catholic by birth; scientist by choice; sinner by merit. gaidhlig-speaking neuroscience student at oxford. likes to question everything! @di_macd

The Inexplicables by Cherie Priest - Review

The Inexplicables by Cherie Prest review

A desolation to be proud of - thoughts on the second Hobbit Movie

To my surprise, I actually enjoyed the The Desolation of Smaug.

Why Mortal Engines is awesome (and why Philip Reeve should finish the Fever Crumb books)

Why Mortal Engines is awesome (and why Philip Reeve should finish the Fever Crumb books)

Books that nailed it and books that failed it 2013!

An Island Pariah - Sex and Secularism in the Scottish Hebrides


VERY interesting if somewhat long and depressing article about Hebridean attitudes towards same-sex relationships. Apparently there’s no Gaelic word for “gay,” who knew? (Though someone did once tell me that their equivalent of “plays for the other team” translates literally as “is on the other bus” which is quite quaint). 

Check out the comments beneath our open letter to Alasdair Allan to get a more positive view of island attitudes to same-sex relationships.

(Obviously, please do NOT sign it, unless you are from the islands!)

There are a number of neologisms you could use for value-neutral “homosexual” that only the BBC ever use, but like I say the casual terms you might hear in everyday conversation among truly everyday speakers are negative slurs and insults. But, because of the diglossic status of Gaelic with respect to English, people will just use gay (gaelicized to gèidh when written down, but pronounced the same) if wanting to use a word with the same positive connotations as the English word gay.

I sort of regret making this point in the post, as it was somewhat tongue-in-cheek! That Gaelic doesn’t have a positive colloquial word for gay isn’t a reflection on Gaelic culture being inherently homophobic because all Gaels are bilingual in English anyway and will use the English-derived words if they need and want to. Rather its a reflection of the status of Gaelic in the 60s and 70s when gay was coming into fashion, a marginalized language undergoing large-scale language shift, with its speakers universally using English as the language of education, progress and learning new things.

Apologies for the length of that, but I wanted to clarify that point about Gaelic as it wasn’t meant to be taken terribly seriously!

Celebrating "Sam-Hane" - the problem with Paganism





This is well worth reading.

Basically what I should’ve posted for my “I don’t celebrate Samhain” post.

Eclectic Pagans are happy to pick-and-choose between lots of different cultures, without a care for consistency or guarding against appropriation. ”

Even atheists should take care to properly research …

I’m not sure I understand your criticism? Granted, he says a couple of typically “blah” atheist things - he doesn’t seem to have a concept of henotheism or non-creedal religion, for example - but I don’t think the above statement is off-the-mark when you look at the most vocal and visible cross-section of pagans. 

Hi, I appreciate the point that pagans are usually following a very personal spiritual path, however, I think it is fair to generalize and say that Eclectic pagans (e.g.) tend to draw their inspiration from a few specific cultures (Celtic, Norse, Hellenic, and, most problematically, from lots of different indigenous cultures in Africa and the Americas).

My problem with a pick-and-mix attitude is that it allows people from dominant cultures to appropriate whatever they like from minority cultures. Minority cultures’ value becomes defined by whatever contribution they can make to an outsider’s personal spirituality.

That’s why I’m okay with CRists, although I would argue that even CRist model would also be completely not all okay for a closed-off non-white indigenous culture.

P.S. Not sure what ‘blah’ atheist means, but anyway…

(Source: candide94, via v-v-f)

Abair an fhìrinn! Couldn’t agree more. I identify as a pagan simply because of the traditions I grew up with (Gaelic and Saami) and I have no time for most neo-Pagans today.

I like to think I’ve come to a more generous understanding of pagans -Celtic Reconstructionism in particular - since I first wrote about it last year. 

Tairis is especially good.

I certainly don’t identify as pagan spiritually, but I value that side of the culture I grew up in.

Celebrating "Sam-Hane" - the problem with Paganism

Why can't people just call me by my name?

This seems to have struck a chord with people - my frustrations with people who translate or ignore non-English names…

There is no such thing as a Little Scotlander

Vote yes for Scottish independence because Scotland would be one of the most progressive countries in the world.