A Progressive Heathen Blog

Tag: PhD

Ideology and Symbology in European Metal Music: In Search of Context

This semester I opted to complete a pedagogical project for my Music 7007: Race Gender and Class course in lieu of writing a traditional term paper. This project required me to prepare a graduate-level lecture and teach it to a group of classical musicians. I’ll teach that class on Tuesday, and it will be my first time teaching Master’s-level students, which is exciting for me. My topic will be the Norwegian metal scene in the 199os, how it shaped European metal thereafter, and the ways Northern European symbols like Thor’s Hammer and the Elder Futhark have been used in metal music.

I won’t be able to upload the materials for that class to, since the platform doesn’t really support the sharing of pedagogical materials. So I’m uploading them here. Please feel free to download them, modify them, and use them in your own teaching.

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Liminal Space

I am in liminal space as I write this post. Behind me, the successful completion of my first year as a PhD student of Folklore; a discipline for which I have genuine passion in a department full of committed professionals. Ahead, ten days in Iceland, a place of unparalleled beauty for which I feel something akin to the reverence one might reserve for a god. Afterward, a five-day meditation retreat at home in Cape Breton and a summer of writing both fiction and non-fiction pieces already slated for publication in their various anthologies and journals.

And while the demands of graduate school are everything you’ve heard and more, I’ve had a good, fallow season to rest the spiritual and creative aspects of my character. In February, I retired from my volunteer position as a mentor for the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids. It was a necessary departure, and it precipitated others which were equally necessary. Druidry and Gaelic have taken me a long way down an important road (over twenty years, in fact), but it’s long past time I stopped lingering at the station and took the train north.

There was a time when I would have argued that mixing spiritual traditions was perfectly healthy, and I do still think it’s a viable choice for some. But after practicing Druidry and Heathenry together for many¬†of those years, I’ve come to realize that for me, too many symbols create too much competition for my attention, making it difficult to cultivate deep practice. So while I remain grateful for and utilize the tools I’ve brought with me from Druidry, and while I still attend the occasional Buddhist meditation retreat, I am Heathen.

I’ve also been taking notes on a novel I’ll research more thoroughly once I’m settled in Akureyri for the duration. I’m hoping the local library and archives will have some English-language material on local huldufolk lore. Perhaps I should look for Icelandic learning materials as well while I’m there. If the Memorial University of Newfoundland Folklore Archive is any indication, much of the good material will be collected by Icelanders in Icelandic, and it would be good to have that barrier removed in future visits.

That’s all for now. I’ll write more from the road.

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