You Want “Paganistan”?

From n + 1

Build Paganistan. A floating Paganistan. “Bulletproof Coffee”? I might try that once.

In addition to seeing government as just another problem that technology can overcome, Seasteaders try to “hack” every aspect of their existence down to their self-care regimens. Many participate in health and fitness regimes like the Paleo Diet and Crossfit—lifestyles that dovetail nicely with more mainstream libertarian retro-futurism, which argues humans ought to live more like they did before their “freedom” was impinged upon by large state governments, all while enjoying the enhancements of technological innovation forged in the free market. It wasn’t just Charlie from the boat cruise who proselytized the health benefits of butter: the unofficial beverage of Ephemerisle was “Bulletproof Coffee”—black coffee with half a stick of butter mixed in—which advocates claim increases their mental acuity and helps them stay trim. The inventor of the concoction claims to have increased his IQ by twenty points and lost 100 pounds as a result of his experiments “hacking” his biology. He was at Ephemerisle, too and later, in an email, told me he’d had a great time.

Science Cannot Explain Me . . .

Sam Wo Restaurant, formerly in San Francisco’s Chinatown (Inside Scoop SF)

. . . or any other left-handed person. Are we “damaged”? Genetically different? Who knows?

When I was a student at Reed College, we often fled south to San Francisco at spring break or other times, “itching to get away from Portland, Oregon.”

And one day five Reedies squeezed into a booth at the late, legendary Sam Wo Restaurant in Chinatown, only to find that we were all left-handed. Make of that what you will.

(However, in the interest of manners, I use a knife and fork left-handed and chopsticks right-handed.)

Appeals Court Grants Partial Victory in California Chaplain Case

The Ninth Circuit Court has partly upheld the Wiccan challenge (headed by volunteer prison chaplain Patrick McCollum) to California’s “Five Faiths” policy for who gets paid prison chaplains and who does not.

Read this helpful blog post from FindLaw and ponder the question, was there a Jewish crime wave in the mid-2000s? Or are the numbers on religious affiliation in prison really unreliable?

A Goddess-Movement Video with Something Extra

One of Fred Adams’ visionary paintings on the DVD case for “Dancing with Gaia.”

First, although this is not directly about “the Goddess movement,” I want to point out the blogging that Aidan Kelly has been doing, particularly about the history of contemporary Paganism in America, at his Patheos blog, Including Paganism.

Another resource is Dancing with Gaia, a video subtitled “Earth Energy, Sacred Sexuality, the Return of the Goddess as Gaia . . . a Continuum,” produced and directed by Jo Carson (82 min.)

A number of the well-known names from the Goddess movement are in, such as the Swedish artist and anarchist Monica Sjöö (1938–2005) to name just one. So it is a valuable work.

What I found particularly interesting, however, was the large amount of 1970s- era footage of the Southern California Pagan group Feraferia, founded by the Goddess- visionary artist Fred Adams and his wife, Svetlana.

Somehow the Adamses are left out of most surveys of Goddess religion. Perhaps they were too visionary, too “cosmic”  . . . and too religious? They just did not fit the narrative—except in Carson’s case.

But what you can see is home-movie footage of Pagan ritual in the California mountains that must be some of the earliest available, as well as other footage of sites in Europe, the Mediterranean, and elsewhere.

Dancing with Gaia is available on DVD for $19.95.

Fields Books to Close on Polk Street and Move Online

The last time that I visited Fields Book Store, San Francisco’s long-time esoteric bookshop (older than the Golden Gate Bridge), was the last time that I was in the city. I can’t remember what I bought — something — and I spent a while skimming the last volume of Mircea Eliade’s journals.

Then I heard that it was closing, which was sad. But it will continue online after January 2013, says owner David Wiegleb:

So, we’ll need to pass the baton of “San Francisco’s oldest brick-and-mortar bookstore” to someone else, as it was passed to us. I think it goes next to that beatnik youngster over in North Beach, City Lights, founded in 1953 — certainly one of San Francisco’s treasures. While we hope that Fields can continue to serve you on our website for many years to come, I urge you to also support your local brick and mortar stores as well. Each time we lose one, we lose a bit more of the fabric and texture of our cities and towns. The low prices of the mega-stores — real and virtual — have a very high cost. Make your purchases consciously whenever you can.

Brief Interruption in Blogging

M. and I are traveling in Bobos in Paradise country. Yesterday I was walking up the street and a man pulled over and in a foreign accent that I could not quite place asked me how to get to Pebble Beach.

As it happened, I knew. And I don’t play golf.

Back to reality next week.

Pagan Studies Conference Timed for Pantheacon

Announcement of a new conference:

Pagans in Dialogue with the Wider World: A Pagan Studies Symposium

Friday, February 15, 2013 at San José State University (semi-concurrent with PantheaCon, February 15-18, 2013, DoubleTree Hotel, San Jose, California)

Sponsored by San José State University, Humanities Dept., Comparative Religious Studies Program. Organizers: Lee Gilmore (SJSU) & Amy Hale (St. Petersburg College)

Contemporary Paganism, in all its varieties, stands at a unique cultural and religious intersection that can provide insights for a wide range of global, social, and political subjects, beyond its own inward facing concerns.  For this symposium, we are calling for scholarly submissions that focus on Paganism’s contributions to and engagements with broader cultural and religious dialogues in an increasingly pluralist world.  These could include, but are not limited to, explorations of Paganisms’ endeavors in community, economic, media, health, legal, social justice, and institutional development work, as well as activist, applied, interdisciplinary, and interfaith work.

More generally, all submissions that critically examine Paganism(s) in relationship to categories such as religion, culture, gender, identity, authenticity, power, and ritual — among other possible frameworks — are welcome.  In addition, all papers presented at the symposium will be considered for publication in a special issue of The Pomegranate: The International Journal of Pagan Studies.

All proposals & queries should be sent to pagansymposium@gmail.com
Deadline: September 15, 2012

More info, including submission requirements & a pdf of this call, may be found at the site.

9th Claremont Pagan Studies Conference

Conference on Current Pagan Studies: Pagan Sensibilities in Action

January 26 & 27, 2013, Claremont, California

Call for Papers

 This year we will focus on Pagan Sensibilities in Action. We welcome papers that discuss how our pagan perspectives manifest as our lived experiences in artistic expression, personal and collective practice, the manner in which we hold power, and other engagements, including involvement in politics, social justice, ecological concerns and economics. How do Pagan theo(a)logies inform our being in the world?

This year we are encouraging proposals for academic panels. Please contact us early if you would like to organize a panel.

We are looking for papers from all disciplines.  A community needs artists, teachers, scientists, healers, historians, philosophers, educators, thinkers, activists, etc.

As usual, we are using Pagan in its most inclusive form, covering pagans, wiccans, witches and the numerous hybrids that have sprung up as well as any indigenous groups that feel akin to or want to be in conversation with Pagans.

Abstracts should be no longer than 350 words and are due by September 30, 2012. Go to our website for advice on presenting papers. Please email abstracts to pagan_conference@yahoo.com

Babies, Bathwater, and the Reclaiming Community

Of all American Witchcraft traditions, Reclaiming seems to be the most prone to self-criticism. Perhaps that is because, as Anne Hill writes in her brief blog-memoir, The Baby and the Bathwater, there was always much conflict over different visions for Reclaiming.

What started with one foot in the Faery/Faerie/Feri Witchcraft tradition of Victor and Cora Anderson also co-existed with a social vision of growing organic vegetables in a solar-powered paradise fueled by consensus decision-making, pushing the boundaries of gender-theory and overcoming enemies with the power of  love and passion.

Hill, one of the original group’s long-term members, writes things that only an insider could say. The Baby and the Bathwater combines blog posts that she wrote from 2006 to 2010, including the comments that readers left on her Blog O’Gnosis.

We’ve seen good people come and go over the years, and have noticed that mostly the good people go after they realize that Reclaiming is a victim of its own idealism and there’s nowhere to “advance” once you have experience and skills. I said that I have been struggling to clarify my present-day involvement with Reclaiming, particularly trying to discern what is baby and what is bathwater and not throwing away that which is of lasting value.

My friend responded instantly: “But there is no baby in the bathwater,
and there never has been.” I was stunned at that, and have been thinking about it ever since. Can it be true that what started as a grand experiment in creating a spirituality that was Goddess-centered, egalitarian, politically and socially radical would have absolutely nothing to show for itself 25 years after the fact? Could it be that a community and religious movement which has been at the center of my identity for over two decades consisted all along of nothing but our intense willingness to believe our own promotional language?

The Baby and the Bathwoter sees an up side to Reclaiming too, as Hill visits groups seeded in other areas and savors their enthusiasm.  You can download the PDF file for $2.99.