Planning Special Rituals

02 20 Roman Forum

I’ve always loved ritual.  The opportunity to compose, lead, and participate in ritual is one of my favorite things about being Pagan.  So it’s no surprise I write about ritual a lot – here are some of my favorite pieces:A Pagan Ritual OutlineCommon Ritual Errors and How to Avoid ThemThe Challenges of Large Public RitualsLast week I saw a request for help on a child naming ceremony.  Then earlier this week I responded to a Facebook request for suggestions on composing a ritual for … [Read more...]

Cernunnos

Cernunnos square

I was a devotee and a priest of Cernunnos long before I started this blog.  Over the years I’ve told parts of my story with Him (here, here, and here, for a good start), probably enough for a diligent reader to piece the whole thing together, if one was so inclined.  I’ve reviewed a very good book of devotions to Him written by others.  What I haven’t done is talk about who and what He is, as He’s presented himself to me.Let’s start with what we know about the history of Cernunnos, which can … [Read more...]

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...]

Memorial Day Reflection

02 09 Boston Common

The beginning of Summer in the United States is neither Beltane nor Summer Solstice but today, the start of the Memorial Day weekend.  All across the country, swimming pools will open, there will be cookouts and parades, and Hollywood moves firmly into popcorn movie season.  The Indianapolis 500 is Sunday, as is NASCAR’s longest race.  If your school isn’t out already it will be shortly.  Summer is at hand. As much as the Nature-centered Pagan in me likes the idea of the whole country celebra … [Read more...]

Nine Things I Think

07 07 Faerie Fort

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’ve lived in Texas for twelve years and as I wrote last month, it’s time to stop thinking of Texas as “where I live” and start thinking of Texas as home.  So I borrowed one of Cathy’s history books:  … [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...]

Pan Druid Retreat

PDR 2014 02

As I went over my 2014 calendar back in December, I realized I would be traveling a lot in the first five months of this year.  I’ve been with my current employer for 17 years so I get more than the typical two weeks vacation, but I’ve already used up most of it, to say nothing of what I’ve done to my travel budget.  But when John and Elmdea Adams asked me to come to the Pan Druid Retreat and then asked me to be part of a panel discussion on ritual, I had to say yes.The theme was “Approa … [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...]


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