Today I want to introduce you to a project I’ve been working on that I think will be right up the alley of my fellow Pagans.
We Pagans are book people. We have an itch for history – especially odd, little-known, out-of-the-way history. This September 6th, you can scratch that itch.
For example, you’ve heard of Stonehenge – hell, if you’re an HP reader, you may even have read a book or two on it – but have you ever gone deep into the Neolithic people that built it? Ever learned why it’s round and in the form of trilithons? Ever discovered what was happening at the time that made them decide to build such a monument in the first place?
Now maybe you’re feeling that itch. You can learn about all this and more on a new podcast created by yours truly called Dead Ideas. My friends and I explore ideas once believed to be true but no longer. In the case of Stonehenge, we explore the idea of building ginormous stone circles, which once upon a time was a common practice all over the British Isles (or “These Isles” as the Irish would prefer to say). We even recruit veteran HP author Andre Sólo (a.k.a. Drew Jacob), of RoguePriest.net, as a guest co-host for the series.
But we talk about a whole lot more than just stone circles. Our very first show comes out September 6th, and we’re starting with a series called Reanimated Corpses: The Ajivika of Ancient India. Heard of ‘em? I’m guessing not! This is one of the most interesting dead religions I’ve ever run across.
Here’s a taste: The Ajivika believed everyone goes through a series 8,400,000 incarnations, the last seven of which are human. The last human incarnation involves seven reanimations or changes of body. When your last natural body dies you go into someone else’s dead body, reanimate it, and basically squat in it like an abandoned office building. You do that seven times, and then you’re enlightened. Interesting, eh?
These are the kinds of topics we explore. We’ve got episodes coming down the pipe on miasma, or the theory that disease comes from mutated air. We’ve also got a series on the Benandante, an agrarian cult of anti-witches from late Renaissance Italy that ran afoul of the Inquisition. If ever there was a podcast to scratch that Pagan itch for history, this is it.
Now, I know what you may be thinking: you’re probably wondering if it’s just gonna be a bunch of poking fun at ancient peoples. No, not at all. Quite to the contrary, it’s a celebration of the sheer diversity of thoughts and practices our species has entertained. It’s all about the joy of discovery, of feeling like “wow, this actually existed!” And after we enjoy our initial reaction to the eccentricity of the dead idea – and we do have plenty of laughs along the way – we go deep into the time and culture of a people who believed it, until we can almost understand how it might have made sense to them at the time. So, it’s really about perspective-taking more than anything else.
To check us out, go to iTunes and subscribe to Dead Ideas. The best way to show support is to download all our episodes and leave a review on iTunes. Even if you say we suck, we still want to hear it. Every download and review helps us rank higher on iTunes, so leave an honest review.
Listen to us in your car, on your morning run, or wherever you find yourself. Whenever you get that itch, we’ll be there to help you scratch it.
Thanks, everyone. It’s been a fun project already, and we’re just getting started!
B. T. Newberg: Since the year 2000, B. T. has been practicing meditation and ritual from a naturalistic perspective. He currently volunteers as Education Director for the Spiritual Naturalist Society, where he created and now teaches an online course in naturalistic spirituality (including Naturalistic Paganism!). His writings can also be found at Patheos and Pagan Square, as well as right here at HP.
He also hosts a new podcast called Dead Ideas: The Podcast of Extinct Thoughts and Practices. It explores ideas once believed to be true, but no longer.
Professionally, he teaches English as a Second Language, and hopes to begin a PhD program in the psychology of religion soon. After living in Minnesota, England, Malaysia, Japan, and South Korea, he currently resides in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with his wife and cat.
After founding HumanisticPaganism.com in 2011 and serving as managing editor till 2013, he now serves as advising editor, and feels blessed to be a part of this community.