Category : Wicca / paganism

(OUP Blog) Archaic and postmodern, today’s pagans challenge ideas about ‘religion’

Several people chuckled when they walked past Room 513B during the 2009 annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion, held in Montréal. The title of the session within was simply “Idolatry,” held by the AAR’s Contemporary Pagan Studies Group, papers such as “Materiality and Spirituality Aren’t Opposites (Necessarily): Paganism and Objects” were presented.

The nervous laughter at the session’s title shows that even among scholars of religion, topics of polytheism and idolatry seem quaint, antique, and even trivial. Do people still even take them seriously?

Indeed, they do. Pagan religions, both newly envisioned and reconstructed on ancient patterns, are growing throughout the world. In addition, followers of these newer Paganisms, such as Wicca, Druidry, and reconstructed Germanic, Baltic, Slavic, Greek, and other traditions, have begun to reach out to people attempting to maintain other indigenous or tribal traditions.

In the English-speaking world, the best-known new Pagan religion is Wicca, which is one form of Pagan witchcraft. Arguably rooted in Romantic ideas — appreciation of nature, an idealization of the “folk soul” and the countryside, a great appreciation of feminine principles — it was created around 1950 by a retired civil servant and spiritual seeker named Gerald Gardner (1884–1964). Gardner did not seek a mass movement but more of a “mystery cult” in the classical sense — small groups of initiates who would meet according to the lunar calendar to worship a goddess symbolized by the Moon and a god symbolized by (among other things) a stag or goat or the Sun, and to perform magic.

Wicca, as the British historian Ronald Hutton has noted, is the “the only religion that England has given the world.”

Read it all from 2016.

Posted in History, Religion & Culture, Wicca / paganism

(NYT Op-Ed) Ross Douthat–The Return of Paganism: is there actually a genuinely post-Christian future for America?

…lately I’ve become interested in books and arguments that suggest that there actually is, or might be, a genuinely post-Christian future for America — and that the term “paganism” might be reasonably revived to describe the new American religion, currently struggling to be born.

A fascinating version of this argument is put forward by Steven D. Smith, a law professor at the University of San Diego, in his new book, “Pagans and Christians in the City: Culture Wars From the Tiber to the Potomac.” Smith argues that much of what we understand as the march of secularism is something of an illusion, and that behind the scenes what’s actually happening in the modern culture war is the return of a pagan religious conception, which was half-buried (though never fully so) by the rise of Christianity.

What is that conception? Simply this: that divinity is fundamentally inside the world rather than outside it, that God or the gods or Being are ultimately part of nature rather than an external creator, and that meaning and morality and metaphysical experience are to be sought in a fuller communion with the immanent world rather than a leap toward the transcendent.

This paganism is not materialist or atheistic; it allows for belief in spiritual and supernatural realities. It even accepts the possibility of an afterlife. But it is deliberately agnostic about final things, what awaits beyond the shores of this world, and it is skeptical of the idea that there exists some ascetic, world-denying moral standard to which we should aspire. Instead, it sees the purpose of religion and spirituality as more therapeutic, a means of seeking harmony with nature and happiness in the everyday — while unlike atheism, it insists that this everyday is divinely endowed and shaped, meaningful and not random, a place where we can truly hope to be at home.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Religion & Culture, Wicca / paganism

(CL) Witchcraft Casts an Ever-Widening Spell on Millennials

If you’ve noticed an increase in references to witches and mysticism lately, that’s not just because Halloween is approaching. Surveys, social media sites and product branding indicate an increase in people who practice or are interested in witchcraft. Trend-spotters say millennials—especially young women—are drawn to Wicca, astrology and new-age spirituality.

About 1 to 1.5 million Americans label themselves Wiccan or pagan, according to a 2014 report by the Pew Research Center. That’s more than the membership of some mainstream Christian denominations in the United States.

The rise in witchcraft is likely more than a trend, according to Carolyn Elliott, founder of Witch magazine. “We are in the midst of a beautiful, occult, witch renaissance,” she says. Her comment appears to be in line with the ever-increasing reach of the occult into the general population. In a series of three surveys conducted from 1990 to 2008, Trinity College watched Wicca rise from 8,000 practitioners to 340,000 over the course of those years. Now, as Pew reported in 2014, that number has risen to as many as 1.5 million.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Religion & Culture, Wicca / paganism, Young Adults

(MW) Why millennials are ditching religion for witchcraft and astrology

When Coco Layne, a Brooklyn-based producer, meets someone new these days, the first question that comes up in conversation isn’t “Where do you live?” or “What do you do?” but “What’s your sign?”

“So many millennials read their horoscopes every day and believe them,” Layne, who is involved in a number of nonreligious spiritual practices, said. “It is a good reference point to identify and place people in the world.”

Interest in spirituality has been booming in recent years while interest in religion plummets, especially among millennials. The majority of Americans now believe it is not necessary to believe in God to have good morals, a study from Pew Research Center released Wednesday found. The percentage of people between the ages of 18 and 29 who “never doubt existence of God” fell from 81% in 2007 to 67% in 2012.

Meanwhile, more than half of young adults in the U.S. believe astrology is a science. compared to less than 8% of the Chinese public. The psychic services industry — which includes astrology, aura reading, mediumship, tarot-card reading and palmistry, among other metaphysical services — grew 2% between 2011 and 2016. It is now worth $2 billion annually, according to industry analysis firm IBIS World.

Read it all.

Posted in Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Wicca / paganism, Young Adults

(Telegraph) Pagans write Archbp Welby+demand return of church buildings ‘stolen’ 1,300 years ago

A group of pagans has written to the Archbishop of Canterbury demanding two churches to make amends for those it says were stolen 1,300 years ago.

The Odinist Fellowship, which represents 1,000 members of the pagan religion, wrote to the Church of England last month asking for two churches to be returned to make up for actions which took place during the Christianisation of England.

The letter, addressed directly to Archbishop Welby, said: “With a view to re-establishing better relations between the Odinist Fellowship and the Christian churches in England, and persuaded that a restitution of past wrongs is the best way to lay the foundations of improved relations, we wish you to be aware that the great majority of Odinists believe that honour requires the English church to issue a public apology for its former crimes against the Odinists.”

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Wicca / paganism

[Freemasonry Today] Freemasons take care of iconic Canterbury Cathedral

..There had been connections, but the relationship hadn’t been re-established for some time.’

It was 10 years ago, when Roger was asked to find out if Freemasons could attend a Cathedral Evensong service, that this all changed. ”˜I made an approach, met someone from the Cathedral Trust, which was about to launch an appeal for restoration work funding, and our relationship started again. It was really just us asking what Freemasons could do to help.’

The relationship has since blossomed…

Read it all

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Other Faiths, Wicca / paganism

[Cranmer] Freemasons at Canterbury Cathedral: the hidden Masonic ritual in the Order of Service

Since we know (courtesy of the West Kent Masons) that:

The Service has been prepared in conjunction with the Dean of Canterbury Cathedral, the Very Reverend Dr Robert Willis, who has kindly agreed to deliver the Sermon on this occasion. We shall be joined by several of the High Rulers in the Craft and the Holy Royal Arch Chapter together with Brethren from the Provinces of East Kent, West Kent, Surrey and Sussex.

…..
here’s the interesting thing..

The scriptures chosen have greater significance (and a very different meaning) to Freemasons than they do to (other) Christians. Indeed, they are used at the highest degree of Masonic initiation in their rituals of exaltation.
…..
There’s nothing wrong with morality and good fellowship: these are virtuous Christian pursuits. But we might well ask the Dean of Canterbury Cathedral why so much of this Order of Service is steeped in covert references to Masonic ritual, with twisted scriptural interpretations known only (now not quite) to the initiated? Why the secret syncretism?

Read it all

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Other Faiths, Wicca / paganism

[EWTN UK] Freemason service at England's Mother Church on same day as consecration to Our Lady

Justin Welby, the Church of England’s Archbishop of Canterbury, is allowing a full Masonic service to be conducted in Canterbury cathedral on the same day that Cardinal Nichols reconsecrates England and Wales to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Westminster cathedral on the18th February 2017.

Canterbury cathedral was the Mother-Church of All England from 597 till the death of the last Catholic Archbishop, Cardinal Pole, in 1558. It was the heart of the Catholic Church in England and one of the major shrines of Christendom because it housed the shrine of St Thomas a Becket.
….
Justin Welby’s and Canterbury Cathedrals decision to allow a Masonic service is controversial among certain groups of Anglicans in light of the 1987 summary of the deliberations by the General Synod of the Church of England, Freemasonry and Christianity: Are they compatible?:

It was “clear that some Christians have found the impact of Masonic rituals disturbing and a few perceive them as positively evil.” Some believed that Masonic rituals were “blasphemous” because God’s name “must not be taken in vain, nor can it be replaced by an amalgam of the names of pagan deities.” It noted that Christians had withdrawn from Masonic lodges “precisely because they perceive their membership of it as being in conflict with their Christian witness and belief. The Synod’s primary theological objection centred upon Freemasonry’s use of the word “Jahbulon,” which is the name used for the Supreme Being in Masonic rituals, and is an amalgamation of Semitic, Hebrew and Egyptian titles for God.”

….
In view of this history of masonic anti-Catholicism, is it more than an unhappy coincidence that a major Masonic service is being conducted in the ancient mother Church of the Catholic faith in these lands on the very same day that England is reconsecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in honour of Our Lady of Fatima? Even if it is coincidence, it is a conjunction of events that is profoundly significant and meaningful.

Read it all

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Other Faiths, Wicca / paganism

[AU 269] – Murdering the Cathedral

With Gavin Ashenden

With thanks to Kevin Kallsen at Anglican TV

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Other Faiths, Wicca / paganism

Anglican Diocese of Sydney General Synod Resolution 25/03 – Freemasonry

Synod, noting the 1988 Report to Synod entitled “Freemasonry Examined” and subsequent resolution 9/88 of that Synod –
(a) affirms that Freemasonry and Christianity are fundamentally and irreconcilably incompatible, and
(b) affirms that Freemasonry teaches and upholds a system of false religious and spiritual beliefs that are contrary to biblical Christianity.
Synod encourages ministers and other Christians to take every opportunity to reach out in love to all Freemasons and share with them the gospel of Christ.
Synod encourages all Christians who are members of a Masonic Lodge to demonstrate their commitment to Jesus Christ as the divine Son of God and as the sole way of salvation, by withdrawing from the Lodge.
Synod encourages ministers not to participate in, nor allow in their church buildings, any religious services or activities that uphold, condone, promote or encourage adherence to Freemasonry.
Synod requests the Councils of all Anglican Schools to consider any association that their school may have with any Masonic Lodge, and to withdraw from any such association. Synod further requests that Anglican Schools neither participate in any activity that may uphold, condone, promote or encourage adherence to Freemasonry, nor give publicity to any such activity, nor allow the name of the school to be used in association with any such activity.
Synod requests Standing Committee to undertake the preparation, production and distribution of a clear and unambiguous booklet suitable for wide distribution, examining the key rites, teachings and beliefs of Freemasonry and explaining why they differ from Biblical Christianity, and explaining why it is wrong for a Christian to belong to the Lodge.

From Here

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Other Faiths, Wicca / paganism

Canterbury Cathedral To Host Service For Freemasons After Receiving £300,000 Donation

The service next Saturday lunch time will last more than three hours during which the Cathedral is expected to be full of Freemasons.
……

…A spokesperson for the Archbishop of Canterbury declined to comment and referred queries to the Cathedral.

Read it all

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Other Faiths, Wicca / paganism

New Bishops visit Canterbury Cathedral to be taught how to be bishops

Nearly 30 new Anglican Bishops from around the world are spending today in London, visiting Lambeth Palace and the Anglican Communion Office, as part of a course at Canterbury Cathedral, to teach them the ropes of being a Bishop.
…..
Bishop Mary Irwin Gibson from Canada is one of those taking part: “It’s been really good to meet Bishops from around the Communion. It’s allowing me to stand back and look at things in more depth. What I’m hearing is that our Communion must grow and we need to find a way to belong together; we don’t have to agree on everything apart from the principles of our faith in Jesus Christ. I do feel more part the Communion after having been to Bishops’ school!”

Read it all

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Other Faiths, Wicca / paganism

(Oregonian via CBS) Portland OKs "After School Satan" for elementary kids

The Portland chapter of The Satanic Temple has succeeded in its efforts to bring an after-school program called “After School Satan” to a Portland elementary school.

The Oregonian/OregonLive reports the organization has been approved to begin a program on Oct. 19 at Sacramento Elementary School.

Finn Rezz, one of the group’s leaders, says their program focuses “on science and rational thinking,” and it will promote “benevolence and empathy for everybody.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Children, Education, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Wicca / paganism

The Year Christmas Died–New York’s 5th Avenue is a celebration of pretty much nothing””or worse

Forget public Nativity scenes, as court fiat commanded us to do years ago. On Fifth Avenue this year you can’t even find dear old Santa Claus. Or his elves. Christmas past has become Christmas gone.

The scenes inside Saks Fifth Avenue’s many windows aren’t easy to describe. Saks calls it “The Winter Palace.” I would call it Prelude to an Orgy done in vampire white and amphetamine blue.

A luxuriating woman lies on a table, her legs in the air. Saks’ executives, who bear responsibility for this travesty, did have the good taste to confine to a side street the display of a passed-out man on his back (at least he’s wearing a tux), spilling his martini, beneath a moose head dripping with pearls. Adeste Gomorrah.

But you haven’t seen the anti-Christmas yet. It’s up at 59th Street in the “holiday” windows of Bergdorf Goodman. In place of anything Christmas, Bergdorf offers “The Frosty Taj Mahal,” a palm-reading fortune teller””and King Neptune, the pagan Roman god, seated with his concubine. (One Saks window features the Roman Colosseum, the historic site of Christian annihilation.)

Read it all from daniel henninger of the WSJ.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Christmas, Christology, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Secularism, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues, Wicca / paganism

(Christian Today) Ruth Gledhill on who shared the podium this week w/ women religious leaders

A leading witch and herbalist shared a Church of England platform last night with other women religious leaders including the Presiding Bishop of the US Episcopal Church and Gogglebox tv vicar Rev Kate Bottley.

Helene Mobius, who heads the prison chaplain ministry of the Pagan Federation, challenged stereotypes of women at the event, the latest in the Westminster Faith Debates series at London’s liberal flagship church, St James’s Piccadilly.

The Pagan Federation and the Druid Network have recently become fully-fledged members of Britain’s religious establishment, having been voted into the Inter Faith Network UK as a body representative of its community.

Read it all.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Episcopal Church (TEC), Ministry of the Ordained, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry, Presiding Bishop, Religion & Culture, Wicca / paganism

(Guardian) Iceland to build first temple to Norse gods since Viking age

Icelanders will soon be able to publicly worship at a shrine to Thor, Odin and Frigg with construction starting this month on the island’s first major temple to the Norse gods since the Viking age.

Worship of the gods in Scandinavia gave way to Christianity around 1,000 years ago but a modern version of Norse paganism has been gaining popularity in Iceland.

“I don’t believe anyone believes in a one-eyed man who is riding about on a horse with eight feet,” said Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson, high priest of Ásatrúarfélagið, an association that promotes faith in the Norse gods.

We see the stories as poetic metaphors and a manifestation of the forces of nature and human psychology.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Europe, History, Iceland, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Wicca / paganism

(RNS) Pagans wonder ”˜witch’ way for the next generation as New Age trend ages

Second-generation pagans ”” those whose parents were converts to pagan spirituality ”” are a lot like their peers in other faiths. They often do spirituality their own way. Or not at all.

“Born-to-it pagans just are who we are,” said Angela Roberts Reeder, 43, whose parents were involved in ceremonial magic when she was young.

This week, Reeder said she might continue the tradition by joining a public celebration for the first harvest festival of Lughnasa, also called Lammas, at a Washington, D.C., temple.

“Today, it’s so much easier to be openly pagan than 20 or 30 years ago” when converts often faced strong disapproval by family and society when they came out of the “broom closet,” so to speak, Reeder said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Children, History, Marriage & Family, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Wicca / paganism

(Huff Post) A Modern Witch Explains How Her Beliefs Affect Her Children

Tova, a self-identified witch who uses her first name only and created the website The Way Of The Witch, spoke with joined HuffPost Live’s Ricky Camilleri for a discussion about witch hunts in the 21st century. During the conversation, she shared what life is like for herself and her children in Utah.

“I live in a pretty small community outside Salt Lake City, and we have some pretty tight-held belief systems here. Although [witches] are not really just out there trying to be different, certainly people know that we live in a different way, they know that we practice things they don’t understand, and I think it promotes fear,” Tova said.

During her kids’ earlier years, the family faced social challenges because of Tova’s beliefs, she said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Children, Marriage & Family, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Wicca / paganism

(Comment is Free) Giles Fraser–In Sweden, human darkness is confronted by the arts not the church

The takeaway message is this: no one needs churches to be nice or tasteful. If churches have a future, it’s in addressing our existential darkness: sin and death. Progressive politics is important, but it doesn’t do any deep religious work. And liberals in the church will have to rediscover this after we have won our culture wars. What other religion has such a dark image at its centre? And yet my own brand of liberal Christianity too often seeks salvation through a few gentle verses of All Things Bright and Beautiful or lots of self-important dressing up and wandering around in fancy churches. Devoted atheists are never going to be persuaded by a theology of the cross. But no one whatsoever is going to be persuaded by a theology of nice.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Movies & Television, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Secularism, Sweden, Theology, Wicca / paganism

Owen Strachan–If we Watch Sexual Mores, we see American Culture Sliding into Neoaganism

I do not come to bury our culture (for it may well bury itself). Rather, I write to understand it. And there are few topics that we need to understand more than how our culture is viewing sex. Some of what I say may be familiar. I’m not striving to be creative, really, so much as I am seeking to speak a true word so as to be able to engage folks around me.

Nowhere are modern sexual mores more evident than in pop music. Pop music today is not singularly occupied by sex, but nearly so. And not just sex generally, but increasingly sexual acts. I think it’s important for Christians who want to engage the culture well to know that this development is not merely owing to an aberrant way of life, but to a different worldview. I commend Peter Jones’s The God of Sex, a prescient and underappreciated work from a few years back. Jones helped me to see that many people today have, wittingly or unwittingly, adopted a pagan outlook on life. In our modern neo-pagan world, the body is paramount, sex is cathartic and even gives meaning to life, and there is no telos or purpose for sex and relationships.

I cannot help but think of these matters when I listen, as I infrequently do, to secular rap and R&B.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Men, Movies & Television, Music, Other Faiths, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Wicca / paganism, Women

In Brooklyn, Friday Night Rites for Witches

Damon Stang, whom Mr. English affectionately calls the “shop witch,” is the resident tarot card reader. Mr. Stang, a 30-year-old South African, is the founder of Kings County Coven No. 1, and he leads the Witches’ Compass series with Katelan Foisy on each full moon.

“There’s been a magical revival happening in New York City for two to three years,” Mr. Stang said. “I think it’s a nostalgia that people have for a sense of enchantment with the world.”

Athena Dugan, 51, who came from Lincoln Square to play the drums during the ceremony, said the long trip was worth it. “The connection I get when I’m here, and the trueness and honesty that it creates to being pagan, Wiccan, is here,” she said. “The minute I walk in, it’s like I’m stepping into a different world.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues, Wicca / paganism

Economist–Religious pluralism: Satan threatens the heartland

IN 2009 Oklahoma’s legislature passed a bill ordering that a monumental version of the Ten Commandments””which it cited as “an important component of the moral foundation of the laws and legal system of the United States of America and of the state of Oklahoma”””should be placed in the grounds of its state capitol building. The bill specified that Oklahoma would not pay for the monument; Mike Ritze, the bill’s sponsor, and his family donated it to the state. It was erected on the capitol’s north side in November 2012, and there it still stands.

The text is (not surprisingly) identical to that on a Ten Commandments monument in the grounds of the Texas capitol in Austin, which, Mr Ritze’s bill slyly notes, the “Supreme Court ruled constitutional” in 2005. In that case, Van Orden v Perry, the court held that the Ten Commandments “have an undeniable historical meaning” as well as a religious one. It also found that a message does not violate the First Amendment’s prohibition of “an establishment of religion” simply because it has some religious content….

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Law & Legal Issues, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Wicca / paganism

(NY Times Beliefs) An Ex-Mouseketeer’s Journey Back to Christianity From Paganism

…Teo Bishop, while keeping up a career in pop music, accomplished something less predictable and altogether curiouser. Beginning about three years ago, he began a rise to prominence in the Pagan community. Then, last month, he shocked the Pagan community by re-embracing Christianity.

“I’m overwhelmed with thoughts of Jesus,” Mr. Bishop wrote on Oct. 13, on his blog, Bishop in the Grove. “Jesus and God and Christianity and the Lord’s Prayer and compassion and forgiveness and hope. … I don’t know what to do with all of this.”

For American Pagans, Mr. Bishop’s defecting to a big, bad mainstream religion is bigger news than winning a Grammy, bigger than shooting a Vanity Fair cover. If you’re a Druid, a Wiccan or any of the nature-religion followers grouped under the label Pagan, you’re not talking about Britney, JT or Xtina. You’re talking Teo Bishop.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Evangelism and Church Growth, Movies & Television, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Wicca / paganism

(CNN Belief Blog) For some Wiccans, Halloween involves being a real Witch

Like lots of people, when October 31 rolls around, Trey Capnerhurst dons a pointy hat and doles out candy to children who darken the door of her cottage in Alberta.

But she’s not celebrating Halloween. In fact, she kind of hates it.

Capnerhurst says she’s a real, flesh-and-blood witch, and Halloween stereotypes of witches as broom-riding hags drive her a bit batty.

“Witches are not fictional creatures,” the 45-year-old wrote in a recent article….

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Canada, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Theology, Wicca / paganism

(Church Times) Burial sites show when the pagans died out

For the first time, archaeologists have been able to date the final phase of the Christianisation of Anglo-Saxon England.

Although the rulers of most ofthe Anglo-Saxon kingdoms officially converted from paganism to Christianity at various times between AD597 and 655, some evidence now suggests that up to 20 per cent of the population still continued to maintain pagan-originating traditions, especially in terms of burial rites.

But new archaeological research, from a project funded by English Heritage, shows that the practice of the pagan burial tradition, namely the use of grave goods, came to an abrupt end in the 670s.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Church History, Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Wicca / paganism

(Living Church) Daniel Muth on Game of Thrones–A Medieval Pottersville

In Game of Thrones we’re shown a world of medieval technology, accoutrement, and honorifics, but without chivalry (some lame pretense is made here and there, but it plays no part even in the life of the nobility, and the tale is told solely through their eyes) because there is no Christ to inspire it and no Church to encourage it. The denizens of the land claim a belief, of whatever sort, in “the gods,” who are never specified, whose mythology is never told, and of whom worship seems virtually nonexistent. The latter is the one significant breach with real-world paganism, which always involved true belief and often extravagant liturgics. There is also (as there was with Rome) a most implausible dearth of numinous awe for the natural world. One may have to pledge one’s son in marriage to the daughter of the castle-holder controlling a vital river crossing in order to get one’s army across, but of the necessity of offering a she-goat or woodcock to the river god himself in order to be granted safe passage there is nary a trace.

This is a significant oversight and makes the world a more modern one that the filmmakers should be comfortable with. Nevertheless, we are presented a generally accurate (for Hollywood) portrayal of what theologian David Bentley Hart calls the “glorious sadness” of ancient paganism in which life was short, or at least wildly precarious, and relatively meaningless while it lasted, and death both all too common and all too horrid to contemplate. Pleasures were to be grasped in whatever form they may be readily at hand, and whether they involved cruelty or kindness was a matter of relative taste. Joy may flit briefly by, but only in such a manner and measure as to enhance the agony of its loss and the poignancy of its ephemerality.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, History, Movies & Television, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Wicca / paganism

Jacques Ellul on our world of veiled, hidden, and secret gods

”¦[Idolatry] has not disappeared; far from it. If there is no need to withdraw the word “God” from idolatrous confusion there is a need to give the word “God” meaning, by denunciation, challenge, and accusation against the veiled, hidden, and secret gods, who besiege and seduce all the more effectively because they do not openly declare themselves as gods.

It is clear that the task facing Christians and the church differs entirely according to whether we think of ourselves as being in a secularised, social, lay, and grown-up world which is ready to hear a demythologised, rationalised, explicated, and humanised gospel – the world and the gospel being in full and spontaneous harmony because both want to be religionless – or whether we think of ourselves as being in a world inhabited by hidden gods, a world haunted by myths and dreams, throbbing with irrational impulses, swaying from mystique to mystique, a world to which the Christian revelation has once again to play the role of liberator and destroyer of the sacred obsessions in order to liberate man and bring him, not to the self his demons are making him want to be, but to the self his Father wills him to be.’

[Yet] at the mention of a struggle of faith against the modern idols, which are the real ones, I immediately hear indignant protests…

–Jacques Ellul, The New Demons (New York: Seabury Press, 1975 E.T. of the 1973 French original), pp. 227-228 (my emphasis)

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, History, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Secularism, Sociology, Wicca / paganism

The East Valley Tribune profiles a Mesa, Arizona, Pagan Church

There’s no Sunday school, and meetings are regularly held at Denny’s restaurants, but for members ”” and the federal government ”” Sacred Spiral is very much a church, albeit a Pagan church….

In the years since abandoning the title of coven, [Rosemary] Szymanski, founder and president, has worked with her fellow witches to organize openly and spread knowledge about Paganism.
“Covens are much more secretive,” Szymanski, a witch for 17 years, said. “So in 2007, I banned the coven and created the church.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Wicca / paganism

Justyn Terry–Secularism: Staging-Post on the Road Back to Paganism

Over the last hundred years or so, however,…[the] hopeful vision [that secularism promises a neutral public and peaceful space] has not materialized. Rather than seeing greater harmony in secular societies, we have witnessed more community breakdown. We also notice that the greatest losses of life in the twentieth century (Mao Tse-tung: 70 million deaths; Stalin: 20-40 million deaths; Hitler: 11-12 million deaths; Pol Pot: 1-2 million deaths”¦) have been inspired by secular ideologies, not religious ones. The atrocities that human beings commit against each other continue apace, and secularism is at a loss to know what to say about them. “It is the work of a few rogues” sounds less plausible every time we hear it. The incoherence of secularism also means that it cannot withstand determined pressure groups or totalitarian ideologies.

I believe secularism in the West is really a combination of Christianity and paganism, with the proportions shifting over the years from the former to the latter. Secularism does not supply values of its own but borrows them from Christianity (human rights, care for minorities, freedom of speech, toleration of differences, etc.) or paganism (fascination with astrology and ever more extreme forms of entertainment, lower views of marriage, higher views of other relationships, openness to abortion/infanticide, euthanasia, etc.). Credit is rarely given to these sources, and it is only as the proportion of paganism has increased that the true nature of secularism is becoming more apparent.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Secularism, Theology, Wicca / paganism

(Follow on from the preceding post) British Police Given Guidelines for Handling Pagan Rituals

Paganism, a centuries-old faith, has just been officially established as a religion in England. Dating back to pre-Christian times, followers worship the land, animals, spirits and ancient gods and it’s been growing in popularity in recent years.

Its estimated that around 250,000 Brits now claim to be Pagans.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, England / UK, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Wicca / paganism