Wednesday, August 12, 2020

The Pomegranate: International Journal of Pagan Studies special Issue on Paganism, art, and fashion


Here is the Table of Contents for the special issue of The Pomegranate on Paganism, art, and fashion that I guest edited. The articles are currently open access which is great because it means that people who usually cannot access academic journals are able to read them.

Introduction to the Special Issue of The Pomegranate on Paganism, Art, and Fashion – by Caroline Jane Tully      

Feminist Interpretations of Witches and the Witch Craze in Contemporary Art by Women – by Katy Deepwell

High Glamour: Magical Clothing and Talismanic Fashion – by Charlotte Rodgers    

Hashtag Heathens: Contemporary Germanic Pagan Feminine Visuals on Instagram – by Ross Downing    

Wolves Amongst the Sheep: Looking Beyond the Aesthetics of Polish National Socialism – by Mariusz Filip  

The Morrigan as a “Dark Goddess”: A Goddess Re-Imagined Through Therapeutic Self-Narration of Women on Social Media – by Áine Warren

Getting It Wrong: The Problems with Reinventing the Past – by Diane Purkiss      

Book Reviews

S. Kelley Harrell, Runic Book of Days: A Guide to Living the Annual Cycle of Rune Magick and Nigel Pennick, Runic Lore & Legend: Wyrdstaves of Old Northumbria – by Jefferson F. Calico       

Duncan Macrae, Legible Religion: Books, Gods, and Rituals in Roman Culture – by Norman Simms

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Julian Vayne interview with me on My Magical Thing

Ever since we were forced into lockdown by this pesky virus I’d been enjoying watching Julian Vayne’s YouTube mini-interviews, called “My Magical Thing”, in which various magicky people talk about an object that is magical or otherwise special or significant to them. I thought it was a really good idea, magical practitioners talking about an object that was not necessarily (but could be) what we might specifically classify as overtly “magic”, as in a ritual tool or components of a spell. The people interviewed were always really interesting and it was a fun surprise to see what their magical thing was and hear them talk about it. 
As I watched the interviews I’d wonder what magical thing I’d talk about if I was ever interviewed like that. Then, lo and behold, Julian Vayne contacted me and asked me if I wanted to participate! Well, being such a fan of the series, of course I did. But then I had the dilemma of deciding what magical thing to talk about. Should I talk about, say, a specific ritual object like a cauldron, wand, cup, or broom? A statue? Magical jewellery? I considered talking about my Church of All Worlds “Thou Art God/dess” mirror (used in CAW rituals)… But then I decided to talk about a tree. And this is the basis of, but not exactly, what I said:
My magical thing is a tree, well, a model of a tree that I got several years ago in Israel. So, let me fill you in on the back story…
I was in Israel working on a dig – an archaeological excavation – at a place called Caesarea, a huge Roman port, on the beach. And we were working on material from Herod’s palace at Caesarea - one of his palaces.
So this is King Herod I (73 – 4 BCE), or Herod the Great, Herod of the Massacre of the Innocents, client king of Roman Judea. He is the Great Uncle of Herodias (who became a goddess of witches during the medieval period and comes down to us as Aradia), and the Great Great Uncle of Herodias’ daughter Salome of the dance of the seven veils and the killing of John the Baptist. That dance was performed in front of Herod I’s son Herod Antipas, who Herodias was married to (her cousin once removed).
So the palace we’re working on dates to before Herodias and Salome. The reason I am there is because I am interested in Garden Archaeology – the excavation of gardens – and I was working with one of the world experts on Garden Archaeology. And Herod’s palace at Caesarea had these rock cut planting pits around a pool so I was interested to look at those.
There was also a well in the palace which was full of what may have been curse tablets. Curse tablets are usually made of lead and have writing on, these were stone and any writing would have had to have been painted on. They were all sorts of different shapes, square, circular, triangle, and I was sorting them into typologies and photographing them. 
Anyway, how did I get the tree? We are staying on a moshav, which is a cooperative agricultural community, and there was an artists’ studio where they made these brightly coloured naïve art objects and that’s where I got the tree.
But why is this a magical object to me? A talismanic object. Long before the Herodian kingdom of Roman Judea, and before the codification of Judaism, the ancient Israelites were polytheistic and worshipped a goddess called Asherah who was in the form of a tree. 
Asherah is a Canaanite goddess who is married to the god El. They have 70 sons, one of whom is Yahweh, the monotheistic god of Judaism and later Christianity. In the biblical text Asherah is sometimes paired with Yahweh, or with Baal, but these are actually her sons. 
Ancient Israelite religion was described in the Bible as occurring “on every high hill and under every green tree”. We know that Israelite religion occurred at a cult place called a Bamah, or High Place, which featured a sacred tree called an Asherah, a sacred stone called a Massebah, an altar or Misbe’ah, and a built structure called a Bayit, house or shine. 
I love how if you go back in time through the Middle Eastern Judeo-Christian spiritual tradition that so many of us have inherited, that you will come upon a Nature Religion centred around a Tree of Life.  
Pagans tend to dismiss biblical religion, but within it is a Nature Religion. Within Ceremonial Magic which has more of a connection to Biblical religion we use the Tree as a conceptual diagram with the Kabbalistic Tree of Life, and of course the Tree is relevant to Thelema as well because Nut – or Nuit – is often in the form of a life giving tree
I’m really interested in communicating with trees, often in a divinatory capacity, like at Dodona in Greece where you listen to the sounds of the tree – "a word of tree and a whisper of stone" – as the Ugaritic text says. Now with scientific instruments we can also hear sounds that plants make that were formerly beyond the capacity of human hearing. 
The most important thing about a tree is that we share the planet with them and are dependent on them, and we need to forge relationships with them and NOT chop them down.
You can watch the interview with me about My Magical Thing on Julian Vayne and Nikki Wyrd’s Deep Magic YouTube page.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

New Antiquities

This is the book cover of New Antiquities: Transformations of Ancient Religion in the New Age and Beyond, edited by Dylan M. Burns and Almut-Barbara Renger, in which I have an article - "The artifice of Daidalos: Modern Minoica as religious focus in contemporary Paganism." There are many interesting chapters in this book. Here's the abstract to mine: 
That human society was peaceful, matriarchal and goddesses-worshipping from the Upper Palaeolithic period (45,000–10,000 years ago) until around 3000 BCE with the rise of patriarchy is a common belief within both the modern feminist Goddess Movement and contemporary Paganism. This paper examines the representation of Minoan Crete within the literature of the feminist Goddess Movement from the 1970s up to the present day. In addition, it investigates the utilisation of outdated and erroneous interpretations of Minoan religion within the separatist feminist practice of Dianic witchcraft, the predominantly female pursuit of goddess tourism and pilgrimage, and the theology of the male-only Neo-Pagan group, the Minoan Brotherhood. Analysis and critique of the matriarchalist interpretation of Minoan material culture as applied to figurines, frescoes, glyptic art, and architecture by these groups demonstrates that these archaeological objects are interpreted in a highly ideological manner in order to support both contemporary religious belief and magical practice. That such interpretations have little to do with actual Minoan religion is emphasised by focusing upon a group of the most important and evocative feminist icons of the Minoan past: the faience and ivory “snake goddesses.” Recent scholarship, pace earlier researchers such as the Cambridge Ritualists, has demonstrated that these objects range from being heavily reconstructed to outright forgeries and consequently are not reliable representatives of ancient Minoan religion. The use of Minoan artefacts of questionable authenticity along with an interpretative reliance upon outdated scholarship by modern Goddess worshippers means that their rituals, festivals and tours function as heterochronies, conceptually transporting participants to an idealised, imaginary past that provides aesthetic compensation for the imperfect world of today.

Friday, May 29, 2020

The First Review of My Book

I was very excited this morning when I opened my email and saw the first review of my book, The Cultic Life of Trees in the Bronze Age Aegean, Levant, Egypt and Cyprus. Andrew Fox from the University of Nottingham, a scholar of Roman trees, has reviewed my book for Bryn Mawr Classical Review. You can read the review here. Thanks Andrew. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Workshops offered by Dr Caroline Tully

Thelemic Witchcraft for Beginners    
Thelema is a Greek word meaning ‘will’ or ‘desire’. Join Caroline Tully in a beginner’s workshop on Thelemic Witchcraft, a form of New Aeon Witchcraft that focuses on methods for causing change in accordance with your will. Through practical ritual and discussion this old-but-new approach to Magick will be illuminated. Caroline has a background in various traditions of Witchcraft and Magick and is also an academic who studies ancient Mediterranean Pagan religions and their manifestation in the modern world. 

Ancient Mediterranean Witchcraft    
Ancient Greek mythology provides stories of princely heroes who seek out legendary sorceresses and their magical power. Witches acted as guides for figures such as Odysseus and Jason; men required to enter the feminine, womb-like space of the Underworld or to journey to the ends of the Earth. In later Roman literature, witches degenerated into cemetery-scouring hags; no longer sending the hero down to the Underworld, but instead bringing the realm of the dead up by performing necromantic rites.
Join Dr Caroline Tully in a workshop on Ancient Mediterranean Witchcraft that focuses on mythological witches, ancient magical techniques, and the inheritance of Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Greek, Etruscan and Roman magic evident in Wicca today. Through discussion and practical ritual, ancient approaches to magic will be revealed. 

Minoan Snake Goddess     
The Great Goddess was the original, and only, deity of humankind from the dawn of time up until around 3000 BCE, when Goddess-oriented cultures were conquered by patriarchal, warlike worshippers of a sky god. Late Bronze Age Minoan Crete (1750–1490 BCE) is considered to be the Goddess culture’s final flowering. According to Goddess History, Crete exhibits the last gasp of the feminine values associated with Goddess culture before it was wiped out by warlike, patriarchal Mycenaean Greeks. Before this time Minoan Crete was peaceful, worshipped the Great Goddess and her Dying and Rising Consort (who was also her son), and women and nature were respected.  
Join Dr Caroline Tully in a workshop on ancient Minoan religion, focussing on the Snake Goddess. On the island of Crete the snake appears in the worship of the female deity more repeatedly than anywhere else in the Mediterranean. Ancient artifacts have been unearthed that portray the Goddess or Her priestesses holding snakes in their hands or with them coiled about their bodies, revealing that they were an integral part of the religious rituals. Through discussion and practical ritual, contemporary approaches to Minoan religion will be revealed.

Death in Ancient Mythology     
The cycle of birth, death and rebirth is at the core of Pagan mythology. Many myths deal with journeys into the land of the dead. Often these are stories of descent and return. These myths show us how the cycle of birth, growth, death, and rebirth plays itself out in the seasons. Working with these myths, retelling the tales, and exploring them in guided journeys and meditations can help us deeply integrate our understanding of the circle of rebirth. Initiation rites found in most Pagan mystery religions, both ancient and modern, re-enact or are inspired by myths of descent into the Underworld and approach death through metaphor and ritual. This workshop explores Underworld myths of Inanna’s Descent, Demeter and Persephone, Orpheus and Eurydice, Circe and Odysseus, Aeneas and the Sybil, and others. We will explore ancient mythologies and practices around death, as well as Pagan ways of celebrating and mourning loved ones including funerary rites and ancestor reverence.

Magical Gems and Jewellery, Healing, and the Stars      
Witches regularly wear occult jewellery: pentagram pendants, amber, jet, moonstone, coral, or even acorn necklaces; magical rings with special stones or symbolic designs; and lots of silver, the metal of the moon. Wearing jewellery is a form of communication: to the wearer to other people, and to hidden forces attracted by certain colours, substances and patterns.
Join Dr Caroline Tully in a workshop about magical gems and jewellery from ancient Greece, Rome and Egypt; ancient healing modalities and gods; and healing astrology. Learn about the stone amulets, empowering talismans, and protective jewellery of the Ancient World, and the spells used to activate them. Through discussion and practical ritual, contemporary approaches to healing magic will be revealed. Bring a piece of your own jewellery and through ritual we will draw down the stars to consecrate it to a healing deity. Participants will also take home their own moonstone amulet.

The Goddess Asherah, Ecopaganism, and the Anthropocene        
Biblical bad girl, Queen Jezebel, worshipped a tree goddess called Asherah, mentioned forty times in the Hebrew Bible. Ancient Israelites performed ritual “on every high hill and under every green tree” — an expression that occurs in the Bible fifteen times. Trees feature in the narratives about Abraham, who set up altars under sacred trees, and Moses, who spoke to Yahweh in the form of a burning bush. The most famous trees of the Bible are the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden.
With all this tree worship, how did humanity became so divorced from nature that it caused its own geological epoch called the Anthropocene? Join Dr Caroline Tully in a workshop that looks at the environmental aspects of ancient Mediterranean religion, and ways that we can realign with the natural world today. We will also look at the tree as a conceptual map in Kabbalah, the relationship of the Tarot to the Tree of Life, and how we can return to Eden through scrying the Tarot trumps or pathworking. Participants are encouraged to bring their own Tarot cards (but it’s not essential).

Monday, March 16, 2020

Orphic Hymn to Hygeia

Charming queen of all, lovely and blooming, blessed Hygeia, mother of all, bringer of bliss, hear me. Through you vanish the illnesses that afflict man, through you every house blossoms to the fullness of joy. The arts thrive when the world desires you, O queen, loathed by Hades, the destroyer of souls. Apart from you all is without profit for men: wealth, the sweet giver of abundance for those who feast, fails, and man never reaches the many pains of old age. Goddess, come, ever-helpful to the initiates, keep away the evil, distress of unbearable diseases.