Who’s going to find what we need? The wild ones. The experimenters. The spiritual mad scientists. The mutants and freaks. The explorers of consciousness. The Pagans, a name taken because it suggested both a link to the past and a rebelliousness and disreputableness, a rejection of the mainstream — a name to which we often prepend "Neo", new, to show that we are looking forward as well as back. Read more

To answer the question “Do the gods and goddesses exist?” we need to answer two questions, just two trivial little matters: • What is a god? • What does it mean to exist? We have here two fundamental questions of theology and ontology that have had philosophers arguing since the days of ancient Athens! We have here two fundamental questions of theology and ontology that have had philosophers arguing since the days of ancient Athens! Read more

And wood for a bow is a lot easier to come by than bronze, iron, or steel for a sword. In some places — especially England — the bow became a weapon of the common people, an equalizer against armored feudal enforcers. Read more

And so every year I have to throw a little plastic flag into the trash. What else am I supposed to to with them? Keep them until I die for someone else to throw out? I can’t even respectfully burn them, as one is supposed to do when ritually disposing of a damaged flag; burning plastic is toxic. Read more

At some point in your life, you may have had a job like this: you showed up your first day, and your supervisor showed you around and told you a bunch of rules and procedures. To get anything out of the supply cabinet, you need to file a written request with Alice; requests for vacation time need to go to Bob; for petty cash for small purchases, see Charlie. But in the first few weeks, you learned how things really… Read more

Looking for consistent application of principles in American politics is perhaps like Diogenes’s famous quest for an honest man: good luck with it. But to someone whose political mantra for the past few decades has been “maybe we shouldn’t be putting people in cages over that”, the outrage over the separation of migrant families who enter the country illegally is interesting. This may be an important teachable moment: criminal laws put people in cages, and in so doing separate families…. Read more

I spent last week at my twentieth Free Spirit Gathering. I was reminded of the anniversary a few days before the festival by noticing the “FSG 1998” tent tag that hangs on my rear-view mirror along with a collection of other charms. (For the mathematically inclined: I do not have a fencepost error here, I skipped one year for reasons that don’t concern us here. So the twentieth anniversary is also the twentieth event.) And Friday at FSG — the… Read more

I spent Memorial Day weekend at Playa Del Fuego, the East Coast regional Burn (Burning Man-style event). I’ve written before about some similarities between the 10 Principles of Burns and the values of the Pagan festival community. But beyond that, as Burner culture has grown it has taken on ritual (one might even say “religious”, in the broadest sense) aspects, even without a deliberate inital plan to do so. Chief among these is the Temple. The Temple was not originally… Read more

I live in Catonsville, Maryland, a suburb on the southwest side of Baltimore. Catonsville has one claim to national fame: on May 17, 1968, nine anti-war activists raided the draft board office at the local Knights of Columbus hall, grabbed 378 draft records, and burned them with homemade napalm in the parking lot. They then quietly waited to be arrested; they refused bail, and fasted for eight days while imprisoned. It was one of nearly 300 raids that anti-draft activists… Read more

So I’m pretty much in the bullseye of the target demographic for YouTube Red’s new Cobra Kai series, which continues the story of the 1984 classic film The Karate Kid and its sequels. Not only am I an 80s kid, I’m a karate teacher who sometimes quotes Mr. Miyagi to his students. (And coincidentally, series stars William Zabka and Ralph Macchio did a promotional photo shoot at the Manhattan headquarters of my karate style. You can see those photos at… Read more

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