- a collection of essays on Neodruidic Studies
- a journal of Post-Reconstructionist Neopaganism

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Sovereignty, the Goddess of the Landscape and the Rites of Lughnassadh

Like the golden down on the curve of Her hip,
the Lay of the Land now bristles densely and ripe with endless fields of grain.

We are deep in August.

The tide of summer has turned and the harvest is under way. By now, as in tens of thousands of summers past, the scythe is swung and the stem is severed; some to feed us, and some to put in store that the harvests will continue in fields yet unsown.

That work, our work, and your work is part of a continual ritual of the centuries from which we cannot escape, nor should we. Our partner in that process, the Land, has been recognized in many ways through the centuries and there are a number of great sacred symbols of that ancient but continuous relationship to be recognized and carried forward to future generations. That is where we come in, as stewards of that process, the sacred Chain of Tradition must be continued...

The actual article is HERE...


Monday, August 16, 2010

Farewell, Brother Isaac

The below is from the last direct communication that I had with Isaac. One year and five days later he passed from our company fully into the Great Realm of Memory.

In my life, and surely the lives of many others, 
another anchor, lost...
From: Isaac Bonewits
To: Earrach
Subject: Re: ADF: Neo, Recon, Eclectic, Orthodox?
Date: Aug 7, 2009 2:33 PM


This may or may not come as a shock, but I agree with your remarks below (both the quoted text and the cover email) 110% -- and you can quote me on that!

And I really love 
"I'm an Eclectic Reconstructionist Neopagan." :)

bright blessings,

*  Isaac Bonewits: writer, teacher,      *
*         songwriter, curmudgeon            *
*                                                                   *
*   "Snailmail" to: P.O. Box 1010,         *
*        Nyack, NY 10960-8010                *
* Please use BIG fonts in your email, *
*      my eyes are getting old!                *
The post to which he was referring was a bit too big to post here. 
The full text of it can be found on the sidebar of this blog under 
"PAGES / Earrach to ISAAC"

The ADF memorial page to Isaac is here and includes a link to a series of beautiful videos from ADF's first large scale memorial ritual done in his memory.
- E.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Wading into the Fields of Harvest,

a little more alone...

Lughnassadh has come once more and this is the first year in eighteen or more that I have not been drawn deeply into the seasonal mystery of The Taking Up of the Scythe. This year I have been somewhat unsettled and rather distracted from my usual patterns. Yes, many significant changes have been passing through my life this year and it seems that there are more to come. This time last year my mother was alive and relatively healthy for her 91 years. She went into decline in late October and passed fully into the realm of memory in mid-January. My father had passed twenty years ago. Now, in their line, there remain only my brother and I, and his two daughters.

Honestly, up to this point, I have deferred much of my grieving and now, as we spend more time cleaning up and clearing out her house, I realize that I am not so utterly under my own control in such matters. Perhaps the scythe to hone and take up is really right before me, and now, as I reluctantly wade into the challenge ahead, things may become more clear.

One thing is already becoming very clear. So much of what I am is a direct artifact of my mother's personality; her flaws and shortcomings, and more importantly, her talents and various personal gifts. I might have guessed as much previous to her passing but in no way could it then come so dramatically and powerfully forward to me as it has now that she is "gone". It's an odd state of affairs when you unwittingly gain the capacity to vividly see yourself as an assemblage of reflexive impressions made in the soft "clay" of Self, shaped by a number of other people over the years. I am perceiving this now through the lens of my currently heightened sensitivity to the presence of her, within me, and I find myself struggling with constant, almost painful, upwellings of love and the deepest sense of gratitude to both of them.

Both my parents had relatively simple lives in spite of each having an astonishing set of personal gifts. As talented as they were, their talents had not made them rich or famous. Yet, from mine or any outsider's perspective there was one extraordinary thing which made up the primary harvest they reaped... it was that they were so incredibly loved and respected by everyone that knew them.

--------(( PS:    Diana (Veruca) sent this in response:
"Just as the influence your parents had on you; the evolution of your Self, so have YOU touched the lives of many others.  Despite the changes that have touched us in the past year, there are more ahead as we prepare to lose another great influence in the near future.  'Tis an interesting harvest indeed this year; may we continue to be blessed with the insights that come with change.

I am, of course, referring to Isaac - who is "close" now...
( As it was, Isaac had passed at 8AM EDT that very morning.   - E. )

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Outlook for Neopaganism?

A brief dialogue of my thoughts on where we're headed...

Q:  In your estimation, what are the richest fields for 
      exploration by modern Neopagan ritual-groups?
A:  A profoundly functional Wheel of the Year,
     unconstrained by a single "Hearth Culture"...
It’s long been my contention that, particularly for those of us living in a region with fairly well-defined set of four seasons, the Wheel of the Year should be refined and developed to function fully independent from any one specific hearth culture. Definitely we should incorporate various seasonally-appropriate folkways from various cultures but this is one clear case where ancient tradition should not be allowed to restrict a model based on a modern understanding of the “facts” of nature and their effect on our modern souls.
Of late in this respect, in ADF, the cart has been placed before the horse. As de facto providers of open group pagan-spiritual activity in our greater pagan communities we should, we must,  recognize that adopting the popular ADF “Hearth Culture” model (the settling on a single cultural motif for one's whole ADF Grove) for the work of your whole local organization automatically has you turning your back on three quarters of your local pagan community and their modes of practice.
It is primarily this reason which makes me want to insist that 
__________ one’s “hearth” is one’s home,  
__________ i.e. one’s PERSONAL practice... 
The forum for group-work and relating to your greater Neopagan community? - - That’s called a “grove”. There should be no need to compromise one’s personal “hearth”, when in its place. Hearth-work thereby is by definition not group work, unless it is sub-grove work (i.e. a hearth-based sub-group within your grove).
There’s a lot of room for new work there; groups like ours keep getting bogged down pounding square pegs into round holes trying to come up with authentically seasonal themes for hearth cultures which really don’t have obvious corollaries for certain feasts. Certainly having well-tooled cultural-motif modules available to plug-into the various high days is of order in our work since some of the cultural expressions for the seasonal feasts do fit very well and utilizing that “fit” helps individuals more easily reconcile their personal pagan aesthetic with the larger cultural context in which we live. Both of these approaches pose significant challenges and benefits.

Q: Ok, I can see this material is central to the work you've been doing, BUT, 
     other than that, where should Pagan folk be looking for inspiration these days?
A: Hmm. Here’s a “teaser” list of my favorites:

- The Wyrd:   The Weave, the Weavers and the Woven....
 A particularly English (Anglo-Saxon) take on a vast IE cosmological principle

- Idolatry... 
Really!   (Relax; it’s ok…).

- Post Kaballahlistic Paganism 
( PKP ) Let go of the Bible. Get Thee behind me Jehova ! - - I’m gonna wash “One-God” right out of my hair...

- De-Reconstructing “Celtic” paganism 
Yes, everything you’ve been told is (still) wrong.

- The Sacralization of the Sciences:  
The true future of Druidism; integrating an actively Religious Materialism into our spirituality.

- The Spectrum of Divinity:  
Dynamic anthropomorphism in action

- Magical influence and “Luck”:  
Amulets, Talismans and Hoodoo... and respect for the power of the unknown.
The arrival of active superstition in your practice is when your magic becomes "alive".

Q:  Do you feel there are areas in which Neopaganism still 
      needs to “clean up its act”?
A:   Oh, yeah, quite so...

Well, it might be said that we’ve been spending the last thirty years doing that (cleanup) and there many years of work ahead of us. We've barely scratched the surface. Somehow, Paganism needs to remain attractive and rewarding for future generations even once it has lost its “Bad Boy” reputation. Once a destination for many “goth” inspired youth, we’re just not as cool of a scene as we used to be. Some young people today already consider Wicca and Neopagan as “dorky”, associated with “hippies” and therefore painfully out of fashion… “Wicca? Eeeuuuww, that’s like SO nineties!” Do we forever have to be represented to the general culture as a shambling collection of flakes, sad aging geeks and "bad-as-I-wannabee" teenagers?

The harder and more seriously a group of people work on something collectively, the more likely they are to be found broadcasting an un-accepting or unfriendly “vibe” towards those whom they consider their competitors or inferiors. This is already evident in the often indelicate language regarding others used by those in the large more highly organized groups like ADF, Asatru, Celtic Reconstructionists, OTO,  etc. We need to remember that we are all, collectively ostracized by Western Society and need to work toward mutual respect and conversation, not fractiousness.

 - E.