Column: ’Tiz the Season to Syncretize

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.’

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. I’d like to start by saying that my thoughts and prayers go out to those injured, and the families of those killed, in a senseless theater murder-spree that occurred in Aurora, Colorado on July 20th at a Midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises. I’d like to appeal to the divine within us all, that we avoid conspiracy theories, or using this tragedy to win an argument, and instead focus, at least for now, on those who are existing in a world of pain, fear, doubt, and uncertainty. As someone who believes in magick, I believe in the power of symbols, and Batman is a powerful symbol of overcoming great personal tragedy to become a force for peace and justice.

The Pasts We Believe In

I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about the past. Not the recent past, but the ancient world. Most modern Pagan faiths assert some connection with pre-Christian religion, whether it’s as inspiration, revival, reconstruction, or even claims to direct lineage. Recently our communities have seen renewed debates over how much of a connection we truly have, and whether recent scholarship was too quick to deem the matter of pagan survivals closed. At this year’s PantheaCon I witnessed a presentation in which an Italian group claimed direct connection to the ancient world, though not without some controversy.