Interviews with pagans

A fairly significant aspect of my outlook on life can best be described as pagan — though with many caveats and clarifications. It goes back a long way, twenty five years or so, and I think I can say with a fair degree of confidence that over that time I have been a pretty useless, dim-witted and incompetent pagan, but I enjoy it neverthless. That’s despite some ups and downs, which I have written about elsewhere.
silvanus -
Now, I get the impression that having a “spiritual life” is something of a faux pas in my corner of the blogosphere, and that materialism, sometimes of a fundamentalist bent, holds sway. I don’t wish to challenge any of that simply because, well, I have a life. However there are some amusing an occasionally irritating misconceptions about what pagans believe and what they do floating around and while I again don’t want to take on the task of educating people, there might be some value in letting a few pagans tell their stories so people can make their own minds up.
Or not, as the case may be… I’m really not bothered either way. However, I personally am interested in what ordinary (and no so ordinary) pagans do and I enjoy talking to them about it. Over the last few months I’ve conducted a few interviews with pagans for the Pagan Network forum, which I’ve thoroughly enjoyed, and I will be putting some of them up here.

Goodbye dad

Last weekend I was in London staying with our friends Dan and Emily. They’re lovely people– when you spend time with them one enters a parallel unierse where everything is cool, everything is nice. Not that they’re divorced from reality — far from it (Dan’s family has a hardcore lefty history) — but rather that life seems just that little bit sweetter when one is with them. Planet Dan and Em we called it. As an example: we tipped up at Kings Cross station early-ish on Saturday morning and there was Dan over the road from the Midland Mainline terminal, in his big white van, with a little sound system rigged up in the back playing reggae. (His big sound system — half of Manassah’s rig, some of Awassa’s, from the eighties — are in his carpentry workshop.) We clambered in and drifted a cross London to where they live, a quiet little backstreet nestled right behind Mare Street. We met up with John Eden and his partner on the Sunday and froze our nuts off on the a lenghy derrive around the south bank. Dan and Emily live ten minutes from Beck Road, where I met John in — what was it, 1989? — at Gen’s old house. Their house is therefore ten minutes from St Joseph’s Hospice, which is just opposite Beck Road.

And it was at St Joseph’s Hospice that my father died, and we realised whilst walking past Hackney Town Hall on the Saturday that that day was the seventh anniversary of us going there to register my dad’s death.

My dad — Tom, not Thomas — died of lung cancer after a brief terminal illness that lasted a few months. Or maybe it wasn’t brief — he started smoking when he was a child eleven and I can’t ever remember a time when he was really well. In a sense he was dying for a very long time indeed, certainly he wasn’t really living as much as I would have wanted him to. When he died it was, as it often is, something of a relief. I was fortunate that I was able to see him dead. I think my mum really regrets not having seen him dead. The catharsis from seeing him on the slab, face yellowed and hollowed in death, was immediate and overwhelming, an instant breakdown into tears. He was finished with suffering — he had very expensive private health care which in his case hastened the end — but it wasn’t a good death for the rest of us, simply because so much damage had been wrought over the course of his illness. I won’t go into the details but effectively his marriage to my mother dissolved when he was diagnosed and the whole family collapsed. It got worse ater he died, and it’s a mad story, and was horrible to live through; not just for me, but for all the people around me, including John.

I think it was the hospice that finally killed him. He was in there for one day, and that night, he died. We got the call at four in the morning in Brixton that he’d died. We got to the Hospice around five. I was numb, in shock, as you need to be in these situations, but when we got the ward where he had been it was nightmarish: so many people, all old men as I remember it, hours from death, and so many of them not fading from life in blissful narcolepsy, but struggling in a losing fight with pain, crying out and screaming. I remember thinking, “This is bedlam.” For some there was nothing the doctors and nurses could do. I imagine my father lying there and thinking, “Sod this. I’m off.” He didn’t last the night. We children last saw him the previous day — my mother wasn’t talking to him by this point — and he was gleefully out of his mind on drugs, inured from the devestation wrought on his body by cancer. He made a point of saying, “What’s that herb you take…” — I could never work out how much emphasis he laid on the “you” — and we said it was cannabis. And he said “That’s alright that is.” I thought that was a terribly kind thing to say in your last few hours on earth. When I drove home from his flat in Docklands I knew I wouldn’t see him again, not in a state fit to talk.

They say life goes in seven year cycles. I don’t know if that’s really true or not, but it kind of feels like it. The pain softens, turns into a tenderness that can be joyful. I was just amazed to find myself — completely unplanned — right back where I was seven yeas ago.

Well, geographically, anyway. This time we went over to a park on the edge of London Fields so the various children could burn off some energy and I had to take emergency action so that my older boy could perform a private function without access to facilities. Brilliant!

Goodbye dad. I wish you’d got to see the kids, but that’s OK. Love you.

Tense Nervous House Music

Tense Nervous House Music

House is just the most despised form of dance music isn’t it? It’s so easy to sneer cos it’s the commercial backbone of the industry; just product. All the feeling is supposed to have been leached out of it. I suspect House music’s critical stock has never been lower. It therefore seems to me to be the best possible time to reappraise it. That’s one reasone for this mix, titled Tense Nervous House Music. It’s an antidote to turgid false-positive handbag while still being capable of slamming hard. Taking its inspiration from the darker end of “real disco” it attempts to redefine the term “funky house”. But there are other impulses.

A while ago I put up a mix of music that related to some of my more spiritual interests, in the shape of the Industrial mix ( Then, in April this year, I went to Gozo, where I went to the amazing Neolithic temples (the oldest freestanding structures on the planet), and read Frank Tope and Bill Brewster’s fabulous book Last Night A DJ Saved My Life. I became obsessed by disco-influenced (is there any other kind?) house music, and I came to believe that Disco and all its descendents might well be the ultimate pagan music. My kind of House music springs from the same impulses as indstrial. I started compiling lists of records that would express this feeling and quite quickly I came up with the selection contained in this mix.

For I’m fed up with the boring stereotypes of what witchy, pagan music should be. It’s always the same old genres: goth (eurgh), folk (which is OK), antedeluvian rock (zzzzzzz…) — nothing that really captures the feelings I have as a pagan. And over the last few weeks, I’ve become obsessed with the idea that the ultimate pagan music is DISCO. It, and all the genres that have sprung from it, especially house music, for me represent a much more vital spiritual force. Disco’s pulse, its abandonment to pleasure, its delivery of physical transcendence via the agency of rhythm, combine to make it a far more Dionysian experience than I gain from the musical genres usually associated with paganism.

Furthermore, positing Disco as the ultimate pagan music challenges paganism’s cultural stereotype (hippy-goth clothes, patchouli oil, Stonehenge posters…) and helps to remove pagan ideas from from simply being part of what can be seen as a lifestyle package. I should point out that I don’t at all mind that others find pagan resonance in other forms of music. Certainly a genre like folk can be hugely evocative of pagan experience (and I’ve played in folk bands myself, so there’s no prejiudice here). But so too can Disco and its descendents, and for me, it is a more poweful medium. My intention in this regard is not to propose a new lifestyle package for paganism; rather it is to divorce it from all lifestyle packages. Paganism has been historically associated with particular cultural forms, but that historical association need not constrain our visualisation of what paganism is, nor our experience of it. If paganism can be encapsulated within Planxty and Sandy Denny albums, I believe it can also be encapsulated in Masters At Work DJ mixes and volcanic filter house twelve-inches.

To explore these ideas further I’ve done a mix of disco-infused house music which, for me, powerfully evoke pagan ideas and feelings. I think it demonstrates how the dancefloor experience can parallel that of ritual, and to that end I have labelled the sections of the mix to show how they represent the phases one might find in a ritual. This is not to say that the dancefloor experience is necessarily a ritual experience in itself (though it can be), nor that this mix need be seen as “ritual music”. But if a folk singer can recall the sensations and imagery of British nature magic, so a DJ mix can recall the experience of magical ritual without actually being a ritual itself. (Of course, the concept of the mix as a ritual is a long-established element of DJ folklore, so these distinctions while worth making are not hard and fast.)

As you can imagine, the influence here is not happy-clappy commercialised disco, but dark, twisted, freaky disco, the “real disco” evangelised by the Loft and the Paradise Garage which formed the roots of proper house music. Here, it is tense, nervous, expectant; the feelings I associate with rising magical energy.

There’s some well-known records here and I doubt that any of them will be unfamiliar to the dedicated house head, but the way they’re combined here creates a tense, jittery, grinding version of house, albeit much softened by melody. I don’t apologise for it being, occasionally, banging. Here then is a headache-inducing collection of dark and zappy house whose construction is partly influenced by pagans experience. I’m aware that, on paper, this might sound like a terrible idea, but it sounded pretty good in my head on the beach in Gozo, and it sounds even better to me through the speakers here in Sheffield. Numinous codswallop? Probably!

In any event, this is probably the last mix for a while, cos I’m moving house. Tense Nervous House, geddit? Moving house is a headfuck!

It’s now zipped, so it’s downloads only. (Windows: right click and save as, Mac: option or control click and save as.)

Tense Nervous House Music
45 minutes 7 seconds
192K mp3



David Byrne and Brian Eno: Jezebel Spirit

There are two senses of banishing here. One is that this record is a clearing of the space for the mix, so it can do its work. One is that the music contains a tape of a Christian exorcism, which is essentially the banishing of the spirit of the goddess Jezebel, and yet that banishing is contradicted by the inductive voodoo disco of the music. It represents the reversal of Christianity’s attempt to expiate the goddess current, which is that aspect of everyday life we’re trying to temporarily reverse with this mix.


Norma Jean Bell / Moodymann: I’m the Baddest Bitch

Moodymann’s brilliant chugging disco house is chocolate-dark as much because of the lite jazz funk horns as in spite of them. Norma Jean Bell channels and invokes the Jezebel spirit identified by Byrne and Eno: “I’m the baddest bitch – and you belong to me”.


KenLou: The Bounce
Jedi Knights: One for MAW

It’s time to let them in the elements. Masters at Work’s sizzling Latin house stomper brings in Air and Fire, Jedi Knight’s positively beaming One for MAW brings in Water (those delicious lush guitar and synth lines) and Earth (that super-squidgy bassline).


Deep Dish: Stranded (Danny Tenaglia’s GrooveJet Dubby Edit)
Deep Dish: Stranded (BT Vs DD: Grievous Angel’s 777 Edit)
Shaboom: Bessie (DJ Sneak mix)

The powers are up and grooving and now an old personal current of mine, the 777 current, can come through, can be invoked. 777 is sensitive, twisted and demanding but ultimately very compassionate, and this is reflected in the extensively edited Deep Dish tunes here, which are vast psychedelic freak-outs ground down to rapacious shards. The other side of 777 is contained within Shaboom’s Bessie, which is utterly transformed by Sneak’s devastating industrial house cut-up. It’s harsh, driving, almost inhuman, and while it’s definitely “funky disco house”, it sounds nothing like that description. Sneak’s mix of Bessie is liminal: it’s just on the other side.


Dajae: Day by Day (Grievous Angel Edit)
King Unique: Hell
Mongobonix: Mas Pito

We got juice now. We’ve summoned a vast underworld Disco deity showering glitter and lasers onto the circle, a 500 foot high afro-ed and silver-suited horned god of the dancefloor. His music is twisted, Chi-town house, evil banging hard groove and massively hyped up latino jazz.


Q Burns’ Abstract Message: Innocent (King Britt vocal mix)

Mongobonix took us down a little, or rather raised up from the depths of King Britt’s Hell to Mas Pito’s mountain-top fusion. But it’s Innocent that really grounds the energy. You’re taken back to earth, to placidity, but you’re in a very different place from where you were at the start. Innocent is one of the weirdest, grooviest, best house records ever made: it’s got really strange, intensely jazzy, constantly shifting melodies that are utterly beguiling, it has the best Moog solo in all of house, and it’s also one of the three or four best songs in the whole of house. Innocent is magnificent.

Strange hotels in Victoria

Recently I have while working in London had the opportunity to sample some of the scuzziest hotels in Victoria. Pick of the bunch has to be one particularly seamy example I stayed in when caught billet-less last December. It had to be the smallest room in the world, comprising a tiny bed crammed up against the window, which was easily within reaching distance of the cupboard-style door. The left hand two-feet of space were occupied by one of those all-in one toilet-and-shower units which had somehow been shoehorned into less space than my funky sixties plastic hat-stand takes up. I swear that the whole shebang would have fitted into half the area of John’s spare room, in which I normally stay when in London. I literally laughed out loud half the time I was in there, it was so comically tiny. I managed to get that room for just thirty quid – a mere 200% more than it could reasonably be worth given current incomes – and I was grateful for it.

There seems to be a common pattern to this sort of “hotel” room. Large Georgian-style houses have their rooms subdivided – a process that must have occurred in the fities if not before, judging by the carefully-installed cornicing (the curved-edge details that occupy the join between wall and ceiling). The rooms assume an L-shape, with the doorway taking one corner, while a large rectangle of space is taken up by the afore-mentioned all-in-one toilet and shower unit. These beasts are a masterpiece of anti-ergonomics; every possible concession to human requirements being sacrificed on the altar of craming the requisite number of features into as small a space as possible. The narrow hard toilet is so positioned that one’s knees poke through the doorway, while the shower is a circular curtain with a faucet above, dispensing occasionally hot but typically luke-warm water from a standard tap accessorised with a scarcely-functioning droplet creator. This has the advantage of ensuring that unnecessary tardiness while bathing is discouraged. This sort of bathroom is almost indistinguishable from those installed in most Barratt homes, and easily confers on them that dissolution of the soul which is those house’s mission.

Tonight’s room – John’s partner is poorly and I wish neither to intrude nor risk infection – is a veritable palace in comparison with some previous examples of the genus. It’s slightly larger for a start, with less of a sense of the walls looming in on you. And while the bath “room” is still a plastic carbuncle whose primary virtue is that it can be hosed down by a below-minimum-wage cleaning woman in less time than it takes me to evacuate my bowels, it can at least be entered without significant anatomical distortion, and it is possible to actually stand in front of the mirror without stooping too much (though I wouldn’t fancy John “Beanpole” Eden’s chances of shaving properly in there).

However, the room lacks both a closet and a bedside lamp, so I’m stuck with the main light, which is one of those circular phosphorescent jobs. In terms of “mood-lighting” it reminds me rather too much of a late-night office, which is a bit much even for a workaholic like me come eleven. (Today was a long one – left home at 7.15, didn’t get to Felixstowe til 2.00, back to Victoria at 7.00, so that’s nigh on a twelve hour day including nine hours on trains, so I could do without the David Brent-inspired atmosphere right now,) Pretty soon I’m going to switch off the main light and listen to some Kid Chamaeleon off the laptop by the light of the screen, and hope I don’t fall asleep.

It doesn’t half make me grateful for the hospitality of John and his family. Not only do you get a decent amount of space but you get to listen to the greatest music ever made while talking to some of the most interesting people on the planet.

Hotel rooms do have one useful feature, In just the same way that hotel rooms are a great venue for really good sex – the sense of being out of regular time and space and of being able to indulge whims – make them rather good places to conduct magic. This contravenes all kinds of occult guidelines, about power of place and building up ones relationship with a particular environment and infusing it with cues which trigger changed consciousness – but it might follow some rules too. All that stuff about creating a clear space which one can mentally and spiritually occupy and mould is somewhat enhanced by the “tabula rasa” of a vacant hotel room which is emptied and cleaned almost every day. The results have to happen within you and in the world rather than being bound up in the space. But more discussion of this must wait for another day, in another hotel room.


On the discussion about philosophy and happiness over at glueboot — which I hasten to make clear I am NOT “slagging off”…

… I see the point glueboot and K-Punk are making. As Gen used to say, the only thing we know is that we die. I think that the experience of happiness can only be deepened by dealing with pain and suffering. Now, I don’t know much about philosophy, but from where I’m sitting, I think that the opposition between thinking and happiness posited by glueboot is a false one. In particular, such a position ignores the way you can resolve “extremely uncomfortable thoughts” without suppressing them and find a way of experiencing happiness.

It is, in short, too much head and not en0ugh heart. And — pace John Effay and Mark — I don’t buy, at least not yet, that “On one level, everything is thought, which would necessarily involve the heart as much as the brain.” I suppose this is something to do with emic reality, that all experience is mediated. Well, of course — that’s my line actually! The problem — as practitioners of magic and meditation and such discover — is that that the proposition doesn’t have ENOUGH levels. It still represents a flight from experience itself, from the smell of your own shit and the sensation of your lower back lengthening. It’s still about thinking with your head, not with your body, and not with your heart, and the reason that the discourse remains caught up in its own conceptual premises is because of a lack of technique. The obvious step from the realisation that all experience is a mirage, a construct, a work of art of one’s own making, is to figure out how to do it and what happens when you do. The results can be counter-intuitive. So far as I am aware, few if any western philosophers have made a really good go of this. In contrast, Plato and Pythagoras, for example, were in receipt of a possibly bastardised but indubitably ancient body of knowledge of this type, which informed (indeed intermingled with) their philosophy. The advent of Kapital reinforced the divorce between philosophic conceptual modelling and “esoteric” experimentation; I don’t know if they can be recombined, but I suspect they can fertilise each other.

So to return to glueboot, personally I wouldn’t really pay that much attention to a “miserablist” (my term!) philosopher unless I knew for certain they had a good practical grasp of yogic breathing and how to apply it in their everyday life. Of course, once such a hands on knowledge of the human OS has been demonstrated, then pessimist insight could be extremely interesting…

About John’s query re: July 23rd 1994

John’s wondering just what we were doing that day, in relation to my comment below.

My answer: Uuuuuhh, I’m thinking Arbor Low I or II, but that could’ve been a coupla years earlier, thinkng about it…

This probably sounds desperately obscure to everyone else — let’s just say they were big “do’s” put on by the northern mob of a key group within industrial culture, at Arbor Low, which is an ace Derbyshire stone circle, not far from Sheffield. Some archaeologists call it “the Stonehenge of the North”. It’s a massive big weird place with huge recumbent (lying down) stones. I’ve visited a fair few times.

It just seems to me that getting the review on July 23rd, dawn of the dog days, with a lot of other interesting signifiers happening at the same time, might have some kind of resonance with celebration of the Sirius current. Some kind of pay off. It would be kind of appropriate. With the new baby coming soon — three weeks! — it’s likely that this is the last phase of musical activity for me for a while. Maybe ever. This could be the circle closing.

And more on Coil…

Simon’s judgement from waaaaaaay back : “Jon, awesome, on Coil.” As I said yesterday, Jon’s piece was the biz. Plus of course Martin’s breathtaking post. Having been, as I said in the Industrial Culture piece, a big time teenage Coil fan, it’s gratifying to find people saying exactly what I would say about the “band” (albeit filtered through their personal experience — which is exactly the way it should be). Kinda like blogging by remote control — other people do the writing! Interesting that a lot of this material is about records that came out after I’d shifted my attention elsewhere — i.e. after Love’s Secret Domain. Shit, I’ve got the limited edition of 55 copies hardboard-enclosed gold leaf version of Gold Is The Metal With The Broadest Shoulders — much sacrifice made to get that at the time — so a lot of the later stuff just didn’t have my name on it. Anyway, to take up some of Simon’s interesting points:

Like a lot more specific artifacts by them, without actually ever feeling like I’m a Coil fan. To be a fan, you need to love the “what they’re about”.
Ferreal. As I just implied, I feel like a Coil fan (FOREVER!) even while not liking a lot of their artefacts.

The Coil “what they’re about” is too bound up with esotericism. It’s geared around the select few; initiates.
Ahem. This is probably a big reason why it always had such appealfor me! The music was kinda secondary. Being into Coil was a cultural affiliation. The subject matter, the iconography, the style, were equally as important as what the music actually sounded like. Course that never stopped me skipping tracks or passing on releases cos I thought they were shit. More to the point, 99% of industrial records ever released were shit (like every genre — except for ragga jungle and 2 step UKG, maybe). Rightly or wrongly, I never bought a Current 93 record, despite their unique place in the firmament of industrial, and my liking of folk music. Never appealed to me. Heaven Street was OK, I guess, but I could never quite picture Current 93 getting down and dirty wth Sherwood on the knobs, and lets face it, if that’s not the ultimate criteria for appreciation of any record, what is?

Also, it’s so fucking content-heavy and concept-laden. The classic industrial hallmark where it’s almost like there’s a reading list attached to the record.

🙂 love it mate! Actually, industral can get badly indigestible if it wears its influences on its sleeve too obviously. “Not yet another record that’s got cut-ups, white noise and preachers on it!” Compare and contrast with Tackhead’s Mind at the End of the Tether. But I have to giggle at Simon’s remark about reading lists attached to records. I can remember responding very differently to records or tape depending on what was on their reading list (yes it did happen). And I have to assume he hasn’t seen the original vinyl cover of Coil’s Scatology. It’s entirely comprised of excerpts from key texts that relate to each track, like a sleeve of footnotes in an academic text — but kinda funky with it.

The intriguing question for me is why a group who came so close to the heart of visionary madness in rave culture, then veered away from it and … join in the whole darkside speedfreak moment… They should have joined the Reinforced crew!

I guess one issue to bear in mind here is how early they were into that whole scene. The story as I understand it (and no, this isn’t verbatim from Geoff or Sleazy) is that one of the first scenes where E was popular in the UK was in the gay party scene in the mid 70s, and I believe Sleazy at least was exposed to it then. I suspect Coil were some way ahead in the arc of their consumption of Reinforced et al… I could be wrong though.

In fact the logical thing for them do (if they had any interest in propagating ideas beyond a cult audience, that is) would have been to start their own pirate radio station (shades of the whole Psychic TV fantasy of counter-media).
LOL! Yes. I have to say that some of the greatest, most blistering acid DJ sets I ever head was at PTV shows in 90/91.

a.Theist musing

a·the·ist (n.) One who disbelieves or denies the existence of God or gods.

the·ism (n.): Belief in the existence of a god or gods, especially belief in a personal God as creator and ruler of the world.

These are not entirely satisfactory definitions. I think that theism — the belief in god(s) — implies that god has an empirical existence as a seperate entity, as opposed to being an artefact of belief. I’m not sure that Wicca in particular or paganism in general can easily be described as definitively theist in the sense of believing in an ontologically authentic sense in an objective, manifest god. When Doreen Valiente did her valedictory address at the Pagan Federation conference, she stated quite explicitly that in her opinion, the gods might be powerful, might be experientially authentic, might be personally immanent, but they do not objectively exist. Insecure Wiccans have a problem with that. As you would expect, I for one have serious philosophical issues with the proposition that there is a seperately existing “Lord” and “Lady”. For me, it’s simplistic nonsense.

But if paganism isn’t quite theist, is it atheist? Well, not in the sense of adopting a belief system which denies any dealing with what might be called “deity”. Belief is itself a negotiable commodity; indeed, this makes the term “agnostic” problematic, because not only does one trade belief for results, but one is by definition engaging in “gnosis”. I guess the theist / atheist divide is a false dichotomy, a set of obsolete Aristotleian categories. We need new words the escape binary polarities!

Hermetic radio

The man with the hair.

The best programme on the radio is In Our Time, Melvyn Bragg’s weekly surf through philiosophy and history on Radio 4. It’s a great programme — you get some of the latest academic work on a subject, packaged up in a nice, digestible package. I love it. I know Bragg irritates many but this is the best setting for him: his ego, which elsewhere can be overbearing, is essential to serving the interests of the listener when engaging with subject specialists. In terms of eludication, it works a treat.

Last week’s was an absolute corker: it was all about Renaissance Magic. This is an essential subject for understanding both modernity, or what passes for it, and pre-Christian history, in terms of science, art, philosophy and, quite rapidly, cultural theory. It’s a humdinger of a topic.

The central text of Renaissance magic is Frances Yates’ magisterial Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition. I was introduced to it by my wife, who encountered it when doing graduate work at the Bartlett School of Architecture, at a time when the Bartlett was an inferno of intellectual energy; it still is one of the three or four most forward-looking and academically robust architecture schools in Europe. Architects have been enthusiastic recipients of Yates’ wisdom; so much of architectural theory is based on the neoclassical ideals of the Renaissance, and Yates provided a fresh conceptual model for evaluating the roots of modern architecture which was both persuasive and mind-blowing.

Its thesis is as startling as Yates is respected (she is THE hardcore authority on the history of Renaissance philosophy and art): that the Renaissance, far more than being simply a re-discovery of classical sources (though this was of course the central conceptual input) or a product of Arab technology (the use of the number zero for example, which was also covered in this series), was, in intention and in effect, a full-on pagan revival. Over and again, Yates demonstrates that the mantle of Catholicism, within which Classical themes were deployed, was largely a cover under which full-on practical magick flourished. I would happily split hairs about whether this magick was actually Christian in orientation and ideology, as is largely (if not comprehensively!) true of the cunning men, herbalists and midwives who are frequently and wrongly claimed by some Wiccans (for example) as being their explicitly pagan forebears… but such qualifications are scarcely necessary given the weight of documentary evidence marshalled by Yates to demonstrate the deliberate pagan intent of many of the Renaissance players.

 Frances Yates' scholarly classic. Buy it!

The programme doesn’t quite possess the sweeping authority of Yates, but it’s a hell of an interesting survey nevertheless. As with pretty much all the In Our Time shows, you can still hear it: go here and click on the listen again button.

The lull.

Nobody posts seriously in the season of the summer solstice unless they’re very sure of what they have to say. I think that around the 28th there’ll be a bit of a rush. Then there’ll be a lot of weirdness and backbiting as we move up to Sirius rising, the dog days following July 23rd. For one thing people are having too good a time in the sunshine and — not to put too fine a point on it — they’re gardening. The next big phase of blogging won’t happen until we start to cool off in September, reaching a peak between the autumn equinox and Yule. People need to stop thinking about blogging now so they can build up the discourses that will take us through the summer.

And we need another London bloggers piss up to beef up the rhizome. Next time I’m going to be down with an evening spare I’ll drop everyone a line.