Thursday, March 31, 2005

Pagan outreach

Cherry Hill Seminary has been updating its Web site, although some of the news links seem to misdirect. Still, CHS has the most extensive program of any of the several Pagan seminaries in existence.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Holy Places Everywhere

The "Neokoroi" page lists primarily civic sites with strong Graeco-Roman religious elements that might effectively function as holy places. Some examples:

Woodside, Calfornia: The Pulgas Water Temple--beautiful Graeco-Roman style building open to the public, marking the place where the water from the Hetch Hatchey Reservoir in the mountains (which provides the Bay Area with fresh water) flows into the Crystal Springs Reservoir.

Minneapolis: In the lobby of the Minneapolis City Hall, there's a large classical style statue titled "Father of Waters". Effectively, it's a statue of the god of the Mississippi River.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Another anniversary

I let my second "blogiversary" go by unheralded, but the local daily paper did annoint me an expert on blogging, thanks to CSU-Pueblo alumna Gretchin Lair.

In honor of the blogiversary, here is the obligatory posting about "weird search engine results leading people to my blog."

In my case, it was "Gerald Gardner Pueblo Colorado". (A lot of the fun would be gone if people knew how to use Google's advanced search page intelligently.)

To me, of course, "Gerald Gardner" means only him. And while he did visit the United States once in the late 1940s, he was never in Pueblo. Is there some Puebloan who occasionally gets odd looks when he tells strangers his name?

Friday, March 25, 2005

An anniversary

One month ago today I officially contracted Type A Influenza with Executive Option Package. And I still haven't completely overcome it, due partly to my own foolishness. I should have just crawled into bed for the first week of March, but, no, I had to be the hero professor. With a Tuesday-Thursday teaching schedule this semester, I felt I could not afford to cancel more than one day of classes, lest my students, particularly in rhetoric, fall too far behind. (The advanced writing classes can run on autopilot for a little bit longer, but they too require guidance.) So I kept stumbling in, feverish and croaking. What a mistake. And each weekend I would think, "This weekend I will sleep it off," and I'd feel a little better, but not really cured.

Cloudy and snowy weather has not helped either, even while M. and I both hoped for a few days of "false spring" to bake us in the sun.

One piece of good news—my paper, "Flying Ointments and the Discourse of Secrecy in Contemporary Wicca" was accepted for the first Pagan Studies session ever at the American Academy of Religion meeting next November. From the proposal, in which I attempt to channel a proper academic voice:

My proposed paper will examine various uses to which discourse about Witchcraft, both historical and contemporary Pagan varieties, uses the topic of psychotropic "flying ointment" as rhetorical trope, as evidence for claims of ethnic shamanism, and most importantly, as an ingredient in a discourse of secrecy.

My history-of-American Paganism book continues its own Journey to the (Editorial) Underworld at AltaMira Press. Evidently Persephone isn't finished with it yet. Perhaps that is just as well; I have not had the energy to deal with anyway.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Stonehenge South

There is a new "Stonehenge" in New Zealand, but it is more than just a replica of the English original. It is custom-made for its site, "a complete and working structure designed and built for its precise location in the Wairarapa region of New Zealand. The henge stones, viewed from the centre, mark the daily rise and set positions of the sun, moon and bright stars. The henge also forms a Polynesian star compass marking the bearings taken by Polynesian sailors to and from Aotearoa [the Maori name for New Zealand]."

You can view the official website as well as a BBC news report. The wizard in the photos is this wizard.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Men and goddesses

Dave Green
, a Pagan sociologist at the University of the West of England, is studying men in goddess religion, and invites Pagan men to take his online survey.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Carol Christ bounced by Catholic college

Santa Sabina college says that having the well-known Goddess thealogian on their campus would be "inappropriate".

Online Catholics reports today that Dr Christ is associated with the so-called ´Goddess´ spirituality, which is characterised by opponents as pre-Christian or pagan.

They didn't know that? Why did they invite her? (In case you wondered, most people pronounce her surname "krist.")

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Some Pagan publishing gossip

Sarah Pike's new book, New Age and Neopagan Religions in America, just landed on my desk with instructions to review it for Nova Religio. Given that many contemporary Pagans are ambivalent at best about the "New Age" movement, it will be interesting to see how she sorts out and categorizes attitudes and practices. (Her first was Earthly Bodies, Magical Selves, which concentrates on the festival scene.)

Also anticipated: Nikki Bado-Fralick's Coming to the Edge of the Circle. (Oxford U. Press's US web site does not seem to be working today.)

Meanwhile, the AltaMira Press Pagan Studies series has signed Douglas Cowan to write on Pagan material culture, even the spoofy stuff, like "Secret Spells Barbie" (right). Doug was last seen studying ten years' worth of Llewellyn datebooks.

Speaking of Llewellyn, they are moving into postmodern magical studies. Soon you will be able deconstruct symbol systems, foreground phallocentric magical artifacts, and examine hegemonic discourse in sigils and defixios. Penetrate the panoptic metanarrative of divination and and create a praxis of postcolonial decentered womanist occult networking!

No, the best thing up in Minnesota is company president Carl Weschcke's new blog. He is writing sporadic entries on such topics as his own family history of occultism--interesting stuff.

Not too many years ago, some in the company despaired that Carl would even take to e-mail. He is, after all, well past 60, and Llewellyn's work force tends to be youthful, since turnover is high. And now he's blogging. Keep it up, Carl.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

YVWH's Wife

This is not news to religion scholars, but it's interesting that Archaeology magazine's March/April magazine carries an article on Hebrew polytheism, "The Lost Goddess of Israel."

"Biblical scholars were at first reluctant to accept the pairing of Yahweh and Asherah. Those who were wont to take the biblical narrative at face value [as most Christian preachers do] were slow to accept artifacts as a refutation."

In other words, all the monotheistic "Lord God of Israel" stuff is a rewrite of Israelite history by later monotheistic Jews after the 7th century BCE, particularly during the reign of King Josiah (639-609), who was severely anti-goddess-worship.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Diffusionists, rejoice!

I blogged it, so now I needed to watch it, if only for the llamas.

Turned off by poor reviews, I had passed over Troy, until I learned that it made a case for Bronze Age trade between Anatolia and Peru. How else did there come to be llamas in the marketplace of Troy?

When other people have criticize this movie version of one of the oldest stories that we have, the word "travesty" seems to keep popping up. I will restrict myself to a few comments.

First, both in the Iliad itself and in the movie, the Trojans are not demonized, but are treated with as much humanity as are the Greeks. Indeed, one key scene of the story--its throbbing heart--is Prince Hector's speech to his wife, Andromache, in Book 6. It's a typical statement of heroic honor, but what humanizes it is the detail that their little son is terrified and starts bawling when he sees his father in full battle armor. Hector must remove his helmet before the boy will let his father pick him up and hold him. Too bad they left that one out of the film.

For the military history critics, I see that the director was clueless about the chariots, but then, so was Homer. True, those are not Bronze Age helmets or ships. And while we are talking about the Iliad, no one seems to notice the little nod at the end towards the Aeniad as well. No one reads Virgil anymore?

And the roles of the gods are dimished to nothingness, even to a sort of directorial joy in the breaking of temple statuary. That is perhaps the greatest loss, because as much as a quest for glory, the story is also about heroism in the face of a universe that may be against you, as the gods step in and interfere for their favorites. Athena passes Achilles' spear back to him in his fight with Hector, for example--Hector's heroism is more poignant because he is fighting what amounts to a Bronze Age cyborg.

Irreverent postscript: Is "Orlando Bloom with a bow and arrow" now a subgenre of its own?