The Pagan Carnival

Welcome to the sixth edition of The Pagan Carnival, a bi-weekly summary of the best writing in the modern Pagan, Heathen and occult blogosphere. Help spread the word and strengthen our online community by posting a link back to this entry. Don’t forget to submit your nominations for the next edition! Now on to the carnival!

The Non-Prophet blog features a guest essay by author Daniel Pinchbeck. Pinchbeck is the author of “Breaking Open The Head” in which he explores shamanism, and the forthcoming “2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl” which he discusses in his essay.

“I was left wondering why Western culture found it necessary to drastically repress not only psychedelic chemicals, but the entire worldview of shamanism with its focus on intuitive and magical aspects of reality, represented by the burning of witches in the Inquisition, and the destruction of native traditions during Colonialism. It seemed to me that this suppression masked some deep ontological threat to the modern mind. Since I had validated the precepts of shamanism for myself, I also began to wonder about the prophecies that many indigenous cultures hold about the time we are in right now ? from the Hopi Indians of New Mexico, who believe we are on the verge of transitioning from one “world” to another, to the Classical Mayan civilization of the Yucatan, obsessed with time and astronomy, who seemed to predict that the imminently approaching year of 2012 represented a transformational threshold for human consciousness. I began to realize that prophecy was more than specious prediction ? as Armin Geertz, a Hopi anthropologist, noted, “Prophecy is a thread in the total fabric of meaning, in the total worldview. In this way it can be seen as a way of life and of being.” My investigation of prophecy became the core of my new book, 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl, to be released in April by Viking-Penguin. Four years in the making, it synthesizes a vast range of philosophical ideas and approaches, outsider scholarship about the Mayan Calendar, and my own personal investigation of a range of phenomena that fall utterly outside the current mainstream paradigm…”

LJ Pagan blogger “Happy Dog Potatohead” discusses the difference between tricksters, and teachers who are just jerks, and how that confusion has made us put up with behavior unfitting of a spiritual teacher.

“One of the things that has always puzzled me about many forms of neopaganism is the willingness of followers of these religions to put up with antisocial, rude, nasty, and abusive “teachers.” A lot of the “teachers” who specialize in doling out antisocial behavior and calling it teaching hide behind the mask of the Trickster. “I fool you and make a fool of you in order to make you wise!” they say. Among some “teachers” there is also a good bit of the carny; if you’re dumb enough to be rooked, they’ll rook you, for money, sex, ego gratification, or any number of things. If they get nailed they always pull one of two defenses out of their ass hat:

1) I am the Trickster, I fool you and take advantage of you to make you wise. What wisdom is that? um…the lesson that you should never trust anybody. HAHAHAHA! Why are you not laughing?

2) I am the Teacher! Because I have The Secrets, I am above all conventional morality. And that includes politeness, patience, compassion, or any of those bourgeois things! Your ethics do not concern me because I have attained It, and therefore am beyond ethics. What is It? Well, I’ll tell you, but first you have to take off your pants. No? What about if you give me $500 or so?”

Prompted by the latest movie, Maggie Macary takes a look at the mythology of the “scarred child” as it relates to Harry Potter and our larger culture.

“Formula fairy tale hardly explains the unprecedented popularity of this series of children?s books, especially among adults. Examining the series on a deeper level reveals that they are not uncreative and predictable formula fairy tale, but rather tales of an ambiguous, scarred post-modern hero, totally rooted in a fairy-tale genre that recognizes the twin connection between hero and villain. There is a great deal beneath the shadowy surface of Harry Potter, and as the series unfolds, more and more of the secret shadowy aspects become revealed as Harry faces his unconscious dark side. Are Harry and his archenemy Voldemort somehow related? This is a continuous theme throughout the first four books of the series, an underlying hint of shadowy connections between the good Harry Potter and the evil dark wizard, Voldemort.”

Lilith Saincrow at God & Consequences talks about a sacred duty. Jury duty.

“Yes, it’s a big old muddy inconvenience. But I wouldn’t trade it for lying on a tropical beach with Johnny Depp rubbing my feet, y’all. I really wouldn’t. Okay, here it is. I’m female. The Greeks and Romans didn’t allow women on juries, neither did medieval European courts. Hell, American courts didn’t have women on them until very recently. Much better women than me have struggled and suffered so I could go and be bored while incidentally participating in one of the greatest institutions of modern America: trial by jury. It’s like voting: it is a duty that verges on the sacred, mostly because I have read history and know how hard people struggled to achieve what I take for granted today. The right to vote, the right to write what I want, the right to decide what to do with my own body, the right to have my voice heard in the justice system as a matter of course.”

T. Thorn Coyle talks about a recent vist with Cora Anderson
, wife of Victor Anderson and co-founder of the Feri Tradition of Witchcraft.

“Cora said “Oh yes. Things were not as open as they are now. We used to have to be very secret about it all.” She told me how she and Victor would say to their son in the 1950s, “Now, don’t tell anybody what we do, or they might come and put Mom and Dad into jail.” Of course, later on her son did tell someone, a trusted friend who became Gwydion Pendderwen, the Bard known throughout contemporary Pagendom.”

In a somewhat-related post, Deborah Oak talks Voodoo, Feri, and magical ethics.

“Voodoo has beauty and breadth as a tradition. In so many ways, it has more substance than this odd strand of magic and practice I?ve been initiated into called Feri. Feri is a strange hodge-podge of magical traditions, including Voodoo. In both Voodoo and Anderson Feri, there is no prohibition against hexing, of using magic to thwart or hurt those who are seen as enemies. How and why I ended up being initiated into this, I?m still trying to make sense of. As I make this bottle for Marie, I honor the power of magic and mull on what seems to be part of this lifetime?s work, stepping away from the power to hurt, and staying strongly and mightily in the power to heal. I know I need to step away from the Voodoo, and I’m distancing myself from what Thorn’s called “the
Luciferian aspects of Feri”.”

Jay Allen (The Zero Boss) gives his opinion on Bush’s recent comments on religious freedom in China.

“Look, the treatment of Christians in China is despicable. But so is the treatment of the followers of Falun Dafa. So is the treatment of the largely Buddhist Tibetans, whose plight this president (and all those before him) has virtually ignored. But hey, now CHRISTIANS are being oppressed – it’s a whole different ball game! The fact is, faced with an opportunity to take a stand for religious pluralism, Bush decided – yet again – to wallow in the shallow waters of sectarianism. Predictable? Sure. But no less sad because of it.”

Brenda Daverin at The Red Raven’s Roost talks taboo in ancient paganism

“Am I blaspheming by muttering, “Mother of the gods” when I feel annoyed? Or am I entering the wrong territory for pagan Celts if I speak of bodily functions with four-letter words in the same context? Or is it both? I wish I knew. It would enhance my understanding of how they thought immensely.”

Inspired by Brenda, Fiacharrey talks taboo too.

“I think what this means for us, in trying to reconnect with the ways of the ancients, is that we should be careful how we use words concerning our deities. We should speak of them with respect, obviously, but maybe more than that. To the Celts, it seems, it was not the names of the deities themselves that were taboo, but what they were associated with. There was a ‘secret’ name for ‘moon’ and for ‘hand.’ Perhaps, we should meditate on the secret names ? the True Names of the Moon and the Earth, the Sun and the Sky. I don’t mean to try to figure out what those names are. They will be forever secret to us all. I mean to meditate on the truth that they have secret names ? names that only They will ever know. We should appreciate the power of secrets, guard the secrets we have been entrusted with, and not disrespect our gods by speaking carelessly of them.”

Anne Hill gives a new twist to an old grounding exercise.

“Many of us in Reclaiming use Raven’s grounding (“Roots down, branches up!”) because it’s, well, succinct. After a certain number of years, you simply don’t need to lead a long involved visualization of entering the center of the earth and beaming out to the heavens to ground yourself. You just do it, and get present. So Raven’s signature grounding has been used liberally and with great relief over many years of ritual. This time, though, I spoke it as, “Roots down, branches up, cell phones off!” The ubiquitous cell phone is a good stand-in metaphor for all our devices and to-do lists that keep pulling our attention away on the horizontal plane. It’s not so much that my frenetic pace had stopped me from being rooted in the earth or open to the sky, but it was scattering my energy to the four winds, not allowing me to think of only one thing at a time.”

Finally, good luck and good journey to Chas Clifton and Lee Gilmore as they travel to the American Academy of ReligionSociety of Biblical Literature combined annual meeting.

Thanks for reading, if you have submissions for the next Pagan Carnival or are interested in editing an edition drop me a line. Remember to post a link to The Pagan Carnival in your blog and spread the word!

Carnivals Past can be found here.

Jason Pitzl-Waters