Spiritual and religious experiences can vary, as William James described more than a century ago. He described how different types of people get spiritual nourishment from different styles of religious practice, and in the process probably contributed to an increase in tolerance of religious diversity.
When examining our own spiritual experiences, or seeking out spiritual experiences, I find it helpful to identify experiences that are nourishing in the long-term, rather than just providing a temporary high.
When Gerald Gardner coined the term “the Wica” (originally spelt with one c), he seems to have intended it to refer to any and all witches. Subsequently, the term has come to be used by some people to mean only witches initiated into Gardnerian and Alexandrian Wicca, and has been used by others to mean anybody who identifies as Wiccan, and a whole spectrum of meanings in between those two terms. This can make it confusing for people to understand what is meant by any individual using the term Wicca.
[Estimated reading time: 10 minutes. Contains 2020 words]
Recently, we went to see the magnificent exhibition of Scythian art and culture at the British Museum in London. You can see some more of the exhibits here.
Stag plaque, 400-300 BCE, Scythian, western Asia, Cleveland Museum of Art [CC0 Public Domain]
One of the key elements of Pagan thought is connecting with the Earth, Nature, and/or the land. As a general thing, Wiccans seem to focus more on Nature, Druids seem to focus more on the Earth, and Heathens seem to focus more on the land. however, there are always individual exceptions to these generalities. I have always felt very attached to the land around me, especially hills and ranges of hills.
The Pagan revival began, in part, because people felt alienated from Nature by the Industrial Revolution and living in cities.
Looking at other indigenous spiritualities and religions around the world, we can see that connection to the land and Nature is extremely important to them. This connection includes awareness of ecosystems, bio-regions, animals, plants, seasonal changes, rivers, rocks, and trees.
Just kidding! Happy Autumn Equinox!
As usual at this time of year, heated discussions break out all over social media about whether or not this festival should be called “Mabon”.
Thista Minai (2017), Casting a Queer Circle: Non-Binary Witchcraft. Hubbardston, MA: Asphodel Press.
Aimed at everyone who finds that binary and heterocentric approaches to witchcraft do not fit actual lived reality, this book is an outstanding guide to crafting an inclusive, non-binary approach to ritual. It contains a complete system of magic, ritual, symbolism, festivals, and ritual roles, all designed to be inclusive, safe, creative, and genuinely transformative.
There are several activities that happen in Wicca and other Pagan traditions that might make our rituals inaccessible.
That doesn’t mean we can never do those activities: it does mean being aware of the needs of participants, preferably by asking them in advance what their needs are.
Dowsing for Divinity completely rejects racism, fascism, Nazism, white supremacism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, homophobia, transphobia, misogyny, ageism, ableism, body-shaming, and all forms of bigotry.
Inclusive Pagans celebrate life and love in all its beauty and diversity, and seek to protect and preserve the Earth and Nature, and to cultivate virtues of compassion and respect for all life.
For this reason, following the recent events in Charlottesville, USA, we utterly condemn the ideology and actions of the white supremacists and Neo-Nazis who have caused such suffering there.
What do Anansi, Raven, Coyote, Pérák, Aradia, the Golem of Prague, Robin Hood, Wild Edric, and Ned Ludd have in common? They are all folk heroes of resistance to tyranny, oppression, slavery, and fascism.
The concept of being an ally has become increasingly contested as everyone who is white, straight, and cisgender wants to opt out of the responsibility of complicity with oppression.
So here are a few rules for when you want to talk about working to end oppression.