In the Land of Fairy, Don’t Eat the Pentagram Pizza

You have heard that advice, right? Don’t eat the food that the Good Neighbors — or however you want to describe those beings whose reality intersects ours — might offer you, or you might be there with them a very very long time.

In Morgan Daimler’s view of the Fairy cities of today, there might be some tempting restaurants. Hmm.

Modern Fairyland, or Experiencing the Otherworld as a 21st Century City

It is true that modern pagans seem prone to describing and viewing Fairy through a primitive lens. When people talk about experiences there they are usually couched in terms of wilderness and wild places or occasionally of settings that may be described as historic such as castles or cottages. And that is not to say that these places can’t be found in Fairy just as we can find these places in our own world, because they certainly do exist both here and there. But there is a definite and noticeable favoring of the sorts of Otherworldly scenery that correlates with the places in our own world people tend to say we are most likely to find Themselves as well. Many pagans talk of Fairy as if it were one vast forest or Europe stuck in medieval times.

In the middle of grieving the effects of gentrification on her street, Anne Johnson gives some thought to the Faeries: “Faeries aka Fairies Are Real.”

So you say, “What do faeries look like?” And I answer, “What have you got?” There are as many varieties of faerie as there are of biological life in the apparent world. Some faeries are human shaped and sized, some are tiny, some look like animals, some like birds, and some are just beams of light. Be careful if you make eye contact, because they like to distract. And whatever you do, show them respect. Even the “critter” ones. Call them “Ladies and Gentlemen,” or “your majesties.”

Related: John Beckett talks about different modes of experiencing the Otherworld here:

Once you’re there, stick to your plan. Not every Otherworldly resident is your friend. Some will try to distract you or co-opt you. Some may try to eat you. Go directly where you intend to go, and don’t trust anyone you don’t know. When you’re done, come back promptly.

Letter from Hardscrabble Creek is not one of the Pagan blogs that he recommends, so if you are reading this, you must have wandered into the woods.

True Fact: There are more than twenty blog posts with the tag “Pentagram Pizza.” Enough weirdness to save in the refrigerator overnight and eat for breakfast! Just click on the tag “pentagram pizza” below.

A Small (Rotten) Orange

This blog disappeared for three days earlier this week, which seems like a long time on the Internet. The reason was a dispute with my hosting company, which was solved by ditching them and going with a new, much more helpful host. Details below.

I don’t even remember where I first parked the chasclifton.com domain, but it ended up with a small, Pagan-friendly service, Draknet, which also hosted The Wild Hunthere is TWH founder Jason Pitzl-Waters’ interview with owner Jennifer Lepp. If it was good enough for Jason, it was good enough for me, and I became a happy customer.

Jennifer seemed available for service problems at all hours of the day or night. Maybe that is why she finally sold out to Austin-based A Small Orange, which was OK too . . . until it was bought by Endurance International Group (EIG).

Some of the largest and most successful web hosting companies in the industry, including HostGator, BlueHost, HostMonster, A Small Orange and HostNine have been bought out by Endurance International Group (EIG).

Have a look at the comments on this review of A Small Orange as it is today:

When I read through the Terms of Service for all of the services offered by A Small Orange the general message becomes clear. The proprietors of the company, Garret Noling and Mohsin Kamal, designed and operate A Small Orange so that it will exploit a popular social trend, mislead and confuse the prospective customer, promote a service fee as necessary when it is not, collect as much money as possible, and perform absolutely no customer support for domain registration customers.

I could add mine too. Every stereotype of bad India-based tech support is there, starting with the robotic responses in slightly odd English that never exactly answer the question that you are asking.

Another reviewer put it this way:

Customer service does not exist. Its either bots or people just copying and pasting the exact same message over and over again. I’m not joking here, I received the exact same email each time after responding to their emails. Including one where I asked them why they keep responding with the exact same message. Not acceptable on any level.

Last year I tried to get an SSL certificate because Equinox Publishing wanted one, since they also run this blog on The Pomegranate’s website. A Small Orange took my payment but never could deliver the service, to the point where I had to cancel the credit card transaction.

When a well-known politics-and-law blogger recommended Hosting Matters last month, I started thinking about switching.

Then ASO struck again: they announced that I had exceeded my bandwidth limit for April, 50 gigabytes! Hello, does this blog generate that kind of traffic? Are thousands of people downloading movie trailers? They shut down this blog and another unrelated subdomain last weekend.

What I suspect happened was simple extortion. Back when Jennifer Lepp owned Draknet, she tried raising money at one point by selling lifetime accounts. I paid $150 for a Lifetime Junior account—plenty of service for my needs—and then paid only the domain-registration annual fee thereafter. It was a good deal.

When ASO bought her out, they honored those lifetime accounts, and EIG had honored them too, only they were bothered, I suspect, by the “lifetime” part. Solution: force users to pay for more bandwidth.  Of course, I could not get a straight answer from them about traffic logs, etc., but you have to wonder what their plan was.

So, as I rode Amtrak’s Lakeshore Limited eastbound across upstate New York, I was tapping away at my keyboard, and lo! someone was replying with coherent, relevant responses. There were a couple of glitches, but by Wednesday, this blog was back online.
For a complete list of EIG’s companies, go here.

Hardscrabble Creek Is Now on Instagram

I am starting an Instagram feed for this blog, mainly for photos and short observations while traveling, like the trip to Salem that starts tomorrow. Follow it at letterfromhardscrabblecreek.

Obviously, longer posts (with footnotes!) will appear here only and will be mirrored on the Facebook page, unless Facebook becomes totally unbearable.

So if you use Instagram, join the small but plucky band of this blog’s followers!

“The World is Very Different from a Pagan Perspective”

How do you explain it them?

A couple of days I sat down with an interviewer who had read an old essay of mine, “The Hunter’s Eucharist,” also published as “The Nature of the Hunt.” (It  appeared along with works by writers more articulate than I in A Hunter’s Heart: Honest Essays on Blood Sport, edited by David Petersen, one of the best nature writers out there.

When I wrote it in the early 1990s, I was maybe more sure of how to talk about the universe than I am now. At least, that is what I ended telling the interviewer, giving him the old story about how the American anthropologist Irving Hallowell, after learning that in the Ojibwe language stones are grammatically animated (treated as alive), asked a tribal elder, “Are all stones alive.” The man thought a moment and replied, “Some are.”

(Or maybe they are experienced as alive some of the time, depending on many things—that is me talking, not Hallowell.)

This interviewer was all right—not capital-P Pagan, but someone who had thought about nature, hunting, and spirituality quite a bit. To be  honest, “spirituality” is not a term that I fully comprehend, but I have to use it here.

The more I live, the more complexity I sense in the seen and unseen universe. This makes it harder and harder to talk to monotheists, who think that we merely replace the True God with a set of inferior replacements but otherwise think and worship much as they do.

At the Pagan Square blog portal, Guz diZerega has started a series of posts called “Viewing the World through Pagan Eyes.” He puts the communication problem this way

Christian-derived views see the world as a collection of things initially created and ordered by God. Secularists accepting this distinction replace God with predictable laws. There is a deep distinction between human subjectivity, and the objective nature of everything else. Some secular scientists accept the dichotomy but reject consciousness as a fundamental property of reality, hoping to reduce all subjectivity to impersonal objective processes. The ‘illusion’ of mind is a side effect of determinism, and not an active part of reality.

A Pagan outlook implies what we call subjectivity and objectivity both exist ‘all the way down.’ People can be studied as if they were simply objects and there is an element of awareness in even the simplest phenomena, but reality includes both. This view is not unique to Pagans, some physicists share it, for example. But it is rarely treated seriously in many other sciences, particularly the social sciences. The social sciences usually incorporate the distinction between people and the rest of the world or, alternatively, seeks to understand us using the same ‘objective’ approaches used to understand all else.

I took the title of this post from Gus’s first post, and I am looking forward to reading them all. We need to realize how different we are.

 

A New Look — by Happenstance

About two days ago, my WordPress theme started displaying wrong — and I checked it in three different browsers.

The main text area was fine, but the sidebar background was dark, making the links unreadable unless you moused over them. My “White on Black” Firefox add-on fixed it,but not everyone has that. (LIght-on-dark text is an abomination online for more than a line or three.)

So I found a new theme that was somewhat similar to the old. My main criteria were that the links displayed compactly and likewise block quotations in the posts. And the footnotes — I need to have footnotes.

The photo, in case you wondered, shows an “upslope” cloud bank (cool, moist air) trying to push up the canyon of the Arkansas River in southern Colorado. The view is from the hamlet of Hillside, Colo. The cold air moving from right to left.

Pentagram Peach and Other Good Reads

1. From a regular reader in Kyoto comes the link to this giant bronze peach marked with a pentagram. It is part of the Seimei Jinja Shrine, dedicated to a tenth-century wizard and astrologer. Pentagrams everywhere!

2. John Beckett writes on the “aesthetic of witchcraft,” which has cycled around again as fashions do:

For the most part, these pieces aren’t about witches who cast circles, brew potions, and worship The Goddess. They’re not about witches who summon spirits or make pacts with the devil. They’re about young women who adopt the mythology and especially the fashion of witchcraft without any of its magical or religious elements.
It’s easy to dismiss this as “witchcrap” or “consumerism,” but Beckett makes a point that I have thought about too — let’s keep those symbols out there in the public view. “So when someone else promotes witchcraft – even if they’re only propagating the aesthetic of witchcraft – they’re providing publicity for all of us under the Pagan umbrella.”

3. I liked Elizabeth Autumnalis’ blog post “Missed Call from Your Local Spirits.” She begins,
Something that has always struck me as particularly odd about the pagan community is the fascination with the spirits of far off places when local spirits are standing right in front of us and staring us in the eye. I have a couple of ideas as to why this is, but when it comes down to it you are a product of the energies and spirits that you were raised around and those spirits are a product of the people and land that they inhabit as well. Chances are you probably have more in common with your local spirits than you think.

Read the whole thing.

In Which I Go on Vacation

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Yes, an actual vacation, nine time zones away — and no laptop computer. Giving up the MacBook was like giving up alcohol and caffeine. It meant that I could not work on writing or editing; therefore, I was truly on vacation.

What was left was the tried and true —notebooks for writing a travel journal and for jotting down things that I would do later, when I was home. Not now. What a concept.

OK, so I did take an iPhone for email and photos. But I think that was the first long trip without a computer since . . . 2004.

Now it all starts up again, including this blog . . . soon. Thanks for your patience.

“Hardscrabble Creek’s” Subscriptions Are Changing

After experimenting with ReadyGraph’s “User Base” feature, I have decided I don’t like it.

I just hate pop-up windows. Maybe you do too. When I checked the blog on my iPhone, the sign-up window dominated the view.

So I have deleted the code and plug-in and am just using the simple WordPress email-sign up form, at the top of the sidebar on the right. >>>>

On smartphones you may have to scroll down to see it.

Thanks to everyone who signed up with ReadyGraph, and please do transfer your subscription to the new form!

Blogging Break Over, Book Stuff Ahead

I have taken a brief and unwanted break from blogging, but I hope that it is over. First the MacBook Pro that I use for writing and blogging developed a weird, possibly demonic (or daemonic) directory corruption that flummoxed even the specialists up at Voelker Research. About the same time, my desk/computer chair broke, which felt like a sign. A sign that I should just go hiking and read more novels, possibly. And ponder some vivid and meaningful dreams.

That was wonderful, but I have to give a couple of talks next week, and I needed to prepare. So there I was out on the veranda with a legal pad and a stack of books and print-outs, preparing. If I have learned anything in teaching it is that I am not as good at “winging it” as I like to think I am—unless it is a course that I have already taught ten times over.

So while I am doing that, here is an interview with Doug Ezzy about his new book, Sex, Death, and Witchcraft: A Contemporary Pagan Festival.

The book is both a rich ethnographic account of controversial Pagan festival and a provocative reflection on the role of emotions, symbols, and ritual in theories of religion.  The festival involves “a recreation of the Witches’ sabbat . . .  It’s R-rated, it contains adult themes, nudity and sex references”, according to Harrison — one of the festival participants I interviewed.  The theory develops what Graham Harvey and I are calling “relational theory” in the study of religion.

It is on my reading list.

And speaking of reading, expect more book reviews here over the next few weeks.

Animist Blog Carnival: Human Mating & Dating

Heather Awen has the summaries and links.

The Human Dating & Mating issue of the ABC gave me concerns from the beginning. I chose the topic because I do not know right relationship is with those with whom we have sex and romance. Animism is all about right relationship. Although I expected most writers to be as lost as I, I also hoped in their blog posts would be some inklings on which to muse. At the very least, I’d feel less alone.