Tuesday, November 1, 2011

November, and Vexations Aired

It is the beginning of November, and that means many things.

First it means that I have three religious holidays upcoming, all of them centred around the beginning of summer, except possibly for Walpurgisnacht, which I haven't really figured out the purpose of yet except to honour Hel, which is reason enough for me to hold it. I like Hel. Then I have the Norse May Day, or Summernights. Then my equivalent of Beltaine. (Still haven't come across a new name for that one yet. But I have until the 8th to think one up, right?) This also means a new blog design, because that's how I roll.

The second thing this means is that everyone is going around saying "Happy Samhain!" and I have to ignore them, because if I don't ignore them I will lose my shit at them instead. It is not Samhain where I live. I don't make assumptions regarding which hemisphere you live in, do I? There are any number of websites who will do a massive focus on Samhain and just mention offhand that, you know, a massive portion of the world happens to be celebrating the beginning of summer instead. But they don't need to go into detail, you can just look back six months to the last time they did a Beltaine post, because who really cares, right? Even the Wild Hunt did that this year. Allllll this stuff about Samhain, and all the southern hemisphere gets is "In addition, Pagans in the Southern Hemisphere are currently celebrating Beltane." Thanks bunches.

I suppose I should count myself lucky I even celebrate something similar to many of these holidays, and I'm not a Hellenic or Kemetic Pagan doing my nut every time someone assumes I give a flying fuck about the Wheel of the Year.

The third thing this means is that NaNoWriMo has begun. That's right, 30 days of novelling fun, in which I may well lose my mind but you will forgive me, I know you will. By the way, if you hadn't heard about National Novel Writing Month, there's still plenty of time for you to join in. This year I'm incorporating an element of spirituality into my novel, which I haven't done before, so that should be interesting. Or a colossal failure. We'll have to wait and see.

On top of this a lot of forums and websites are doing Hallowe'en events, so I've been joining in the fun of all of those. So I have been distracted. But not distracted enough to abandon my dear blog! oh no - especially given how prone I am to procrastination, and how good a blog is at fulfilling that.

I saw mention on an auction site not unlike ebay of a book by Phyllis Curott, and thought of a book of hers I'd found years ago but never properly got around to reading. I dug through my collection (I have about eight books sitting waiting to be read, and I still covet more) and found it, "Witch Crafting". I'm right in the mood for reading it right now, though it's one of those sorts of books that really fudges the meaning of "witchcraft". I'm fairly sure Curott is a Wiccan initiate, but she speaks of witchcraft in a very general way. At the same time, though, she's very firm on the "witchcraft is a religion" front, which, if you are a returning reader, you will know I strongly disagree with.

However, I am determined to enjoy the read. One of the reasons, I think, that I haven't been reading as much as I should is because I have been working on book reviews. These slow down the reading process and make reading more work than enjoyment, which isn't really a good thing. On the other hand, I hate the idea of having a thought when reading and forgetting it by the time I come to review. However, I want to get something out of many of these books on a personal level as well as an intellectual one, and reading with too high a level of critique means some of this passes me by. From now on I think I will read a book through for enjoyment's sake before thinking about reviewing it. Just seven pages into the introduction there are so many issues I've found - using "witch" and "Wiccan" interchangeably, speaking of Wicca as if it is Paganism, flawed history - that frankly I would rather ignore for the present. I'm sure there's something to be gained from this book. These points will count against if I ever do review it properly... already I'm fairly sure I wouldn't recommend it to a beginner because of that degree of confusion they'd likely suffer. And a high priestess should really know better.

I mean, what is this sentence: "Women have found a spiritual home in Wicca because it is the only Western religion that has a Goddess as well as a God". What the fuck, Ms Curott? Does Asatru not exist? Hellenism? Religio Romana? Celtic polytheisms? and more besides? You wrote this in 2001 - how could you not know about these religions?

You see, I let these things upset me, and then I get annoyed and throw the book across the room. I'm sure there's something more to this book if I can learn not to focus on the insulting stuff.

(Oh, good. Various Amazon reviews inform me that this book teems with misandry. Shoot me now.)

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