Poor Magicians, Good Magicians

Butchart Gardens, Victoria BC

The recent post asking if a poor magician is a poor magician has generated what for Under the Ancient Oaks is a ton of comments.  Most make valid points, although some have wandered away from the gist of the initial essay.  That theme was succinctly summarized by Phaedra Bonewits when she said “he seems more to be talking about the difference between a life in perpetual chaos and one where the magician has his or her crap reasonably together.”For another perspective on this question, read thi … [Read more...]

A Poor Magician Is A Poor Magician

The Magician

“A poor magician is a poor magician.”I hear this phrase from time to time.  Sometimes it’s proclaimed as a self-evident truth:  if your ordinary life is a mess, you obviously aren’t much of a magic worker or you’d do something to get it in order.  Other times I hear it slammed as victim-blaming of people who are dealing with economic or other problems not of their own making.Right or wrong, the phrase remains in use and it’s worth exploring in a little more depth.First of all, if the … [Read more...]

American Horror Story and the Currents of Magic

AHS Coven final episode 03

This post contains spoilers.  If you haven’t seen the finale of American Horror Story: Coven you may want to come back and read it later.After 13 episodes featuring plot twists, turns and train wrecks, the biggest shocker of all came in the final scene of American Horror Story: Coven – a happy ending.The Pagan community has had a very mixed response to Coven.  I have Facebook friends who rave about it, who wear black on Wednesdays and who claim they should be the next Supreme.  My fellow … [Read more...]

Vision of a Pagan Future

tree with roots and dirt exposed

In yesterday’s Wild Hunt, Jason Pitzl-Waters had an excellent essay titled “Institutions vs Counterculture in Modern Paganism” where he asked if our efforts to “move towards infrastructure and institutions” are in conflict with our efforts to embody and promote values that are very different from the mainstream culture.  That’s a very deep question and Jason gave it a deep exploration.  Here’s an excerpt:I’m not arguing for institution or counterculture, I’m arguing for conscious decisi … [Read more...]

Magical Literacy

spell altar 01

The always insightful Ivo Dominguez Jr. has an essay on PaganSquare titled Paging Thoth & Athena, where he discusses what he calls the lack of magical literacy and numeracy.  Ivo says: there is an increasing percentage of the Pagan community that is magickally illiterate and innumerate.  I’m not saying that people are less serious, less devoted, or less committed to their path. Nor am I saying that the level of discourse has dropped, in fact in many ways it is much more sophisticated in exp … [Read more...]


dabbling? let's just call this a very eclectic altar

Aine Llewellyn of the Dalliances with Deities blog raised an issue I’d like to explore a little more deeply – that of “dabbling.”  Aine says: I would really like to see the term ‘dabbling’ retired from Pagan usage, especially by people who claim to want to build religious communities. If we treated people less like ‘dabblers’ and more like people exploring a religious choice, whatever type of Paganism they may be putting their toes into, we would radically shift the way we approach newcomers and … [Read more...]

Re-enchanting the World

full moon through the trees

If art imitates life, what are the current supernatural TV shows imitating?  As I mentioned in passing last week, it’s the poorly articulated but widespread belief that something is wrong with our world.  It reflects the desire for magical skills to cope with these troublesome times, and an unspoken but clear desire for something more.It reflects a desire to re-enchant the world.But mention re-enchanting the world to many of the same people who are watching The Walking Dead and Sleepy Hol … [Read more...]

Apocalyptic Witchcraft

apocalyptic witchcraft

Apocalyptic Witchcraft by Peter Grey published by Scarlet Imprint 182 pages Hardback: £40, paperback: £15, e-book: £10. (with currency conversion and shipping, my paperback was $31.38) One of the currents running through modern Western society is the idea that something is badly wrong.  We may not be able to articulate it, or we may try to blame it on a convenient scapegoat, but anyone who’s paying attention understands that new iPhones every year can’t hide the fact that we are … [Read more...]