PaganSquare


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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Tips 'n' Tricks: On the Rise with Rose

If you want to jump-start your life and bring about positive change, tap into the power of the rose and red stones. Stones of this side of the color spectrum contain life’s energy and can help you become more motivated, more energetic, and more vibrant, and also give you and appealing aura. Wear this list of rosy and red stones or place them on your desk and throughout your home for an instant boost: alexandrite, carnelian, garnet, red coral, red jasper, rhyolite, rose jasper, and ruby.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Mysterious Minoan Tentacles

The Minoans were a seafaring people, so it's no surprise that their art is full of marine life, exhibiting their deep connection with the sea goddess Posidaeja. Most people are familiar with the dolphins and octopuses that appear on so many Minoan marine ware vessels and frescoes. But there's another sea creature that shows up in Minoan art, mostly on ceramic containers, a creature that was so odd, it took us a while to figure out its identity.

Have a look at the marine ware jug at the top of this post. The critter painted on it looks like an octopus that's holed up in a nautilus shell, sticking its tentacles out and waving them.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Thor Love in a Raindrop

One might think a grocery store parking lot an unlikely place for religious gnosis. Truly, one does not need to adventure into the mists of a primeval forest or climb to the peak of a mountain to experience the gods, for they are all around us all the time. Though I enjoy a nice hike, of course, the gods are there wherever I go. 

It was the day after the summer solstice. I had not done any big ritual on the solstice with my kindred. I had gotten up to try to view the Parade of Planets before dawn, which proved to be less than perfect viewing despite the clear night, since I live not quite 6 miles from the brightest place on Earth (the Las Vegas Strip.) That afternoon at tea my housemate and I clinked teacups as if they were drink glasses and toasted the beginning of summer, so we did have a ritual, even if it was brief and simple. 

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Erin Lale
    Erin Lale says #
    Nods. Yeah. I've been following the internet discourse on the difference between having female heroes and having a male hero rebra
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    Yes, I remember seeing the Jane foster Thor back when we still had a comic book shop in town. I had pretty much dropped comic boo
  • Erin Lale
    Erin Lale says #
    Hi Anthony! Yeah I thought the trailers were cringy. The entire idea of the movie is cringy. Disney says "Let's have female Thor!"
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I've seen a trailer for Thor: Love and Thunder at the theater and I have mixed feelings about it. I haven't looked at the complet

 Fossil Fly (Diptera) With Eggs In Baltic Amber (#207478) For Sale -  FossilEra.com

Litha or Lithe?

 

Back in the 80s, many Wiccans started calling the Summer Sunstead Litha. In a sense, they've got history on their side.

(That's LEE-thuh, with the “soft” th of leather, not the “hard” th of think, though I've also heard LITH-uh, with a "short" i and "hard" th.)*

In the old Anglo-Saxon calendar, June was known as ærra Líða, “before Litha” and July aeftera Líða, “after Litha”. (J. R. R. Tolkien, a proud Hwiccan** lad himself, modernizes these as Forelithe and Aerlithe, but I'll get back to that.) What comes between June and July? Well, given a little wiggle room, and the fact that the Anglo-Saxons reckoned by moons, not by calendar months, it seems fair to assign the word Litha to the summer solstice.

(In the same calendar, December and January were aerra Geol—Foreyule—and aeftera Geol—Aeryule—respectively.)

What the word originally meant, and why it should be assigned to this particular season of the year, is another matter altogether.

 

Unclear Origins

 

As an adjective, OE líðe meant “gentle, soft, calm, mild.” I suppose one could read this meteorologically, though personally, I find this (if you'll pardon my earthiness) a pretty limpdick explanation. As a verb—líðan—it means “to go, travel, sail.” Bede of Jarrow mocks up a reading here, claiming that the calm seas of solstice-tide usher in the sailing season. Sorry, sounds contrived to me.

I think that the most solid conclusion to draw here—considering the fact that, folk derivations aside, we don't know where the word “Yule” came from either—would be that Litha's etymology remains unclear.

Still, considering that Midwinter has a folksy by-name of its own—Yule—it's somehow satisfying that Midsummer should have one as well.

(For what it's worth, my own linguist's intuition here is that both Yule and Lithe derive from some solstice-celebrating pre-Germanic cultural substratum, and that neither word has a convincing Germanic derivation precisely because they're non-Germanic in origin. Perhaps time and future research will tell.)

 

The Lure of the Exotic

 

It certainly wouldn't be the first Old English word to be adopted lock, stock, and barrel into the Modern Witch vocabulary, Wicca and Eostre being two other prime examples. I strongly suspect that many Wiccans actually like the sense of mystery and exoticism that such archaic forms impart. Still, to my ear, there's something affected, something inauthentic, about using such words in everyday speech.

As a name for the Summer Yule, Líða didn't survive into modern times. If it had, though, and had undergone all the usual sound-changes through the course of the last 1000 years, we can say exactly what it would have sounded like today: Lithe (rhymes with blithe).

 

Shire-Reckoning

 

In fact, that's exactly what J. R. R. Tolkien does call it in Lord of the Rings.

The Shire-year of the hobbits features two extended periods of celebration: Yule and Lithe, with the (summer) sunstead itself being known specifically as Midyear's Day. Both holidays are characterized by extended festal periods, known respectively as the Yuledays and the Lithedays.

Though Tolkien himself doesn't use it, I think we can feel justified in coining, by analogy with Yuletide, the term Lithetide: the period of extended celebration between the astronomical solstice and Old Midsummer's Day, what we now celebrate as the Fourth of July. Lithe's thirteen days thus parallel those of Yule.

 

A Craft of Now

 

Well, lots of Wiccans apparently like feeling exotic. (Who doesn't like to feel special?) If you want to live in a museum—or, worse, on Renn Fest grounds—year-round, that's up to you.

Me, though, I'm with the hobbits here. I'm all for a Craft that we live and do everyday, not just when we're in circle.

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It's a Cosmic Thing: The Summer Solstice

I arrived a little late to the party—the party of the B-52's summer classic, "Cosmic Thing." In June of 1990, I had just graduated Madison Area Technical college with a commercial art degree. I was saving up dough to head out West and explore my possibilities in California. In the backroom of the small custom frame shop while measuring and precision-cutting mounting board, I rifled through the store owner's CD stash to inspire me while I worked. The bright, inviting colors of "Cosmic Thing" immediately caught my eye, and I already knew I dug the B-52's. From then on, I was hooked. It is the quintessential hot season record, where every single song on the album is a must-listen to.

My partner and I recently acquired a mint condition vinyl of it, and I have to say, these songs stand the test of time. From the title track encouraging you to "shake your honey buns," to the zen utopian ballad of "Topaz," you do indeed feel compelled to shake it and sing along. The dystopian panic of, "Channel Z," still feels incredibly pertinent today, compellingly shouted/sung by frontman Fred Schneider. The harmonies of Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson have never sounded more lovely, and drummer Keith Strickland really stepped up to help write most of this amazing tuneage.

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Blessings From the East: Prayer to Honor the Summer

For summer festivals such as the Summer Solstice on June 21, you should honor the deities who gift us with such plenty. Light yellow and green candles at your altar and on the feast table and offer this appeal:

 

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Last modified on

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 

A Tale of Avebury

 

In the days of King Ethelred the Unready, a priest was sent to the village of Avebury in Wiltshire to build a church. This priest's name was Willibrord.

Now, this village stands within the great henge of Avebury, the world's largest stone circle. Though the villagers were Christians of a sort, they were not sanguine about Willibrord's project.

“The Stones won't like it,” they said.

(Th' Stons wont lahk't was what they actually said. Willibrord was a foreigner, a Frisian, and often found these English stubborn, and difficult to understand.)

“Nonsense,” he said. “These old pagan stones should all be thrown down, anyway. They are mere, dumb earthfast stones; they have no true power.”

He picked out a fine spot for his new church at the crossing of the two roads that meet at the center of the Stones. Since the villagers refused him even the slightest assistance, he was forced to bring in workers from elsewhere, at great expense.

But day after day, their work proved fruitless. Each morning, newly-arrived at the site, they would find the work of the previous day cast down.

“The Stones don't like it,” said the villagers.

“This is the work of demons,” said Willibrord.

The outlander priest prayed every prayer in the prayerbook, and sprinkled holy water by the gallon, all to no avail. Day after day, the builders' work was nightly undone. For more than a year, this went on.

Finally, priest Willibrord conceded defeat. Today, when you visit the Great Henge of Avebury, 5000 years old and more, you will see there also the 1000-year old Saxon church of St. James where it now stands, just outside those old pagan Stones and their monumental ditch.

All over Christendom, tales are told of churches that stand where they do because demons cast down the original walls.

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  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    I spent one fine Beltane in Avebury myself, years ago. On May Eve I sat in the Devil's Chair (a hollow in one of the larger stones
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    My parents went to England once. They went to see Wimbledon. They took a look around and liked Avebury. They said that Stonehen

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