Monday, 29 December 2008

Sacred Texts

To paraphrase some statements I've read recently:

How does anyone know if story cycles and legends - which generally seem to be medieval, no earlier - can tell us anything much about belief systems that existed prior to Christian, medieval Europe? Aren't they refracted and distorted through the Christian lens? Rely on these texts is dangerous, surely?

There is also a problem with people basing their lives/belief systems on anything for which they have to rely on translation.

One reason to be a pagan is to reject living by any book or dogma. Sure, it's a way of life for others who can't break away from the lure of dogma, being told what to think by a written text or a liturgy. But for others, it has no authority.


And, on a more personal note from one:

I love "The Mabinogion" but I could never live by it, quite apart from the fact I can only ever read it in translation so can only pick up a shadow of what it's actually saying.



My thoughts follow.

Linguists are still making inroads into unravelling the texts, allowing us to see the influences, so I don't consider an inability to read texts in their original language a barrier. Besides which, I don't have the ability to read any of the texts in their original language, nor do I have the means to go to university and study linguistics, history and archaeology in order to confirm/deny for myself the validity of the translations. Then again, I suspect I'm not the only pagan in this position. I imagine a lot of heathens, celtic and brythonic pagans find themselves in the same position. I suppose western buddhists and other non-Christian groups would find themselves with similar dilemnas.


I can understand the statements made in the quotes above. However, there is a wealth of texts relating to stories (which can be traced back, linguistically and historically) prior to their being put in written form. I don't see any reason to dismiss any of them, just because I am unable to read, or listen to them in their original language and/or form. I prefer to seek out those who study the texts and then discern, for myself, what is valid and what is not.

And, what about SPG - does one completely ignore these when examining texts?

In my opinion, the texts are still valuable guides when seeking to verify UPG and, certainly, this seems to have been borne out over the years by various groups working towards a common goal.

That said, I have a lot of reading still to do in relation to myths, legends, folklore, history and languages of the British Isles. Just because my reading list is long doesn't mean to say I base the whole of my beliefs on texts alone. Experience, aligned with the stories in the text, is far more meaningful. Well, let's just say, I'm glad I have the written word to check against, rather than a long line of SPG. It makes my chosen spirital path less about faith and more about belief.

I would be interested to hear the opinions of others as to whether they believe the texts are useful or obsolete in relation to their chosen path.

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Portable Gods

I've seen some interesting questions recently about the use of imported gods in lands where there is already a native tradition. There was some suggestion that the ideas about gods that can transcend place, be exported or borrowed was wholly Christian.

Throughout history people have taken their gods with them whenever they've travelled. Certainly, the Christians are well known for doing this, but what about the norse gods, who appeared to have travelled far and wide, too? In Iceland they seemed to take a firm grip, and they even influenced some of the natives of England and Scotland.

And what about the acquisition of new gods? Didn't the Romans sometimes adopt the local gods when they travelled to new lands in order to gain favour for their endeavours, even incorporating some into their personal pantheon? And wasn't it the Romans who first equated the Greeks gods with their own? I understood archaeology had borne out examples of similar practices here in the British Isles and throughout the former Roman empire. Is it solely a Christian idea: travelling gods?

So, when the Europeans left for America and the other new worlds, did their gods go with them? Or, were they booted back by the local deities? I just wonder, because there are so many modern pagans in the new worlds working with the gods of their ancestral countries. Are they deluding themselves? Are they working with their ancestral gods or the native ones in disguise? Do the gods really travel? Or are they firmly fixed to the landscape?

There was also some question as to the gods recognising those living in foreign lands, mainly why the gods would even bother to acknowledge the descendants of their people, several generations removed? But, if the gods have travelled to new worlds, surely they would be able to identify the descendants of their homelands through the ancestors, who could guide them to their own? Or, do the gods ignore those who would connect with them away from their natural landscape altogether?

I would be interested to read the thoughts of others on these points. As someone who was born in one of the new worlds, I am not sure I could have connected to my gods except on their home ground.

Words and Language

Was perusing various blogs and came across this:

Words are free and all words, light and frothy, firm and
sculpted as they may be, bear the history of their passage from lip to lip over
thousands of years. How they feel to us now tells us whole stories of our
ancestors.

A quote from Mr Stephen Fry, one of Britain’s modern wordsmiths. I’ve always felt language was important and I have always despaired at my lack of ability to wield my native language fluently and with grace.

I wonder, then, what that might say about me to future generations?

Monday, 22 December 2008

Solstice Sentiments


Hoping everyone enjoyed the solstice. May the New Year bring you good health, wealth and abundant happiness.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Keeping up with the Christians?


As the Christmas season approaches, I've noticed a lot of discussions surrounding decorations and celebrations by various pagans and my curiousity has been peaked. I notice the same thing occuring around Easter and, best of all, people referring to Samhain as the Celtic New Year.

Why do so many pagans feel the need to find/invent a festival to co-incide with those of the Christian/secular calendar?

Is there something lacking in those provided by their own tradition?

Why do so many pagans feel the need to adopt the festivals from all the traditions?

Personally, I don't do Christmas or Easter and my new year is not at Samhain [whole other argument which falls outside the remit of this post]. I realise that the northern traditions have feast days such as Ostara and Yule, and the Romans celebrated Saturnalia on 17 December, but these are outside of my personal belief system, so I don't acknowledge them. I am happy with my four fire festivals and two solstices (which are acknowledged on a purely personal level) and don't feel the need to join in the celebrations of others. It feels complete to me.

So, why do so many feel these are not enough, incorporating the Christian and secular holidays in their year? Why try to blend the Christian/secular celebrations with a pagan one?

All this and then there are the rather confused local councils who go around changing things from Christmas to winter festivals so as to not offend non-Christians. As a non-Christian, I object to council's doing this. Why? Because I live in (what I thought was) a Christian country, so I expect to see people freely practising their religion and celebrating it. Seeing the councils change things actually makes me wary about the ability of the citizens to celebrate any religion openly, including paganism.

Anyways, back to the topic. If you are someone who incorporates an eclectic mix of festivals from various pagan faiths into your calendar, may I be so bold as to ask why?

This post is rather convaluted, but I find the whole idea rather confusing. So, forgive me if I come back and edit it at some point.

Monday, 8 December 2008

Desperate?

"Nobody loves me,
everybody hates me,
think I'll eat some worms!"


That's how I feel. I've been on those pagan dating sites for a while now, and I've sent out messages to several members, more than a few, actually. The response has been ... underwhelming. I have received no responses to any of those messages; not one male has had the courtesy to even acknowledge my post/presence. I feel like the least attractive pagan female in the English speaking world right now. The only serious interest came unprompted from someone 18 years my junior, and even he dropped off a few months ago, though there may be a serious, valid reason for his disappearance from the site.

There are stories about couples finding each other on these sites, some members even writing in their profiles they're not looking anymore because they've found someone. So, it must happen.





I may have to resign myself to the fact I just don't fit into the pagan female mould that men seek. Certainly, my profile differs from that of the other women who frequent these sites - see my post "Stereotyping" for elucidation. I must admit I am a lot older than most of the other females, too. Perhaps I've left it too late in life to look? Perhaps the gods have other plans for me? Wouldn't be surprised.

In the meantime, if you're a single, heterosexual, pagan male, resident anywhere in the British Isles, who can relate to what I write here at my online journal, you'll find me at the bottom of the garden ~ munching on worms.

"Nobody loves me,
everybody hates me,
think I'll eat some worms!
"

Friday, 5 December 2008

The Tales of Beedle the Bard


Author: J.K. Rowling
ISBN: 9780747599876

Have just read it tonight, having received in the post this evening. I liked it. It reminded me of the fairy tales of my childhood, of which I still have very fond memories and, occasionally, still read from time to time. “The Fountain of Fair Fortune” is currently my favourite, but that may change over the course of several readings.

I like the drawings Rowling has done to accompany the tales, as the remind me of those I had in my big book of fairy tales as a child; only one or two black and white pencil drawings for each tale - perfect. The writing is simple, easy to understand and lends itself well to reading out loud. Fantastic bed time stories, even the scary one.

I thought I recognised shades of other stories in the tales, but, overall, I believe they are original, given the main characters all work magic, rather than the magical characters acting as mere catalysts in conventional folk stories.

Unusually, I had only two problems with this wonderful, little, blue, hardback book: the notes from Dumbledore on the morals in each tale and the footnotes within those.

If you wanted to read fairy tales to a child, you would just read them to your child, who would absorb the lesson without realising it, and, though its possible with this book to do that, if you try to flick past the pages of notes, I’m sure a child will pipe up that your missing bits of the story. Whereas the tales are simply written, like all good fairty tales, the notes are not, as JK has given them the air of Dumbledore rendering them a bit academic in tone, which I think makes them uninteresting to the very young.

Still, its a well designed book and, if were I to win the lottery, I’d try to buy the leatherbound version as a family treasure; just as I have kept the large volume of fairy tales I was given in childhood.

One of the best things about the book is that £1.61 from every copy will go to the Children’s High Level Group - a charity. Even without that, its worth buying.

Rating: 4½/5.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Stereotyping

Having been perusing a few profiles of online pagans recently and watching some of the people who swan in and out of pagan/witchy shops, I have come to the conclusion that I may not be your typical pagan. What's more, I am not the only one thinking about stereotypes as the topic came up on a pagan message board just today as I was thinking of doing this post.

You see, I don't do a lot of things other pagans do.

I work in an office in the city and I drive in to work and I drive home. I prefer it that way and, one of the reasons I work nights is because I couldn't stand the daily commute on the trains/buses - it made me ill. I have this job because it pays well and is (relatively) stress free, not because I like it or its something I feel benefits my community.

I drive a car - everywhere. I'd drive a Bugatti Veyron if I had the money. I relish watching Top Gear because cars and fast driving fascinate me, always have, though I'm not that keen on actual day-to-day driving. I like speed - fast planes, fast boats, water skiing and, I'm sure if I were to try it, snow skiing. I don't like motorbikes, but that's because I've come off twice and sustained injuries. If I could own and run a helicopter, I would. If I had an unlimited budget, I'd also have a fully integrated entertainment system, home computer with all the top of the range software. in my eco-friendly, but high-tech home/farm.




I am not an eco-warrior. Sure, I do my bit of recycling and composting and I take in my own shopping bags with me when I go out. When I use my car, I drive sensibly in order to keep fuel consumption and emissions low (unless someone were to give me free reign on a track that is). All my lights bulbs are eco ones and I turn off lights and other electrical equipment (even in the office ), but, I don't chain myself to trees or involve myself in protests, because I am time poor. I do support various groups through subscriptions, memberships and donations.

I have a black thumb, i.e. I can't grow anything. The only success I had was a rose vine outside my sister's window back in Australia. I eat a lot of microwave meals. Yup, you heard me. I work in an office, mostly after hours, so preparing meals from scratch isn't possible, especially when you don't have an "official" break time, nor it is possible to cook anything in an office without Health and Safety stepping in. I keep cans of soup in the office as well. That's not to say I don't cook when I have the chance. I have a bench top stove/hob where you can only use one thing at a time, so its mostly one pot cooking or baking. I do try to buy locally sourced products however. So my fruit and veg is local, my juice comes from my home county, as does my honey, milk, meat, cheese, etc. I don't drink alcohol, except for the odd "hot toddy" when I have a cold/sore throat. I don't do drugs, either.

I support fox hunting having seen what pests the blighters are to farmers, who have it rough enough as it is. Actually, I support hunting and fishing in general. I wear leather and eat meat and I'd wear fur, too, provided it came from an animal who has been wholly consumed, not just killed for its fur/hide.

I don't do fancy dress. Yes, I like the velvet medieval gowns, and have a penchant for the fashions of other bygone eras, but I couldn't wear those things today; not in public. I live and work in the real world, where a suit and sensible shoes are deemed appropriate. I wear t-shirts, shirts, jeans and boots away from work and track suit trousers are for indoors. I do wear a charm bracelet that has a pagan/witch theme, but that's because I like it, not so others will "know" who I am.

I don't have an overtly pagan home, either. I have four statues, a pendle witch, a resin skull, a green man next to my back door, no indoor altar (unless you count the family photos) and a dreamcatcher above my bed and a few herbs in a bag under my pillow for bad dreams. Yes, I have lots of candles, but I prefer the softer lighting at night.

I use both conventional and complementary medicine. I'm different from most, though, because in a crisis I revert to homeopathy and magic, rather than the conventional route. I've been through the New Age scene, but am glad to be out of it. That said, I did train in Reiki and I think it works if you've gone and learned from a lineaged master. I've found most are fakes and it really pays to check their credentials and sample their work before paying out any money. That said, Reiki is very basic in comparison to the energy work most witches do, especially those who've been working at it for years.

I don't do: chakras; crystals; auras; kabbalah; demons; angels; spirit guides; using my pets (cats and dogs) as familiars; the necronomicon; the goetia; the eight sabbats and however many esbats; solstice at Stonehenge; ritual nudity; Wicca; pointed hats; unicorns; dragons; otherkin; Victorian-style fairies; and I'm sure a host of other things pagans are supposed to do. I don't subscribe to the "love and light" brigade, nor do I go around saying "blessed be" and/or "merry meet".

I don't dream of living on a commune with like-minded folk, as I'm too much of an anti-social hermit/home body. I don't go to pagan camps/festivals/moots - mostly because they occur during my working hours but also because I don't want to align myself with the weirdos that attend most of them. That, and the incessant, arhythmic drumming.

I laugh as people buy the tat from various shops they believe will make them pagan, or buy the books they think contain all the secrets. But that's okay, because I was once one of them. I do concern myself with historical fact when considering my pagan path, but I balance that with my own experience and beliefs.

I don't camp, mostly because I never have and wouldn't know how to do so safely and without damaging my surroundings. That said, were I to be given instruction, I'd be more likely to try it. I don't traverse the great outdoors as much as I used to, either, but that's because I have a condition which limits my ability to venture far. My idea of roughing it is a two star hotel (minimum), though I prefer 4 and 5 star accommodations. I like fine dining, quality theatre, Armani watches, Chanel perfume, designer silver jewellery, my digital cameras and lenses, my iPod and other lifestyle luxuries. I am not immune to rampant consumerism and collect books, DVDs and CDs by the shelf.

Am I your stereotypical pagan? I think not.

Monday, 1 December 2008

Danu Arrives

So, back in the Summer I decided there was something I particularly wanted for my birthday and I put aside money for it. I placed an order with Wicca Moon and Shirlee placed the order with the suppliers in the United States, who said it would not be available until the fall. Well, it finally arrived and, on Saturday, I went into Wicca Moon to collect her: Danu.


Danu, as crafted by Maxine Miller © 2007

It was worth the wait. If only Lugh had arrived with her, but I'm assured he is on his way.

I must admit to having a bit of penchant for the statues of Baphomet that has also arrived, but both were sold, so perhaps its for the best, as I can ill afford to purchase him at the moment.

Friday, 21 November 2008

Expensive Holiday Tours

I have booked my holiday for next year already. I enjoy visiting prehistoric or mystical sites and, in particular, megaliths, so I have done so with Neil at Megalithic Tours. I did this, because Neil provides an excellent services going to places that few others do at a very reasonable cost. Only, I did not realise just how reasonable until this week when I saw two separate tours advertised.

The first I encountered in a well-known pagan magazine. It was called Celtic Trails and it advertised a seven day tour taking in Highland Perthshire, the Isle of Iona and the West Coast. The prices ranged from £1,100 to £1,500 depending on itinerary and accommodation. As much as I want to get to Iona one day, that was way out of my price range.

The second tour company operates out of Australia, and calls itself Dragon's Eye Tours. It runs two tours: one to the West Country of England and another to Ireland. Granted, the first is 11 days long and costs AUD$4,500, but the Irish tour is only 9 days long and comes in at AUD$3,000, but this is land cost only, flights not included.

Now I realise both of these companies provide specialised guides for the tours and, in some instances, secure private access to certain sites, and this may justify some of the cost, but it is often possible to arrange access to sites through special interest groups, and often volunteers from said groups will provide you with good, honest information.

I'm just glad Megalithic Tours follows these kind of itineraries, otherwise I would probably not visit the sites. As I travel alone which adds to the cost and the miles involved can make a fun trip tedious, so having a tour guide and fellow travellers makes more sense. Apparently, Megalithic Tours can now be found on facebook, too.

Still, if you want to go to these places, here's a nice selection of what's on offer:
Stonehenge, Avebury and Glastonbury ~ 4 days (private access to Stonehenge included)

Do have a search around and see if you can't find better. I lived in the UK for over a decade and I've yet to find a better touring company than Megalithic Tours for visiting historic or mystical sites.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

The Night of the Bard

I wrote a piece last year entitled "The Night of the Bard" about a night of storytelling by Steve Patterson, as a guest of Wicca Moon. Well, Steve returned to Wicca Moon last night and I was lucky enough to attend. Sadly, he left his lyre behind, but this did not detract from his storytelling.

This time the talk was centred on charms and Steve brought with him a lovely collection of items for us to view whilst he discussed various aspect of folk magic through the ages in Cornwall. There were only two tales this evening and, unfortunately, less attendees. I made the mistake of believing you had to book, and I passed this erroneous information to others, who obviously decided it was too much trouble. Alas, it was open to all.

Steve also had some items he had made himself available for purchase. One item of particular interest was made from the nails of a church floor and blackthorn. He had a lovely collection of bull-roarers, athames (one made from 40,000 year old bones retrieved from the North Sea), wands, labyrinth boxes, obsidian mirrors, hag stones, and various other charms for sale, too. I have not seen anything to match his work anywhere in the UK and its worth tracking him down if you can.

And, if you happen to hear he is in the area offering his bardic delights, make sure you go, as you are sure to be entertained.

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Groups

I have seen a few discussions recently on group work and how most of the people I know through the internet do not work in groups.

I am not sure this is altogether true, though. I mean, we may not all meet up (in the physical world) to work together for a common aim, but how often do you see those messages asking for support or healing and people responding that they are acting upon the request? Is that not a form of group working, i.e. the group operating in the virtual and magical realms only?

I do participate in groups, but only online where a sharing of information takes place. I have only ever worked with one person magically, but we worked separately as it were to achieve the same end. I just wouldn't trust anyone else; its not in my nature to trust anyone that way.

When it comes to spirituality, I have participated in group (ritual and informal), but I still prefer the sharing of information through internet groups. That said, a chance encounter with a well-know pagan witch did give me assurance I could be more open about my experiences with others, something of which you are never sure when most contact is via the internet.

I am still very wary of group working and I will probably always work alone, but I wonder ... am I truly working alone if I am interacting with others through the medium of the web?

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Call to Put Gaelic TV on Freeview

As a new learner of Scots Gaelic, I was dissapointed to find that the new BBC channel, BBC Alba is not available on freeview boxes, despite being a "free" channel on subscription services, such as Sky. Apparently, this will be the case until a review in 2010.

So, I found out that there is a petition doing the rounds to urge John McLeod of the Scottish parliament to release the channel onto freeview. Why is this important? Because not everyone can afford to subscribe to cable/satellite television and why should they if the channel is paid for by their television licence fees? What's more the Scottish government state they wish to promote gaelic culture, yet by having
BBC Alba available on subscriptions services, it limits the potential for promotion that television can provide.

So, if you are new learner of the language, a native speaker or just interested in the culture of Scotland, why not sign the petition, so everyone can enjoy what only the priveleged few can at the moment.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Progress

I have started to make progress towards my goal of relocating to my "spiritual home". I have found someone to assist me in learning more about the history, language and culture of the area. At last, I feel like I am moving forward. Its seems I've spent a lot of time in reflection, planning and thinking about what I want to do instead of actually doing it, so this development is welcome.

Its not to say I have not made any effort towards reaching my goals, as I have spent months seeking the right people who can help. I have been contacting various groups, societies, and various other organisations, all without result. Finally, I contacted a college and they, rather suprisingly, provided me with further contacts. Its given me hope that I will be able to locate others who will be able to provide me with assistance in my goal.

As much as these new studies will take up much of my time, I still have other smaller goals to achieve all of which will contribute to the ultimate goal of relocation and I will devote more energy to achieving these. I just hope that these will require less prep work!

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Reflection

Perhaps its the time I year; I don't know. What I do know is that I am spending a lot of time reflecting on what I do, how I do it, why I do it and so on. To that end, neither this online journal, nor the one I mantain for my family has seen any activity.

I've noticed other bloggers have slowed down a bit, too. Its not that I don't have ideas on what to post, just that the ideas I do have are not as cohesive as I would like before posting a comment. There is activity in one quarter, which I am watching with a keen eye, but I have to say I am not contributing at all. I waiting to see what's left when the dust dies down and this seems to be a theme with me this month.

If I have time on the weekend, I hope to do some meditation out of doors. A long walk through the local woods, which I've not seen for over two months, would be nice and, as its so familiar, it would be condusive to clarifying my thoughts.

Tonight marked the end of several "honouring the ancestors" projects, too. It was good to take part and talk openly about various ancestors with others. If it happens again next year, I will take part again.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

The Ancestors

An interesting question was raised in a pagan forum recently: When using the term "ancestors", to whom are you referring?

My answer was not complete, but I wrote the following:

Firstly, I refer to those in my bloodline, i.e. direct ancestors such as grandparents, great-grandparents ... to that end, I undertake genealogical research as best I can.

Secondly, I refer to my bloodline clans, i.e. those with a similar surname to myself, and my paternal and maternal antecedents in Ireland, England, America, France, etc.

Thirdly, those who lived on the land of my ancestors, perhaps alongside them, especially when visiting those places.

Fourthly, those who lived on the land, where I currently reside, before me, such as the Britons, the Romans, the Angles, the Normans, and so on.

And, finally, those with whom I may have an affinity. This category I find hard to define. Another response was more erudite, referring to ancestors of "blood, place and craft", but I would redefine it to "blood, place and craft/spirituality". By craft/spirituality, I mean those who have preceded me in my endeavours. For instance, when I undertook Reiki (over a decade ago), which I consider both a craft and a spiritual calling of sorts, I always maintained images of Usui and Hawayo alongside those of my blood relations. Spiritually, I would also refer to those pagans who lived on these isles prior to the Romans. They are my spiritual ancestors. Were I an artist of any sort, I would probably consider those who had gone before as my ancestors, too, but its not really as simple as that. I wish I had the words to explain, but I don't. Perhaps others can provide the definition I find so elusive?

Friday, 24 October 2008

Six (Not So) Random Things About Me

I have been tagged by The Shepton Witch and Bee-Leaf.

The guidelines are:

  1. Link to the person who tagged you.
  2. Post the rules on your blog.
  3. Write six random things about yourself.
  4. Tag six people at the end of your post and link to them.
  5. Let each person know they’ve been tagged and leave a comment on their blog.
  6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

As this blog is specific to my pagan path, I will endeavour to keep my revelations relevant to posts I've made here.

1. I was raised Catholic, but renounced that religion at age 19. I had known for quite a while I didn't hold with any of the tenets of the church. Actually, I was seven when I starting asking awkward questions of my parents and my primary school's nuns and priest.

2. I was born in Australia, a country with which I have little affinity. I always felt like a stranger in that land, but I never knew how much until I emigrated.

3. My ultimate goal is to move to Scotland, which I feel is my "true" home. I had never been there until four years ago, but the country stole my heart.

4. I am attempting to learn to speak Scots Gaelic. I was going to learn Irish, but when I discovered Scotland, I changed my mind. Now all I need to do is find a local tutor.

5. The gods bypassed me when they were doling out creativity: I have none whatsoever. I have several family members who are artistic, being musicians, painters, dancers, cake decorators, seamstresses (my uncles can all sew), leadworkers, and so on.

6. I have a sneaking suspicion the god of the Christians/Muslims/Jewish exists; its just I've never encountered him, in any way, shape or form. I have a feeling he's hiding from all those people pleading with him to solve their problems in the (mistaken?) belief he is all powerful. Just one of the many gods who cause me to consider myself a hard polytheist.

So, here are the six bloggers I'm tagging.

Beirn;
Caroline Hardy;
Hermit Life;
Kit Berry;
Sara Macha; and
Wendy Mewes.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Moderating Message Boards

Further to my post "Moderating Fora" of 27th May, 2008, I find myself being asked to moderate another pagan message board. Having just asked to "step down" from moderating the forums of a pagan magazine, I'm not sure I am up to the responsibility.

Although I have regular internet access, its on my work computer and my time on the web is limited to "free time" during my shifts at work. Its not the most suitable situation if you are a moderator and have to take action against trolls, mediate in delicate situations or just keep an eye on the messages in general. I'm just not always available and my situation is unlikely to change until the New Year, when I hope to get home internet access.

I felt honoured to be considered for this position, as the fora in question, and many of its members have been good to me. Its undergone several changes, owing to rifts, and its a kind of Marmite to pagans (they either love it or hate it), but those that I respect have remained true to its ethos and so have I. I haven't been privy to most of the rifts, as these seemed to have occurred behind the scenes and, as such, I have been sheltered from a lot of the personality problems of the site. This would all change were I to accept the position as moderator and its something I have to consider carefully, as I dislike personality wars, preferring to stay with those boards that relish good, robust debate based on facts or experience leaving all personal agendas aside.

I have gained so much from participating in said fora, and I feel a debt is owed. In repaying such debt, I want to give 100 per cent. and I am not sure I can commit to that, at this time. I've asked for some time to consider the idea, and its been granted, but, out of respect for administrators, I don't want to leave them hanging without any additional support. I just wish there was a way to cruise the position until 2009, but I don't think that would be fair.

Decisions, decisions ...

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Bumper Sticker Quotes

Was looking for a particular bumper sticker for my recently acquired car and, in the process, stumbled across these quotes, which tickled my fancy and made me smile.

"Things haven't been the same since that house fell on my sister."

Which, of course, relates to the witch in Oz. Some further searches yielded the following:

"Dear Dorothy, Sick of OZ, took the ruby slippers, find your own way home. Love, Toto."
"Auntie Em: Hate you. Hate Kansas. Taking the dog. Dorothy"
"Don't make me call my flying monkeys"
"The witch of the west was framed!"

Frivolous I know, but I really enjoyed reading them.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

To whom do we turn in our darkest hours?

I saw this question (I've paraphrased) posted recently in response to a post on what constitutes a playgan, and felt somewhat smug that the term didn't seem to apply to me.

"If you were in an accident and your life was in the balance as you lay in a pool of blood. No sign of an ambulance; your prospects fading with every second.

You raise your head to the stars, and with what energy you can muster, say a little prayer". To whom do you address yourself?"

The responses were of interst to me, as I have been witness to self-proclaimed pagans offer prayers to the Christian god when in dire straits, not even anything life threatening, when I would have expected them to turn to the pagan gods or local spirits or, if witches, to resolve the matter themselves, even with a little help from friends proficient in witchery. Its what I do.

I have been in a few bad situations in the last few years, and one that could threaten my life just over a month ago. I turned to my gods first and also roped in some witchy friends and resolution followed within three days ~ three days seems to be emerging as a pattern. Even minor situations where my dignity is in danger, I will turn to the local land spirit and ask for assistance rather than pray to some distant god, (not of my faith) who seems overwhelmed with requests from millions of pleading followers on a daily basis and unable to help more than a select few. I have always been granted assistance, with a little bargaining, and have been happy to pay my dues at the earliest convenience.

Once upon a time, I might have appealed to the Christian god, but I don't believe I ever expected anything to happen. I certainly can't ever remember any kind of happy resolution resulting from my requests. How much more comforting it is to be able to place my faith in the hands of my friends and my (pagan) gods, as I do now. I guess that why I was smug when I read the scenario above: playgans will never feel that comfort because they don't have that kind of assurance.

Isn't it also disrespectful to the gods themselves: professing to honour one and then turning to another when times are tough? I'm not sure the any of gods would approve either and, if feeling mischevous, might be inclined to cause more problems for playgans.

I might also question the magical abilities of anyone that resorted to prayers to a god outside their tradition in order to resolve their issues. I admit to being next to useless at physical self-healing, so I rely on my friends in those situations, however if its a friend or family member of mine, I can usually resolve the matter myself without the need to appeal to any outside force. So I wonder why those who claim to have any magical ability would resort to Christain prayer - if indeed they are witches.

Is it possible I am too smug, and too quick to judge others? After all, the (pagan) gods can be fickle and have been known to refuse to help their followers. I've read instances where Odin did this in times of war, leaving his people to the hands of their enemies. So, if Odin were to desert his followers during battle, and those followers were aware of the Christian god, would they too have switched allegiance in desperation? Would they behave any differently from today's playgans? I wonder ...

Monday, 6 October 2008

Time Wasters

Why do they do it? Where do they get the time?

It always amazes me to see people register at sites simply to stir trouble, such as the recent atheist who insisted on pushing his/her own agenda at a forum for those interested in the pre-xian gods of the British Isles. In the space of four days this person managed 60 posts, reviving old threads and stirring up trouble. Some saw his/her posts as an attempt at honest debate, but I saw it as stirring as this person did not read the respondent posts carefully, preferring to goad the members of the site into arguments and raised temperatures by deliberately misquoting or misrepresenting what was said. When called out, s/he then decried that the respondents' faith was weak if it couldn't stand up to questioning ~ poor logic. Erudite answers were provided, but this poster preferred to misinterpret meanings in order to push their agenda, which seemed to be that the gods didn't exist and anyone that believed otherwise was delusional. I later learned that said troublemaker had been banned previously, at which point it became clear they had registered in the hope of causing trouble for a respected member, knowing said member was also a moderator, who could scupper their plans but was unable to get internet access.

Apparently, this person has indulged in similar behaviour at other pagan or pagan-related sites. Why does an atheist feel so compelled to proselytise to pagans, or anyone for that matter? Perhaps they feel their position is unstable?

This, however, was not the only instance of "too much time, not enough brain cells" to come to my attention this week. At another, privately run message board we had a new joiner for whom the inevitable questioning by established members was too much and they left. When said new joiner left a cutting remark upon leaving, two of the established members joined other sites where (it was later learned) the new joiner had registered. In other words, they have decided to stalk this person simply because he left a cutting remark when departing. These people are registering at a site, where they have no commonality with the members ideals, for no discernably sensible reason.

Personally, I have better things to do with my limited time than run around after people who have bothered me (on the internet) simply to stir trouble. I mean, what will it achieve? I don't think I will ever understand this type of behaviour.

Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Chemical Wedding


Simon Callow plays a professor who becomes the reincarnation of Aleister Crowley by using a virtual reality machine that has been infected with a virus of Crowley's rituals.

It sounded good on the cover: a mixture of horror and humour, but what a dissappointment. The movie is badly lit, the effects poor, the actors appear bored, but perhaps that's because they don't understand their lines and so cannot deliver them. Simon Callow does as much as he can using his voice, but its just not enough to carry the whole film. There is only one performer, on the periphery, who appears to give a damn about his performance and he only appears for around a minute and a half.

The plot line is dire, and the so-called twists don't impress merely because the whole premise is so poor to begin with. Even the scenes of ritual orgy fail to enliven the film. There was meant to be some humour, but it missed altogether.

There was nothing I could say I liked about the film. I even found the "making of ..." extra on the DVD appalling, where the comedy fails here, too.

Oh wait, I can think of something good to say - the sets and costuming appeared to be lush. With the lack of good lighting, on my small television, I couldn't really tell though.

All in all, one of the worst films I've seen in a long time.

Rating: ½/5.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

What would our ancestors think of our modern lifestyle?

Wandering about various pagan fora, one often reads discussions/debates about how our ancestors worshipped their gods; how their beliefs affected their daily lives. Alongside this, posters will express a desire to live just as their ancestors did, when life was much simpler, cleaner and healthier ~ whether said poster is referring to mind or body I never know ~ but was it? Furthermore, would our ancestors really want us to live as they did?

As someone recently remarked, if he relied on his crops for survival, he and his family would be starving this coming winter, yet still he was grateful to his gods because in these modern times, it is possible for him (and his wife) to supplement his income with a part-time job, buy his food from the farmer's or super markets, and thus provide for his family.

Our ancestors, however, were in the hands of the gods completely. If crops failed, they starved.

Our ancestors had a short life span, nor did they have the medical resources to counter-act the myriad of diseases that plague the human organism. True, some diseases have become more prolific owing the sendentary nature of the modern, western lifestyle, but, even so, we have treatments for those. Research continues into how best to maintain our health, by scientists, psychologists, and even spiritual gurus hoping to protect our souls in this life (and the next). Our ancestors turned to the gods or spirits for their healing, though they also held extensive knowledge of the uses of local flora and fauna for healing and, perhaps, our methods aren't that more sophisticated.

Today, we have the internet, mobile telephones, cars, climate control mechanisms, supermarkets and all manner of conveniences, but these can also be nuisances, especially when trying to connect with the spirit of our ancestors. That said, I'm sure our ancestors would wish us, their descendents, to have a better life than they did. As it happens, our prehistoric ancestors didn't spend the whole of their lives in survival mode. They created art, they carved, they had music and a sense of community, they traded decorative goods with people from other groups, and even across the seas, all of which gives us the sense that they knew how to enjoy life and would welcome any convenience which might allow more leisure time; time with family and the wider community.

So, why does there appear to be so many discussions on "giving up" various technologies or other modern world conveniences, in order to live more like our pagan ancestors? Why do today's pagans feel the need to live in an historical, rural idyll (that probably never existed) in order to be more like our pagan forebears? [And, don't get me started on the pagan ideal of living rurally, as if pagans can't exist happily in cities/urban environments.]

If our ancestors could see how we live today, would they be happy for us? Or, would they decry our lifestyles and urge us to revert to living as they did?

Personally, I feel they probably envy us some of our lifestyle, and pity us for the rest. Me, I'm not giving up any aspect of my lifestyle - just yet. When I no longer have to work, then I can move and endeavour to become more self-sufficient and indulge in long treks into the wilds of Scotland; just me and my gods.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Warrior Pagans


I opened up a topic at one of the message boards where I post regularly about what constituted a "warrior pagan" in modern society. There were a variety of answers, but, to my mind the best answer came from another message board, where someone's apologised for airing their opinion.

Littleraven picked up on this and wrote the following:

"... the 'humbleness' that pervades neo-paganism/neo-Druidry is in many ways part of the problem at hand. It's a culture of
apologetics that actually dishonours the warrior ancestors that inspire us
so.

Basically, if you've got something to say, say it. It's our duty as part of the 'tribe' to listen to it. We may think it's crap, and we'll tell each other so. We may be slighted, even upset, but we know that we've been told it in a sense of honour. It's for everyone's benefit to hear the argument, contribute if they wish and come to terms with the outcome.

Outcomes that are not always to our liking, but for the
best of *all* of us.
"

So, perhaps being a warrior pagan today means speaking up for yourself, not apologising for so doing, allowing others to listen, absorb and respond and, if the need arises, to defend your position, but accept the outcome as dictated by the particular group you are addressing. You may not agree with the outcome, but so long as you have indicated your dissatisfaction politely and are still prepared to uphold said outcome, you are acting as a warrior and with honour.

Seems right to me. I'm not sure that is all there is to it, but I've yet to find any better definition for a warrior pagan than the one inadvertently provided by Littleraven at Caer Feddwyd.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Submissions for the Pagan Poetry Pages Anthology


The Pagan Poetry Pages anthology submissions deadline is November 10th, 2008. Yes it's actually happening

Here's how it works:

We need your help.

We need you to submit the poems of which you are most proud, either already showcased at PPP or new poetry. Don't worry about type, or theme, leave that to us. Worry about what poems you really really like. If you see a poem from another PPP poet that you love, also bring that to our attention.

Submit by email to to ppp (at) anfianna (dot) com
  1. Mark your submissions CLEARLY - including the NAME YOU WANT TO BE PUBLISHED UNDER, which is very important. If you submit under "mad maddie", then you will be acknowledged in the anthology under Mad Maggie. We won't have time to double check with everyone what name they wish to use, etc.
  2. Include a biography. It can be long or short, but it would be good to include: where you live; what type of poetry you like; what inspires you; if you've had poems published elsewhere; anything along those lines.
  3. Be aware, submission is hereby taken as permission to publish. The PPP will be allowed to publish any poem submitted by its author in the anthology and in other forthcoming anthologies in the future. Other than that, copyright remains with the author.

SUBMIT and be part of the very first PPP anthology of Poetry.

P.S. Please don't think that you've submitted because you've posted poems at the PPP site. We need you to choose and submit, as per the above instructions, as many poems as you wish for consideration.

Monday, 15 September 2008

Practical Candle Magic


Author: Michael Howard
ISBN: 1903768268

I started to read this on Saturday, but soon resorted to skimming the text, mostly because the mention of Angels and white light started to get in my wick (pardon the pun).
I know that Michael Howard is respected in the occult world, being the editor of "The Cauldron" magazine, etc. but I was unaware of his basis in western mystery esoterica/occult practices. I read this book with high expectations, and perhaps if I were still a beginner, it might have been a non-too taxing introduction to magical practice. Given my current spiritual direction, however, I found the information and correspondences provided used at odds with my own practices.

I don't use the archangels, I dont' call the four quarters, I don't recognise the elemental beings to whom he refers, I don't recognise all the correspondences from the old grimoires, I am not interested in Qabbalah or astrology either, nor to I subscribe to the notions of sin or karma. Were I that way inclined, this book would have been very helpful indeed.

Other tools for honing the focus are brough into play, such as incense and tarot cards, which a newcomer would find helpful.

I did find the text well written and clear. The editing in my particular edition being very good indeed.

Rating: 3/5.

Friday, 12 September 2008

Pagan Time - New Networking Site

I stumbled across an email for yet another new networking site. Its called Pagan Time and it is encouraging people worldwide to list their events, i.e. its a pagan promotion site.

Its obviously a start-up site and it the format could be better for the listing of various events such as moots, workshops and festivals, i.e. I have seen similar set-ups which are held in a calendar format, such as the listing at Pentacle Magazine. Even so, I'm prepared to give it a plug here. Perhaps it will improve as it grows.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Explore Folklore


Author: Bob Trubshaw
ISBN: 1872883605

This book provides an introduction into folklore studies eventually focussing on developments in the last 30 years. The author has produced a great introduction to the study of folklore, providing definitions and great references so I could follow-up on those topics that are of interest.

One of the most helpful items was "Warhsaver's helpful distinction between three 'levels' of folklore" (Warshaver 1991), which separated out various activities, leading to a greater understanding of what is actually being studied (and what is not). The book does take a while to get to the sections on what most would consider "folk customs", but its worth reading all the chapters.

I enjoy reading Mr Trubshaw's books. Sure, I've seen criticisms about some of his theories, but for someone, like myself, who has come to folklore without any previous understanding, this book has been very enlightening and I consider it a worthwhile read for any newcomer to the field. The book focusses on the British traditions, with only light references to American studies in folklore and music.

Mr Trubshaw's enthusiasm shines through, and helps to involve the reader. He writes with a good sense of humour, too. What I most enjoy is his ability to incorporate modern life as examples, making the reader think about their own behaviour and that of their friends - something I had not previously considered as being a part of "living folklore".

I recommend this book to anyone wanting to get a start in British folklore and/or folkmusic studies. And, do check out the fabulous bibliography. Mr Trubshaw has a website where ideas in this book can be explored further. Its called "Foamy Custard".

Rating: 4.5/5.

Monday, 8 September 2008

Don't Kiss Them Goodbye



Author: Allison DuBois
ISBN: 978-0743282284

I admit to being a fan of the television show "Medium" and, one night, whilst surfing the internet, I stumbled across Allison DuBois's website. I've always held a fascination about those psychics/mediums who work with police (and other governmental) departments and it was interesting to read more about the woman who inspired the television show I enjoyed. I was excited to see that Allison had written books about her experiences, so I acquired one through a book swapping site.

I started reading this book last Friday on my way to work and, by the end of my shift, I had finished it. Its an easy read this book, with large font and written at a level so a primary school child could understand. Its not a work of great literature and its obvious Allison (and Joe) have written the text themselves, but I think that adds to the books appeal. I have seen where some readers have complained about the dryness of book, but Allison herself admits to distancing herself emotionally from her clients and their predicaments, as a professional necessity, so I was comfortable with this aspect of her style.

I also read complaints from reviewers, who were big fans of the television shows, about there not being enough about those cases which were the inspiration for various episodes. This seemed odd to me. Knowing that Allison works in the legal field, I can see the problems associated with giving details of the "real life" cases in which she has participated. Anyone whose case she came into contact with might find grounds for appeal based on her involvement and, given the nature of the cases on which Allison works, it would be foolish for her to divulge this information. In fact, I think she mentions this in the book. Also, one has to consider the privacy of the victim's families in these cases: giving out details in a book (from which profits will be made - let's face reality here) would be in poor taste, in my opinion. I think Allison holds herself to a much higher ethical and moral standard myself. Certainly, she gives this impression in the book.

Again, some found this book preachy, I found it comforting. Only in those instances where she had been granted permission by the client did Allison provide details of her work. I liked her approach to each client: taking into account what they might need to know and what might benefit them, or the case, rather than just blurting out details that might be painful to hear and added nothing to an investigation. In many instances, Allison did provide comfort merely by the choice of the information she divulged.

The book is packed with examples of her work, despite what you might read from other reviewers. Allison also provides hints and tips for help with those children that might show signs of mediumship, regardless of whether they want to develop their skills or not. The book was a little dull, sticking to the facts, but I have come to expect that from writers from the legal fields who need to stick to the facts and so I still enjoyed this book.

I found it fascinating and will endeavour to read Allison DuBois's other books, "We are Their Heaven: Why the Dead Never Leave Us" and "Secrets of the Monarch: What the Dead can Teach Us about Living a Better Life". I hope to find them just as honest and informative.

Rating: 3½/5.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Have you ever thought that there’s something wrong with modern Druidry?

This was posted to Caer Feddwyd and I feel it may be of interest to others, so I am posting it here.

*****************************
We have reached a stage in our evolution as a ‘movement’ where we have become self-satisfied and complacent. The format of our rituals and festivals lack passion and religious insight, but of even far greater concern, they are starting to become set in stone. They have no concept of the Pagan inner mysteries and stagnate in some superficial desire to connect with the seasons and the world of nature. Our practices have become far removed from that which we pretend to honour.

We have been led to fear the words ‘religion’ and ‘dogma’, as if the ancient Druids were as unstructured, undisciplined, ill-informed and confused as we are today. So we accept the received wisdom from a handful of authors and it is leading us down a road to nowhere. We have forsaken the dying and rising sun god, within and without. We have relegated the goddess to a mere spirit of nature. It is we who would seem naive and primitive in the eyes of our ancestors.

In their time our druidic ancestors were at the cutting edge of philosophy, natural science and the understanding of the glory of the cosmos. Yet we insult these ancestors by pretending to be shamans, as if the ancient Druids had not evolved beyond the hunter-gatherers and still clung desperately to some primitive Mesolithic awareness until the arrival of the Christians.

Druidry is more than just animism, more than a counter-culture reaction to monotheism. But still we generalize with the symbolism of the gods. Where is the passion on our tongues and the fire in our bellies? Is there is no yearning in our hearts to look deeper? Do we really believe we already have all the answers we need? Where is the real belief in the gods? Where is the fire in our heads?

Can we say, before our gods, that druidry today answers those questions? No it cannot, enlightened spiritual insight remains our greatest weakness.

Many who read this may find our words offensive, and if we have hit a raw nerve, then having done so is way over due. But if you feel like we do, that it’s time for change, that Druidry today needs to be shaken out of its complacency before its too late, then you will find a way to contact us.

Our illustrious tradition deserves better of us. Together we can make a difference. Lets make it real, lets do it with passion, lets re-connect to the gods and stoke those ancient fires once again.

In Truth/\
Stefan Allen Seniuk, Head of the Albion Conclave of Druids,
and many others.

*****************************

The standard is being raised at Flag Fen on October 11th, 2008 and if enough good people come we will hold a council to determine our next steps.  This maybe the true beginning of the resurgence of the British Native Religions, something we in Brython have planned and prayed for for then last two years.

Monday, 1 September 2008

History or Myth - Which should come first?

I have a dilemna - and its ongoing. Which do I read first: history or myth?

I know that I need to read the myths associated with the British Isles, but I have also been informed, by people I respect, that I need to read them in context. But, how is this achieved if you havent' read the history first? And, just how much history do you need to know before you start reading the myths?

Its all very confusing to me. I try to read a book a week and I try to alternate between myth/folklore, history and general pagan subjects. The problem I'm finding is that when you read one history book, (e.g. Hutton's "The Druids"), it often contains references to other works with comments like "If you wish to explore further, then read ...". Well, fine. Except I will be reading a book under the myth/folklore section next week and, after that, I have this history book which is relevant to the next myth/folklore book I'm reading and so on.

I checked my library catalogue the other day to find 125 books on my "to be read" list and 75 on my wishlist. If you add that up, that's about 16 years reading, provided I ignore all bibliographies and recommendations contained within those books. This is quite daunting and I am having to consider whether I should just read the myths/folklore/tales and disregard the history; applying a modern sensibility to the texts.

I wonder how others have managed or are managing to do this?

Another Message Board Bites the Dust

A few months back I joined a pagan message board specifically for pagans in my locale. I did so in order to keep up with any worthwhile/events groups that might appear on the horizon. Today, I asked them to delete all my posts and my membership.

Why?

Although the option is there for all members, they don't want the members to hide their online status. I always hide my online status as a barrier to internet stalkers. I have been the victim of internet stalking, which spilled over into real life and its surprising the tactics some of them use to get at you. Monitoring your internet usage - when and where - is one way they gain information, without hacking into a particular board.

Personally, I have never understood why all members of a particular message board need to know who else is online at any given time. So long as administators and moderators have access to that information to curb trollish behaviour, its not unreasonable for members to maintain privacy. Certainly, if all posts by members have their names attached, why do we need to know when they are online?

Well, nowhere on this particular pagan site was there a rule about online status until last week. The administrators said they would not tolerate anonymous log-ins:


There has been a spate of people logging in to this site so that other people can't see that they are there. All members doing this will be warned and have their accounts suspended and possibly deleted.

When I queried this, it was confirmed they were referring to the fact that although the status line showed a member logged-in, it didn't tell which member. I objected on the grounds of the possibilty of stalkers and was told to "... respect the wishes of the site owners ".

So, as a result, tonight I have sent a message asking for all my posts to be deleted (after all, I hold copyright on my own thoughts) and my membership cancelled. I know another member on the site and, once my membership is deleted, I shall ask her to log in and check my posts have been deleted. If not, I will have no hesitation in naming the site as "stalker friendly".

Thursday, 28 August 2008

The Art of Conversation with the Genius Loci


Author: Barry Patterson
ISBN: 1861631693

I don't know why it took me so long to finish this book. I do know that my bookmark kept falling out, which meant I often re-read whole sections with a very deep sense of déjà vu, which was frustrating.
I liked this book - a lot. Its a great introduction to connecting with the world around us on a more profound level. The author includes several exercises, in the form of guided meditations, and these should be helpful to anyone starting out in magic or broader pagan practices. The author states he is buddhist, and although I did not agree with a small number of his views, overall I liked (and understood) his reasoning for behind the ideals he put forward; agreeing with him far more often than not.

The content of the book clearly demonstrates that Mr Patterson practices that about which he writes. He often includes personal anecdotes to illustrate a point. This is not someone trying to set themself up as a master (and he states this himself), but rather provide clear guidelines for those just starting out. In fact, this book excels in that regard and, in future, I will not hesitate to put in on recommended reading lists for those new to the pagan or witchcraft worlds.

Mr Patterson writes so that his ideas are easily absorbed and he also provides an extensive set of appendices including list of various organisations and a bibliography for further information. He has also taken the time to incorporate some of his prose and poetry, which is helpful in understanding the concepts discussed.

I have to say it is one the most sensible books I’ve read about outdoor practices in a very long time. He speaks of not taking anything from sites but memories and what constitutes a suitable offering (as opposed to crystals blasted from mines, etc.). In my opinon, Barry Patterson is a breath of fresh air in the beginner’s guides.

It was a unique read for me in that some of the places explored are quite near to my own place of residence and it was interesting to hear the insights of another who had visited those areas. Having an experience of the same locations made for interesting connections whilst reading the book. I was able to put myself in the author's shoes on occasion and this was somehow comforting.


I have to admit my favourite chapter was the first where we learn of his experiences on a solo trip in the Outer Hebrides. Having visited the area, I immediately understood the nature of his experience. Even so, the rest of the book is a joy, and a must to read. I certainly learned a few things, and there are a few people out there I believe need to read this book and should read this book.

The book loses a tenth of a point in ratings solely because of the extra blank pages disrupting some of the chapters. A fault with the publishers I feel.

Rating: 4.9/5

Barry Patterson does have his own website at: Red Sandstone Hill if you wish to learn more about the man behind the book.

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

A New Class of Pagan Troll

At one of the message boards where I post, we have invented a few terms for various sorts of pagans. One that has been in regular use is IRAB an acronym for "I read a book ...", i.e. those who constantly spout they read this book and it told them all they needed to know about their particular pagan path. Usually, its only the one book or author, but you do get some who read two or three books, but they are always of the awful kind, i.e. bad history, mistaken facts, misguided exercises, etc. This particular message board frowned on these types and made light work of dismissing them from the forum altogether.

This week, one of our regular posters, Nelli, realised that there was a new sort of IRAB, only they used the internet. Nelli coined the term "Google Botherer" with the accompanying acronym "GB". These are those pagans who are full of their own self-importance and post whole swathes of information on message boards. However, the canny pagan poster can soon detect that this is not the usual writing style of the GB and goes in search of the text on the internet, only to find the GB has googled one or two salient words and then "cut and paste" the information from another website.

Rather than referencing the site to prove a particular point, the GB seek to affirm their position as the great know-it-all by blatantly posting information as though it were their own. The GB is often ignorant of the fact that most people know how to use Google and have encountered Wikipedia several times before. When someone else on the message board points out the copyright breach (and the possible legal ramifications for the owner of said board), the GB will claim ignorance; even when referred to the copyright notice on the website from which they pilfered the information in the first instance.

I've encountered these types before, mostly at the Pentacle message boards, where such behaviour is swiftly intercepted and the offending GB is told to desist posting without the appropriate links and/or acknowledgements to the original website/author. And, yes, they often claim ingorance, but they are soon reminded that "ignorance is no excuse in the eyes of the law".

What I find sad about GBs is that by cutting and pasting whole swathes of text belonging to others, it almost appears as though they have no opinions or thoughts of their own. The number of times I've questioned people on posts, only to find that they "read it in a book" (though I later find they cut and paste from a website) and its not really their own opinion. Then, why do GBs or IRABs bother posting? Its smacks of trollish behaviour to me and I find it offensive in some instances. Its as though the other posters are just there to be played with - the GB dangling tid-bits of information (from other sites) in front of them in order to keep them happy.

To paraphrase that old maxim: "If you've got nothing to say then keep your mouth shut (or refrain from posting) and be thought a fool, rather than post words that are obviously not your own and be known as an idiot."

I wonder how prolific this behaviour has become if others have noticed it?

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Alive ~ Sa Dingding



Was watching the Proms on BBC the other night and happened to catch performances and interviews with the winner of the World Music award, Sa Dingding. I was instantly mesmerised. Her music is unique, and I can only describe it by waying its a blend of Enigma, Björk, and Lisa Gerrard; combining eastern and western music.

Sa Dingding originates from the plains of Mongolia where she says: "Before we start to talk, we are taught to sing". She is the first artist in China to sing in Sanskrit, but she also uses Mandarin, Tibetan and a self-created language. Listening to her work, however, I found words unnecessary; her songs transmitting emotions direct to the heart and soul.

At 18,
Sa Dingding became well known in "dance music" circles in China, but her spiritual practices expanded her musical output and I would not be surprised if she became a worldwide phenomenon. Sa creates her own costumes and choreographs her own performances and is as graceful and elegant as she is beautiful.

This particular album has the following tracks listed:

1. Mama tian na (Mantra)
2. Alive (Mantra)
3. Holy Incense (Tibet Version)
4. Oldster by Xilian River
5. Tuo Luo Ni
6. Lagu Lagu
7. Flickering with Blossoms
8. Holy Incense (Chinese Version)
9. Alive (Chinese Version)
10. Qin Shang

This is the YouTube version of the video for Alive:


I have never been appreciative of Chinese music, even though my father was once keen on Chinese Opera, preferring instead their cinematic releases. Sa Dingding is apt to expand my musical horizons - I certainly hope there are more artists like her on the horizon.

Rating: 5/5

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

An Award!


This is a little off-topic for my blog, but I received this from one of my favourite bloggers, Bee-Leaf. It was a very nice gift to receive at the end of a long, arduous week. Thank you Bee-Leaf for your kind comments about my blog, too.

The Rules for those recieving an award are:

1. The winner can put the logo on their blog
2. Link the person you received the award from
3. Nominate at least 7 other blogs
4. Put links of those blogs on yours
5. Leave a message on the blogs nominated

So, here are my nominees:

Bo, for the marvellous blog entitled "The Expvlsion of the Blatant Beast" ~ an eclectic mix of thoughts from 28-year old medievalist, currently at Oxford (but a Junior Research Fellow in Cambridge from October 2008) who write eloquently on a range of subjects including medieval studies, paganism, music, literature, art and who also (on rare occasions) displays iconographic art he has produced. Always, always a blog to read if you want to be made to think and I feel priveleged to have found, and be able to understand this particular blog.

"Cylch Riannon" ~ although Lee posts are infrequent they are always worth reading as he expounds on his explorations through brythonic paganism. Thoughtful and thought-provoking, I am always glad to see a new post at this particular site.

Mochenddu's Weblog ~ as written by Craig is another pagan blog that gives one pause for thought. Craig often describes his practice as feral (druidic?) paganism, though his blog displays a very definite academic knowledge in several areas. Although another infrequent poster, this blog is well worth watching, and reading because of the interesting thoughts on some (very thorny) issues that Craig is want to post.

One particular jouranl that I particularly love reading, and would read every single day if I had continuous internet access, is Leanne's "Somerset Seasons" site. Another pagan and one who takes marvellous pictures of animals, sunsets, home-baked goods, crafts and life in general. Nearly every post has a great picture to accompany the text, and I am oft-times pea-green with envy at the life this lady leads. Its pure joy reading her posts; a kind of comfy sofa chair by the fire blog that makes you feel very, very welcome.

I am always trying to keep up with some of my favourite authors and one, in particular, has only returned in the last two days after injury. I am overjoyed to see Wendy Mewe's online diary "Brittany Blues" back online.

With a keen interest in a photography, "Scenes of Ireland" is an online journal to which I look forward with eager anticipation every day. This particular site belongs to a friend, Geraldine, who has a very similar camera to mind and, as she experiments, I get the benefit of her knowledge and I also get to glimpse parts of Ireland I have not previously visited. Geraldine has a keen eye and the photographs often have a little something magical about them.

And, there is nothing in those rules that says you can't nominate the same person twice; just different blogs, so I am nominating another of Geraldine's blog sites: "Dreams of Reality" where you can read her poetry - and read it you should!

So that completes the list of online journals to which I want to send this award. Thanks everyone for posting your thoughts and activities and allowing me a unique access into your lives.