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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Redoing Some Sacred Jewelry

I finished this project this week. The longest, lowest string (not pictured) of the jewelry for my gythia apron had had temporary repairs made too many times and the latest pics I saw of myself in it (from the Yuletide Heathen Visibility Project Photoshoot) convinced me to finally do something permanent with it. Because the repairs had gotten ratty and lopsided over the years, and I wanted it to look nicer. So, I took the pendants and big beads off, added more big beads, strung it on chenile yarn, and made it to be worn with other pendant necklaces, so the new version has no central pendant. The Thor's hammer in the photo is an independent pendant, hanging in the blank spot of the new necklace, as I planned. The small beads removed from the string are now displayed on a kintsukoroi plate near other special things.

This week I also got back in touch with the goddess Skadhi. I had been close to her in my early 20s when I lived in California and used to go snowshoeing and cross country skiing on Donner Summit, where I stayed with a Sierra Club group at their private lodge. It was back then that I wrote / was inspired by Odin to write my poem Skadhi: Water Cycle, which I still think is my best poem, even 30 years later.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs


Winterscapes by Hakan Strand Star Snow Covered Trees in Winter


Mon pays, ce n'est pas un pays, c'est l'hiver.”

“My country's not a country, it's Winter.”

(Gilles Vigneault)


Oof: five below. The Ninth Day of Yule, and our first sub-zero temperature of the Winter. It hasn't been this cold for ten months. Well, folks, this is it: Winter is well and truly here.

You never really get used to it, the Cold. After a while it seems to take on a life of its own, to become an entity in its own right: the Hag you cannot see, but only feel.

Ultimately, Cold becomes a way of life. The long underwear goes on and stays on. You leave extra time to get things done, because everything takes longer. (This morning it took me 15 minutes to chip the car out of its carapace of ice: this with the defrost and heat going full blast all the while, mind you. Winter Survival Tip #1: start the car and let it warm up before you begin clearing it.) Keep your face covered. Don't go out with a wet head. Moisturize or die. (Ah, life in the Winter desert.) A driveway is cleared one shovelful at a time.

During the Summer, you close up the house during the day, and open it again at night. Now it's just the opposite.

To open, or close up, though: actually, it's hard to decide. Should I open the blinds and the curtains to let the sunlight in—sunlight warms—or keep them closed against the cold? (When it's this cold, you learn to stay away from perimeters.) In terms of keeping warmth in and cold out, I'm guessing that it's probably a 50/50 proposition. Nonetheless, in the end I invariably cave and open to the light. It may not feel warm on the skin, but the beauty of the young sunlight never fails to lift my spirit. Psychological warmth is still warmth.

Let those in more fortunate climates cringe, and wonder why we stay. Up here in Cold Country, we grok Beltane in ways that most Southrons never, ever will.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 Callanish from the Air, Isle of Lewis, Scotland – Neolithic Studies


In her remarkable 2006 book The Old Way: A Story of the First People, Elizabeth Marshall Thomas writes about the movements of our pre-human ancestors who first ventured out onto Mother Africa's broad savannahs:

Out on the open savannah with the sun burning down, not many creatures moved about by day, but we did, teaching our children the things our parents had taught us, but having to make some adjustments. When we traveled, for instance, we could no longer spread out as we had done in the rain forest because big trees were not at hand to climb in case of trouble. Instead, like soldiers in combat, we began to travel single file behind a leader who was watching for danger. Most other savannah animals did the same. If we stopped to rest, we sat together in a circle, doing as other animals did because the circle as an antipredator device is as effective as it is important....Remembering in our hearts our experiences with predators, all of us feel vulnerable to attack from behind, and to this day we favor circles (Thomas 19).

Lines and circles. I think of the two major configurations of New Pagan ritual: the circle and the procession.

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Yuletide Heathen Visibility Project Photo Shoot

The Heathen Visibility Project has a serious purpose (see previous posts) but it's fun to participate. I take photos and am also in some photos. Many others create Project images.

All Heathen Visibility Project photos are available free to use for any newspaper, news station, magazine, reporter, journalist, media illustrator, blogger, etc. to use for editorial purposes to illustrate articles about Asatru, Heathen religion, and related topics. These images are free Creative Commons license images, free to use for non-commercial uses, attribution preferred.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Venus Cucuteni amulet Neolithic Goddess Great Mother pendant image 5


I step out of the shower and towel off. Then, having first (as does every Minnesotan in Winter who aspires still to have skin left by Spring) rubbed down with body lotion, I take the little goddess pendant from where she hangs beside the mirror, kiss her, and put her around my neck. She's always first on, last off, every day.

For pagans, kissing is an act of worship. When you wear something sacred, you naturally kiss it before you put it on. For me, it seems logical to kiss the side that touches your skin. In the case of this particular little goddess, I note with amusement that this means that I'm kissing her butt.

Ah, witches: known for the osculum infame, that infamous act of anal adoration that we're reputed routinely to give the Horned, or whatever you care to call him. Supposedly a sign of moral degradation, it's always struck me, rather, as an atavistic act of mammalian intimacy instead. (Think of dogs greeting one another.) There has to be trust here. You don't allow access to your butt to just anyone.

When you think about it, it's big. Upper mouth, lower mouth. The story of the food cycle, with all that that entails.

The Goddess, of course, doesn't turn up much in the trial transcripts—the guys with the thumbscrews mostly wanted to hear about the Devil instead—but I think of Scottish witch Isobel Gowdie confessing to kissing the “Queen of Elphame's arse.”

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    One wonders about the accuracy of that information; Sufis are frequently (still) viewed as heretics by Muslim hard-liners. Still,
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I seem to recall that in Doreen Valiente's "An ABC of Witchcraft Past and Present" that the kiss on the buttocks was supposed to b
Enticement Enchantment: That Special Someone Spell

This is the perfect spell of enchantment to use when you have met a “special someone” and you wish to enhance your personal charm and magnetism. With this invocation, you are sure to attract your heart’s desire! You will need the following supplies:

  • 1 red candle
  • 1 pink candle
  • Essential oil (jasmine and rose have very powerful love vibrations to attract and charm a lover)


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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 cabbagehead of white cabbage isolated on white photo by vvoennyy on Envato  Elements

Maybe I'm reverting to ancestral type.

Lately it seems as if I must be on the Cabbage Diet. Cabbage soup, cabbage strudel. Cabbage pancakes, cabbage rolls. Sauerkraut and peas in brown onion gravy. Last week I made a batch of cabbage with noodles and poppy seeds, which I hadn't tasted since I was a kid. Delicious.

Here in the frozen North, we eat lots of cabbage. Cabbage dependably grows when other vegetables have mostly given up the ghost. There's nothing showy about it, nothing pretentious. It's just good, dependable, affordable, staff-of-life food. All hail the humble cabbage!

Rightly prepared—but of course this is true of any vegetable—cabbage is delicious. (Badly prepared, it's not worth eating, but the same can likewise be said for any vegetable.) And when it comes to versatility, few can compare with it: my litany cited above only begins to scratch the surface.

And, of course, it's Yule, today being the third day thereof. Where I come from, Midwinter's Eve means cabbage rolls and poppy seed cake. Anyone that comes from Pittsburgh, regardless of ethnic derivation, knows that if you don't eat cabbage rolls at Yule, the Sun will literally not rise in the morning.

Of how many vegetables can you say that?

(And yes, that actually is a blown-glass cabbage ornament, hanging on the tree. Hey, I'm from Pittsburgh. There's a purple cabbage on there too, if you look.)

Jane Smiley's 1988 The Greenlanders is a remarkable novel. It reads like a family saga, telling the grim tale of the last generations of Greenland Norse, as the climate gets worse and the ships from Europe stop coming. Their ingrained Christianity makes it impossible for them to learn anything from the heathen skraelings who actually know how to survive in the worsening climate (but how can one remain Christian when you can't grow wheat and grapes for the eucharist?), and eventually it becomes clear to everyone that—just as the old myths said—the end is in sight, and there's no escape.

As things begin to fall apart, one old priest who, as a young man, was sent from Ghent to minister to the Greenlanders, and has lived for years, like everyone else, on milk, cheese, seaweed, and seal and reindeer meat—says to a colleague, the only other person on the island who has ever been anywhere but Greenland:

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