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With what aspects of Pagan popular culture do you identify?

December 20, 2012

2012 Thing on Thursday #13

Final poll of 2012

Ah, Pagan culture!  Some revel in it, others are embarrassed by it.  From incense to crystals, does any of it appeal to you?  If so, which parts?

There is, of course, no way to fairly delineate what is and is not “pop”: one person’s pop is another person’s… not pop.  So, this post doesn’t even try.  Instead, it focuses primarily on material aspects of pop culture, the kind of things or services you might find available in a metaphysical shop.

Perhaps you could call it Pagan kitsch… or not.  Your call.

Please share your thoughts in the comments.

About Thing on Thursday

Althing in Session, by W.G. CollingwoodThis post is part of a series of councils on matters vital to the future.  The name represents both the generic term for, you know, a thingie, as well as the Old Norse term for a council of elders: a Thing.

Each week from the Autumn Equinox until the Winter Solstice, Thing on Thursday explores a new controversy.  Participation is open to all – the more minds that come together, the better.  Those who have been vocal in the comments are as welcome as those quiet-but-devoted readers who have yet to venture a word.  We value all constructive opinions.

There are only a few rules:

  • be constructive – this is a council, so treat it as such
  • be respectful – no rants or flames

Comments will be taken into consideration as we determine the new direction of Humanistic Paganism.

So please make your voice heard in the comments!

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. December 20, 2012 10:00 am

    I’d be interested to explore whether and/or how we relate to these items differently than our supernaturalist counterparts. Varying uses of divinatory tools especially intrigues me.

    • December 22, 2012 9:01 am

      That’s a good question. I use tarot as a tool of introspection. The symbolism of the trump cards is very evocative for me and I have collected several sets of cards. I lay out a five card cross-shaped spread, representing past, present, and future, and the macro- and micro-cosmos. Even though I have a place for the “future” in this practice, I am not using it for divination, but merely to think about the future.

      • December 22, 2012 6:19 pm

        Same here. I use tarot cards as an exercise in creative lateral thinking. I see it as intentional utilization of the Barnum Effect (from P. T. Barnum, who said “We’ve got something for everybody!” – i.e. the tarot cards’ symbols are broad and rich enough to read any situation into them), in order to spur a creative process different from normal rational thought.

        They can also be used to help make decisions by making gut feelings more salient. I remember when we were kids, my brother couldn’t decide which of two action figures to buy, and he would ask me which one he should get. I would point to one, and then he knew which one he wanted, whether or not it was the one I pointed to. Neuroscience studies have shown that gut feelings are integral to the decision-making process, and we make terrible decisions if those parts of the neural system are damaged, so making gut feelings more salient can be useful. When you’re working on problems that are not entirely rational in nature, such as emotional knots and frustrations, eliciting gut feelings to be more salient can work wonders.

        That’s my two cents on divination. :-)

        • John Halstead permalink
          December 22, 2012 8:02 pm

          ” I remember when we were kids, my brother couldn’t decide which of two action figures to buy, and he would ask me which one he should get. I would point to one, and then he knew which one he wanted, whether or not it was the one I pointed to.”

          I would do the same thing but I would flip a coin and then Regardless of how it landed I would know which one I wanted. It’s a very strange psychological phenomenon, and one I had not connected with tarot before, but I do see a connection now.

          • December 22, 2012 8:57 pm

            I have a sneaking suspicion, pure speculation on my part, that some cognitive systems need sensory input to activate. Willpower alone is not enough, so we need these sensory tricks to trigger them.

            Along the same lines, I also wonder if consciousness is the way it is for similar reasons. It is curious that consciousness includes two major parts, namely sensory impressions and mental phenomena like thoughts, feelings, etc. Still more curious is the fact that the latter appears to us in a manner very similar to the former, i.e. like a sense impression but in the mind. You almost “hear” thoughts, “see” memories, “feel” emotions, etc. This makes me wonder if thoughts and feelings only reach consciousness because they need to “trick” certain cognitive systems into thinking they are sense impressions, thus activating them. It would make sense because much of our mental machinery evolved for organisms with sense organs but no abstract or symbolic thought capacity. So there would be lots of basic systems that need to be activated in order to process thoughts, but which are only calibrated to process sensory input. Again, this is pure speculation…

  2. December 21, 2012 10:01 pm

    Reblogged this on The Darkness in the Light.

  3. leener814 permalink
    December 24, 2012 11:01 pm

    I’m not big on the divination tools but I’m a heavy user of candles and herbs. I truly believed that different elements vibrate on different quantum levels and they can be utilized to bring our bodies more aligned with a purpose or goal. For example, I use sage as a cleansing herb to help eliminate negative energy from my home. I’m not sure if that’s kitschy or not but it is kind of the cliché of the “witch.” The reason so many pagan symbols resonate so deeply with me is I believe we have a quantum signature and that different elements speak to us in different ways using that “signature” or on a quantum plain. I’m not exactly sure how; I’m no theoretical physicist so my understanding of quantum physics is limited to popular literature on the topic which is meant for the lay audience. But I believe there’s a link within all of nature to which we belong. I’m never quite so peaceful as when I’m making friends with another piece of creation, be it a rock or a tree or a plant or a cloud or an animal or a person. Anything in the pagan toolbox that brings nature and creation to me is something that has my immediate and focused attention. I hope that all makes sense :)

  4. Patrick permalink
    December 25, 2012 4:09 am

    It’s not so much the categories, but what’s done within each category. I mean, there’s pagan art:
    http://www.nicolaverlato.com/how-the-west-was-won

    and then there’s pagan “art”:
    http://www.strangeling.com/spiritual.html

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