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I've just read an interesting article about a research project which has used artificial means to keep pig brains functioning (with capacity for normal brain activity) for up to 36 hours. 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-43928318

The ambition is to apply this to human brains to enable scientists to study the living brain more effectively. 

Personally I can see the potential for benefits to humanity - future generations could have a better quality of life without succumbing to degenerative neurological conditions - but it opens up a huge ethics debate around the nature of the research itself and the potential for misuse in practical application down the line. At present we have no way of knowing if there is any form of consciousness in the test subjects and if so whether it causes distress or suffering to the individual. Is it just a functioning organ or is it the vessel for a conscious being? Surely the only way of knowing would be if scientists were to conduct a successful human brain transplant, and this research has arguably unlatched the gate to that path. 

I found the research exciting and fascinating, and a little bit frightening. I imagine many people of a religious persuasion will have very strong opinions.

What's your thoughts?
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Right then how best to phrase the question......

I've noticed on here there's quite a number of different belief sets(as you'd expect!)and although some seem to have set rituals and celebrations many are (as mine) an amalgamation of different"paths" and I'm curious as to whether people consider there beliefs" religious"..... for my own part I don't consider my beliefs religious,they are opinions formed from what I'd term spiritual experiences but are not in and of themselves religious

Secondly how do you all define " religion" (don't go to Google I can do that myself I'm looking for your personal definition,how YOU define what's religious and what's simply belief).....does religion require texts,if it has them should they (the word of God/god's/deities ect)be followed to the letter and if you believe not then why when the instructions come from what you believe to be a higher,sacred source?.....if you don't follow the teachings or doctrine of your chosen path( if it has such) how do you justify discarding the parts you deem wrong?
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A bit of a clumsy question but I'm at the end of a long day with my two young children so my ability to articulate is a bit limited.

I've just caught up with an old thread about Christian pagans and something said by Moonsmith got me thinking about belief in deities and how/why people interpret them in the way that they do. I consider myself to be an atheist and a pagan but Moonsmith's description of him/herself (sorry, I don't want to presume gender) as believing in a non-anthropomorthic deity struck a chord with me and now has me questioning my understanding of my own beliefs. I'm beginning to think I must have a very narrow view of what constitutes deity.

I respect the belief in anthropomorphic deities but I've always struggled with the idea, particularly the notion of interventionist gods. And for that reason I've defaulted to self identifying as atheist. But now I'm wondering if that's lazy of me; if the connection I feel for the natural world is a connection to something that could be described as deity - energy, life force, creator, connecting all things - without it being anthropomorphised. 

I'd really love to hear the thoughts of others on this subject. What's your perception of deity? Have you always felt that way? Have you challenged your own beliefs? Why does your belief (or lack thereof) make sense to you? 

Thank you x 
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What is sacrifice in the Pagan world?

What does it achieve?

Who or what initiates it?

How do you decide what to sacrifice/do/give?

Stuff like that!

[Blame Ellinas]
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We all went through the shiny new pagan phase. Very occasionally, I see someone post on a pagan forum asking "what next?"  They've read the books they found in their local New Age store, found a few online groups, and then, one day, realised that what they know isn't enough for them. They want to go deeper. But deeper into what? And how?

So this is really about how you dealt with that stage. Did you ask for advice? What was the result? What did you pursue? Where are you now?

Back when I was a new pagan, I was accidentally mainlined directly into initiatory Wicca, through a relationship and working with the Pagan Federation Committee. That stage lasted about two years. Back then, there were only email groups - but the participants of the two or three groups I was on were all people who had been pagans for years and knew their stuff. And each other.  The discussions could be mind blowing. As a result of those, I began to realise Heathenry was a good fit for the things I felt. Plus, my paganism was always an aspect of my relationships with gods, and one of the gods associated with Heathenry began a working relationship with me.  All the recon religions involve reading the old texts of that religion, so that occupied a fair amount of my 'study' time. Since then, I've realised I could so easily have followed the breadcrumb trail to follow various other pagan religions and become Greek, Roman or Kemetic. But I'm happy as I am. 

 
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I may or may not post this.  I'm sitting in my workroom drawing diagrams and trying to think something through.

The thought arose from John Mac's totally valid comment that we are using different definitions of "belief".  Now, we have pushed this one around a bit not long ago but reading through John's post again I realised that I do not know what experiential means.

I started with a spectrum.  It represents all the information in my head.  [OK so its my nervous system and maybe other bits too - can we say for this argument that I refer to all the information contained in a body 1.8M high and far too wide.]  Making use of this information requires memory.

I put Knowledge at the red end of my rainbow bar and Faith at the violet end and wondered, to start with, where Belief sat. 

For John and many others, I think belief is green turquoise indigo and there is lots red, orange and yellow knowledge. 

For me it is belief that is red orange yellow. Knowledge is for me a tiny red glow at the end and is probably invisible [infra red?] Belief stretches all the way from scarlet to violet, maybe into the ultra-violet!

I then wondered where experience sits on this spectrum and am coming to the conclusion [nearly] that it doesn't.  Is experience simply one of the mechanisms for gathering information that could sit anywhere on the knowledge/faith spectrum.

I need help here but:

Posit 1.

That someone is suffering severe depression.  That the condition is bad enough to be obstructing the subject's desired lifestyle and that symptoms are observable to others.

This person goes to Lourdes.

They return no longer exhibiting their former depression and get on with their life in a manner that they find satisfactory.  This improvement  is observable to others. Former symptoms are no longer visible.

Clearly the person has experienced something.

Clearly there has been cause and effect.

Clearly the subject has come out of the experience with information but where does it sit on that spectrum?  How is it remembered?

Is this experience experiential?

Posit 2.

The wife of a friend of mine sometimes dreams that he is being nasty to her.  She wakes and behaves as if he really had been unpleasant.  Her head recognises the injustice of this but her attitude and body language disagree. 

Clearly there has been cause and effect.

Clearly information has been processed but where does it sit on that spectrum?  How is it remembered?

Is this experience experiential?

 

 

To what extent might the spectrum and/or my thinking, be faulty?

To what extent might the spectrum be inadequate or incomplete.

Are all experiences experiential?

What does experiential mean? 

Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!  not THAT answer!!!!! Please!  Try and help out a failing enquirer just a bit!
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History of magic exhibition at the British Library

There is an exhibition on at the British Library until the 28th February 2018. Its all about the real historical magic and myth behind the world of Harry Potter. There are lots of ancient magical books and manuscripts and artefacts from the British Library and borrowed from the museum of witchcraft on show. Just watched a lovely documentary about it on BBC iPlayer. Maybe some of you have already seen it? Its available for another 7days.
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Not quite sure where, if anywhere, this line of thought is taking me, or even exactly why it occurred to me.

Questions:

Is the individual's attitude to a postulated spiritual reality the result of that individual's inherent disposition toward Cartesian dualism?


Is it possible to answer question 1 without locking oneself in to an acceptance of behavioural determinism?



My preliminary reactions are:

Only superficially; for example it is possible to postulate consciousness as a property of matter, which would not necessarily deny either a spiritual reality or a material basis.  Also, even on the assumption that such material basis is not accepted, why would any such disposition necessarily be inherent?


Quite possibly.



Any thoughts, comments, abuse...?
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So my wife and I were having a chat. We aren't going to do Christmas once we have our own place. Christmas Day will be pizza, PJs and film day because, well, it's a national holiday so can't do much else. What we want to do is have a toned-down Yule and Solstice Day. We'll have a nice roast dinner but not nearly as stress inducing.

More importantly, I feel like the seasonal attempts to bring joy end at completely the wrong time. I'm not saying this is everyone's experience but I feel that after 26th December, more or less, we're told it's time to pack decorations up and get ready for the new year.

Um, no. I disagree. The worst of winter, January, is still to come! I propose that we have a day in December, around 20th-22nd inclusive (solstice) for Yule and that the new year of January 1st be moved to March the 1st which is far more appropriate for the true end of winter. The whole of December AND January should be one long but light hearted season of merriment and hygge. Mulled wine, mince pies and sloe gin every week. Winter doesn't last just a couple of weeks on the run up to December 25th or any other date society has chosen. Winter is frigging long and pretending January is somehow the start of a New Year is just silliness. I'm sure many if not most are in agreement about not being greatly interested in the Christian Christmas or in the choice of 1st January for New Year, my real point is that we should stretch out the fun way beyond December into the end of February because the worst of winter is yet to come. Pin holly and ivy to your walls and leave it there until the greenery outside *actually* comes back. The wife and I have also thought we will start spending Christmas Day doing something charitable like a homeless dinner since we have the luxury of deciding the day isn't important to us, but it would mean the world to many. We would also like to be thought of as that family that always has mulled wine and sweet somethings on the ready on those dreary, wet and penetratingly cold January days!

 

Thoughts?
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I planned on posting a Solstice sunrise picture from my morning train as I have seen such beautiful sunrises this past week on my way to some work I was doing in london. But this morning it was so foggy and cloudy and rainy there was really not a lot to see. So here is a sunrise from a couple of days ago on the 20th. 

How are you guys celebrating the season? Finally the holiday has started for me now (so ready for it)! still have a bit of shopping to do tomorrow. Will just chill with my hubby on xmas eve and then we will drive up to my parents on xmas day and miss the traffic rush that way (and the morning church service)  and arrive in time for all the festive fun to begin!
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Hi.

 

Just wondering, because I do believe Aliens to be real. More than anything I find it impossible for intelligent life to not exist in the infinity that is out there. As we become more advanced and make discoveries which just don't add up and don't fit the narrative, I think it's becoming more apparent. How does this stuff fit in with Paganism? Could Pagan Gods and Goddesses be Aliens? Are there any Pagan paths which are fully accepting of Alien life being out there in the universe? It's all very confusing to me. If Aliens landed on Earth tomorrow and held a press conference on the mainstream news, would your Pagan beliefs be effected?

 

Will
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Where do you think it comes from? The word inspiration (as I understand) comes from the idea of being breathed into, being a sort of conduit for great ideas or works of art rather than their ultimate creator, the spirit coming into someone. 

It certainly feels like that sometimes, that a dance or music or an idea comes to me rather than from me. 

Greek mythology has the idea of the muses.

I also have also been having very odd dreams lately (apparently that's common in pregnancy interestingly) I have been lucid in my dreams, aware I was dreaming and with control over where I ran or flew. But I remember standing by a door in my dream and knowing I was dreaming and if all this was from my mind I should know or be able to put anything I wanted behind the door but when I opened it the world on the other side was a total surprise. I wonder if that comes from the same sort of place in the mind as inspiration, is there a part of our mind that is not a part of the 'me'? That I experience its ideas rather than feeling responsible for them even though they originate from my own body?

Or does inspiration actually come from outside? From gods or spirit or muses or some sort of collective consciousness or somewhere else?
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Yeah, it's provocative.   Perhaps the question should really be: is racism bad?

I've been involved in a long and interesting discussion elsewhere about Native American cultural appropriation and racism within the modern pagan community. As part of that, I heard views expressed that I've come across frequently among pagans. They can be expressed as (imaginary examples):

"I really feel drawn to the Morrigan. I guess it's because of my Irish blood" or

"my psychic abilities come from my Romany great-grandmother"

Now these are both forms of racism, in that the beliefs that relationships with gods or innate skills are dependent upon genetic inheritance. I'm not saying that this form of racism is bad, simply that it can be found throughout the pagan community. Roughly the same thing is endemic in the USA, wherever people explain any feelings they have for customs associated with their grandparents' or great-grandparents' culture as "in the blood". 

Is it worth trying to dump the term "racism" within the pagan community and use "white supremacy" instead, as that's the thing we're fighting?

 
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Because winter is a pretty dismal time. Shorter days, often no snow but rain and mud, and when snow does come it's usually hectic as helheim trying to get anywhere. And it's bloody expensive. So, jokes relating to winter and winter celebrations here! I'll start:
 
What do sheep celebrating mid-winter?
 
wool-tide.
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It's been a while since I last posted or visited UKPagan forum so long I forgot my password. But I thought I would make a blog entry and have a browse.
 
A lot has changed over the past few years and my spiritual journey has gone through doubts, different faith exploration some level of syncretism and a lot of confusion. My path seems to lead in all kinds of direction never settling in one place or on one tradition, practice or thought but what I didn’t expect was for my path to lead all they back to where I started but not with the same perspective. It would seem that I am leaving behind paganism in favour of Christianity in the form of Anglo-Catholicism and the Catholic tradition as received in Anglicanism, Roman Catholicism and eastern Orthodoxy; but mostly as understood through the Anglican Church and Church of England. At the same time I haven’t completely abandoned pagan things as such, I still have a connection to the other gods just in a different religious and spiritual viewpoint.
 
Witchcraft in all its diversity seems to be the only constant more or less, just its witchcraft through folk Catholicism and folk lore, witchcraft through a strange mix of a Christian syncretic world view, popular piety and natural magic and a few aspects of the Christian model of ceremonial magic. Still mostly eclectic and personal to me rather than an established tradition.
 
Because of my path through modern paganism I have a different understanding of the church, its sacraments and scripture. Not superior just different. There are lots I disagree with about modern pagan anti Christian views but I understand the emotion behind them because I had similar views myself. For me Catholicism offeres ritual mystiscim and the divine in a way that has freedom with in structure and ancient history and tradition that is concistent while still developing and trying to reveal the Catholic faith for our modern world.
 
Is this a bad thing? Is it ok for a path to change?
 
This is all my own views and expereince and is realy complicated and not quite making sense but it works for me I guess. Thanks to the Vally and Ukpagan for being great teachers and inspiering people. Theres more on a blog I set up called Mystic Pathways https://mysticpathways.blogspot.co.uk/ it trys to explain in a blanced way my journey.
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So after reading this brilliantly amusing thread ( https://thevalley.uk...__1#entry553703 )
 
I thought it might be useful for people to suggest books which ARE useful and ARE accurate, and not full of rubbish :) or perhaps the top 1-3 books you might recommend to those who are new or wanting to learn more a new area.
 
For me, one of the books I own that isn't so bad is Breverton's Complete Herbal - which includes Culpepper information. In this, it gives the binomial nomenclature, other names of plants that might be known colloquially, a description of the plant, a history behind the plants, and the plant's uses. It's not as "fluffy" as other books. That being said, I would say it's more of an interesting read than a purely factual tome.
 
 
*edit* apologies if someone has already made a thread like this...
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Hey, I'm wondering if anyone is aware of how the various stone circles on this lovely archipelago line up, if at all, to astrological events. A large number of them have 19 stones, which is the number of years that it roughly takes for a phase of the moon to occur on the same day of the year. However there are others with twice as many and some with seemingly random numbers. Does anyone know if it has been studied how many of these stone circles line up with anything? Considering that, since the dawn of the Bronze Age, the Earth and the Sun have separated by merely ~600m, I believe that whatever they used to line up with, they probably still do (correct me if I'm wrong, by all means).
 
The reason I put this in pagan paths is because I am trying to seek influence from pre-Celtic Bronze Age and Neolithic practices. It bugs me a little that Neo-druids have basically hijacked Stonehenge on the solstices but that's a story for another time. I believe the alignment of the stones (of all circles that are aligned) to be a fundamental part of my path.
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A discussion on finding your path.
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Interesting discussion on facial reconstruction for historical crimes.
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