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What Pop Culture Teaches Us about Objects of Power

By Taylor Ellwood

I recently finished playing the DLC for Shadow of Mordor. In one of the DLC’s you get to play as the Elf Lord Celebrimbor, who according to the mythology of Lord of the Rings, forged the rings of power, and helped Sauron forge his Ring. Celebrimbor gets the Ring of Power at one point and is able to use it for a time., but eventually loses it when it leaves him. Playing the game got me to thinking about objects of power and how such objects might take on their own personality. According to LOTR lore, Sauron invests a significant amount of his own power into the ring, which ultimately leads to his downfall when the ring is destroyed, but in thinking about how the Ring is treated in the books and in Shadows of Mordor, I began thinking that the ring is its own entity.

The reason I think of the ring as its own entity is because of how it seeks to protect itself. It may find various people to wield it, but inevitably it leaves those people when their value is used up. According to the mythology, the ring is trying to get back to Sauron, but nonetheless I think in giving so much power over to the Ring, what Sauron also gave it was its own identity, desire, etc. And you might wonder what all this conjecture has to do with magic, here’s my take: Investing a lot of your own power, personality, etc., into an object is a mistake that will come back to bite you, because it becomes its own being.

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Rewilding, Eco-feminism, and the Reclaimation of Magic

By Danielle Prohom Olson

Okay so lets start by going back to the very beginning – women and wild food. Because once upon a time all food was wild – and it was the women who gathered it. But what we’ve forgotten today was that no aspect of food, from harvest to preparation to consumption, was left untouched by magical ritual. And because the banning of magic, the subjugation of women, the domination of the earth – and the birth of agriculture – all went hand in hand, I see rewilding and food foraging as a site for eco-feminist intervention.

Many ‘rewilders’ seek to return to a more undomesticated state, a time when pre-historic hunter-gatherers lived “in harmony” with the earth. Roaming over the land, these ancestors foraged the food freely provided by the fields and woodlands, rivers and oceans. Men were mostly in charge of hunting and women were largely responsible for the harvesting and cultivation of plant foods as well the processes that accompanied it, cooking, baking, food processing, and food storage (basketry, pottery, and granaries).

With the shift to farming and the ownership of land and crop things changed. Food went from being a ‘gift’ of mother nature freely available to all, to a ‘product’ of human labour, a commodity to be bought, sold and earned by the sweat of our brow. And this meant removing women from the centre of food production which fed families and tribes, and replacing them with a ‘labour force’ that created food for profit.

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Guerilla Wizardry: DIY Spiritual Pat(c)hwork

By The Dizzy Wizard

Mainstream religious thought is rife with oppressive doctrine, patriarchy, and bigotry. Global history is colored by the death that deity worship has caused, yet many of those who deny spiritual practice have adapted or acknowledged the beneficial tenets that are professed by most faiths. That is to say, in all things there is balance if you look past what is presented TO you and instead create something that is made FOR you. Towards this end it helps to dissect the process of spiritual work, utilizing what rites and practices most apply to understanding of the self while discarding or re-purposing the things that are detrimental to personal growth. The result of understanding this process is a personal method of access to an intangible force of nature. More frequently this method of access is used in ritual and energy work termed as “magick”, not in communicating with a cast of characters enforcing rules as professed by many religious institutions.

Anarcho-Spiritualism is not a religion, it is not a doctrine, it isn’t even a collection of “good ideas”, Anarcho-Spiritualism is a political and spiritual practice that encourages the study of theology and the occult outside of any institution or system to further our self-knowledge and effect. Unfortunately the term “spiritual” is so poorly defined that the designation often feels meaningless, spirituality has become a catch-all term for any practice outside of an individuals native culture.

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Dêwoi – The Gods of Gaulish Polytheism

By Segomâros Widugeni

The Nature of the Gods: The Gods are by far the best known part of Gaulish Polytheism. We have a vast corpus of Latin inscriptions that give us the names of numerous divinities worshiped by Gauls, and a much smaller corpus of Gaulish-language inscriptions, sometimes to the same deities. We have representations of the Gods, symbols, sometimes in clearly understandable settings, sometimes paired with Classical Greco-Roman symbols or images, which can make meanings clearer. We have literary figures in other Celtic languages, and deities in other Indo-European languages, that can allow us to make inferences about Their natures. Even so, not everything is known. They are mysterious, and personal experience with Them is needed to truly understand Them.

Dêwos/Dêwâ – The word for “God”: Derived from Proto-Indo-European Déiwos, meaning “God”, but also having connotations of “Shining Ones” and “Celestial Ones”. The general idea is of a shining being of light. While the earliest term suggests a celestial nature, already by the time of the earliest inscriptions and sanctuaries, offerings are being put into pits and shafts, suggesting that the term came to be applied to Underworld beings as well. It needs to be noted that deities are not perfect beings, are in fact capable of making mistakes and doing wrong. While vastly more powerful and better than human beings, they are nevertheless of a similar nature to us. There is no clear demarcation between Gods and lesser spirits, for the most part, either. The term can be applied to a vast range of supernatural beings.

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Casting a Circle

By Thea Sabin

Why are Wiccan ceremonies held in a circle? Do I always have to draw a circle when I’m going to do something witchy?

Although we’ve all seen the popular horror movie trope of occultists drawing magical circles on the floor to protect themselves from demons and other nasties—a great example is the movie The Devil Rides Out, if you’re interested—the circle in Wiccan rituals demarcates sacred space and is meant to contain any energy you may raise inside it during your ritual. It can serve as a protection to keep out certain distractions or unwanted energies, but it’s not a demon-trapping device.

What Does It Mean?

The circle symbolizes different things to different Wiccans. Some say when they are inside the circle, they are “between the worlds,” meaning in a space between our material world and the otherworld or spirit realm. Other Wiccans believe the circle is a microcosm of the universe or cosmos, or the womb of the Wiccan goddess. And some believe more than one of these things.

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How ‘Star Wars’ Answers Our Biggest Religious Questions

By Joel Hodge

[Snip] Lucas’s stated aim was to create a mythology that could provide moral guidance within the context of a renewed sense of spirituality and transcendence. Lucas was concerned this mythology was lacking both in cinema (following the decline of the Western) and in a post-1960s social context. In a 1999 interview with Time magazine, he reflected on these mythic qualities:

I see “Star Wars” as taking all the issues that religion represents and trying to distill them down into a more modern and easily accessible construct […] I put the Force into the movie in order to try to awaken a certain kind of spirituality in young people – more a belief in God than a belief in any particular religious system. I wanted to make it so that young people would begin to ask questions about the mystery.

This, in large part, helps to explain the enduring quality of “Star Wars”: It sought to take us deep into the mystery of life and existence through an imaginative and engaging story.

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Why Pagan Books Cost So Much (Part 1 of 2)

By Sable Aradia

[Snip] It’s difficult to comprehend why on earth my publisher would be charging $10.54 USD for a bunch of pixels. But honestly it’s not publisher gouging. There’s a reason it all costs that much. I thought maybe if I broke down how it all actually works from the inside people would understand it all a bit better.

The Process of Writing a Book

First of all, it takes years to write a book. Some of the other Pagan writers I know are more prolific than I am, but it took me three years to write The Witch’s Eight Paths of Power. That’s three years of every spare moment being devoted to getting a few lines on paper, which, at the time, I had to fit between my small retail metaphysical business and taking care of my then severely-disabled husband. I wrote a lot of it in slow periods at work; in the doctor’s office; in the chiropractor’s office; on bus trips and road trips. I have to thank Blackberry for the existence of the thing at all. This also doesn’t count the hours and days I spent preparing and teaching workshops to test and try my exercises and theories (or the years and years of witchcraft I practiced to get the skills that made writing the book possible; but I suppose that’s neither here nor there.)

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Ancient Hellenic Ritual Cakes

By Elani Temperance

Yesterday, I introduced the concept of Popana (or Popanon), loaf-like cakes that were solely made for sacrifice. They were a staple of the Delphinia sacrifices, but there is a lot more to them than that. For example, they varied in shape and size, depending on whom they were sacrificed to. Today, I would like to share a little more about the various cakes the ancient Hellenes consumed and sacrificed.

Amphiphon

This cake was specific to Athens. It was a cheese pie on which candles were lit, offered to Artemis on the day of the full moon in the month of Mounichion. Philocorus says that an amphiphon would be brought to the temples of Artemis or to a crossroads, because on this day the moon sets at the same as the sun rises, and the sky is lit by both.

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Gods, Myth, and Ritual in Naturalistic Paganism

By John Halstead

Not all Naturalistic Pagans use theistic language, but some do. The use of “god language” by non-theists can be confusing. Some feel that we should “say what we mean” and avoid theistic language altogether. However, some Naturalistic Pagans feel that to surrender all theistic language to literalists is to throw the proverbial baby out with the bathwater. Both the heart and the head need to be satisfied. In religion, the evocative power of language is at least as important, if not more, than semantic precision. As B. T. Newberg explains:

“The imagination must be captivated and transformed by a vision, not of what one is not, but of what one is or could be. This missing element may be embodied in symbols that remind, invite, and inspire. The individual must be able to interact imaginatively with the symbols in ritual or meditation, and fill them up as it were with experience and affect. At that point, when they are charged with personal meaning and emotion, they may become powerful motivators of thought and behavior. They radiate the power to transform.”

Some Naturalistic Pagans have found that use of theistic language in a ritual context is more productive of certain kinds of religious experience than non-theistic language. For one thing, the word “god” or “gods” is embedded in a complex web of cultural associations. This is precisely why many Naturalistic Pagans discard such language (especially when those associations are negative) , but it is also a good reason for retaining “god language”. Such language is laden with emotional resonance (both positive and negative) and has unique potential to evoke powerful emotions of a special character. Because the word “god” lacks an objective referent, it is like a container that can be filled with many different meanings. Whatever goes in the container takes on the qualities associated with the word, including a sense of sacredness, a relationship with what is of “ultimate concern” (Tillich) , and moral power.

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The Bane of Casual Irreverence

By Galina Krasskova

Last night in one of my classes, two students were giving a joint presentation on what they called “the figure known as Asherah, Anat, Ishtar, and Aphrodite.” Obviously right away, a polytheist is going to have trouble with the compression of these Deities into one cross-cultural, trans-national figure. It’s dismissive and disrespectful but that is actually not what bothered me, or at least not what bothered me the most. (Given the class parameters, and the academic articles we’ve been reading in kind, I didn’t expect anything else). What irked me, like a lash across the back, was the casual disrespect with which these women discussed these Goddesses, all powerful, mighty, fierce Beings.

Each time one of the women presenting talked about the anger and fury of Ishtar, for instance, she would describe it (and I mean no disrespect here to Ishtar), as Ishtar ‘being whiny and having a temper tantrum.’ The language was tremendously dismissive and disrespectful (though whether it was because they were female Deities or because they were Pagan Deities, I don’t know). The women presenting didn’t give any thought at all to that disrespect. It was completely unthinking and casual. I cringed every time one of our Goddesses was described as ’emotional’ or “petty’ or ‘whiny’ or ‘vain.’ I felt unclean, as though I had taken in miasma through my ears.

I really couldn’t suss out whether these Goddesses were being dismissed because of Their gender or not. It was disheartening to see Anat, who defeated and slaughtered Death himself to save Her brother Ba’al, being dismissed as having had a temper tantrum. Would a male God have been dismissed so easily? Would Jesus or Yahweh?

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