17 February 2012

Bríd - Goddess of Computers?

Just a little, light-hearted thought exercise (though it could certainly have practical implications, if so inclined).

The Irish goddess Bríd (or Brigid) has been described as both a goddess of poets and of blacksmiths.

Now, blacksmiths deal, in a very literal sense, with hardware. Poets deal with language.

What do you get when you bring together hardware and language? Computer systems! Software! Programming!

Technology has become an integral part of our culture and the very core of our being. Yet most mythological figures obviously don't have a clear connection with this modern reality. Deities of wisdom might be among the most obvious to call on for IT issues, but then again, computers are intricate physical objects as well. It wouldn't be a great leap to associate them with magickal items of myths, and the gods of smithing who often created such things. Technology is magick, in a very real sense.

16 February 2012

What's in a Name?

It is ancient wisdom that names hold power. But for the modern neopagan they can also be a source of much confusion and distress. This mainly stems from what I've termed the 'authenticity dilemma'. In a nutshell, we borrow elements from distant cultures, far removed in time and/or space, yet their distance means we can never be sure of how they were originally understood or worshipped.

This shouldn't really matter. The pagan world was, by its nature, quite syncretistic. The history of religion and myth is littered with examples of deities being supplanted, combined, and reinvented. In most instances there simply is no single, authentic version. Unless you're interested in a strict reconstruction of a historical practice (and I kinda feel sorry for anyone who is, making any kind of sense out of historical pantheons is no easy task), this chould be viewed as license to make whatever you will of your deities. But sometimes it is easier said than done.

Below I'll briefly discuss some possible approaches to deity names, and problems related to them.

13 February 2012

Identifying Hurdles on the Path to Spirituality

The age we live in is an age of free thought, free knowledge, and free speech. It is an age of science and empiricism. The nature of modern society grants us access to many, many more options when it comes to spiritual journeys than our ancestors had, but it can also make encountering the spiritual more difficult.

In this article I'll discuss some of the possible motivational hurdles on the path to spiritual experiences, based on my personal experiences. Solutions may sometimes be obvious, but often are not. However, merely recognising that these problems have existed in my own past attempts to explore the spiritual is an important step that may, hopefully, eventually lead to an understanding of religion and magick that has both personal meaning and longevity.

Hornèd Hunter of the Night

The 'Witches' Rune', a chant originating from Gardnerian Wicca, refers to the Wiccan God with the very apt line 'Hornèd hunter of the night'.

The most often cited influences for the Wiccan God are Cernunnos and Pan, two of the best known European 'horned god' figures.

Queen of Heaven, Queen of Hell

The 'Witches' Rune', a chant originating from Gardnerian Wicca, contains the line 'Queen of heaven, queen of hell,' referring to the Wiccan Goddess.

At first glance, the reference to heaven and hell may appear disconcertingly Christian to modern pagans. But the concepts are of course much older and more universal than the Christian concepts. Personally, I interpret the phrase as meaning 'Goddess who is both astral and chthonic'.

9 February 2012

The Witches' Rune and Other Wiccan Rhymes

In traditional Wicca there's a poem known as the 'Witches' Rune', which is often chanted as part of the opening part of rituals, possibly accompanied by a dance. It was originally written by Gerald Gardner and Doreen Valiente, and can be found for example in Janet and Stewart Farrar's Eight Sabbats for Witches.

Skimming through books for possible material to use in rituals, I happened again upon this poem that in the past I'd mostly ignored, and found it somewhat appealing. I wouldn't use all of it, as much of it refers specifically to Wiccan ritual tools etc. that aren't really currently relevant to me. But the following two stanzas are relatively neutral and usable for invoking some general Wiccan-flavoured Goddess and God energies. (I've adapted the wording very slightly to appeal to me better, borrowing from several versions of the poem.)