ani-mism noun 1 the attribution of a living soul to plants, inanimate objects, and natural phenomena (Barber 2005, 51).
Folklorist Sabina Magliocco writes that most contemporary Pagans grew up in a dominant social system that rejects the existence of a spiritual realm but are, nevertheless, engaged in a re-enchantment of the world (Magliocco 2012, 17). Citing Starhawk, she argues that Pagans do not so much believe in...more
This blog entry is an effort to externalize my thinking on a possible relationship between the search for authenticity among contemporary Pagans and the problem of racism in contemporary Paganism. I include under the Pagan banner all people practicing a reconstructed or revitalized polytheistic animism, such as Wiccans, Druids, and Heathens. My own practice is a gnostic, hybridized Druidic Heathenry, and I'm a PhD candidate in the Folklore Department at Memorial University of Newfoundland, so my perspective and approach are rooted in these spiritual and intellectual traditions.
To begin, I want to problematize authenticity via the work of Regina Bendix, whose book In Search of Authenticity: The Formation of Folklore Studies has influenced my thinking. She writes that:
The notion of authenticity implies the existence of its opposite, the fake, and this dichotomous construct is at the heart of what makes authenticity problematic. In religious...
Welcome to Folklore & Fiction, the Internet home of scholar and author Ceallaigh S. MacCath-Moran | C.S. MacCath. I'm a PhD student of Folklore at Memorial University of Newfoundland and the author of two collections of short fiction and poetry. Folklore & Fiction replaces the old C.S. MacCath website but contains all of the original content thanks to the phenomenal web development skills of my beloved husband and business partner, Sean, who built and themed what you see here.
Some things to know:
First and foremost, the Folklore & Fiction newsletter will launch tomorrow with "An Introduction to Folklore Genres." The focus of this newsletter is folkloric scholarship for writers, and it will be published on the first Folklore Thursday (#FolkloreThursday) of the month except in June and December, when I'll send subscribers an update on my publishing activities. These updates will go out on the summer and winter solstices. ...more
This semester I opted to complete a pedagogical project for my Music 7007: Race Gender and Class course in lieu of writing a traditional term paper. This project required me to prepare a graduate-level lecture and teach it to a group of classical musicians. I'll teach that class on Tuesday, and it will be my first time teaching Master's-level students, which is exciting for me. My topic will be the Norwegian metal scene in the 199os, how it shaped European metal thereafter, and the ways Northern European symbols like Thor's Hammer and the Elder Futhark have been used in metal music.
I won't be able to upload the materials for that class to Academia.edu, since the platform doesn't really support the sharing of pedagogical materials. So I'm uploading them here. Please feel...more
I undertook a bit of primary research last semester on the topic of unverified personal gnosis among Heathen women. The results of that research became the underpinning of a PhD term paper I've uploaded to my Academia.edu account. Here's the abstract:
Contemporary Northern European-inspired Neo-Paganism (also called Heathenry) is a vernacular religion practiced by individuals and small groups which thrives, in part, on gnostic experiences mediated by the individuals who have them. This gnosticism, sometimes labeled "unverified personal gnosis," is a nuanced supernatural transmission of knowledge rooted in a substratum of supernatural beliefs and practices which are part of Heathen religion for many adherents.
My research on this topic synthesizes the surveys of six Heathen women about unverified personal gnosis with selected critical literature on the ethnographic study of belief. The gnostic experiences of these women are highlighted in the contexts of...more
During Yuletide, I made a set of runes using birch wood I brought back from Iceland in April of last year. Because I'm a folklorist, I thought it might be interesting to document the process in pictures and share them with you. The tools and the burning/soldering kit (not shown) were gifts from my husband (I've needed proper electric tools for a while now), the cutting board oil is made of coconut oil and essential oils that smell faintly of lemongrass, and the velvet comes from my grandmother's quilting stash, which I inherited in the late nineties before she passed away.
I usually allow a set of runes to germinate for at least four seasons; two to cure the wood, one to make the runes, and one to let them rest before blessing them. I prefer to make runes at Yuletide, and I'll bless this set on May 1st when I return from Newfoundland. Meanwhile, it sits on the altar in my studio at home in Nova Scotia, sleeping as the snow falls outside.
This is a particularly sacred...more
First and foremost, I want to make something clear. As a person of Western and Northern European descent, I condemn and repudiate Neo-Nazism, Neo-Nazi ideology, and President Donald Trump's support of them both. Neo-Nazis and other racists aren't saving the world for me, and I never want to benefit from what they're creating.
I've been Pagan for thirty-two years, so I've weathered my share of misunderstanding as a result of my faith. But I wore the symbols of that faith proudly even so; the pentacle when I was practicing Wicca in my twenties, the Celtic cross when I practiced Druidry in my thirties, and the Thor's Hammer I wear now as a Heathen. I always believed, and still do, that it was important to be...more
I'm a revivalist Heathen, academic, and fiction writer, which makes for an interesting approach to cosmological and theological ideology and practice. In short, I recognize that there are substantive holes in the lore, but I honor what we have, and I also honor my own process of interaction with the transpersonal. As a longtime solitary practitioner, that process of interaction is decidedly personal, which is to say that I haven't studied with any particular Heathen organization or individual. With this in mind, and because I do have a specific process for undertaking seidh work, I thought it might add to our ongoing revival of the practice to write about it here. I'll start with some relevant personal background, followed by a discussion of my toolkit, and end...more
In my first blog post about the huldufolk, I wrote about my recent research into the hidden people of Iceland and offered some thoughts about Icelandic belief in the otherworld. In this post, I'll conclude the discussion with lore I gathered about the hidden people and offer some book and website suggestions.
The Huldufolk and Their Lore
Note that all of the lore I gathered came from the oral accounts of my informants, except where noted.
Trolls are the guardians of the great places; mountains, glaciers, and waterfalls. They may be helpful or harmful to humankind. I have a vague memory, not captured in my notes, of an informant telling me that trolls turn to...more
Last year, Sean and I went to Iceland as tourists. This year, we returned as friends to participate in a knowledge exchange with the owner of the northernmost vegan and raw food restaurant in the world. You see, Sean makes tofu from scratch, and the owner of the restaurant wanted to learn the trick of it. Conversely, she's a raw food wizard, and Sean wanted to spend some time in her kitchen. I offered to update the restaurant's web site, which was in need of attention, in order to help make her offer of free room and board more equitable. But when she learned that I had recently written a paper on Newfoundland fairy abduction legends and had an interest in...more
We arrived in Reykjavik at 6:00 AM yesterday morning during a spring snow squall that made the road to Akureyri impassable. But our friends Vigdis and Sveinn took us in, fed us Icelandic pancakes, and sent us to bed, for which we were grateful. We're on the road today after a good night in the company of good people and two sweet-tempered cats who curled around us while we slept.
Iceland isn't a foreign country to me anymore, breathtaking because I have never seen her before. Now her snow-covered mountains and spring-brown soil are familiar, even welcoming. I love this place from volcanic bones to glacial crown. She is a young queen among geological elders, still showing off to the world.
I said something to Vigdis about that love that I think is worth...more
I am in liminal space as I write this post. Behind me, the successful completion of my first year as a PhD student of Folklore; a discipline for which I have genuine passion in a department full of committed professionals. Ahead, ten days in Iceland, a place of unparalleled beauty for which I feel something akin to the reverence one might reserve for a god. Afterward, a five-day meditation retreat at home in Cape Breton and a summer of writing both fiction and non-fiction pieces already slated for publication in their various anthologies and journals.
And while the demands of graduate school are everything you've heard and more, I've had a good, fallow season to rest the spiritual and creative aspects of my character. In February, I retired from my volunteer position as a...more