ani-mism noun 1 the attribution of a living soul to plants, inanimate objects, and natural phenomena (Barber 2005, 51).
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:
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.