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Lecture Summaries 4

Over the years, Pagan Pathways has presented many talks of potential interest to pagan and magical folk and the following is another brief survey from a selection of diverse and informative topics that various speakers, experts in their respective fields, have explored at one time or another.

Astrology (Liz)

Astrology is a complex and ancient art, sometimes ridiculed by the sceptical but honoured by a lot of pagans as influential in many areas of life. In this talk, Liz gave a quick introduction to astrology and explained how important the birth chart is, how we can use astrology to show our relationships and even past lives. She examined how it was used in the ancient pagan world and why it is sometimes important when casting spells. Those attending were asked in advance to bring along a copy of their own birth chart to allow Liz to look at it and answer any questions.

The Mauve Zone (Our Adept)

The term ‘Mauve Zone’ was coined by the occultist Kenneth Grant and refers to the twilight region that exists between dreaming and dreamless sleep.  In occult terms it is the realm where dreaming/imagination becomes real; a meeting place where genuine communication with archetypes or daimons can happen. Magical working within the Mauve Zone requires a conscious effort to move past mundane dreaming and maintain a state of lucidity.  In this talk, our resident magus examined the Mauve Zone and it’s uses in practical day-to-day living.

The Mountain and the Stream (Paul Pearson and Tallis Harrill)

We at PPs were privileged, on more than one occasion, to have Paul Pearson and Tallis Harrill, co-writers of the book The Mountain and the Stream, which offers new theories and insight into ancient traditions, come along and talk to us at PPs. Rumours of ancient traditions are familiar to all modern pagans, although doubt has been cast on these by modern scholars. Paul and Tallis wonder if the scholars have been asking the right questions. The writers described their own personal experience in two initiatory rural traditions - from the hills of Cheshire to those of Tuscany. Very interesting stuff indeed.

The Wheel of the Year Explained (Ian)

The Wheel of the Year and its festivals is familiar to many pagans and fundamental to connecting with the energy of the changing seasons. It is one of the aspects common to most pagan paths. It may, however, be interpreted and celebrated in different ways according to particular pagan tradition. In this talk Ian discussed the basics of the Wheel of the Year from the perspective of the Wiccan tradition, which did much to bring the concept of the Wheel to many people and shape the paganism we have today.

Animism for Modern Pagans (Silverspear)

The Victorian anthropologists who travelled to far-off lands to study tribal cultures in their traditional and indigenous settings came to the conclusion that tribal people were simply ignorant and superstitious when they spoke of inanimate objects, such as rocks, trees, rivers, and so on possessing their own spirits. The anthropologists coined the term “Animism” to describe such a belief.  In this illustrated talk, John – a self-confessed animist – explained why animism has tended to be widely misunderstood in modern Western societies, and why it is in fact a valid and important element of modern paganism.

Apples of Immortality (Jamie)

Apples of immortality appear in both ancient Greek and north European (both Germanic and Celtic) myths. The gods of Asgard – Odin, Frigg, Thor and Loki amongst others – were able to maintain their youth by eating golden apples, which were looked after by the goddess Idun (or Iduna). Should the supply of apples fail, the gods would grow old, lose their strength, and eventually die. The Greek understanding of immortality was rather different. The gods were immortal by their very nature. However Greek myths too told of the existence of mysterious apples, also golden, and also able to provide eternal life to anyone eating them. In Greek myth these apples were said to grow in a distant garden, located at the extreme edge of the known Greek world, where they were looked after by nymphs known as the Hesperides, and guarded by a dragon. This talk considered what the pagan ancient Greeks understood immortality to be, how the pagan north Europeans viewed the same concept, and what the myths might really be telling us about ‘everlasting’ life. Tracks from German pagan folk band Faun’s album 'Eden' were used to exemplify contrasting views of immortality, including Celtic as well as Greek and Germanic viewpoints.

The ‘Energy’ of Place part 2 – No Place Like Home (Rosa Mundi)

Do places have ‘energy’ or atmosphere that we can perceive in some way?  Last year Rosa examined the energy of place using the example of an outdoor space and discussed the possible reasons for our reaction to certain places. In this illustrated talk Rosa further discussed the energy of place but also considered the energy in buildings – especially homes.  As we spend more time in our homes than outdoors, the energy is likely to affect us more deeply.  What causes the atmosphere in homes, what do we need to consider about this and what (if anything), can we do about it? Many solutions and sound advice were offered on the night.

The “Rider-Waite” Tarot and the Artwork of Pamela Colman Smith (Penrose)

The famous tarot pack commissioned by Arthur E Waite and created by Pamela Colman Smith has always been known as the “Rider Waite” tarot, effectively writing her out of its history. This talk sought to demonstrate the extent of Pamela’s contribution – much greater than Waite himself implied – and suggested that a reassessment of her achievement and her artistic reputation is long overdue. Fortunately, times seem to be changing because newer editions of the Rider version have appeared as the Rider/Smith/Waite Tarot.

Frieda Harris and the Thoth Tarot (Penrose)

This was the second talk by Penrose on the major contribution of women to the art of tarot at a time when the artistic skill of women went largely unrecognised. This talk examined the life and artwork of Lady Marguerite Frieda Harris, born in 1875, and is best known for her design of Aleister Crowley's Thoth Tarot deck, which she was asked to create for the magus in her later years.

END (more yet to come)

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