Posted tagged ‘neopaganism’

Episode 135 – Building a Magical Tradition with Ivo Dominguez Jr

November 19, 2018

Summary:

We have a conversation with Neopagan author and tradition elder Ivo Dominguez, Jr. about his work in growing his tradition, living through the Neopagan boom of the 80s and 90s, and the New Alexandrian Library project.

 

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Producers for this show: Heather, WisdomQueen, Regina, Jen Rue of Rue & Hyssop, Little Wren, Khristopher, Tanner, Achija of Spellbound Bookbinding,  Johnathan at the ModernSouthernPolytheist, Catherine, Carole, Debra, Montine, Cynara at The Auburn Skye, Moma Sarah at ConjuredCardea, Jody, Josette, Amy, Victoria, Sherry, Donald, Jenni Love of Broom Book & Candle, & AthenaBeth. (if we missed you this episode, we’ll make sure you’re in the next one!). Big thanks to everyone supporting us!

 

Play:

Download: Episode 135 – Building a Magical Tradition with Ivo Dominguez Jr

Play: 

 

 -Sources-

Our guest has several books worth checking out, including Spirit Speak, Practical Astrology for Witches and Pagans, and Keys to Perception. You can find out more about his work at his website as well.

We also reference an ongoing conversation on the history (or pseudo-history) of contemporary Neopaganism in posts such as those by forest witch Sarah Anne Lawless, Patheos blogger Mat Auryn, and anthropologist Amy Hale. As we mention, this episode’s interview was recorded well before this conversation was going, but the chat with Ivo may relate to some of those discussions.

If you have feedback you’d like to share, email us or leave a comment. We’d love to hear from you!

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 Promos & Music

Title and closing music is “Homebound,” by Bluesboy Jag, and is used under license from Magnatune. Incidental music is “Sedativa II,” by DR, from the Free Music Archive.

 

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Quick Update – Call for Submissions

January 26, 2011

Attention all writers!

I know there are at least a few folks who read the blog or listen to the podcast and who also enjoy wordsmithing in a fictive vein.  In case you haven’t heard, Misanthrope Press is holding an open call for submissions of short fiction to be included in their upcoming Etched Offerings: Voices from the Cauldron of Story pagan fiction anthology.  They’ve extended their submission deadline to the end of April, so I highly recommend you put together your best short story with touches of the magical, the mythical, and the metaphorical and send it over to them for consideration.  Here are some of the details from their website:

“If you are reading this anywhere other than www.misanthropepress.com, we urge you to visit our website and view the full guidelines page. We have had to reject several submissions that did not fit our intended theme because people didn’t fully review the guidelines first; we don’t want you to waste your own time by being another one. Etched Offerings: Voices From the Cauldron of Story is a Pagan religion themed short fiction anthology. We are seeking stories about, or relevant to, contemporary Pagan paths and lifestyles, regardless of tradition. Stories about the gods and goddesses, about modern Wiccans, witches, shamans, and other magickal practitioners, as well as fantasy stories of myth and magick are all welcome…

Stories that retell existing myths and legends are acceptable, but there needs to be an original twist or fresh perspective in the telling…

Stories not strictly about Pagan topics, but featuring Pagan characters are very welcome…

We are not looking for stories that focus too heavily on how difficult it is to be Pagan in our society. It’s a valid issue, very much so in some geographic regions, but it’s not what we want to focus on in this anthology.  We’re looking for stories that celebrate the joys and rewards of following a Pagan path, not ones that lament the challenges we face. If your character faces such a challenge and overcomes it, and your story focuses on the triumph of that, that’s acceptable. We won’t, however, accept many stories of this nature, so keep that in mind when submitting.

Along these same lines, while we will potentially accept a very small number of stories that deal with the clash of religious beliefs and/or groups, we won’t be accepting any stories that directly criticize or bash the beliefs of another group. It’s a fine line, we realize; if you’re not confident in your ability to walk it, pick another topic for your story.”

Full guidelines are available at the Misanthrope Press site, so please head over there and throw your ink-stained hat in the ring!

Good luck, and happy writing!

-Cory

Podcast 4 – Defining “Witches” and an Interview with Juniper and Dr. Brendan Myers

February 22, 2010

-SHOWNOTES FOR EPISODE 4-

Summary

In this show, we spend some time trying to pin down that elusive word, “witch,” and figure out just what makes a person fit that term.  Then, in the second half of the show we have an excellent pair of guests, Dr. Brendan Myers and Juniper from the Standing Stone and Garden Gate Podshow.  Plus, we have a reminder about our current weather-lore contest.

Play:

Download: New World Witchery – Episode 4

-Sources-


Websites
From our guests:
The Standing Stone and Garden Gate Podshow – The podcast for thinking pagans and working witches.
Walking the Hedge – Juniper’s excellent hedgewitchery site
Walking the Hedge Blog – The ramblings and wanderings of a Canadian hedgewitch
Dr. Brendan Myers’ website – Pagan philosophy, essays on various topics, and all around good intellectual fun.
Promos & Music
Title music:  “Homebound,” by Jag, from Cypress Grove Blues.  From Magnatune.
Promo 1-The Standing Stone and Garden Gate Podshow
Promo 2- Media Astra ac Terra

Blog Post 9 – Groundhog Day

February 2, 2010

Today we’re migrating a little bit outside of New England proper and into territory which we’ll be covering more extensively at a later date.  But in honor of Groundhog Day, I thought it would be fitting topay a visit to Punxatawney Phil, the ground-dwelling rodent whose annual weather prediction is the subject of great ceremony (and a rather funny film featuring Bill Murray).

Most people know the traditions associated with this holiday (or its sister holiday, Candlemas), but in case you have been living—like Phil–under a rock, in a cave, or in a town library attended to by men in top-hats—if the holiday marmot pokes his head outside after sunrise on February 2nd and sees his shadow, winter will linger for a while longer.  If he doesn’t, you can expect an early spring.  There are dozens of variations on the exact way to interpret that weather prediction.  My personal favorite is the absurd truism “if he doesn’t see his shadow, only 6 weeks until spring; if he does, 6 more weeks of winter.”   I’ve already referenced one proverb about this holiday in a previous post, but there are a couple of poems related to this holiday which illustrate its lore.  The first is Scottish in origin:

“If Candlemas be fair and bright
Winter will have another flight
If Candlemas be cloud and rain
Winter will be gone and not come again”

And here’s one from 17th-century poet Robert Herrick (whom you may know as the author of “To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time”):

Ceremony upon Candlemas Eve

“Down with the rosemary, and so
Down with the bays and misletoe;
Down with the holly, ivy, all
Wherewith ye dress’d the Christmas hall;
That so the superstitious find
No one least branch there left behind;
For look, how many leaves there be
Neglected there, maids, trust to me,
So many goblins you shall see.”

The lore surrounding this day comes from a couple of key sources.  The best known is probably the European tradition of the Candlemas Bear or Badger.  These animals would stir (or in some cases, be coaxed) from their winter dormancy, and observers would make note of their reaction to the environment outside.  Then a prediction of spring’s eventual arrival could be made and plans could be laid for things like tilling and planting crops.  The selection of the groundhog as the New World substitute is outlined by Gerald C Milnes in his Signs, Cures, and Witchery:

“The badger was…used as a weather predictor in Germany, but in the New World, Pennsylvania Germans substituted the groundhog for this role because skunks [whose fat or ‘grease’ the author notes was used as Old World healers used badger fat], unlike badgers, do not hibernate…German Protestants brought the old weather-predicting tradition to Pennsylvania, where it is still actively observed in some German communities.  Groundhogs were substituted for the badger (and bear) traditions o fEurope.  Now the hibernating groundhog has their supposed powers to predict the weather.”

But why did this holiday catch on so widely when so many other holidays and traditions—such as First Footing or Belsnicking (see Milne for more on this mumming tradition)—remained highly localized?  Well, it is certainly a fun holiday, and seems antiquated without being stuffy.  In Punxatawney, Phil is cared for by a group known as the Inner Circle, town elders who dress formally for the occasion of Phil’s prognostication in what sometimes seems a silly parody of Lodge traditions like the Masons.  The general good humor of the occasion (other than the poor rodent, who probably just wants to go back to sleep) has likely fueled its popularity.  But my favorite explanation comes from Jack Santino, in his book All Around the Year:  Holidays and Celebrations in American Life:

“In spite of all this obvious phoniness, we still pay attention to the groundhog’s prediction, as trumped up as it may be.  This probably has to do with the fact that Groundhog Day is the first time that we direct our attention in any formal way towards the coming, much-anticipated spring.  It works for us because after a long January, winter is getting old.  February is a difficult month to get through, even though it is short.  Any indication of an early spring is eagerly welcomed, and Groundhog Day is the first tentative look ahead.”

Santino also connects the groundhog’s celebration to another February holiday:  Valentine’s day.  He notes that the original date for Groundhog Day (in the pre-Gregorian calendar) was on the 13th or 14th of February.  Likewise, the Candlemas bear became a diminished cutie—the teddy bear often given to a loved one on Valentine’s.  I find this connection a bit tenuous, but fun to consider nonetheless.

I should also note that Phil is not the sole weather-predicting critter in the business today.  There are also such famed meteorological marmots as Buckeye Chuck (in Ohio, naturally), Woodstock Willie (Illinois), and Balzac Billy (in Alberta).  Silly as all this may be, I would once again submit that the attentive witch can learn something on Groundhog Day.  Sure, there’s the witchy notion that observing the animals can help predict future events, but I’m more inclined to say the lesson here is that sometimes, it’s okay to smile and laugh at tradition.  There’s a time and a place for the somber and serious, but there’s also a time and a place for a little mirth in the mix.

For those seeking to balance Groundhog Day out with something a little more significant, Candlemas itself is still a holiday for Catholics, as well as some Protestant denominations and even some Pagans and neo-Pagans (myself included).  In the Christian tradition this is the day for the presentation of Jesus at the temple by his mother, Mary.  Christians bring candles to the church to be blessed so that they can be burned throughout the year for loved ones.  Many neo-Pagans celebrate the first or second day of February as Imbolg, dedicating it to goddesses like Brigid or Hestia.  All of them, though, share something in common with Phil:  they’re all looking forward to warmer days and brighter times.

So whatever you’re celebrating today—Groundhog Day, Imbolg, Candlemas, or even an early Lupercalia—I wish you a joyous day and a warm fire to keep you through the remains of winter.

Thanks for reading!

-Cory

Blog Post 02 – Book Review

January 11, 2010

Her Hidden Children, by Chas S. Clifton

I’ve just finished reading Chas S. Clifton’s Her Hidden Children:  The Rise of Wicca & Paganism in America this morning, and I thought that as his topics and my own intersect somewhat I might offer my take on his work.  First of all, I only recently learned who Mr. Clifton was through another podcast, T. Thorne Coyle’s Elemental Castings.  She was part of a panel discussion at the Florida Pagan Gathering in 2009, and Mr. Clifton was on that panel as well (other guests included Gavin and Yvonne Frost and Margot Adler).  The entire discussion can be heard at Ms. Coyle’s website, here.  What convinced me to read Clifton’s book was that in the panel, he spoke as an academic, but also a participant, and he did both with great skill.

After reading his book, I am inclined to think that his personality on the podcast is very much the same personality he puts forth in his writing—albeit a bit homier and less formal when he is speaking than writing.  He manages to provide a good, simple survey of the modern Pagan and Neo-Pagan movement in America, without resorting to overbold brush-strokes when he does so.  He doesn’t take the Gardnerian history at purely face value, but he also doesn’t simply dismiss it out of hand.  Rather, he takes the scholarly approach of examining the texts available and presenting the most reasonable conclusions he can based on those texts (or in some cases, media or personal correspondences).  Like Ronald Hutton’s Triumph of the Moon (which I feel Clifton’s book is greatly informed by), this book is not trying to make any fanciful claims about Paganism’s place in America (he makes the point repeatedly that there’s not a census of religion in America which can present a reliable number of “earth-based religious practitioners” in the US—he instead cites an independent survey which ranges from the upper hundreds of thousands to the low millions).  His examination of the various branches of Paganism in America is particularly noteworthy, as he gives short histories of each segment sourced not only from the branches themselves but from external documentation as well.

I enjoyed learning about the various areas of American Paganism with which I was only marginally familiar:  Feraferia and the Church of All Worlds (CAW), for example.  I also learned a lot about branches I was completely ignorant of, such as the Church of Aphrodite (the first Pagan religious group recognized in America) and the Psychedelic Venus Church.  Some of the better information in the book is about the interaction between various groups which may not always have been apparent.  The Church of Aphrodite, for example, had a great deal of influence on Feraferia because of a shared member, and the influence of Robert Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land on not only the CAW, but groups like the Psychedelic Venus Church.

The book did leave me a little disappointed in some areas:  Clifton relies heavily on certain sources, such as Margot Adler, and on some information which is not particularly accessible (such as the aforementioned personal correspondences).  The largest drawback is that the work really only looks at the mid-to-late twentieth century in America with any great detail, other than to draw a few parallels between Transcendentalism and the modern Neo-Pagan movement.  I would have been greatly interested in finding out what influence movements like Spiritualism and Theosophy had on the Occult revival in America, and what effect in turn that revival had on Wicca and Paganism later on.  But I can also understand that the point of this book may not have been to dig back so far.  The bibliography and footnotes alone make the book worth purchasing or borrowing from the library, and the work certainly doesn’t disappoint in its stated purpose of chronicling the rise of modern Paganism in America.

In the end, while I wanted more, perhaps that is the best recommendation I can give.  This book is great for whetting an appetite for more information on American witchcraft and Paganism, and it certainly can provide a springboard into other areas of discovery.

-Cory


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