If you haven’t heard Wendy before, go to her website or to YouTube and check her out.
6) The recent Pagan shouting match over the term “polytheist” and who gets to use it strikes me as unfortunate, even if it was perhaps inevitable. I suspect that as various Pagans dive deeper into Divinity as they understand and experience it, increasingly precise language will be required. Our challenge will be to develop language that is clear and meaningful without being confusing to newcomers.
I really like this piece by P. Sufenas Virius Lupus, who says “I’m going to call myself a ‘devotional polytheist’ from now on.” “Hard polytheism” – a term I have used to describe myself – is an arbitrary term setting up a binary opposition with “soft polytheism” (the belief that all Gods are aspects of one God). But the Pagan world is far more diverse than hard or soft. “Devotional polytheist” isn’t just a label, it’s also a fitting description of those who see the Gods as real, distinct, individual beings with agency.
Rather than trying to come up with some grand taxonomy of polytheism, I think it would be much more helpful for me to simply talk about what I’ve experienced, what I believe, what I do, and why. Look for “Why I Am a Devotional Polytheist” in the near future.
7) In the social media world, Facebook is the 500 pound gorilla. Under the Ancient Oaks gets far more traffic via Facebook than from any other source, and about 20x more than from Google+. Unfortunately, Facebook is trying to use that influence like a 500 pound gorilla, throttling posts from everyone and choking off posts from organizational pages unless the page owners pay to “promote” them.
A simple way to make sure you get all the posts from Under the Ancient Oaks (and the other blogs on Patheos) is to subscribe by e-mail. Simply enter your address in the box on the right of the screen. You’ll get e-mail notifications when new posts go up, and you won’t be signing up for a boatload of spam.
8) The Winter Olympics begin next Friday in Sochi, Russia. There has been controversy over Russia’s anti-gay laws and concerns about security, and there is always concern about the cost of the games. This is particularly troublesome in host countries whose desire for national pride and international recognition is greatly exceeded by the need of their citizens.
Though I’m not a big winter sports fan, I’ll be watching at least some of the events. While a few of the athletes are star performers making star money, most are ordinary people who have made immense sacrifices to train and compete. We see them for a few minutes every four years – they live lives devoted to training, treatment, rest, and very little else. Even if can’t relate to cross country skiing or speed skating or luge, I can admire the dedication of those who’ve reached the Olympic level.
And perhaps, learn something from them.
9) Finally, this Sunday is perhaps the highest of the High Holy Days of American culture, the Super Bowl. Yes, I’ll be watching, and not just for the commercials. As I’ve mentioned before, I love football, especially when I don’t have a team in the game and can enjoy it without screaming every time something bad happens.
I love the city of Seattle and I have no animosity toward the Seahawks, but I’ll be pulling for Denver. I’ve been a Peyton Manning fan ever since he walked into Neyland Stadium at the University of Tennessee in 1994. He’s a rare athlete with superior physical skills and superior intelligence and superior work habits. I’d love for him to get a second Super Bowl ring… and maybe a third next year.
What I’m not loving is the location. While I enjoy watching football played in bad weather, in a championship game I want to focus totally on the players. Bad calls are a part of the game, but I don’t want to see the Super Bowl turn on a questionable holding penalty. Likewise, I’d hate to see the outcome of the game influenced by cold or snow or especially by wind. New York has a lot of clout in professional sports – no other cold weather city has ever hosted an outdoor Super Bowl. Hopefully this will be the only one.
That’s what I’m thinking – what about you?