It’s Friday, which means another forage through the undergrowth to bring back freshly harvested links of interest, but which I haven’t the time to write a full response to.
In The Guardian, author Philip Pullman has an amazing piece on The Limits of Reason and why we believe in magic. It’s a long read, but so very worth it. The article is a response to a really interesting exhibition at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford called Spellbound, which is on until January.
Pullman’s article brilliantly blends the history and folklore of magic with William James’ highly influential 1902 work The Varieties of Religious Experience, and John Keats’ “Negative Capability” and argues that while magic, like religion and poetry, defies rational explanation, it is a crucial part of being human.
The important thing is to be aware of both. Imagination can give us an empathetic understanding of the world of magic; reason reminds us that the cast of mind that persecuted witches is still alive.
Samuel Wagar at Translating Worlds on Patheos discusses what Pagans and Earth-based religions can and should be doing at a time of great devastation in his piece Earth Religion, Earth Crisis. This article is a clarion call to action – politically, personally and morally, to move forward to create a better world for all beings.
If “the Earth is our Mother, we must take care of Her” is true then the ecological heedlessness of this destructive extractive society which has caused global warming and climate change is blasphemy against the sacred natural order. If we take the notion of Wicca as a nature-worshipping religion seriously (and not just as an excuse to indulge in Romantic fantasy and role play) where are we and what are we doing about this?
One blog I have read regularly for years is Druid Life, by Nimue Brown, who is one of the most prolific and also most thoughtful Druid writers I know. In her post Signposts, not Gatekeepers, Nimue discusses something that is central to both my Pagan practice and my “day job” as a Librarian: the need for people to act as signposts to knowledge and not gatekeepers of knowledge. Gatekeeping keeps people locked out of communities, be it Paganism, academia, or Doctor Who fandom. Signposting, on the other hand, shows people a way (not the way) to gain knowledge and contribute to the community themselves.
Signposts support their communities by helping new people come in and find their way about. They support and encourage excellence by gently pointing people towards things that would help. They encourage and build up, where gatekeepers discourage and knock down. A signpost wants more good stuff, where a gatekeeper wants the power to exclude and the importance of being able to say who crosses the threshold.
Now that it’s September, it is officially Autumn. Or is it? The Met Office has a great little guide to the difference between Meteorological Autumn which starts on 1 September, and Astronomical Autumn, which starts at the Autumnal Equinox. While it is still very warm, I’ve begun to notice signs of Autumn around me as the first conkers are falling and the Canada Geese are flying in for the Winter.
There are two separate dates which could be said to mark the start of autumn in calendars. One is defined by the Earth’s axis and orbit around the sun and the second is a fixed date which is used by meteorologists for consistent spacing and lengths of the seasons.
And finally, not Pagan related (well…there is perhaps an intersection between Paganism, Satanism and the metal community, but that’s another blog post) but just because I love the band Ghost and I’m seeing them at the Royal Albert Hall on Sunday, have some Rrrrrrats!