The Nerdy Pagan

Because A Ven Diagram for "Pagan" and "Nerd" would form an eclipse.

Posts tagged pagan

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How To Train your Dragon & Gendered Pagan Theology

Just got back from seeing How to Train Your Dragon 2 (which BTW, was AMAZING!!!) and the movie left me with some interesting thoughts.

Hiccup spends a lot of this movie trying to figure out who he is and how he relates to Viking society. He sees himself as peace maker and his approach to solving the impending invasion by an evil, self-proclaimed “Dragon Master” is to attempt negotiation. His father, Stoic, on the other hand wants to strengthen the defenses of their home village Burk. It’s a bit of a repeat of the same father/son conflict in the first movie when Hiccup wants to make peace with the dragons and his father wants to fight.

So what does this have to with the modern day gender role/gender transgression discussion in the larger Heathen and larger Pagan communities?

The role of peacemaker in Germanic and Scandinavian culture was often played by women. This is seen a lot in the epic Beowulf where Wealtheow is often described as peacemaker. In fact, the old English term freodu-webbe meant both woman and peacemaker. Hiccup’s mother, Velka (her being alive is only a spoiler if you missed every single trailer for this movie) also describes herself as a peacemaker.

Throughout the movie, Hiccup tends to identify more with his mother than his father. It’s often said that he takes after her. And he describes himself, at the end of the movie, as a peacemaker.

In the end, Hiccup solves the crisis like he always does—his own way. With a combination of compassion, brains, courage and his signature deadpan humor. He finds  a balance between the strength of his father, the compassion of his mother, and his own instincts.

Now I’m not one to stick strictly to the binary of “feminine principle” and “masculine principle.” However, I feel like this film plays out a part of the dialogue the Pagan community has been having on the subject of “male” and “female” virtues over the decades. On the one hand, the division of ideologies between Hiccup’s parents (Stoic’s warrior approach in the first film and Velka as peacemaker in the second) could seem to imply that there is a divide along gender lines. From the perspective of Feminist Theology one might say that this shows men are inherently war-like and women are inherently peaceable and compassionate. A conservative Heathen view might interpret this as males and females serving equally important but different roles in their tribe. The more mainstream view might argue that these principals and abilities can be found within each individual and like Hiccup we must heed the wisdom of both.

So lets stir up some discussion. If you’ve seen the movies, how do you feel like the traditionally gendered (or stereotyped) roles of warrior and peacemaker are shown or subverted. Obviously Dreamworks did not set out to make any sort of Lore-acurate movie, but how does it mesh with your view of the roles of men and women in Viking culture?

Does Hiccup subvert those roles?

What do the fruits of the “masculine” and “feminine” principals or gender identities mean to you?

If you are a Heathen, how do you interpret the idea of Sedir and gender transgression in Lore and practice? How do Hiccup’s reactions compare to your ideals of leadership and heroics?

If you want to read more about the role of women as peacemakers in Beowulf, check out this essay:

Filed under How To Train your Dragon Pagan Heathen feminist theology wicca

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One of the More Unexpected but Interesting Depictions of Voodoo in Pop Culture.

Lately I’ve been watching ther1980s series Beauty and the Beast staring Linda Hamilton and Ron Perlman. The show is decidedly sappy, but it fills a void for Urban Fantasy in my life that will be there until Netflix gets season 3 of Lost Girl.  It’s best described as Law and Order meets Gargoyles and follows assistant DA Catherine Chandler and Vincent, a man with the features of a lion who lives in a colony of orphans and misfits beneath the Manhattan sewers.  Together, they solve crime, protect the innocent and save each others’ butts from kidnapping at least once per episode.  I’m about to start episode 9 and so far the show has gotten off to a slow start, but there have been some gems.

Episode 8 of Season 1 was one of those.  It focused on a murder committed by a man accused of being a Voodoo sorcerer.  Cathrine’s boss thinks that this is an open and closed case, until the accused man dies after spending days in a trance.  Police and news media in the real world could take a note from Catherine who keeps digging.  She goes to scholars of Voodoo and also people in the Haitian community who know the accused to get a better picture of the Voodoo religion and finds a lot to suggest that while he was a practitioner of the religion, his using it to murder another individual is unlikely.

Now the real kicker (spoiler alert) is when the perpetrators are revealed to be the white professor Catherine turned to for help and his also white assistant.  Suddenly, the villians are not superstitious forigners but white academics who have appropriated Voodoo for their own means and who have their own cult which summons Baka, a vengeful Lwa to take out those who threaten them.  Baka’s appearance (in the show) is half man/half lion and there is some obvious resemblance to Vincent.  The professor is content to frame other practitioners of Voodoo, all of whom are people of color, for his own actions.  He relies on the very stereotypes the media promotes for his own cover.

I wish i knew enough about Voodoo to comment on the accuracy of it’s portrayal of the episode. They talk about ritual possession by the Lwa, and the belief that the mind and psyche control the physical body. If someone more familiar with Voodoo practices wanted to write a followup post on that subject, I would read the heck out of that.  Beauty and the Beast is on Netflix.  The episode in question is episode 8 of Season 1: Dark Spirit.

Filed under voodoo pagan paganism beauty and the beast

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Untitled: Networking, Networking! A call to Pagans in Cape Cod, MA

Having realized that most of the networking sites for Pagans on the Cape are geocities sites that have not been updated since the late 90s, I’ve decided to put together my own.  If you’re on the Cape, know about local Witchy/Metaphisical bushiness, pagan workshops, events, covens, temples and groups, are planning on visiting the area, or are just curious about the goings on in that giant Hippie colony that is everything south of the Sagamore Bridge, feel free to check it out and contribute!

Eventually, I hope to organize a few meet ups, Sabbat and other holiday events and maybe even a pride event.

Filed under pagan wiccan massachusetts paganism wicca religion

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If you are practicing wicca/paganism:


Send me a message. Tell me what the best books I should read, what are the best ways to go about learning more. Teach me please!

With a post like this, you are going to get 10 billion diferent answers answers from 10 billion different people.  My best advice for reading is “Drawing Down the Moon” by Margot Adler.  It is an overview of the entire Neopagan movement, and covers everything from Wicca to Reconstructionist religions. You’ll get a broad view, and get an idea about what groups, religions and philosophies interest you.

Not all Wiccans are Pagan, and you are going to find that there is a huge difference even between traditions that fall under the same banner. There are lots of different types of Wicca.  Learn about different Wiccan and Pagan traditions from different sources.

Be careful when you ask for a teacher.  Not everyone who wants to teach is worthy of your attention, and not every teacher is honest. Get to know people before you are willing to learn from them.  I made this mistake when I first started out, and I was given bad information by some teachers, and taken advantage of by another, who convinced me to work for a business owned by the head of my tradition for little and at times, no pay.  When you are first starting out, it is easy to put people on a pedestal.  It is easy to be awed by people who have more experience than you, by clergy who make a living out of appearing wise and powerful but do little to deserve their titles.  Trust your gut and remember that everyone is human in the end.

Also be cautious when someone charges for teaching, or to participate in religious services.  Asking for donations is one thing, and some people will charge for classes and workshops, but be wary of people who require you to pay in order to enter the priesthood, or to achieve the next “degree” or who say that you can not become a student of their religion without buying a certain book or paying dues. And in my opinion, you should never be required to pay to participate in a ritual or religious service.

You will find a lot of books that say you need to own this and that to have a proper altar or do proper spells.  These things are merely tools and your access to them should not limit your ability to practice.  If you want these tools, many of them can be made out of household objects or things found in nature.  Others can be found in thrift stores.  There is no need to drop $50 on a chalice or to purchase a wand from a store. And you don’t need to have these things to start practicing.  None of them are essential to building a relationship with the gods.

Let me know if you have any questions.

Filed under pagan

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Tiny! +Gods: khalheyokha: starlyclimler: faerylizzy: khalheyokha: There’s always...





There’s always going to be a huge circle of self-proclaimed Wiccans patting each other on the back saying, “It’s okay. You don’t really have to be initiated. Wicca can be anything you want it to be.”

And that infuriates…

Can I just say (while I do not actually know the trads of the posters who responded) that the people who participate in and put out these rants are almost never members of Initiatory Wiccan trads. So many of them are begun by the statement “I am not Wiccan but…” I would like to hear what someone who is actually actually practices Initiatory Wicca has to say on the subject.

Also, might I put forward the idea that Wicca, like every other religion out their is in a state of flux and that perhaps we have simply seen a schism within the religion when it comes to initiatory vs. self initiated as opposed to something new entirely?  I mean take any single religion, weather it be Christianity, Hinduism, or Hellenic Recons—there will be different sects with different practices and different schools of thought and different practices.  Gardenarian Wicca is not Faery Wicca, which in turn is not Cunningham’s Wicca, but all fall under that banner term.  Just as Mormonism is not Catholicism which in turn are not Baptist Christianity, but all are Christian.  Just like Zen Buddhism is not Tibetan Buddhism, but both are Buddhism.  Wicca is increasingly becoming more of a banner term rather than a name for just one specific set of practices.  This is the history of religion the world around.  When people get hold of an idea, they in turn add their own ideas, and new sects are formed.  Whether Gardner wanted it to or not, Wicca is becoming a world religion, and is going to change as people in new circumstances interact with it.

(via an-other-people-deactivated2013)

Filed under pagan wicca

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I Will Not Sacrifice My Altar

I got homesick again tonight, for the first time in months since I moved.  It’s not so much wanting to be home as wanting to have the choice to go home.  Or wanting the choice to be easier.

It’s nearly 3PM and I am sitting in front of my altar.  It’s beautiful, simple, a jumble of items adhering to no tradition in particular, and most of it came from thrift stores.  There is a brass pig for the God of the Harvest and the slaughter, to remind me that the Horned God does not die once at Mabon, but each time we partake of life sustaining sustenance, each time we harvest a tomato from our garden, each time we partake of meat, we are participating in the ritual sacrifice of the sacred king.  It reminds me to take nothing for granted.

I have a ceramic jug painted to look like wood with grapes and vines.  It stands there as a chalice of sorts, a sacred womb.  I have stones and shells and flowers, and items that have all sorts of significance if only to me.  But it is the sum of it’s parts that maters most to me, the fact that my altar stands in it’s own place, and no one questions my right to have it.

Going home would mean an end to that.  One week before I moved, I had left some items clustered on a bureau.  One of them happened to be a chalice.  That day, my mother asked me if I had again set up an altar to false gods in her house.  It was a breaking point for me—not the breaking point, but one of many chips knocked out of me with a well intentioned hammer. I was not surprised that that she had a problem with the idea of an altar (that was an old argument), but that we had one week left to spend together and she chose that time to make an issue of it.  When she knew that I was leaving because I felt hurt and alienated.

Don’t get me wrong, there were a lot of positive reasons for the move.  I now live in one of the most beautiful places in the world with the person I love most.  But now that the tourist season has well and truly ended an the work dried up, I’d love to have the option to search for a job on the North Shore, even temporarily.  I would love to go home, reclaim my old room, throw my books back on my shelves, and curl up under my own blankets.  Even big girls get homesick!

But first thing I did when I moved into my new home was claim a small corner of the room for myself and the gods.  It felt so good to be able to roll out an altar cloth, set up my tools, to have a tiny but permanent place of worship.  No one pries here, no one is made uncomfortable by it.  It can be as elaborate or as simple as I want it to be (so long as it first on my little night stand).  I can have my little carved bone skull for the Yaga, and no one gets freaked out.  I can leave my offerings of beans and lentils without anyone asking “Are they Virgin Beans?”  I am not ridiculed.  I am not lectured.

And that was enough to pull me out of my sulk.  Earlier, I was wondering what you get as a Pagan, when you suffer for your faith, when you have to give things up.  5 years ago, I believed in heavenly rewards, that you die and the big guy in the sky says “well done my child,” and lets you into a heaven that is hopefully filled with Philadelphia Cream Cheese cakes.

As a Pagan, and as a practitioner of Witchcraft, I have actions, and the consequences of those actions, and yes there is a karmic element to that. But mostly, I think, those consequences are in the hear and now.  So what do I get for all of my stubbornness?  What do I get for making choices that have dramatically altered my relationship with my family?

Pride.  I have done what I was afraid to do for so long.  I moved out, and moved on with my life.  I have truly entered into a new phase.  I have embraced adulthood. And in the process, I refused to compromise my beliefs.  Looking at my altar, I feel such pride.  I know that I sacrificed a lot to get to where I am, but that, I refused to give up.  I have my faith in the gods, I have my dignity, and the knowledge that I can stand on my own two feet.  For all I have given up to get to where I am, I was able to regain that.

Filed under pagan wicca altar wiccan

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Natural does NOT equal Hypoallergenic!!!!

The eczema question: Try to avoid everything you put on your skin that contains chemicals - cream, soap - everything, go natural if you can. Shea butter helps a bit, and I made my own cream by mixing shea butter, cocoa butter and argan oil together. I can also recommend a salve that contains colloidal silver - it really helps for me but can be very expensive. Try to avoiding using hydrocortizone as much as you can, it’s not good for you skin. I have atopic eczema myself :c

I think everybody is different, because hydrocortizone is one of the only things that works when I’m having a flare.  

Any further eczema advice should be directed to united-paths-project, who originally asked the question.

Okay, as someone with severe contact allergies, this is the sort of response that really upsets me.  If something is natural, that does not mean it is hypoallergenic.  When dermatologists test for the causes of eczema, which is one symptom of contact allergies, they test for things like beeswax, cocoa butter, chamomile and other natural ingredients just as they test for artificial ones.  In fact, people with rag weed allergies may be sensitive to natural fragrances because the body can not distinguish between their pollen and that of ragweed.   Almond oil is perfectly natural but that will not help if the person’s dermatitis is caused by an allergy to nuts.  We talk about super foods and oils like soy, but The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America estimates soy is among the nine most common food allergens for pediatric and adult food allergy patients.  Lanolin is a natural oil from sheep’s wool, but guess what, it is also a potential allergen.

The problem is that terms like “natural” and “chemical” as they are used in the food and cosmetic industries are really misleading.  When you slice into an onion and it burns your eyes, that is the result of chemicals that occur naturally.  By eliminating artificial ingredients like preservatives, you really are only protecting yourself from a few potential allergens. 

The best thing to do is to go to a dermatologist and an allergist and get tested.  Why both?  They will be testing you for different types of allergies.  A dermatologist will check you for contact allergies, things you may not be eating or inhaling but may be found in the clothing you wear and products you use.  These include natural fragrances, which is why I want to scream every time someone suggests that a person with sensitivities use organic incense or essential oils.    Some dermatologists can then input the results into a data base and give you a list of products that are safe to use.  The allergist will test you for food allergies and environmental allergies (like pollen or pet dander).  Then you can eliminate any potential irritants.

Why does this drive me so nuts (or would if I didn’t have to avoid them)?  Because I am a person with a lot of allergies who took the “natural product” advice and ended up looking like a flaming snake woman.  However, when I figured out exactly what I was allergic to, I was able to find products that met my specific needs.  Some are all natural like olive oil soap.  Some are not.  Pure petroleum jelly works very well as a  moisturizer and is safe for facial use.  But the point is that I got a medical diagnosis rather than relying on words intended for marketing campaigns like “natural” and “chemical”.

Filed under allergies eczema pagan incense hypoallergenic