john beckett

Book Review – Paganism in Depth: A Polytheistic Approach by John Beckett

June, 2019

Book Review
Paganism in Depth
A Polytheistic Approach
by John Beckett

Let me begin this review by saying that John Beckett is a down-to-earth and genuinely unassuming and likable man. And, he also is committed to his path of Druidry, but not at the expense of also being very thoughtful and receptive to many of the other paths that fall under the umbrella of polytheism. These statements alone, in my opinion, make his writing all that more interesting because you can distinguish the underpinnings of a sound personal practice that allows for exploration of “what could be”.

Paganism in Depth is separated into three Parts: Part 1-Foundations; Part 2-Practice; and Part 3-Challenges. Each offers a very thorough and as the title suggests comprehensive discourse on the nature of paganism in its multitude of expressions. The Introduction contained as a section of Part 1 provides the reader with John’s experiences as he moved through the hunger that many new pagans feel upon finding out that there is a different type of spirituality that asks much of its seekers and integrates the natural, mundane and spiritual worlds. We are reminded from the beginning that going deeper into the path we are exploring or have committed to requires much from us, but that the rewards are well worth the efforts.

Reading through Paganism In Depth is much like having a conversation with an old friend. You may think you know lots about the individual and then they surprise you with something new and unexpected. This alone changes the dynamics between you and the dialogue opens, your mind begins to process and questions arise that set you on a path of wanting to know more. And, all the while this interaction is being done in a very gentle way that feels neither threatening nor invasive of what you already believe to be true.

By and far my reading was Chapter 5: I like It Here-Why Do I Have to Leave? This chapter spoke to the nature of settling in and at times simply “just settling” when the experience could be so much more had we just reached a little further beyond our comfort zone. John asks the reader to learn to trust their experiences, and use this as an opening for deeper connection to Deity, the magick and all that comprises your chosen path…

…. Learning to trust your senses is an act of will. And like so many other parts of ourselves, the will is strengthened by exercise.”….

Supporting this concept of will as needing exercise, Chapter 6: Devotional Practice is the first statement of devotional practice beginning with a choice (will): a Deity to worship. How we proceed from that choice is integral to how deeply we will ultimately connect with deity at all levels. Choice of which deity (ies) we select to offer our practice to is another step that although it may feel or seem very simple, the angst that surrounds this often holds us back from simply making the choice to “experience”.

Meditation, magick, leadership and all of those pieces that construct a whole in what we choose to call our spiritual practice are given the care of first hand experience and suggestion of how to improve upon and make it your own. This style is prominent throughout the book with each topic being made that much more relevant through the sharing of John’s personal experiences. This creates a space of community through common ground and even if the reader disagrees with or has never had any similar experience, it makes the book readable and engaging.

This closing statement in the Epilogue: An Invitation to a Journey, beautifully sums up the entirety of the book and in this case, perfectly aligns with what John Beckett has accomplished in its writing…

…. the mission of Paganism in Depth. It’s a guidebook to going deeper into the forest, higher up the mountain, and further out to sea. It’s an invitation to join this sacred work, to go where there are no maps and find your way through careful practice and intuition,,, and then draw a map for those who come after you.”

Visit the author’s blog: Under the Ancient Oaks

Paganism In Depth: A Polytheist Approach on Amazon

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About the Author:

Robin Fennelly is a Wiccan High Priestess, teacher, poet and author.

She is the author of (click on book titles for more information):

The Inner Chamber Volume One on Amazon

It’s Written in the Stars

Astrology

The Inner Chamber, Vol. Two

poetry of the Spheres (Volume 2) on Amazon

Qabalah

The Inner Chamber, Vol. Three

Awakening the Paths on Amazon

Qabalah

A Year With Gaia on Amazon

The Eternal Cord

Temple of the Sun and Moon on Amazon

Luminous Devotions

The Magickal Pen Volume One (Volume 1) on Amazon

A Collection of Esoteric Writings

The Elemental Year on Amazon

Aligning the Parts of SELF

The Enchanted Gate on Amazon

Musings on the Magick of the Natural World

Sleeping with the Goddess on Amazon

Nights of Devotion

A Weekly Reflection on Amazon

Musings for the Year

Her books are available on Amazon or on this website and her Blogs can be found atRobin Fennelly 

Follow Robin on Instagram & Facebook.

The Naked Goddess II

February, 2018

(Celtic Gods: The Morrigan by Alexandra Rena of AlexandraRena Fine Prints & Gifts on etsy.)

 

I just read a very interesting article by John Beckett. In it he speaks at his unnamed discomfort at the “sexualisation” of Goddess imagery, specifically of the Morrigan.

The word he was groping for but missing was objectification. Of course this is not a new thing (I spoke before at this Greek innovation of lessening women and Goddess power).

Early Christian and Jewish priests had some very odd ideas about the worship of objects (animism) and linked it to avarice and greed. Love of possessions was seen as “worship” of things. I’m sure you’ve all heard the “consumerism is making Christmas pagan” rubbish that gets to do the rounds every few years. The worship of an object however is not about greed. The thrust of avarice is ownership. Yet worship is to acknowledge, imbue, transcend or awaken an essence within an object. The worship of an object is to elevate it to sacred, holy. To believe it is more. Perhaps an expression of something spiritual or holy clothed in a physical expression of its divine force.

Objectification is reductive. The being is reduced to a visual composite of sexual stereotypes. Objectification lessens the subject being viewed. When it becomes titillation the narrative becomes focused not on the subject’s wants, thoughts or needs, but on the observers. Historically this is how women were controlled in a culture, art and religion.

So how do we solve this encroaching pornification? Firstly we have to acknowledge that pornography and it’s extremely exploitative and toxic ideas of beauty, sexuality and objectification are everywhere. The cultures are so saturated with them right now studies show that teenagers (boys and girls) thought only breasts that had been surgically enhanced were normal.

How with this level of ownership especially on the female form can we expect our Goddesses to not be influenced by this?

First off we need to be aware of the objectification. Name it. Call it out. It is happening more and more. From the satire of drawing male superheroes in sexual “female” costumes and poses to better and more honest nudity in films and television. Of course the answer is not objectifying men. That seems to miss the point entirely.

The second thing is to commission and make better art, especially divine art. I don’t think I own any art or divine images that depict the Goddess (any Goddess) naked (except for my tarot deck) and none that objectify them. This has meant I have made a lot of my own. Sex sells, and if it stops selling they will have to try something else. There are folks who sell reproductions of much older Goddess figurines. Ones that stubbornly refuse objectification.

Nudity isn’t inherently sexual. What we need, and maybe the Goddesses deserve, is to be whole. To be able to be powerful and frightening, and sexual and terrifying, merciful and present. To acknowledge the thinking, breathing, complicated being women are as people. Maybe if we stop objectifying women, the objectification of Goddesses will also cease to be an issue. Maybe then our warrior Goddesses will wear proper armour; our mother Goddesses will have stretch marks, menses and swollen nipples; our hunting Maidens will have muscles enough to draw their bows and skinned knees; and our Old Ones will be radiant with scars, deep lines and the beauty of age.

There is no new “pornification” or sexualisation of Goddesses. The extreme of the sexual and exploitative gaze has become more and more extreme but we have also finally begun to recognise it. What we can do is call it out when we see it. Put our money where our mouths are and keep fighting.

 

Resources:

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnbeckett/2018/01/dont-like-sexy-morrigan-imagery.html