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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Lavender Love Massage Bars
Massage bars should look, smell, and feel luxurious. Cocoa butter is beloved for its delicious natural chocolate scent. I also recommend shea butter or mango butter as other options, for they are also sumptuous.
  1. • 3 ounces cocoa butter
    • 3 ounces beeswax
    • 3 ounces almond oil
    • 1 teaspoon of lavender essential oil
    • Soap bar molds (available at any craft store)

Slowly heat the beeswax, almond oil, and cocoa butter in a double boiler over low heat until just melted. Remove from heat. Add essential oil when mixture has cooled slightly. Pour into soap molds and cool until hardened, approximately two hours. Place in the freezer for a few minutes just before popping the bars out of the molds. To use, rub massage bar onto the skin—the warmth of the skin immediately melts the bar. Package your handmade massage bars in a pretty basket and give as a thoughtful gift.
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 Diab2Cook: Grilled Brats w/ Cincinnati Style Chili and Cheese Potato Chips

 

Seriously? Chips and brats? That's your Yule feast?

When I first blew into Paganistan nigh on 40 years ago, it took me a while to hook up with other pagans—things took longer in those pre-internet days—and when I finally did, it took some time to build up enough trust to start getting invited to things.

So when I finally got asked to a local coven's Yule ritual, believe me, I was stoked.

I sweated what to bring for the Yule feast. At the time, I was still living in the dorms and didn't have access to a kitchen. Finally I settled on fruitcake.

I know, I know. Me, I like fruitcake.

(I once attended a holiday party to which someone had brought a fruitcake. "I can't stand fruitcake," said the Christians, shrinking away with distaste. "Oh, I just love fruitcake," said the Jews and pagans, gathering around.)

This particular fruitcake I had bought at the local more-holistic-than-thou old hippie bakery (gods: it was even called “People's Company Bakery”; now long gone, of course) and, as fruitcakes go, was really pretty righteous: 100% whole wheat (of course), honey-sweetened (of course), chock-full of chunks of wonderful exotic dried fruits like mango and pineapple. I conscientiously irrigated it with brandy for a week or two before the ritual. By the time Midwinter's Eve rolled around, it was smelling pretty damned good.

Oddly, I don't remember anything at all about the ritual itself. What I do recall was standing dismayed at the Yule board afterward in a state of profound culture shock. Brats and bags of chips. This you call Yule?

The situation took me a while to suss. Was it, I wondered at first, a class issue: middle and working class values in collision, maybe? (Such are the dangers of a college education.)

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Seductive Sorcery: Mother Nature’s Beauty Secrets

The best beauty secrets are often hidden among Mother Nature’s flora and fauna. Forget spending a fortune on overpriced creams, lotions, masks, and salves, go out to your kitchen garden or check your pantry for organic remedies and common beauty solutions. Here are some of the best recipes and natural ingredients to begin a journey toward a healthy and nontoxic beauty regime.

Venus’ Very Vanilla Sugar Scrub

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 

For years, back when the local pagan community was a little less diffuse than it is these days, and folks mostly knew one another—not that that meant that we all got along, mind you—my friend Dan around the corner and his family used to hold the annual community-wide Mother Night Vigil. Pagans being pagans, of course, half of us used to refer to it as the “Viggle.”

(This was not just an in-joke, by the way; this was deep in-group humor—self-mockery, even. It satirized pagans who didn't know how to pronounce things correctly because they'd learned most of what they knew from books. Back in those days, that meant most of us.)

At sunset on Midwinter's Eve, they'd throw open the doors. All night long, the Viggle lasted, honoring the Longest Night. It ended with a sunrise breakfast. Covened folks with other obligations would come and go; the uncovened often stayed all night. In a community not known for community institutions, the Yule Eve Viggle was a community institution.

Dan's house being only a couple of blocks away from mine, I would generally walk over and drop in after our Mother Night ritual and feast. The house would be full of people, in varying states of intoxication, but all festive. There was always a massive fire roaring on the hearth, and tables and tables and tables of food. (“Meats and sweets,” my friend Ricky Bjugan always used to say.) The kids would be running around in a state of terminal excitement: they got to open their presents at midnight.

When Dan moved out of town, Thraicie and Jane over at our neighborhood witch store, The Eye, inherited the Viggle, and kept it going for (I believe it was) all of thirteen years.

These days, there's no community-wide Solstice Eve Viggle here in Paganistan any more; not that I know of, anyway. But you know pagans. The all-night Viggle, probably the world's oldest Yule ritual, will always eventually crop up again, because...well, you know what they say.

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Self-Love Rite: Bless Your Body Meditation

Whenever you have made a batch of salts, scrubs, or magic potions whether for your own use or as a gift, you should stop and count your health blessings in with this mindfulness practice. Sit in a comfortable position with your bottle of potions placed in a bowl or dish in front of you. Think about the blessings in your life and the gifts your particular item offers; visualize your skin and hair gleaming with vitality. Picture your loved ones wearing a big smile as they use your handmade remedies. What are you grateful for at this moment? There is a powerful magic in recognizing all that you possess and in having an attitude of gratitude. Breathe steadily and deeply, inhaling and exhaling slowly for twenty minutes. As you meditate, send the positive energy into the bowl containing your personal potion. Now, the blessings are there any time you or a loved one may need them.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 Does Mistletoe Harm Trees? | North Carolina Cooperative Extension

 

This post is an excerpt from the keynote address that I'll be giving next Sunday at the 18th Current Pagan Studies Conference.

 

The ancient world knew numerous horned gods. It comes as something of a surprise to contemporary pagans to realize that few, if any, of them were “Dying Gods.” This surprises us because, for us, the Horned has become perhaps the foremost Dying God of modern Paganry.

Due, no doubt, to his preeminence in Wicca, that most successful of New Pagan religions, a case could be made for claiming that the Horned God is one of the most important, if not the single most important, of contemporary (male) pagan divinities; indeed, for the same reason, one might well be justified in viewing Him as the divine patron, perhaps even the embodiment—one might even say, the Incarnation—of the Pagan Revival.

But it must be admitted that, down the millennia, he has changed his character. With the unique exception of Pan, who is said, in a single story, to have died, but not risen, there is no evidence that any of the horned gods of antiquity fit into the Frazerian category of Dying-and-Rising gods. Certainly this is true of the Gaulish Cernunnos, one of the primary ancestors of the modern Horned God, who—to judge from iconographic and epigraphic remains—was himself something of a pan-Celtic god. But a Dying God—so far as we can tell—he was not.

This realization invariably comes as something of a shock to modern pagans, to whom it seems utterly intuitive that a God of the Hunt should himself be a, quote-unquote, Dying-and-Rising-God. But, to judge from the evidence, for the ancestors it just plain wasn't so.

In part, here, we may regard this change as a product of the Christian centuries. The Christian god of the Underworld—if I may put it this way—being, of course, the Devil, if, then, the Devil-cum-Horned God is God of Witches, then He too must be Lord of the Dead. Certainly Gardner regarded Him as such. It only makes sense that a god of the dead—the ancestors' god, himself the Great Ancestor—should himself be thought to have died.

In part, perhaps, we see here the destructive legacy of Dion Fortune's pernicious dictum, “All gods are one god, all goddesses are one goddess,” which collapses the rich and varied pantheons of antiquity into a single misty, amorphous, gender-based bitheism. (As one who has habitually, if humorously, defined himself as a polyatheist, my own feeling here is that—to misquote another of Fortune's sayings—a bitheistic religion is halfway to monotheism.) That Fortune's reductionist paradigm has become an unofficial dogma—or, to use less inflammatory language, a central hermeneutic principle—for much of modern Wicca, only exacerbates the problem. I myself would contend that Fortune's infamous dictum has, in fact, served to inhibit theological creativity, and in particular, to retard the development of much in the way of new Wiccan mythology. Why, after all, bother to come up with something of your own when you can just steal from someone else?

So, the Horned God has changed his character. He did not used to be a Dying God; now he is. In this, perhaps, we in the modern pagan world, for whom The Golden Bough is not so much a work of anthropology as it is one of theology—one could, perhaps, even regard it as a how-to manual—are all children of Frazer. Speaking as a historian of religion—even if, admittedly, an amateur one—it does not seem to me unreasonable to claim that, modern pagan sensibilities notwithstanding, the Horned has assumed his Dying God mantel from the shoulders of Christ.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Reciprocity vs. the Overculture

I’ve been thinking a lot about the Overculture lately: how the dominant values and paradigms of our societies inform how we think, how we speak, and what we do.

For a discussion of all that, I invite you to listen to this week’s episode of THE WONDER podcast. That will give you a good sense of what I’m talking about. It was a great conversation with Arwen Gwyneth.

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