Category Archives: Theology

Is Neo-Paganism Cultural Appropriation?

There is, and has been, a lively discussion about the appropriateness of appropriating, the taking and using, elements of another culture’. While this question applies to the whole of that culture I am interested for the purposes of this essay in the faith and beliefs of the culture.  

This taking on of a cultures faith and beliefs can be either wholesale or the taking of elements of that faith structure and incorporating it into your own.  

So why is this important? Well there are two aspects for me. The first is that members of the culture being appropriated may well feel marginalised and disempowered where, as is almost always the case, they are a minority population. There is also the question of authenticity. Can a person really be true to themselves if the faith structure they are practicing are not part of their culture and history? 

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Are our choices free?

In many Faiths there is a tension between the concept of free will and an all powerful and all knowledgeable deity. This tension is perhaps most clearly shown with religious Faith’s response to suicide.

Almost all see suicide as a sin, an act against the deity and inherently wrong. Which is a little odd considering the promise of an afterlife they all seem to promise. Why would a deity worry about us arriving in the afterlife we are destined for a few years early?

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Summer Solstice & St John’s Eve. A coincidence of timing?

The summer solstice seems generally to be rather understated, apart from the annual bun fight at Stonehenge that is, which seems strange given that like Christmas it is celebrated by both Christians and Pagans.The summer solstice seems generally to be rather understated, apart from the annual bun fight at Stonehenge that is, which seems strange given that like Christmas it is celebrated by both Christians and Pagans.

Pagans of course see Midsummer as the time when we are expecting the harvest, the time of abundance and reward for the hard work put in throughout the year. Indeed in Wiccan traditions the summer solstice is a time to celebrate the joining of the God and the Goddess and see their union and the force that drives, creates, the harvest fruits.

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Unintentional Path-working

For most practitioners path-working requires quite a bit of setting up, creating the conditions where you can move your consciousness to another place, or allow it to be moved. When working with a partner this can require a period of alignment or synchronising, but in either case it almost always isn’t something that just happens.

But recent experience has shown me that this isn’t always the case.

To set the scene a little as a Pagan I have used and practiced path-working for quite a few years both singly and with a working partner, so I sort of know what’s required to get into the right state and more importantly how it feels when you begin to move from this experience to the Otherland.

I also like to take baths rather than showers, they are so much more relaxing J, and on occasion I have been known to add a little something to the bath.

Recently I added some Himalayan salt to a bath and proceeded to lie there and try to relax not something I find easy in the last 5 or 6 years. As I was starting to ‘Zone out’ I heard a voice calling I couldn’t make it out but it was definitely calling me and from some distance. I also started t feel that slightly unworldly feeling of both being separate from the ‘normal’ world but also aware of it fully.

Now I hadn’t planned this, and wasn’t in any sort of mood to undertake a path-working, in fact I had avoided it as, as anybody who has experienced it will know, they can be rather challenging. Sometimes the message the Goddess has isn’t one you want to hear!

I felt pulled into that Otherworld place, a hyper-reality, where we share experience with beings long gone from the ‘normal’ world. The details of the experience isn’t important here, though it involved re-evaluating something I thought had been forever denied me because of things that have happened in the past, what’s interesting is the fact that this wasn’t something I was looking for. Indeed it was, is, something I feel a difficult prospect.

Path-working is usually seen as a way for us to make contact with that otherworld when and as we wish. This experience has shown me that sometimes that Otherworld will take the initiative and reach out to us whether or not we are ready for it.

A thing to remember perhaps, The powers in that Otherworld are not simply there for our bidding

Samhain: Memories and Thoughts of my Fathers Death

Just over 18 months ago my father died. I was fortunate that I was able to spend time with his in his last few months and we were able to talk, not just about his illness and what he wanted at the end, or didn’t want to be more accurate, but about memories, both good and bad, times spent together and apart. Some things he said didn’t make too much sense at the time, but now I can see and understand what he was trying to say to me.

In his last few weeks I would sit beside his bed, and talk. I’m not sure he heard me, or if he did was able to understand but my presence seemed to calm his somewhat. In his last few days he seemed to become more agitated and while I wouldn’t say distressed certainly confused about where, or indeed who, he was.

This wasn’t a simple not knowing that he was in a hospice, or exhibiting the memory loss associated with dementia. No this seemed to be something more than that. Almost as if the world he was experiencing was very very different to the one we live in and he was struggling to make sense of it. Struggling to adapt to the new environment where all the learnt skills and expectations were of no use.

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Thoughts on Disclosing Childhood Abuse to the Authorities

Harm None? How do we judge

Things have moved on a bit since I last thought about this.

I was asked to talk to social services, who informed me that they would want to consider what action they would take based on my story and that the natures of things was that they might have to also refer this to the police.

So the question became do I talk to them, to tell them my story or not? It is not in this case a simple equation of who will be harmed by my actions and what offset benefit might there be. It is a question of where responsibility lies.

The core of the problem is that if I was to open up to them then the control of what happened with information, and what the consequences were, would no longer be in my hands, and it would be me of my own free will giving that control over to them. How does that sit with the ideas of personal responsibility imbedded in the injunction to ‘harm none’?

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An it harm none, a moral dilemma

I recently have had to begin facing a rather difficult question. One that at its core asked me to interprets one of the prime directives of Wicca.

“an it harm none, do as thou will”

The question boils down to this, if doing something that is needed for my own recovery & survival adversely impacts on the life of others the where do I stand with respect to the tenant expressed in the harm none rule?

Add into this that there is a moral and potentially legal component, in that the action I am contemplating is to formally report historic sexual abuse, and the who question becomes even more murky.

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Self Harm and the Wiccan Rede

So I have been thinking how, as a Pagan, I should view the issues around self Harm.

I mean for the person who is Self Harming rather than the wider issues of support and help. While there are obviously Pagan specific factors to consider when treating, or providing help, to somebody who self harms, such as belief structures and world view which would obviously be very important in treatments such a s talking therapies, I am more interested at the moment on the more internal view. How does being a Pagan sit with Self Harming.

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The bond between souls.

 

I believe that two souls can be bound, in exceptional circumstances, in a time of shared loss and trauma. If the souls chose the right path and if they stand together.

All good beliefs need a story, a story that tells, in its way, what the belief means. Our story begins, as so many do, with a dream, a vision and perhaps a memory.

In my vision I see a warrior standing in the predawn, atop a hill.

Behind him a small village, round houses and pens for horses and pigs. A few families live there, had lived there for 10s or hundreds of years in harmony with the forest surrounding them.

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What is magic?

Recently I was talking about Paganism to somebody and was asked about Magic, was it like the bang flash Harry Potter type of magic?
This led me to start thinking about how I see Magik, how it manifests and how I work with it.

So no magic isn’t the wave a wand and turn somebody into a frog neither is it the brash kick in the door type of magic we see in films. Magic is much more subtle than that, so subtle in fact that you won’t even see it working!

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