“You may say this to Théoden son of Thengel: open war lies before him… None may live now as they have lived, and few shall keep what they call their own.”— Aragorn, speaking to Éomer on the eve of the War of the Ring; from J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Two Towers
A month ago, my wife attended a town meeting here in Hadley, Massachusetts, concerning prevention of war with Iran. The meeting was sponsored by a number of local organizations, including the Order of the White Oak. Given the events in the last few weeks, which appear to be bringing us closer and closer to war, we felt it essential to distribute this information as widely as possible.
These are the notes my wife took at the meeting.
Continue reading “A Crime in Our Names: Iran”
In the previous post, I outlined a model of prestige and stigma which predicts whether a language or religion will grow or wither in a society. Now let’s take the prestige/stigma model and look at Neopaganism today. By these measures, Neopaganism is in trouble.
Imagine trying to revive the Latin language. Imagine speaking it at home, teaching it to your children, seeking out Latin translations of modern works, and using it instead of English whenever you could. What would your friends and neighbors think? Do you think lots of people would jump on the bandwagon with you? Do you think that the revived Latin movement — “Neolatinism” — would have much of a future in your society? There are no celebrities speaking Latin on TV. There are no government officials speaking Latin in press conferences. Latin is stigmatized as a dead language with no future; why would anyone want to learn it?
If the analogy between religion and language holds, Neopaganism is in exactly the same situation as Neolatinism would be.
Continue reading “The Future of Neopaganism in the West, Part II: Going Organic”
Modern religions that are derived from or inspired by the indigenous polytheistic traditions of Europe (I’ll call them Neopagan) have experienced a great resurgence in the last couple of hundred years, and especially in the last fifty or so. This is surprising, because prior to that, everyone pretty much thought they were gone for good.
Continue reading “The Future of Neopaganism in the West, Part I: Prestige and Stigma”
If you’ve been reading here a good long while, you remember my review of The Mist-Filled Path, a book by Frank MacEowen that struck my life with great force a year and a half ago. Frank’s message came to me at just the right time, and I found that it resolved a lot of issues with the direction of my spiritual path, as well as laying down rich soil for growth. Perhaps the most profound gift the book gave me was a deepening of my sense of comfort and rightness in the label ‘druid’, which I had adopted as my own just a few months before, and the path circumscribed by that term.
But people are not labels, as Frank makes very clear by his own example. His path has wound among Zen Buddhism, shamanic studies, Celtic spirituality, and Jungian psychology, with a dash of poetry thrown in. He has undergone the ‘shaman sickness’, participated in the Lakota Sun Dance, and slept alone in burial mounds in Scotland, listening to the song of the world.
Frank’s latest book, The Celtic Way of Seeing: Meditations on the Irish Spirit Wheel, is vastly different from The Mist-Filled Path. The latter is a journeyman’s chronicle, a spiritual travelogue; but The Celtic Way of Seeing is a great map of the soul. Frank looks at the ancient divisions of Ireland, and the connections between that sacred physical space and the sacred spiritual space within us. It’s a book that packs a lot of punch, especially for those of us inclined to think in terms of maps and landscapes. I’ll be writing a full review soon.
In the meantime, I’m absolutely ecstatic to present this interview with Frank, in which he very graciously opens himself up with characteristic insight and honesty on all kinds of topics. I asked Frank five questions, and I’m going to present four of them here; the fifth I’ll save for the review of The Celtic Way of Seeing, since it will make more sense in that context. And now I’m going to scurry out of the way and let you jump right into the interview!
Continue reading “Interview with Frank MacEowen: Moving Beyond Labels”