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Showing posts from June, 2014

Beauty and the Beast

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Many readers will doubtless have one or more works by Marion Zimmer Bradley on their shelves. Whilst she became a Christian in the latter years of her life, she had a tremendous impact on the emerging pagan community of the English-speaking world – most especially through her Avalon stories. Bradley has now joined the ranks of those tarnished celebrities whose unsavoury sexual tastes have been exposed during the last couple of years. Her ex-husband and fellow author, Walter Breen, had himself been arrested for child molestation in the early 1990s and died in prison. Recent claims by Bradley’s daughter, Moira Greyland, have declared that not only was the late author aware of what her husband got up to but, to some extent, participated with him. How accurate such claims are it is hard to assess, however many pagans on the Net are declaring that they will clear their shelves of her books, feel unable to ever read them again, and so forth. Without dwelling on the specifics of this case, the…

Untold Tales

A lifelong Doctor Who fan, I was saddened by the death of actress Elisabeth Sladen in 2011. For those not in the know, she was one of the most popular female companions to have appeared on the show, accompanying Jon Pertwee and later Tom Baker ~ she even had her own short lived spin off show back in the day. When the series was revived, she returned to make a guest appearance alongside David Tennant before being given a successful spin-off on children’s TV. She led a gang of teenagers who defended the Earth from alien threats. The teenagers were an ethnically diverse bunch but, in reading about the actress the other day, I was surprised to find that they would have become even more divers, had not Ms Sladen’s untimely death lead to the cancellation of the show. The teenager who played her adopted son, Luke, was scheduled to come out as gay in a future episode. It was surprising to read that this would have made Luke the one of the first gay central characters in any BBC children’s sho…

Having a Ball

It's been a long day, and I'm feeling a trifle tired now ~ but happy and reflective. The Bibliomancer's Ball, whilst not as packed out as it could have been, was a quiet success. We paid for the hall and made just over £40 for the Ipswich Hospital CCU.
It was good to finally put a face to some people I have known via Facebook. Apparently Mercury is retrograde or something, and it certainly started out with computer chaos and what appeared to be a wiped memory stick with a lifetime of pagan talks, workshops etc. Thankfully we had our very own technomancer present, Will, who resurrected the dead after engaging in his arcane arts and conjured forth PowerPoint presentations from the UnderVoid. My electronic memories continue to dwell in my brain extension, though I shall be crating back-up copies for future reference.
Lorna Smithers gave a fascinating talk on the inspirational nature of landscape and its attendant folklore in inspiring poetry. Maybe there are poems about Ipswi…

What's it all about, Alfie?

The meaning of life is a topic that has taxed the greatest (and the least able) minds since the dawn of human existence. It was brought to mind again recently in a discussion with a friend who suggested that having a meaning to one’s life was vital to good mental health. Numerous psychologists, philosophers and scholars agree that both a sense of purpose, and the degree of spiritual reflection that precedes finding a purpose, are highly beneficial. It is better to have a sense of why you are here than to merely trudge from day to day in a largely pointless routine. In fact, many have argued that just having a purpose in itself is actually far more important than the exact nature of the purpose.
One of the key questions in the matter of meaning is the source of that meaning and what is actually more than a linguistic nicety ~ doe we discover the meaning of our lives, or create it? That is to say, is the meaning already determined (whether by a god, Wyrd, karma or anything else) and ther…

Sublime recapitualtion?

The malevolent old librarian Brother Jorges, in Umberto Eco's brilliant 'Name of the Rose' famously expresses his fear and resentment of inquiry and innovation, favouring instead the sublime recapitulation of established biblical truths.
Historically there are two main approaches to storytelling, which strike me as being heavily influenced by social class. The bards, skalds and so forth that used to entertain the royal and aristocratic courts were often known for memorising enormous poems or stories. This is not so much storytelling as it is recitation, a memorised script performed regardless of audience. Essentially hearing such a teller perform is no different from hearing an actor give a Shakespearian soliloquy... though often with less individualistic intonation and allusive inflection of the words. There are quite a few modern performers on the storytelling circuit who recite rather than tell. It normally involves an admirable feat of memory but, too frequently, erects…

The People of Peace

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Late yesterday I returned from a thoroughly lovely weekend in Glastonbury attending the 50th anniversary OBOD gathering. I'm not actually a member, but was encouraged to go by several friends who are, in order
to meet new people and broaden my social horizons. Which it most certainly did.
Not being terribly organised I left booking a B&B rather late and the town was swamped, so ended up in one of the villages. It was a nice place to stay, but slightly limited sociability in terms of relying on a friend to drive back there rather than staggering back after making merry.
Thankfully there was plenty going on during the day, and I found myself drawing inspiration from things that could be included in rituals back here in Ipswich ~ such as the rolling chants (though that would most likely need lots more people than we have to be really effective).
On Friday I attended an LGBT group, which was far better attended than I think anyone had expected, with some interesting and thoughtfu…

In old oaks

"The baby has known the dragon intimately ever since he had an imagination. What the fairy tale provides for him is a St George to kill the dragon." G. K. Chesterton
Professor Dawkins has been in the news yet again, this time suggesting that telling fairy tales to children might be pernicious and encourage them to believe in the sorts of things which he has made a lucrative second career out of loudly disapproving of. I find anyone who rides their hobby horse with such interminable vigour gets a trifle wearing after a while, but that aside I am quite convinced that he is wrong upon this matter. Admittedly I must declare my own deep rooted bias.
The world is a magical and wondrous place, and human society would be a great deal happier if we could all allow each other the freedom to experience that sense of awe in their own way (rather than railing because they too unscientific, or insufficiently Christian, or followers of the wrong brand of Islam etc.)
Aside from his constan…