Tag Archives: moon books

Top 50 – How an Introverted Druid (Me) Deals With the Idea of Being Top Anything (And a Few More Thoughts)

Earlier this week, I got a surprise Email, stating that this blog made the “Best Pagan Blogs on the Planet”. Knowing the traffic of this blog, which on its best days would be considered as “light” against many, many others, I was a touch skeptical at what I was reading. So I clicked the link and had a look. I was 26th out of the 50. There were many other blogs, which I am flattered to be included among – but some of the bigger traffic blogs were not listed at all. Not sure why. Not even sure how I managed to get into a Top-50 anything…so it was also a touch confusing.

To be fair, I am not discounting my blog’s reach or the people who read it. Nor am I trying to downplay something nice about my efforts. However, I am also a realist. It would take six or seven times the traffic that I currently get to reach the plateau that other blogs have. Most of those blogs have a platform that helps advertise and place these writer’s blogs in front of many more people. Most of these blog writer’s also have books, have been around a lot longer than I am, publish at a greater frequency, etc etc. But regardless of all of that, I am extremely grateful that some folks find my writing inspirational for their own spiritual practices. And in the end, that is what matters most to me. Traffic stats, advertising, trying to drive readership way up into the stratosphere…all of that would be nice, but it is not my primary goal.

There are a few folks that get frustrated with me over my lack of desire to promote the blog, as well as the podcast. But honestly, I have never been good at shouting my own name from the rooftops. However, I love promoting what my friends do. When I promote them, I always feel like I am pushing forward good karma for them. When I promote myself, I feel like a Vaudeville shuck-and-jive con-man. And I have never been able to completely explain why I get that unctuous feeling.

Here on the blog, I write my own feelings. I am provided a degree of anonymity through the written word. That allows me to be a bit more open with what I feel, in contrast to how I would in a face-to-face environment. Yes, I am an introvert. An introvert that is constantly shoved out of the shadows and into the light by both Coyote and Crow. And that becomes difficult to deal with from time to time, as well.

Being thrust into the spotlight is truly an uncomfortable spot for me. I do have opinions. I do have perspectives on things that happen. I do have experiences that I can relate to others on how I have walked this Path since late 1986. But I have always wondered if what I have to say, what I have to relate really matters. Thankfully, I have had a few folks remind me of just that via comments here on the blog, comments in face-to-face environments, and via Email. So, while I have that fear of saying nothing of value, quite a few others have noted otherwise. And that is what continues to have me blogging.

And then, there’s the podcast. Ever wanted to be really uncomfortable as an introvert? Try doing a podcast. Try doing a podcast where you have the chance to interview people. Where you interview people that you admire. Yeah. Thanks for that situation, Crow – my fine-feathered friend. Currently, the podcast has not put out an episode since March. Partly because of time constraints (especially the last two months with my paying job going through a huge transition – and my actual job duties changing radically with that), and partly because I keep thinking about making changes. Except, that the podcast does not need changes. It needs content. And it needs me to get to getting said content. This is another instance where I will need to concentrate on getting out of my shell. Because, honestly, I cannot continue to live in such cramped quarters.

Lastly, I will be starting another blog.  Yes, another one. I will be writing for Moon Books’ coming blog platform – as one of many bloggers. I am both thrilled and frightened at this prospect. Blogging for a platform of bloggers, with advertising behind it means a brighter light will get shone upon me. I hope I am worthy of this and that I can exceed the expectations of Moon Books. As a publisher, I have a great deal of respect for these people, as well as the writers that they bring forward through the books published there. Nervous is probably the best word to describe how I feel. I already have a pile of potential topics to write about, and will be including some aspects of research with my writing. Yeah. Nervous.

With the inclusion of writing for a blog on the Moon Books platform, this blog will continue in the format I have used it for – personal intonations on topics that catch my eye or pull at my heart. I am not sure if I have a book within me, but this year’s National Novel Writing Month will determine that to some degree. I have three ideas for what to write…two non-fiction perspectives and one fiction. I have a few more days to figure out just what I am planning on doing.

So, I made a top-50 list. How I got on the list or even into being considered for it? I honestly have no idea. According to some of the material I have found concerning the list, you had to submit your blog to be considered. I never did such a thing, which means someone out there thought enough of my blog to submit it themselves. And for that; whoever you are, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Perhaps my efforts to write better blog posts helped you to think of me. Perhaps, the topics I have been bringing compelled you to do so. Whatever the reasoning, I thank you.

 

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Review: The Art of Ritual

I started down my Pagan Path back in 1986, when I initiated into a Wiccan tradition. The concepts of being closer, more in touch, more connected with the Natural world were strong attractors for me. Some of the concepts of God and Goddess were difficult to completely comprehend, even with my own personal research into the Greek Gods and Goddesses. But the chasm to leap over wasn’t that wide, so it was a part of Wicca I understood well. Ritual, on the other hand, was an area I approached with great trepidation. This was completely unfamiliar territory – being a part of a ritual ceremony, playing a role, memorizing lines that just sounded odd to me. And to be honest, there wasn’t that much out there to help me, aside from my new coven-mates – most of whom I could barely remember their names. Damn, I really wish that Rachel Patterson‘s book, “The Art of Ritual” had been available then!

I love Moon Books, and their authors are folks that I tend to read a lot. I picked up this book because it approached an area that I still have issues with – thirty years down the Path. Most of my rituals are impromptu, and utilize very few of the “tools” that a lot of ritual ceremonies seem to. In fact, the only tool I typically seem to have on-hand is my staff. It doubles as a walking aid, as well as an impromptu weapon if the need arises. So when the Awen grabs a hold of me and has me calling Quarters and casting a circle, my gestures are punctuated by my staff. Most of the typical tools that most people associate with ritual are essentially foreign to me. Guess what?  There’s a chapter about that in this book! And the materials are explained very well, without going into ad-nauseum detail. While some of the descriptives are aimed towards a Wicca-centric knowledge-base, Rachel does a wonderful job of writing this in a manner that doesn’t have that overarching feel.

Then there’s the section about ritual preparation, as well as very well explained examples of some of the phrasing that is seemingly commonplace. What I wouldn’t give to jump into a TARDIS with this book in hand when I was first learning ritual concepts in my infant steps within Wicca. It would have saved many an awkward moment for me, not knowing if I was asking a stupid question about the way something was said. This would have been complete gold for me at that time. So I am envious of those newbies taking their first steps within Paganism with a handy guide such as this.

There’s also a detailed look at the Elements and the roles that each play within a basic ritual concept, as well as some conversation on energy working, calling the Gods and Goddesses, and preparing one’s mental frame of mind. The second part of the book focuses on an explanation of various types of rituals, the concepts behind each, as well as some advice on how to prepare one’s self for rituals. But that’s not all…. The section on ritual planning, in my opinion is worth double the price of the book, in my opinion.

Again, I wish that I had some of this written somewhere that I could have studied and worked with in my early steps on my Pagan Path. Instead, I am envious of those that will have this resource available to them, and will be happy that I will too. Even if it may be thirty years into my steps to where I am now. I can only hope that through my study at this late point on my own Path, that I will become a better ritualist – not only as a solo Pagan, but also in the future when I get the chance to work with groups. Rachel, thank you for writing this gem.

Episode 013 — Bran Cerddorion

For episode 013, I prattle on about attending the OBOD East Coast Gathering, as well as the rcent move from near Dallas to much further away (near the Oklahoma border). Then, I drop a lovely bit from Rachel Patterson, where she reads from her Pagan Portals book “Kitchen Witchcraft”. I’m not much on kitchen type stuff — but I’ve already purchased a copy of this book for myself.  🙂 Then comes an interview with Bran Cerddorion – where I do a horrible job of pronouncing his last name (why do I find Celtic and Welsh names to be more unpronounceable than Japanese or Chinese?), and totally miss the point that he only has one album out right now. But we discuss so much more than my fifty-year-old failing memory too. I play two of my favorite songs of his at the end of the show too.  Remember folks – if you like what you hear on the show – be sure to purchase the works that these marvelous authors and musicians put out. Support your Pagan bards!!

Rachel Patterson can be found at her page:  http://www.rachelpatterson.co.uk/

Her books and the books of other Moon Books authors can be found at: http://www.moon-books.net/

And the amazing music of Bran can be found at his page:  http://paganbran.com/

…I can be contacted via Email at elfster@gmail.com

Bright blessings to all of you, and have a wonderful Samhain!!

Direct Download:  http://traffic.libsyn.com/paganpath/UponaPaganPath013.mp3

Thoughts on Topics from Pope Francis’ Encyclical

Me at the 2015 ADF Texas Imbolc Retreat (photo by John Beckett)

Me at the 2015 ADF Texas Imbolc Retreat (photo by John Beckett)

Yesterday, after a super-long work week, I had the chance to read the Encyclical issued by Pope Francis. Yes, I spent the time to read the nearly 190 page document – minus the notes, bibliography and title page. After that, I spent some time reading other opinions on what the Pope had written. In the end, I found the entire ordeal a little taxing, but interesting enough to write some of my own thoughts.

Now, there are folks – even within the Pagan blogosphere – that write far better on the topic than I will. Furthermore, they will discuss in-depth what the Pope had written, and what precisely he had said. I am going to deviate from that script – again, simply because others will write far more intelligently and eloquently than I will. Instead, I will touch on some of the concepts put forth by the Encyclical and how I think in those areas. Specifically, I am going to touch on consumerism, over-population, the digital age, and climate change itself. Each one could merit a long rantish post, so I will try to keep things short and sweet, Just remember, these are my own observations on the topics. Of the four, the digital age is probably the closest to my own wheel-house, but I am by no means an expert on any of the four.

Over-population

Lets start here, because the topic tends to dove-tail – in my opinion – from this point. In any environment there’s a balance that has to be maintained for things to be “right”. For instance, an over-population of deer will destroy the ecosystem through over-feeding. The destruction of the environment by that over-feeding puts the well being of other animals that rely on that same environment for shelter and food, into jeopardy as well. What happened to make this change?  Mountain Lions and other predators were hunted to near extinction. The same thing occurs when human beings over-populate an area.

I hate to pick on cities, but let’s take a look at my own metro area – Dallas/Fort Worth. If I turned the power off tomorrow, destroyed the ability to move freight by car, plane or rail from other areas, and forced the inhabitants to rely on crops and livestock they produce themselves — its likely they would die of starvation in very large numbers. And that’s after the inevitable munching on pets, and cannibalism that would happen. Let’s face it, people will do what is necessary to survive, even measures that are unthinkable at this moment. Once this happens, the population would eventually stabilize at a point where the environment was capable of supporting the survivors. Eventually, the population would grow, farming and livestock growth methods would get better through trial and error. The growth would be small, but it would be there.

Now, before you run out to buy a crossbow and prepare for the zombie alpaca-lips (misspelling intentional), let’s take a short measure of stock, shall we?? None of that is about to occur, the point is that we live in such large numbers in various areas which overtaxes the resources of that area to the point of not being able to sustain the inhabitants whatsoever. We then rely on the transportation capacity of our nation to bring food supplies in to make up for that issue. That’s just a matter of simple supply-and-demand economics. We do need to figure out a manner in which to keep our population at a level of sustainability…I’m merely unsure of how to accomplish this. In the last century, we had two major world conflicts that drove population numbers down. I’m not suggesting that this is the way to go about controlling the population – just pointing out two events that contributed to a lower population. Hopefully, there are some smarter people out there that can come up with an idea of how to manage this in a manner that doesn’t come down to a Heinlein-ish theory, such as his idea that federal service allows you citizenship which can help in an application towards becoming a parent. A bit draconian for my taste…

In case you were wondering, the Pope glossed over the concept of population issues in the Encyclical.

Rampant Consumerism

Ok, I am one to talk here. I own a massive computer system that cost me a very large amount of money to purchase. However, my intention is for this computer to last a very, very long time. But my purchase is a symptom of consumerism. And we humans do this to a very, very large degree. We purchase items that we want and/or covet, simply because our neighbors or friends have that item. We don’t have a major use for it – just a desire to have one too. And we buy the item, along with all the wrapping and packaging that goes with it. Which gets removed and discarded wherever. Typically, it goes into the garbage bin. Or if we are a little more conscious of what we do – into the recycling bin if its plastic or cardboard or aluminum. Every Tuesday, I set my garbage out on the curb. Typically, one garbage bag and a nearly full recycling bin. I can see seven houses down the street from my front door. The amount of waste that goes out is nearly nine times that which I put out — for each house. Only two of my neighbors have more than the two people that live here. Its understandable that they would generate a bit more waste than I do. But I sincerely doubt that any of my neighbors are aware of how wasteful their spending habits are. I really doubt that they take into consideration the packaging of the products that they purchase at the grocery store before they buy them. I used to not pay attention either. Now, I look for packaging that can be recycled, as a primary factor towards my purchase. Furthermore, I do my best to purchase items that are fresh, rather than pre-packaged. The fresh items get placed into a small plastic bag, which goes into my recycling bin when I unpack the groceries at home.

In truth, I agonized over the packaging that Apple put into my Mac Pro, and my two Thunderbolt monitors. The cardboard and plastic was at a minimum, while the styrofoam supports was a touch over the top. I understand where the need to package for protection was necessary, but cardboard struts could have been utilized to a similar effect. But the packaging with styrofoam “seems” to be safer to the consumer – and thus gets utilized. I only have one option with this stuff — to the garbage bin. Which then goes to the small mountain of trash that resides a few miles from my house. The Denton county landfill. Where items are sent to degrade over many years.

Climate Change Debate

Imbolc Retreat 2015 - photo by Amanda Godwin

Imbolc Retreat 2015 – photo by Amanda Godwin

That type of population does not even take into account the amount of pollutants we put into the air through the usage of our fossil fuel engines. And that’s only a small part of the pollution problem of the environment, but it is a contributing factor to the issue of climate change. Texas has already seen some majorly crazy weather in just this calendar year. We had a very heavy snowfall in the beginning of the year.  Followed by a very unseasonable warm spat of weather right around the beginning of February which made for a nice time at the ADF Imbolc Retreat. This was followed by another very cold weather pattern, which was followed by the torrential flooding we have been going through for almost a month now. Typical weather pattern?  Possibly. In fact, I would say “yes” it was. Except that it was made more extreme in its nature through the damage that we humans have done to our ecosphere over many decades of pollution.

Climate Change deniers will speak out against the concept time and time again. They even produce scientists that will say that the data does not support the conclusion. Of course, this is to balance out against the growing number of Climatologists and Meteorologists that have already started to discern a pattern of immense change. And to be clear, this is merely the Earth trying to balance the Ecosphere back to where it should be. The patterns and shifts in weather that we currently are experiencing would have happened eventually, in response to previous man-made issues that have effected the Ecosphere. But the continued abuse of our environment, and the continued disregard of the environment as something that we are a part of (instead choosing to view the environment as something for our exclusive use) is what is bringing more severe changes as the Earth attempts to achieve balance.

It continue to bring up the point:  is there enough time to make the changes that we need in order to keep the Earth as an Ecosphere where we can survive? I sincerely doubt that there is enough time to debate whether its happening right now or not…and a bit foolish to do so, since its here already.

The Worth of the Digital Age

Binary WorldIn my opinion, this is perhaps the most controversial topic within the Encyclical, and likely to be the most over-looked. But in a simple way, the Pope has pointed out something that older internet users have all started to notice. The internet has become something it was never meant to be – the checkout line at the grocery store. The original purposes of the internet was to “share information” between researchers. Sometime around the mid 1990s, it moved into the commercial vein it has become. Sometime around ten years later, its become the digital information cesspool it is today. We utilize it to sift through information exchanges to see how our family is doing, start digital debates and flamewars on Facebook feeds, keep up with how Bruce Jenner’s sex change operation is going (like its really ANY of our business), and ease the manner in which we feed our consumerism. Oh, we do use it for information exchange (blogs, podcasts, news reports, news feeds, etc etc), but that increasingly takes a backseat to other pursuits. On Facebook, we post our memes (I do that too), we cite our inflammatory commentary from our seats in our homes – comfortable in the knowledge that we can be rude and inflammatory to others, behind the anonymity of our digital location. We utilize the digital publishing paradigm to steal intellectual property from authors, musicians, movie companies…and declare the “rightness” of the action over the “high cost” of the product. Here’s a different thought:  if the cost is too high, don’t buy it. That’s called the “marketplace” – if a consumer deems a product to be priced too high, then the demand will be driven lower, which will force the producer of the product to drive prices down to find a match with demand. Stealing product from a producer does nothing but make everything difficult for everyone – consumer and producer alike.

There are good parts to the Digital Age as well. We have speedier communications, which helps to make the world a smaller place. We can get news almost immediately from the time it happens. We can stop relying on trees to make products such as books (Yes, I do miss the feel of a good book in my hand over that of an iPad or Kindle) or album and compact-disc packaging. But we have to utilize such things as this before it makes any kind of sizable impact.

Final Thought

I sincerely doubt that the Pope’s statement will make that much of an impact anywhere in the world. I am already reading articles of people stating that Catholics are dismissing the Pope out of hand. Of course, even those articles have to be taken as a bit suspect – since the idea of digital media news can be manipulated in ways to mask the truth. Oddly enough, I find myself ending my own thoughts here not on climate change, consumerism, the merits of the digital age, or over-population. Rather, I am left with a bit of sadness that all four of these areas are met not with skeptical curiosity by most, but dismissed out of hand in the same manner in which Right-wing Conservatives and Left-wing Liberals treat the other’s perspective. As sad as my final thought is – its apparent that before we can even address the ideas of how to save our Ecosphere from ourselves, we have to dig through the muck of aggrandized propaganda to find the real merit of those ideas.

Celebrating Planet EarthOne manner of getting past that and finding the real truth is working across spiritual lines, which means that the air needs to be cleared of the propaganda. This is done quite well in the book “Celebrating Planet Earth” from Moon Books. I wrote a review of this book recently, and I would suggest that it is discussions such as this that will be the real measure of paving the way forward. As I stated before…there are people out there who are a lot more eloquent and concise on this topic within the Pagan blogosphere…and in the Pagan book-world as well.

Book Review: Celebrating Planet Earth

Celebrating Planet EarthI am a big fan of causes that cross faith lines. After all, we all live on this massive floating rock in space, there has to be something that we can all agree on — aside from killing one another in pointless battles over whose religion is right/wrong. The human race can certainly agree that pointless actions such as this are certainly the “vogue” moment in time. No, setting the sarcasm to the side, I have just finished an interesting title from Moon Books – Celebrating Planet Earth, a Pagan/Christian Conversation: First Steps in Interfaith Dialogue. Unlike many interfaith dialogue titles that I have come across, the point of this book is not to solve a problem and provide a conclusion that sets the steps towards a solution. Rather, the point – as I discerned it – was to seek that rarest of positions: common ground. And to achieve this, the individuals who are involved start by discussing the negative perceptions that each area of belief has towards the other. There’s no debate. There’s a lengthy discussion of how negative perceptions come about, an honest acknowledgement of where differences are, and an offering of where common ground can be achieved. Once this is established, a discussion of how each side of the discussion sees the environment is made.

Perhaps the most interesting part of this – for me – was that this took place in the physical sense. The event started as a face-to-face meeting/discussion between Druids and Christians in Somerset, UK. Then, the event was widened considerably to include more Pagans into the conversation. I certainly wish that I had been included in a discussion like this. As a book read, it was a very interesting, and compelling discussion. I can only imagine how dynamic it was when it happened in person!

I’m quite a bit biased when I say that this is definitely something to pick up and read. The topic – the natural aspect of this planet we all inhabit – is one that is near and dear to my own heart and beliefs. The idea – an interfaith conversation between Pagans and Christians in order to find common ground – is a concept that I have been championing for many years. Plus, there’s no debate held here. Each side acknowledges and understands that we have a role as a caretaker of our environment. Its the first steps of a dialogue – a conversation. And if I may be so bold to say – its not only rather ambitious, but also spot-on!

Rating: Five enthusiastic stars out of five!

Episode 011 – The Goddess Nemetona

In this month’s episode, Moon Books author Joanna Van DerHoeven returns with an intriguing talk she gave at the Leaping Hare conference in Essex during March of this year. A perfect dovetail to her novel “Dancing With Nemetona”, I found the talk to be extremely intriguing and honestly leaving me with a strong desire to come back to the island soon.

There is also sad news to bring along with the passing of Flint from Dragon Ritual Drummers. In tribute, I feature two of their songs in the show:  “Invocation of the Spirits” from their album “The Epic” A Drum Opera”, and closing the show with “Papa Legba” from their album “Dragon Ritual Drummers Vol. II”. Rock on Flint…safe journeys beyond the veil.

Last, but not least, is the new addition to the Book Corner segment. Nimue Brown, another Moon Books author, stops by with a reading from her book “Druidry and the Ancestors”. To be honest, its a moment not to miss…its truly awesome.

As always, you can reach me via Email:  elfster@gmail.com  Thanks for downloading the show!

Joanna Van DerHoeven’s web site is located at http://www.joannavanderhoeven.com and her personal blog is located at http://downtheforestpath.com. Please take the time to check those sites out – and don’t forget her marvelous books which can be found at http://www.moon-books.net/authors/joanna-van-der-hoeven.

Dragon Ritual Drummers’ home page can be found on the web at: http://dragonritualdrummers.com/ . Links to where their music can be purchased, as well as bios of the band, its history and merchandise can also be found there.

Nimue’s books can be found at Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/Nimue-Brown/e/B00AZM663S/ .  Nimue’s wonderful and superb blog can be found at:  https://druidlife.wordpress.com/author/brynneth/ . Her books can also be found at: http://www.moon-books.net/authors/nimue-brown/ .

Check out other authors with Moon Books at their website:  http://www.moon-books.net/ .

Remember to support your independent Pagan artist, musician, author, poet, writer, blogger, podcaster, speaker, Bard, etc etc. Keep their Awen flowing!

Direct Download link:  http://traffic.libsyn.com/paganpath/UponaPaganPath011.mp3