Facilitating Religious Experiences

fire - October 2013

I get uneasy any time I find myself starting to say “Paganism is (fill in the blank).”  Paganism is many things and as soon as you go making definitive statements, someone else is there to offer a counter example.  But I feel fairly confident in saying that modern Paganism is an experiential religion.  Paganism isn’t something you believe, it’s something you do.  And when you do it just right, when the timing is just right, when the gods are looking favorably on us, the experience can be amazing. … [Read more...]

Religious Buyer’s Remorse

a offer is presented: choose

We who are living in 21st century America have more religious options than ever before in the history of the world.  Thanks to legal protections for religious freedom, a free flow of books and other information, and the connections made possible by the internet, if a religion is being practiced or has ever been practiced you can practice it here and now.That’s a good thing, right?  Isn’t “more choices are always better” a fundamental axiom of American life?  As someone who found the religion … [Read more...]

Government Shutdown and the Willow Pentagram

photo by Evelyn Simak via Wikimedia Commons

I have two very Pagan-oriented posts in the works:  a review of a provocative book that just needs some editing and a piece on the Goddess Danu requested by a friend that still needs a bit more research.  But I’m so angry about the government shutdown I can’t seem to work on either of them right now.There are plenty of places where you can read political analyses and rants.  So for a change I’m going to take my own advice and attempt to return to center.Perhaps you’d like to join me.F … [Read more...]

Do the Work and Trust the Process

Ovate altar

Initiations in OBOD are powerful ceremonies that transmit mystical knowledge and wisdom to the candidates, but they are not the primary transformative process of the order.  They are an introduction to a grade, not a culmination of that grade.At last weekend’s East Coast Gathering, we initiated 12 Bards into the Grove of the Ovates.  These new Ovates have a lot of work ahead of them and all the ones I talked with understood that.  If you’ve been around long enough to complete the Bardic grade … [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...]

How Much Piety Do We Need?

statue of Religion in Boston Common

Over on the Patheos Buddhist Channel, Dosho Port examines the question “what is the minimum amount of asceticism required?”  In typical Zen fashion, he gives an answer that is thought-provoking but indefinite.Asceticism, “a lifestyle characterized by abstinence from various worldly pleasures,” is rarely associated with Paganism.  Even those of us who aren’t Wiccans like to quote the Charge of the Goddess, which says “sing, feast, dance, make music and love, all in My Presence, for Mine is the … [Read more...]

Returning to Center

late afternoon at ECG 2012

We all have a center: a core, a place deep inside where the essence of who we are resides.  This is our true will, our destiny; it’s who and what we’re called to be... and who and what we want to be.Finding this center is a challenge.  From the day we’re born until the day we die there are people telling us who and what we should be.  Some are helpful, some mean well but are misguided, and some simply try to mold us into what they want us to be.  Our environments influence us, as does our evo … [Read more...]

Fire in the Head

CUUPS camping Nov12 33

I’m really enjoying Sharon Knight’s new album Neofolk Romantique.  It’s a collection of ballads, folk songs, sea songs, and Sharon’s original compositions.  Sharon’s vocals are strong and her and Winter’s instrumentals are simply beautiful – I think I could listen to their guitars and mandolin all day.My favorite is the first song on the album, “Fire in the Head.”  It’s one of Sharon’s originals and the title comes from the legend of a mountain in Wales.  It’s said anyone who sleeps at its fo … [Read more...]