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Tales of Paganistan: The Year We Held an Open Samhain at Prince's Favorite Nightclub

This is the City of Witches. Of course strange things happen here.

Although he never actually owned it, downtown Minneapolis nightclub and music venue First Avenue/Seventh Street Station—which featured prominently in the film Purple Rain—has, in the popular mind, become identified with local music icon Prince.

Let me tell you the tale of how we held a public Samhain observance there.

Samhain 1985. First Avenue's program director at the time, Jeffrey, who'd been interested in paganism for some time, decided to hold a public event in honor of the holiday. Through friends in the local music scene, he contacted a woman in our sister/daughter coven with the idea.

It was a terrific opportunity. We'd have use of the club's stage, dance floor, lighting, and sound system. Best of all, legendary local Keltic punk band Boiled in Lead would be providing live music.

Gleefully, we dove in.

Times being what they were, a group of us from the two covens sat in a circle on the living room floor to plan—by consensus, of course—the ritual.

What we wanted was to tell a story without use of words, a Samhain story that avoided the cliches but still managed to plumb the depths.

Here's what we came up with.

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Incense for Ancient Minoans and Modern Pagans

Like so many other ancient cultures, the Minoans used incense in a sacred setting. Though we can't be certain of the exact uses, it appears that they burned incense as offerings and to purify sacred areas such as ritual rooms, altars, and shrines. These were common practices in the Bronze Age Mediterranean region.

They didn't have the incense sticks and cones that so many of us are familiar with; those are self-igniting due to their saltpeter content. Just hold a flame to the end and voila, incense smoke! What they did have was hot coals and chopped or powdered incense mixtures.

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'Horned God, with Animals': A Call to Pagan Artists

The Horned, seated among animals.

This iconographic type—long familiar from the Gundestrup Cauldron and the famous “Pashupati” seal from the Indus Valley—is surely known to nearly every modern pagan.

All paganism is, of course, local. What horns the god wears, naturally, vary from place to place. So, too, do the animals gathered around him: stag, wolf, snake (in Denmark), rhinocerous, elephant, and tiger (in Pakistan), beaver, eel, and bear (in Siberia).

If I could paint in pigments, instead of just in words, I would paint a Minnesota “Cernunnos”: antlered, cross-legged, among bison, bear, deer, beaver, cougar, wolf, and loon.

What would a Rocky Mountain Horned look like? What horns would he wear? What animals would attend him?

A Florida Horned? Saskatchewan?

As pagans of the New Pagan Era, it cannot suffice merely to copy Old Pagan art. Rather, it is our responsibility to create a New Pagan Art specific to our own environments.

In days to come, I foresee a temple adorned with a series of canvases or murals depicting the Horned in all his varied environments: Lord of the Broadleaf Forest, of the Boreal Forest, of the Prairie, of the Tundra, of the Mountain, of the Wetland.

What would the Horned of your place look like? What horns does he wear, what beasts would he gather to him?

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Domestic and wild: that's Him. He's all about the Divided Self. Hence the two horns.
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    The horned is lord of the animals both domestic and wild. Around here he would have both the horns of cattle and the antlers of a

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Physical Immortality!

*An excerpt from: AWAKE! A Spiritual Primer. 

In this book I shall reveal to you, who you are, where you came from, where you are going, and what the possibilities are. I will tell you stories of my experience in this Universe of Blue, on planet Earth. I am not a scientist and will not attempt to explain the universe from a scientific point of view, I leave that to others. I'm a Spirit Traveler Metaphysician Fire Priestess, one who is in touch with the spiritual hierarchy.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Gayboy's Revenge

When's the last time you attended a good, old-time public shaming?

Jeff Douglas, longtime co-host of CBC Radio's evening news show As It Happens retired on Friday. I'll miss his velvety, sexy voice and wacky sense of humor.

What I won't miss:

  • His hammy, over-the-top acting.
  • His truly bad French accent.
  • His twee affection for naughty words like “pooh.”
  • His affected and condescending insistence on attempting to pronounce Third World names like a native. (Why, Jeff, does Carrrrracas get a rolled R, but not Madrid, or Rome?)
  • His unthinking straightboy arrogance.

Well, we've had our revenge. Some months back, one of CBC's day presenters hosted an “Ask Anything” live interview with Jeff Douglas and his AIH co-host Carol Off. I could tell that something was afoot from the very beginning.

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Celebrating the Poppies

Poppies are magical flowers. They bloom in the summer, and are probably best known for the opiates we extract from them. However, poppies are magical in other ways too, especially around how and where they grow.

Poppies grow when the soil is disturbed. They are a natural response to damage, turning disaster into beauty. It’s for this reason that they became an emblem of the First World War. In the shelled and ravaged landscapes of conflict, the poppies grew.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs


This year’s Gemini New Moon brings us face-to-face with decisions and choices that we must make based on the best information we can gather. And therein lies the problem. There will be no lack of information — if anything there will be too much. We’ll have difficulty determining the accuracy of the information we have, figuring out what is pertinent and what is simply a distraction. 

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Recent comment in this post - Show all comments
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    Primary day is June 11th, I expect the Saturn/Pluto conjunction indicates a rough time for established politicians; Democrat as we

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