Apr. 8th, 2012 09:37 am
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The past three days were interesting.

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Occasionally I'm asked how I reconcile being both a physicist and a Wiccan. My answer is long and I think most people find it tedious. But in today's Writer's Almanac, I learned that William Blake expressed it much more succinctly:

You don’t believe

by William Blake

You don't believe — I won't attempt to make ye.
You are asleep — I won't attempt to wake ye.
Sleep on, sleep on, while in your pleasant dreams
Of reason you may drink of life's clear streams
Reason and Newton, they are quite two things,
For so the swallow and the sparrow sings.
Reason says 'Miracle', Newton says 'Doubt'.
Aye, that's the way to make all Nature out:
Doubt, doubt, and don't believe without experiment.
That is the very thing that Jesus meant
When he said: 'Only believe." Believe and try,
Try, try, and never mind the reason why.
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I'm in an introspective mood, pondering my role as a teacher in the Craft.

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I'm reorganizing my apartment. I bought three new book cases, donating those books I no longer need, and moving the remaining books to different shelves. 

This has its advantages. For one thing, all my Wicca-, pagan-, and magic-related books are in one place my students can access easily, in case they have to reference something.

It also has its disadvantages. The biggest one so far: What the heck happened to my copy of The Elements of Ritual?

Oh, well. I hope whoever has it now is getting some benefit from it.
wgseligman: (tuxedo)
As is my custom at this time of year, I like to reflect on the meaning of Passover.

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(This post is part of a series of ruminations on why I'm leaving the New York Ren Faire after 13 years.)

With the ever-increasing number of pagans at the New York Ren Faire, in five years we could do it skyclad. "Authentic medieval renaissance nudity!"

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Fire Child: The Life and Magic of Maxine Sanders 'Witch Queen'

I've often claimed that Paul Thomas Anderson's Magnolia is the most dangerous movie ever made. The reason is that, after you watch it, you may have the overwhelming urge to tell the whole truth to the ones you love.

Fire Child is a dangerous book for any teacher of the Craft to read, because it can leave them with the feeling that they've short-changed their students; at least, if they haven't passed on the experiences that Maxine Sanders describes in this autobiography.
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On the eaves of my booth at the New York Renaissance Faire, I had the following words painted:
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I like to listen to audio books. I typically listen to books I've read more than a decade ago; the Harry Potter books are the main exception (Jim Dale is a fine reader). I listen to them when I drive, or when I do my exercise walks.

When I set up the order of the books in my playlist, I usually try to vary the mix as best I can: different authors, different time periods, different moods.

What I forgot to consider was whether two adjacent books have similar plot devices. I just finished listening to Inferno by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, which is set in Dante's description of Hell.  I've just started listening to Job: A Comedy of Justice by Robert Heinlein, which has several chapters set in another type of Hell; it's reserved for those who didn't follow the Gospel, but it's a not a place of punishment.

On top of that, I watched Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey a couple of nights ago, with yet another version of Hell: the moron rocker version.

I'll survive the experience. But right now, I'm a little deluged on moral instruction. I respectfully request that no one lecture me on Right and Wrong for a week or two.

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I am in an introspective mood at the moment, at least with regards to Wicca, my religion of choice. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I became involved with the Craft in 1991.  It's been eighteen years since I started, and Wicca has consumed much of my time and energy. What do I have to show for it?

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wgseligman: (tuxedo)
Today I had the chance to go over some slides from a presentation that a colleague was going to make the Physics Advisory Committee at Fermilab.  It was an important presentation, and it was vital to make a good impression.  (I should mention that i was not the only one to look over these slides; everyone from the collaboration did so, in order to help her out.)

At one point in her talk, she describes a relatively new technique for detecting particles.  She shows some results, and then had written on the slide, "This is not black magic"; the implication being that the detector worked and was practical for use in physics analysis.

However, she had spelled the word "magic" incorrectly.  I, with 17 years of experience in paganism and ritual, immediately picked up on the error.

Wicca rules!  At least for finding spelling mistakes...
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This coming Saturday it will it the 15th of Nisan, 5768. (Can you believe it? I'm still writing 5767 on all my checks.) For those who keep time by the Gregorian calendar, it will be Saturday, April 19. As I'm sure you know, the 15th of Nisan marks the beginning of Passover, the Jewish festival of freedom. So this Saturday night, I'm hosting a Passover seder.


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William Seligman

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