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

vintage bar2 96dpi

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.

Why Academics Should Blog

(with examples from religious studies)

Mark Goodacre at NT Blog makes the argument for blogging’s benefits, part of a series of blogger responses (links in his post):

I sometimes wonder whether one should think of publication as being on a continuum, from tweets to blogs to critical notes to articles to introductory books to monographs.  The summit of all publication is the monograph, and the well-written monograph actually takes some real skill and effort.  Tweets, on the other hand, at the other end of the spectrum, are forgotten almost as soon as they are uttered.  Blogs are somewhere in between.  They take a bit more effort than a tweet but like them they are pretty ephemeral.  It’s remarkable just how quickly we forget them, and that’s if we ever read them in the first place.

Now, back to the monograph.

Around the Pagan Blogosphere

• At The Used Key Is Always Bright, a young boy’s dream of “small gods” intriguingly includes “the god of keys.

• Ivo Dominguez deals with someone who thinks that His People own the idea of four directions, the elements, etc. Via Miniver Cheevy, where there is a postscript.

• Christopher Penzcak talks about the Mighty Dead and the idea that “There is a part of the Inner Planes, the Other World, which is called Witchdom. There you may learn much, if you can contact it. There are spells and chants, dances and music and such woods and streams as delight the hearts of witches.” That came from a “channeling” done by Doreen Valiente in the 1960s; make of it what you will.

Now We Are Ten

10candlesTen years ago, I started a blog using Blogger’s FTP service to my own domain, which you cannot do any more. Blogs were the cool new thing.

If you go back and look at the archives (sidebar, scroll down past the blogroll), you will find that my concerns then looked a lot like my concerns now.

Progress is an illusion.

Publisher Drops Suits Against Blogging Librarian

A  university librarian who described Edwin Mellen Press on his blog as “dubious” and as offering “second-class scholarship” was sued in turn by the press, but the lawsuit has now been dropped.

The lawsuits inspired scholars from around North America to rally behind Askey. Created by Martha Reineke, a professor of religion at the University of Northern Iowa, a petition demanding EMP to drop its lawsuits had garnered more than 3,100 names as of Monday morning.

EMP told CBC Hamilton on Monday that it “has discontinued the court case against McMaster University and Dale Askey.”

In a statement, the company added: “financial pressure of the social media campaign and press on authors is severe. EMP is a small company. Therefore [it] must choose to focus its resources on its business and serving its authors.”

The key words appear to have been “social media campaign.” In the relatively small world of academic publishing, it got results.

I notice that Mellen’s website describes them as a “non-subsidy academic publisher.” That was not always my impression, but OK. Another page, however, states “The Edwin Mellen Press refuses to write, rewrite, or revise any author’s text.” Not hiring copy editors saves money!

UPDATE: See comments.