Monday, May 29, 2006

Pagan Studies at AAR

These papers are scheduled for presentation at the Pagan Studies session during next November's annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion:

  1. "The Pagan Explosion," James Lewis
  2. "The Fourfold Goddess and the Undying God: Anatomies of Minnesotan Bootstrap Witchcraft Traditions," Murph Pizza
  3. "Children of Converts: Generational Retention in the Neo-Pagan New Religious Movement," Laura Wildman-Hanlon
  4. "Alchemical Rhythm: Sacred Dynamic Fire and the Politics of Drumming," Jason Winslade


Friday, May 26, 2006

'Plaid the Impaler Scottish Ale' & other links

Jay Kinney, "old-school" underground comic artist and former publisher of Gnosis magazine, has revamped his Web site.

Drop by. The doctor is in.

Fight for Wiccan VA tombstone continues

The widow of of Sgt. Patrick Stewart, killed in Afghanistan, is getting some political support in her fight for a military Wiccan tombstone.

The Veterans Affairs' National Cemetery Administration allows only approved emblems of religious beliefs on government headstones. Over the years, it has approved more than 30, including symbols for the Tenrikyo Church, United Moravian Church and Sikhs. There's also an emblem for atheists - but none for Wiccans.

Circle Sanctuary in Wisconsin has an information page.

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Thursday, May 25, 2006

The Snake Motif

Right before M. and I left on the road trip that culminated in my rattlesnake bite and hospital stay, I was having trouble with a blockage in the bathroom lavatory.

I did not think that I could get my large plumber's "snake" down through the waste pipe behind the wall, and I thought of going to the hardware store and picking up a hand-operated plumber's snakesmaller one. But we were busy packing, and so I left the problem for later.

And then, five days later, came the bite from a "baby" rattlesnake and, minutes later, an encounter with a larger one who acted like a proper rattlesnake. In other words, the second one gave us a warning buzz so that we could avoid it.

Home again and still on crutches, I called Cory the plumber. He roared up the driveway in his big diesel van the following morning.

Of course I had to explain the crutches. A few minutes later, he had disassembled the drain and was carrying his electric plumber's snake up from the van.

"I've had about enough of this snake motif," I said.

"All right," he replied, "we'll call it an auger."

Little snake and big snake, metaphorical. Little snake and big snake, literal.

Sometimes the only god worth worshiping is the god of irony.

There is a complicated message here about the "poison path," I think, but I am still thinking about it.


Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Our shamanic EMTs

I keep coming back to this item in the "Sheriff's Blotter" section of our weekly paper:

On May 10, an ambulance was dispatched at 6:37 a.m. to the Buck Mountain area to transport a female in and out of consciousness...

Monday, May 22, 2006

A Pagan's perspective on The Da Vinci Code

The most interesting thing about this article in an Australian newspaper is that a Pagan was asked to join the "panel of religious experts."

The most serious problem according to the panel - a theologian, Catholic film critic, Opus Dei priest and a pagan - is that the basic premise is incoherent. The quest is to find the descendants of Jesus, but because the film portrays him as human, not divine, it simply doesn't matter.

"All you are left with is the bones of Mary Magdalene . . . Big deal! I didn't understand the significance at all," said pagan Caroline Tully. "If Christ's not supernatural, what's the point of being a descendant?"

Thanks to a rattlesnake bite, I spent two days last week in a Catholic hospital in Tucson, where the only religious TV channel was the Catholic channel.

I watched one program where a serious-minded Jesuit worked through all the canonical arguments against the movie's premise. He was an intelligent man--most Jesuits are--and his scriptural arguments were sound. But it also was clear that his postition kept him from answering the "elephant in the living room" question: Why is the story so appealing? Why are people drawn to the element of the divine feminine in the story? He wouldn't touch that part.

Sunday, May 14, 2006


Blogging will be slow this week because M. and I are on the road.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Waiting for Euro-porn

"Euro-porn" is my new cinematic category, although really, it's just "Gothic" in the 18th-century sense dressed up.

The Da Vinci Code is Euro-porn, of course. It's got ancient buildings like you won't find in strip-mall America, secret Catholic societies, and layers of corruption that Karl Rove could only dream of.

Well, there is some of all that in New Mexico, but not so elegantly done.

While you are waiting, watch Brotherhood of the Wolf for a Gothic/Gothique mélange of secret Catholic societies, martial arts, shamanism, a whiff of incest, poison and daggers, lush scenery (Haute Pyrénées), heaving bosoms, galloping horses, Mohawks and French revolutionaries, sailing ships, swordplay, vengeance, corrupt aristocrats, architecture, and wolves. Lots of wolves. And it's all in French.

And did I mention the sort of Hong Kong-style martial arts combat where the assassin attacking the hero from behind screams, so that the hero will hear him, whirl around, and dispatch him?

You can't get much more Euro-pornographic than that.

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Sunday, May 07, 2006

Makstow a pilgrymage heere often?

Geoffrey Chaucer offers pick-up lines for mediaevalists.

Thou lookst so mvch lyk an aungel that the friares haue lefte the roome yn terror!

Friday, May 05, 2006

My contribution to reality TV

M. and I watched the PBS living-history show Texas Ranch House, which turned into "MacBeth in West Texas," as several bloggers noted.

I guess that means that the three Comanches were the three witches.

Afterwards, M. was critiquing some of the gender stereotyping that went on, although to be congruent with its setting year of 1867, there should have been more gender stereotyping.

But I got to thinking: how could we do living history with some non-traditional gender roles? Here are my suggestions, offered freely to the producers of reality TV shows.

1. New England Transcendentalist House. Set about 1840. Everyone, male and female, converses on high-flown topics, writes poetry, and plans utopian communities, although one middle-aged guy does dominate the breakfast conversation.

2. Theosophical House. Filmed in India and set in the 1880s. Everyone reads books on comparative religion, meditates, and gossips about just who is really in touch with the Ascended Masters. Servants do all the work. At times the re-enactors interview pubescent Indian boys to see if any of them might be avatars, especially the cute ones.

3. Peaceful Ancient Matriarchy House. Filmed perhaps in Bulgaria or Ukraine. There is very little conflict, of course, except over the missing bronze mirror and over the cuter adolescent boys. Anthropology grad student Maura Finkelstein from Texas Ranch House reprises her cowgirl role, demonstrating that she can herd cattle as well as any patriarchal, thunder god-worshipping Indo-European.

All the scholarly advisors for Peaceful Ancient Matriarchy House will be hired from the faculty of the California Institute of Integral Studies.

With The Da Vinci Code movie about to open, the anti-Gnostic reaction is heating up. One Catholic screenwriter-blogger urges her readers to watch the vapid Over the Hedge instead. (It's an "othercott," not a boycott.)

This film is based on a book that wears its heresy and blasphemy as a badge of honor, and I intend to stay far away from it.

Gnostic Christianity is taking lot of heat. Some people do want a boycott. Yet more "rebuttal" sites here.

If you read this blog, you know I am Pagan, not Gnostic. Gnosticism has one root in Platonism, granted, but all that Sophia-and-the-Demiurge stuff is not me.

Nevertheless, I would like to point out that the modern Gnostics have a different take on the matter.

In fact, one Gnostic priest has written a "Da Vinci" prayerbook as well as a thoughtful response to the Da Vinci Code hoopla.

M. and I plan to see the film. We tend to avoid animated animals.

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Monday, May 01, 2006

A hare's breath escape

• I just finished indexing Her Hidden Children, much helped by the fact that I could find search terms by letting Adobe Acrobat search PDF files of all chapters. But before you index a book, you need to strategize about the book's purpose as well as the reader's needs, something discussed at this site.

• "Hare's breath escape" is just one of many "dreadful phrases" collected by Teresa Nielsen Hayden. As she says, most are more common in print than in speech, so why do poor writers mis-see them? See also Egg corns.

• M.J. Rose at Buzz, Balls, and Hype wonders if writers should also be bloggers.

When it comes to writing, the most important job we all have is to write our books. If we don’t put our best effort there we aren’t doing our jobs. No author should sacrifice writing time for blogging time or promotion time if it’s going to weaken the book.

Of course, she's a novelist--and she blogs.

Don’t get me wrong – there’s nothing wrong with having a blog geared to your peers. I read other authors’ blogs – and enjoy them – but of the dozen or so I frequent – not one has ever convinced me to try that authors’ fiction.

Those blogs aren’t talking to me the reader.

Read it all.

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