Does No One Read the Description?

I was in my first month as managing editor of the (long-gone) Colorado Outdoor Journal when an article came in about fishing in Utah. Hello? “Colorado” is in the title.

When I was freelancing for commercial magazines, I was told always to read at least a couple of issues before submitting an article query, advice that I passed along to my students. The same would hold with academic journals — you would think — since they are often so narrowly defined.

On May 16th, an article came in through The Pomegranate’s online submission process (which requires filling in various fields in the Online Journal System) titled “The Holy Qur’an: The Origin of Human Discourse in Ethics.”

Less than a week later, one of the co-authors, who appeared to be teaching in the Islamic Education Department at Shiraz University of Medical Sciences in Iran, is writing to me wanting know my editorial decision on the piece.

So (a) she/they is unclear what “peer-reviewed journal” means and (b) she/they missed all the language on the main page about “Pagan,” “polytheist,” “reconstructionist,” etc.

Maybe “Pomegranate” just sounded Middle Eastern?

I sent a PDF of the last issue with my response, just to make the point that their piece outside our remit. Very far.

New Issue of The Pomegranate Published

Issue  19.1 Table of Contents

Articles
“Discourses of Paganism in the British and Irish Press during the Early Pagan Revival”
G.J. Wheeler

“Pagan Leaders and Clergy: A Quantitative Exploration”
Gwendolyn Reece

“From Folklore to Esotericism and Back: Neo-Paganism in Serbia”
Nemanja Radulovic

“Contemporary Germanic/Norse Paganism and Recent Survey Data”
Joshua Marcus Cragle

Book Reviews — open access
Jennifer Snook, American Heathens: The Politics of Identity in a Pagan Religious Movement (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2015)
Reviewed by Barbara Jane Davy

Edward Bever and Randall Styers, eds., Magic in the Modern World: Strategies of Repression and Legitimization (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2017)
Reviewed by Michael D. Bailey

Thomas Besom, Inka Human Sacrifice and Mountain Worship: Strategies for Empire Unification (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2013), 309 pp., $65 (hardcover).
Reviewed by Caroline J. Tully

Siv Ellen Kraft, Trude Fonneland, and James Lewis, eds., Nordic Neoshamanisms (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015)
Reviewed by Robert J. Wallis

Aisha M. Beliso-De Jesús, Electric Santería: Racial and Sexual Assemblages of Transnational Religion (New York: Columbia University Press, 2015)
Reviewed by Rose T. Caraway

Being an “Oxbridge Scholar”

Yesterday’s mail brought my contributor’s copy of The Cambridge Handbook of Western Mysticism and Esotericism, to which I contributed an article on contemporary Paganism.

There ought to be a long German compound word for “fear of looking at something you wrote several years ago.”

The back cover of this hefty (2.5 lbs.; 958 g.) volume has the usual blurbs, such as this one from Jeffrey Kripal, whose work I admire: “[Editor] Glenn Magee has brought together a dream team of scholars . . . ”

Then, of course, the voice of doubt: “He didn’t mean you.” But I will take the reflected glory of some of the big names and rising stars in the field, people like Antoine Favre, Joscelyn Godwin, Olav Hammer, Wouter Hanegraaff, Egil Asprem, Hereward Tilton, Hugh Urban, Kocku von Stuckrad, Cathy Gutierrez, Lee Irwin, and many others.

Online, you can read the table of contents, front matter, and index.

* * * * *

Meanwhile, I mentioned earlier my struggle to have Paganism capitalized in my entry on same for the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Religion.

Some of its entries on are online at that link (not mine as yet). It is a religion nerd’s paradise. Right now the featured online article is “Festivals in Ancient Greece and Rome” by Fritz Graf. (In the entries I have looked at, no one else fought for the capital P.)

So it hit me that although I have yet to set foot at either of the ancient universities of Oxford and Cambridge, I have — in a small way — been published by both of their university presses. Sitting here in my little house in the pines, that is an odd and interesting thought.

Assessing a New Book on Jesus’ Wife


I used to think that of course Jesus was married — what normal 1st-century small-town Jewish man would not be married? Answer: most of the Essenes, to name one group.

The perennial interest in an actual bloodline of his descendents is periodically stoked by books like Holy Blood, Holy Grail, The Da Vinci Code, and more recently, by The Lost Gospel: Decoding the Ancient Text that Reveals Jesus’ Marriage to Mary the Magdalene.

Ah, Mary Magdelene, who was she? A minor disciple of the wandering preacher? Or the disciple who understood him best? A wealthy follower who financed his wanderings? His wife and mother of their kids? Some combination of the above? Or as Robert Graves imagined in the 1940s, the priestess of some surviving Canaanite Paganism who sexually conveyed to him a sovereignity over the land — the thesis of his novel King Jesus, which predated The White Goddess by two years.

The Lost Gospel’s authors, “Simcha Jacobovici, author, and TV personality perhaps best known for his series The Naked Archaeologist, along with Prof. Barrie Wilson of York University,” make a textual argument over a  “6th century Syriac text that records the apocryphal tale entitled Joseph and Aseneth.”

So this is a text written some centuries after Jesus lived but maybe copied from a much earlier original about two biblical characters who might be read as allegories for Jesus and Mary Magdalene.

My quotes come from a four-part entry on the University of Toronto’s Religion Beat blog, written by Anna Cwikla, a graduate student in religion. Part One. Part Two. Part Three. Part Four.

She pokes some holes in their argument and faults them for taking the rhetorical stance sometimes called “They laughed at Galileo” — If  the established experts  are against me, then I must be right!

But I might still read The Lost Gospel anyway, just for cultural reasons. Whereas we Pagans are comfortable with the idea of female religious leaders, the Middle Eastern monotheisms mostly still are not. Cwikla quotes an MCC pastor:

The possibility of Jesus having a wife sparked positive responses from some female clerics. For example, in a blog post on the Huffington Post website, Moderator of the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson expressed tempered optimism about the fragment’s potential to change the patriarchal position of many Christian denominations: “Will a little snippet of ancient writing change the Christian world? It is possible, and I am hopeful.”

Plus, like The DaVinci Code, the book is “scandalous,” particularly for the Roman Catholic Church. She cites Anthony Le Donne, author of  The Wife of Jesus: Ancient Texts and Modern Scandals (another one for the reading list):

By looking to the past for evidence of women as leaders in early Christianity, we are attempting to look for a way to change the longstanding tradition of women having less power in most Christian traditions that is still evident in modern society. By wedding Jesus, we may be trying to make him more “human-like,” or, as Alex Beam suggests: “The purpose, animated by the all-powerful secularism of our time, is to bring him [Jesus] down to our level.”

There is a potential irony there for the liberal Christians: If you add female clergy but lose the divinity of Jesus, what is left? Where is the “juice” of your religion?

CFP: “Pagan, Goddess, Mother”

DEMETER PRESS

Seeking submissions for an edited collection entitled

Pagan, Goddess, Mother

Editors: Sarah Whedon & Nané Jordan

Deadline for Abstracts: September 1st, 2016

Pagan spirituality and Goddess spirituality are distinct, yet overlapping movements and communities, each with much to say about deity as mother and about human mothers in relationship to deity. The purpose of this collection is to call categories of Pagan and Goddess mothering into focus, to highlight philosophies and experiences of mothers in these various movements and traditions, and to generate new ways of imagining and enacting motherhood.

What is distinctive about Pagan motherhood, what is distinctive about Goddess spirituality motherhood, and where is the overlap? How do these differ, and what does each have to learn from the other? How does study of these communities, philosophies, and practices highlight tensions and insights into gender, motherhood, and embodiment, more broadly? How do mothers in contemporary Pagan and Goddess movements negotiate their mothering roles and identities? What elements of these diverse contemporary traditions inform their experiences? How do theologies, thealogies, and devotions to Mother Goddesses affect experiences of mothering? How do Pagan and Goddess mothers engage with ceremony, ritual, magic, and priestesshood? How do Pagan and Goddess mothers interface with interreligious dialogue, social institutions for children, community leadership, social justice, and the public sphere?

Topics may include (but are not limited to):

The specific theologies, thealogies, mythologies, ethics, or practices of mothers in particular Pagan and/or Goddess traditions; theories of gender, motherhood, or embodiment in Pagan and/or Goddess traditions; Earth Mother, Great Mother, mother Goddess creation stories, eco-spirituality, or the maiden-mother-crone trinity; mothers’ participation in ceremony, ritual, festival, magic, or priestesshood; the relationship between mother Goddess and human mother’s empowerment; pregnancy, birth, early mothering, and beyond; Pagan and/or Goddess spirituality in mom blogging, custody conflict, religious freedom, children’s religious education, or other social institutions; diversity and difference in Pagan and/or Goddess mothering including grandmothering, race, disability, or lgbtq families.

Perspectives are welcomed from a wide range of disciplines and genres, including history, theology, thealogy, religious studies, anthropology, sociology, cultural studies, biography, spiritual autobiography, personal essays, life writing, poetry and artwork.

Submissions Guidelines:

Please send abstracts of approximately 300 words together with a short bio to

Sarah Whedon & Nané Jordan at: pagangoddessmother@gmail.com

by September 1, 2016.

Accepted papers of 4000-5000 words (15-20 pages including references and endnotes) will be due February 1st, 2017. Contributors will be responsible for ensuring that manuscripts adhere to MLA style.

DEMETER PRESS

140 Holland St. West, P.O. Box 13022 Bradford, ON, L3Z 2Y5

(tel) 905-775-5215 http://www.demeterpress.org info@demeterpress.org

**Please follow/like us on social media to receive updates on call for papers, events, conferences publications, reviews, etc. on mothering, reproduction, sexuality and family

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Core Books in Pagan Studies

I recently completed an article on contempoary Paganism for the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Religion, so when it appears, I can at least say that I have been published by Oxford UP. Yay me. But is there still a market for academic encyclopedias in this day when undergrads must be taught how to use reference books? Someone must think so.

As to the article, instead of writing another “it all started with Gerald Gardner” article, I decided to give more space to (a) the Romantic movement and (b) the Latvian and Lithuanian reconstructionists of the 1920s and 1930s, that two-decade space when their nations escaped centuries of German and Russian colonization before being dumped in 1940 back into it—the Third Reich and then the USSR.

magical religionThe editors wanted a brief bibliography, of course, with primary and secondary sources, so I just went along my Pagan-studies bookshelves, grabbing this and that, including some titles that I think have always been under-appreciated.

Jim Lewis’s edited collection Magical Religion and Modern Witchcraft was published twenty years ago, yet it is still relevant in the questions that it raises. Some of the chapters later turned into books, such as “Ritual Is My Chosen Art Form: The Creation of Ritual as Folk Art among Contemporary Pagans,” by Sabina Magliocco.researching paganisms

Likewise, the collection Researching Paganisms (2004) discussed issues of “religious ethnography” that every scholar of  religion should read, not just those studying some form of Paganism. From the description:

Should academic researchers “go native,” participating as “insiders” in engagements with the “supernatural,” experiencing altered states of of consciousness? How do academics negotiate the fluid boundaries between worlds and meanings which may change their own beliefs? Should their own experiences be part of academic reports? Researching Paganisms presents reflective and engaging accounts of issues in the academic study of religion confronted by anthropologists, psychologists, sociologists, historians and religious studies scholars?as researchers and as humans?as they study contemporary Pagan religions.

paganism readerHere is the rest of the bibliography. I do not claim that it is complete, but it is representative. For example, if you look into the The Paganism Reader, which Graham Harvey and I compiled, you will see material from ancient centuries up into the early twentieth, for example, so it covers a lot of ground. Pity it got such a boring cover.

Primary Sources

Buckland, Raymond. Buckland’s Complete Book of Witchcraft. St. Paul: Llewellyn, 1986.

Clifton, Chas S., and Graham Harvey, eds. The Paganism Reader. London: Routledge, 2004.

Gardner, Gerald B. Witchcraft Today. London: Ryder and Co, 1954.

Graves, Robert. The White Goddess: A Historical Grammar of Poetic Myth. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1948.

McNallen, Stephen A. Asatru: A Native European Spirituality. Nevada City, Calif.: Runestone Press, 2015.

Murray, Margaret. The God of the Witches. London: Sampson Low, 1931.

———. The Witch-Cult in Western Europe: A Study in Anthropology. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1921.

Valiente, Doreen. The Rebirth of Witchcraft. London: Robert Hale, 1989.

Zell-Ravenheart, Oberon, ed. Green Egg Omelette: An Anthology of Art and Articles from the Legendary Pagan Journal. Franklin Lakes: New Page Books, 2009.

Further Reading

Aitamurto, Kaarina, and Scott Simpson, eds. Modern Pagan and Native Faith Movements in Central and Eastern Europe. Studies in Historical and Contemporary Paganism. Durham: Acumen, 2013.

Berger, Helen. A Community of Witches: Contemporary Neo-Paganism and Witchcraft in the United States. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1999.

Berger, Helen, and Douglas Ezzy. Teenage Witches: Magical Youth and the Search for Self. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2007.

Blain, Jenny, Douglas Ezzy, and Graham Harvey, eds. Researching Paganisms. The Pagan Studies Series. Walnut Creek: AltaMira Press, 2004.

Clifton, Chas S. Her Hidden Children: The Rise of Wicca and Paganism in America. The Pagan Studies Series. Lanham, Md., Altamira Press, 2006.

Davy, Barbara Jane. Paganism, 3 vols. Critical Concepts in Religious Studies. London: Routledge, 2009.

Doyle White, Ethan. Wicca: History, Belief, and Community in Modern Pagan Witchcraft. Brighton: Sussex Academic Press, 2015.

Eller, Cynthia. Living in the Lap of the Goddess: The Feminist Spirituality Movement in America. Boston: Beacon Press, 1993.

Harvey, Graham. Animism. New York: Columbia University Press, 2006.

Hutton, Ronald. Blood and Mistletoe: The History of the Druids in Britain. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009.

———. The Triumph of the Moon: A History of Modern Pagan Witchcraft. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999.

———. Witches, Druids and King Arthur. London: Hambledon and London, 2003.

Johnston, Hannah E., and Peg Aloi, eds. The New Generation Witches: Teenage Witchcraft in Contemporary Culture. Controversial New Religions. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2007.

Lewis, James R., ed. Magical Religion and Modern Witchcraft. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1996.

Magliocco, Sabina. Witching Culture: Folklore and Neo-Paganism in America. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

Myers, Brendan. The Earth, the Gods and the Soul: A History of Pagan Philosophy from the Iron Age to the 21st Century. Winchester: Moon Books, 2013.

Pike, Sarah M. Earthly Bodies, Magical Selves: Contemporary Pagans and the Search for Community. Berkeley, University of California Press, 2001.

———. New Age and Neopagan Religions in America. New York: Columbia University Press, 2004.

Rountree, Kathryn, ed. Contemporary Pagan and Native Faith Movements in Europe: Colonialist and Nationalist Impulses. New York: Berghahn, 2015.

———. Embracing the Witch and the Goddess: Feminist Ritual-Makers in New Zealand. London: Routledge, 2004.

Salomonsen, Jone. Enchanted Feminism: The Reclaiming Witches of San Francisco. London: Routledge, 2002.

Weston, Donna, and Andy Bennett. Pop Pagans: Paganism and Popular Music. Studies in Historical and Contemporary Paganism. Durham: Acumen, 2013.

Wise, Constance. Hidden Circles in the Web: Feminist Wicca, Occult Knowledge, and Process Thought. The Pagan Studies Series. Lanham, Md.: AltaMira Press, 2008.

York, Michael. Pagan Theology: Paganism as a World Religion. New York: New York University Press, 2003.

The Passing of Carl Weschcke

weschcke

Carl Llewellyn Weschcke

First, the official announcement from Llewellyn, then my comments.

It is with profound sadness we share the news of Carl Llewellyn Weschcke’s passing. He passed peacefully on Saturday, November 7 surrounded by family. He was 85.

Carl Llewellyn Weschcke was Chairman and the driving force behind Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd., the oldest and largest publishers of New Age, Metaphysical, Self-Help, and Spirituality books in the world.

Weschcke was a life-long student of a broad range of Metaphysical, Spiritual and Occult subjects which led him to the purchase of the Llewellyn publishing company in 1961. He relocated the company to his home on Summit Avenue in St. Paul. The mansion was said to be haunted and became the subject of many investigations and news stories through the 1960s and 1970s and remains well-known to this day.

Authors and booksellers referred to Weschcke as “the Father of the New Age” because of his early and aggressive public sponsorship of Astrology, Magic, Metaphysics, Paganism, Parapsychology, Tantra, Wicca and Yoga. Weschcke and Llewellyn contributed to the burgeoning New Age movement in the 1960s and 1970s, sponsoring Gnosticon Festivals, opening an occult school and bookstore, and publishing the occult newspaper Gnostica. He is a former Wiccan High Priest and played a leading role in the rise of Wicca and Paganism during the 1960s and 1970s. In the fall of 1973 Weschcke helped organize the Council of American Witches and became its chairperson.

He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Babson College, studied Law at LaSalle University, and advanced study toward a doctorate in Philosophy at the University of Minnesota. In 1959 he was elected president of the NAACP’s Minnesota branch and elected Vice President of the ACLU’s Minnesota branch. In addition to book publishing he has worked in the pharmaceutical industry, furniture manufacture, and real estate management. With Llewellyn, he has worked in all aspects of the business and has co-authored ten books with Dr. Joe Slate of Athens, Alabama.

Carl is survived by wife Sandra and son Gabe. Sandra is President and Treasurer of Llewellyn Worldwide and Gabe serves as Vice President. They plan to carry on Carl’s legacy championing of alternative approaches to mind, spirit and body.

Arrangements for a memorial will be forthcoming.

I had the privilege of staying with the Weschckes at their home in Marine-on-St. Croix for a few days in the early 1990s. (Although no formal offer was made, I think that Carl was hoping that I would come on board as an editor.) That four-book “Witchcraft Today” series that I edited for them in the 1990s was his idea.

It’s true that he came from a line of German doctors and pharmacists, and originally he worked in the family pharmaceutical firm that made over-the-counter medicines—cough drops and the like. He told me he used to look from his office window at a former soft-drink bottling plant—the building that later become the Llewellyn headquarters in St. Paul.

He did not start the company, but he and Sandra grew it from a small publisher of astrological almanacs and the like into its present form. He even added “Llewellyn” as his middle name.

Another memory: having just a few hours to examine his private library, which filled a three-car garage (or was it a four-car?). It was like the whole history of esotericism in America, but I think that astrology was perhaps always his first love. Although their son, Gabe, was groomed to take over the business, at that time—twenty years ago—I did not feel that he shared the love of the astrology, Pagan, New Age, etc., product line. That does not mean that he cannot be an effective manager though.

Polyamory and the Secret History of Wonder Woman

wonder womanSnow is falling, and I am elbow deep in putting together the next Bulletin for the Study of Religion, which among other things carries an article called “What is a Superhero? How Myth Can Be a Metacode,” by Kenneth MacKendrick of the University of Manitoba.

So, with comics on the mind, here is “The Surprising Origin Story of Wonder Woman.

Back story? Oh yes, not to mention polyamory, eugenics, and chains.

Some of [the comic books] are full of torture, kidnapping, sadism, and other cruel business,” she said.

“Unfortunately, that is true,” Marston admitted, but “when a lovely heroine is bound to the stake, comics followers are sure that the rescue will arrive in the nick of time. The reader’s wish is to save the girl, not to see her suffer.”

New Pomegranate Published

Pomegranate web header

Issue 16:2 of The Pomegranate: The International Journal of Pagan Studies has now been published online, with print copies coming soon.

The publisher does charge for articles (but try to see if your library can get them), although book reviews are free downloads.

Contents

“Deepening Conversations between Ritual Studies and Pagan Studies”
Michelle Mueller

“Becoming a Virtual Pagan: ‘Conversion’ or Identity Construction?”
James R. Lewis

“Prevalence and Importance of Contemporary Pagan Practices”
Gwendolyn Reece

“The Search for ‘Meaning’: Occult Redefinitions and the Internet:
Morandir Armson

“Healing Community: Pagan Cultural Models and Experiences in Seeking Well-Being:
Kimberly D. Kirner

Book reviews by Melissa Harrington, Jason Mankey, Daniel Foor, Christopher Chase, Ronald Hutton, and Sarah Veale.

‘Sacred Lands and Spiritual Landscapes’

sacredlands Sacred Lands and Spiritual Landscapes, papers from the spring 2013 Cherry Hill Seminary symposium, edited by Wendy Griffin, is now available for purchase from CHS.

Contents

Preface, Holli Emore

Introduction, Ronald Hutton

The Land Within, Wendy Griffin

Song of the Cattahoochee: On Being a Southern (Pagan) Witch in Atlanta’s Urban Landscape, Sara Amis

Glastonbury Syndrome: An Ecstatic Moment in Pilgrimage, Christina Beard-Moose

Born-Again Pagans: An Industrial Band Discovers Sea, Hill, and Wood, Hayes Hampton

Into the Sacred Woods: The Inner and Outer Value of a Pagan Sense of Place, Elinor Predota

Betwixt and Between the I-and-Thou, Jeffrey Albaugh

The Persistence of Romanticism in Contemporary Pagan Thought, Chas S. Clifton

My article includes comments on those by Predota, Albaugh, and Hampton, since I served as respondent to the panel session in which they were presented.

The “industrial band” was Coil, but Hampton had a little surprise awaiting him. Even though the book was produced by the Druidic house of ADF Publishing, a weird typo crept in. All of the chapter’s running heads (except two, oddly) read “Born Again Christians.”

“The return of the repressed,” he said wryly.

Printing and publishing are infested with gremlins, I always say.