Intro to Paganism Study Guide

So last week About.com advised us that they would shortly be doing away with the e-courses. There were several reasons for this – all of which are valid and legitimate – but that doesn’t change the fact that a lot of readers really loved my site’s e-classes. In particular, the Intro to Tarot and the Wicca & Paganism 101 e-classes were huge hits with many readers, and I always got a ton of great feedback from people who had subscribed.

With limited notice as to the end of the e-courses, I wasn’t entirely sure what to do about them – while I know there are a number of other programs I can use to set up a mailer system for a free e-class, the fact is that I have a lot of irons in the fire right now, and don’t have the time to learn a new system right this minute. Then I realized that I had already done the legwork for the e-classes – putting together links to articles in a coherent and organized collection. It occurred to me that rather than e-mailed newsletter-type lessons, these would actually transfer really well into a self-study lesson plans, in which readers can work through at their own pace.

So I’ve decided to turn those two e-classes into self-study guides. The first one is already up and loaded here: Introduction to Paganism – A 13-Step Study Guide.

All the study guides for everyone!

Bookmark it, print it, throw spaghetti at it, whatever you want to do – it’s all there for your convenience, and it’s all of the same content that was previously included in the Wicca 101 e-class. Don’t worry, there’s no tests, grading, or weird bell curves involved – it’s just a chance for you to follow one of my favorite suggestions: read, study, learn, and grow.

I should get the Introduction to Tarot study guide complete by the end of the month (funny story, I actually had it all loaded up and my computer shut itself off, erasing four hours worth of work, so I have to re-do it), and will announce it when it’s up and ready to roll. In the meantime, go forth and learn new things!

Whole30: I Lost Some Stuff

So yesterday was the final day of my #whole30 experiment, and I’m happy to report that I feel amazing. Sure, there are a few things that could use improvement – I’m still experiencing the weird fibro Charley horses in my legs, and the arthritis in my hips still makes me hate mornings – but overall, I feel great.

Eat all the things.
Eat all the things.

I’m sleeping through the night – I’m talking about six hours, uninterrupted – which is something I haven’t done in a long time. My skin, which has always looked healthy, looks even more clear. I’m not tired throughout the day, and I feel well rested and have a ton of energy.

Also, I lost some things. A lot of things:

  • A pants size.
  • A bra size – although I’m happy that the cups stayed the same, the band measurement is down 2″.
  • Six inches off my hips.
  • Two inches off my waist.
  • Thirteen pounds.

And that’s after just thirty days with no sugar, no dairy, and no grains. I eat meat, eggs, fish, vegetables, fruit, and tree nuts, and I legitimately cannot remember the last time I felt this good. And the thing is, doing Whole30 is easy if you take the time to be mindful about what you’re actually putting in your mouth.

I know a lot of people get to the end of it and celebrate by eating a bag of candy and a bottle of wine, but I just can’t break my streak at this point, because I feel so damn great.

So what’s a girl to do when her Whole30 is this successful?

I’m making it a #Whole60.

Easy peasy, lemon squeezy!

Salem, Hartford, and Pendle Hill

I first became interested in the Salem witch trials long before I was interested in witchcraft itself. I remember reading about them as a child, and being fascinated by the tales of these girls my age who had been possessed, taken by spirits in the night in league with the Devil himself. Accusations flew about like gray specters in the dark nights of colonial Massachusetts, fingers pointing, and no one was safe.

As I got older, and became more interested in history itself – not just of Salem and its trials, but of the entire country and in particular, the pre-Revolutionary world – I read more and learned more. Among the many things I learned, first and foremost, was that none of the people tried for witchcraft in Salem were actually practicing witchcraft. Nine-year-old me had been certain they were, but adult me discovered this wasn’t the case at all.

But does she weigh as much as a duck?

What a lot of people are completely unaware of, though, and something I didn’t know about until I stumbled across it completely by accident, is that there was another trial in New England, three decades before Salem happened. In 1662, there was a situation very similar to the 1692 events, albeit on a smaller scale. The town of Hartford, Connecticut, saw a spring panic, the death of a child, and accusations pitting neighbor vs. neighbor, which I’ve written about in more detail here. Unlike Salem, however, only four people died in the Hartford trials.

One thing that’s on my bucket list of things to do some day is perhaps teach a class on witchcraft trials in the British Empire, and that would include Salem and Hartford. Now, this is the part where I usually get an indignant message from someone reminding me that Massachusetts and Connecticut are in ‘Murica, damn it! Well, sure… they are NOW. But in the 17th century, when these trials took place, America didn’t exist yet. Massachusetts and Connecticut were governed by British law, because they were (waaaait for it…) British colonies. Pardon me while I mic drop a bit.

Anyway, we all know about Salem and only a few of us have apparently even heard of Hartford, but Britain itself certainly has its share of witchcraft trials. One of the most notorious took place in Lancashire in 1612, in the Pendle Hill area, and ten people were eventually found guilty and sentenced to death by hanging.

One of the absolute most important takeaways when we look at trials like Salem, Hartford, and Pendle Hill, is that it is EXTREMELY unlikely that anyone who was convicted and hanged was actually practicing witchcraft. Every year – oddly, in the spring – there seems to be a resurgence of memes within the Pagan internet world honoring the “dead witches of Salem” or something along those lines. Honor them if you want, but they weren’t witches. In fact, many of them were very pious and devout Christians. We in the Pagan community can hardly hold up Salem as an example of anti-Pagan religious persecution – it was a total disaster, for sure, but had nothing to do with Actual Pagans™.

I have an awesome professor this semester who regularly points out that it’s not so much that history repeats itself, but that people themselves never change. Given the same circumstances, human behavior will tend towards repetition, whether we’re looking at ancient Rome, Asia, the British isles, or colonial Massachusetts. So read up, folks – read up on the conditions that can surround mass hysteria and panic, observe how people responded at the time, and then consider whether or not it can happen again.

For additional stuff to read, which includes references to academic work that’s invaluable, check out a couple of my articles here: