Around the Blogosphere

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  February 4, 2008 — Leave a comment

Some great Pagan and Pagan-friendly content has been popping up lately in the blogosphere, so I thought I would take some time to highlight some posts that I found particularly interesting.

To start off, Mollie at Get Religion takes a look at recent press coverage concerning the entheogenic plant ayahuasca, and the surge in popularity of shamanistic therapy sessions among upper-class suburbanites in Southern California.

“Piccalo explains that ayahuasca, meaning “vine of the soul” has been used for hundreds of years or more by tribes in Central and South America. In countries where it is legal, pilgrims flock to ceremonies. She notes that Allen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs introduced the plant concoction to pop culture in the 1960s but that it has remained a largely underground phenomenon – until now. A community shepherded by shamans is emerging in the United States … Unfortunately, the religious component of ayahuasca isn’t really explored. Most of the piece deals with Truenos, who comes off more Elmer Gantry than devout believer. He has a shady past and can’t answer Piccalo’s questions in a straightforward manner. In an area where New Age practitioners have found fertile ground for preying on the wealthy, he seems perfectly Californian.”

Mollie and I both share the sentiment that journalists should further explore the religious ties to this plant and its usage. You can read the original Los Angeles Times article, here.

An the artistic front, classics professor Mary Beard reports on the opening of a new show of neo-classical sculpture at Tate Britain called “The Return of the Gods”.

“Highlight of the show, but not for me (I actually think it’s a bit irritating), is Canova’s Three Graces. I decided to talk about some of the less well known pieces. The aim was to explain why what may look like slightly insipid white marble, recreating some serenely voluptuous male and female flesh, is actually a lot cleverer and a lot more intellectually engaged with the Greco-Roman sources on which it is based than most people ever imagine.”

Meanwhile the Treadwells blog announces a new exhibition at the Transition Gallery (in London) entitled “Sex and Witchcraft”

“A sinister beauty pervades the work of seven artists from London, Manchester and Budapest in Sex and Witchcraft. Working across media, often incorporating the use of found materials and tabletop techniques, the artists engage in a disturbing alchemy. Dabbling in the chemistry of first sighting and the magical fusion of opposing elements, the artists reveal a dark underbelly to the world of love and flowers, white horses and watercolours.”

The “Sex and Witchcraft” show also features a specially commissioned essay from punk-pioneer turned occult historian Gary Lachman.

Over at MetaPagan, Cat Chapin-Bishop notices a “spontaneous blog carnival” concerning interactions between Paganism and Christianity.

“It must be something in the aether…Discussions of Christianity are breaking out on Pagan blogs everywhere. It’s odd, but whenever I post anything related to the subject of Christianity at my own blog, the number of hits and comments–from Pagans–goes way up. Maybe I’m not the only person to have noticed this, because over the last few days, numerous members of the Pagan/Heathen blogosphere have posted entries on the topic of Christo-Paganism and related topics. Some bloggers are concerned, some are puzzled, and some are embracing at least some Christian concepts, if not Christianity, per se.”

My coverage of Christo-Pagan inmates is included in this accidental blog carnival, as are entries from Gus DiZerega and Chapin-Bishop’s own Quaker Pagan Reflections.

Over at Paganachd Bhandia, Kathryn Price NicDhana points to updates on direct action protests taking place in Ireland in a bid to save Tara from further development.

“We still need bodies on the line, supplies sent to the camps, and fierce magic in support. See my earlier posts for more details if you’re new here.”

For this blog’s previous coverage concerning the fight to preserve the Hill of Tara, click here.

In a final note, author Erik Davis reviews the book “Romantic Religion” by R.J Reilly, and explores romanticism, sacred plays, the Inklings, and what really attracts him to religion.

“I have also begun to suspect that, a lot of the time, what has really attracted me to religion was less the glimmer of supernatural knowledge, of some answer to the irascible longing in my heart and the mercurial confusion in my mind, than the creative imagination that channels so much of this stuff in the first place. At root, my spirit resonates with to aesthetic dimension of religion – the pungent bite of frankincense, the swelling gallop of Mozart’s requiem mass, the comic book arcana of cosmological maps, the turn of phrase in a lost gospel, the spare decor of the zendo. It is not that I am interested only in aesthetics, or story, or figurative art – I have spent tons of time with doctrine and history, and I love the experience of some model or argument about the nature of existence or God or the afterlife worms its way into my quotidian mind. But the real alchemy happens when the creative imagination soars beyond itself, towards matters of final import. I cannot imagine an awakened genuine religion without flavor and taste, without vivid figures and surprise. I rarely read wisdom books unless they are engaging as literature.”

To find more great Pagan-friendly blog content, check out Blog Elysium for an extensive list of blog links, and MetaPagan for a human-edited look at content from other (Pagan) blogs.

That is all I have for now, have a great day!

Jason Pitzl-Waters

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