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PaganSquare is a community blog space where Pagans can discuss topics relevant to the life and spiritual practice of all Pagans.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
How Not to Teach a Chant

“Here's the new chant that we're going to be using,” says the high priestess.

She launches in, joined enthusiastically (if not particularly accurately) by the host coven. The result is a muddy blur of sound from which not even a professional musicologist could successfully extract words or a tune.

One painful slog-through later, she smiles and says: “Great! Everybody got that?”

And the ritual begins.

Well, no, we haven't got it, and chances are excellent that—with a start like this—we never will.

So how do you successfully teach a new chant?

 

In an Ideal Pagan World...

Well, the ideal way would be not to teach it at all. Duly start up the new chant in its given place in the ritual and, with a strong leading voice and enough repetitions, we will all soon be singing along.

Alas, not all local communities have a culture of attentive listening and enthusiastic singing. Sometimes knowing even a little something about a new chant beforehand gives people enough of an investment actually to join in.

So....

 

The Law of Three

Three tips for successfully teaching a new chant:

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

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Go carefully over the next few days. Listen to the wind, watch how the crows fly. Watch the patterns in the clouds, listen to the whispers swirling around you. The worlds merge and the otherworld isn't some far off place, it is wrapped around you, tighter than a winter cloak.

...
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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
People of the Deer

Witch-folk. We've pretty much always been a People of the Deer.

Sure, we've hunted larger game, and smaller, but down the years it's ostly deer that have kept the cauldron full and the family fed. Back in the old days, “deer” used to mean pretty much any kind of wild animal, did you know that? But now, a deer is...well, a deer. That tells you something about how important they've always been. To our people, deer are the animal par excellence.

Back in old tribal days, when we called ourselves the Dobunni (and later the Hwicce, which is where we get the name “witch” from), we were, admittedly, a People of the Herd, and our god (and our priests) wore bull's horns mostly.

But even then, just to the north lived the Cornovii, People of the Horn, and for them the god wore antlers. They're still fine hunters, the Cornovii, and being such near neighbors, there's been a lot of marrying back and forth down the years. My father's mother's people come from the old Cornovii hunting runs, in fact.

Well, it just makes sense. Unlike bulls, or elk for that matter—not to mention moose—a deer is human-sized, just about the same weight and volume that we are. There's something human about a deer. It's all a matter of scale.

Up here in the North Country, Samhain marks the time of the rut. Just now, the deer that will feed the People in years to come are being bred.

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A Promise to the Ferryman, or: How I Ended Up Sitting (Literally) Bare-Assed in the Snow One Midwinter's Eve

At the big public Samhain that year, everybody had paid a coin to the Ferryman to cross the River.

Obviously, money collected under such circumstances can't be put to just any use. After the ritual, we donated the bulk of it to the local AIDS hospice. (That seemed appropriate.) But the foreign coins and the gaming arcade tokens (talk about cheap) called for a different—if still respectful—disposal.

As it happens, one of the great rivers of the world flows through our city, so I volunteered to take the coins down to the Mississippi and throw them in.

Well, I put it off and I put it off. (It was a snowy year, if you want my lame-ass excuse.) Suddenly it was Midwinter's Eve, and I still hadn't disposed of the coins.

“This can't wait,” I thought. “It really has to be done tonight; tomorrow will be too late.”

So after our Mother Night ritual and feast, I drove down to the site where, 1000 years ago, a summer village once stood on the East Bank of the River. Like the ancient Egyptians, the Old People who lived there buried their dead across the River on the West Bank.

Being a warmish Yule that year, I was wearing my kilt: commando, of course. (You know what they say: With underwear, it's just a skirt.)

The warm weather had given the snow a slick crust. Just as I was negotiating the last snowbank down to the River....

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Thanks, Erin. I think of it as ham on wry.
  • Erin Lale
    Erin Lale says #
    lol. I really enjoy your sense of humor.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Dreaming of the Dead

 

There is a belief that we can communicate with loved ones when they have left this earthly plane. They may come to us in the form of a bird, the sudden smell of roses in a room they enjoyed or visit us in a dream. This is the ideal moment, when the veil is the thinnest, to make contact, to enjoy their company, to listen to the messages that they may wish to impart.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Lost Horizon

 

It’s easy to lose the horizon in my city life. Surrounded by tall buildings, staring down into the phone, I’m preoccupied and contracted. So every now and then, especially when I’m stressed, I think of Scarborough Beach, Maine. 

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Recent comment in this post - Show all comments
  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Archer, As usual, great stuff! Maine is one of our favorite places to vacation, and I have also pondered eternity at the seashor

Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Halloween, Samhain -- or Straif?

The surrealist artist Ithell Colquhoun may not be a name on everyone's lips. Though less well known than their mail counterparts, painters like Leonora Carrington, Remedios Varo and Leonor Fini have been getting their due much more lately. That will probably change after Amy Hale's book comes out in January 2020, but for the mean time she remains outside popular consciousness despite her long connection to occult and magic circles from the Golden Dawn to the O.T.O and the Society for Inner Light.

Colquhoun developed a completely unique and abstract vision of tarot that was inspired by colour. You can buy the book of her paintings from Fulgur Press.

...
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