Thursday, April 18, 2013

Scholar Stream Abstracts for Gatineau 2013

“Materiality & Making Real in Contemporary Pagan Religious Practice”
Sabrina Scott,
 University of Toronto
Abstract N/A
“Many-named and Many-formed: The Identity of the Goddess(es) in the “Paris Handbook” and the Greek Magical Papyri”Andrew ChabanUniversity of Waterloo
In this presentation, I discuss the implications of connections drawn between Artemis, Selene, and Hekate in the Greek magical papyri of late antiquity, which were sufficiently extensive that Christopher A. Faraone suggests the three may occasionally have been identified with one another, leading to a composite “Selene-Hecate-Artemis.” I believe that a flexibly henotheistic concept of divinity is likelier in this context and could have addressed emerging trends in ancient theology and the relative status of various Goddesses and Gods. In order to keep the discussion within manageable bounds, I shall briefly define a subset of “lunar spells” within the corpus of Greek magical papyri and gesture towards parallels in earlier ancient magico-religious literature, including the Orphic hymns, before focusing on three spells from the so-called “Paris Handbook” of the fourth century C. E. I shall argue that these texts broadly conform to the structure of ordinary ancient Greek hymns, but in their details tend to focus on specific Goddesses rather than a triad. I propose that while there may be a form of Triple Goddess here, a closer reading of the sources is necessary in order not to lose sight of what such a concept might have meant in context.
“Reflecting on the Contribution of Pagan Scholars to the Documentation of our History.”
Lisa Crandall
University of Ottawa
Having spent the last 3-4 years working closely with a document commonly referred to as Text A (otherwise known as Gerald Gardner’s first book of shadows), I have a deep appreciation of those academics who have put their energies into capturing the unique history of contemporary paganism. In the spirit of the theme of this year’s conference – reflections, I thought I’d share some of the books and blogs I’ve encountered while doing my research.
Gerald Gardner, Doreen Valiente, Alex Saunders, Aleister Crowley – we all know those names. Gerald brought Wicca to the public eye, Doreen wrote a great deal of our shared liturgy, Alex took what Gardner started with and with passion and enthusiasm spread it far and wide by teaching and training on a broader scale than Gardner could have managed, Aleister who contributed by way of concepts and phrases and techniques.
Those four are the starting points – and then others picked up the torch: Raymond Buckland, Stewart and Janet Farrar, Margot Adlar, Ronald Hutton, Aidan Kelly, Chas Clifton, Jim Baker, and Philip Heselton are among the better known names. There are others however – Jack Bracelin, Justine Glass, Kevin Marron, Melissa Seims. You may recognize those names, may have read their books or their blogs. You may know other names to share, individuals local to your part of the world – names like Lucie DuFresne, Amanda Strong, Shelly Rabinovitch and Dodie Graham McKay, who should also be numbered among our history keepers.
“Printing the Wastebasket of Rejected Knowledge: The Hybridization of the Grimoire in the Knowledge Economy”
Robert Priddle
University of Toronto
In a society that values information the basic unit of currency is knowledge. The foundation of this currency is that knowledge and education can be trafficked as a business or intellectual product which then can be exported based on its perceived value. In other words, an information society can grow because of its investiture into useful knowledge. Paradoxically, knowledge which is antiquated, incorrect, or possessing no tangible use is reproduced and carried forward. The prime example of this paradox is the wide array of grimoires, tarot cards, talismans, and a sundry of oracles published today. However, the mere publication ancient occult knowledge is not the paradox. The paradox is that occult knowledge continues to survive as useful knowledge despite having no tangible application in modern society. Therefore, the question is how did ancient occult knowledge become modern occult knowledge in a society that values useful knowledge? 

This paper argues that the process of hybridizing renaissance occultism into modern occultism occurred during the creation of the knowledge economy, specifically in England during the latter half of the eighteenth century. Chiefly responsible for the hybridization of occultism in England during this period was Francis Barrett’s textbook of occultism The Magus, Or Celestial Intelligencer (1801). This argument is supported by examining The Magus from three perspectives. The first perspective examines the historical contexts of grimoires by posing questions such as: how did occult philosophy arrive to England and what intellectual pressures did occult philosophy endure? The second perspective examines the technological aspects of printing up to the arrival of the industrial revolution so as to provide an understanding how information was generated and circulated prior to the modern age. The third perspective braids aspects of printing technology and occult knowledge together and examines how rejected knowledge was modified for a modern audience in the curriculum of The Magus.

By examining the curriculum of The Magus and the surrounding historical, technological, and social contexts this paper exposes the imaginative and entrepreneurial foundations of today’s grimoires.

“Speculative Fiction & Non-Incorporated Spirituality: the Case of Alan Moore and Grant Morrison”
Etienne Domingue,
 University of Sherbrooke
In 1993, British comic-book author Alan Moore (V for Vendetta, Watchmen) declared himself a “ceremonial magician”; he would later state that this turn of event could be construed as “the logical conclusion of [his] career as a writer.” Alan Moore’s oeuvre is replete with symbolism drawn from the great occult traditions. He considers various artistic disciplines to be part and parcel of the process whereby reality is created, in the purest tradition of primordial shamanism.
In Supergods, Scottish writer Grant Morrison describes his own experiences with Thelema, Voodoo, psychoactive substances, and pilgrimages to Asia. In 2008, he collaborated on The Book of Lies, stating that “[a]nything you can imagine [...] can be made to produce magical changes in your environment.”
Though they appear to have much in common, the above-mentioned creators despise each other profoundly. The comparison of their work and biography – as well as the analysis of their tensed relationship – can highlight the ambivalent rapport which speculative fiction entertains with non-incorporated spirituality. This exercise also presents the opportunity to formulate a nuanced discussion on the diversity of approaches to meaning in the context of advanced modernity.

“Zen and Tea in Japanese Culture”
Scarlet Jory, I
ndependent Scholar, Montreal Quebec
Japanese tea ceremony came to Japan through Buddhist monks who trained in China and introduced tea into Japanese culture in the early middle ages of Japanese history. Zen priest and tea master Sen No Rikyu’s notions of purity derive from his own Zen Buddhist training and beliefs. Through the works of Rikyu, tea exemplifies the four elements of Zen simplicity (harmony, respect, purity, and tranquility). Here we see how the tea ceremony expresses a Zen moment (as understood by Dogen) and is thus used as a form of Zen Buddhist meditation both in temples and by lay people alike even today. The quote above reflects Sen No Rikyu’s adherence to the understanding of sudden enlightenment and that we are already enlightened pure beings as seen through the Plutarch Sutra of the 6th Patriach. Some questions of interest and concern revolve around the life of this Zen priest and the rise and fall and rise again of the interest in tea in Japan. Who brought tea to Japan and why? Who drank tea in Japan? Why did it fall out of favor? Who brought it back and formalized it as a Zen ceremony? Why did Sen No Rikyu refine the ceremony? How did tea regain popularity in Japan? Why was Rikyu ordered to commit seppuku? By who and how did Rikyu’s Zen practice of the tea ceremony continue through to today as a popular practice for clergy and laity alike? There are so many questions and mysteries. My fascination with tea evolved along its own Pagan journey of self discovery and cultivation. As a child, tea represented a quiet and tranquil moment of sharing with family from all generations. As my interest in East Asian religions grew, I learned that my own love of peacefully drinking tea had roots in China and Japan as a form of meditation and expression of principles I hope to achieve in my life. Thus began a long and slow journey to explore various types of tea and various tea ceremonies along with the meditative and religious aspects mostly found in Ch’an and Zen Buddhism. Lastly, I have then looked at how I can then apply them to my own Wiccan beliefs and practices.

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