Saturday, March 06, 2010

Seven Years of Blogging

Today marks the seventh anniversary of Letter from Hardscrabble Creek, originally the name I gave to a column that appeared in various long-gone Pagan zines.

It all started with this.


Sunday, January 10, 2010

Bloggers Frighten 'the Authorities'

Governments in more and more countries are afraid of "unregistered" (sic) bloggers.

China was still the leading Internet censor in 2009. However, Iran, Tunisia, Thailand, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam and Uzbekistan have all also made extensive use website blocking and online surveillance to monitor and control dissent. The Turkmen Internet remains under total state control. Egyptian blogger Kareem Amer remains in jail, while well-known Burmese comedian Zarganar has a further 34 years of his prison sentence to serve.

However, the Report also notes that democratic countries have not lagged far behind, instancing the various steps taken by European countries to control the internet under the guise of protection against child porn and illegal downloading. It also notes that Australia intends to put in place a compulsory filtering system that poses a threat to freedom of expression.

Some people think that blogging and tweets will overthrow governments. Eh...not so fast.


Saturday, January 02, 2010

Suicide Squirrel & Other Musings

Today got off on a weird note: I got up, fed the dogs, and walked the dogs, only to come home from the dog walk (M. still asleep) and find the electricity off.

I called our electric co-op, and was promised that the linemen would be informed.

After M. awoke, I wheeled out the generator, which is pretty noisy, and  restored power. Having a well with an electric pressure pump means that a lack of electricity cuts into morning washing and cooking.

An hour later, a lineman from the San Isabel Electric Association was knocking at the door. His one-word diagnosis: "Squirrel."

This afternoon one of the dogs found and brought me the unfortunate electrocuted squirrel. All winter it had been eating out of our bird feeders, and this was how it repaid us (he thought anthropocentrically).

Eventually I was able to get to work on this new journal layout job, which is progressing by fits and starts—I have a whole string of "What do you want me to do about X, Y, and Z?" questions for the publisher.

For break time, I sometimes wonder around the Web--and sometimes haul firewood.

Today I learned to my surprise that BeliefNet has snark, in the form of the blog Stuff Christian Culture Likes (obviously a take-off on SWPL).

Funny enough, but will the day come when Pagan clergy--thinking of here of all those people who can't wait to be salaried Pagan clergy--worry about "being relevant" in their clothes and marketing?

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Friday, November 27, 2009

Blog It and They Will Come. But Why?

Real search-engine queries that brought Web visitors to this blog:

Is Depeche Mode synonymous with homosexuality? [I don't know; I missed the 80s.]

Booty shaking videos of Muslim women

Arvol Looking Horse fraud youtube [he is an American Indian activist on the "cultural appropriation" issue]

make shinto priest hat

food placed in creek for religion

[I have made food offerings at a crossroads, but in the creek??]

intercessory prayer for halloween sacrifice

sex colors for witches

Of course, now the Googlebot will index all those terms here . . .

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Blogging Hermits

What is it with blogging hermits—or quasi-hermits?

Would Henry David Thoreau have had a blog? I am sure of it. Anyone who would edit his autobiography so that two years of experience fit neatly into one literary year has demonstrated the capability of self-romanticizing that blogging requires.

Sunday's Denver Post had a long piece about a man named Daniel Suelo who lives in a cave outside Moab, Utah, never handles money, dumpster-dives, etc.—and blogs about his life, courtesy of the long-suffering local librarians. (Somebody tell him that white-on-black fonts offer poor readability.)

I can see Diogenes the Cynic updating his blog at the public library too: ""

And there are others.

Lately I have been reading As The Crow Flies, who offers this thought:

If you want to be alone, it’s important to know, you can never get far enough away;  humans and their noise producing machines are everywhere.   One thought that helps me, is to think of myself as an alien dropped off on a planet of apes.   Then I can just sit back and enjoy the show—like going to the zoo.

But the post that sold me on her blog is this one.

I cannot get it out of my mind. Maybe it's because M. and I often go several days without talking to anyone else in person (not counting email). Without her (and the dogs), I would soon be wondering the same thing.

Cross-posted to Southern Rockies Nature Blog.


Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Political Pagan blog

Michael Strmiska has a started a new blog, The Political Pagan. Stop by and visit. He does not mention it, but he is also on The Pomegranate's editorial board.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Gallimaufry with Ancestors

• From Svartesól, five ways of communicating with the gods.

• Paula Jean West has a round-up of posts on Pagan festival etiquette. But needing a wi-fi hotspot? I thought some people went to festivals to get away from all that. Write some columns in advance--that's the traditional way of dealing with that issue.

• Caroline Kenner's guest post at the Wild Hunt on ancestors (i.e., the Mighty Dead) is worth reading. It's a bit long for a blog post--but as a guest, she did not have the luxury of breaking it into three parts.

• Graduating from college, Annyikha offers her long hair to Artemis and Athene.

A personal protection spell for handguns. The "witch who lives in the woods alone" probably would approve.

• This week's best search words that brought a visitor to this blog: "you tube videos secret witchcraft threats." If they were truly secret, would they be on YouTube? Some people have such trust in the InterWebz. It's sort of touching.

• Actually, maybe this post is too long. I would look more productive if I made a separate post out of each bullet point, wouldn't I.

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Monday, July 20, 2009

I'm Not Here, I'm There

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

My First-Draft Paper on the 'Crisis of History'

My CESNUR paper, "In the Mists of Avalon: How Contemporary Paganism Dodges the 'Crisis of History,'" has been published on line at the organization's web site.

It is sort of quick and lightweight, but I want to work more on those ideas in the future.

In the immediate future, however, I need to come up with something for my guest-blogger spot at The Wild Hunt. Warning, it's more likely to be snarky than deep.

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Tuesday, June 02, 2009

From Abortion to Icelandic Music and Back

So Jason decides that he would rather blog about abortion than Iceland Paganism, which leads me to follow the Icelandic Paganism link, as I have read all the usual blather that followed the murder of Dr. Tiller.

Thus I am lead to the documentary Screaming Masterpiece, about Icelandic music, which is now in my Netflix queue.

Must get back to work now -- I have to finish my paper for the CESNUR conference.

Back when I had to teach first-year composition, the joke was that students in search of a topic tended to fall into well-worn ruts: abortion, gun control, the drinking age, etc.

Dealing with the first one was easy, after a while. I just issued a classroom fatwa that only people who had had an abortion could write about the topic.

The real purpose, of course, was to segue into a discussion of pathos and how hard it was to write convincingly about a topic with which one has no emotional connection.

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Pagan Travel Blogger

The Examiner blog network, which signed Murph Pizza to cover Paganistan, now has a Pagan travel writer, Paula Jean West.

Are we a niche market, or what?


Thursday, May 14, 2009

Gallimaufry with Gray Matter

Ten myths about the brain.

• Paganistan gets a designated blogger in the Examiner network, Murph Pizza.

• A "prehistoric pin-up"? Archaeological video from the journal Nature.

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Patheos' Pagan Gateway

I have had the privilege of helping to create the "Pagan gateway" on, a new interfaith religious portal site designed to help people find " credible, comprehensive, easily accessible information on religion and spirituality."

Founders Leo and Cathie Brunnick are trying to create a site that is comprehensive, academically sound, but accessible to everyone, with all the usual bells and whistles -- discussion forums, blogs, etc.

Time's article on the overall Patheos site produced some picky responses on the GetReligion blog.

Of course Patheos will be compared to -- from the Pagan perspective, I think it is a lot better. I wrote earlier about my bad experience as a blogger with Beliefnet.

The "Arts & Entertainment" link is not yet working, but will have information on musicians, movies, and so on.

Go visit, see what you think, and stake out a spot on the discussion board. The Pagan Gateway team is supposed to seed them with provocative questions.

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Thursday, April 02, 2009

View from a Parallel Universe

M. and I are on the road, looking for books, brew pubs, and botanicals, so blogging will be sporadic for a few days. So far we have covered two out of three.

This interior view is not a brew pub, however, but one of our favorite coffee shops.


Friday, March 27, 2009

Blogroll Updates

• Technoccult is now called Renegade Futurist, although the old URL lingers. If you miss the "occult" part, they have suggestions.

Staying Alive is a blog about academic survival -- fictions and realities.

This Lively Earth is Priscilla Stuckey's blog on writing, animism, and other forms of nature-based spirituality.


Friday, March 06, 2009

Blogging in Fire Season

My days this week were split between book-editing, another writing project, and fire-fighting -- or worrying about fires.

In late January I joined the little rural volunteer fire department, which seems in a way to embody what the Founders meant by "militia" back in the 18th century.

M. and I also signed up as volunteers for the Colorado Division of Wildlife -- we have had one training day and no projects yet, but that will change.

Tonight, Saturday, and Sunday I will be involved with more wild-land fire training. That is our main concern -- stopping wild fires that threaten structures -- rather than structure fires as such.

I have a stack of books to review. It is a lot easier to think about writing on a day like today: cloudy, a wisp of drizzle in the air, not much wind.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

On Not Being a Textual Religion

People who think that a "real religion" has holy books often do not understand Paganism, whether old or now.

Gus diZerega, who is now blogging at BeliefNet, takes on that attitude in his latest post, "A Pagan View on Sacred Authority."

Fundamentally we are an oral and experiential tradition. We Wiccans have Books of Shadows, but they are more like ritual cookbooks that sacred texts along Biblical or even theological lines. Similar texts dominate in Brazil among the African Diasporic traditions. Dogma is not particularly important, compared to ritual and experience. This also appears to have been the case in [ancient] Rome.

Read the whole thing.

Incidentally, it is good to see that BeliefNet has a Pagan blogger again. It used to be me, but I was purged along with other non-monotheists. Now the site's owners seem to be trying to broaden its blogroll once again. You still have to scroll to the very very bottom to find the Pagan blogger.

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Thursday, January 08, 2009

A Surrealist Hymn to Aphrodite

Blogger like to write about the weird search terms that bring in readers.

Similarly Sannion turned the subject lines of messages caught in his email spam filter into what amounts to a hymn to Aphrodite Pandemos -- through the Surrealist technique of random assemblage.

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Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Additional Ways to Read this Blog

On the right side of the page, you will see links for "Letter from Hardscrabble Creek's Atom feed and LiveJournal feed. The RSS feed is here.

I have now added links that let you subscribe to this blog on Kindle and to become a fan on Facebook.

I am not sure what the benefits of becoming a fan on Facebook are, so if you know, enlighten me.


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Gallimaufry and an Omelette

¶ Twitter, It’s the CB radio of the 2000’s. That's funny if you remember the CB radio craze of the 1970s.

Green Egg Omelette: An Anthology of Art and Articles from the Legendary Pagan Journal is shipping now -- my contributor copy just arrived. Oberon Zell's layout suggests the original pages, blending different decades into a coherent whole -- with lots of Arnold Bocklin type, on the principle that everything old is new again. (Is it coincidence that Böcklin himself loved Pagan themes in his art?)

Anyway, go buy one and dive in.

¶ I share James French's skepticism about Pagan-Christian dialog but some people obviously think it is worthwhile.

¶ Caroline Tully reprints some cogent thoughts on the role of the priestess--from 108 years ago. "What do we find in the modern development of religion to replace the feminine idea, and consequently the Priestess?"

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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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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.


Sunday, October 19, 2008

Why I Am Not Blogging Much

I have a number of substantive posts that I want to write, but I seem to not be getting to them.

Reasons: I am trying to finish a paper to be presented at the AAR. The easy narrative part is done, and so I am struggling with the theoretical part. Only to complicate things, it's a co-written paper (with slides to be projected in sync with the text), and I have to see what my co-author will add, and how it all be integrated.

Are co-written papers a bad idea? Probably, if you both have busy lives and live 1,200 miles apart!

And then I have to finish reading and making notes on a new religious-studies textbook that I am supposed to copy edit and put into InDesign, knowing that the publisher and the general editor will be at AAR and will expect me to have intelligent things to say.

There are some posts (more to come) about M.'s and my Yellowstone trip on the other blog.

Expect more here, one of these days.


Saturday, August 09, 2008

Trout and Mushrooms

M. and I are off for a few days to pursue trout and mushrooms. Blogging will resume later next week.


Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Gallimaufry with Atoms

Just some links while I am busy on two editing projects and a proposal...

¶ Aleister Crowley's legacy still poses problems for occultists -- especially when they take Internet "life" as equivalent to a "scene."

¶ Lonnie muses about animism and consciousness.

¶ A British celebrity chef recommends henbane in salads. Much concern ensues. The ethnobotanist Christian Rätsch has a recipe for henbane beer, which he says is excellent. (His personal site, in German, is here.)

¶ Peter Bishop has been reading the book of Genesis. It's fun to watch the reaction of an intelligent, non-Christian reader, "letting it speak for itself, instead of viewing it through the lens of later writings." I love the idea of Yahweh as a sort of venture capitalist investing in Abram and Sarah.

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Saturday, August 02, 2008

A Panopticon in Reverse

Who says the mainstream media doesn't do some things well? New York Times writer Mattathias Schwartz explores the world of Web trolls.

Ultimately, this issue is about the idea of the "commons" and whether the Web can function as a place to exchange ideas and information without getting buried in slime:

Does free speech tend to move toward the truth or away from it? When does it evolve into a better collective understanding? When does it collapse into the Babel of trolling, the pointless and eristic game of talking the other guy into crying “uncle”? Is the effort to control what’s said always a form of censorship, or might certain rules be compatible with our notions of free speech?

(Via Firedoglake.)


Saturday, June 07, 2008

Gallimaufry with Native Spirits

Boppin' aroung the Pagan blogosphere in lieu of getting real work done . . .

¶ Lessons about getting spiritually comfortable in new ecological landscapes. I am not sure that I buy all of the writers' asumptions, but it is a good topic to bring up. And as all good Phil Rickman fans know, there are things that can "kill you and eat you" right there in the Celtic homelands.

¶ Still on the Celtic spirituality "over here" theme, Fiacharrey at the Cypress Nemeton thinks about encounters with Christian apologists in two posts, one and two.

¶ John Yohalem's perspective on attending a Passover seder this year.

But if there’s only one god (let’s call him El, the Genuine Article, as in a train high above the streets, or a box of exploding cigars), then he either rolls over and ignores us (the Red King a-dreaming) or he enters history, stirs the pot, tastes it now and then and adds spices to taste. (God-in-a-toque and the divine (Julia) child.) Jewishness is predicated on this interfering god, and interpreting reality through his interferences. (E.g.: Sodom means he’s anti-gay or something else that was done there.)

¶ Anne Hill is anticipating a central listing of Reclaiming-tradition bloggers

¶ The Nine Noble Virtues in LOLCat-ese. Eventually we will be tired of it -- the LOL-speak, not the virtues.


Friday, May 30, 2008

I'm Not Here, I'm There

Guest-blogging today at The Wild Hunt blog.


Friday, May 16, 2008

A Day for Desk Work

It is a damp, grey day here on Hardscrabble Creek, with the temperature struggling to climb out of the 40s F. It's a good day to be indoors editing Pomegranate articles. Were the weather warm and sunny, I would want to be doing chores outdoors--all the little jobs that built up over the winter.

Meanwhile, some links:

¶: Articles on Pagan infiltration of Quaker meetings and other creeping Paganism from Christianty Today and Modern Reformation. Via Cat Chapin-Bishop, who is quoted in the former, being one of the infiltrators.

¶ Beyond mere steampunk: Building a Victorian computer. Via Mirabilis.

¶ Bablestone posts on the difficulties of deciphering Ogham inscriptions. What looked like a description of a battle might in fact be a simple grave marker.

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Saturday, May 10, 2008

Gallimaufry with Bells On

These women know how to dress for an outdoor festival.

¶ Jason links to articles and web sites for new, nontraditional Morris sides. I am not sure if I would call what they are doing "reclaiming" -- nor do I know if Jason chose that word for its this-side-of-the-pond connotations. Any folk tradition changes with time, even as its practitioners insist that "we've always done it this way" or "we are just going back to the way that the old-timers used to do it." Lots of good links.

¶ Hecate has a Wiccan landscaping question. I have already contributed my two cents' worth.

¶ The US Postal Service is piloting a program to make it easier to recycle inkjet cartridges and small electronics. (Via Lupabitch.)

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Thursday, May 08, 2008

Another Serving

¶ A body-art slideshow, beginning with the signs of the Zodiac. (Probably NSFW.)

¶ Read the comments and see where you fit in.

¶ For your polytheistic bookshelf: Dancing In Moonlight: Understanding Artemis Through Celebration, via Executive Pagan, who is reading it and other books.

¶ Info on an article on Jack Parsons, ceremonial magician and rocket scientist.

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Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Gallimaufry for Many Moons

Malleus Maleficarum collector figures.

Women of Esoterica blog: "On women involved in the paranormal, esoteric, Fortean, strange, magickal, supernatural, anomalous, symbolic, UFO, ghostly, chupacabra-y, Nessie/Sasquatch, world of really weird things."

¶ I would like to have walked out under these skies.


Gallimaufry and the iMac

¶ Metaphysical writer Louise Hay is profiled in the New York Times: "Queen of the New Age." (Hat tip: Jordan Stratford.)

¶ I can tell that you are reading only 20 percent of my blog.

¶ Ten years ago, the look of personal computing changed forever. "As far from the cable-twined tangle of beige boxes as you could imagine, its smooth-as-an-egg blue-and-white all-in-one shape was compelling and futuristic."

¶ When I saw Jason's post about people choosing to have Pagan weddings for what amount to aesthetic reasons, I was reminded of a news article I linked to in 2006 about Westerners performing fake Christian ceremonies in Japan.

Back in our days as active coven leaders (20+ years ago), M. and I did marry a sort-of Pagan American guy and the daughter of a Thai UN official. Her family treated it as an unusual ethnographic spectacle, but we got a great Thai dinner out of the experience.

No, the marriage did not last. I think we are 1 for 3 on handfastings. You had better choose someone else.

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Friday, April 11, 2008

Relief for Tired, Bloggy Eyes

My eyes cringe at Web pages with light-on-dark type. Dark-on-light was good enough for Gutenberg, and it's good enough for me.

Now there is a solution: a Java script in the form of a toolbar bookmark that lets you flip headache-inducing light-on-dark pages to the way that Johannes intended. (Thanks, Kelley.)

For the bookmarklet, just scroll down to the box marked "Update," and drag and drop.


Saturday, March 29, 2008

Gallimaufry to Fill Space

Back from a week on the road to a full inbox and a desk covered with bills to pay, I offer a few links for your kind attention:

¶ Attention Kemetic reconstructionists: Don't let your temple-builders become anemic.

¶ A list of things that offend Muslims. Anyone want to try the Pagan equivalent? I think it would be a lot shorter. Piggy banks and Easter eggs don't bother me. Can you imagine Pagans rioting in the streets over the crappy remake of The Wicker Man and giving director Neil LaBute the Theo Van Gogh treatment? I can't either. We prefer to just make fun of it.

¶ This will go onto my must-see list: Jason Pitzl-Waters notes an upcoming movie about the philosopher Hypatia. An uncompromising Neoplatonist, from what I understand, she was murdered by a Christian mob after some bishop put out a fatwa against her.

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Monday, March 17, 2008

Blogging on a Snowy Day

A traditional Colorado St. Patrick's Day: dank and snowy. If I were not bogged down with grading, I could contemplate which one of seventeen Irish recipes sounded most appealing. Guiness-and-cheddar fondue?

M. and I will be hearing some music tonight, though.

I finished reviewing the proposals for the American Academy of Religion's Contemporary Pagan Studies Group.

Our theme for this November's meeting in Chicago is "The Polytheistic Challenge," and it looks like we will have enough good papers for our two sessions -- about ten papers total. Add to that a session shared with the Popular Culture group, and we will have more.

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Gallimaufry with Beheaded Statues

¶ When monotheists turn violent (which is often): Mormon missionaries vandalize Catholic shrine in southern Colorado. Mormon higher-ups ask forgiveness of Blessed Mother. That was a joke. Actually, they apologized to the San Luis, Colo., town board: one quasi-theocracy to another. They also want to build a huge church in the little town.

¶ Indigenous religious leaders meet about environmental crises. News of the meeting did not apparently make it to the BBC, for instance. I applaud what they are doing, but, unfortunately, they need better media relations. Or else to invite some Pagan bloggers such as Jason.

¶ Wicca is the "designated Other" for comics artists too.

¶ Maybe the Church of Google monotheists would not behead unbelievers.

No pardon for Helen Duncan, convicted under the 1735 Witchcraft Act. (Earlier post here.)

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Book Meme

I don't normally do these meme-post-thingies, but I was tagged by the inimitable Steve Bodio at Querencia.

Here is the challenge:

1. Pick up the nearest book (of at least 123 pages).
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people.

Mine reads as follows (the ellipses were in the original, which included the block quotation):

Osbert Sitwell was well acquainted with the story. He says that the deserters included French, Italians, Germans, Austrians, Australians, Englishmen, and Canadians; they lived
--at least they lived--in caves and grottoes under certain parts of the front line...They would issue forth, it was said, from their secret lairs, after each of the interminable checkmate battles, to rob the dying of their few possessions...

I tag Jason, Peg, Caroline, Anne, and Jordan. Pass it on.

My book? Paul Fussell's The Great War and Modern Memory


Sunday, February 24, 2008

A Mythical Creek with Real Beavers

There is a new syncroblog "call" up on mythology and landscapes.

I am just back from a Sunday afternoon dog walk, and here is the landscape: winter ice slowly melting above a beaver dam on Hardscrabble Creek.

Mythology? I guess I feel sort of deficient in that area today. Spring, ice, stream, beavers -- go for it.


Friday, January 04, 2008

Not Getting the Whole Blogging Concept

Some people just do not get the concept -- in this case, the concept of blogging.

When you write a blog, you either link to a web site you have visited (blog = web log, remember) and you comment on it. Even a Glenn Reynolds-ish "Heh" counts as a comment.

Or you write what amounts to an online diary entry. Those are the two main types of blogging.

But lately, thanks to Google Alerts, I noticed that some Pagan bloggers think that cutting and pasting Wikipedia entries counts as blogging. Examples: 1, 2, 3, 4. There are probably more.

If you cannot link-and-comment, or write about your day (or night), then there is always the Japanese option: Tell what you ate for lunch.


Meanwhile, read Doug Cowan's Cyberhenge: Modern Pagans on the Internet for a broader perspective than I can offer in a blog.

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In lieu of doing actual work ...

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Where's the Wall? I Need to Hit It

Forgive the melodramatic headline, but I have been grading tests and research papers for about six hours. At least "the big class" is done, and what lies ahead will be more pleasant reading--essays by better student writers.

So to make up for the lack of blogging, some odds and ends:

• A web site devoted to iconography of deities and demons of the ancient Near East. (Thanks to Caroline Tully.)

• I am please to announce that the Consultation on Contemporary Pagan Studies in the American Academy of Religion has been upgraded to "group" status, i.e., it is now the Contemporary Pagan Studies group, although their site does not reflect the change. The change gives us more program slots and a longer period before the next oversight review.

• Via Circle Sanctuary, a program for sending "Care Packages" to Pagan military personnel overseas.

• Mainly because it has a lot about Gleb Botkin, founder of the Church of Aphrodite and hence one of America's Pagan pioneers, I just read Frances Welch's A Romanov Fantasy: Life at the Court of Anna Anderson. (Reviewed in the Los Angeles Times and The Guardian.)

I really didn't learn anything new about the C of A., but there is this tidbit, as close as Welch comes to suggesting how Franziska Schandzkowska [Anna Anderson] (1896-1984) fooled so many people into thinking that she was Anastasia, the youngest daughter of the Russian royal family--including Botkin, who knew the real Anastasia when they were both teenagers. Anastasia's uncle by marriage, Grand Duke Alexander, suggested that Anna was what New Agers call a "walk-in."

A confirmed spiritualist and table-rapper, Alexander claimed that Grand Duchess Anastasia's spirit had returned and incorporated itself into another body. His proclamation revealed the extent to which he was impressed by Anna's memories. 'She knows so much about the intimate life of the Tsar and his family that there is simply no other explanation for it; and of course it wouldn't be the first time that a spirit has returned to earth in a new physical form.'


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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Gallimaufry with Dreams

¶ Anne Johnson on Dream Weaving.

¶ Anne Hill writes about dreaming too. (Is this a blog meme? Ann + dreams?)

¶ Northern Path likes the new Beowulf movie.

¶ Peg is upset about people stealing Pagan music.

¶ Caroline posts collage Tarot decks.

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Sunday, November 25, 2007

Gallimaufry with Cocktails

¶ Having watched most of the "Thin Man" movies out of sequence, M. and I finished tonight with the last of them, Song of the Thin Man. It is notable for its proto-hipster dialog in some scenes and what I am sure are well-veiled cannabis references, slipped past the Hollywood censors of the day. I have a vision of a 21-year-old Allen Ginsberg, watching it and going "Yeah, yeah!" "Best minds of my generation," check. [Hidden] drug references, check. [Euphemized] "negro streets," check. Insane asylum, check. Jazz, check. It's almost all there. But no overt references to Patterson, New Jersey.

¶ A friend writes, "I am finally reading Her Hidden Children!! It is wonderful, Chas. Intelligent, concise, thoughtful, and respectful as well. Lovely, bravo, you are my hero. It is well written and pleasant to read. Your style flows like water over glass, never stumbling over complexities or data."

I can't marry her, so do I put her in my will? Flattery goes to a writer's head like a big glass of cheap sherry!

¶ You should bookmark Jason Pitzl-Waters' music blog, A Sweeping Curve of Sound. "Music, Blasphemy, Idolatry." I'm in. Links abound, including to his Pagan music podcasts.

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Monday, November 19, 2007

Gallimaufry with Geats

¶ Slate reviews the new 3-D Beowulf movie in heroic verse! I liked Beowulf and Grendel. Comparison will be fun.

¶ Staying in a San Diego waterfront hotel is like living in a Tom Clancy novel. Marines in dress blues suddenly fill the lobby. Helicopters and jets dash overhead. On Saturday morning I woke up to see the USS Nimitz moored across from us at Coronado Island.

But from the convention center I look over to a certain apartment complex on Coronado, where someone once important to me lived. Vanished youth, etc. M. is wryly accepting. She has her nostalgia moments too, after all.

¶ Jason Pitzl-Waters links to a news story about what happens when a church is "marital property".

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Monday, November 12, 2007

Gallimaufry is not a Irish Word.

¶ Dude, it's like this secret Irish slang, you dig? So don't be a twerp--glom onto this.

On the other hand, be careful of enthusiastic folk etymologists with a pocket dictionary and an agenda. It could just be a gimmick.

Time and Mind is a new journal of postprocessual archaeology: "The journal features scholarly work addressing cognitive aspects of cross-related disciplines such as archaeology, anthropology and psychology that can shape our understanding of archaeological sites, landscapes and pre-modern worldviews."

¶ Blogging will be light for the next few days. I have to ride the big silver snake to Southern California and the American Academy of Religion annual meeting. Berg should have a booth there--maybe I can find the journal.

So many bloggers go to events and post pictures of exhibitor booths and shots of happy people in hotel bars. I will try to avoid that -- unless I get something really good.

I will be checking out the possibility of freelance work too, which adds an extra urgency to the trip.

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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Gallimaufry with Rice

¶ How is your vocabulary? I donated 300 grains of rice the first time that I tried this online game. Then the AI started serving up all these Latinate terms. Level 50 is the top?? (Hat tip: Odious and Peculiar.)

¶ Ancient Egyptians dealt with zombies too. (Hat tip: Glenn Reynolds.) Pluvialis agrees: we need to know these things.

¶ Hecate is getting testy about media Witches. I think there is a Gresham's Law of spokespeople: the weird drive out the sensible.

¶ Deborah Oak wonders if Elvis is a god yet.

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Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Gallimaufry with Nut Brown Ale

John Barleycorn Reborn is a double CD compilation of dark folk music from the British Isles.

¶ Staying with the British theme: if you see this, you must be in Glastonbury.

¶ Now this is embodied Paganism.

¶ "Sexy witch" Halloween costumes (big this year) require striped stockings. Why is that? The "sluts and slashers" aspect of costuming bothers some Pagans.

¶ Another example of group disfunction?

¶ I missed DOR Day. Next year I won't. (I do wish bloggers would abandon white-on-black type. The only thing more eyestrain-inducing is purple-on-black.)

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Rites of Passage

Help a Wiccan college student with a research project on rites of passage by taking this test.

No, I don't know if she has read Coming to the Edge of the Circle or not, or if she still thinks that Van Gennep is the latest thing.

(I do not know the student personally, but I sort of know her through email lists.)

Or you could just find out how fluffy you are. I hope that your score is a negative number.

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Sunday, October 28, 2007

Tribal Gallimaufry

¶ Some people think that modern life is cold and heartless and that it would be better to live in a tribe. But what happens when the tribe's inner circle does not want you? Sometimes it means that you lose your fat monthly check, for one thing.

¶ Blogger/journalist Rod Dreher is heated about about sexy Halloween costumes for little girls. Like a lot of his commenters, I think that the costume pictured would be fun for a kid to wear and sexy only to a pervert.

In 1985, David Garland, now 39, of Liverpool, NSW, did something similar, but in reverse. While bicycling, he was struck by a four-wheel drive. He wasn’t expected to recover from his injuries, but did, only to notice that he could now see and hear things imperceptible to others.

And he ended up Wiccan.

¶ Weirdest search string to bring a reader here lately: this are leaking car, basement, wicca.

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

Slow-Cooked Campfire Gallimaufry

¶ If you are not totally saturated with LOLcat humor, there is always the LOLCat Bible. (Via Boing Boing.)

¶ Download a quick Dutch oven cookbook. Then at your next festival, elbow aside all those half-naked dancers, set your cast-iron Dutch oven in the lambent coals, and enjoy a drink while waiting for baked goodness.

¶ Ready for some retro-Web design? Download traditional tunes from the British Isles, Ireland, and "the colonies" in low-res MIDI format. Then visitors to your Web site can listen to them over and over until they hit the BACK button repeatedly to get away from the noise. (Lyrics also available.) Or maybe you just want to remember how "John Peel" goes.

¶ If you are an alchemist or on the staff at Hogwarts, your name is here. (Hat tip to Stone Circles.)

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Gallimaufry (with horns)

Oberon Zell seems to drive some Pagans around the bend for his fondness for costuming, but who else reinvented unicorns? The original work was done by a Maine wildlife biogist whom Zell acknowledges, W. Franklin Dove, in various articles and a book, Artificial Production of the Fabulous Unicorn:a Modern Interpretation of an Ancient Myth (1936).

¶ I always say that making movies about writers is difficult because the work of writing is not very visual. Margaret Soltan links to an article about movies that are more about writers' egos and screw-ups. I think that I will rent a couple of them.

I would add Almost Famous to the list, mainly for Philip Seymour Hoffman's rants as a real-life character, rock journalist Lester Bangs, which are dead on.

¶ Recently a shut-down Toys 'R Us store in Pueblo that I pass on my way to the university blossomed with new, temporary signage as a Spirit World Halloween Store. I had no idea that there was a Halloween chain store! Or that there was a category for warrior and god costumes. Or that it included "outlaw zombie"--shades of Texarcana.

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Wednesday, August 29, 2007


• Get your fringe archaeological theories here, including a study how Pagan uses of megalithic sites compares to the "postprocessual" trend in archaeology. Maybe academic jargon does get the better of her at the end, when she refers to Paganism as a "discipline."

• The Boston Globe describes "The Age of Steampunk,", following up on Wired's piece. You can go straight to the workshop.

• The Red Witch blog is posting old photos, book jackets, etc., of interest to those following Craft history. (Some photos NSFW.)

&bull Jason Pitzl-Waters discusses new releases in "dark" and Pagan-esque folk music. I am playing some sample cuts right now.

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

About That Previous Post

If I am posting blogger quizzes, you know something is amiss. Other than the stresses of completing a home-remodeling job and getting ready for the new semester, I have also been posting more on my other blog, and I still have a lot of material waiting for that one.

But the pendulum will swing. Call it Gemini syndrome.


Oh really?

You're The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe!

by C.S. Lewis

You were just looking for some decent clothes when everything changed quite dramatically. For the better or for the worse, it is still hard to tell. Now it seems like winter will never end and you feel cursed. Soon there will be an epic struggle between two forces in your life and you are very concerned about a betrayal that could turn the balance. If this makes it sound like you're re-enacting Christian theological events, that may or may not be coincidence. When in doubt, put your trust in zoo animals.

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Purging books

M. and I in the middle of some home remodeling, just painting and staining after the contractor has finished, and otherwise putting things back together.

In the past, when we moved into a new house or apartment, we claimed our territory by first doing a fire-bowl purification, followed by building brick-and-board bookcases.

Yep, here we are, still decorating in Early Grad Student Style, more timeless than Colonial or Mission or Louis XIV.

Now we have a new panoramic view of the Wet Mountains, spread across two walls -- and less room for bookcases. The purge is on, and it ripples from the livng room through the bookcases in the study and the bedroom too.

I stand in front of a bookcase with cardboard cartons at my feet. The books by the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet whom I quote in everything I write -- those stay. The books by the Pulitzer-winning poet whom I admire but never really "got" -- they go into the box for the student literary club's fall fund-raising book-sale.

A friend who shares the "small house, many books" situation says "No extra space, and no books I want to purge!" There is defiance for you. But he is a writer in a tiny town, thirty miles from a half-decent library. And he wants to keep his rectangular friends close. I understand.

Maybe getting rid of books makes room for new books: new friends, new ideas, new experiences.

But it is a sad process too. It is realizing that I will never make time to learn XYZ or that technological changes have made my books on EFG obsolete. It is saying farewell forever to the me who was interested in PQR.

So far I have filled two cartons for the university literary club's fund-raising book sale, one our little two-room public library, and one of the university library, if they want them.

And then I sit on the sofa and watch a distant thunderstorm flicker on the ridges through our new double-glazed casement windows.

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Sunday, July 29, 2007


Time to dump some hot links in the stew pot:

¶ Crikey! Ambulance Driver has done it again! The man's a bloody bloggin' gawd.

¶ I have always been fascinated by Ozti the iceman, whose body was found on an alpine pass between Austria and Italy. I think it was Konrad Spindler, an Austrian anthropologist, who suggested that Otzi was fleeing some kind of inter-clan or inter-village or inter-personal conflict when he died. That Otzi bled to death from wounds suggests that Spindler was right. This book probably applies".

¶ So you are interested in Celtic Studies? Here is your starter kit. Or maybe you just want this .

¶ Everybody wants to belong somewhere!.

¶ Having recently visited the Mendocino coast, M. and I are now watching movies filmed there. Last night it was The Russians are Coming the Russians are Coming!, a classic Cold War comedy with Carl Reiner (not one of my favorites), a young Alan Arkin, and Eva Marie Saint as a typical early-1960s perky female lead.

Its message is the eternal comic one since Plautus' day: "The grown-ups are silly, but love will conquer all." Arkin and Theodore Bikel, as the commanders of a Russian submarine, gesticulate and scream at each other like comic-opera Italians, nothing like the careful professionals aboard the Red October.

Next, Johnny Belinda with Jane Wyman. Just think, in a parallel universe she was our First Lady during the 1980s.

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Thursday, July 05, 2007

On the Road

M. and I are traveling right now, and, genius that I am, I forgot to bring the cable that connects camera to PowerBook, so I cannot even post any pretty pictures. Expect some link-rich posting soon.

I have been reading book proposals and Pomegranate papers. I find it hard to do serious writing while on a pleasure trip, but this kind of work-related reading does not bother me because it is the kind of work that I enjoy. I can probably read more closely because I do not feel pressured, if that makes sense.


Friday, June 29, 2007


¶ Is a Celtic bowl the Nazi holy grail? Probably not, but it might inspire a Dan Brown-wannabe.

¶ On Sunday we leave on a trip to the Mendocino coast. We are taking Amtrak most of the way. Some of our friends seem to think that we are eccentric for preferring cross-country trains. After all, air travel is so much smoother.

¶ You knew that chimps and elephants painted. But did you know that trees can draw? (Via Mirabilis.)

¶ Australian writer Glenys Livingstone has put her book on ecospirituality, PaGaian Cosmology, online at the PaGaian website.

¶ Jason Pitzl-Waters is blogging as he works on a book about Pagan music.

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Monday, June 25, 2007

Eight Things You Did Not Know

I was kicking around the idea with some Pagan bloggers of posting "eight things you don't know about me -- and two of them are false."

It's almost a direct steal from the movie Breach, which I loved. (Big Chris Cooper fan that I am.)

Someone took me up on it, so out of fairness here is my list:

1. I have never worn a tuxedo.

2. My brief first marriage was a disaster. We were both just too immature.

3. I am somewhat allergic to horses, which is a nuisance when you’re a small-town Western kid.

4. My first childhood memory is of rabbits.

5. For four years, owls helped to pay my mortgage.

6. I attended four high schools in grade 11, partly due to having problems with authority.

7. I had no formal Wiccan initiation.

8. I worked several years as a technical writer for a well-known aerospace company while taking graduate classes in religion.


Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Sun High in The Sky

Here is the news from Stonehenge. No human sacrifice though, if that is what is was. But The Guardian gloats:

Today is the summer solstice, and the druids have taken over Stonehenge to commemorate their ancient rites. Today's festival at Britain's most charismatic monument is based on a cultural fantasy, behind which are dark facts.

At the moment of maximum Sun-iness, I shall probably be drinking cappuccino in Colorado Springs somewhere. M. and I need a city day.

For some substance meantime, drop by Quaker Pagan and read Cat's two-parter on her spiritual journey: Part 1 and Part 2.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007


¶ Cthulhu's pact with Russia exposed. Was Tim Powers prescient? (Via Dr. Hypercube.)

¶ "I did everything right out of the Necronomicon, and the candles didn't even flicker." Read it all at Pagan Snark.

¶ And an academic muses on Goth's wan stamina.

¶ An employee of the same metaphysical bookstore where M. once clerked has an odd experience.


Saturday, June 09, 2007

Clifton's Three (So Far) Laws of Religion

Since my blog-pal Gretchin asked about the "laws of religion," here they are.

1. Nothing Ever Goes Away Completely. Every religious doctrine or practice ever invented is still being carried on by someone, somewhere.

2. The Disciple Is More Obnoxious Than The Teacher, which is the spiritual corollary of the old maxim, "The servant is more snobbish than the master."

3. All Genuine Religions Have Torchlight Processions. See, for example, the one at the beginning of this documentary.

Now before all the Buddhists come after me (unless they do have torchlight processions in Sri Lanka or somewhere), let me say that this law is more aesthetic than philosophical. With all the advances in techne over the past millennium, still nothing speaks to the soul like flickering flames moving through the darkness.

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Wednesday, June 06, 2007


¶ All genuine religions have torchlight processions (Clifton's 3rd Law of Religion), but how do you make a torch? This guy has answers. For more Neolithic fun, make your own rock-and-plant-fiber oil lamp. He has instructions for that job too. It's all a metaphor for living.

¶ I have been remiss in not thanking Anne Hill for her review of Her Hidden Children.

¶ Summer library program yanked after claims of witchcraft. That's Greenville, South Carolina. I will be in nearby Spartanburg all next week. Luckily, I do not own any tie-dyed T-shirts. (Via Wren's Nest.)

¶ Some Danish Pagans decided to make a religio-political statement--with a large stone. Take that, Harald Bluetooth!

¶ Some Greek Pagans are now able to use ancient temples, although bureaucratic delays persist.

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Saturday, June 02, 2007

I Can't Do What My Father Did

Another meme going around: "I can't do one-quarter of the things my father can."

Fathers born in the 1940s or 50s--and please bear in mind that this will not apply to all of them--seem to demonstrate with much greater frequency the ability to 'Take Care of Things'.

Being in possession of this blanket set of skills crucial for the operational fluency of daily life, they become indispensable to the family unit, developing auras of respect and--notably--competence.

They include, but are not limited to:

* Plunger Operation
* Woodworking
* Toy Repair
* A knowledge of adhesives

Dad had me beat in one area: horsemanship. He could throw a double-diamond hitch on a pack horse in a snowstorm. I never learned any of that.

I think I am his equal in the other stuff. Cars are more complicated now, so it's mainly a matter of changing your own oil, checking tire pressure, and being aware of things changing for the worse.

But wait. They're talking about the guys my son's age -- if I had a son. Hmmm..

Popular Mechanics, as ever, stands ready to fill the gap.

UPDATE: I left out the Wiccan connection.

Much of what I learned about woodworking in particular I learned in 7th and 8th-grade shop classes. And who was behind the push for such "manual" education in the schools? None other than Charles Godfrey Leland, whose three books on Tuscan folklore, witchcraft, and the goddess Aradia helped fuel the 20th-century Wiccan revival.

In Leland's day, it was a rare kid who stayed in school after age 14. He believed that "manual arts" should be part of the curriculum, and he advocated for them a lot.

Via Glenn Reynolds. Men just want to be useful.

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Five (Really More) Thinking Bloggers

Erik at Executive Pagan tagged me with the "Thinking Blogger" meme. That's fair enough, since I hit him with the "book pile photo thing." (Mine's here.)

In fact, I read one of his links too: Rod "Crunchy Con" Dreher.

So, setting aside the uber-bloggers like Glenn Reynolds, here are five who make me think or delight me with their writing:

Ambulance Driver is a funny, often moving, and if you're in emergency medicine (which I am not), informative blog about life aboard a Louisiana ambulance.

Rate Your Students, now on summer vacation, is a venting space for academics (which I am). Find out what professors really think of their students' lame excuses.

• If the universe had take a different twist, I would have become a religion journalist, yet Get Religion continues to show me how the job should be -- and more often should not be -- done. In other words, the press just does not "get" religion as a motivating factor in human affairs.

• James Lileks is an artist of blogging, even though I do not share all of his preoccupations.

Querencia is written by three guys preoccupied with falconry, archaeology, the literature of natural history and exploration, Central Asia, and dogs. The "book pile" meme has been fruitfully applied there. They're my blogging heroes.

Here is the original post that started it all.


Wednesday, May 30, 2007


¶ Now this is a poorly written headline.

¶ As John Leo would explain in "Thoughts on Good Writing", the headline writer needs to "work to avoid the dead idioms that we all seem to carry in our heads."

¶ Weirdest search string to bring someone here in the past month: "Is the vagina of the pagan priestess a holy place?" (punctuation supplied). Discuss among yourselves. This site was the top search result.

¶ They are using laser analysis on the Book of Kells, and, coincidentally, the Vikings are headed for Ireland.

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More Book Piles

The "what I am reading" book pile challenge is taken up by Anne Hill and Victoria Slind-Flor.

UPDATE: One more, from Daven's Journal.


What Makes a Photo Pagan?

It turns out that a lot of people are working on that question, and they are posting their work on sites like Flickr. Metapagan has a roundup.

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Sunday, May 27, 2007

The Book Pile

The stack of books that I am reading.

Following the example set by Steve Bodio and others, here is my current book pile: part of what I am reading (for research, for reviewing, for pleasure) and in the case of Pharmakognosis, re-reading.

I invite my blogging readers to post their own.

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Monday, May 21, 2007


¶ Most of my blogging energy lately has gone into Nature Blog, but here are some links of interest.

¶ Pagan Web sites and podcasts continue to become more sophisticated. Chris Larsen's Odin Lives site includes archived radio shows and a news portal.

¶ If you want to see the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, you will have a hard time with six of them, but the Web gives you a taste.

The Raven's Perch is another podcast, featuring "book reviews, rants, raves, interviews, and anything else" that Wade MacMorrighan feels like including. The most recent podcast is titled "Cookin' with the Kali."

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Friday, April 27, 2007


Leftovers tossed into a pot:

¶ From my friend Rowan in Colorado Springs: Ten Things to Do to Get Ready to Join a Coven. Nothing about candles or astral projection. Learn to cook, keep your word, have a life.

¶ Using the "Mary Magdalene as sacred prostitute" meme to sell sex aids, if you consider the site's overall purpose. (See also Aphrodite pandemos.)

¶ M. and I watched The Last King of Scotland on DVD. Forest Whitaker owned the title role of Idi Amin Dada. He fully deserved the Oscar.

¶ I think that two of my nature-writing students have joined the cult of Charles Bowden.

¶ Weirdest Web search string of the month to bring someone here: sex in cotopaxi colorado. I hope he found some--Cotopaxi is pretty tiny--but is AOL Search the best way to start?

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Saturday, April 21, 2007

Why I Dropped Sitemeter

Not that you have been checking the graphics on my sidebar, but if you have, you will not longer see Sitemeter's little rainbow square.

As this article from Geek News Central states, Sitemeter started planting spyware/third-party cookies on visitors' computers.

I already had an account with StatCounter for a commercial Web project, so I have added my blogs to it. They say they won't use third-party cookies. And StatCounter has a free counter and visitor-tracking service too.

When I am at home with a dial-up connection, I can see the difference: this blog loads more quickly now that the Sitemeter code is removed.

And, speaking of banners, I added one to the definitive Pagan blogs list.


Sunday, April 08, 2007


¶ Here in Colorado, Rocky Mountain PBS' group of stations weights their offerings heavily toward programs like Lawrence Welk and Antiques Roadshow. When they really want to be cutting edge, such as during fund drives, they run a John Denver special.

Having once been peripherally connected with the antiques trade, I actually enjoy Antiques Roadshow sometimes. M., however, makes some comment about the "white-shoe crowd" and leaves the room. I wish I had been watching when an Austin Osman Spare painting was discussed. Did anyone mention ceremonial magic and Borough Satyr?

PanGaia managing editor Elizabeth Barrette has a a new poem published in the fantasy webzine Lorelei Signal. She also has a book in the work on writing Pagan spells, poetry, and ritual texts. She reminds us that PanGaia's fiction-contest deadline is June 24.

¶ This may be just too obvious, but anyway... If you work at an organization that is cyber-security obsessed, where you frequently have to change your network password, why not encode a magical intention into your password? For a writer, something like "Public@tion08". And, look, it's a "strong" password with a non-alphanumeric character.

¶ BeliefNet's Blog Heaven site has been cleansed of non-monotheists. No Buddhist bloggers, no Hindus, no Pagans. And yet I hear that BeliefNet is still trying to get some Pagans to write essays for the main site. Do we even need them, with all the Pagan sites and forums out there?

¶ Stop whatever you are doing and read this. Then bookmark the blog. It is one of the best out there.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007


¶ From an obituary of Frank Conroy (once director of the Iowa Writer's Workshop) on what a writing teacher does:

"You have to get across to them that the work is separate from them. That's what good work is: a life independent of the life of the author. So you have unintended qualities in the prose -- personal tics, pretending to write, instead of really writing. All writers have to go through this and get it past them. I try to make that quicker for them rather than longer.

¶ "The Law of Attraction." Jeff Lilly at Druid Journal has a great round-up posting.

¶ I always wondered how much money it takes to get people to appear on "Wife Swap."

Then an acquaintance who is active in Paganism-and-popular culture was contacted by a staff member for the show. (An illiterate email, she said, which made her think he was some kind of Internet troll instead.)

It's $10,000. And, yes, they want more Wiccans. We're the reliable "other" now.

At one time, Wiccans were rare enough in the public eye that we were seen as a motley collection of individuals. Now we are a class, a group, so it is possible to stereotype us. That is a measure of success, in a sort of back-handed way--except when too many negative traits are projected onto us. This process is know as "alterity," if you speak PoMo.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007


• When driving east from Colorado, I often make a short pilgrimage to Carhenge.

• BeliefNet has cut me off again. Restoring this blog to BlogHeaven is a "top priority," my contact there said. That was three days ago. Again, I am baffled; I have not changed my RSS or Atom feed settings or anything like that. Eventually, I will just stop caring.

• "I guess we're mainstream now--and thus ripe for parody," said the person who emailed me this item from The Onion.

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Blog Valhalla, Polytheism, Books and More

¶ Yvonne Aburrow's Pagan theologies wiki has what might be the definitive list of active Pagan blogs. I am adding a link on my sidebar.

¶ Speaking of which, this blog now appears on BeliefNet's Blog Heaven page again. Thanks to everyone who made a fuss.

¶Bedside reading: I started, put aside, but will return to John Lamb Lash's Not in His Image: Gnostic Vision, Sacred Ecology, and the Future of Belief.

It is a difficult book for me to evaluate: I sympathize with Lash's point of view, but I think that he distorts some of his sources too much in order to support his views. He wants to use Gnosticism as a path that "can provide the spiritual dimension for deep ecology independently of the three mainstream religions derived from the Abrahamic traditions."

Gnosticism is still concerned with "salvation," a concept largely at odds with polytheism, as John Michael Greer points out (see below). Much Gnostic thinking disparages physical existences as a "mistake," so I am waiting to see how Lash reconciles that with deep ecology and its focus on our relationship with and as a part of nature.

Lash writes his introduction around the life of Hypatia of Alexandria, a Platonic philosopher murdered by a Christian mob in 415 CE. He wants to view her as an "urban shaman," but I see her more as today's tenured professor of mathematics. An intellectual through and through. Note how she elevates philosophy over erotic attraction this story of her teaching, true or not.

Reviewing Not in His Image in the Los Angeles Times, Jonathan Kirch writes:

Lash is capable of explaining the mind-bending concepts of Gnosticism and pagan mystery cults with bracing clarity and startling insight. At moments, however, he slips into a kind of New Age rant as baffling as any mystical text. "What we seek in 'Gaia theory' is a live imaginal dimension," he writes in one such passage, "not a scaffolding of cybernetic general systems cogitation." . . . .

And when he considers what he calls the "sci-fi theology" of the ancient Gnostics, he comes uncomfortably close to affirming that the otherworldly "Archons" of Gnostic myth were authentic extraterrestrials.

An interesting book, but full of special pleading.

¶I am happier with John Michael Greer's A World Full of Gods: An Inquiry into Polytheism, published by the Druidic group Ár nDraíocht Féin.

Greer's arguments for polytheism as offering a better model of the universe (including the evil and suffering in it) than monotheism and his lucid explanation of polytheistic spirituality deserve a wide hearing.

He works hard to show that monotheistic thinkers simply do not comprehend the polytheistic experience, and their arguments against it (unless enforced by violence as in Hypatia's case) simply fail.

Indeed, ancient and modern Pagans alike have the described mystical states in which they have become aware of multitudes of divine beings filling every corner of the cosmos; in the words of the Greek philosopher Thales, they have seen that "all things are full of gods." This is the polar opposite of henotheism; it is also among the most powerful and transforming of Pagan religious experiences.

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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Site feed update

Inspired by the problems with BeliefNet (which still occurred before I touched any of my site feed settings), I have tweaked the settings a little bit, trying to make them more compatible with different browsers and aggregators.

Thanks also to everyone who contacted BeliefNet on my behalf.

Knowledgeable feedback will be appreciated. I am curious to know if the LiveJournal feed that was set up for this blog has vanished into the ether too, but since I am not an LJ user, I cannot check it.


Sunday, February 04, 2007

Plato and the Bloggers

Will you also agree that if [the public] is ill-disposed towards philosophy, the blame must fall on that noisy crew of interlopers who are always bandying abuse and spiteful personalities--the last thing of which a philosopher can be guilty?
The Republic
Chapter 22, translation of F.M. Cornford
(Book Six)


Thursday, February 01, 2007


• A federal judge won't let the Veterans Administration wriggle out of the lawsuit over grave markers for Wiccan veterans.

The Guardian, a British newspaper, covers the Greek Pagan renaissance.

For years, Orthodox clerics believed that they had defeated Greeks wishing to embrace the customs and beliefs of the ancient past. But increasingly the church, a bastion of conservatism and traditionalism, has been confronted by the spectre of polytheists making a comeback in the land of the gods. Last year, Peppa's group, Ellinais, succeeded in gaining legal recognition as a cultural association in a country where all non-Christian religions, bar Islam and Judaism, are prohibited. As a result of the ruling, which devotees say paves the way for the Greek gods to be worshipped openly, the organisation hopes to win government approval for a temple in Athens where pagan baptisms, marriages and funerals could be performed. Taking the battle to archaeological sites deemed to be "sacred" is also part of an increasingly vociferous campaign.

The article mentions James O'Dell, who also appears in the documentary I Still Worship Zeus.

What happens in Greece first may happen next in the UK or elsewhere in Western Europe. A number of British Pagans have borrowed the rhetoric of American Indian activists about sacred sites and about ancestral remains stored in museums.

• After a couple of years, this blog seems to have been removed from BeliefNet's "Blog Heaven" site, where it used to appear in the "Other Faiths" category at the very bottom of the page.

No one from BeliefNet informed me that my blog was given the boot; I just happened to notice.

When I asked what was going on, someone named Tim Hayne, editorial project manager, said that it was unintentional and tried to make it look like it was my fault for changing something at this end. (Don't tech-support people always try to make problems look like the user's fault?)

Ten days have gone by, but nothing has changed. You won't find Letter From Hardscrabble Creek in Blog Heaven. (Maybe there is a Blog Limbo somewhere.)

But the URL of my site feed has not changed. So I have to wonder if someone at the supposedly interfaith BeliefNet site just cannot stomach an outspokenly Pagan blog.

It's their site and they can run it the way that they want. But why can't they be honest?

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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

News about this blog

I finally moved to the "new" Blogger, so, among other things, I can add post labels. I stopped doing Technorati labels because I did not find them personally to be all that useful. You can still get much the same result by searching the blogs listed in Technorati.


Wednesday, October 01, 2003

"Pagan Thoughts"

Jason Pitzl-Waters' "Mythworks," to which I linked on 24 September, has now been recast with a new identity.

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Friday, September 05, 2003


This is the best New Yorker cartoon ever, as far as I'm concerned.


Tuesday, April 01, 2003

Wiccan books need "earth tones"?

A couple of months ago, Judy Harrow, author of several worthwhile books on Wicca, mentioned to me that publishers--or at least one of her publishers--have decided that such books' covers require (1) a pre-Raphaelite female and (2) earth tones. Check out the cover of Devoted to You, an anthology on the Pagan deities that she recently edited for Kensington Books. See what I mean?

In my darker moments, I wonder if Wicca has gone from being a mystery religion to a fashion statement in fifty years. If you're young, unconventional, angry at the world, you announce, "I'm Wiccan." You don't, however, want to say "I'm a witch," because then people expect you to "do things."

As for larger Paganism, check out this page of so-called Pagan blogs. Exactly what's Pagan about it?

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Thursday, March 06, 2003

By the banks of Hardscrabble Creek

Since it has been several years since I have published any of the print versions of "Letter from Hardscrabble Creek," I am creating this blog to talk about the process and progress of writing and also to comment on what I think are the best new books on contemporary Paganism and nature-based spirituality.

I will also be posting updates on my work in progress, a study of the Pagan revival in America, which has the working title of HER HIDDEN CHILDREN and which will be published by AltaMira Press.