Monthly Archives: October 2009

Student Union Lecture: Wicca, the Religion of Witchcraft

Jeremy Adkison, Leavenworth sophomore and president of KU Cauldron, a university student group that holds weekly discussions of pagan social and metaphysical issues, gave a lecture tonight concerning the basics of the Wiccan religion. I have to admit that I went with the primary idea to see if other Asatruar gravitated toward the lecture, with an eye on reaching out (something I’ve said on this very website isn’t what I think I’m for). The coverage in the university’s newspaper focused on the “oooh, spooky stuff near Halloween” aspect of the lecture, and I fully expected a “fluffy bunny” convention. But even as that was my expectation, I really did want to learn about Wicca from the mouth of a Wiccan in an academic environment, and put some hope in maybe the academic part in the event description would be more than perfunctory. I had called another Heathen friend of mine, and he had expressed to me the same thought about that I was having, the dread of the fluffy bunny circle jerk. He also has a test tomorrow, and good luck to him (I’m glad I’m done with math…).

Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised by the lecture. I have to disagree with the presenter’s concept of what makes a religion “reconstructionist”, but this was the only point of contention I had with the event. When he first presented the idea of Wicca as being reconstructionist I asked him if there were any primary sources that supported the interpretations of the god/goddess “fountainhead”, or rituals, and he was bluntly honest that there weren’t, outside of the Gardnerian and post-Gardnerian literature dating from the 20th Century. So my beef is with the word “reconstructionist”.

He touched on the idea of “cultural misappropriation” a bit, using the example of uninitiated outsiders mimicking the rituals of hoodoo priestesses. His idea was that approaching and patronizing the hoodoo gods as an outsider was valid, just not going through the motions developed by a closed, native sect. He mentioned that mixing gods of different cultures in one ritual was confusing and uncomfortable to him, and he asserted that most Wiccans over the age of 35 would not likely do such a thing, presumably due to a more experienced and developed understanding. He also acknowledged the negative feelings of more conservative reconstructionists (such as Asatruar) toward new, radical interpretations of native gods. He didn’t mention lore in that respect, and I didn’t think to ask him.

Eschatology was discussed, and the Wiccans don’t seem to have much more of a consensus than Heathens do. No big surprise there. Eastern concepts of the same were talked about, and cited as a source for most Wiccan belief in this regard. Truthfully, a lot of what he talked about as being Wicca struck me as being “lazy Hinduism” dressed in European pagan drag. Some may take me to task for that comment on account of my own interest in comparative religion and Eastern religious thought (and the fact that I engage in certain Zen practices), and while I sometimes walk a thin line in that department, it is always very clearly defined. I practice two different religions, I don’t mash two religions into one to practice.

There weren’t many people at the lecture. I expected a lot more, and a rowdier bunch, but that was not the case. There were maybe a dozen people there listening, and there wasn’t much in the way of “me too-ism” going on, thankfully. I think that based on what I learned tonight I will be less standoffish toward Wiccans than I have been up to now. Even recently there have been Wiccans who’ve rubbed me the wrong way, but this lecture gave me a reasonable base from which to understand the movement as a whole, rather than focusing on individuals who have pissed me off in the past. I may even end up going to the KU pagan group and attending one or two of their regular club lectures. But then again, maybe not. The last one was about vampire culture. The presenter at that meeting, according to the UDK, was my Eastern Religions GTA, so that says something favorable for it. But. Vampires

I guess I still think of Wicca as “paganism lite”, but I’m working on not being a dick about it.

Reviresco!

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Fitness Report 23Oct09

Waist – 39.5″

Weight – 215.6 lbs

Body Fat Percentage – 26% / 29.3%

Overweight by – 26.6 pounds

Exercising – No. Doctor has forbidden it.

Dieting – Not pigging out as much as lat week.

I feel – Tired, anxious, irritated because I can’t exercise.

OK, these were the stats from this weekend. I had a complicated day on Friday, and nothing went the way it was supposed to. I’ve got an appointment with a specialist THIS Friday, and hopefully I’ll learn something that will let me start working out again.

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Fitness Report 16Oct09

Waist – 39.75″

Weight – 215.2 lbs

Body Fat Percentage – 27% / 31.7%

Overweight by – 26.2 pounds

Exercising – No. Doctor has forbidden it.

Dieting – Totally off the wagon.

I feel – Tired, anxious, irritated because I can’t exercise.

Totally pissed off about not being about to participate in sports or do any walking or jogging. I’ve been taking Ibuprofin and putting an icepack on my knee, and it feels a lot better, so I guess this has been worth it. I can get myself into the sonkyo squatting position for kendo, something that I couldn’t have done a week ago. It doesn’t feel so great, but I can do it. I reckon I should be OK be tournament time. I’m on Fall Break right now, so I get to rest and catch up on reading and housework. Mostly I’m just sitting around the house and feeling irritated. Got to get in to see the doc next week and get cleared to practice again.

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CATO Institute Speaker at KU

Wednesday, 14Oct09, at the University of Kansas School of Law in Green Hall, the KU student chapter of the Federalist Society hosted Robert A. Levy, Chairman of the CATO Institute’s Board of Directors. Mr. Levy was there to discuss the topic of his book,The Dirty Dozen: How Twelve Supreme Court Cases Radically Expanded Government And Eroded Freedom. The CATO Institute is a libertarian think tank in Washington, not connected to the Libertarian Party. In their own words: “the mission of the Cato Institute is to increase the understanding of public policies based on the principles of limited government, free markets, individual liberty, and peace.”

This event was sponsored by the Federalist Society, who are, in their own words, “a group of conservative, libertarian, and moderate students committed to preserving the mainstays of our free government: federalism, the separation of powers, and judicial fidelity to the text of the Constitution.” They are hosting a series of speakers this year, and I think this is the first one, but I’m not sure. At any rate, I’m looking forward to anything else they have lined up, because this was a very interesting lecture, even if what selling a book.

It was my first look inside Green Hall, the building that houses the KU School of Law. I’ve heard that it’s a whole different school in there, and that was definitely the impression that I got. It was a dreary, rainy day, with a lot of people skipping or hiding inside. When I went into Green it was bustling, and I sort of felt out of place. But, I walked in and there was pizza being handed out, so I knew I was in the right place. I didn’t eat any, but still, you know you’re at a proper college event if they’re handing out pizza or a T-shirt.

The speaker, Mr. Robert Levy, was well prepared and well spoken. He made sense, anyway. I took some notes, and one of the more interesting things he talked about was the concept of negative versus positive rights. A positive right obligates someone else to do something for you. So if you have a right to housing, a “progressive” idea kicked around by more radical liberals, then if you can’t do it, government will force someone else to build or buy you a house, right? A negative right is a right you have to act on your own that doesn’t obligate or impose on someone else. Negative rights would be something that I support, because positive rights necessitate a strong authority making you do things. Goodbye individual rights.

During the brief Q&A session afterward Second Amendment rights were discussed. The CATO Institute had taken part in a law suit in the District of Columbia challenging the most restrictive ban on firearms in the country. They filed in D.C. because it was NOT a state, so that the Supreme Court could issue a ruling on a federal level. This way, apparently, the federal government can use the 14th Amendment to force states to apply federal civil rights. The Second Amendment is near and dear to my heart, so this was of great interest to me. The latest news on this, I’ve learned, is that the next step involves a lawsuit in Illinois, McDonald v. Chicago, challenging a similar harsh weapons ban in a state.

I’m just now looking at my notes, and there are more things I could talk about that he talked about, but I think this is the gist of the lecture. I look forward to the next lecture that they put on. Good stuff.

Reviresco!

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Fitness Report 10Oct09

Waist – 40″

Weight – 213 lbs

Body Fat Percentage – 27% / 29%

Overweight by – 24 pounds

Exercising – No. Doctor has forbidden it.

Dieting – Yes, though I ate a munch of cookies last night at “game night”

I feel – Tired, but OK

Subtle fluctuations this week. The first week my official stats have gone up. Yesterday morning I was lower, but like most weeks the officially recorded one is the highest of the week. The worst part is my doctor not letting me exercise. Normally I can burn off things like extra cookies doing kendo or whatever, but that wasn’t an option this week. My knee DOES look a little less swollen today, and it definitely isn’t as sore, so I guess I’ll have to risk gaining back a couple pounds to get better. And I want to be good for the kendo tournament in November. Which reminds me, I have to call and make hotel reservations…

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