King penguins, photo by Liam Quinn
The need for a form of nature-worship I could relate to. A strong interest in social justice and inclusivity. My best friend’s gay cat. All of these things played a heavy part my interest in queer, gender non-conforming, and non-binary forms of nature. I had originally intended to include this as a small section of my article “God, Goddess, and Other: Fertility faiths and queer identities,” but I quickly realized it would take much, much more space than that to do the topic justice.
And the topic definitely deserves a lot of education and research. (In fact, the more I’ve done, the more I feel I need to do!) Humans, I think, have a tendency to assume that other creatures are like themselves unless they prove otherwise. The study of many of the animals I will discuss has been filled with misunderstanding and inaccurate information, partly from a lack of technology for many years (the ability to study DNA has exponentially increased our understanding in just the past few years, which I am very grateful for) and partly due to restrictive ideas of what “male” and “female” entail, and a lack of recognition for sexes outside that binary. This article seeks to remedy that, honour these life forms for their differences instead of glossing them over and help others find ways to incorporate them into their practice.
Before I go on…
I’d like to give a small disclaimer: This article is by no means exhaustive, and though I’ve tried to include as many perspectives as I could, I’m almost certain that there’s something I’ve missed. Also, keep in mind that some parts of this article are written from the perspective of lesbian sexuality and non-binary gender, because that is where my personal experience lies. If you think I’ve missed something important, or if your gender and sexuality give you a completely different perspective, I would love to hear about it! Continue reading
Planets for Pagans: Sacred Sites, Ancient Lore, and Magical Stargazing, by Renna Shesso
Weiser Books, 9781578635733, 261 pp. (incl. bibliography and index), 2014
One of my strongest childhood memories is of a night in Mahopac, in upstate New York, lying on a chaise lounge on a family friend’s deck, mesmerized by a sky filled with stars! Where did they come from? To a city kid who saw a mostly dark sky every night, who was enamoured of astronomy at the time, the brightness and number of stars was incredible. This was proof that they really were there for me, too, and not only for some astronomer sitting behind a telescope in a desert or on a mountaintop.
One of the first things Renna Shesso writes – in fact, insists on – is going outside and looking at the sky, even if all you can see are a few of the brightest stars and planets. There is no substitute for direct witnessing, she tells us, and she’s so right. She explains how to identify the constellations and the space between their constituent stars using our hands – no fancy instruments required. This is the way our ancestors did it – who saw quite a bit more in the night sky than we do — and it still works. Continue reading
Whether designed to recognize a winter holiday, created as a gift or used as a reflective hobby, wreaths can take on many themes and incorporate a variety of materials such as fruits, twigs, leaves, paper, fabric or wire. They need only to hold to the shape of a ring, and sometimes loosely at best.
Tarot-themed wreaths are a craft that can enrich those who love to create, those who may be daunted by the system of traditionally 78 cards and archetypes known as tarot, or those who may wish to deepen their relationship with the cards. Continue reading
Feeling down? How ’bout a big hug?
In the tarot, the Death card means many things to many people. Barbara Moore has noticed a shift in her understanding of the card.
Names and seals of the Olympic spirits.
Jason Miller offers great advice on practicing magick without stuff. Continue reading
The Journey into Spirit: A Pagan’s Perspective on Death, Dying and Bereavement, by Kristoffer Hughes
Llewellyn Publications, 978-0-7387-4075-1, 312 pp., 2014
What a gift this book is. From the lyrical quality of Kristoffer Hughes’ writing, not often present in nonfiction, to the sensitive and thoughtful wisdom he imparts, The Journey into Spirit gives the reader a compassionate space to rethink beliefs about death.
Hughes is both a Druid priest and a professional pathology technologist who has worked in British morgues for the past quarter-century, and a funeral celebrant and a teacher of death customs and philosophy. He tells us how as a young child watching his first mortuary scene on TV he knew he was destined for a life entwined with death. Although the adults around him at that time were scared and taken aback by his interest, he felt no fear, only a deep respect for the physical process of death and curiosity about the ensuing spiritual transition. This is the perspective he’s carried throughout his life, and from which he has written this book.
He frames his views within the three Celtic realms of existence — the realm of necessity, the realm of spirit and the realm of infinity – and discusses his philosophical conclusions and certain Celtic teachings pertinent to each realm. Continue reading