Sam Webster, M. Div., PhD(c) is an initiate of Golden Dawn, Wiccan, Druidic, Buddhist, Hindu and Masonic traditions, publisher at Concrescent Press and author of "Tantric Thelema." He founded the Open Source Order of the Golden Dawn in 2001, and is the Executive Director of the Pantheon Foundation.
[From the Editor’s Desk: The Wild Hunt will be leaving the Pantheon Foundation to make another big step forward in its continued evolution. In April, we will begin taking the preliminary steps needed toward becoming our own independent registered nonprofit. We thank the Pantheon Foundation for its time and dedication in helping us achieve this goal, and for supplying us with the needed strength to stand on our own. In addition, we say goodbye to columnist Sam Webster. For the last year, he has shared his writing and work with our readers. We thank him for his contributions and wish him luck in any future projects and pursuits.
Are magic(k) and religion contrary? One of the ongoing debates in our Pagan Community is the place of magic. Some gather to ‘only’ celebrate and worship. Some find magic central to their practice. Being heterodoxic, Pagans revel in the diversity of opinions we hold, so the range held on this topic is vast.
As we gather this season to celebrate the birth of a God in the Levant, on the day the Sun visibly returns north, under Germanic trees, with presents delivered by an Orthodox Greek Bishop+Norse God+Celtic God, carrying a bag used to be a cauldron, driving a sleigh that once was an 8-legged horse, wearing dress popularized by a soft drink company, all of which is but one interpretation of the customs and iconography, it is right, meet, and proper that we give some thought to the world-wide practice of syncretism. As we build Paganism into the future, we will inevitably syncretize, in the sense of blending elements of religious practices from a variety of sources into our lived religious life. For instance, embracing or rejecting it, Paganism can not help but be affected by Christianity; it affects how we practice and how we think about our practice. More importantly, what we have inherited from the past is fragmentary and must be supplemented with resources from cultures that are not the same as the one from which we are building. That is, of course, presuming there is such a ‘one.’
How do we know if a Pagan leader is any good, is ethical, or if they are qualified to teach or lead? Today we have their writings and their reputation. This can be a lot, but the standards are inherently subjective and some kind of objective verification would be beneficial. Some matters, like lineage and certification, can be strictly factual. Can these be verified with confidence?
[Our Fall Funding Drive is still going on. We have 9 days left! Your support is what make our work possible. If you like columns like the one below and our daily coverage of news, please consider donating today. Your donations will help us grow and expand our coverage. Donate here.