PAPERS Presentations & Bios 2018

We are honored that the following academic presenters will be offering their PAPERS research at this year’s Mystic South. Your 2018 registration grants you access to each of these presentations. Be sure to register soon! You can download the entire schedule of PAPERS and workshops by clicking this link.


Title: The Effects of Muse Mis-Use in Popular Culture: Xanadu and Down to Earth – A Study

Presenter: Dr. Carla-Elaine Johnson

Abstract: This paper is an exploratory study on the effects of stereotype and mis-use of certain mythological characters, specifically the named Muses of Greek Mythology Calliope, Clio, Erato, Euterpe, Melpomene, Polyhymnia, Terpsichore, Thalia, and Urania in popular film culture. Despite being known as a group of nine, popular cultural references limit the presence and designation of the Muses by a single individual or a smaller group, but rarely the entire unit. One contemporary exception is a Japanese series, Love Live!, where the nine main characters work to prevent a school closure. Two classic films from popular culture, Xanadu (1980) and the film that inspired it, Down to Earth (1947) demonstrate how the image of the Muses is pivotal to the execution of the cinematic plot. They reaffirm how then-culturally accepted limit how the Muses are presented and how they can be viewed. Other Western interpretations of the Muses confine their appearance to the generalized overall source of inspiration, rather than each individual quality. The effect of such popular culture representations adulterate the understanding of the Muses, and by extension, an appreciation of the role of the Muses as religious deities in Modern Paganism. This study examines how such representation remains varied, and at times, confusing. For polytheists and others in modern Paganism who view the Muses through their actual roles, popular cultural presentation can be lacking. The consequence of such representation in popular culture has been that a full understanding of the Muses remains hindered by interpretations from non-Pagans confined to acceptable contemporary norms.

Bio: Dr. Carla-Elaine Johnson is a faculty member in the English Department at Saint Paul College, in Saint Paul, Minnesota. She holds a doctoral degree (Ph.D.) in Russian literature from The Ohio State University, a master’s degree (M.A.) in Russian literature and a Certificate of Advanced Study in Russian Translation from the State University of New York (Albany), and a master’s degree (M.F.A.) in English – Creative Writing from the University of Minnesota. Her publications are in the area of memoir, essay, and poetry. Her academic research interests include spiritual memoir, the graphic novel, literary translation, images of motherhood in literature, religious expression in literature, and the intersection of aging, death, and spirituality in contemporary religious expression. Her current work is the first in a series on the portrayal of Pagan religious deities in popular culture.


Title: Bravely and Justly: Feminist Theology and the Pagan Religious Movement

Presenter: Sara Amis

Abstract: Feminism and the roots of the modern Pagan movement have been tied together since the members of the Golden Dawn marched and made art in support of women’s suffrage, and have continued to evolve in tandem for over a century. Feminist theology is often Pagan; Pagan theology is often feminist, in ways that go beyond just having goddesses. Our theology is feminist, intersectional, and queer, and that’s just the beginning.

Bio: Bio forthcoming


Title: Hoodoo in Life and Literature

Presenter: Evan Barton

Abstract: The beginning of the 20th century saw a burst of interest in the occult, with seances becoming increasingly popular and magical orders such as The Golden Dawn and Stella Matutina drawing members from throughout the English-speaking world. At the same time, novelists, filmmakers, and anthropologists were taking note of the “superstitions” of African Americans. This study compares what we know about Hoodoo from Hyatt, Hurston, and other sources with literary depictions from Charles Waddell Chesnutt and films such as The White Zombie.

Bio: Evan Barton is a public relations professional with a background in film and media studies. He has studied witchcraft, meditation, Buddhism, and various esoteric traditions for nearly two decades.


Title: Ayahuasca: Drug Use in Religion

Presenter: Amy Blackthorn

Abstract: The attitude surrounding drugs in the United States is rapidly changing. It changes so rapidly, that more states than ever are voting to decriminalize and legalize marijuana. if a drug that has been stated to have, “no accepted medical use” (The Controlled Substances Act, 1970) can be legalized for recreational use, can the United States ever come to terms with the religious use of mind altering substances? A discussion with Amaru Li, noted Andean shaman, and leader of rituals using ayahuasca, reveals the purpose of ayahuasca and other ‘master plants’. A discussion of potential future of the practice in the United States. There is a case study of an American looking to journey to Peru to experience the Ayahuasca ceremony as well as contrasting ceremonies from an indigenous standpoint and ayahuasca applied to a Catholic framework.

Bio: Amy Blackthorn, author of Blackthorn’s Botanical Magic, has been described as an “arcane horticulturalist” for her lifelong work with magical plants and teaching of hoodoo. She incorporates her experiences in British Traditional Witchcraft with her horticulture studies. She has a certification in aromatherapy and is ordained through the Gryphon’s Grove School of Shamanism. Amy’s company, Blackthorn Hoodoo Blends, creates teas based on old hoodoo herbal formulas. She lives in Delaware. Visit her at: http://www.amyblackthorn.com, http://blackthornhoodooblends.com


Title: Stacking Stones in the Digital Age: The Use of Modern Pagan eShrines

Presenter: Jonathan Clayton

Abstract: Shrine building lies at the heart of many modern Pagan practices and is often one of the first devotional acts in which new practitioners engage. Drawing inspiration from a variety of cultures, modern Pagans have constructed these personal shrines in their homes, offices, and even in portable forms, such as in Altoid tins or online. These shrines create sacred spaces for offerings, prayers, divination, and other devotional acts. Though there are certainly examples of large, obvious and permanent shrines in modern Paganism such as those created by the Druid organization Ár nDraíocht Féin, many home shrines are constructed in ways that render them inconspicuous to the uninformed eye. This is due in large part to the fact that modern Paganism has long faced misunderstanding and mistrust from broader society, which lead to traditions of secrecy and anonymity.

Paganism began to come into the public eye in the 1950s, just after the last conviction under the U.K.’s Witchcraft Act of 1735 in 1944. This influenced Wicca’s founder, Gerald Gardner, to include rules of secrecy in his teachings that set much of the tone for secrecy still often observed today. As modern Paganism grew throughout the 1960s-70s, many practitioners began to come out of the shadows, often finding their practices welcome alongside feminisms of the day. However, along with 1980s-90s came Satanic Panic, a renewed fear of the religious Other, and the conflation of modern Paganism with Hollywood versions of Christian baby-sacrificing Satanism. These continuing experiences of misunderstanding acted to reinforce the need for anonymity on subsequent generations of Pagans.

While the Satanic Panic forced many Pagans back into the “broom closet,” the internet began to grow in size and accessibility, allowing for its increased utilization as a means of communication for often small, isolated, and secretive populations. Pagans began to create a more sizeable presence and “home” online, and as part of that creation, they have also begun to construct online shrines, or eShrines.

eShrines mimic physical altars in many ways, but due to their virtual nature, they also allow for a previously impossible flexibility and functionality. The internet also provides a perfect place to facilitate traditions that value or need secrecy, allowing people to create and expand their practices under the use of magical names and other pseudonyms, to protect their identities, and even keep a constant—albeit virtual—vigil reminiscent of historical practices. In turn, eShrines also provide a new place to learn about, educate others on, and worship one’s gods. In these ways, the contemporary use of eShrines hearkens back to physical shrines Pagans kept in temples and homes for centuries, providing a link to the past while facilitating community, worship, and education while operating under the pressures and obstacles of the modern world.

Bio: Johnathan D. Clayton was born and raised in Memphis, TN and currently lives in Atlanta, GA. He holds a BFA in 2D Studio Art (Photography concentration) and Religious Studies with a minor in American Studies from the University of Tennessee. He is now pursuing an MA in Religious Studies from Georgia State University with plans to go on to PhD work in the future. His specific areas of interest are reconstructionist Pagan traditions, local cultus, modern folk magical practices, religion in the US South, as well as how these topics intersect gender, sexuality, and race. Currently, he is beginning work on a project exploring the intersections of Queer identities and Paganism, especially among “converts” to Paganism in the US South.


Title: The Evolution of the Fairy Courts in Folklore

Presenter: Morgan Daimer

Abstract: This presentation will discuss the evolution of the concept of a Court system in Fairy, beginning in Scottish folklore and continuing through modern day fiction. The idea of Fairy having Courts has evolved significantly since it’s inception in the 16th century and this evolution may be correlated to human social changes and shifts in perceptions of who and what inhabits Fairy. By exploring the concept of the Fairy Court system as it has grown from one to two to four to potentially 7 or more unique Courts observations can be made not only about the nature of Fairy but of the symbiotic and reciprocal relationship between humanity and the Good People.

Bio: Morgan Daimler is the author of more than 2 dozen fiction and non-fiction books including the urban fantasy series, “Between the Worlds” as well as the best selling “Pagan Portals The Morrigan”. Through Moon Books, Morgan has a series of books about Fairy Witchcraft, a modern blend of Celtic Fairy Faith and neopagan witchcraft, as well as the 2017 book, “Fairies: A Guide to the Celtic Fair Folk”. Morgan has also contributed to several anthologies and magazines, and has been teaching workshops on subjects related to fairies, Irish mythology, and witchcraft since the early 2000’s.


Title: Pagan Engagement & Spiritual Needs Survey: Needs of the New Pagan Community

Presenter: Holli Emore

Abstract: Individuals who fill the roles of spiritual leadership need adequate preparation for ministry to effectively provide services such as religious group leader, teacher, or spiritual counselor. Pagan religious leaders have most commonly emerged through lineage-based initiation, local workshops or self-teaching from. A few researchers have gathered valuable data which describe Pagan practices, beliefs, and impediments to practice (Berger, et al, 2003; Lewis and Tollefsen, 2013; Reece, 2014). But the literature has lacked a more comprehensive investigation of the reasons for Pagan solitary practice, whether it is a practice chosen by the individual or the result of external circumstances, what are the perceived needs for spiritual support for Pagans in groups and for solitaries, and how those needs compare with each other. Strategies for serving groups may be expected to differ considerably from ways to effectively serve solitaries, requiring attention to differences between the two populations.

The Pew Research Center reported that, between 2007 and 2014, the number of religiously unaffiliated (survey participants who claimed a religious affiliation of “none”) in America rose by 6.7%, from 16.1 million to 22.8 million (Funk and Smith, 2014). The General Social Survey of 2016 showed nearly 22% of respondents were religiously unaffiliated (Smith, et al, 2016). Yet many who respond to surveys by choosing “None” or who say they are “spiritual but not religious” (SBNR) also say that they have religious beliefs, although they are unwilling to state a particular affiliation (Hout and Fisher, 2014). During roughly the same period as the Pew survey, the Pagan Census Revisited (Lewis and Tollefsen, 2013) found that 79% of respondents identified themselves as solitary practitioners, increased from 51% in the 2003 Pagan Census (Berger, 2003).

Both nones and solitaries identify themselves as not practicing a religious faith with a group, as do many SBNRs (Mercadante, 2014), suggesting that there may be a correlation of characteristics among the groups. The rise in solitary Pagan practice concurrent with the increased number of Americans who call themselves nones or SBNRs poses questions about the shape of ministry in a changing Pagan community. Will the current model of small non-hierarchical groups with predominantly untrained leadership be able to adequately serve the needs of Pagans, whether affiliated or solitary? Should such groups attempt to serve solitaries? Do solitaries want spiritual support? The trends in nones and SBNRs are being tracked by researchers such as the Pew Forum. Can what they learn be applied to Pagans and Pagan groups?

Results of the 2017 Pagan Engagement; Spiritual Support survey can help Pagans find appropriate training and education. Educators could ensure educational choices which meet the actual, not just assumed, needs of the Pagan community. Chaplains, emergency responders, social workers, law enforcement, and mental health professionals can respond to Pagan clients more effectively. Seminaries and other higher education institutions may use the results when developing course. The research can also inform the work of those serving Pagans in geographic regions or online, by better understanding the needs of those who are unaffiliated

Bio: Holli S. Emore is Executive Director of Cherry Hill Seminary, and also President of Emore Development Resources consulting firm for nonprofits. A native of North Carolina, Holli is twice a past president of the Central Carolina Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals in Columbia, SC, where she has lived since 1986. As a former senior consultant for Holliman Associates, Inc., of Harrisburg, PA, she provided capital campaign services throughout the country. Emore has also provided fund development consulting for Tidwell & Associates, Inc., of Columbia, SC, and Health Dimensions Group of Minneapolis, MN. Committed to building interfaith relationships, both locally and globally, Holli serves on the Board of Directors of Interfaith Partners of South Carolina. She volunteers as Disaster Spiritual Care Regional Lead (S.C.) for the American Red Cross. She often teaches public groups about the rapidly-growing Pagan religions, has served as a regional resource for law enforcement, victim services, criminal justice classes and others since 2004, and is a resource person for the Lady Liberty League. Holli is the founder and priestess of Temple Osireion, a Pagan tradition which draws its inspiration from the religions of ancient Egypt. She founded and coordinated the original Pagan Round Table, and is a co-host of the monthly Midlands Interfaith Meetup, both in South Carolina. You may find Holli’s 2012 book, Pool of Lotus, on Amazon or Lulu. She is proud to have been present in July 2015 when the Battle Flag of the Confederacy was removed permanently from the S.C. State House grounds.


Title: Sissie Tex Arkana: A Gay Liberationist Spiritual Formation in the 1970s Southeast

Presenter: Jason Ezell

Abstract: We now associate U.S. gay liberation with Stonewall. Therefore, we assume that the movement — with its flagrant protest style — ignited in 1969 and spread within major coastal cities like New York and San Francisco, before fizzling out around 1973. In actuality, it survived longer, especially in regions like the Southeast, and was sometimes just as spiritual as it was political. In this presentation, I describe a specific 1970s Southeastern spirituality as it formed in the context of regional gay liberationism.

I read one particular gay liberationist’s published writings, journals, and letters to connect his spiritual development to the regional political cultures which he helped to form. Dallas-born Dennis Melba’son Williams was a founding member of two important gay liberationist collectives: Mulberry House (Fayetteville, AR) and the Louisiana Sissies in Struggle (New Orleans, LA). Politically shaped by lesbian collectivism and effeminism, he was also spiritually shaped by Asian religions, West Coast witchcraft traditions, and Goddess spiritualities. By looking at how Melba’son struggled to articulate a personally and politically relevant spirituality, I am also able to propose how the region – particularly Texas, Arkansas, and Louisiana – inflected that spirituality. I try to sketch, from the meeting of biography and history, a unique pagan geography.

Drawing upon my recently completed doctoral research, I focus on a few key aspects of Melba’son’s spirituality in the context of regional gay liberationism: (1) the multiple soul through lens of the anti-psychiatry movement, (2) Mother Goddess relations through the lens of effeminism, (3) Hellenistic themes through the lens of gay preoccupations with age and death, and (4) sex magic through the lens of liberationist connectivity. What gives these spiritual components a regional inflection is how they were eventually taken up in response to the specific terror generated in the Southeast following the fearmongering rhetoric of the 1977 Save Our Children campaign. Gay liberationists improvised a spirituality which, like their politics, would sustain them in a time and place of terror. This presentation describes that spiritual improvisation, not only as a historical phenomenon, but as a response with relevance to other instances of social terror.

Bio: Jason Ezell holds a PhD in American Studies from the University of Maryland. His research focus is on LGBTQ+ cultural and political history, critical rural/regional studies, and affect. Charting the persistence of gay liberation in the Southeast in the 1970’s, his dissertation calls attention to the crucial role of spirituality in the movement. Jason is also the Instruction & Research Coordinator at Loyola University New Orleans, where he provides instruction and research support for both humanities and social science disciplines. He loves pho.


Title: From The Wizard of Oz to The Craft: How modern Witches and Pagans have affected the construction of the American movie witch over 120 years.

Prenter: Heather Greene

Abstract: The witch as a cultural archetype has existed in some form since the beginning of recorded history. Her nature had changed through technological developments and sociocultural shifts—a transformation most evident in her depictions on screen.  In her new book Bell, Book, and Camera, Heather traces the figure of the witch through American cinematic history with an analysis of the entertainment industry’s shifting boundaries concerning expressions of femininity.  Within that study, she examined how occult practitioners, modern Witches, and Pagans have been part of that shifting influence. Heather will discuss in detail how these sub-cultures have changed the way the Witch looks and acts within popular American movies and television over the industry’s 120 years.

Bio: Heather Greene is a freelance writer, journalist, and editor in Atlanta, Georgia. She is currently the managing editor for The Wild Hunt, the only daily online news source serving the global Pagan, Heathen, and polytheist communities, and she is an acquisitions editor with Llewellyn Worldwide. Her first book Bell, Book, and Camera: A Critical History of Witches in American Film and Television was published by McFarland Publishing in Spring 2018.  She is a member of Circle Sanctuary, Covenant of the Goddess, and has been a practicing Pagan for twenty-five give years.


Title: Genius Loci in Dialogue: Thinking and collaborating with old intelligences in the Chthuluscene

Presenter: Alyson Minerva

Abstract: This paper presents genii loci as place-specific governing intelligences that give rise to and allow for collaborative and creative models of ecology, kin, and language. Genii loci, spirits of place in the Roman world, are intelligences connected with the atmosphere and immediate impressions of a place (Petzet, 2008). The typology of genii loci may further include domestic and non-domestic distinctions (e.g., the household lares). Arguing that at a time of ecological devastation, there is no better moment to think ‘with’ different concepts (Haraway, 2016), this paper includes a formalist treatment of genii loci crossculturally (Buxton 2015), with particular emphasis on those genii loci that feature liminality (Buxton, 2015), as well as selected embodied praxis (Jamison, 2011), and speculated cascade effects that result from thinking with genii loci. While the notion of spirits of place has been largely secularized within academia, there remain some discourses that explore this concept as a mechanism and praxis for ecological, social, and linguistic revitalization and stewardship.

Bio: Alyson Minerva is a linguist and poet, invested in exploring changing dialogic and liminal spaces, as well as their attendant praxes, which unfold as a result of the shifting a priori assumptions, alliances, and ‘bets’ so characteristic of the Chthulucene. A panentheaist with an animist orientation and limited formal training in modern magical thealogy and practices, she conjures words as much as anything else, seeking to germinate new ideas, collaborations, and links to think-with as we find new teams to learn-with hyperlocal, hypertemporal trouble.


Title: Karma and the Threefold Law: An Investigation of Indian Religious Influence on Wiccan Ethics

Presenter: Humberto Perez

Abstract: Buddhism and Wicca are two religions separated by thousands of years and thousands of miles in origin yet on the surface they appear to share a similar ethical system. Karma and the Three Fold Law are both mechanisms by which individual actions are judged. However, the reasons for judging the actions of individuals is different for both religions. Karma can be viewed almost as a universal balance sheet. An individuals actions are scored as good or bad and the end goal of the individual is to eliminate all Karma in order to attain Nirvana and an escape from the eternal cycle of rebith. The Three Fold Law can also be considered the law of returns. It states that what ever an individual puts out will be returned to them three fold. Unlike in Buddhism, Wiccans see no need to escape from the rebirth cycle and their system of ethics reflects that. Despite the difference in end goals of both ethical systems, there are some within the Wiccan community who continue to refer to the Three Fold Law as a form of Karma. Although Gerald Gardener, the founder of the Wiccan religion, drew inspiration from various other religions to help craft many of his religious beliefs, an analysis of both ethical systems shows that the link between the two is superficial at best.

Title: Animal Sacrifice in Santeria: Understanding the Importance of Sacrifice in the Santeria Religion

Presenter: Humberto Perez

Abstract: Santeria is a well-known, if often misunderstood, religion that originated in Cuba. The practice of animal sacrifice elicits a great deal of animosity towards practitioners of Santeria from those outside the religion. To those within the religion however, the practice of animal sacrifice is an integral part of the religious practices of Santeria. Sacrifice is not only the means by which practitioners of Santeria can heal themselves and others, but also the way they and honor and preserve the orisha. By understanding the role that sacrifice plays in the healing of individuals and the transfer of ashe between humans and orisha, one can see that it would be nearly impossible to separate this practice from Santeria.

Bio: Humberto Perez, MA is an Adjunct Professor at Florida International University where he graduated with a Master’s in Religious Studies and a Bachelor’s in Psychology. His main areas for research and teaching  are New Religious Movements, Witchcraft and Neopaganism, Santeria, and Psychology of Religion. He examines the history of these religious traditions to understand the meaning and contexts of religious identity formation, the psychology behind religious conversion, and the interaction between ritual practice and the religious community it serves. Mr. Perez is interested in understanding the psychological motivations behind religious conversion and takes a phenomenological approach to the study of ritual belief and practice. He is also interested in the intersection of the sacred and the profane in Wicca and other magically oriented religions, particularly in the development of ethical systems and influences from other religious traditions. As a faculty member at Florida International University, Mr. Perez is able to combine his interests in religious studies and psychology to mentor students in both disciplines.


Title: EARLY NORSE NAVIGATIONAL TOOLS

Presenter: Gypsey Teague

Abstract: In the History Channel series Vikings Ragnar Loðbrok tells his brother Rollo he wants to sail west to raid the rich lands there. His brother points out that no one can sail across the open water. In this scene Ragnar pulls out two tools that while being interesting in the development of the story are both also historically factual. This paper will discuss these two tools, the sȯl-skuggafjöl and the sólarsteinn, as well as the bearing dial, twilight board, and a more observational technique of polar mirages used by the early Norse sailors as they explored the North Atlantic waters.

Bio: Gypsey Teague is an enigma wrapped in a paradox.  She has multiple graduate degrees and uses all of them daily; or none of them, depending on her mood.  She is currently working on her 24th book; this one a sequel to her French Steampunk Vampire thriller Nosferatu and the Dead Wolves.  She and her wife live on a farm in Florida where they grow things, make things, raise things, and enjoy things.  Her interests are Norse history, Norse religion, Norse technology, Norse…you get the idea.  She is easy to spot.  Look for the Norse woman in full dress carrying an axe and wearing a large Seax.


Title: Exploring the Intensity of Paranormal Belief in Pagan and Non-Pagan Populations

Presenter: Dr. Manny Tejeda-Moreno

Abstract: There is a presumption that paranormal belief strength would be higher in faiths that directly involve themselves with paranormal experience. Paranormal belief secular and non-secular attributions of supernatural phenomenon are presumed to involve conjunctive fallacies that abate or mediate stressful situations and improve performance (Damisch, Stoberock & Mussweiler, 2010). Paranormal belief has been described a non-cognitive application of deprivation theory to conjoin social and economic demographics with personal status. The research presented explores paranormal belief between Pagan and non-Pagan populations specifically as endorsement of paranormal phenomenon in the Paranormal Belief Scales (Tobacyk, 2004). In a sample of self-identified Pagans and non-Pagans data were collected on cultural and demographics variables. The findings suggest that while paranormal belief appear higher in the Pagan vs. non-Pagan sample (F (1, 269) = 84.89, P<.01; the findings are complicated by community involvement (partial eta-squared = .015) and attendance frequency in faith related events (partial eta-squared = .18). A practical consequence of deprivation theory are interpersonal outcomes such as income and education attainment. While Pagan self-identification appears related to lower income levels (r=-.17, p,.01) it was not related to education attainment and neither related to paranormal belief. Deprivation theory therefor may not fully articulate the expectations social status in some populations. Additional findings and directions for future research are discussed.

Bio: Dr. Manny Tejeda-Moreno received his AB in Psychology and Computer Science, MS in Educational and Psychological Sciences, and PhD in Business Administration with concentrations in Organizational Behavior and Research Methods from the University of Miami in Coral Gables, FL. He is currently Professor of Management and Psychology at the Andreas School of Business and has served in multiple roles at various institutions including Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and clinical trials statistician. His research interests focus has been on leader behaviors and their impact on followers, as well as spirituality, inclusivity and social justice. Dr. Tejeda-Moreno continues to work on scholarly contributions in psychometrics and applied statistics with specific focus on analysis of covariance structures and random regression.


Title: Theistic Orientation: Identity with Regard to Gods

Presenter: Anomalous Thracian

Abstract: This paper explores and defines THEISTIC ORIENTATION, which refers to the manner in which a person’s self-identity is influenced or defined with respect to relationship, or absence of relationship, with fundamental paradigms of religious regard for theistic agencies (e.g. gods and/or deities). Identity orientation is the manner in which an individual’s self-identity is configured and drawn together, expressing certain key elements, considerations, and features of self, such as sexual orientation, gender orientation, or even broadly political orientation. While each person possesses a unique composition of self-identity, there are certain foundations expected to be present in each. Some of these identity characteristics may be unnamed due to commonality with majority socio-cultural exposure of the era. The methods of exploring and studying identity orientation are relatively new within academic disciplines, and their development is ongoing over the last half-century. Very few efforts have as yet been made with this specific topic in preceding decades, and yet — as with sexual identity and gender identity — theistic orientation is a thing which all persons possess, even if ontologically unexplored or unnamed because of its perceived conformation to hegemonic social norms. Theistic orientation is distinct from religious appeal, affiliation, membership, practice, or culture background, just as sexual orientation is distinct from conventions of courtship, sexual practices, marriage, or gender; one’s theistic orientation does not necessarily inform or define their religion, religious practices, or religious affiliations. Drawing on multi-disciplinary sources and independent original case-study research, this paper aims to demonstrate that theistic orientation is a recognizable element of self-identity which all persons have, and that its further exploration and illumination presents as a vital contribution across multi-disciplinary bounds, and is especially salient to the advancement and understandings of theistic minority and marginalized demographics.

Bio: Anomalous Thracian is a recovering former child prodigy, hailing from the woods of New England. He serves as a full-time priest and professional spirit-worker in a polytheistic and animist religion, in which a Temple tradition and a sanctuary of serpents, the Ophidiarium, are maintained. He is the father of a seven-year-old African raven, the primary steward of the 28 Miracles of Sabazios, and finds time to train and work with a pack of ancient giant-breed Livestock Guardian Dogs. As a writer, teacher, scholastic provocateur and rogue ontologist, his work is primarily focused on issues of Polytheist identity, human rights, and the reverent restoration of meaning. His academic work draws from the fields of psychology, sociology, religious studies, with an emphasis on inter-disciplinary work relevant to critically relevant contemporary analysis, intervention, application, and resolution. He has previously worked in prison chaplaincy, conflict resolution/mediation services, experimental recording arts, and as an independent mental health consultant. He is rumored to survive solely on a diet of meat, whiskey, Haitian rhum, and aggressively dark cigars.