The Four Centers of Paganism

Centers of Paganism

Welcome to Under the Ancient Oaks, a thoughtful little blog on the Patheos Pagan Channel.  I’m John Beckett, and as the header says, I’m a Pagan, a Druid, and a Unitarian Universalist.  Earlier this week I felt called to respond to the misogyny in our society after the killings in Isla Vista, California.  Apparently what I had to say resonated with a lot of people, because traffic on this blog is up.  A lot.  More people read Dude, It’s You in its first 24 hours than visit in a typical month. … [Read more...]

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...]

The Pagan World in 2064

The Temple of Isis at Pompeii.  A few dozen people could stand in the courtyard, but only a handful of priests would fit in the sanctuary itself.  Temples don’t have to be large.

Patheos Pagan Managing Editor Christine Kraemer has thrown out a challenge for bloggers for March.  She asks “As Pagans, what do we hope to build?”  Here’s Christine’s full question: Much of the current dialogue in the Pagan blogosphere is about carving out ways to explain and justify our personal experiences and beliefs in relation to other traditions, but without a clear vision of the place our own traditions and experiences might have in an ideal world. Will the Pagan movement become one trad … [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...]

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...]

Nine Things I Think

ECG 2012

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.  Some may be expanded later, but most won’t.  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)  Concrescent Press bills itself as “the union of practice and scholarship.”  Its new volume Pathways in Modern Western Magic is just that.  It’s a collectio … [Read more...]

Success in an Age of Decline

Would you call Henry David Thoreau successful?  He lived here for two years.

Gordon White of Rune Soup is someone I rarely quote but always read.  I found him while looking for information on chaos magic – his Ultimate Sigil Magic Guide is one of the most useful magical how-to articles I’ve ever seen.  Sometimes he veers into theories I find unlikely, but he presents them well and he’s never, ever boring.  And his photographs are awesome.His most recent post is a commentary on the economic realities of the declining Western world: This year I am on track to make more … [Read more...]