Top 10 Posts of 2023

Top 10 Posts of 2023 December 27, 2023

Thank you for reading Under the Ancient Oaks in 2023, and especially for liking, sharing, and commenting on social media and in the comments section.

Here are the top ten posts for the year on Under the Ancient Oaks, as measured by pageviews.

photo by John Beckett

10. Sharpen The Swords You Have (November 2023)

If you need something, by all means begin the process of obtaining it, whether you’re talking about a physical item, a resource, a skill, or anything else. The sooner you start the sooner you’ll have it.

But don’t wait until you have exactly what you need. Don’t wait until you finish this or complete that or until a situation is clarified. If you wait until the time is right, you’ll be waiting forever. Or at least, until that army of orcs overruns your fortress.

Sharpen the swords you have.

Now.

9. Olivia Pettijohn (1982 – 2023) (October 2023)

I am sad my friend Livvy is no longer in this world. I am thankful so many people read this post and learned a few things about her. You would have liked her if you had met her.

Livvy should have been a shaman. She had many of the skills. She had some of the markers, or at least, some of the markers I recognize as the calling of a shaman in many cultures. She had a community that loved her and a family that supported her unconditionally.

But she couldn’t be a shaman because she lived in a culture that has no place for people with her skills and calling… and limitations. Still, she lived her life as best she could, and she made her community better as best she could, until she couldn’t.

photo by John Beckett

8. An Apocalypse Is In The Air (April 2023)

An apocalypse is in the air, the currents of magic are growing, and the wind is blowing in an unfriendly direction. It’s not just Pagans – other people are sensing the same things we’re sensing and they’re interpreting it through their own religious traditions.

But the world is not ending: not naturally and not supernaturally. We don’t get off that easy. Whatever is coming, we have to live through it, work through it, and when necessary, fight through it.

And then clean things up and start building again.

7. What Do We Do If Society Becomes “Less Friendly” To Pagans And Witches? (November 2023)

If society becomes less friendly to witches and Pagans, then we will continue doing what we do in private, in secret, deep in the forest and behind closed doors, behind passwords that for all their metaphorical meaning have the practical value of letting us know who we can trust with our magic and who we can’t.

Our work is part of who and what we are, and we can’t not do it. And if we happen to hex a few regressive and fascist politicians in the process, so much the better.

photo by Cathy Beckett

6. Wearing Pagan Jewelry And Clothing Is A Lot More Than Advertising (September 2023)

An atheist asked why religious people “feel the need to advertise their belief?” with jewelry and clothing. There are many reasons – most of which have nothing to do with advertising. And the question itself is loaded – those who want a religion-free public square are fighting needlessly and for the wrong things.

5. The Witch Stands In Opposition (July 2023)

Throughout history, the witch has been the outsider, the other – either by choice, or because that’s where their choices and actions took them. We need not abandon our homes in the cities and suburbs to live in a cottage deep in the woods – as appealing as that is at times – but we must not forget that our differences are both real and important.

When we oppose the mainstream society, or when the mainstream society opposes us, it’s not because we have different tastes in clothing and music. It’s because we have significant differences in priorities and in values. Our integrity demands that we stand in opposition.

I discussed this post in some depth with Seba on her Southern Fried Witch podcast in August – the episode is titled Camouflage and the Southern Witch.

photo by John Beckett

4. The Return Of A Storm Goddess (July 2023)

Earlier this year someone contacted me in a consulting arrangement. They were being pursued by a deity they knew only as “the Storm Goddess” and they were unsure how to proceed.

Right now the people who have been approached by Her are trying to learn more about Her. They’re doing historical and archaeological research. And at least some of them are spending time in meditation and prayer, trying to learn more about Her through first-hand experience.

Because that’s how our ancestors learned the names of their Gods all those years ago. At some point, every God was a new and unknown God, at least to humans. Someone had to figure out who They are and how to relate to Them.

I was disappointed – but not particularly surprised – when several people insisted they knew exactly Who this is. How they think they could know which deity is behind someone else’s UPG – and with such certainty – is beyond me. Thankfully, the people who are working with this Storm Goddess are continuing their work.

3. Evangelicals Claim Paganism Isn’t Really Pagan (June 2023)

As Pagans, the claims of other religions to exclusive possession of Truth are not our concern, except to dismiss them as arrogant and impossible to support. What is our concern is the claim that our Paganism is somehow inauthentic because it doesn’t exactly match the Paganism of our ancient ancestors, and the claim that the appealing parts of modern Paganism were cribbed from Christianity.

Neither claim is true.

2. Divination For 2023 (January 2023)

2023 is not going to be 2020 Part IV. It brings different challenges and new opportunities. We have what we need to make this a good year (whatever “good year” means to you) but we must keep our attention on the business at hand.

This is the first time one of my New Year’s divinations has been read this widely. And it’s not just a big fish in a small pond – it would have made the Top 10 in all but one of the years I’ve been doing this and most years it would have been in the top 5.

My divination for 2024 – including my analysis of how my 2023 divination went – will be up on New Year’s Day next Monday.

photo by John Beckett

1. The Great War In The Otherworld And In This World (March 2023)

For all that it’s important to pay attention to what’s going on in this world, we ignore what’s going on in the Otherworld at our peril. The battle to reshape our world is picking up again. We need to pay attention.

If you think you can be neutral, if you think you can be Switzerland, remember two things. First, Switzerland collaborated with the Nazis. Second, those who fancy themselves Switzerland without Switzerland’s mountains and riches usually find out they’re really Belgium, who proclaimed their neutrality and then were overrun by the Germans in 1914 and again in 1940.

Half the posts on this list deal with the spiritual and magical conflict many of us are sensing and feeling. Many of us are already caught up in it. We’re doing our best to compare notes, to come up with strategies for success, and to keep from getting discouraged when things go badly for us and ours.

We didn’t choose to be here, but here we are. Let’s face this head-on: the war in this world, the war in the Otherworld, and the overlapping war.

May we be victorious.

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