One thing I like about participating in the Pagan Blog Project is that it’s an intentional space where people share ideas in an only very marginally curated space.
This is not to say that I don’t like curated spaces. If anything I prefer them because I don’t have a whole lot of time to devote to coping with the signal-to-noise ratio on the Internet, and my world is much improved by sites like The Wild Hunt that aggregate interesting points of view and present them in a coherent and useful way.
What’s nice about the Pagan Blog Project is that it’s not huge enough to be overwhelming, and that it creates a space in which people are shooting ideas out into the ether and sharing them in a particular space. It’s a nice kind of middle space in which the general topic is one of interest, and I can kind of sift through what shows up and see what’s interesting.
While I think the framework is beneficial to me in terms of keeping me writing on a schedule, the space itself in which that writing happens may be the biggest draw for me.
So. Here are some of my favorite posts so far in 2014:
Weeks 1 & 2 – A
A IS FOR AMBIGUITY
I think about UPG a lot as a concept, not least because it’s an area that’s challenging for me as a relatively scholastic-leaning Pagan in a community that doesn’t always click with that impulse. One thing I do believe is in the validity of one’s experience to oneself — i.e. I’m not going to tell you that what you experienced is wrong — but that I need more than someone else’s experience to support a thing before I should be expected to act on it. In any case, this post was a good reminder that intellectual flexibility is important, and making sure to keep a space for UPG as a laboratory is beneficial to our collective traditions.
One of the things that makes modern Paganisms relatively unique is that most traditions do ethics differently from the Abrahamic traditions. This post is a really great example of ethics as a process within the work.
A is for Academic Approach
The academic path gets a hard rap sometimes in the Pagan community. And yet, there are so many ways it can benefit us as a whole and help strengthen our traditions.
Honoring Ancestors in the Traditional Lucumí Way
I don’t know if I just didn’t notice it in previous years, or if there are more participants from the Afro-Diasporic religions this year, but I was incredibly excited to see this kind of contribution. Partly because I’m working on building a more robust ancestor practice of my own, but also because these faiths are hard to access where I live, and I like to learn about other paths so that I can interact more respectfully and effectively with practitioners. Even better, there’s a follow-up post on how to do this work in the context of Espiritismo.
A similar post from a Rootworker in Georgia, both introducing himself and discussing the importance of ancestor work. His practice looks different from the Lucumí one in the prior post, which I think is wonderful and useful information, not least because from the outside it can be easy to lump a group of faiths together and forget the ways in which they are unique.
A is for (Not) Asatru
Speaking of which, this post from an Anglo-Saxon Heathen working in a mixed Kindred is another really great example of how categories that seem to be one thing can be more diverse than outsiders might suspect. She also does a follow-up post on what her path actually looks like for those interested.
A is for Authenticity
But really, paths are diverse. In this case, a Gardenarian points out that the “Wiccan Rede” isn’t universal, and has a go at some of the weird and irritating ways folks prop themselves up as “authentic.” (I’m looking at you, Magic Grandma.)
A is for Ancestors, Before Us They Came
What do we do when our ancestors turn out to have been terrible people? The only thing we can do: be better, and maybe try to remediate some of the harm.
Allergies, ableism, and non-nature centered paths
In my own practice, and working with a local ADF Grove, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about these kinds of concerns, and how to do hospitality well for folks who do have health or mobility challenges. We’ve had a lot of successes, a couple of truly frustrating failures, and a lot of learning experiences. In the end, trying to create friendly spaces takes time and effort, and I don’t know if perfect accommodation is always possible. It’s worth it to try, though.
Weeks 3 & 4 – B
B is for Bathing
Bathing was kind of a thing in Ireland.
B is for Brother Fire
Another group of traditions I don’t interact with often enough are the Christian witchcraft traditions and Christopagan traditions. While this is a post specifically about the use of fire, it’s such a marvelous example of how this thing works.
That Baffled Look – Your Paganism Is Showing
I don’t think this flavor of confusion and awkward is limited to conservative areas, though I suppose it’ll be more likely. But yes. These moments? They are a thing.
When we talk about Pagan religions, a lot of us talk about immanent divinity and a connection to nature and natural rhythms. While certainly there are a great many things that affect the planet as a whole, much of our own experiences and relationships within a natural context are local.
As with anything, it helps to show up.
Weeks 5 & 6 – C
Creation Myths, and Why I Don’t Believe in a Specific One
Many traditions have creation myths, but not every Pagan subscribes to one. And, honestly, that’s probably pretty okay. After all, belief and practice don’t have to emerge from a story about how things are made.
C IS FOR A COFFEE CUP FOR HEIMDALL
Sometimes, it’s the simplest practices that are the best. The idea of sharing coffee with a favorite deity, thinking about the right vessel for that offering, etc. made me smile.
Communicating with Deity
I think it’s very tempting to lump this kind of communication in with excessive “woo” or to be skeptical. Actually, I think it’s probably very okay to do that, especially. I also think that this kind of experience can be more than valid, and that part of the work is cultivating discernment about it.
I’ve been thinking about open-system divination tools (e.g. augury, haruspicy, etc.) and had entirely forgotten about ceromancy as an option until I saw this post.
Are we that Clueless about Disability?
Another incredibly strong post about disability, inclusion, and intersectionality. Our communities are getting better at this, but we still don’t think about it as often as we should.
Changing the Directions
More good thoughts in the vein of localizing one’s practice. In this case, a practitioner who uses elemental directions makes changes based on bioregional differences, and then notices positive changes in the work.
C is for Cros Bríde
Newspaper Brigid’s Crosses! Such a great idea, and surprisingly attractive if done well. Nice!
I related to this post a lot. As someone who lost patience long ago with deliberate inaccuracy, I pressure myself a lot to be precise in a lot of areas. It’s easy, though, to let that impulse box me in. Granting myself permission to be wrong sometimes was the best thing I ever did.
COMMENTARY ON THE CHARGE OF THE GODDESS
This is literally the most amazing thing I have ever read on this point. It’s long, but so incredibly worthwhile (and I say this as someone for whom the text in question is irrelevant).
Weeks 7 & 8 – D
On Disney and Callanish Stones
Wonderfully fun little post about the stones in Brave and their real-world counterparts.
D is for Debt, Shamanism, & Issues in Reciprocity
A post on the concept of right relationship with spiritual entities, and the way agreements we (and our forebears) might affect a person’s well-being in the here and now. Outside of my tradition, but a lot of this jives with my experiences with the work I’m doing in general.
D is for Disillusionment
This is the post for all of those moments I have wanted to bury my face in my hands, or shout at somebody that I doubt their commitment to Sparkle Motion, or wonder why things are just so damn difficult no matter how many offerings and prayers I put out.
Discover your local Wheel of the Year
If you’re sensing a theme here — that I’m loving this blogger’s stuff about localizing practice — you’re entirely right.
Weeks 9 & 10 – E
EARLY LEARNING – SHOULD KIDS STUDY RUNES?
I love this idea — teaching a child the alphabet of her tradition, learning to take omens at offerings, steps toward learning language, etc. — and think this is definitely a Pagan parenting done right moment. Cockles = warmed.
Eclecticism, or: “Actually, I use red brick dust.”
The Southern Hemisphere contingent is absolutely nailing it this year. I have lots of mixed feelings about eclecticism — “eclectic” is something of a slur in recon circles — but this post made me think about exchange v. appropriation v. inspiration, and that’s really fertile ground for me a lot of the time.
There is a lot of crap in the world in the whole abundance/prosperity gospel/law of attraction vein. While I’m not going to tell someone that thinking Good ThoughtsTM won’t improve their life, the concept gets used in some truly gross and brainless ways.