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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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Alternative wheels for a changing world

It’s June. It’s cold and raining, and everything outside my window says ‘climate change’ to me in ways that make me deeply uneasy. High winds, torrential downpours, and at the same time, an explosion of hawthorn flowers like nothing I’ve ever seen before. The wild garlic and the horse chestnuts have been exuberant as well.

What does it means for Pagans? The ancestral dates of festivals no longer relate reliably to what’s happening. We don’t know what’s coming, or how it will impact on us. Our world is changing. The seasons are changing, the climate is changing.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Nimue Brown
    Nimue Brown says #
    I was struck when visiting the States by how very different the oak trees are.
  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    They are so common around here that they are practically a weed. I must have dozens of seedlings on our property. This one usually
  • Nimue Brown
    Nimue Brown says #
    That is huge for a hawthorn, if American ones are like the British trees, they are very slow growing, it may be really old.
  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    Funny you should mention hawthorn: our huge tree (30' tall) seems very abundant in this year's warmth (Oregon was QUITE warm, espe
The Otherworld and the Sidhe (Shining Ones)

These past few months I’ve been working with the Otherworld and the Sidhe, trying to come to understand them from an experiential point of view rather than a mythological or academic perspective. We can read about it all we want, but the Otherworld must be experienced for it to be truly integrated into a particular tradition.

I’ve written previously about the Otherworld and the concept of duality last year on my other blog site as we approached Samhain, and have been pondering it ever since.  Preparing myself for a conscious encounter, so to speak.  I’ve encountered the Otherworld before, meeting beings on my wanderings out and about the landscape, but haven’t made a concentrated effort to really connect with them, whatever they may be and wherever they may originate.  I’ve had difficulty in the concept of an Otherworld, for to perceive a conscious split between this world and the Otherworld interferes with my ambition of pure integration. Or so I thought.

The premise that I am now leaning towards is not so much a separation between the Otherworld and this one, but more of an overlay, a deeper perceived reality than what we can experience with our physical and mental awareness when it lies half-dormant.  The Otherworld is this world as well, but on a deeper level.  It is a Deeperworld, where beings exist that require a deeper connection to the landscape than on a superficial level. Perhaps I was simply getting too caught up in the name, the Otherworld. For me, in my journey towards pure integration, there is no Other. 

The pitfalls of taking things too literally.

And so I made my journey to the nearest tumuli, a Celtic burial place that lies halfway between an old Celtic settlement and a ritual henge along the Suffolk coast. I had planned to meet with the Sidhe, those beings who dwell in the Otherworld and who can traverse the perceived realities between the worlds with greater ease than we can.  I had a friend come along to share in this Beltane ritual, and also to keep watch.  But the energy was not quite right, the timing was off.  The hawthorn had yet to bloom at the beginning of May, the weather was all over the place, sunshine one minute and hail the next.  As our ritual progressed on the hilltop next to the tumuli, a headache turned into a migraine that left me feeling really rather ill.  As I still persevered in my attempts to contact the Sidhe, the Shining Folk, my head pounded and I suddenly heard “Come back when the May is in bloom”.  And so we ended the ritual, strange energies swirling round our ritual site, the low clouds threatening, and made our way home.

A few weeks later, the hawthorn blossomed and I had my chance to get back to the tumuli. I originally had planned to spend the night there, but plans had changed, and so I was given only a couple hours grace to visit the site. Alone, I hiked there, the scent of the May blossom heady in the hedgerows.  As I approached the tumuli, walking through grazing sheep at the base of the hill, the warm sunshine opened out over the landscape and washed it with light, almost making everything sparkle with life.

I walked around the tumuli as I always do, past a small flock of beautiful black and white goats resting in the shade of an oak tree.  The energy around the site was calmer than the previous time, for which I was glad. It was more settled, but very strong, almost clear.  After circumventing the tumuli I walked to the top and sat down, simply breathing and attuning to the place, a squirrel  running through last year’s leaf fall, collecting nuts and acorns from his hidden caches.

When I felt fully connected with the landscape, not merely an observer or traveller to this land but a living, breathing, active and aware part of it, I placed my hands on the ground before me and let my soul sink into the soil, opening my nemeton to the spirits of place.  Almost instantly I felt a presence all around me, a small group of beings, three or four, standing in a circle looking at my form sitting on the earth, hands pressed to the ground. Not wanting to break the moment, I kept still, my eyes closed, and saw them with my mind rather than my physical senses.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Walking the Labyrinth

When I tell people I follow a Minoan spiritual path, one of the first things they ask about is the labyrinth. Often, all they know about the labyrinth is what they've heard from the Theseus-and-the-Minotaur story. The thing is, the Greeks invented Theseus as a culture hero centuries after Minoan civilization had ceased to exist, so the Minoans never even knew about him. In Theseus' tale, the labyrinth is a deadly maze full of confusing twists and turns, impossible to escape with the help of Ariadne's thread. In reality, the labyrinth is very different from that.

If you have a look at the labyrinth design at the top of this post, you'll see that it has a single path that leads unerringly to the center. Sure, there are twists and turns. These are designed to disorient the person walking the labyrinth so they can enter altered states of consciousness and reach their own inner spiritual understanding. But there's only one way in and the same way back out. This is called a unicursal (one-route) maze. And it's not a tricky trap. It's a spiritual tool.

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Meditations on Hávamál: 76-80

 

76.

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Pagan News Beagle: Fiery Tuesday, May 31

What does it mean when political extremism becomes normalized? Does the media accurately convey the seriousness of climate change to the public? And what's driving conflict between Nepal's native Sherpas and foreign climbers in the Himalayas? It's Fiery Tuesday, our weekly segment about political and societal news from around the world. It's all this and more for the Pagan News Beagle!

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Clay Ladies in Winter

Now they stand knee-deep in the good, tilled earth of our gardens and fields, bestowing their gift of fruitfulness, as they have since the end of the last Great Ice.

 

Call them the Clay Ladies.

 

But come winter, what then?

 

To ask is to know.

 

Of course the Mothers do not stand in the fields all winter long, buried in snow.

 

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Pagan Dharma 2: BioRegionalism and Pagan Consciousness

For many of us who were not raised in Pagan traditions, but who came into our Pagan identity later, there is often a catalyzing moment that births us onto our path. Perhaps it's a ritual we attended, or something we read, or maybe it grows out of environmental activism. For me it began in an ice storm.

I moved to North Carolina, to that central part known as the Piedmont, to attend graduate school. I rented an old Sears prefab house (“It was a shotgun shack and you know it, “ my mother's ghost chides me), tucked into the pine woods bordering dairy pastures. The house itself was so far below code the landlord couldn't advertise it. One side of the foundation was shored up with flooring tiles and a mallet; half the electric outlets did not work; there was not a right angle to be found in any corner. Wolf spiders the size of puppies would creep out of the shadows at night and even get in the bed. The well would freeze in the Winter and pump out weak ice tea colored water that reeked of iron in Summer. And I loved it.

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