The duties of a (Pagan) Publisher

This post is two-fold, it mainly discusses the role of publishers in general and a pagan publisher secondarily.

I am pagan, most people who know me know that.  At one point I use to trumpet it aloud.  It is very important to me but very personal.  I don’t mean private but personal.  I follow a shamanic route worshipping the old Irish gods and myths.  I find myself less and less needing to discuss and catch up with pagan issues, my faith is quite nearly unique to myself.  Don’t get me wrong pagan studies still interest me but with the lack of free time I have, I spend my spiritual time looking inside.  My own ethos and moral code has been shaped by what I believe and I think its important for me to reflect this.

I feel the role of a publisher is to release and support both the craft (writing and literature as a whole) and to cause change on things they feel are crucial issues by promoting debate.  A publisher’s role is not to tell the reader what to think, it is to promote discussion and debate by printing works that inspire thought.

It is not my intention to publish primarly pagan works, nor to be seen as a publisher whose work is pagan.  What I do desire is to be true to my ethics and to help promote the overlooked and support paganism.  In this end I would like to publish one pagan work, at least.  As a writer (fiction, sci-fi, fantasy) I know and believe how powerful the tool of the novel is, I believe a story can tell more then an essay.  The tool of empathy, that the novel is based about, and putting somebody inside the moral question, forces people to debate the issue with themselves.

So pagan fiction or works that have similar outlooks – such as Little Druid – will be encouraged.  Secondly non-fiction pagan works, especially ones that promote aspects that have gone unrecognised.  Shaman’s Dictionary is an example of this.  It is crucial to me that any works that I release in this category are properly referenced and truthful.  I will not allow our publishing company to be used as a platform for propoganda.  I know many in the pagan sphere will be against this approach feeling that it is conservative and working within the machine of society.  But my first love was books and are as much part of my beliefs as paganism is.  Therefore my first concern will be to create good and truthful books.

What do you think of this?  What do you think is the role of a publisher?  If you are pagan what do you think we should publish in this sphere?

Caoimhin

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Caoimhín’s Pagan Life, Clan Essays (Articles, News)

I am in the process of cleaning up my bio and the bio of the Clan.  I hadn’t originally planned on including this as one of the segments, which really does show how necessary it is.  But then to be fair I hadn’t yet gotten as far as looking into my own bio.  The inspiration came from a possible interview I may be doing online for a supernatural blog, which may in itself lead to an interview with the interviewer, stay tuned.

Thinking back on things, I am a little surprised at myself.  I never consciously meant it, but I think that online I may have shied away from expressing my religious self.  This I don’t do in life, yes I no longer go out of my way to profess the faith to all and sundry.   But as it is a major interest in my life – religion, mythology, philosophy and psychology – I engage in conversation about it when it comes up and with my varied and vast (reasonably) experiences, that for so many people are incredibly unusual, why should it not be brought up?

To be honest though I tend not to, nor never have, prosetlyze.  But the older I get, the less I feel of judging others for their beliefs, no matter how strange they are, including cheese moons.  So long as people leave their beliefs out of their dealings with me, or can compromise about it, it does not bother me.  The way I see it is I believe in some crazy things, not less so than thinking I am eating bread transformed into flesh every week just to add, so why should ANY other beliefs be rubbished?  That’s what others do to my beliefs, so why should I partake in the same ignorance.

So my beliefs?  To specify:  I am pagan, a Celtic pagan, of the Irish pantheon, a shaman.  All of which are labels I could happily agree with and conform to in one way or another.  To deal with the last three first.  I am a shaman who worships the old Irish gods and the Celtic wheel and system found with them.

What follows is a broad summary rather than a concisely accurate description.  A Pagan is a very vague term.  It first originated in Italy at the time of the Roman empire when they were still multi-theistic.  I use that to signify the difference between polytheism and omni-theism, multi-theistic believes in multiple deities as opposed to a lot of modern pagan views that Gods are all simply aspects of higher powers / power.  “Pagan” has the same origins as the word paean.  The word signified the “silly” superstitious folk of the country and was used derogatively by the city folk of the time.  Afterwards in a mono-theistic culture the word got taken to mean the belief in multiple spirits, as the old ways were often stronger in the countryside where traditions continued.  More recently the word which had been used to derogatively mark, since its inception, people who carried out folk tradition has been reclaimed by a vast diaspora.  The New Age movement, the “Pagans”, even the Christian / Judaic Kabalists used this name to signify a belief and practise of things that had been grouped as the occult until recently.

This shift began in the second half of the twentieth century and was mainly due to the resurrection of the druidic movement in its new forms.  Occult belief and practise has been widespread throughout history and Christianity has never comfortably stamped it out.  The label of Paganism has had a tendency to be used therefore as a banner call for all alternate beliefs, beliefs in a spirit-centred world or occult natured worship – which numerically and time-wise have been more prevalent then the more recent trend towards non-spiritual religions practised more commonly within monotheism.  When I say spiritual in this sense I mean belief in energies and spirits, animistic (see my earlier posted speech.)  Some Christians also identify themselves as pagans simply because its a way of them expressing their belief in spirits etc.

Within that group is really another group of pagan peoples that generally tend to see themselves as pagan by belief as well as culture; pagans, wiccans and heathens (or some variation of the Norse faith).  These are three distinct religious groups that follow a similar theosophical view on the gods, all are poly- or multi- theistic and nature centred religions.  Which brings me back full circle to the origins of the word, today the word has been reclaimed to refer and show a centre to our religious beliefs.

General paganism, as with Wicca, is a blend of differing cultures and religious practise (much like Christianity was hundred of years after Christ lived when it began in Italy.)  Totem animals, the wheel of the year, Mabon and Yule – so many differing ideas from earth-centred religions that have been gathered together to form a modern faith.  I tend towards a more traditional gathering of Irish cultured beliefs.  This is more so about what sounds right to me, and feels right.  A lot of this may have been down to my reading of the mythologies from a very early age.  In this the Celtic Pantheon and particularly the Irish Gods have my highest of reverence and worship.  Finally shamanism…  I have two resources online to help explain what this is.  One is our show A Shaman’s Dictionary, the other is a speech previously mentioned I have on animism, a concept central to shamanism.

A person who practises shamanism and a shaman are two different concepts.  A shaman is a cleric.  A mouthpiece of the gods, an ambassador of the spirits.  The central belief is that there are two worlds / realms / planes, the material and the spiritual.  A shaman can not only see between the two but acts and crosses between them.  It is his purpose to deal between both and effect change on both realms.  The purpose is not like a lot of paganic religions, to illuminate yourself.  For a person practising shamanism this goal of improving / enlightening / attuning oneself and purifying their soul is noble but for the Shaman, his (her) goal / purpose is to serve the spirits.  Not necessarily as a servant but similar to the way a politician serves his country and the electorate (and that does not mean screwing them over for those cynics out there.)

I find myself acting in this role, within a Celtic and Irish framework.  My pantheon of Gods, and therefore some of the highest spirits with which I interact with, are the old Irish Gods.  My totem animal is the wolf, but more so than this I am wolf-spirited.  My patron goddess, is the Morrigan.  Neither of these are necessary to my religion, I need not have a single patron and indeed when I say patron I mean main patron.

And that wraps up both an introduction to paganism and a brief account of my beliefs.

A Shaman’s Dictionary (News)

I would like to announce yet again another departure for us, A Shaman’s Dictionary.  I have long been wanting to do a pagan production.  In particular my idea had been a podcast, but with my previous work on In The Brew I decided to try something new and look at doing a video-cast.  For simplicity’s sake I will be trying things out on YouTube and see how it goes.  Because everything is up in the air with us at the moment I can’t guarantee any form of regularity with the different shows.

Video is a particular media and it will make a difference to video, so the format of A Shaman’s Dictionary will be short and encompass a simple discussion of one single concept.  There are many differing pagan shows online but I feel I can contribute and enrich the sphere.  Indeed it is something I feel I have not done right by for far too long.  As a practising Shaman with a very good working knowledge of many different religions, myths, philosophies, spiritual paths and magical traditions my thought had been to highlight, in every show, a concept and to outline its meanings and bring forth a solid cohesive concept for people to take away.  This can help people deepen their basic and fundamental knowledge.

For many pagans philosophical / mental concepts can be at the cornerstone of their faith upon which their rituals and tools are based; for shamanism these concepts are the tools we use to transform and conduct our lives.

To visit the show click here.

To sum up for those of you who want, join us both on YouTube for our regular shows for a deeper view on life.

Caoimhín

Animism an Explanation (Article Speech)

This is part of a speech I have on the explanation of animism.  It is something as a shaman I practise and something that the Pagan community no longer understands in Europe.  Indeed most of the world still partakes in animistic thoughts and cultures and we in the West are unable to break the cultural divide simply because animism is such an alien set of rules to us in ways.  I will hopefully reuse it as an essay at some point but until then it will stay in the form of a speech.  Do enjoy!

A moot as a lot of you probably know is a legal term dating back to the mid 16th century. It is a hypothetical argument or debate used as an exercise, an open-ended question open to interpretation and debate. By the debating of the issue, many new view points are made and the issue itself is explored and tested.

For a lot of pagans, like me, their religion is a continual growth and journey. Knowledge given in a variety of subjects aids these journeys. Being a Shaman I feel the journey a powerful tool, so the reason a lot of this following talk on animism follows a very personal interpretation is, so as to give you all a journey with which to follow. At this point I’d like to thank Ogma honey-tongue and the others for their ever assistance.

I chose animism to talk on because it is still a fully unacceptable superstitious belief in modern culture, even within the community at times. To quote a colleague from work “are you saying we can’t walk on grass, because we will kill it?” And yet modern shamanism, Gaia theory, Hoodoo and plenty of other acceptable and academic corner stones to modern paganism are based on all of the elements of animism. Towards the end I’d ask anyone to talk some and describe their own personal take on animism and whether they feel they have missed out on anything. I welcome any discussion this causes and creates, and hopefully this can show magic-practitioners a new element for their magic, other a greater depth to their one faith and in general a more refined skeletal system for the energy / spirit world and life around us.

Animism is basically the concept of energy / spirit life in all things – concepts, life, objects, places and names – all things and their interaction with each other. If people can understand the ideas of spirit energy, how a thing gains those energies, that energy as a form of life the interaction of those energies than those people understand animism.

 

When I first took to practising magic I was brought through a new-agey stone / gem shop in Wales and was taken by the owner to douse over semi-precious stones. There I felt my first most obvious and not-yet-present connection to the magical as I held moonstone, the refined dousing sent a bolt of energy through my arm. I continued collecting gems for a long time and used them in my arts. As it is often put each gem / stone will have a vibrational level – I prefer to think of it in stones, as a rhythm and each with its own properties. Moonstone for example gives us the divine feminine. They attract and give out this energy by their nature. Gem users or quartz users will know that each individual stone will be quite different. It has had its own life and experience s in getting here. So its natural Moonstone rhythm, for example, is blended and refined with other energy that comes into contact with it. Imagine a child’s block sorter that has lumps taken out of it and has stuff stuck on its edges so its a just-off shaped star. Which has off-shaped off-shaped star energy flow through it. This is the basis of animism. Energy interaction like this example.

I talk of energy and the flow of it. How many forms are there? We have obvious wind earth fire water spirit, but also myriad other examples youth, death, machine, worm, pirate as random examples. The way Europe has traditionally seen the flows of energy are through approximately four filters and everything else is a composite of them. The East uses only the two Yin and Yang, strong supple, male female, with the way blocking the way. And all energy comes from the flow between the two extremes. My examples of worm machine and pirate energy are just examples used to illustrate our simplistic elemental system is just that – simple. Maybe machine can be made with two cups fire and one cup of earth and water but as such it has an energy form of its own. The elements and their energy flows are our culturally symbolic dreams method of viewing and understanding energy. In Africa you have Fire, Energy, War and Wind are generally some of the most important elements.

Take a glass of whiskey. I will. Its two parts water, one cup barley or whatnot and half a cup of yeast but we talk of it as the sum of its parts rather than just its constituents.

 

If anyone remembers the school age trick of making a magnet. Rubbing a magnet along an iron needle. We are probably familiar with the concept of energizing – putting a crystal under water, moonlight, sunlight, good intentions. Well look at that idea for a minute – how about a butcher’s slaughter knife – it will catch the flow of death and violence upon it creating an energy rubbing similar to that of the magnet on the needle. If you apply to your teddy bear how he gets comfort energy, your car travel energy and a volcanic rock the energy of a volcano and so on.

A land or place gathers energy from belief, from geological activity from the cows eating the grass upon it for millennia and as such has massively powerful spirit forms. Celestial bodies even more so – Gaia / mother Earth, Mother Moon, Sol and the rest of our solar system as thoroughly explored by our European alchemists.

Animals pick up an energy form by what they do – predator, prey, flies, swims etc. Where it lives in the seas or oceans, savannahs or back gardens. People pick up energy in similar ways – their job for example.

I have already given examples of objects such as a knife or a moonstone. A Christmas tree – its dead – still has tree energy residing and that of its Christmas guise.

The concept of a person’s mojo or karma, even their aura is a way in which we can talk of own spirit energy at that time. By altering it we can alter our spirit and thus change how other things interact with us – if we meditate in front of a fire or travel we can gain that energy. And much the way that energy can change us, our new changed energies will in turn change what then comes into contact with us. Buying a toy car and energizing it as a form of sympathetic magic shows the same principles. Plate of coppers etc.

If anyone reads Pratchett they would be immortally familiar with “Death” and anthropomorphism is based on the concept of the flows of energy pooling into a coherent form we give shape around a concept in this case death. But energy gathers in the form of a role regardless – so a predator generates the same energy the world over. Therefore a predator has general predator energy. Certain names by people’s reactions and thoughts – Jesus for example. It is shapes that power of that name. In the Scriptures their blessed name of Christ marked him. Jesus therefore is the role that we have given to him after.

 

OK an energy say that of a wolf can have multiple forms – predator, wise, cunning protector, violent, hunter and so on. What makes up a wolf. But its not simply a case of all the ingredients for a wolf. An engineer is a fit of an electrician, an architect and a builder amongst other things but the way in which he is a builder. The point there is the concept of fluidity of energy that it merges and blends to create a unique form. Taoists believe that Yin becomes Yang and vice versa and that is how the I-Ching oracle or book of changes works.

Finally even without a direct forces an object or a concept, energy can still group together and form a spirit life, as I said earlier a unique and complex form of energy can be taken as a spirit life. Take the slaughter knife again the general violence and death released and concentrated continually in that area forms together spirits of, in this case, violence and death, sometimes very complex and sometimes intelligent. The continuation of ancestors, animal totems and so on is much the same, a coalesced form of energy that lives as a spirit alone just like the anthropomorphic form.

 

Life as Princeton says needs a state of self-animations, the period of which a thing exists. Animation – the condition of living or state of being alive. I would argue that everything with a spirit therefore is spiritually alive. Animism and animation both come from the same word root anima, “Latin” for soul or driving force, used originally as an animistic term. All of these energies have their very own unique signatures and identity. I say identity because it is something the spirit form, we interact with. If they have an interactive identity are they not alive – animals don’t have to be intelligent to be alive and some here accept gods that are not tangible. Wherein lies the difference?

Caoimhín

Confimation (Article)

I am, as it says in my bio, a pagan.  I’m out and proud, have been for years.  But I have a Catholic family, Irish Catholic.  Now this post is not going to be banging on about my troubles with them or my hardships, quite the opposite.  I have a really good relationship with them.  True, it has taken a lot of work on my part and the part of my parents at times and there was a time when my faith did put distance between us.  But its not so now.  At any rate, my youngest brother is coming up to his Confirmation and I am his godfather.  Confirmation is the time at when a catholic child takes vows for himself.  The individual takes upon him or herself the vows taken at baptism to uphold the key ideas of the Catholic Church.

My case and stand on religion at the time I became my brother’s godfather was interesting, because I did believe in Christ and it was he I worshipped but I simply believed that more gods than him existed.  Since then I worship different gods.  At any rate I was very devout in my religious life, as I still am today even though my worship has changed.  And I still believe very firmly in the idea of religion being a good and healthy grounding for a person and can offer forth good teachings as to how to be a good human.  Many religions not all, and it is also dependant on how the individual carries out his or her worship and how this impacts upon their social and moral perspectives.  I do not believe that aetheists are evil, or that they are any more inclined to do wrong things than any other human.  I simply believe that many religions can teach important roles on what it is to be human, empathy and the like.  Just as the laws of evolution, a study of philosophy or literature can also teach.

Back to my story.  So now I find myself godfather but in no way a Christian.  What should I do as regards my brother’s upcoming confirmation?  Do I still have a role morally to my godson?  Do I still have an obligation to teach him right from wrong and help him with spiritual / moral conscience matters?  That is point one, point two is – by his religion and his own moralities is that obligation best carried out by relinquishing it now that I am not Christian.  So that he can find his Christian path without hinderance or interference?

I did think on this for a while.  And I do truly believe my role is to be there for and counsel him if he so needs it.  Being patroned by a warrior deity it is a requirement for me that I stand at his shoulder, figuratively, as his earthly patron, and assist him stick to his moral path.  It leads me to a slight dilemna.  I will always tend to suggest and advise people to go the path they feel right, but I try not to advise away from the pagan path.  Its discourteous, to say the least, of my own Lords and Ladies.  But in this case to act nobly and of honourable intent I will need to hold my tongue and advise the path he believes in and to stick to it.  In this I have a prior commitment to my brother above those I have since sworn to.

In modern times a godparent is seen, quite often, as a moral sponsor one who can stand over their godchild and aid and assist them in finding their feet in the modern world.  My parents have accepted my religion and its place in my life with no qualms.  They feel that it does not conflict with their moral paths and moving forward from this I can openly and honestly say that I am still a good role-model and can still advise my youngest brother well on matters of moral conscience, without clash of religion.  Be I christian or pagan.

 

Caoimhín