Okay, so my first post on wordpress! I should probably introduce myself – my name is Jonathan Woolley – I’m 22, and I’m currently an MPhil student at the University of Cambridge. I’m a practicing Pagan Druid and I’m gay. I was at the cuts protest yesterday, so as you can guess – I’m a raging lefty.
What can you expect to see here? Well, I plan on writing on articles that cluster around three areas in particular: social anthropology, paganism and authorship. They’re the three things that dominate most of my time, and are what I’ve been interested in since a very early age, even if at the time I didn’t really have a word for the first two!
Social (or cultural) anthropology has about a billion definitions depending upon who you ask, but is basically the study of the human condition through the method of ethnography – the creation of textual or visual representation of a culture, developed through living and studying with that culture. I happened on social anthropology thanks to my mum suggesting that it might be good option for me at undergrad, as I was interested in both natural science and religious studies. That proved to be a winning suggestion, as I’m now planning on going on to do a PhD in the damn thing. My main interest is in the anthropology of religion, particularly in the religious experience and moral interaction with the environment. I’ve also got an interest in elements of political economy.
My anthropology posts here will probably deal with these topics, but only very generally – in the end, I more see this blog as an outlet for the more general musings I have on anthropological themes. So it’s going to be “academically informed” rather than academic, and the ideas I air here won’t be as rigorously worked-out as the ones you’ll find in one of my essays or articles. I’ll also try to keep to clear, non-technical language to make good on my promise to myself to make anthropology “accessible” – whatever that means.
Paganism is an umbrella term for a collection of nature-revering spiritual movements and traditions. Some people stretch this to include Indigenous Religions, Hinduism, African Traditional Religion, Shinto, Daoism etc but usually Paganism is used to refer to the rejuvenated practice of pre-Christian forms of spiritual practice in Europe and the Near East. In my case, I’m an initiate of the Bardic Grade of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids, one of Britain’s largest druid orders. I’ve been a member for about a year, and I regularly attend the camps OBOD members hold down in the west-country. Like many Pagans, I’ve always felt like a Pagan, it’s just that in the past couple of years I’ve taken to changing the way I define my religion to better reflect my beliefs and practices. I incorporate activism, creativity and theology into my practice – so expect to see articles on all the following here.
Authorship is my primary creative medium. As of now, I have just finished my first novel, working title A Frog Among Men. I love writing so much, and find the work of crafting a story, setting and characters to be exhilirating in the extreme. I’d ultimately like to be a professional writer, but considering how competitive writing is I’m also keeping several other irons in the fire. My primary interests in literature are fantasy, sci-fi, historical, spiritual and dystopian/utopian fiction. However, I’m utterly terrible at listing what books I’ve read and/or like, because my memory for title-dropping is so poor. I’ve read my way through half a forest by now, but ask me to name who I read last and who my favourite author is, and I’ll have to sit down and think about it. I might write an article on this in the future, but primarily I’ll be discussing my creative process on this blog.
So that’s what you can expect from me. Updates… let’s say Mondays and Thursdays. See how that goes.