Magical Thinking: Science vs. Spirit

In 1937, E. E. Evans Pritchard published a seminal work of anthropology entitled Witchcraft, Oracles and Magic Among the Azande. Pritchard had been studying the Azande, a people living along the upper Nile, for eleven years. In it, he recorded the interesting case of someone who cast a death spell on another member of the tribe. The victim died soon afterwards, killed without warning by a collapsing roof.

ire28The curious Pritchard soon discovered that this roof had been riddled with termites. When he brought this to the attention of the tribe, and asked whether they still believed the spell had worked, they replied, well, of course.

“But it wasn’t the spell that collapsed the roof!” said Pritchard. “It was termites!”

“Yes,” said the people of the tribe. “But how did it just happen to fall at that time, when the victim was under it?”

Continue reading “Magical Thinking: Science vs. Spirit”

The Nature Church: A Place for All Pagans

Our Druid grove has recently become involved in a really exciting (and daunting) project that could provide a real boon to all Pagans here in western Massachusetts — and all down the Atlantic Coast of North America, for that matter.

ire2For the most part, the Pagan community here in western Mass can be described as reasonably large, out in the open, and close-knit. But no one knows how many Pagans here are practicing alone, eschewing contact with the rest of us, for whatever reason. And there could be entire communities of Pagans that keep themselves to themselves and never reach out to the larger community.

A Natural Enclave

The Nature Church was that kind of community. Founded in the 1970’s by a close group of friends, it grew slowly, not seeking out or advertising for new members and not communicating with other Pagans nearby — not out of enmity, but simply because the community was whole as it was.

The Church, which is a recognized non-profit organization, owns 2.6 acres of land, the focus of the Church’s activities for thirty years. Here the members gathered on full moons and celebrated their community; here they came together on feast days to worship together and share a meal. They had no dogma: while in general the congregation followed the Celtic Pagan path, there were members of Abrahamic religions as well, — polytheists and monotheists, God worshippers and Goddess worshippers. All were welcome, and all were committed to developing a personal, individual relationship with Spirit.

The Church property is mostly forested, but includes an organic garden, a dilapidated shack (de rigueur on land that was once farmed), a sauna, a barn, and the charred remnants of the meeting house, which was destroyed by arson at Imbolc this year. Continue reading “The Nature Church: A Place for All Pagans”

Spiritual Weight Loss: the Body as the Soul’s Mirror

Frankly, I never expected to address weight loss on this blog.

whatdoyouwantI mean, yes, it’s a problem I’ve had, but it’s never been severe; and anyway (I tell myself) it’s such a mundane issue, no one wants to hear about my latest attempt to diet… And it’s such a simple thing — all I have to do (I tell myself) is get a little more discipline and the problem will simply disappear!

But I’ve been searching for that “little bit of discipline” for twenty years

Regular readers will, I’m sure, be delighted to know that I haven’t changed my mind. I will not be addressing my weight problem on this blog.

Instead, Kara-Leah Masina, in an amazing display of generosity of spirit, will be addressing my weight problem on her blog.

Continue reading “Spiritual Weight Loss: the Body as the Soul’s Mirror”

Interfaith Blog Event #6: FAITH (Faith in Druidism)

I’m honored to have been invitied to join in an interfaith blog conversation held by Mike (writing from the Mahayana Buddhist perspective), Jon (a Protestant Christian), Sojourner (pagan/UU), and Matt (an evangelical Christian) — all bloggers I hold in high esteem. Every month (or thereabouts), we write on a topic of interest to us all. This month’s topic is faith:

What is your view regarding the meaning and the role of faith? What importance does it play in your community and in your daily life?

The links to the other articles in the conversation will be updated as they are posted:

[Mike’s Essay] [Jon’s Essay] [Sojourner’s Essay] [Matt’s Essay]

Faith in Druidism

Faith in Druidism is a tricky topic.

ire430eThere are plenty of polytheistic druids, who try to adhere as closely as they can to the pantheon of gods worshipped by the ancient Celts. I am one of those. Then there are duotheistic druids, who believe in a God and Goddess, much as many Wiccans do; and panethiestic druids, and animist druids… There are druids who worship a pantheon of gods who were admittedly made up (or discovered?) out of thin air by college students in the 1960’s. There are druids that practice a mixture of Celtic mysticism and Buddhism (which are not nearly so far apart as you might think — in fact, the similarities are frequently striking). There are even Christian druids, who practice a form of Christianity native to Scotland and Ireland in the latter half of the first millenium (known as “Celtic Christianity”). For all I know, there may be agnostic or atheistic druids as well.

How can this be? What unites all these belief systems?

Continue reading “Interfaith Blog Event #6: FAITH (Faith in Druidism)”

Top Ten Druid Journal Blog Posts

To my great surpise, delight, and slight embarassment, Kara-Leah Masina has posted a staggeringly positive review of the Druid Journal over at her site. Thank you, Kara-Leah! I’m so glad you’re enjoying my site. And thanks also to all of you who are reading my words: it’s such a privilege to be able to share my ruminations and explorations with such a diverse, inquisitive, and insightful audience. To reach out, to touch and inspire even one person, one time, with this blog, is a tremendous privilege; so when I see my subscriber list and traffic growing week by week, the word gratitude seems woefully inadequate.

tolkientarotiiiOne thing Kara-Leah mentions is that she wishes I had a Top Ten list of popular blog posts available to help her navigate deeper into the site. Until recently I actually did have such a list out — in fact, I had half a dozen lists of popular blog posts, sorted by month. However, for whatever reason, no one ever clicked on them! So last week I took them down, and I decided to rely more on the “More about…” links at the bottom of each article.

However, for the talented and winsome Kara-Leah and anyone else who shares her preferences, today I offer two Top Ten lists: the Top Ten most visited blog posts, and my personal Top Ten favorite list.


  1. Eight Reasons Why TV is Evil
  2. How to Choose a Religion VIII: Old Religions, New Religions
  3. Do Evil Spirits Exist?
  4. The Structure of Consciousness, Part One: Archetypes and Circuits
  5. Alban Elued Revival Druid Ritual
  6. On Subjective Reality I: Strange Questions
  7. Carl Jung’s Shadow on the Stairs
  8. Great Articles on the Law of Attraction
  9. Possible New Celtic Language Discovered
  10. Phonosemantics: Find the Meaning of Your Name


  1. The Purpose of the Universe
  2. Children in Paganism
  3. Running with Cernunnos
  4. My Anima
  5. Why I Blog (or: I’m on a Mission from a God)
  6. On Subjective Reality II: the Belief Community Model
  7. How to Choose a Religion VII: Languages of Spirit
  8. How to Choose a Religion VI: the Search for Truth
  9. The Mist-Filled Path I
  10. The Mist-Filled Path II


Fionn Mac Cumhaill Sings of Beltane

The following is a poem attributed to one of the greatest Irish heroes, Fionn Mac Cumhaill, said to have been composed by him shortly after gaining the gift of poetry from the salmon of wisdom.

ire36May-day, season surpassing!
Splendid is color then.
Blackbirds sing a full lay,
if there be a slender shaft of day.

The dust-colored cuckoo calls aloud:
Welcome, splendid summer!
The bitterness of bad weather is past,
the boughs of the wood are a thicket.

Summer cuts the river down,
the swift herd of horses seeks the pool,
the long hair of the heather is outspread,
the soft white bog-down grows.

Panic startles the heart of the deer,
the smooth sea runs apace-
season when ocean sinks asleep-
blossom covers the world. Continue reading “Fionn Mac Cumhaill Sings of Beltane”