Friday, 3 January 2014

A new venture


Today I spent a couple of hours writing ‘interview’ responses for the Wild Hunt Blog – they are now up there at http://wildhunt.org/2014/01/interview-with-jenny-blain-sacred-landscapes-and-seidr.html.  The reason – I’m planning to teach an online course for Cherry Hill Seminary, starting this month. This will be on landscape, Animism, Heathenry, delving a bit into the Eddas and into seidr.

So, something different, and yet based in the research I’ve done and my own understandings of landscape. I would like students to start with where they are, looking at what is around them and how they relate to that context.  I won’t say more about the course here just now though.

Monday, 2 December 2013

Petition to capitalise 'Paganism'

Posting this here. I have signed it - I sometimes capitalise 'Pagan' and 'Paganism', sometimes don't, but that depends on the specifics of meaning intended by the author (e.g. me) and not by somebody else's house-style. So here is the petition.
If you would like your name added please contact the Coalition of Scholars in Pagan Studies.

---------

                        FROM:           
                        Coalition of Scholars in Pagan Studies
                        PO Box 758, Cotati, CA 94931-0758 USA
                        http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CapitalizePagan
                        CapitalizePagan@yahoogroups.com
                        Contact: Oberon Zell (Oberon@mcn.org)
TO:            
Chicago Manual of Style
ATTN: Anita Samen, Managing Editor
The University of Chicago Press
1427 East 60th St.
Chicago, IL 60637

AP Stylebook
The Associated Press
P.O. Box 415458
Boston, MA 02241-5458

To the Editors of the Associated Press Stylebook
and the Chicago Manual of Style: A petition

November 30, 2013

Dear Editors,

We the undersigned are a coalition of academic scholars and authors in the field of religious studies, who have done research into contemporary Paganism, and written books on the subject. Pagan studies represents a growing field in academy and the American Academy of Religion has had “Contemporary Pagan Studies” as part of its programming for more than a decade. We are approaching you with a common concern.

The word “Pagan” derives from pagus, the local unit of government in the Latin-speaking Roman Empire, and thus pagan referred to the traditional “Old Religion” of the countryside, as opposed to Christianity, the new religion with universal aspirations. Paganism, therefore, was by definition pre-Christian religion. Over time, with the expansion of the Roman Church, “pagan” became a common pejorative by Christians toward any non-Judeo-Christian religion.

In the 19th century, the terms pagan and paganism were adopted by anthropologists to designate the indigenous folk religions of various cultures, and by Classical scholars and romantic poets to refer to the religions of the great ancient pre-Christian civilizations of the Mediterranean region (as in the phrase, “pagan splendor,” often used in reference to Classical Greece).
           
Today, the terms Pagan and Paganism (capitalized) refer to alternative nature-based religions, whose adherents claim their identity as Pagan. Pagans seek attunement with nature and view humanity as a functional organ within the greater organism of Mother Earth (Gaea). Contemporary Pagans hearken to traditional and ancient pagan cultures, myths, and customs for inspiration and wisdom.
           
Thus contemporary Paganism (sometimes referred to as “Neo-Paganism” to distinguish it from historical pre-Christian folk traditions) should be understood as a revival and reconstruction of ancient nature-based religions, or religious innovation inspired by them, which is adapted for the modern world. Paganism is also called “The Old Religion,” “Ancient Ways,” “Nature Worship,” “Earth-Centered Spirituality,” “Natural Religion,” and “Green Religion.”

The Pagan community is worldwide, with millions of adherents in many countries. Moreover, increasing numbers of contemporary Hindus, First Nations activists, European reconstructionists, indigenous peoples, and other polytheists are accepting the term “Pagan” as a wide umbrella under which they all can gather, distinct from the monotheists and secularists. They are using it positively, not to mean “godless” or “lacking (true) religion.”

Therefore it is understandably a matter of continuing frustration to modern self-identified Pagans that newspaper and magazine copy editors invariably print the proper terms for their religion (i.e., “Pagan” and “Paganism”) in lower case. Journalists who have been confronted about this practice have replied that this is what the AP and Chicago Stylebooks recommend.

But names of religions—both nouns and adjectives—are proper terms, and as such should always be capitalized:

Religion:            Christianity            Judaism            Islam            Buddhism            Hinduism            Paganism           
Adherent:            Christian            Jew            Moslem            Buddhist            Hindu            Pagan           
Adjective:            Christian            Jewish            Islamic            Buddhist            Hindu            Pagan           

This list could be expanded indefinitely for every religion in the world. As you can see, Paganism, like all faith traditions, should be capitalized.

Pagan and Paganism are now the well-established chosen self-designations and internationally-recognised nominal identifiers of a defined religious community. The same terms are appropriately lower-case only when they refer to ancient “pagans” since, in that context, the term does not refer to a discrete movement or culture. In short, “Pagan” and “Paganism” now function much as “Jew,” “Judaism,” “Christian,” and “Christianity” do.             
(—Graham Harvey Contemporary Paganism, NYUP, 2nd edition 2011)

The current journalistic convention of printing lower case for these terms seems to have originated with the Associated Press Stylebook, first published in 1953.  However, a new era of religious pluralism has emerged over the past sixty years. The terms “Pagan” and “Paganism” are now being capitalized in a variety of publications, texts, documents, and references, including religious diversity education resources such as On Common Ground: World Religions in America, The Pluralism Project, Harvard University, and Inmate Religious Beliefs and Practices, Technical Reference Manual, Federal Bureau of Prisons, U.S. Department of Justice.

In order to assure greater accuracy in 21st century journalism, we hereby petition the AP and Chicago Stylebooks to capitalize “Pagan” and “Paganism” when speaking of the modern faiths and their adherents in future editions.

Thank you.
Signatories



1.     Cairril Adaire (founder, Our Freedom Coalition: A Pagan Civil Rights Coalition; founder, Pagan Educational Network)
2.     Margot Adler, M.S. (National Public Radio; Nieman Fellow at Harvard University in 1982; author: Drawing Down the Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess-Worshippers, and Other Pagans in America Today, 1979, 1986, 1996, 2006)
3.     Eileen Barker, PhD, FBA, OBE (Professor Emeritus in Sociology with Special reference to the Study of Religion at the London School of Economics; Founder and Chair of INFORM [Information Network Focus on Religious Movements]; author of over 300 publications on the subject of minority religions)
4.     Carol Barner-Barry, Ph.D. (Professor Emerita, University of Maryland; author: Contemporary Paganism: Minority Religions in a Majoritarian American, 2005)
5.     David V. Barrett, Ph.D. (London School of Economics and Political Science; British sociologist of religion who has written widely on topics pertaining to new religious movements and western esotericism; author: The New Believers: A Survey of Sects, Cults & Alternative Religions, 2001; A Brief Guide to Secret Religions, 2011)
6.     Helen Berger, Ph.D. (resident scholar at the Women’s Studies Research Center, Brandeis University; Professor Emerita of Sociology, West Chester University, PA; author: A Community of Witches: Contemporary Neo-Paganism & Witchcraft in the United States, 1999, 2013; with Evan A. Leach and Leigh S. Shaffer, Voices from the Pagan Census: Neo-Paganism in the United States, 2003; Witchcraft and Magic in the New World: North America in the Twentieth Century, 2005; with Douglas Ezzy, Teenage Witches: Magical Youth and the Search for the Self, 2007)
7.     Jenny Blain, Ph.D. (Recently retired from Sheffield Hallam University, previously taught at Dalhousie University, Canada, and now on faculty for Cherry Hill. Co-editor with Graham Harvey and Doug Ezzy of Researching Paganisms, 2004; author of Nine Worlds of Seid-Magic: Ecstasy and neo-Shamanism in North European Paganism, 2002; with Robert Wallis, Sacred Sites, Contested Rites/Rights, 2007; also numerous articles and chapters on Heathenry and Seidr, and on Pagan engagements with Sacred Sites.)
8.     Jon P. Bloch, Ph.D. (Professor, Sociology Department, Southern Connecticut State University; author of New Spirituality, Self, and Belonging: How New Agers and Neo-Pagans Talk About Themselves, 1998)
9.     Raymond Buckland, Ph.D., D.D. (founder of Seax-Wica; Originator Gardnerian Wica in America; author: The Witch Book: The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft, Wicca, and Neo-Paganism, 2002; Buckland's Complete Book of Witchcraft, and more than 50 other titles.)
10.  Dennis D. Carpenter, Ph.D. (Associate Professor of Psychology, University of Wisconsin; author: Spiritual Experiences, Life Changes, and Ecological Viewpoints of Contemporary Pagans; co-founder, Pagan Academic Network.)
11.  Chas Clifton, M.A. (Colorado State University-Pueblo (retired); Co-Chair of Contemporary Pagan Studies Group, American Academy of Religion; editor: The Pomegranate: The International Journal of Pagan Studies; author: Her Hidden Children: The Rise of Wicca & Paganism in America, 2006; with Graham Harvey, The Paganism Reader, 2004)
12.  Vivianne Crowley, Ph.D. (Formerly professor at the Department of Theology and Religious Studies, King’s College, University of London, specializing in psychology of religion. She is on the Council of the Pagan Federation where she focuses on interfaith issues. She is the author of many books on Wicca, Paganism and spiritual psychology, including Wicca: A comprehensive guide to the Old Religion in the modern world.)
13.  Carole Cusack, Ph.D. (Professor of Religious Studies, Chair Studies in Religion, Arts and Social Sciences Pro-Dean, University of Sydney, Australia;  co-editor, Journal of Religious History; co-editor, International Journal for the Study of New Religions; author: Invented Religions, 2010)
14.  Marie W. Dallam, Ph.D. (Assistant Professor, Honors College, University of Oklahoma; Co-Chair, New Religious Movements Group, American Academy of Religion)
15.  Frances Di Lauro, Ph.D. (Lecturer, Undergraduate Coordinator, Writing Hub, School of Letters Art and Media, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, The University of Sydney, Australia)
16.  Maureen Aisling Duffy-Boose (President Emeritus, Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans (CUUPS) 2005-2010; VP Emeritus, Pagan Pride International 2003-2013; Board Chair, Utah Pride Interfaith Coalition 2002-2005; Founding Priestess, Four Dragons Clann, 1734 Witchcraft, 2011)
17.  Robert S. Ellwood, Jr., Ph.D. (Emeritus Professor of Religion, University of Southern California; author of Religious & Spiritual Groups in Modern America, 1974, 1988; Many Peoples, Many Faiths, 1976; 10th edition with Barbara McGraw, 2014)
18.  Douglas Ezzy, Ph.D. (Associate Professor of Sociology, University of Tasmania; published extensively in academic journals and academic monographs on contemporary Paganism, Witchcraft and religion)
19.  Holly Folk (Associate Professor of Liberal Studies, Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA)
20.  Rev. Selena Fox, M.S. (Senior Minister, Circle Sanctuary; founding editor, CIRCLE Magazine; co-founder, Pagan Academic Network; diversity educator, U.S. Department of Justice; author: When Goddess is God (1995); contributor to Religions of the World (2002), Encyclopedia of Women and Religion in North America (2006), U.S. Army Chaplains Manual (1984), other works)
21.  Elysia Gallo (Senior Acquisitions Editor for Witchcraft, Paganism, and Magic at Llewellyn Worldwide; Vice President of Twin Cities Pagan Pride)
22.  Wendy Griffin, Ph.D. (Professor Emerita and Chair of the Department of Women's, Gender & Sexuality Studies at California State University, Long Beach; Academic Dean, Cherry Hill Seminary; Founding Co-chair of the Pagan Studies Group for the American Academy of Religion; Co-editor of the Alta Mira's Pagan Studies Series; editor: Daughters of the Goddess: Studies of Healing, identity and Empowerment, 2000)
23.  Raven Grimassi (Director of the Fellowship of the Pentacle, author: Encyclopedia of Witchcraft, 2000, and other award-winning books on Pagan-related themes)
24.  Charlotte Hardman, Ph.D. (Honorary Fellow, retired senior lecturer, Department of Theology and Religion, Durham University; co-author: Paganism Today 1995; Other Worlds 2000)
25.  Graham Harvey, Ph.D. (Head of Department of Religious Studies, The Open University, UK; President, British Association for the Study of Religion; co-author: Paganism Today, 1995; Contemporary Paganism, 1997; with Chas Clifton, The Paganism Reader, Routledge, 2004; Food, Sex and Strangers: Understanding religion as everyday life, 2013)
26.  Irving Hexham, Ph.D. (Professor of Religious Studies at University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada; author with Karla Poewe: New Religions as Global Cultures, 1997; Understanding World Religions, 2011; and many other works on new religious movements)
27.  Ellen Evert Hopman, M.Ed. (Druid Priestess; Co-founder and Vice President for nine years, of The Henge of Keltria Druid Order and co-founder and Co-Chief for five years of The Druid Order of White Oak; author with Lawrence Bond, People of the Earth: The New Pagans Speak Out, 1995; with Lawrence Bond, Being a Pagan: Druids, Wiccans, and Witches Today, 2001; and other volumes)
28.  Lynne Hume, Ph.D. (Associate Professor and Research Consultant, University of Queensland, Australia; Faculty, Cherry Hill Seminary, Bethel, VT; author of Witchcraft and Paganism in Australia, 1997; The Religious Life of Dress, 2013; co-author, with Nevill Drury of The Varieties of Magical Experience, 2013)
29.  Ronald Hutton, Ph.D. (Professor, Department of Historical Studies, Oxford University; author: Triumph of the Moon: A History of Modern Pagan Witchcraft, 2000)
30.  Christine Hoff Kraemer, Ph.D. (Instructor, Theology and Religious History, Cherry Hill Seminary; author of Seeking the Mystery: An Introduction to Pagan Theology, 2012 and Eros and Touch from a Pagan Perspective: Divided for Love’s Sake, 2013)
31.  James R. Lewis, Ph.D. (co-founder of the International Society for the Study of New Religions and editor-in-chief of the Alternative Spirituality & Religion Review (ASSR). Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Tromsø in Norway; Honorary Senior Research Fellow at the University of Wales, Lampeter; author: Magical Religion & Modern Witchcraft, 1996; The Encyclopedia of Cults, Sects, and New Religions, 1998; Peculiar Prophets: A Biographical Dictionary of New Religions, 1999; Witchcraft Today: An Encyclopedia of Wiccan and Neopagan Traditions, 1999; with Murph Pizza, Handbook of Contemporary Paganism; The Oxford Handbook of New Religious Movements; with Jesper Petersen, Controversial New Religions; The Encyclopedic Sourcebook of New Age Religions; Odd Gods: New Religions and the Cult Controversy; Legitimating New Religions)
32.  Scott Lowe, Ph.D. (Professor, Philosophy and Religious Studies at University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire; Co-General Editor, Nova Religio)
33.  Sabina Magliocco, Ph.D. (Professor of Anthropology and Folklore at California State University, Northridge; author: Witching Culture: Folklore and Neo-Paganism in America, 2004; Neopagan Sacred Art & Altars: Making Things Whole, 2001)
34.  Ven. Rev. Patrick McCollum (Director of Public Chaplaincy, Cherry Hill Seminary; Chaplaincy Liaison, American Academy of Religion; Minority Faith Chair, American Correctional Chaplains Association; Executive Director, National Correctional Chaplaincy Directors Association; President, Patrick McCollum Foundation; Religion Advisor, United States Commission on Civil Rights; Recipient, Mahatma Gandhi Award for the Advancement of Pluralism; publications: California Department of Corrections Wiccan Chaplains Manual, 1998; Courting the Lady, 2000; Religious Accommodation in American Jails, 2013)
35.  J. Gordon Melton, Ph.D. (Institute for the Study of American Religion; The Encyclopedia of American Religions, 1991; with Isotta Poggi, author of Magic, Witchcraft, and Paganism in America: A Bibliography, 2nd ed., 1992; Religious Leaders of America, 1999)
36.  Brendan Myers, Ph.D. (Professor at CEGEP Heritage College, Gatineau, QC, Canada; faculty, Cherry Hill Seminary; author of The Earth, The Gods and The Soul - A History of Pagan Philosophy: From the Iron Age to the 21st Century, 2013)
37.  M. Macha NightMare/Aline O'Brien (American Academy of Religion; Nature Religions Scholars Network; Marin Interfaith Council; United Religions Initiative; Interfaith Center of the Presidio; Association for the Study of Women and Mythology; Biodiversity Project Spirituality Working Group. She also serves on the Board of Directors of Cherry Hill Seminary; the Advisory Council of the Sacred Dying Foundation; former Adjunct Faculty at Starr King School for the Ministry. Books: The Pagan Book of Living and Dying: Practical Rituals, Prayers, Blessings, and Meditations on Crossing Over (with Starhawk) 1997; Witchcraft and the Web: Weaving Pagan Tradition Online, 2001; Pagan Pride: Honoring the Craft and Culture of Earth and Goddess, 2004)
38.  Joanne Pearson, Ph.D. (co-author with Richard H. Roberts & Geoffrey Samuel of Nature Religion Today: Paganism in the Modern World, 1998; (ed), Belief Beyond Boundaries: Wicca, Celtic Spirituality and the New Age, 2002; A Popular Dictionary of Paganism, 2002; Wicca and the Christian Heritage: Ritual Sex and Magic, 2007)
39.  Christopher Penczak (faculty member at North Eastern Institute of Whole Health; founder of the Temple of Witchcraft, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit church; co-owner of Copper Cauldron Publishing; author: The Living Temple of Witchcraft, 2008; 2009—and over two dozen other books)
40.  Sarah M. Pike, Ph.D. (Professor of Comparative Religion, California State University, Chico; author of Earthly Bodies, Magical Selves: Contemporary Pagans and The Search for Community, 2001; New Age and Neopagan Religions in America, 2004)
41.  Richard H. Roberts, Ph.D. (Emeritus Professor of Religious Studies, Lancaster University; co-author with Geoffrey Samuel & Joanne Pearson of Nature Religion Today: Paganism in the Modern World, 1998)
42.  Kathryn Rountree, Ph.D. (Professor of Anthropology, Massey University, New Zealand; author of Embracing the Witch and the Goddess: Feminist Ritual-makers in New Zealand, 2004; Crafting Contemporary Pagan Identities in a Catholic Society, 2010; Archaeology of Spiritualities, 2012)
43.  Michael Ruse, Ph.D. (Lucyle T. Werkmeister Professor of Philosophy, Director of the Program in the History and Philosophy of Science, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL; author: The Gaia Hypothesis: Science on a Pagan Planet, 2013)
44.  Geoffrey Samuel, Ph.D. (Cardiff University, UK, as well as an honorary attachment at the University of Sydney; author: Civilized Shamans, 1993; co-author with Richard H. Roberts & Joanne Pearson of Nature Religion Today: Paganism in the Modern World, 1998; The Origins of Yoga and Tantra, 2008; Religion and the Subtle Body in Asia and the West, 2013)
45.  Bron Taylor, Ph.D. (Professor of Religion & Nature, University of Florida; Fellow, Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society; Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, München; Editor, Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature, and Culture; author of Encyclopedia of Religion & Nature, 2005; Dark Green Religion: Nature Spirituality and the Planetary Future, 2010; Avatar and Nature Spirituality, 2013; Civil Society in the Age of Monitory Democracy, 2013)
46.  Robert J. Wallis, Ph.D., FRAI, FSA (Professor of Visual Culture; Associate Dean, MA Programmes, School of Communications, Arts and Social Sciences; Convenor of the MA in Art History and Visual Culture; Richmond University, the American International University in London; author of Shamans/neo-Shamans, 2003; and numerous articles on contemporary Paganisms, neo-Shamanisms and their engagements with prehistoric archaeology in Britain)
47.  Linda Woodhead, M.B.E., D.D. (Professor of Sociology of Religion at Lancaster University, UK. She studies religious change in modern societies, and is especially interested in how religion has changed worldwide since the late 1980s. Between 2007 and 2013 she was Director of the “Religion and Society” research programme in Britain, which involved 240 academics from 29 different disciplines working on 75 different projects. Her books include Everyday Lived Islam in Europe (2013), A Sociology of Religious Emotions (2011), Religions in the Modern World (2009), The Spiritual Revolution (2005) and A Very Short Introduction to Christianity (2004). She is a regular commentator and broadcaster on religion and society.)
48.  Michael York, Ph.D. (Faculty, Cherry Hill Seminary; retired Professor of Cultural Astronomy and Astrology with the Bath Spa University’s Sophia Centre; he directed the New Age and Pagan Studies Programme for the College’s Department for the Study of Religions and co-ordinated the Bath Archive for Contemporary Religious Affairs. He continues to direct the Amsterdam Center for Eurindic Studies and co-direct the London-based Academy for Cultural and Educational Studies. Author: The Roman Festival Calendar of Numa Pompilius, 1986; A Sociology of the New Age and Neo-pagan Movements, 1995; The Divine versus the Asurian: An Interpretation of Indo-European Cult and Myth, 1995; Pagan Theology: Paganism as a World Religion, 2003; Historical Dictionary of New Age Movements, 2004)

49.  Oberon Zell, D.D. (co-founder and Primate, Church of All Worlds, 1962 [incorporated 1968; 501(c)(3) 1970]; co-founder, Council of Themis, 1968; Publisher Emeritus, Green Egg magazine, 1968-ff; co-founder, Council of Earth Religions, 1974; founder, Universal Federation of Pagans, 1990; founder, Grey Council, 2002; founder and Headmaster, Grey School of Wizardry, 2004; Secretary, Sonoma County Pagan Network, 2010-2013; author: Grimoire for the Apprentice Wizard, 2004; Companion  for the Apprentice Wizard, 2006; with Morning Glory Zell, Creating Circles & Ceremonies, 2006)

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Home and abroad

I've just returned home from a small trip to Cumbria, staying with friends, a journey taken to attend a conference at Preston. The conference focus was on animist understandings of landscape and I had the joy of listening to Gordon the Toad's presentation, and others one from Graham Harvey and Linda Sever, as well as sharing some of my own thoughts and words on North European Shamanism and some of the other-than-human people with whom we share landscape, homescape, space and whose time and consciousness may sometimes merge with ours.

Having brought 'The Wild Geese' - Violet Jacob's poem - into the preparation for my talk, I heard the calling voices overhead and looking out saw the largest skein I've seen for years. Then on the journey down there was a flight of lapwings, with later a wonderful joining of flocks of waders merging with the swarm shifting shape in the air, crows playing with the wind, and one single swan in flight. Then rain, of course, lots of it. Today, in Cumbria, again I heard the crying geese, and the skein going over was nearly as large as the one seen before I left. The journey back was about sun and showers, and colours, the changing greens, golds, russets and rich browns of autumn, with soaring buzzards in many areas of the Borders and Lothians, though no geese.

Somehow this all reminded me that this blog has been neglected - since the last addition I have moved house, town, and indeed country, going back to my 'roots', and the summer has involved amongst other pursuits starting to make a new garden, and watching the wildlife come to it from the woods behind my house. Rather than writing about places, I have been shaping my own place here, and trying to listen to the landscape and learn the patience that gardening demands, as I learn or re-learn the movement of the seasons on how this little piece of earth responds to the whole earth's turning, and the movements of air and water above and within it.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Back to the Ship Inn and the Angus landscapes (with a brief excursion to Perthshire)


Well, I’m back in Broughty Ferry, sitting in an excellent b&b* typing an entry which was scribbled this evening in the restaurant above my favourite pub in the Ferry. So here it is transcribed. Would that I had an electronic notepad that could take my scribbles directly and transfer them to the blog. Oh, I know that there are ways to supposedly do this but my scribble is fast and full of personal abbreviations, and also I rather enjoy the process of writing onto paper, so what I’d need is a pad that looks and feels like paper. Besides, transcribing is a time when editorial corrections are made, and other ideas added. Here we go then:

I’m upstairs tonight in the restaurant of the Ship Inn – as I was too late for the downstairs pub food. Haddock, breaded not battered, is on its way. I’m sitting at the back of the restaurant looking out across its length through the picture window to the water of the Tay and beyond to the hills of Fife: clear sky, mist on the furthest hills, Tayport’s houses gleaming in the evening sun.

Earlier today I drove by back roads to Tealing, then to Bridgefoot and from there across west, parallel with the Sidlaws. The landscapes continue to tug at my heart. I was mentioning some areas of Dundee and environs to my brother in Edinburgh, and he spoke of early bike rides with his brothers out to Craigowl and Auchterhouse.

Craigowl, for those who don’t know, is near the eastern end of the Sidlaw hill range, the ‘furthest east’ as seen from Dundee, directly north of areas of the city. If you walk, or drive, up Strathmartine Road it is directly before you – distinguishable by the radio masts.

A little west are Balluderan and Auchterhouse hills, and the range curves to the south-west ending near Perth. One of the hills towards the Perth end is Dunsinane, crowned by its complex fort, with several trenches dug through the ramparts and parts of the interior of the earthwork by long-dead antiquarians, drawn particularly by the reputed association with Macbeth, who didn’t repair the destruction they had effected. Now, of course, they would be required to backfill anything, even that which people would prefer left uncovered. (A description of Dunsinane and some comments on the early excavations are online at http://canmore.rcahms.gov.uk/en/site/30660/details/dunsinane+hill/.) It is eighteen years since I was last on that hill. Time for hill-walking soon?

But now, back to the Ship In and the haddock which has just arrived…

  … and which was truly excellent.  This place is going like a fair, even on a Tuesday night. The restaurant is packed and lively with talk and good humour; it's lovely to find myself surrounded by this conviviality. But now it’s time to walk on, as dusk begins to fall on this warm August evening.

[* The b&b is Ashley House Guest House, and I'm very glad to give it a recommendation.]

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

On ‘families’ and what this implies in today’s tory world


This entry is difficult to write – as it starts with a tragedy involving other people, none known to me, and as it is based in the reporting of this which touched a nerve with me, but beyond that connected with reporting of many other events over the last two or more years, in terms of their reporting and of prevalent discourse.

The landslide in Dorset was dreadful. My heart goes out to those who have suffered in this event and to the kin and friends of the woman who died; in particular her boyfriend and his father, participants in the same event, escaping narrowly themselves. I must say, from the outset, that this entry is not about these people but is about the reporting of the tragic circumstances of which they were part.

So, to the reporting. I was disturbed, distressed – as an outsider, and one who looks at discourse and presentation of media items – by the way it was portrayed on telly; and seeing this, as a discourse researcher, as part of an ongoing trend. 

“The beach was packed with families enjoying...’ No, it wasn’t necessarily. There were people there, it was packed with people in various interrelationships, young, old, singles, couples, children running and playing, carers, friends, dogs, seagulls, and yes, boyfriends and girlfriends; and all with relationships and other connections to other generations.  I am so tired of hearing that only ‘families’, whatever these are, matter, with the implication, increasing with every usage, that anybody else – say, a child who comes to a place with friends and a mutual carer, whether a babysitter or a grandparent – is outside the pale.

Let’s give just one example of beach-goers – this from my own childhood, an expedition to Lunan Bay in Angus. My mother was invited by a friend to go there. The small party of four included: the driver; her grand-daughter, my friend; my mother; myself. I was then around five or maybe six years of age. We were not ‘a family’, but were a party that much enjoyed our collective day at the beach. People live and have their beings in groupings that are not easily described or conceptualised but should not be wiped away by a simple descriptor of ‘family’.
  
This discourse of ‘families’ is increasingly prevalent and my question is what it may do to other ways of living that don’t fit within the neo-conservative version of how ‘families’, defined in some way, connect to their big society. Doesn't 'bigness' go  beyond the bounds of 'family'?

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Nationalism and Wimbledon


Some things today have given me concern, focused on Wimbledon. One is the expressed view, especially in a question to ‘Any Questions’ and the replies there and in ‘Any Answers’ afterwards - that we should not respect Andy Murray’s achievement in getting to the men’s finals but should demand, and only respect, victory in the final. The others were similar comments on the men’s doubles and elsewhere. Is mentioning anything other than a victory, 'celebrating failure'?

Well: I think something is seriously missing from this. Wimbledon is not something in which any ‘nationality’ is automatically given a win. It is about, one assumes, skill, determination, and bloody-mindedness in various ways. But nationalism isn’t, surely, what it’s about. In, for instance, the doubles matches, there are numerous cross-national pairs. And for my part, yes, I’d love for Andy Murray to win tomorrow; but I enjoy Roger Federer’s playing, and so my hope is to watch and cheer for a good, world-class, match. The match, of course, occasioned by the environment which is Wimbledon. And that is what, in my opinion, we should celebrate.

Britishness – well, yes, there have been things about whether Murray is ‘Scottish’ or ‘British’. He is of course by dint of being Scottish axiomatically British, but this seems to escape some commentators. However, the key point for me here is that it’s not whether a ‘Brit’ wins, but that Wimbledon is British. It is our forum, and is one of the best of such, that we provide  - paralleled by those hosted elsewhere – to the world. So let’s get sorted the difference between what we host, magnificently, and any claims to titles, which because of opening to the world, we can’t and shouldn’t make, and we don’t want to whine, do we?

And so, if one of 'ours' gets near, to the quarter-finals, semi-finals, or the championship, these are all to celebrate, within a world of performance and not narrowly circumscribed.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

14th May - Dundee weavers and others past

I’m back in the Ship Inn (or was on 14th May), waiting for dinner again, but dithering between menu items. Yellowfin sole gougons, or North Sea cod tail fillet?  Or an Arbroath haddock? All too good – this place comes highly recommended. The sole gougons won this time though.

I will remember this pub for the next time I’m in the Ferry.

I’d an interesting day looking at newer-build houses in Dundee, and still being amazed by changes in the city in the years since I left. I ended up at a new development in Donald’s Lane, adjacent to some listed buildings which were part of the Pitalpin Mill complex, so a piece of 19th century industrial history even possibly with origins in the 18th. Pitalpin now comes under ‘Lochee West’. This area is likely to have been part of the industrial expansion which gave jobs and homes to the folk from the north and from Ireland, the linen weaving becoming the jute industry. I’ll need to read up on the Pitalpin mills. Whether any of ‘my’ folks ever worked there is unknown and maybe doubtful – ‘my’ Irish Dundee people, as far as I can ascertain, were not in Lochee’s Little Tipperary, but in the east-central areas, in King Street and Crescent Lane. Others, though, descendants, may have been there, sometime, some time… And earlier there were those from Angus and Fife who found their way to Dundee.

When Janet Kermack came to Dundee, we don’t know. She may have been a lass from a little further north, from around Airlie – or she may have been raised or even born in Dundee. The most likely scenario has her coming at a time of changing agricultural practices, possibly with siblings or to stay with siblings or cousins, in the years around 1765. She may have been a spinner or weaver, or she may have come as a domestic servant. In any case, her marriage to Robert Philp, carpenter in Dairsie, Fife, was registered in Dundee in 1774.

Then, a generation later, boys James and Michael Lynch were born in Ireland – apparently of different families, in different counties, each to come to Dundee in the first wave of immigration, and die there in the 1830s. Michael Lynch was married to Margaret Haughey or Haray or maybe Haggart, or even McTaggart, and at least two children were born to them according to the Catholic records, James and Thomas. But census record show James, George, Thomas and Ann, separated and ‘farmed out’ to Auchterhouse by ‘the parish’ presumably after their parents’ death – and later marriages of George and James give that father’s name as James, not Michael. In Howff burial records, a James is shown coming from country Cavan, Michael from Drogheda. Whoever they were, they were drawn by the growth of Dundee, the early expansion of weaving and its associated industries. Their lives are part of the woven story of Dundee, its houses and weaving sheds, its building and demolition, present in the stone, brick and earth today.

(I have elsewhere told the story of this Lynch family in some detail, and should that be published I’ll alert the blog…)