Thursday, November 27, 2008

Ce potiron extraordinaire

This pumpkin was grown at Country Roots Farm. Now M. has sliced and gutted it, and it is transformed into pie.

Happy Thanksgiving, the "most civilized holiday of them all."


Wednesday, November 26, 2008


I found this video of "Roots" by the British folk-rock group Show of Hands at Rod Dreher's blog, where there is more discussion and more videos. The lyrics are definitely "crunchy" with a loosely small-p pagan tone. I think I need to watch all the videos.

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Sunday, November 23, 2008

Is Yours a Boy Blog or a Girl Blog?

Now that you know your blog's Meyers-Briggs personality type, what about its gender?

Web sites that apply an algorithm to determine whether text is "masculine" or "feminine" have been around for a little while. Gender Analyzer is still in beta-testing. Its results are not always accurate.

For instance, it shows my other blog as having a 69-percent chance of being written by a man. But this blog rated a 90-percent chance of being written by a woman.

Uh, no.

Another writing-gender analysis site that shows you its inner workings is Gender Genie. I have used it now and then as a fun exercise for my writing classes, and its results are usually accurate.

Have fun, and don't take any of this too seriously, unless you really are trying to be something other than a dog.


Saturday, November 22, 2008

Meyers-Briggs and Blogs

At some point I must have taken the Meyers-Briggs personality test, but I don't remember the result. This blog, however, is ISTP - "The Mechanics," according to a web site that runs a test on your writing.

The independent and problem-solving type. They are especially attuned to the demands of the moment are masters of responding to challenges that arise spontaneously. They generally prefer to think things out for themselves and often avoid inter-personal conflicts.

My other blog, however, is ESTP - "The Doers."

Go figure. (Via Mirabilis.)


Friday, November 21, 2008

Gallimaufry in Traffic

¶ So M. and I are in traffic behind a Cadillac SRX with the vanity license plate "S-N-M" and a custom-painted "Sanguine Addiction" above the license-plate holder. That's a Colorado metal band, but the driver did not look like any of the musicians. Here is what we were arguing about: Did the big wholesome Denver Broncos logo in the vehicle's rear window add or detract from the overall effect?

¶ The Colorado Springs Gazette ran an autumn equinox story on the alleged Ogham writing in Crack Cave and other SE Colorado sites. For videos of this and other sites, see Scott Monahan's video page. (Yep, that's me in one with Martin Brennan.) Am I a "believer"? Not exactly. I remain perplexed -- and perplexed at how Colorado Pagans ignore these sites too.

¶ Anne Hill, on my blogroll at Blog O'Gnosis, is now also blogging about dreams at the Huffington Post.

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Playing with Databases

A search of the WorldCat library database using the subject category "Witches -- Fiction" turns up 1,286 hits, once children's books have been filtered out, and specifying English-language titles. (Adding films, archival materials, sound recordings, etc., boosts the total to more than 1,500.)

The Widows of Eastwick is at the top of the list, as ranked by number of libraries holding the book. Anne Rice is heavily represented in the first listings as well.

If you have read all 1,286, let me know, and I will see that you get a prize.

This is what happens when I go looking to make an interlibrary loan request for one particular book.

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Saturday, November 08, 2008

Seeking the Blessing of the Wolves

A few years ago, when I was on the board of a local environmental-education group, I helped organize a couple of presentations by the staff of Mission: Wolf, a sanctuary located one county south of me. As part of their mission, "Socialized ambassador wolves travel nationally, offering public education while stimulating people to care about and respect nature."

Often they have the audience sit in a circle on the floor, if the group is small enough, and the leashed ambassador wolf comes around to give each a quick sniff. If you get a wolf kiss (and I have), that's supposed to be something special.

One day last summer, M. and I were at the farmers' market in Florence, Colo., and people from a different, smaller, wolf sanctuary were there. They seemed less focused on environmental ed. and more on magic, in the form of "Cheyenne, the Healing Wolf."

I don't see it on the web site, but the people from this second sanctuary insisted that their oldest wolf could diagnose cancer and other illnesses. They were less into teaching about wolves in the wild and more into presenting these predators as healing beings.

Third, at the beginning of October, M. and I returned to Yellowstone National Park for the first time in some years. Our last visit, in fact, came just before the reintroduction of wolves to the park in the mid-1990s.

And how the northern edge of the park, in particular, had changed. There were wolf tourists. Every pull-out between Mammoth Hot Springs and the northeast entrance contained serious-looking individuals with spotting scopes and expensive telephoto lenses, scanning the hillsides of the Lamar Valley. The nearby Slough Creek Campground, which used to be half-empty in autumn, is always full.

Imagine, if you have not seen one, a full-size tour bus with wolves painted on it, picking up forty or so hikers who have been on a wildlife walk to look for . . . wolves, of course. When someone sees a wolf, the news spreads around the park by "bush telegraph."

Not everyone is keen on wolves, however. I spotted this sticker on a truck in Cooke City, Wyo., just outside the park.

Cat Urbigkit's Yellowstone Wolves: A Chronicle of the Animal, the People, and the Politics is a definitive history of the issue.

But I think that is the minority view. It is as though we have flipped 180 degrees from when Barry Lopez wrote Of Wolves and Men in the 1970s. He was trying to convince readers that wolves were more than mere vermin. Now they are emissaries of nature religion, furry saints.

American nature religion often has a therapeutic slant, that's for sure. "The wolf will heal you." It's a change from "The wolf will eat you," but is it any more truthful from the wolf's point of view?

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Friday, November 07, 2008

Gallimaufry & What Didn't Happen

When M. and I left our hotel room on Tuesday, the lobby was full of the crackle of police radios. Everywhere you looked in downtown Chicago, there were cops standing around.

These are some kind of federales outside a federal office building on Jackson Street.

I was happy, therefore, to get home and learn that the huge crowds at Barack Obama's rally were mostly good-natured and that there was no celebratory rioting.

• I will be watching for progress on rebuilding the Temple of Artemis.

• When Obama made his ill-considered remark about those of us in flyover country "clinging to guns and religion," my first thought was to wonder which religion(s) he had in mind. Oleg Volk, a Russian-born photographer now living in Tennessee, created an image that mirrors my thoughts.

• And this post on "alternative" gun culture is all about others who don't want to be victims, such as the Pink Pistols.


Thursday, November 06, 2008

Books at AAR That I Could Not Resist

Checking some of the post-AAR blogging, I see people listing book purchases from the publishers' exhibit. Here are mine:

The Western Esoteric Traditions: A Historical Introduction. (I should also get Kocku's Western Esotericism: A Brief History of Secret Knowledge, and I need something by the discipline's éminence grise, Antoine Faivre, such as Access to Western Esotericism.)

• Doug Cowan's Sacred Terror: Religion and Horror on the Silver Screen. That's research material too. Doug is one of those scholars who manages to teach effectively, write a lot, and still have a life.

• Ordered for later delivery, Ronald Hutton's Blood and Mistletoe: The History of the Druids in Britain.


Monday, November 03, 2008

Midway through AAR

If I come away from this year's AAR annual meeting with any one Big Idea, it is that I am glad to see Pagan Studies moving away from "Wiccans and Odinists," as Jone Salomonsen put it, and towards a broader sense of a "a way to think about religion" (or religious behavior). Our joint session with the Religion and Popular Culture Group started the weekend off well, and presenting a co-written work-in-progress paper and slide show there got me thinking about how I want to return to the whole nexus of nature religion, civil religion, and small-p paganism as well as thinking about capital-P Paganism.

Meanwhile, the election that has lasted forever is almost over!

Last night, from the 23rd floor of the Chicago Hilton Towers, I looked down a floodlit, fenced-off portion of Grant Park, where Sen. Obama's victory rally will be held. The mayor has "suggested" that businesses in this part of town close at 3 p.m. on Election Day. No doubt they expect a riot if Obama loses -- and probably if he wins as well, by the same mob-logic that caused violence and destruction in Philadelphia when the Phillies won the World Series.

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Saturday, November 01, 2008

Food of the Gods

One of the benefits of eating in Chicago's Greektown is that it almost feels like a religious act when the restaurants are named Zeus and Venus. ("Venus" is Aphrodite -- in Greek -- on the screen-savers at the waiters' computer terminals.)

Going out to eat becomes embodied religion. "Corpospirituality," as Michael York would have it.

My friends are in awe of the Cyprian's Mousakas Tsoukas.