Monday, 20 March 2017

Leaping Hare 2017

Saturday 25th March is the annual Leaping Hare pagan convention in Colchester. We have an excellent series of speakers and workshops over the day, as described below. I will be joining with Clan Ogma to tell the story of the Hound of Ulster (part of an ongoing series of canine-related events this year, as a thanksgiving for the recovery of one of my dogs from potentially serious illness).
More details of the conference can be found on the website.



Saturday 25th March, 10am – 5pm

Tickets - £6.50 (advance), £8 (on door)
Stall pitches – contact terrysmith449ce@gmail.com

Join us for a day of talks, workshops, storytelling and more.
Speaker and workshops (subject to change) include:

Keziah Osborne ~ Sacred Feminine Cycles
Jonathan Wethers ~ Everyday Cabala
Sergeant Andrew Pardy ~ Pagan Policing
Robert Lummis ~ The Lakota Eagle
Storytelling with Clan Ogma ~ The Hound of Ulster

Plus workshops on drumming (bring own drum if possible), connecting to the Egyptian deities, and tablet weaving (wool supplied0.

Tickets can be purchased at moots or ordered via infoleaping.hare@gmail.com or calling Philippa on 07564288238.

Friday, 10 March 2017

Book Review

I've been meaning to post a review of this book for some while, as it is one of the recommended reading texts on the Classical Polytheism module of the Religious Studies degree that I run. Brendan Myers' "The Earth, the Gods and the Soul" is an excellent resource in the study of both early pagan thought and its more modern expressions. The author summarises the key beliefs of a wide range of philosophers who either were pagan (such as Pythagoras) or whose writings have had a strong influence upon the development of pagan philosophies (such as Rousseau and Graves).
Myers' precis of the central beliefs is both accurate and succinct, and he ties the assorted ideas together to build an overarching set of arguments around the necessity for institutional structure to help in the building (or rather rebuilding) of a cohesive philosophy of the world, weaving together such strands as animism and Neo-Platonism.
The author also addresses such issues as the enchantment of the world, a concept explored in some depth by other authors such as Morris Berman. One of the reasons this book is recommended to my students is that Myers covers such a wide array of thinkers in easy, accessible language and shows how the schools of thought interacted with one another to show the development of insights about the world. The writer's passion and intelligence shine through and make this one of the better pagan books on the market, not least because it deals with central issues that define the core of paganism rather than simply rehashing trite information about sabbats, spells, and circle casting.
If there's an area for recommendation (or possibly a follow-up book) it is the potential to include modern thinkers within Kemeticism, Heathenry, Religio Romana, and other culturally embedded forms of modern polytheism.
Thoroughly recommended to anyone interested in pagan thought, whether from an academic point of view or out of deepening personal convictions.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Happy Lupercalia

Today is the festival of Lupercalia, time of the wolf gods, when Ancient Romans engaged in ceremonies so old and mysterious that even they were unsure what half of it was about. Two priestly bodies, made up of wealthy young men, gathered in a cave - the Lupercal - to take part in secretive rites that involved the sacrifice of a puppy and a goat. The latter was skinned; the meat probably eaten, whilst the hide was cut into strips. The nearly naked priests ran round the Seven Hills, beating the bounds. Young married women wanting to become pregnant would line the streets hoping to get get thwacked with a goatskin thing (which would have been very soft, and probably still dripping blood and gobbets of fat!)
Lupercalia is still celebrated by some modern pagans, though in much more sedate ways these days. For some it is a way of honouring the She Wolf Lupa, foster mother of the abandoned twins, and the Roman Way in general. For others the focus is on wolves themselves as an endangered species, with Romulus and Remus as an afterthought.


Monday, 30 January 2017

National Storytelling Week

As it is now National Storytelling Week, I have asked friends to suggest themes for stories so I can record a few tales for the week. Carol gave the idea of snakes, so this is a short story rather loosely based on a Mohawk account of how snakes came into the world. Unusually for me, this is quite a brief account.
There are quite a lot of stories from around the world that see either humans as being sired by one or other animal species, or vice versa. It's a curious way of inter-relating different species and perhaps explaining such things as totemic emblems within tribal culture, and something I may reflect on at more length when my brain is working. 
A nice morning was followed by a stressful afternoon, so I'm using this as "narrative therapy" to cheer myself up!


Saturday, 28 January 2017

Gung Hey Fat Choy

Today is the beginning of the Year of the Rooster on the Chinese calendar - so best wishes to all those Chinese people celebrating it. This is my sign in the zodiac, so an auspicious year for me. To mark this, I've recorded my take on a story about the creation of the Zodiac by the August Jade Emperor - with particular attention to the role of the chicken. The mythological tales of this ancient culture are fascinating, and I'll be learning some more in the coming months.


Saturday, 14 January 2017

Fermac

One of our dogs is having a health crisis, the severity of which we will not know till we hear more from the vet. As such dogs have been much on my mind, and the significant role they play in ancient and some more modern religions. Our relationship to dogs has been a tremendously significant one in human evolution, and their role as hunters and helpers may have given many communities the edge they needed to survive in time of hardship and scarcity.
Some of the folklore around dogs is ghoulish, like the Japanese stories of the Inu-gami, whilst other tales are far more joyful. This Irish story is really little more than an anecdote about a magical dog, an aside in a larger story accounting for how the radiant god Lugh acquires his hound - in that version called Failinis. Another story, slightly different in context and taking place latter (by which time Lugh has either lost his dog or loaned it one), renames the dog Fermac. This is the version recorded here.


Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Telling Tales

This waffle was initially recorded for the Pagan Federation virtual moot. The theme was self-care (not my forte) and the only thing I could think of for it was this reflection on the recreational and re-creative nature of storytelling.