Wednesday, March 04, 2009

A Pagan Testament and Talking About the Elephant

Is there such a thing as a Pagan Testament? (1) Author Brendon Myers thinks so. Here are some notes about his book:

Pagans often claim that their spiritual inspiration comes not from a written scripture but from personal experience and original creativity. While this is true, there are also many written works which constitute its "testament", or its central literary expressions of spiritual identity. Some of them are thousands of years old, such as the Descent of Ishtar, and the Homeric Hymn to Demeter. Others are more recent, such as the Charge of the Goddess. These written works have not been brought together, in the same book, since the movement began.

"A Pagan Testament" collects these original works, along with the poetry and prose that inspired the founders of Wicca when it all began. It also includes the largest collection of circle songs and wisdom teachings ever published. These together form something like the Pagan equivalent of the Biblical books of Psalms and Proverbs. They show that Paganism is continually growing and being contributed to. Finally, the book includes an original and valuable philosophical commentary and interpretation.

This book includes the results of the Pagan Chant-Song Project: over 100 wisdom-teachings and 130 circle songs, contributed by almost two thousand people, from twelve different countries around the world.

Talking About the Elephant - edited by Lupa:

You might also care to read a recent review of Talking About The Elephant over at the Wild Hunt Blog.
It is safe to say that the issue of cultural appropriation is one that often generates more heat than light when brought up in various forums. From Goddess worshippers trying to negotiate a manner in which to properly honor indigenous voices, to polytheistic reconstructionists balancing historical and cultural fidelity with “UPG” (unverified personal gnosis) and syncretic urges, many of these discussions can end up as bitter flame-wars with both sides hurling brickbats at the other. “Talking About the Elephant” bravely steps into the midst of these simmering debates and attempts to both discuss the various forms of appropriation existing within modern Paganism (everything from Vedic Druids to Christo-Pagans), whether appropriations can or cannot be done respectfully, and the somewhat murky issue of authenticity. While there are a variety of perspectives on display in the collection, there is an overwhelming message here that modern Pagans do need to be more careful in spiritual seeking and how they present themselves.
May we all find what we (respectfully and consciously) seek. As a wise man once said, "You can't always get what you want, but you get what you need."


Women and Spirituality by Alive Mind at youtube
This is taken from the Women and Spirituality series of DVD's. There is some good information (some of which is still debated among Pagan scholars) along with stunning imagery and some great conversations in this series, which was made in 1993. The video is dated and a great deal of new information has come forward in women's history since it was made, but if you are new to Women's Spirituality this is an inspiring place to start. As with any historical issue, I recommend doing a wide range of reading on these subjects from a variety of sources, keeping each person's credentials and intent in mind.

(1) A small point: Use of the world "testament" with it's Christian/patriarchal overtones is not a word I would have used in a feminist/Pagan context, even though it is common usage. World Wide Words notes that many people believe "testament" is related to the biblical practice of swearing an oath on one's testicles and adds that:

The Latin word for a witness was testis, which derives from an Indo-European word for the number three. That was because the Romans regarded a witness as what we would call a trusted third party, one who stands aside from the dispute and can tell it how it really was. The Romans did also use the word testis in a figurative way to mean testicle. The idea seems to have been that a testicle was a witness to a man’s virility.

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