Friday, June 15, 2007

queer Wicca article

My article is now online at the GLBTQ Encyclopedia!
Wicca -
Primarily a nature religion that seeks to commune with the divine through the contemplation and celebration of nature and its mysteries, Wicca and other contemporary pagan traditions celebrate
our existence in this world.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Queer Wicca talk

In other news, I will be giving a talk on Queer Wicca at the Cardiff LGB Mardi Gras on 1st September. They're having a faith tent, and there will be Jews, Christians, Buddhists and Pagans, all showing that you don't have to be homophobic if you are religious or spiritual. In fact, of course, I'd say being a homophobe automatically disqualifies you from the label 'spiritual'.

All acts of love and pleasure are Her rituals

An exploration of Queer themes and traditions in contemporary Paganism: the tribe; gender-bending and androgyny; themes of darkness, nature, and vulnerability; finding the queer in the divine, and the divine in the queer; subject-SUBJECT consciousness.

What do we mean by "respect"?

The text of the talk I gave at the APT conference (26 May 2007: Gods and Sacred Places) is up at my other blog.

What does "respect" mean? A discussion of responses to the reburial question
Yvonne Aburrow

Not all Pagans feel strongly that ancient human remains should be reburied. Yet those who do not feel that way do not lack respect for their ancestors, they just show that respect differently. This paper will examine what different groups mean by respect, and look at the discourses from which these meanings emerge; on the one hand, a 'timeless' and holistic concept of landscape and a view of archaeologists as rationalist scientists, and on the other, a sense of landscape as a historical construct, and of archaeologists as restoring connections with our ancestors, and a range of positions in between. Further, it will suggest a selection of possible compromises on the treatment of human remains.

  • What happens to the body and consciousness after death?
  • What is the ontological status of human remains?
  • How did Ancient Britons treat their dead?
  • Whose ancestors?
  • Respect as reburial - the 'holistic' / animist discourse
  • Respect as remembering - the 'memory' discourse
  • The Hávamál and the Popol Vuh
  • The discourse of scientific materialism
  • Implications for ancient human remains
  • Compromise options

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

pride symbols

Symbols of gay pride such as the lambda, the rainbow flag, the pink triangle and help to make glbtq people more visible and also act as a good substitute if your gaydar is at a low ebb. There are also a couple of monuments in Amsterdam and New York.
Symbols of glbtq pride are diverse in origin and meaning, but they serve the crucial purpose of rendering visible communities that have been erased or marginalized.
glbtq-specific dialect and other folk customs are also a fascinating manifestation of gay culture.
Folklore consists of traditional aspects of culture generally passed on by example or observation rather than in writing--jokes, stories, personal experience narratives, folk speech, songs, customs, various arts and crafts, and numerous other genres.

Within the gay and lesbian subculture, one of the primary functions of folklore is to aid in acculturation. No one is brought up to be homosexual; lesbians and gay men must somehow learn to function successfully with other people of their own kind. Folklore helps them in this learning process, aiding in identifying and communicating with other homosexual people, fostering subcultural cohesion, and helping to cope with conflict.

Saturday, June 09, 2007


Many academics are critical of Wikipedia, mainly because students often lift huge chunks from it to put in their essays. Dismissing it entirely, however, is unfair. The editors are striving to improve the quality of articles by adding references and weeding out biased statements and outrageous claims. As the editorial work is done by volunteers, this takes a lot of time. Many articles are written by academics (and are properly sourced) and those that are not properly referenced or are biased have a big warning displayed at the top of the page. People who are critical of Wikipedia should get involved and edit the articles, not moan about it.

I tend to use it as a way of gaining an overview of any particular topic, in much the same way as I use the Introduction to... series of books, or the Beginner's Guide to... books. It is not the done thing to cite those in essays either, but they are very useful.

The root problem with student essays is not that they cite Wikipedia or are guilty of plagiarism; the problem is that they don't know how to write properly, so they turn to these means to get the work done. Do they still teach the arts of précis, rhetoric, logic and grammar in schools? I think not - and that, it seems to me, is the source of the problem.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

gay surreal abstract art

Technophilia by Frank Pietronigro
Frank Pietronigro's paintings are like a surrealist 3D version of Miro's paintings, with a dash of Kandinsky - well, that's the nearest I can get to describing it.

He also does installations, including one he did in free-fall on a NASA flight, and Documents: Deconstructing Homophobic Signifiers, where he stencils homophobic slang on the floor in salt and then people walk on it, literally destroying the homophobic words. What a great idea - kind of a magical act, really.

Another of his projects that was even more of a ritual was Angels of Alcatraz, where a bunch of people dressed as angels visited Alcatraz and filled it with positive energy, embodying a specific positive word and projecting their healing energies into anywhere that felt particularly negative. The aim was to send the energy across time to the prisoners. How beautiful.