Rooted in the Body, Seeking the Soul: Magic Practitioners Living with Disabilities, Addictions, and Illness, edited by Tara Miller
Immanion Press, 978-1-905713-91-2, 222 pp. (incl. introduction and bibliography), 2013
Tara Miller has compiled stories and interviews about Pagan spiritual practices and how these practices help practitioners cope with disability, chronic pain, illness, addiction and compulsive behaviour. The compilation begins with an interview with Dr. Kimberly Hendrick about her ground-breaking Pagan Health Survey that highlights the main issues within the health system and its intersection with a Pagan lifestyle. The survey sheds light on to the immense overlapping of the LBGTQ community (40%), the idea of Pagans viewing their health care more holistically (mind, body, spirit) and systematically rather than symptom by symptom, and the stigma of seeking out mental health services and having spiritual practices considered a mental health diagnosis. From the findings of the Health Survey, it seems Pagans have a model of self-empowerment in religious practices as well as health care. Continue reading
As popular Wiccan opinion goes, the number one coven killer in existence is a dreadful little thing called divorce. We’ve all heard the stories; the High Priest’s and High Priestess’ relationship devolves, the marriage unravels, the trust is shattered and people inevitably pick sides. Much can be said about divorce and its effects on a coven and on an entire line by Gardnerians in the USA. But this article isn’t about the number one coven killer in America. This article is about another way that covens end; this article is about life. Continue reading
All Acts of Love and Pleasure: Inclusive Wicca, by Yvonne Aburrow
Avalonia Books, 9781905297733, 276 pp., 2014
After writing “God, Goddess, and Other,” I felt skeptical that Wicca could be inclusive to the extent that I wanted it to be, and besides, I hadn’t identified as Wiccan for several years, so who was I to keep writing about it? In the end, I decided that my curiosity outweighed my skepticism, and went for it anyway. I had personal reasons as well. (Who doesn’t?) I miss certain aspects of Wiccan ritual, and am coming to the end of my resources as a solitary practitioner; I’m hoping to find enough common ground with the mainstream Pagan community to be able to join a coven or a grove. So, with these ideas and desires in mind, I began to read. Continue reading
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