It was a dark and stormy night…

It was a dark and stormy night…

It is from the east, now, that something new approaches the Byrnecock estate. Along the thin road bordered by hedgerows that cut across the hillsides come a pair of gaslit headlamps, illuminating with their amber light the slanting rain that dashes down through a plume of rising steam. The hedgerows have been thinned by the season to a tangle of bare limbs and would cast long, haunting shadows of grasping phantasms across the dampened earth if not for the low, dense clouds that so thoroughly blot out the moon. The thin, wide wheels of the carriage spin steadily despite the rain, hardly slipping across the slick track of mud and fallen leaves. There is no sad, sodden beast trotting along mournfully before this carriage, no sound of hoofbeats muffled by the wet autumn litter. Instead, a kind of wide, flat cart and on it, a large cylinder of dark metal that sizzles slightly in the downpour. The hiss and sigh of small pistons pumping a series of nested gears on either side quite drown out the low conversation of the occupants who sit, rigid and poised, casting slim silhouettes on the fogged window panes from the dry interior of the cab.

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Why (Not) Be a Christian?

Why (Not) Be a Christian?

Why be a Christian (if no one goes to hell)?

That might seem like an odd question for a Pagan Druid to be asking, but it’s the title of a new book by Daniel Meeter that caught my eye.* I like to take up these challenges every now and then, in part because remembering the religious tradition that I came from helps to remind me why I left, and what lessons or insights of value I want to hold onto and carry with me into the future, even if I no longer call myself a Christian. After all, I remember being a Christian. In fact I was, if I may say so, a really fantastic Christian. I Christianed the hell out of that shit. So what happened? It’s a long story (with a few twists and turns). Suffice it to say, I’m in a different place in my life now, and that place gives me a different perspective on the purpose of the spiritual life and the assumptions we bring to it. That’s why I wanted to read Meeter’s book. To stretch my muscles a bit, to remember what it’s like to think about the world differently, and to keep my interfaith work bilingual and useful.

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Tarot, NaNoWriMo and You

Tarot, NaNoWriMo and You

We’re nearly a week into National Novel Writing Month, and I’m taking a break from writing The Fantastical Adventures of the Working Title to share a little bit about my process. Until a few weeks ago, when it came to fiction writing, I didn’t have one. Enter: the Steampunk Tarot.

Now my whole process takes about an hour, and I repeat it whenever my writing begins to slow down to a snail’s pace and I find myself taking twenty minutes to describe the minute details of the brocade pillows on the chaise lounge where the heroine has been reclining awkwardly waiting for her narrator to realize nobody gives a shit about brocade pillows.

Here’s how it works.

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Salmon, Pagan Stewardship and the Lesson of Samhain

Salmon, Pagan Stewardship and the Lesson of Samhain

For me, Salmon has claimed her place along the year’s wheel at Samhain-tide. The salmon run at Piper’s Creek begins by the first day of November and lasts as late as the winter solstice. It is a time of cool, steady rain, a time of death and consummation. It is the in-between time, just after the Celtic New Year, but before the dawn of lengthening days. A time when new life begins in the dark, buried beneath the gravel of the streambed, invisible and silent.

I think in many ways, modern Paganism is in this twilight time before rebirth as well. Seeded and kept alive from generation to generation after two millennia of broken traditions and scattered, assimilated cultures. We strive to root our traditions in the land, in a sense of place and in the presence of earth, but the social systems upstream don’t make it easy.

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Steampunk Druidry

Steampunk Druidry

About two minutes in to exploring Steampunk as a counterculture movement, it dawned on me — this isn’t historical re-enactment. It isn’t about the past. It’s about now, and the kind of society we want to live in, and the ways in which we want the world to work. It’s playful, with room for both the burlesque and the gentile. Anyone who wants a title, can have a title. Anyone more drawn to the ‘punk’ aspect can play it that way. It turns out that there’s room for anyone who wants in, and you don’t even need a pair of goggles.

The surface of Steampunk offers a burgeoning fiction genre, an aesthetic that seems to be catching on all over the place, a music scene — sepiacore and chap hop, and no doubt more to come. There’s a growing arts and crafts movement within the community, and there are going to be inventors, I have no doubt. There probably are already. Steampunk is about innovation in every area of human endeavour, and it’s about doing good stuff, with a social conscience and a sense of humour.

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Double-Rainbow Dawn: A Story of Balance and Karma

Do you ever find yourself awake just before dawn, lying in the dark, your mind gnawing on some old, persistent anxiety?

This morning I was worrying about money. Not surprising — a lot of us worry about money these days. I was worrying about money because of an email yesterday from the Ew about a timeshare that she and Jeff had bought years ago when they were married.

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Natural Theology: Polytheism Beyond the Pale » No Unsacred Place

Natural Theology: Polytheism Beyond the Pale » No Unsacred Place

In my latest post over on No Unsacred Place, I explore in more detail what it means to take an ecological approach to polytheism through the concept of “natural theology,” and the kinds of tough questions that this kind of inquiry might challenge us to ask:

“Ecology does not reject the hard sciences that came before it, but brings together and expands upon them. In this same way, natural polytheism draws on an ecological approach to theology to build upon the insights of hard polytheism, challenging us to deepen our relationships with the gods by asking more challenging questions about their relationships with us, with each other and with the natural world. …”

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Women of Valor: Glorifying Motherhood, Abandoning Mothers

Women of Valor: Glorifying Motherhood, Abandoning Mothers

To me, a woman without children, the idea that a mother might not have even a few hours to herself to nurture her passions and pursue her own dreams is horrifying. Who could be more deeply concerned with the future of our society? Who could have more at stake in the work to see the arc of history bend swift and sure towards justice? Who could want more for a better world for future generations, than a mother?

What words do we have for her? Is it enough to tell her that we honor her sacrifice and expect her to keep soldiering on? Do we pay lip-service to her noble self-giving as a way of refusing her the full depth of her desires, the fullness and complexity of her humanity?

Or do we find a new way of living together?

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Glimpses of the Pacific

Glimpses of the Pacific

Jeff and I spent last week enjoying the beauties of the Oregon coast, where I got my first glimpse of the Pacific Ocean in earnest, and then went on to attend the amazing and inspiring Wild Goose Festival during Labor Day weekend. More on that in an upcoming blog post, but for now I’m still catching up on things like email and sleep.

So in the meantime, here are a few glimpses of the gorgeous Pacific Northwest that I now call home.

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Dark Moon Waiting

Dark Moon Waiting

Three nights of waiting, building power under the dark moon. I have done my preparation. I have cleared the space in the waning light. I have drawn the circle around myself in salt and stone, strength and love. The borders of my life are bare. I have released the old attachments that will no longer serve. I have made peace with the yammering beasts and bitches, buried them in the dirt beneath the forest floor, given them to the earth to hold and keep and break open and transform. I have felt the night air cool on my naked skin. Now, I have three long nights of waiting to begin.

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