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Modeling Humility 

 

I've had some pretty strange dreams in my time, but this has got to have been one of the strangest.

I'm not sure what kind of congregation I'm in, but it must be something staid like Episcopalian; most of the guys around me are wearing suits. That makes what happens next even more bizarre.

We rise to sing a hymn. As we begin, all of the men around me unzip and pull their dicks out.

(I must be visiting the congregation, because I don't really know what's going on. Nevertheless, I follow along with the rest.)

At one point—during the chorus, I'm guessing—we all swing our dicks to the right. During the next chorus, we swing to the left. So it goes through the entire hymn, alternately. The young guy on my left is doing it; so is the man standing in the pew in front of me, and the older one to my right. We're all doing it. Me, I swing along with the rest.

The collective tone of this bizarre act of Episcopal fertility worship—is it an act of blessing?—is that of mild amusement, but there's something serious about it as well, something ritual. As the hymn concludes, we all shake off, as if at the end of a piss, and re-trouser. Presumably, the service then continues. I don't know for sure, because I always wake up at this point.

I've had this dream several times now. I draw three conclusions.

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You know who I mean: Old Witch Winter, the scary old Yule ogress, the one with the tail, and six or eight horns sticking out of her head. The Hag with the Bag. Like it says in the song:

She carries a sack

made out of a skin:

she dumps the toys out,

she stuffs the kids in.

Around here, we usually call her Mother Berchta. (That's a CH as in Achtung!, and don't you forget it.) For some reason, it's customary hereabouts—though not, of course, obligatory—for her personifier to be a priest of Auld Hornie. (I don't know why; maybe it's the horns.) Hey, I've done it myself, on more than one occasion, and even now reprise the role every so often.

Down the decades, I've gathered many darkly shining Berchta moments, but let me tell you about one of my favorites.

 

A few days before the Minnesota Church of the Wicca Yule ritual that year, word went around that everyone should bring a wrapped gift: don't spend more than $5.

“Gifts go under the Yule tree,” everyone was told as they arrived. By the time things got underway, a colorful mound of gifts had accumulated there.

After the ritual, Berchta came storming into the room.

Direct your attention to the floor beneath the Yule tree, she commanded.

(I boldface her words because pretty much everything about Berchta is big.)

Naturally, we all obeyed.

Note that there is nothing under the Yule tree, nothing at all.

Naturally, no one saw anything. (You don't when Berchta is involved. She's something of a force of Nature.)

Then she got personal.

Does anyone see anything under the Yule tree? Do you? (Points.) Anything? Anything at all?

Oh, no, Mother Berchta, we all hastily assured her. Nothing at all.

Then watch!...Alla-ka-ZAM!

She raised her arms and zapped.

The collective gasp of amazement that followed must have been audible across the River in St. Paul. Suddenly, the floor beneath the Yule tree was heaped with gifts. Everyone burst into cheers and applause.

Good old Berchta.

 

Now, at this point you may be wondering: So, what would have happened if someone had dissented?

(Not, of course, that anyone ever would. When Mother Berchta tells you something, you tend to believe it; it's not safe not to.)

But if someone had, what would She have done?

Well, as it happens, I can tell you exactly what would have happened in that unlikely scenario. I can tell you this because, as it happens, I myself personified for Berchta that year, and (let me tell you) Berchta always has a Plan B (as well as a Plan C, D, E, and F) in mind.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 

 

A Toast for Thirteenth Night

 

In the life of each of us,

three great ales, three feastings,

and these are they:

the Birthal, the Bridal, and the Arval.

When we are born, the Birth-Ale,

when we wed, the Bride-Ale,

and when we die, the Grave-Ale:

whence Arval, meaning funeral.

And for that his is the life of us all,

the Birth-Ale of the Sun

lasts thirteen days, one for each Moon.

So on this Thirteenth Night of Yule:

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A favorite 2021 post: Why Paganism Hasn't Failed...Yet

 

John Halstead wrote an article around a table lifted from the anthology Deep Green Resistance*. It's a great piece: go ahead and read it.

...
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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 

Setting aside the commercial endorsements (it's the ad—you can see it here—that gets the award, not the product), this year's Golden Broomstick Award for Best Pagan Commercial goes to...

 

Scene: Ancient Rome. Outside the Colosseum, two swordswomen are sparring.

 

(Lively swordplay.)

Fighter 1: (puts up sword and grimaces)

Fighter 2: Had enough?

Fighter 1: (rubbing elbow) No, arthritis.

Fighter 2: (slides product down sword blade toward Fighter 1 and flips it to her) Here...new (product name).

Fighter 1: (takes product, applies to elbow) Full prescription strength...reduces inflammation...thank the gods!

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
The Mysterious Minoan Snake Goddess Figurines

The photo above (image CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons) shows two full faience figurines and one partial one from Knossos as displayed at the Heraklion Archaeological Museum. You're probably already familiar with at least the two full ones in the middle and on the left.

What you might not know is that they weren't found in such a complete state, and at least one of them may have been reconstructed incorrectly.

...
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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 The Double-Edged Sword of Eastern Philosophy – Tao Practiced

 

Well, it doesn't get much more pagan than that.

A friend was holding a Naming ceremony for her newborn son. With the community gathered around, the presiding priest, a longtime family friend, blessed the child and lifted him in the air three times. Each time, we called out the child's name. This was the first time that he was named in public.

Having received a public identity, the child then got his first taste of beer.

Here's how they did it. The child's mother held him. The priest turned, and held the coven sword back over the crook of his elbow. He trickled a little stream of beer down the blade of the sword so that a few drops dripped into the child's mouth.

Then we all cheered and applauded. Welcome to the community, kid.

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