Sarduríur’s Academic Sources Guide for the Unversed

Great guide to understanding the different types of source materials, and for helping one to recognize when a source is likely complete BS vs academic quality.

Shadows of the Sun

Hello once again, gentle readers! It’s your friendly neighborhood Medievalist and former Classical/Near Eastern Studies-ist Sarduríur Freydís Sverresdatter, here with some tips regarding proper sources, academic discernment, and citation. Now in a super-informal colloquial format! Huzzah!

Historical research is a major part of many Polytheist communities. Whether a Revivalist or Reconstructionist, to a lesser or greater degree, we all turn to the written word of History at one point or another. History is the backbone of all we know and understand about ourselves as literate, self-aware creatures. However, many Polytheists have not had formal University training in the professional field of History to any extent. Quite a number of Polytheists, both seasoned practitioners and “newbies” alike, feel lost in the stacks — whether they care to admit it or not — and don’t know where or how to begin to sift through the thousands of publications on any given subject.

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Pagans in the Workplace

I’m currently a student studying radiography and I was wondering if there are other Wiccans in the modern healthcare industry? I have researched this topic but have yet to get an answer so I figured I would ask.

The simple answer is yes – there are Wiccans, Neo-Pagans, Witches, etc… in almost every career sector imaginable. It’s common misconception I think, to view Pagans as fringe-dwellers, who only live off the land, or who only use “traditional” healing methods as they make their daily journey through the seasons of the year. Not saying that this is how you specifically view them, but many often seem to (or at least variations of it).

The fact is (contrary to most typically portrayed stereotypes) Pagans (of all flavors) are just like everyone else. They live, eat and breathe in the modern world – drive cars, use computers/technology, eat fast-food, aren’t always very environmentally friendly, and can be just as mean and hateful as the next person, etc… The only real difference is their religious/spiritual choices are a bit different than what is considered “mainstream”.

Other than that, there is really no way to know exact numbers. Religious affiliation is one of those “not allowed to ask” type questions for employers, so there is really not any sort of concrete data available on that front. Additionally, religion is one of the three big “taboo” subjects (along with sex and politics) in terms of maintaining “healthy” employee/co-worker relations, so it can sometimes make it exponentially more difficult to find out if there are fellow Pagans in the workplace, or if you are the only one for miles around.

Are Crystals Required for Wand Making?

When making a pagan wand is it necessary to use a crystal? I’ve looked everywhere and could not find a answer.

Unless one is a member of a specific tradition which has exacting requirements for how one’s wand should be made, a wand – like most other magical tools, is a personal thing. Yes, they are practical in nature, but in truth you can usually design it however you want to, and include whatever materials you want to (as long as it can still perform it’s intended function) .

Some choose to make a number of different wands, each corresponding to a particular purpose, and others choose to make a single wand that they use for all magical purposes – it’s your choice. In either case though, you would want to use materials that best represent your intended use (whether specific or general), and while using commonly accepted symbols/materials is often a popular choice, as long as you have a reason for including something else (either UPG, lore-based or just because it looks pretty damn spectacular), it’s entirely up to you.

Crystals tend to be used often, because of their inherent properties, not only in terms of correspondences (there is probably a crystal for almost any purpose we could possibly imagine), but also their ability to channel and/or hold magical energy. So if you like crystals… use them, if you don’t, that’s fine too, there are plenty of other items that can serve in their stead. Use whichever ones speak to you.

I know people who have intricately crafted wands, with crystals and carved sigils, and I know people who have store bought toy “fairy-godmother” type wands and people who have ones that are somewhere in between – all use them with pride. In the end is the only real question is… does the wand work for you? As long as the answer is yes, then that’s all that really matters.

Christian Preacher-to-be Finds Home in Paganism… Now What?

I am a pagan hiding in the world of Christianity. When I came to college, a christian university at that, I was planning on being a preacher. But as I went further and further into school the more and more I felt like I was missing something. Then I found magic, and a void was filled for the first time in my life. I have become a dedicated pagan but just still in the broom closet so to speak. But my dilemma is, I was going to be a preacher. That was what I was going to do, but I am not christian anymore. I don’t know what to do now… I am lost and do not know where to go from here.

In terms of whether or not you want to let others know of your change in path, I would suggest reading our previous posts on When Hiding One’s Beliefs May Be The Better Choice and Pagan Coming Out Day… Things to Think About. It’s definitely a monumental decision, especially given your original career choice, so you need to think carefully, and then do what is best for you.

In terms of what your potential options are school/career-wise, the first thing to look at is whether or not your current university has other courses of study that might be relevant to your new path. Depending on if you are interested in a particular culture or pantheon, there might be History majors that would be worth pursuing that would give you a deeper understanding of the lore. Often not very practical though, unless one is looking to go into an academic based career at some point, so another option (if it’s possible) would be to just choose another major that you feel will serve you well in the future, or transfer to another college that has something more relevant to what other subjects you may want to pursue now.

Other than that, if your current course load is more related to pastoral counseling or basic skills in relation to working with people, etc…, then it might not be a bad idea to continue with those at least for a while. Even if you end up not being a Christian preacher, those types of lessons can be invaluable in a variety of careers later on.

If you still want to pursue education related to spiritual counseling, there are a few different options for schools that have Pagan related programs. Cherry Hill Seminary has a number of different programs that would be worth looking into (they are still non-accredited though, so I know that is an issue for some people). Also the University of Florida has a Religion and Nature degree program as well. Other options include looking at schools that have Master of Divinity or Theology degrees (such as the one at Harvard), as often they are broad overviews of multiple world religions, rather than Christian specific. There are also some colleges that allow one to create their own degree path, though that can be a bit difficult if one is just starting out, and unfamiliar on which topics to include for more in-depth study.

Definitely a tough spot to be in, and I would urge you to think carefully, but in the end you need to do what is right for you, even if those around you may not understand why the sudden career/school change. It makes a big difference too if you have a supportive family/community versus unsupportive, so that is something to consider as well.

PS…  something that occurred to me as an afterthought – you said you found “magic” and it filled a void in your life. Magic (and witchcraft in general) is not something that is inherently tied to Paganism. I mean sure… lots of Pagans may practice some form of magic, but you don’t necessarily have to be Pagan to practice it. There are Christian witches, and though it seems like the two would be wildly incompatible, there are those who have somehow managed to combine all into a cohesive and working practice. So if it’s just the magical aspect that has you turning to Paganism, there may be other options that would leave you less “lost”, and if it’s something that you want to pursue, I would suggest checking out ChristoPaganism: An Inclusive Path by Joyce and River Higginbotham. The following article might be helpful as well.