Column: Rituals for Grieving Change

Pagan Perspectives

Ritual gives words to the unspeakable and forms to the formless. It brings the non-physical into physical form so we can see it, touch it, feel it, and process it. -Terri Daniel
In our exploration of grief, we have looked at the impact of grief on us as individuals and as communities when loss happens. While there are many types of loss, we have focused in our last two columns on the loss of a person. This is the most common loss we talk about within society, and we often do not see other types of loss with the same level of priority.

Unleash the Hounds! (Link Roundup)

There are lots of articles and essays of interest to modern Pagans out there, sometimes more than I can write about in-depth in any given week. So The Wild Hunt must unleash the hounds in order to round them all up. Considering how many times Wicca has been called the “fastest growing religion in America,” by both supporters and detractors, the latest XKCD comic reminds us to not get too wrapped up with the numbers, because they can be deceptive. At Religion Dispatches John Morehead writes about Burning Man, and the fear it generates of an “alternative Pagan social order.” Quote: “For evangelicals like Matthews, Burning Man embodies deep-seated fears which can also be seen playing out in other aspects of American culture.

Don’t Pathologize Religious Experiences

Jules Evans, a journalist and writer with a deep interest in ancient Greek and Roman philosophy, writes a piece for Wired Magazine on the tendency of religious or out-of-the-ordinary experiences to be “shifted to the margins of our secular, scientific, post-animist culture and defined as pathological symptoms of a physical or emotional disease.” Evans cites a new study in the British Journal of Clinical Psychology that compares “psychotic-like phenomena in clinical and non-clinical populations” and finds that context is vital in determining how that experience is treated and integrated into someone’s life. “It is not the OOE [‘out-of-the-ordinary’ experience] itself that determines the development of a clinical condition, but rather the wider personal and interpersonal contexts that influence how this experience is subsequently integrated. Theoretical implications for the refinement of psychosis models are outlined, and clinical implications for the validation and normalization of psychotic-like phenomena are proposed.” This leads Evans to call for a more pragmatic approach from health care professionals when confronted with a patient’s experience of an ‘out-of-the-ordinary’ experience.

The Most Important Grimoire of our Modern Age?

In 1913 Carl Jung, the founder of analytical psychology, experienced a prolonged “confrontation with the unconscious” where he daily wrestled with visions, heard inner voices, and explored his own vast dream-scape for six years. Beginning just before World War I, and ending shortly after its close, his inner turmoil echoed the chaos erupting all around him. During this time Jung didn’t merely experience these events, he rose to meet and catalog them, and created a legendary never-printed (and never-finished) chronicle of his underworld journey called “Liber Novus” (“New Book”) in the process. “Liber Novus”, or “The Red Book” as its become known due to the work being done in a large red notebook, became legendary amongst Jungians, described alternately as holding “infinite wisdom” and being “psychotic” by the few who ever got a glimpse of it. Now, after many years, the heirs of Carl Jung have agreed to allow this lost text to see print for the first time.