Madness, Shamanism, and Wicca

The history of madness is long, convoluted, and fascinating. Different theories and treatments have come and gone, depending on the mood of the age. I think it is worth remembering that in many cultures, such episodes are not seen as mental illness, but a blessing from the gods. Many shamans have had similar experiences to what western medicine dismisses as mental illness. Read more

Why Dowsing for Divinity?

We decided that the title Sermons from the Mound no longer quite fitted the type of posts we are actually writing. Technically, a sermon is a reflection on a text, and an exposition of its meaning. That’s not what we are actually doing with our writing. So we had a very enjoyable brainstorming session via email, with a total of fifty-five different suggestions for names for the blog. But we kept coming back to dowsing imagery, with its connotations of looking for hidden currents, connections with the unseen, hidden waters, and hidden patterns. Read more

Welcoming the stranger and the refugee

Homer’s Odyssey recounts the correct way to welcome a stranger who has been washed ashore: with food and drink, fresh clothing, and fragrant oil to clean the salt from the skin. Read more

Paganism for Beginners: Social Structures

The fact that people can own land, that property is deemed more important than human life by our current laws, that those with wealth and property are given more power and status, that making war is given priority over creating community or protecting the most vulnerable people, that certain social functions are seen as female and others are seen as male – these are all cultural constructs resulting from thousands of years of  looking at the world in a particular way. They have been built up by custom and practice over a couple of millennia. But they are not inevitable. Read more

Agreeing To Disagree

Arguments make some people uncomfortable. It is true that conflict can be divisive, but it can also be healthy, because it can help to clarify aims, goals, beliefs, and values. Trying to sweep conflict and arguments under the carpet and pretend they are not happening is counter-productive and just creates more conflict in the end. I have been saying for a while that we are not all climbing the same mountain. As John Beckett points out, a fish is not just… Read more

Wicca: History, Belief, and Community

Ethan Doyle White has recently published an important new book: “Wicca: History, Belief, and Community in Modern Pagan Witchcraft”, due for release on 1 November 2015. So I approached him for an interview. Read more

Why Do Some People Experience Deities, But Others Don’t?

I have often wondered why some people experience gods all the time – indeed, can’t stop experiencing the gods even if they wanted to – and others don’t. Still others experience gods sometimes, in specific circumstances. There are various explanations available for this, and all of them have pros and cons. Read more

Wobbling, But Not Falling Off

Jason Mankey has a great post on “When Someone Leaves Paganism” and how to respond to this situation – both in supporting the person leaving, and processing the feelings about it that inevitably come up. But what about when someone has a crisis of faith, which may involve leaving the Pagan path temporarily, but where the person may eventually return to the Pagan path? I had a crisis of faith in 2007, and I have always meant to write about… Read more

Relational Polytheism: Standing Beside The Gods

Being in right relationship with our fellow embodied beings, and in right relationship with our ecosystem, will do more to bring us into right relationship with our deities than any amount of worship. Yes, we need to make that inner connection with the spirits of place, the spirits of the land, and the deities, as part of our awareness of all the interconnected relationships of the nested interconnections of being in which we live. But deities, land-wights, animals, humans, are all part of that web of relationships. Read more

Overlapping Circles

I think that theology should always be discursive and not prescriptive. It is not up to me to tell anyone what to think – just to open up a space for discussion. Read more


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