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.
TWH – When psychonaut Stephen Gray writes “What a long, strange trip it’s been,” he’s playfully referencing that Grateful Dead album with the same title. But Gray is after bigger game: The “trip” he’s actually citing is humankind’s “incredibly rich history of plant-entangled religion and magic,” as he writes in the forward to the book Psychedelic Mystery Traditions: Spirit Plants, Magical Practices, Ecstatic States by Thomas Hatsis. For Pagans who refer to their practice as an “earth-based spirituality” or “nature spirituality” (see circlesanctuary.org), those terms can carry various meanings. For Pagans whose paths include entheogens, “earth-based” is a very literal term. The website oxforddictionaries.com defines entheogen as “a chemical substance, typically of plant origin, that is ingested to produce a non-ordinary state of consciousness for religious or spiritual purposes.” The term dates only to the 1970s, and its Greek roots literally mean “becoming divine within.”
The Oxford site reports the word was “coined by an informal committee studying the inebriants of shamans.”
A psychonaut, by the way, is someone who explores altered states of consciousness — especially but not always through hallucinogens — for spiritual or scientific purposes.