alithea: (We are all made of stars)
This is exactly the kind of hateful, patronising nonsense that makes me think I should really get around to joining the Pagan Federation or some such.

I wouldn't mind if she was an atheist and thought all religions were silly but no, paganism is an absurd cult for fascists and crazies while her religion is the root of all morality!


Fortunately for me, while Ms Phillips' definition of a religion doesn't include paganism (or Buddhism for that matter!), the British legal system's definition does, so exactly the same legislation which forbids anyone discriminating against her because of her daft beliefs, also protects my rights to my daft beliefs, thank you very much. So she can rant all she likes but in the eyes of the Law, her religion isn't any more or less valid than mine and if she thinks that makes all beliefs equally meaningless, well, she said it, not me.

ETA:Whereas here is a nice informative article from the Telegraph

Further ETA: response by Emma Restall Orr as a representative of the Druid Network
And this Comment is Free article about the mad woman - apparently she's a global warming denier and a fan of Intelligent Design, I guess that means I should be flattered that she doesn't approve of paganism!


Mar. 19th, 2010 06:07 pm
alithea: (Default)
I'm feeling rather cheerful indeed this afternoon because it looks like my work contract is going to be extended until at least April next year, which is very handy money-wise, and the projects sound really interesting too so it might even be enjoyable! Also, I've written my paper for the meeting down in London next month and Pete said it was great and didn't make any alterations at all when he read it. I still have to prepare my presentation of course, but at least I've stopped having kittens at the very idea...

In other news, I finished reading An Echo in the Bone and spoilers... not anything I would describe as a major spoiler about what happens to any of the individual characters, but I'm warning you anyway )

Also, anyone who hasn't been watching The Wonders of the Solar System on BBC2 really should be. As someone with strong pantheist leanings, this programme has been a complete revelation to me (quite literally, when it comes to understanding why I'm so drawn to spirals as religious symbols over any of the more common pagan symbols), but you don't have to hold the Universe sacred to find this an awe-inspiring programme; it's definitely the best science programme I've ever seen. And very engagingly presented too. I'm also loving Mastercrafts, Caprica and Glee.
alithea: (Default)
I was going to post a picture of my sparkly Yule tree today but I just discovered that both sets of camera batteries are flat so you'll have to wait until I've recharged them!

I finished reading The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly before I went swimming at lunchtime. It took me a little while to get into it, but when I did, I really enjoyed it, particularly when it turned out to have Roland in it and reminded me of The Dark Tower series. Maybe it's strange coming from a 31 1/2 year old, but I still find Coming of Age stories mean a lot to me and this one was particularly timely, reminding me that the important thing about fear is not that we don't feel it, but that we don't let it paralyze us or drive us into doing things we would never normally contemplate. It strikes me that having the courage to face our fears and act noblely inspite of them is a big part of getting the most out of this journey we call life, and as Roland's tale illustrates, it's the journey that matters...

Also, I've been surrounded by people squeeing about Tim Minchin for most of the year and have been thoroughly bemused, but then a friend pointed me towards his Christmas song, 'White Wine in the Sun' and now I get what everyone is on about. For those of you who can't be bothered to click on the YouTube link and listen, it's a rather poignant and touching ballad about how he really likes Christmas because he spends it with his family, the people who make him feel safe in this world, and it sums up really nicely why I don't hold any truck with people who insist Christmas is pointless without Jesus (no offense to the Christians out there whose religious festival has been co-opted, but I think you have to accept that these days, in the UK at least, it is a secular festival to the majority of people who celebrate it)(even though I'm not freaked out by churches and would rather have Desmond Tutu than Dawkins over for dinner). The bit about the hymns particularly stuck a chord (*heehee*) because it is the singing that I miss most about going to Church on Christmas Eve.


Oct. 29th, 2009 05:04 pm
alithea: (Being human (base by ahlai))
I've been feeling a bit mopey this week, mostly hormonal I think, but the largely miserable weather and the clock change hasn't helped, so I was going to have a good whinge. Then several friends posted about family members seriously ill in hospital, health scares, and potential homelessness and I came back to reality pretty quickly. If all I have to moan about is no job when I have savings in the bank and cheap living costs and an employed partner to share them, and my kitchen falling apart, life really isn't so bad is it? Even if said partner has been busy getting latex and paint all over said falling apart kitchen!

In other news, I seem to have become the top destination for the local Jehovah's Witnesses. The guy is interesting to chat to but if he keeps turning up I'm going to feel obliged to ask him in for a cuppa or something and my house is a tip at present! Must tidy the lounge...
alithea: (altar candle (please do not take))
This is a pretty good article about the rise of Paganism in the UK, except for her insistance that Harry Potter helped make "pagan spirituality and mythology part of pop culture". Given that religion is completely absent from Harry's world, the books probably have less to do with pagan spirituality than any other books which include witches and magic that I can think of!

Hope everyone had a good Midsummer's Day yesterday. We didn't manage a countryside visit, but we did have a lovely little feast of Scottish lamb with roast spuds, and steamed carrots and leeks, followed by raspberries with creamy peach yoghurt, all accompanied by elderflower cordial. Yum, yum :)
alithea: (altar candle (please do not take))
Between being ill and the Boy being away, I've watched rather more TV than usual over the past few days. The Olympics has been pretty entertaining, especially with the women doing so well (although the girl my sister went to school with didn't make it into the final of her rowing event EDIT: I spoke too soon, apparently her and her partner qualified in the repechage), but I think my favourite thing so far remains the Monkey and friends Journey East animation, which is rather fab indeed.

I've been watching Bones on DVD too. It's a cut above CSI and the like because the characters are so well written, although now I'm on season 2, I'm missing Goodman and the guy who ran the chinese restaurant and always knew what to feed everyone.

Last night, I watched Make me a Christian as I'm always interested by the portrayal of faith and religion on TV. The voice-over got my back up straight away with overblown comments about British moral decay straight out of the Daily Mail, and the basic assertion that one must be Christian to have strong morals is a pet hate of mine. I suspect the way the programme is edited and narrated will mean we don't see a true reflection of the experiment, which is a shame. It is clear that most of the volunteers are lacking any kind of spirituality in their lives but for a lot of people, I doubt having a very 'avoidance of sin' heavy message forced down their throats is the way to encourage that. One of the participants featured heavily in the first episode is a tarot-obsessed, practicing witch with body dismorphia issues and a taste for hideously expensive shoes. It was sad that she had focussed on the paraphenalia and casting spells to get what she wanted and not into the spiritual side, where the notion of the sacred feminine might have helped her to address her body issues and self-worth. But then these people volunteered so they are unlikely to be secure in a different faith. I'll be interested to see more about the guy who is a muslim convert.
alithea: (Red Inara (made by singingrl))
BBrrrr! It's amazing how a few days in a milder area makes you feel the cold back in the Frozen North, although it's probably as much because I'm tired as anything, straight to bed after BSG tonight! And a nice cuppa and chocolate in the meantime :)

I didn't have time to blog about it before I left on Friday but I was most gratified upon reading last week's New Scientist, to discover that there are people out there who actually agree with me regarding the percieved conflict between Science and Religion. For those of you who have missed the arguments around here about it, while I agree that some individual religious traditions, or at least some of their followers, are anti-science, I do not see an inherent conflict between being a person of science and a person of faith, and I get very frustrated when the rabid atheists (as i like to call them, as opposed to the perfectly reasonable 'believe what you like so long as it doesn't hurt anyone, and you don't shove it down my throat or expect me to live by your rules' atheists) rant about how no rational person could possibly believe in something that current science cannot prove ('cos no-one has a faith based on personal evidence, right?), and use arguments almost entirely based on the Abrahamic faiths' notion of God and Creation ('cos all religious people believe God is a man who sits on a cloud and created the world in 7 days and people in his image, right?). Anyway, John Gray, Professor of European Thought at the London School of Economics, wrote the following while reviewing a book about Islam and Science:

If advocates of creationism or intelligent design lack intellectual rigour, then the militant Darwinists who attack religion while knowing virtually nothing of the immense varieties of religious belief and experience are no better.

The true conflict may not be between science and religion, but between science and monotheist faiths in which humans have a privileged place in the world.

Hear, hear!!

Finally, I was bemused to witness the amount of furore in the media over Britney shaving her head last week. As the TV news story I happened to catch progressed, she did come across as a bit of a mess, but to start with they seemed to be asserting that just the act of removing her hair must obviously mean she was having some sort of break down! Why, I wondered, is it so shocking for a woman to shave her head, or lose her hair for that matter, while bald men are just a fact of life? Turns out, I wasn't the only person wondering, and Women's Hour had a piece about it this morning, which was rather interesting listening. Despite finding it somewhat bemusing that lack of hair is such a strong statement for women in our society, I have to confess, I entirely empathise with Jenni and Prof Lisa Jardine, who found hair loss the most upsetting aspect of breast cancer. My mother was just the same, and putting myself in their place, I would be far more devastated to lose my hair, albeit temporarily, than my breasts (although in my case, that is heightened by the fact I have a very small chest and therefore have never seen my breasts as a fundemental expression of my feminine identity). I guess the importance of my hair to my identity, coupled with my control freak tendencies, make it abundantly clear why i have such an aversion to hairdressers!

As a side note, it was also interesting to hear, that while the cultural studies lecturer could appreciate nuns shaving their heads as an act of renunciation, she couldn't see Muslim women covering their heads as anything other than them being oppressed by men, which is maybe a somewhat bizarre dichotomy given that the nuns belong to religions ruled by men too...
alithea: (altar candle (please do not take))
Hmmm, yes, i don't like this new 'update journal' page format either :(


We have sunshine finally! From Saturday onwards, it has been cold, frosty and sunny with clear blue skies. Yay!

Have lots to do which is why I'm pratting around on here, my excuse being that my hair is only recently dry and now I should have lunch before I venture into the cold. At some point, there will probably be To-Do lists posted, book lists updated and a favourite roleplaying character meme written.

Apparently, according to my boss's newly invented jargon, I am a proto-modeller. According to a certain young man who is qualified to have an opinion, albeit a rather out of date one, I am also Sex on Legs when i want to be... I suppose I should stop hiding away next year and allow some new people to discover the wonder that is me *she says in a very light-hearted, somewhat sarcastic way, just incase you thought my head had swelled scarily*

The style gurus on [ profile] stylishly_yours are getting to me, I scared Alex on Saturday by starring at his eyes to see what colour they are and then lecturing him about how mustard doesn't match his skin tone ;) He did ask for my opinion before you all gasp in horror!

Hmmm, food, is that the time already??? Oh BTW, peeps over the pond, i'm afraid you'll have to make do with internet wishes or New Year cards 'cos i never got around to posting cards last week :(

Oh, one more thing because I'm curious. You lot are an electic mix of believers of various stripes and non-believers - what would be your take on a practicing pagan attending a church carol service on Christmas Eve?
alithea: (altar candle (please do not take))
Monty Don was on Start the Week on radio 4 this morning talking about a project to use working on a small holding to rehabilitate heroine-addict criminals and as he was talking about a spiritual connection to the soil, the land, and growing things, I think I grasped what Brian Day is presumably trying to get at with his book The Modern Pagan: How to live a natural lifestyle in the 21st century. When I saw this in the bookshop, i read the blurb which insisted that modern paganism had nothing to do with religion and was instantly turned-off. But a spiritual connection to the land and living things, and living in sync with natural cycles is a major aspect of pagan spirituality to me, that's what Earth-based means. And just because I recognise Goddess in the Land, the Cosmos and Nature, doesn't mean everyone has to have such a pantheistic worldview in order to have a spiritual connection to these things. I call it sacred and consider it Deity but if others feel reverence and awe and connection without Deity, does that really matter?

One of the major sticking points I always had back when I assumed I was Christian because I believed in a notion of 'God', was the idea that what you believed was more important than how you lived your life. I would never accept that what was important to God was that you believed in Him NOT that you lived your life in a way which honoured His creation and treated others like they were all His children. And that hasn't changed just because I realise my god is Goddess. We are all a part of Her, regardless of whether we recognise Her, other gods/goddesses, God, or Nature, or Humanity, and by honouring ourselves, each other, and this Land, we honour Her. And I'll always have far more respect for someone who rejects the notion of Deity but lives with reverence and love*, than for someone who claims they love 'God' but doesn't feel the need to manifest His love in their daily lives.

* provided they don't feel the need to shove their belief that Deity is a stupid idea and the root of all evil in the world down my throat, thank you very much.
alithea: (Starbuck (made by aderyn))
when I wish I could spend all day curled up in front of the fire with a good book. But I was decidedly unproductive yesterday so both house work and work work are crying out for attention. And I lost another window box in the gales last night - oops. Maybe I should take the rest down and put them in the shed. And Gizmo had thrown up all over my bedroom floor when i got home last night, ah well, better than waking me up at 5 am this morning doing it.

Deadlands was good last night, although I nearly broke Bradley's plot by rolling 47 on a d12 (they explode) for my investigationy tracking skill when examining a murder scene! Having hardly ever been used, my d12s have decided they really like me, unlike my other dice, which very rarely roll well.

Jo wants to have a meeting on Tuesday (typical) - I wonder if my pleading of it being my main religious holiday of the year will work for getting me out of it...
alithea: (V ideas (made by garinungkadol))
Saturday was history day - Alex came over and we went to Pictavia, the Pict information centre at Brechin Castle. T'was interesting but mostly consisted of us picking holes in the information boards. I would love to know where they got their evidence from for the board about Pictish paganism, I suspect they mostly made it up but maybe I'll get around to attempting some research at some point. Also, the pro-Christian bias was most entertaining, especially since pre-Roman christianity was probably pretty unrecognisable to modern Christians, but apparently the coming of christianity allowed for a better system of hereditary kingship and allowed their society to advance and flourish, in a way which their traditional pagan system supposedly didn't. Hmmmm *sceptical face* I'd have liked to see some evidence of this, beyond an assumption that any christian system is obviously inherently superior! Then we went to Edzell Castle, which was intersting and less controversial :)
Also I bought mead, a candle holder and a late harvest/winter garland thingy. And saw the freakiest christmas decorations ever - fake stuffed animals and a Christmas tree which was like one of those toilet roll holder dollies, it had a head, torso and arms and then the tree part as a skirt and was about 6' tall!!

Watched the new Robin Hood in the evening. It didn't even try to be historical, half the cast have trendy haircuts and designer stubble, the first 'wench' to appear looked like her makeup had been applied with a trowel, and it had silly kungfu-esque combat and bizarre camera work, and was generally very silly. And apparently set to get sillier with Marian (no Maid anymore) becoming some kind of masked vigilante superhero. Okaaayyy. Think I'll be sticking with Robin of Sherwood thanks very much! The new series of Strictly Come Dancing started well though so at least there is something worth watching.

Yesterday, I pratted around doing naff all and then watched My Summmer of Love, which was good, in a strange sort of way, and just showed that playing games with people is a Very Bad Plan, especially if they are delusional or madly in love with you!

Today, Work, and this evening T'ai Chi, finally! And I should go out while the sun is still shining 'cos yesterday it had gone all grey again by the time I thought to move :(
alithea: (V/Phantom (made by masquerade_arts))
That got your attention, didn't it ;) Thought it was about time I updated - you can tell I've had face-to-face contact over the past week, i have't felt the need to ramble on here.


Tuesday, i went up to Aberdeen and caught up with [ profile] vodkafrenzy; Wednesday, the elusive [ profile] mcwoof was let out to play and we pottered round the 'Ferry and went to the garden centre (and i had spaghetti with clams for lunch which was scrummy); Thursday, had lunch in the Counting House with Amy and Jakob (great advert for the smoking ban, it was much busier than usual on a weekday lunchtime) and more pottering; and yesterday Alex came over and we had sunday lunch at the Bell Tree and went up to Lunan beach (which always looks lovely from the train, and featured cute ponies, pretty red, green and veiny rocks (so not a geologist!) and a loopy bloke who went in the sea naked and then ran round on the beach briefly to dry off (still naked), despite the fact it had been snowing barely half an hour previously!!)

I've finished repotting my house plants and stripped a bit more wallpaper in the bathroom but that's about it for productiveness. I also finished reading Kafka on the shore by Huruki Marukami, which is now my second or third favourite of his - very fine, although I have no clue what the Hell was going on!!

I could witter on about the latest installments in what i shall refer to as Body Wars but I have stuff i should be getting on with, and no lunch until I go shopping so i shall say only this:

Eat well, exercise, sleep, don't drink too much, and be happy. If you live like that, take no notice of stupid muppets telling you you're too light or too heavy because starving yourself or stuffing your face and sitting on your bum all day won't make you a healthier person, regardless of what the scales say.

And the Nutter of the Week Award goes to the Reverend spokesman for the Sabbath Observance Society (or whatever they are called) on Harris, who compared passengers on the controversial Sunday ferry disembarking next to his church to BNP supporters being bussed past a mosque at prayer time during Ramadan. 'Cos only evil people who hate Christians could possibly want to travel somewhere so godly on a Sunday you know! Ahhhh, tolerance...
alithea: (Default)
I sat down to watch Among the Believers on BBC2 Scotland last night because it was about the role of ritual in faith, which is something I'm struggling with just now, and I thought it might give me a thought-provoking new perspective. I expected to find the usual array of monotheists taking part and instead was very pleasantly surprised when the participants included a shaman who lives in the Borders! It turned out to be a really interesting watch, the shaman made some interesting points about how spiritual experience might be similar to delusions but generally makes people want to connect rather than withdraw into their own little world, something I hadn't thought of before, and I really liked the Jewish guy's perspective on prayer being about connecting with the Divine within you as much as without. And the presenter was very fair too, he was open to all the spirit journey stuff the shaman was talking about and even though he found the ritual he attended very alien (they were wearing birdwing headdresses, waving a sword around and chanting in Gaelic), he pointed out that to some people the idea of consuming the body and blood of Christ must be equally wierd, and it's just lack of understanding that makes it so. And the main message about ritual being the work you put in, like you have to work on any relationship, and not being a chore to believers, was exactly the conclusion I've been coming to.

Anyway, it really helped clarify the stuff that has been floating round in my head recently, so my dual aims for the year are to find my rituals and my community. Which will hopefully make me a lot happier in a lot of ways - one of the things I love about this type of path is that it makes so much sense psychologically...

Also, hunting on the BBC website to see if there was any info about the programme (I couldn't find any), I discovered that they actually have a load of pagan info and links in their religions section, which also makes me happy.
alithea: (Default)
Watching 'The Root of all evil' last night on channel 4, my respect for Richard Dawkins has shot up - I have no idea how the man stayed so calm and reasonable while surrounded by utter nutters. I will never claim rabid atheists are as bad as religious fundamentalists ever again - I'd rather have a world full of people who think I'm delusional than one full of scary, scary people who think I'm hellspawn and shouldn't be allowed out unless wearing a tent.
alithea: (Red Inara (made by singingrl))
Excerpts from an Agnostic Christmas sermon by Robert Ingersoll, 1891 (stolen shamelessly from a friend-of-a-friend):

The good part of Christmas is not always Christian; it is generally pagan - that is to say, human, natural.

Long before Christ was born the Sun God triumphed over the powers of darkness. About the time that we call Christmas the days begin perceptibly to lengthen. Our barbarian ancestors were worshipers of the sun, and they celebrated his victory over the hosts of night. Such a festival was natural and beautiful. The most natural of all religions is the worship of the sun. Christianity adopted this festival. It borrowed from the pagans the best it has.

I believe in Christmas and in every day that has been set apart for joy. I think it was Heinrich Heine who said that he thought a blaspheming Frenchman was a more pleasing subject to God than a praying Englishman. We take our joys too sadly. I am in favor of all the good free days - the more the better.

Christmas is a good day to forgive and forget - a good day to throw away prejudices and hatreds - a good day to fill your heart and your house, and the hearts and houses of others, with sunshine.
alithea: (Default)

You fit in with:

Your ideals are mostly spiritual, but in an individualistic way. While spirituality is very important in your life, organized religion itself may not be for you. It is best for you to seek these things on your own terms.

90% spiritual.
80% reason-oriented.

Take this quiz at

Hmmm, I was kinda surprised by having such a low 'faith' rating but then I guess, I do equate 'faith' more with 'spirituality' than anything else. And in this quiz, 'faith' basically seems to equate to 'belief in organised religion' so I doubt many pagans would score highly. It's interesting to consider what we define as faith though. I consider myself to have a great deal of faith because I am unshakeable in my belief that the Divine exists, but on the other hand, my understanding of Divinity is something which is inextricably linked with the world as we know it, and therefore not believing it exists, would be the same as not believing the universe existed. Which I guess is rather more 'reasoned' than what most people would call 'faith'.

It also brings up my age old bugbear about people refusing to accept that you can be scientifically minded AND spiritual. Many early scientists were religious men, they viewed their work as trying to understand the mind of God. Trying to understand the mysteries of the universe is only opposed to faith if you believe that God wants us all to be ignorant of the wonders around us and never question anything!

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