Unleash the Hounds! Science Edition

MIAMI (TWH)  –  There is a lot of science being reported that is of interest to modern Pagans and Heathens out there, more than our team can write about in depth in any given week. Therefore, the Wild Hunt must unleash the hounds in order to round them all up. Here are our favorite picks this month. A team of sociologists recently published an article titled “Mixed Blessing: The Beneficial and Detrimental Effects of Religion on Child Development among Third-Graders” in the journal Religions.  The team focused their attention on a longitudinal sample of children from their baseline in 1999 to outcomes in 2002.  The sample was constructed as being nationally representative for the US. Researchers explored whether frequent parental religious attendance, parental discussion of religion, and spousal conflict over religions would have any impacts of the academic performance on the children.  The study found that the third grader’s social competence and psychological adjustment were related to parental religiosity, a term used to describe interaction or adherence to religious institutional ideas.  However, student performance on math, reading and social science tests were adversely affected.

Column: Seeking comfort and stress reduction in today’s times

The turbulent nature of the current times have been weighing heavily on many people’s minds. Throughout our interconnected communities we have heard many people talk about struggling with the chaos and uncertainty present in our socio-political climate, and with the challenges of maintaining emotional and physical well-being. Social media sites are full of revolving comments about needing a mental health break as well as expressions of being overwhelmed. The most recent reports from Charlottesville and North Korea seem to have increased what appears to be a sense of hopelessness, anger, frustration, fear, anxiety, and depressive symptoms associated with concern over the state of America and the world. While frustration, anger, sadness, and fear are not new emotions experienced when there is a change in the socio-political climate, this now appears to be a trend associated with this distinct time in history and the increasing divisive nature of change happening in numerous arenas of our society. Steven Stosney, PhD discusses the increase in stress experienced by people seeking mental health support in the Trump presidency era in his article “How to Cope With Trump Anxiety.” He states,”Our current environment, amplified by 24-hour news outlets and social media, has created a level of stress, nervousness, and resentment that has intruded into many people’s lives and intimate relationships, the likes of which I’ve not seen in nearly 30 years of clinical work.”

Column: Dharma Pagan

“Nothing ever exists entirely alone. Everything is in relation to everything else.”[i]

For years I struggled looking for alignment between a practice rooted with what my teacher Enkyo O’Hara, roshi called “living a life of zen”[ii] which for me was a commitment to daily meditation, sutra and scripture study, lay vows, and keeping refuge in a lifestyle grounded in this eight fold path: right views, intention, speech, action, livelihood, effort, mindfulness, and concentration, and a longing towards magic, mythic phenomenon. I had a narrative in my mind that Buddhist practice was a stripped bare practice, with an aesthetic that in the commitment to non attachment resisted anything that could be translated as “all acts of love and pleasure.” That all began to change as I came to better understand the sutras of Buddhist teachings, and that life wasn’t a zero sum game. That in the vast language of the Diamond Sutra for example was Prajñāpāramitā, the great mother (one of her many aspects) in the center of a compelling lesson about the cosmic law of dharma, supreme wisdom, and the coalescence of enlightenment. As study begat more study, and wisdom traditions expanded across many teachers, I began to see a wider scope of what could be possible.

I’m Pagan and I Voted (Election Day Roundup)

It’s election day here in the United States, and most Americans are glued to their news sources of choice to see who will guide this nation for the next four years. In addition, control of our Senate, and the outcome of several local ballot initiatives will decided this day, making for an exciting evening for those invested in our democratic republic. Many American Pagans, like every other group in this country, also find themselves deeply invested in our political process if my Facebook wall is any indicator, and so they should, as the very notions of democracy, of a republic, originated in pagan thought, in pre-Christian societies.  Thomas Jefferson, a key architect of America’s religious freedoms, was proud that our country, in principle, encompassed “the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan, the Hindoo, and Infidel of every denomination.” 

So on this election day, as we wait for the results to roll in, let’s focus on some electoral/election stories of interest to, or involving, modern Pagans. The ever-politically active Starhawk shares some final thoughts on the election, making her endorsements, but also stressing the importance of voting in general. Quote: “Still need inspiration?  Consider the sixty years women struggled to get the right to vote.  Think of those suffragists on hunger strike, force-fed through tubes, lying in rat-infested prisons—they want you to vote!  Think of the civil rights workers in the South, risking their lives to register voters, think of the three who were murdered in 1964, Shwerner, Chaney and Goodman.  They want you to vote!”