It would be disingenuous of me to write a holiday gift guide since I have sworn off gifts this year. It also feels wrong to write a “Best of 2011” list when my “liturgical year” has already ended, and shouldn’t we focus more on Pagan culture than overculture?
So my compromise is this: I’m going to write about a few of my favorite things. Some of these you can buy. Some represent what I’ve loved about the past year. Some, well, some defy categorization.
13. Good Music
Two of my favorite bands have new albums out, and it makes me very happy.
Ok, so classifying this album is tough. It’s a little steampunk, a little Celtic and some songs that don’t fit neatly into any particular genre. Which I suppose, means this album is Emerald Rose being very much themselves. While full of good music, this album boils down to three “must-listen” songs for me: the inspirational In the Mixdown, the very danceable Latin beat of Omega, and the lullaby-like Shepherdess of Dreams. Oh and I’m really digging The Peat That Smokes The Barley. If you need some feel-good music, you can’t go wrong with this album.
Most folks know that Gaia Consort has transformed into Bone Poets Orchesta, but in case you didn’t know, now you do. This album is a collection of old favorites and new tunes wrapped in a Soviet-esque cover. The albums theme is non-theistic music that celebrates nature and humanity. It’s great stuff, including a new sex-positive number that’s got some language you’ll want to review before playing it for your granny (unless your granny is a sex-therapist). Think of this album as a “Greatest Hits” album with great bonuses, like having the full theme song for the web series Family.
12. The Immortals
One of the deciding factors on whether or not I will catch a film on the big screen or wait for dvd is how pretty the film is. Truthfully, a good story is a good story regardless of screen size, but pretty just looks better big. All I knew about Immortals when I headed to the cinema yesterday is that it is pretty, and it did not fail me in that department.
This was a good film. The first half of the movie is a fantastic film. Full of piety and great quotes, the first half of the film stole my heart. Even though it’s a simplification of the story of Theseus, it’s still full of wonder, piety and virtue. From Socrates quote “All men’s souls are immortal, but the souls of the righteous are immortal and divine” to Zeus affirming that if mankind is expected to have faith in the Gods, then the Gods must have faith in mankind. The first half of this film is truly fantastic.
Then logic flew out the window and I was completely annoyed. I’ve read too much of military strategy to enjoy some of the stupid stunts in sword ‘n’ sandals flicks.
11. Meditation Soap
The Phoenix and Dragon in Atlanta carries this soap, and it smells absolutely amazing. It’s real soap, with a good lather and makes you smell good enough to eat. It’s also real soap, not detergent like most “soaps” so don’t forget to moisturize your skin!
10. Public Asshattery
Sometimes knowing whether or not a person has character can be difficult to determine. Here in the South we are well aware that a sweet-as-pie demeanor can hide a bitter, crusty soul. The Irish know this as well:
May those that love us, love us.
And those that don’t love us,
May God turn their hearts.
And if He doesn’t turn their hearts,
May He turn their ankles
So we will know them by their limping.
Sometimes you just need a sign that someone is not an honest, loyal, honorable and trustworthy soul. So it actually brings me joy when someone behaves like a complete asshat in public. When someone goes off like a complete drama queen trashing other people, then I think “Well done!” Then I quietly make a mental note to never associate with those people.
I’m not going to link to any examples. For one, there are too many, and for another, that would only feed their narcissism. So whatever example you’re thinking of, you can feel free to assume I’m referencing it, and nod knowingly.
9. The Witchcraft of Dame Darrel of York
Dressed as a medieval grimoire by that intrepid Victorian, Charles Leland, this book is one of those delightful pieces of lore that should be enjoyed with a nice helping of salt. It’s fiction based on Leland’s research, but shouldn’t be discounted for all that.
Quite frankly, the Weiser edition of this book is one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever seen on Paganism. It’s a fascimile of Leland’s original calligraphy, including the medieval-style artwork illuminating the pages. If I were going to give a gift this year, it would be this book hands-down. I think this may be one of the most fantastic pieces of Pagan artwork I’ve come across. The dedication and intricacy of the illuminations fascinates me. This is a gorgeous book and one any Pagan would be proud to have on their coffee table. Be sure to check out Besom, Book and Wand’s showcase of the artwork.
8. Make Merry In Step and Song
The sudden death of Bronwen Forbes was a great blow to the community of Pagan authors. She was a fantastic writer and is greatly missed.
Her book, Make Merry In Step and Song, is absolutely fantastic. A celebration of the English Folk Tradition, it’s a treasury of Maypoles, music, mummer’s plays and all the sorts of festivities you’d expect to find on Summerisle. (With that one exception!) If you’ve ever considered incorporating a horn dance into ritual, or putting a little more wassail in your Yule, then you will find this book a delight.
7. Haumea Botanical’s Solid Lotion
Last plug for this, but it’s seriously the best thing I’ve found for my hands in the winter.
6. HBO’s Rome
Ok, yeah, I’m a little late to the party. I honestly don’t catch most tv shows until they hit dvd. Right now I’m watching Rome, and enjoying it thoroughly. The dvd even has a captions options that explains all the remarks, slang and references the characters make. It’s ancient history geek heaven.
5. Pajamas and Soft Socks
All of my adult life I have either worn business casual, Pagan festival or jeans-and-a-tshirt. Rarely do I get dressed up, and even more rarely did I wear pjs. But, possibly as a result of getting older, I am falling in love with comfy pjs. I once looked longingly at shoes and dresses when I went clothes shopping, but now it’s soft cotton hoodies and baggy flannel pants I lust after. It’s good stuff!
4. Atheists Take On Wicca
Let me get this out of my system first:
So what I’m finding funny about this whole series by Eric Steinhart is that:
- He’s putting far more effort into this than most Wiccans do.
- There seems to be some emphasis on making us sound as Christian as possible.
One day I’ll write a proper response to it, but for now I’m simply amused by it.
3. Mayfield Chocolate Almond Ice Cream
Woe unto you, who live in regions where Mayfield ice cream is not sold. For lo, you have not experienced the ultimate creamy goodness of this dairy nirvana. Verily, I say unto you, Mayfield is living proof that the Gods love the South.
Y’all rock. You give me something to write about every day, you inspire me and you give me hope for the future. Rock on.