My semi-regular round-up of articles, essays, and opinions of note for discerning Pagans and Heathens.
Remember the Episcopagan scandals? Well, the main player in that drama, former Episcopalian priest turned Druid Walter William Melnyk, is releasing a new novel co-written with with Druid priestess Emma Restall Orr entitled “The Apple and The Thorn”.
“The Apple and The Thorn is a love story set on the mythical Isle of Avalon at the time of the Roman invasion of Britain. The novel draws on the persistent myths of the Lady of the Lake; legends of Jesus’ visit to Glastonbury with Joseph of Arimathea; the Holy Grail and the Chalice Well. Although set in ancient times, it is a heart-rending tale of power and belief, a contemporary reminder of the emotional and physical conflicts that surface when the missionary zeal of one faith threatens to destroy the beauty and spirituality of indigenous culture and suppress freedom of belief and worship.”
If the Lady of the Lake and Joseph of Arimathea debating over the true nature of Jesus (and the resulting Christian religion) is your kind of thing, no doubt you’ll be well-pleased with what Melnyk and Orr have produced. The book is out now in the UK, and is scheduled for a May release in the US.
The Lansing State Journal reports that Baby-Boom religious seekers will most likely remain seekers once they hit retirement.
“He said that, as boomers age, as they become grandparents, they seem to be ‘moving into that phase that humanistic psychologists have talked about of thinking about what they give back, not just what they get,’ he said, ‘what they give back to family, community and country.’ The question for religious institutions is whether they can provide the settings for that search for meaning. ‘Organized religion has been reaching out to try to create venues for this kind of thing,’ Roof said. ‘But I think the baby-boom generation still feels free to find truth wherever they can.’”
So don’t worry, it doesn’t appear that Starhawk will be converting to Orthodox Judaism (or Isaac Bonewits to Catholicism) any time soon. I, for one, welcome our less-self-centered Boomer overlords. I’d like to remind them that as a trusted blogging personality, I can be helpful in rounding up others
to toil in their underground sugar caves to engage in compassionate missions of goodness.
Speaking of Starhawk, she weighs in on the subject of diversity, pluralism, and the “Christmas Wars” at the Washington Post “On Faith” blog.
“I don’t think we’re being too ‘politically correct’ to hold to the guiding principles that our Constitution is founded upon. As someone who was raised Jewish and who is a practicing Pagan, I support Christmas. I think it’s a beautiful holiday, a wonderful celebration of birth and hope in the midst of the dark of winter. I support Christ being the ‘star of the show’ in every Christian Church and Christian home. I sympathize deeply with my Christian and secular friends who are struggling to keep the holiday from devolving into CommercialMass or Giftmas and to focus on its deeper meaning. I do not support Christ being the star of the show in public celebrations – not unless he’s willing to share the stage with Lugh the Sun God and Saule the Sun Goddess, Mohammed, Buddha, Krishna, Judah Macabee and a host of others. Even then, either someone gets left out or every celebration becomes an interminable endurance test. And how do atheists get equal time?”
While Americans battle over how much Baby Jesus gets to happen in public, Iceland has no problems connecting the Yule-tide dots between Christian and pagan practice.
“Head Folklorist at the University of Iceland Terry Gunnell will give a presentation in English today and again on December 22 at the National Museum of Iceland, located in Reykjavik, about the traditional Icelandic Yule. The presentation is entitled ‘The Icelandic Yule. An illustrated presentation in English reviewing the beliefs and traditions of Icelandic Christmas past and present, from pagan gods to practical joking Christmas Lads.’”
Between this and the joint Pagan-Christian celebrations in Lithuania, you gotta wonder if Europe isn’t on to something here. But if tolerance and peaceful co-celebration isn’t an option, you can always file a restraining order on the cause(s) of this whole mess.
“Paranormal Restraining Orders Keep them away! Since the dawn of time, mankind has sought the means of keeping away supernatural and paranormal entities. Now, for only $5 each, receive a printed document that bars them from approaching or contacting you.”
They really need to broaden their options, there are all sorts of celestial powers I want to keep a safe distance from me.
The Smart Set’s Emily Maloney visits a Body, Mind, and Spirit Expo so you don’t have to.
“The whole expo felt like a bad shopping trip where shoppers and sellers were all piecing together a mix and match vision of reality. I also found listening to people who were capable of distorting their cognition in such whimsical ways nearly impossible to understand. I mean, if I could get in touch with the Devic Kingdom, wherever that is, I could definitely use a fat, chipper gnome to remind me of my grocery list, or help me find overdue library books, or drive when I got too drunk (if that’s not asking too much to ask of a gnome), but I just don’t know how to go playfully crazy in the direction of woodland fairies and jolly gnomes.”
I completely empathize with the mental block (which I playfully call “sanity”) that doesn’t allow me the full range of spiritual experiences some of my more “out there” co-religionists seem to regularly engage in. Then again, if it got me a gnome-housekeeper, perhaps I should try harder.
In a final (fae) note, Bookslut lets us know that there is a new English translation out of the classic Irish epic “The Tain”.
“It’s all quite fantastic, but in Carson’s version never preposterous. In part, that’s because he’s such a skilled translator. Carson has done deft poetic justice to book-length works by Dante and the 18th century Irish poet Brian Merriman. This “Tain” also benefits from the fact that, among the formidable group of poets to emerge from Ulster over the last few decades, Carson has remained closest to the roots of that troubled province’s traditions. He is the author of two fine books on traditional music, and this translation is dedicated to a traditional Gaelic storyteller. Because he
is a fine poet and — in that Yeatsian sense — “a rooted man,” Carson’s translation teases from “The Tain” several of the things that make it so remarkable: First and foremost among them is the fact that — unlike, say, the Iliad — the characters in “The Tain” don’t stand as archetypes. They’re real people — conflicted, complex, alternately admirable and reprehensible, capable of courtesy and deceit, generosity and cunning. Cu Chulainn is a superhero and a vain adolescent, a warrior sometimes thrust into mourning by his own skill. He, like other characters in this “Tain,” is also very funny.”
You can find the new translation, here.
That is all I have for now, have a good day!