erynn: Gaelic merman image (hazels)
The quote below is from the introduction of Of Demolition and Reconstruction: a Comparative Reading of Manx Cultural Revivals by Breesha Maddrell

From Macpherson's Ossian to the present, much of the discourse surrounding issues of the revival of popular culture, particularly that relating to 'traditional' music and dance, focuses on a need for authenticity (Harker 1985). Evidence is demanded in the form of ancient documents or the implied ancientness of the oral tradition. 'Fakelore' is to be exposed and the truth somehow accessed. An awareness of the fragility of Manx cultural survival means that the Isle of Man cannot hope to escape this debate. It is part of the tension between continuity and revival. By focusing so strongly on authenticity, however, commentators remove themselves from attitudes of acceptance and adaptation present in the community itself. Such a focus also brings with it a sense that development is unwelcome, that change is a sign of impurity. If a culture is a living one, however, there is an inherent tension between conservatism and innovation–a tension that offers creativity and dynamism whilst maintaining a sense of cohesion. Meanings tend to change over time, after all; values do not remain fixed indefinitely.

In many respects, commentators on the authenticity debate fall into the same patterns established by the nineteenth and twentieth century antiquarians and revivalists they seek to assess and deconstruct in that they imagine a mythical and 'true' beginning to the culture being studied. In doing so, however, they blinker their own vision to the equally valid creative contribution of individuals occupying more recent twists of the road.

The tensions in the CR community surrounding these issues are pretty much exactly reflected in what Dr. Maddrell describes here regarding the tensions of language and cultural reconstruction and revival in the Manx community. It is a discussion, or at times an argument, that arises at frequent intervals in our various online communities. In the middle of all this (as usual), I have always been an advocate of both approaches, of archaeology and aisling, history and vision. We need both, and cannot afford to shut either out. We need the historical understanding and background, but we also strive for a living set of traditions, ways that grow out of what is known of the past, fed by streams of influence and understanding of other, similar cultures and practices, and brought to fruition in ways that are appropriate for us here and now.
erynn: Gaelic merman image (Join the Illuminati!)
The wind was up today and the power got knocked out for maybe half an hour. It wasn't gone long, but it was slightly disconcerting. Given that my wireless is currently battery operated, this meant I could remain online even through the outage - not a thing I could do when I had a cable modem and a wireless router. It's the one advantage to the system I currently use.

I got first draft sample cover art for the Circle of Stones reprint today. The idea is okay, but the execution leaves rather a bit to be desired, as one might expect from a first draft. Comments were sent back and forth between myself, Taylor, and Storm, and we'll have Andy do another draft and see how that goes. I was kind of "yeah, it's okay. meh." It didn't grab me, but it didn't give me a visceral Oh Fuck No the way the first draft cover for the ogam book did, so I figure we're headed in the right direction.

I had fun at the Irish class today, wherein songs were sung and key phrases like "I don't understand" and "maybe" were practiced. ;)

After Irish class, [ profile] gra_is_stor and I went over to Caffe Vita for the queer Pagan meetup, where I caught up with folks I haven't seen in quite some time. Greg, Black Cat, Craigula, Jimbo, and Jay were all there. Also in attendance (though I didn't really get a chance to talk to her) was Nancy, whom I hadn't seen since around the time I was dating my third husband, so that's probably been nearly since dinosaurs roamed the earth. I introduced [ profile] gra_is_stor around to everyone I knew and we chatted and I squeed about Ireland and Europe and upcoming publications and all that.

Once the group started to break up, half a dozen of us went up the street to a little bar and snacks place, which was okay if a bit hipster for my tastes. We hung out and talked for probably another hour before I had to get on the road to get home to Everett.

In the past few days I'd been hearing about yet another eyerolling kerfuffle in the online CR community, where some folks are apparently claiming anyone who isn't Reading Books and Being A Scholar ZOMG isn't really practicing CR, which is patent bullshit as far as I'm concerned. The whole idea behind this was that eventually people wouldn't have to be scholars and build it all themselves. Eventually there would come a time when there would be rituals and communities and people could just come and participate and be a part of the CR movement, no matter what their level of "academic" involvement. I think that it was put pretty well on the Mo Thearmann blog, though she did say one thing that I would take at least slight issue with:

You can't attend a gathering and then shut CR off for the remainder of the year. Also, if you are CR on Monday, Ásatrú on Tuesday, Wiccan on Wednesday, Hellenic on Thursday ad nauseam, then you are not fully CR because you are setting aside the CR worldview to practice— or dabble, really— in others.

I'm someone who practices multiple traditions. My primary spiritual identity is as a fili within a CR tradition, but I am also a Shinto practitioner, a mystes and luperca in the Ekklesía Antínoou, and a number of other things that I don't mysteriously stop being when I am practicing a CR path. Nor do I suddenly stop being a member of the Shinto shrine or lose my affiliation with Antinous and his community when I am teaching or doing ritual within the CR community. I understand why "dabbling" would be problematic, but I also know that many people operating in a genuinely polytheist paradigm are capable of working within a number of traditions at the same time. How long does one have to practice something for it to no longer be "dabbling"? Whose criteria do we use? What determines how many spiritual practices a person can have and still legitimately be considered a member of the CR movement?

I've already been declared a heretic by some, I know. That said, I'm writing books and publishing essays and teaching at festivals, and people associate my name with the CR movement. I don't accept the idea that I might somehow not be legitimate because I also choose to worship other deities and practice other paths along with my primary practice. My life is broader, richer, and more complex than that. I take all of it seriously, even if I would never consider myself, for instance, an expert on Shinto. I don't have to be in order to be a shrine member and to go to the seasonal festivals.

Anyway, that's my rant for the evening. Let's not dismiss people just because we may not practice in the same way they do. Yes, there are boundaries. No, CR is not an exclusive path that people must practice while forsaking all others. No, you do not have to have a degree in Celtic Studies to practice a CR spirituality.

Thank you and good night.
erynn: Gaelic merman image (Breakin' Ur Geasa)
I was up way too late last night and the DoDC+3 woke me with a persistent nose to the face at about 11:30am, when I'd had maybe four hours of actual sleep. I pushed him off and managed to stay in bed for another hour or so, but had things to do today, so I ended up getting my butt out of bed and moving on.

Today was the CR schmooze's Burns Night party, and I was delighted to spend time with my friends, but I was definitely dragging. I actually went as far as lying down for a while as the rest of the group talked and waited for those who were going to be a little later. It helped some, but not really enough. We had dinner (haggis, neeps and tatties, salad, oat bannocks, chocolate, and - yay - Ardbeg) and hung out talking for a fair while before I was too tired to really handle staying in a crowd anymore. About 9pm I noted that I was about done in, so I headed north and gave Charles a ride home.

rantiness below the cut )

A query

Nov. 28th, 2011 12:48 am
erynn: Gaelic merman image (raven cawing)
I got an inquiry over on my FB page today from Chuck Hudson at Raven Radio about doing a podcast conversation about Asatru and CR, their similarities and differences. They've done some interviews with Troth folks before. I wanted to ask if anyone (I'm looking particularly at you, [ profile] nancyblue) knew about these folks and whether I should consider doing the talk with them. I'm always a little skittish about doing stuff that involves phones (or, in this case, Skype) where I can't be in the same room with the person or people I'm talking to. I do have some fairly problematic phone-phobia issues, which is why email and text messaging tend to be my go-to communication methods of choice.

If they're not connected with anyone unsavory, I might be willing to do the talk with them, provided I can cope with the phobia issues. I'm just at the thinking about it stage at the moment.

Beyond that, I've done some more writing on my fic today and signed up to do a short one for a holiday gift exchange in one of my fandom communities. The keyword here is "short," as the current one I'm working on is going to be fairly lengthy. I'm still poking at it in another window right now, and it's at about 23,000 words. Yeah, I tend to be windy, I do. It's for the good cause of cleaning out my brain so that serious nonfiction writing can be done later.

[ profile] lupabitch pinged me earlier today too and asked if I might consider doing a guest blog post for the Pagan Newswire Collective project No Unsacred Place. I'm giving that one some thought, as it wouldn't have to be a long piece, and I might be able to pop some photos into it as well. I can worry about that later, though.

I may be going to see the new Muppet movie on Thursday with [ profile] gra_is_stor, depending on how I'm feeling. Right at the moment, I'm rather headachy. I crawled out to the grocery store to get dog food today, but that and writing have been about it for activity. I still need to do laundry; I'm hoping I'll be up to it tomorrow. Along with throwing together a proposal for the Esoteric Book Conference.

Damn, I'm busy. I hadn't expected that.

Shut up, hips.
erynn: Gaelic merman image (get pagan sinfest)
So that post I mentioned last night about the use of juniper? You can find it here.
erynn: Gaelic merman image (shakespeare my latest work of genius)
Today was slightly more productive than I'd quite expected. My royalty check hit the bank, so I could get out and do a little grocery shopping and put some gas in Garuda. This also meant that I was able to order my copies of The Scribing Ibis.

I got notice from [ profile] lupabitch that the animism anthology Engaging the Spirit World is back from edits and is now in the layout process. She requested bios from everyone, with a projected publication date of sometime next year. My essay in this one is about animism in CR (of course). This particular anthology has been in process since, I think, about 2008, so it's nice to see it finally coming around toward publication. That was more or less stalled by [ profile] lupabitch's grad school process, so it's not really surprising. Anyway, I sent off a bio for her today.

I also finalized the Shinto shrine visit for [ profile] dmiley's visit next week. We'll be heading out there the morning of Wednesday the 31st. I'm really looking forward to his visit.

[ profile] gra_is_stor and I walked down to the lake in the late afternoon, after it had rained a bit. We picked up a couple more things at the store that I'd forgotten to get when we went shopping earlier before we got back home, as the Safeway isn't far from the park. Once we got back, we sat down with the Samhain ritual, broke down the night-long vigil into 13 segments (that night will be approximately 13 hours long from dusk to dawn) and slotted in times for particular things that we wanted to do, from ritual opening to music to storytelling to time for meditations and offerings. Now that we have the overall outline, we can fill in the rough-out with more specific materials, but that's something we can work on tomorrow. We've already progressed from last year's rather spare format into something that should help us keep our focus on our purpose throughout the night.

And this leads to the second PCon workshop proposal, which I sent in tonight. Cosette of Pagan Newswire Collective made a suggestion when I asked for further input, saying she'd like to see things on specifics of CR ritual. Yesterday's entry here had a rough idea for what I thought I might do, and here's the end result of the process:

Celtic Reconstructionist Rituals: A Look at the Nuts and Bolts

We will examine rituals used by the Seattle CR community as examples of ritual construction for vigils and shorter rites. With scripts in hand, we'll deconstruct these texts and the elements involved, and discuss how and why these rituals were created and how they evolved. These living examples can provide inspiration for creation of rituals for other local groups or individuals.

I'm looking at sitting down with a PowerPoint of two or three ritual scripts, photos of altars, and a bibliography of sources to workshop through how these rituals were created, what sources, music, and texts we used, and show people the actual specifics of doing this work with a group. Online discussions of CR rituals tend to go in the direction of "we're not like that" without necessarily providing examples of what we are like and what we actually do. With any luck, this should solve that problem, at least for the folks who attend and walk through the process with us.

The other thing I did today was toss together a preliminary outline for [ profile] nancyblue's new project. I'll be discussing issues of racism, homophobia, and anti-Semitism in reconstructionist traditions, with a specific focus on CR responses to this through a couple of examples. The primary discussion will center around that mess with Akins, his forgery, his connections with Stormfront, and his lunatic rants as he claimed to have a Real Ancient Druid Bible™ that he translated himself from German. He may be one lone loony, but reconstructionist spiritualities do have problems with this sort of thing, and it's good to point out that most of us just don't stand for the bullshit; we're willing to call it out, and to fight back when these people attempt to twist cultural spiritualities. The primary reason for the article will be to point out positive responses to the crap, and reinforce the idea that reconstructionist spiritualities are inclusive and can be for anyone called to them. I've got 1500 to 3000 words to work with and that shouldn't be terribly hard, considering how much can be said about this kind of mess. I'll be starting some work on that tomorrow as well.

All in all, a pretty useful day.
erynn: Gaelic merman image (all your books!)
I went through and finished up most of the copyediting end of Circle of Stones today. It doesn't mean everything is done -- a lot of formatting needs to be done, but I'm leaving most of that for the editor to deal with. Typesetting and graphic design isn't my department.

I've done a very tiny amount of editing on the text itself, mostly a couple of corrections of gramatical errors and such. I don't intend to rewrite the book. I am, however, going to have to redo the bibliography and footnotes with proper forms for cites and bibliographical information. That's going to be annoying with the footnotes. The bibliography isn't very long, though, so that won't be too much effort.

I added a section to the text for the Preface and am about a paragraph into that at the moment. I will admit that for about fifteen minutes today, I was severely tempted to pick up a fanfic challenge prompt and work on that, but I have this project to finish and I'd like to get an essay out for Mandragora on sacred poetry in some capacity before the October deadline. That'll take some thought to get a premise together. I also need to put together a proposal or two for PCon for next year, though that will be considerably less effort.

The call for papers I posted earlier today for the Journal of Bisexuality is so very annoyingly worded. I've been having a conversation with several folks in the comments there about the ways in which there is Great Wrongness in the Force where said cfp is concerned. If you have any interest, drop by and give it a poke. I'd love to hear your take on the points that we've raised.

Today on one of the email lists I'm on, someone was talking about why they are not a Celtic Reconstructionist. Fair enough, I've never thought anyone had to be. Unfortunately, this person's arguments were that all CRs are positing some kind of fictional historical pan-Celticism, that the movement is tied to the IRA, and that we're so hung up on linguistics that we don't bother with anything else (but that we, despite this apparent fetish with language, don't realize that P-Celtic and Q-Celtic are different language groups that are not necessarily mutually intelligible). Oh, and we ignore everything but Roman writings, apparently. I've had debatesarguments with this person in the past, and she's still just as annoying about it. We went back and forth a couple of times before she retired for the night. She's apparently looking at this as a pleasant debate. I'm looking at it as a misrepresentation of my spiritual community.

My primary annoyance is that she insists we're all like this, rather than allowing for the fact that, sure, some individuals might be doing one or more of the things on her list, but that we are not some monolithic religious group where everyone agrees. It's like saying all Heathens have political ties to Stormfront or something.

Tomorrow I'm heading over to Bj and SJ's place with [ profile] gra_is_stor, who met the two of them this past winter at a party. There will be food. There might be hot-tubbage. There is a high probability of Munchkin Cthulhu, or perhaps Monty Python Fluxx.
erynn: Gaelic merman image (all your books!)
My neighbor that I called the aid car for last week is home again, as I think I noted a day or two ago. This morning she came by (the front shades were open - the sib was up but had gone out grocery shopping so she thought I was awake) to say thank you. She saw that she'd woken me and apologized, then said to please come over to her place once I was up for real, so I went back to bed for a few more hours (I hadn't got to bed until 6am) and then went over to see her once I had won the battle with gravity. She had apparently remembered being here, and me and the sib, but couldn't be sure she hadn't hallucinated us along with the other stuff that was happening, so it wasn't until Sally next door had talked to her that she was sure that part was real.

Anyway, we talked for about an hour, and she said that if there was ever anything she could do for me that I should just ask. She also noted that she'd worked for Holland America for years and that if I ever wanted to go on a cruise somewhere, she could get me her former employee rate on tickets, so I may take her up on that. It would be considerably cheaper to go that way on a cruise up to Alaska than to buy a ticket on my own. I know I'd love to see the inside passage and maybe get up there to see my cousin Cindy and her daughter. We've not had a chance to see one another since I had moved from my apartment in West Seattle to the house there, and that was the weekend I was moving.

I got out to do a little shopping and got all the stuff I need to make the ladoos I'd wanted to, though I didn't have the wherewithal to actually make them today. I also got mussels and clams for steamers, though the sib was down in Seattle for the Italian meetup this evening, so I put them in a pot of salt water and stuck them in the fridge so we can have them tomorrow with some corn on the cob. I got a cheap bottle of white wine to cook them in -- not anything I'd actually drink, but this is only for cooking, so it's not a problem.

Today I catalogued another 125 books or so and my back is all creaky from it. It's a lot of bending and stretching and moving around. I really need to do some laundry tomorrow and make the ladoos as well, though I'll probably shelve most of the books out here on the floor again before I do that. These were mostly books from my bedroom that need to be got out of the way.

[ profile] alfrecht is here; he arrived around 11:30 after a faculty dinner for Columbia College. He met a few folks who might be able to help him out in different directions, including one guy who has some property, has worked with native peoples, and has an interest in Celtic traditions who might actually be able to give the local CR group a place to do some work on the whole reconstruction of insular and continental Celtic sweat practices. They didn't have an immensely long conversation but the guy definitely sounded interested in the idea, from what [ profile] alfrecht said when he got here.

He's got to do some stuff tomorrow out in Marysville in the morning but should be done by about 3-ish, so if I'm coherent enough to drive, I'll probably go up and get him. There will be food. Sunday is the steampunk tea over at Maizie's place in Bothell. That should be a lot of fun.

And now I must evacuate the living room so that [ profile] alfrecht can get some sleep.
erynn: Gaelic merman image (gull)
This afternoon I took [ profile] joyful_storm up to Anacortes on Fidalgo Island to visit with [ profile] alfrecht for his birthday. Her bus was slightly delayed, but we got out without too much trouble and, despite my missing my exit (I was too distracted with our conversation) we made pretty good time up to his house. On the way up, we talked about syncretism, polytheism, and personal practice, as well as the implications of how living in particular places affects one's practice.

We stayed there for a little bit, but I was feeling peckish, so we headed down to Penguin for a cuppa and to split a cookie, uncertain when Greek Islands would open for dinner. I called and they said they were open from 4pm. It was about quarter after at that point, so after we'd finished our tea, we went down the block to the restaurant. The food, as usual, was delicious, the company delightful, and we were all stuffed to the gills when we were done. The ever-generous [ profile] joyful_storm picked up the tab -- I had been planning to, but she insisted.

Not wanting to head back to his place just yet, we took a leisurely drive out to Washington Park, where we walked down to the beach for a bit, then up to the higher level where we walked along the cliffside. We saw a couple of eagles during the drive. Afterwards, we drove up Mount Erie. My hip was giving me too much trouble to walk with them by that point, so I waited in the car while he showed her around the place. She hadn't been up the mountain before, where I had been a number of times.

When they returned to the car, we headed back to his place, where we spent another hour or so talking about life, the universe, ritual, the Ekklesía, the local schmooze, our various PantheaCon experiences, and other Pagany stuff of interest. I suggested that, since both [ profile] alfrecht and I were going to be in Portland the first weekend of July, we might do a Mystification that had been requested but has been nearly impossible to schedule, while we are down there. He thought we might be able to swing that, but we'll have to look into it.

About 8-ish I was pretty well down to my last spoon, so we said our goodbyes and headed south. I drove [ profile] joyful_storm back home to Seattle, rather than stuffing her on the bus, and got back to Everett by about 10:30, tired but happy. We talked about our upcoming trip down to Eight Winds for midsummer, and about the potential of doing a small group camping trip for just a few of us from the schmooze to do some deeper trancework out in the woods and/or at the coast. It's something we'll have to start planning for now if we want to get it together for the end of August.

Tomorrow I have my meeting at Hugo House about the VA writing group. Tuesday is the writing group. This weekend is Folklife, and I may be meeting with a young Pagan poet from Vancouver who will be down for the weekend. We'll see what our schedules bring!
erynn: Gaelic merman image (get pagan sinfest)
Attention Polytheists

Wendi Wilkerson, a polytheistic Pagan with a Ph.D. in Folklore from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, is currently undertaking scholarly academic research on polytheism and faith. She is seeking interviews for thoughtful input about the nature of faith for a polytheist drawing on personal experiences. Dr. Wilkerson is specifically interested in discussing those moments that reified your faith and brought it home that this was all real, true, and right.

The point of this project is to increase awareness of, and respect for, polytheism as a faith tradition and as a religious practice, and to promote good-faith scholarly inquiry into contemporary polytheism as a legitimate religious tradition. Dr. Wilkerson also hopse to encourage polytheists who may otherwise not feel comfortable discussing their faith experiences to connect with each other and share their stories.

The interviews conducted for this project may be published. If you want to share your story but are uncomfortable having your real name associated with this project, you are free to use a pseudonym.

If you are interested in contributing to this project, please email Wendi Wilkerson at wendiwilkerson-AT-gmail-DOT-com.

Passed along from the ReconInterfaith email list.
erynn: Gaelic merman image (Default)
CONFERENCES: Worlds of Sacrifice-- Exploring the Past and Present of Gifts for the Gods

From <>
[Go there for many links including abstracts]

Worlds of Sacrifice: Exploring the Past and Present of Gifts for the Gods

16-17 April 2011
380 Millard Fillmore Academic Center Ellicott Complex
North Campus University at Buffalo, SUNY
Buffalo, NY 14261

Venue: Anthropology Department (380 MFAC), Ellicott Complex, North Campus
Registration in the Totem Pole Room (2nd Floor) and Presentations in Room 355 (3rd Floor)
*Please note that the Totem Pole Room is reachable via the stairwell, and not the elevator. [Erynn's note: So, the conference is not accessible? Doesn't this violate the ADA?]

Conference Organizer: Dr. Carrie Murray

Sacrifice is central for many societies—past and present—in cultural, religious, political, and economic terms. The parts, processes, and meanings transform over time and space. Sacrificial practices embody a contradiction of sorts, creating both loss and gain in real and metaphorical terms. Practicing sacrifice is a means of simultaneously with the supernatural and members of a society. The beliefs and performances relate powerfully within each cultural context. Important parameters of social hierarchy determine what is sacrificed, how it is enacted, and by whom it is performed. By investigating the dynamics of how sacrifice is conducted, and the changing views in scholarship related to sacrifice, we can attempt to better understand people of the past and present. The interdisciplinary nature of this conference will bring together scholars from anthropology, archaeology, classics, and religious studies, whose work encompasses the Mediterranean and Northwest Europe. Sacrifice as performance will be discussed by exploring the essential components involved in these practices through material culture, iconography, literary sources, and ethnographic observation. The diverse forms of evidence, cultural contexts, and approaches will allow participants to create new insights on the interpretation of sacrifice within social context.

Conference Schedule Outline
08:30-09:00 Registration
09:00-09:30 Welcome Presentations
09:30-10:00 Introduction—Carrie A. Murray

Session 1
10:00-10:30 1 Philips Stevens, Jr. (University at Buffalo, SUNY) The Anthropology of Sacrifice
10:30-11:00 2 Åsa Bergren (Lund University) A View from a Fen— A Critical Perspective on the Concept of Sacrifice in Archaeology

11:00-11:30 Break

11:30-12:00 3 Christoph Huth (Universität Freiburg) Gifts from the gods – A new look at some weapons and vessels from the metal ages

12:00-12:30 4 Samantha Hurn (University of Wales, Trinity Saint David) Post-domestic Sacrifice: Exploring the present and future of gifts for the gods

12:30-1:00 Discussant—Jan Bremmer (Internationales Kolleg Morphomata, Cologne)

1:00-2:00 Lunch

Session 2
2:00-2:30 1 Andrea Zeeb-Lanz (Generaldirektion Kulturelles Erbe Rheinland-Pfalz, Speyer) Human sacrifices as crisis management? The case of the early Neolithic site of Herxheim, Palatinate, Germany
2:30-3:00 2 Andrew Reynolds (University College London) Anglo-Saxon non-funerary weapon depositions: a consideration of purpose and meaning

3:00-3:30 Break

3:30-4:00 3 Enriquetta Pons Brun (Museu Catalunya, Girona, Spain) The Slaughtering of Dog as a Prestigious Animal in the Protohistoric Site of Mas Castellar de Pontós (Empordà – Spain)

4:00-4:30 4 Thomas G. Palaima (University of Texas, Austin) The Pervasiveness of Sacrifice in Protohistoric and Historic Greek Society and the Use of Sacrifice in Reinforcing Social Ideology

4:30-5:00 Discussant—Vance Watrous (University at Buffalo, SUNY)

7:00-10:00 Welcome Reception in the Totem Pole Room

9:30-10:00 5 Guinevere Granite (University at Buffalo, SUNY) Understanding the Burial Placement and Reason for Death of Northern European Bog Bodies

Session 3
10:00-10:30 1 Roger Woodard (University at Buffalo, SUNY) Sacrificing the Sign: The Alphabet as an Offering in Ancient Israel
10:30-11:00 2 Michael Gagarin (University of Texas, Austin) Ancient Greek Laws on Sacrifice

11:00-11:30 Break

11:30-12:00 3 S. Mark Heim (Andover Newton Theological School) In What Way Is Christ’s Death a Sacrifice? Theories of Sacrifice and Theologies of the Cross

12:00-12:30 Discussant— Barbara Kowalzig (New York University)

12:30-1:30 Lunch

Session 4
1:30-2:00 1 Mary-Ann Pouls Wegner (University of Toronto) Every Good and Pure Thing: Sacrifice in the Egyptian context
2:00-2:30 2 Jeffrey Schwarz (University of Pittsburgh) The mythology of Carthaginian child sacrifice: A physical anthropological perspective

2:30-3:00 3 Philip Kiernan (University at Buffalo, SUNY) Staging Roman Sacrifice

3:00-3:30 Break

3:30-4:00 4 Nancy de Grummond (Florida State University) Etruscan Human Sacrifice: The state of research

4:00-4:30 5 Tyler Jo Smith (University of Virginia) The Art of Ancient Greek Sacrifice: HIERA KALA Revisited

4:30-5:00 Discussant— Alan Shapiro (Johns Hopkins University)

5:15-5:45 General Discussion lead by the Discussants

Closing and Thanks

7:00-10:00 Conference Dinner at Anderson Gallery
erynn: Gaelic merman image (triskele plain)
I've been meaning to update this for a while, and I finally got around to it. My post is on Aisling, Ársaíocht, agus Agallamh: A Modern CR Triad. Drop by and have a peek.
erynn: Gaelic merman image (Liberty & Justice OTP)
Gender and Transgender: A Statement of Solidarity
March, 2011

I stand with my trans friends in their demand for equality and full acceptance in ritual and in our communities. They will never be turned away from my work.

My primary spiritual practice is a Celtic Reconstructionist (CR) path. Many of the founders of our movement are queer, and some are transgendered individuals. As such, we have generally been open and accepting of the diversity of the human condition. I do not speak here for the CR movement as a whole. No one does. I speak only for myself and for my own actions and rituals.

Recent events have highlighted ongoing tensions about gender, identity, and participation in ritual within our Pagan communities. Some traditions restrict participation to people of certain genders, while in other traditions only some rituals or roles are gender-restricted. A problem arises when one person attempts to define another person's gender without their consent; this is particularly problematic for transgendered individuals, who have historically been excluded from rituals and, often, from all facets of community life due to various issues including prejudices against them within our communities, and the denial of their gender by those who do not understand or refuse to accept the complexities of medical and biological reality.

CR rituals are not usually restricted to particular genders, but are based more on the celebration of community and the seasons, honoring our deities, and communing with the denizens of the Otherworlds. Some rituals are predicated on identities such as "warrior," "adult," or "poet," which are bound by action and affinity, not by gender.

I will not participate in ritual that excludes transgendered people because they are transgendered. No class I teach, no group I organize, no ritual I officiate will ever exclude transgendered people because they are transgendered. My work strives for inclusiveness and is generally completely unrelated to gender expression or concepts of gender "polarity" as popularly understood in many parts of our Pagan communities.

In my Brigidine work within the CR community, I am a founding member of Brigid's Irregulars, a community of flamekeepers and other Brigid devotees. While flamekeeping within the Catholic Brigidine tradition – we do not know the pre-Christian context – was historically a woman's ritual, in keeping with CR's stated emphasis on equality, the Irregulars are open to anyone who has been called by Brigid to keep her flame, regardless of gender. Gender-restriction may be traditional, but the CR movement has never been afraid to reject those traditions that we consider harmful or unnecessarily restrictive; rejecting slavery, human sacrifice, and trial by ordeal or combat are not questioned so I see no reason to question the rejection of any traditions that support and perpetuate prejudice and inequality. We look to the past for our inspiration, but we are building our communities and traditions for the future and, for me, that future includes equality of treatment and of access.

I invite you to join me in solidarity as we all create that inclusive future.
erynn: Gaelic merman image (Northwest forest)
Today was a pretty good one. I got out to Seattle today, my brother with me. We went down to have some lunch at Travelers (there is a pretty solid rumor afoot that they're about to acquire a First Hill space for a restaurant) and I needed to meet with [ profile] anthea7 to catch up with last month's CR schmooze business meeting.

It was a gloriously sunny day today, and just warm enough to be pleasant. I'd been worried it would be a bit too cool, as the weather lately has still been early-spring chilly or downright cold. It's 39f at the moment outside, and overcast, though I did get a chance to see the full moon when I took the DoDC+3 outside.

After grabbing some food, we walked up to Elliott Bay and had some tea in the cafe while Jim browsed around the shelves. We didn't want to take up a needed table at Travelers when they were serving lunch. There was quite a bit of stuff that needed going over from the meeting I missed while I was at PCon last month, from how we're dealing with rituals to what we're doing with the focused discussion group. I'm going to have to spend time tomorrow pawing through my library for articles or chapters that deal with the topics for the April and May schmoozes, and then we're also going to have to deal at the Wednesday meeting with what we'll be doing for Beltaine, as well as addressing issues brought up at the last meeting. I think, personally, that it was a fairly fruitful discussion.

After we got done with that, I hauled [ profile] anthea7 over to Alki, where she's house-sitting for the nonce. Traffic was pretty awful getting out there, so after we dropped her off, we went up to the West Seattle Junction and grabbed a ginger beer at Easy Street Records & Cafe to wait the traffic out a bit. We headed out of there about 6:30, and the traffic was pretty good up until we got to Lynnwood, where we had some backup that was probably due to an accident near my exit here in Everett.

With the discussion that's been going on here in my LJ and over on [ profile] cadmus's post I linked to yesterday regarding Fritz and his deluded definition of Paganism as being entirely Wiccan or Wiccan-derived, I've been doing a lot of thinking -- yet again -- about the struggle we've had in the reconstructionist Pagan communities surrounding dialogue with the larger Pagan community (and whether we should even consider ourselves Pagan, since they are so determined to define us out of existence), about the issues that came out of PantheaCon regarding Wiccan assumptions that their vocabulary serves as a Pagan lingua franca, and the absurd assumption that no non-Wiccan Pagans are actually doing anything.

I look around me at the blogs and journals of my friends and the email lists we participate in and see a rich tapestry of communities of devotional work, scholarship, mysticism, and ritual, from the daily tending of personal altars to intensely focused incubational work. I see books being published filled with devotional materials ranging from poetry to academic-level studies of deities in ancient cultures and modern reconstructionist cultus. I see conversations that challenge and enrich us on so many levels, bringing us to evaluate and refine the work we're doing toward the creation, maintenance, and expansion of traditions, the rediscovery of lost knowledge, and the sharing of enthusiasm and love for our deities.

This is not "nothing." This is also not a generic, Wiccan-derived parroting of circle castings and invocations of "the Lady and the Lord." We are polytheists. We are animists. We are ritualists. We are philosophers. We are exploring the world from our own perspectives that have nothing to do with Wicca. Many from my generation may have come out of Wicca, but that's just the thing -- we came out of it. We are no longer in that place. The younger generations are finding cultural reconstructionist traditions without ever having gone through Wicca at all.

We are building modern Pagan cultures, responding to the world at large, communicating amongst ourselves, and doing perfectly well outside of the "mainstream" of Wiccan-derived Paganism. It's sad that so many Wiccans can't see that, or even conceive of it, but that's not our problem. It's not so much that we think there's anything wrong with Wicca, it's just not what we do. Certainly nobody who finds it a fulfilling path should feel they have to go off and do something else just because other people aren't into it. As [ profile] joyful_storm said a couple of weeks ago elsewhere, a lot of us are perfectly happy to go to large events like PantheaCon and hang out with other reconstructionist Pagans, not bothering with the "community" rituals that don't speak our languages or address our spiritual concerns. Perhaps those Wiccans should lift their eyes and look beyond the horizon of their circles every now and then, instead of insisting there's nothing out here. They might be surprised by what they find.
erynn: Gaelic merman image (It's raining)
I woke still quite tired this morning and ended up getting caught up in a twitter chat about writing until about 1:30 this afternoon, so I didn't make it out to Seattle for the play, but that was okay, because I actually really enjoyed talking with the other writers about why we write and how we do it.

I've been having some problems with TweetDeck, though, with the program freezing randomly, for the past several days. It was suggested that I uninstall and reinstall, which I did, and that seems to have helped. I'm hoping it won't freeze again; I had to restart at least seven times today, which I find immensely annoying. I started having Safari crashes in the past few weeks as well, and switched over to Chrome for my browser; I haven't had a crash since. I have no idea what's been going on with my computer. It's not acting like it's contracted a virus, at least as far as I can tell.

I was asked this week if Hex Magazine could reprint several of my online articles. I made a few inquiries to make sure they were on the proper side of the Force and was satisfied with the responses I got, so I sent them an email allowing them to do so. They'll be sending me copies of the issues my articles appear in. I think they wanted two or three of them, so that's a total of at least five things I've got coming out in print this year without ever having written something new in 2011 as yet. This never quite ceases to amaze me.

The weather warmed up appreciably today. Instead of snow, we had drizzle all day. I found that vastly preferable to yesterday's events.

The other thing I did today was watch a documentary series from the mid-70s called "Altars of the World," which was a misnomer. It was a summary of a number of world religions; it covered several more than I would have expected for a 70s documentary. Needless to say, the largest amount of time was dedicated to Christianity, but it did spend considerable time on Buddhism and also included a few surprising things, like Zoroastrianism, Shinto, and Jainism, given their relatively small populations globally. There were the inevitable monotheistic/monist biases but, again, it was made in the 70s by an obviously at least nominally Christian culture. There was an earnest male narrator, no indigenous or Native religions were addressed at all except to call them "idolatry" (of course), and Pagans who happened to be in the areas eventually conquered or assimilated by the various religions discussed were generally referred to as unenlightened savages. It was an interesting series, but ultimately unsatisfying for a variety of reasons.

I would genuinely love to see an examination of world religions from a non-monotheist point of view, either as an in-depth book or as a documentary series. I know it's unlikely, but it really is deeply needed to counter so many of the assumptions we see in the overculture of the west. It would be refreshing and encouraging to see this dealt with from a polytheist and animist viewpoint, as what we do and what we believe are grounded in an entirely different perception of reality. We don't all believe that there is a singular underlying spiritual reality, or that everything is all just part of the same god called by different names, and it would be nice to see that acknowledged now and then. I don't mean this at all in any special snowflake way, but simply as an alternative to the monist Borg collective that dominates spiritual discourse in much of the world, particularly in the west.

I think Michael York made a stab at it, though I will admit I didn't think it was a particularly successful one from my perspective, given that he generally tried to shoehorn all Pagan spiritualities into the same basic model in his Pagan Theology: Paganism as a World Religion, which I reviewed here a few years back. My criticisms were primarily as a reconstructionist not working within the model he described for Neopaganism, but I think they fit into this discourse as well. I'm a little too tired to dive into it at the moment, but I'll just conclude by saying there's an immense amount of work to be done, and it really would be a new and valuable perspective for most people to look at.
erynn: Gaelic merman image (dress Gordon tartan)
Quite a few people asked me for a copy of the resources sheet I handed out at my Living a CR Path talk at PantheaCon this year. Here it is: )

Holy shit!

Feb. 19th, 2011 11:59 pm
erynn: Gaelic merman image (kermitflail!)
I got delightfully accosted today by some of the women from the Sisterhood of Avalon - they asked me if I wanted to lead some pilgrimages to sacred sites in Ireland or the British Isles. They'd pay my way and such and I would teach classes on different things. They talked about doing incubation rituals, or divination work, all kinds of things. Up to this point they've been primarily serving a women-only consituency but they're interested in opening things up to teachers from other traditions, and to a wider audience.

I'm very enthusiastic about the idea but have to think about this and talk to them about everything from where to when to what.

My Living a Celtic Reconstructionist Path talk went very well. The room was pretty much full, and it seemed to get a good reception. There was some good dialogue and there were some excellent questions. We talked about localizing, about daily life issues, about values and virtues and what it means to reconstruct and to create culture in our time. Lots of fun and I sold all the books I brought with me. One guy came up to me afterwards and thanked me for the Samhain festival that we did back in the early 90s; he's down in California now and talked to me about having me come down to talk at their grove. I told him if they'd float my transportation, food, and shelter, I'd be happy to come down to see them.

The Pagan Newswire Collective meet and greet was really exciting. We had some great discussion between folks in the PNC and some of the community's elders. Selena Fox, Margot Adler, Macha NightMare, and Andras and Deirdre Corben-Arthen attended, as well as Glenn, who runs the con. Generally, the atmosphere was very supportive and excited. Some questions and challenges were brought up -- journalistic ethics, issues of privacy, models of journalism, and developing localized reporting and editorializing within our communities. Selena was asking to talk to me about Pagan military issues at some point. I gave her my contact info, but I'll try emailing her after I get home and see what she's wanting to ask about.

I've been having a fabulous time this year, and having a little more time to talk to people has been great. I've got a ritual tomorrow night and then a panel Monday morning and I'm done with my official duties. I'm up in the ADF hospitality suite after having had dinner with [ profile] finnchuill, [ profile] alfrecht, [ profile] mythworker and a number of folks who came by at intervals, including [ profile] ogam. We talked about all kinds of things, from the PNC to historical inaccuracies in TV shows about the ancient world. *chortle*

[ profile] finnchuill's workshop on The Poet's Truth was well-presented and filled with good material. We talked about historical poetical traditions, incubatory work, and modern poets and poetry. We also did some writing of poetry as the final exercise; that was a lot of fun and got some really great stuff.

And now, tired Erynn is tired. I'm really looking forward to the next couple of days. [ profile] lwood and [ profile] dpaxson are off at seidh right now and I don't expect them back for quite a while yet. I may be able to catch a little bit of a snooze in order to be about and lively for tomorrow.
erynn: Gaelic merman image (Judeo-Christian father cult?)
A friend on the Neos Alexandria list who lives in New Zealand got this from his girlfriend's church, translated from Chinese:

"Addressing NeoPagan Racism in Modern Society."

All are welcome to attend Pastor Krishnaswamy talk on the rise of NeoPagan driven racism in society. The modern NeoPagans are oftentime portrayed as an all embracing forward looking cluster of religions that embraces liberal ideals. Pastor Krishnaswamy will debunk this myth by discussing on the rise of a series of religious movements within the NeoPagan umbrella that promotes racism and the splitting of the common human culture and values.

The talk will be divided into two sessions.

The first session will discuss thoroughly the movement known as Reconstructionist religions. Pastor Krishnaswamy will expose the root of these religions which are founded in nationalism and racism. Pastor Krishnaswamy will show how these religions opposes to cultural and ethnic harmony and unity. Pastor Krishnaswamy will detail in depth one of the religion in this movement known as Asatru and its White Supremacist underlay. The Pastor will then briefly touch on the other the other nationalist and racist religions like the Maris in Russia, the Slavics in Poland and the Old Worshipers in Greece.

Tea and coffee will be served between sesssions.

The second session will discuss how to counter these religions of hate, racism and nationalism with messages of love and tolerance. Pastor Krishnaswamy will discuss how to spread the humanist message of Christ to these religions which fundamentally opposes cultural diversity and unity.

Yes, some Reconstructionists are racists. So are a hell of a lot of Christians. I want to see them cleaning their own nest before they molest the rest of us, but this is so typical. I don't know the name of the church there, and I know that Dominionists are making inroads in Australian and New Zealand churches these days, as they are attempting to elsewhere. The fact is, your average Reconstructionist Pagan is not a racist and is, in fact, trying to stomp the fuck out of the racist contingent when it does rear its ugly head.
erynn: Gaelic merman image (eternalphoenix dreaming owl)
[ profile] kallistos has a poll up about the potential for starting a Reconstructionist-focused journal, probably online but possibly in print. There's been a good bit of discussion about what it would be like and what the content might include. I think it's about time the Reconstructionists had a good place to submit articles and essays about Reconstructionist religions, with high standards and the articles reviewed by folks who actually have a clue. I know that many Reconstructionist faiths aren't large enough at this point to field something by themselves, but an interfaith resource would pool all of those potential writers and researchers and together we could contribute to a journal that would be of use to all of us.

If you have any interest in the project, please drop by and participate in the poll about whether or not you'd be interested in reading or contributing to such a journal. I'm betting there's a lot of interest in a project like this.


erynn: Gaelic merman image (Default)

September 2013



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