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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Touching the Earth

Pre-dawn yoga. As we flowed from pose to pose, the teacher’s words emerged from the rhythm of her own movement:  “Since we were in the womb…the universe has never stopped… supporting us. That’s why…we are still…alive.”

I knew in my bones it was true. Looking at the moon, wandering the woods, touching the earth, I find that truth again. When I disappoint myself, I know the trees and the sky do not judge. Good or bad, I am held in the web of life and known by an awareness that goes beyond my own. 

The other truth I know is that “surrender rules the gods.” Not in the literal sense of compelling the deities, but in the sense of finding power within through ceding outward control. I think of Shiva lying down on the battlefield where his lover Kali raged, trusting that when she came to attack, she would recognize him and drop her weapons. I think of Odin, pierced by his own spear, hanging on the World Tree to gain the runes.

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  • Archer
    Archer says #
    Thanks, Ted. I'm glad you enjoyed it.
  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    This is great, Archer; it really speaks to me! OM Mani Padme Hum.

Posted by on in Studies Blogs

The following practice was developed through my experimentation as a Yogi and meditator.  Most mature practitioners, I think, will identify with my experience of working in prescribed ways for many years until I had gained enough "life creds" to begin adapting the techniques to suit my own inner promptings.  Those who insist on slavish adherence to rock-ribbed, inflexible traditions may complain that our altering the old ways makes us apostates; but it seems to me that every famous spiritual teacher we can think of was exactly that sort of innovator.  If the great religious, philosophical and scientific lights of our civilization had ceaselessly followed the old paradigms without adding some breakthrough insights of their own, we wouldn't be honoring their names today!   

Another way of expressing this is, "Make it your own."  For example, in order to convincingly portray a character such as Hamlet, whose story everyone knows and whom thousands of great actors have played in the past, today's actor must "make it his own."  He must find the core truths about the part which resonate for him.  If he is successful, his fresh insight will stimulate thought in others and make it worthwhile for audiences to buy tickets. 

The same is true of any significant goal which we wish to achieve in our lives.  Until we make it our own, we'll just be photocopying what so many others have already done before us.  It's the difference between the beginner practicing scales and the maestro imbuing a concerto with soul.  I would like to offer you a little concerto of my devising, with the hope that it may inspire you to create your own unique variation. 

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
enLIVenING with the Muses

Creativity is my passion and the inspiration of the Nine Greek Muses has touched my life and those within it profoundly. This energy set the stage for my pursuit of a classical ballet career, ignited my love of music and stimulated my hunger for great literature. Heeding their call to inspiration has been the fertile ground from which the seeds of the efforts of my writing have blossomed and grown into a continual source of pride and joy in the sharing. With the coming of the Spring and the creativity of God and Goddess ready to reveal itself the call of the Muses is strong and clear in its intent to inspire; ready to awaken and weave their magick within all who answer.

This is the first of a series of articles about the Nine Greek Muses of inspiration and their impact on magickal and mundane practice. Their gifts of music, art and literature became the tools of expression that have continued to be the means through which humanity interacts, responds and finds resonance with our surroundings and others. And, my hope is that you will find the place of resonance within yourself as you embark on a journey of creative exploration with me. 

The Nine Muses were Greek Goddesses who ruled over the arts and sciences and offered inspiration in those subjects. They were the daughters of Zeus, Lord of all Gods, and the Titaness, Mnemosyne, who was the personification of memory. The Muses have appeared throughout history and the development of cultural and artistic ages in varying numbers and attributes. Homer refers to them as one Muse and as many Muses, living on Olympus. Plato lists eight muses connected with eight mythical spheres. And, the Greek poet, Hesiod whose epic poem The Theogony relates the Greek Cosmology and order of the Gods, refers to them as the nine daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne, who were born in Pieria, which is described as watered by the springs flowing from Olympus.

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This poetic essay originally appeared in Eternal Haunted Summer Magazine 2011

I.

 The restaurant — hole-in-the-wall with age-darkened brick wallpaper, old-lady peony-pink damask table cloths, the color my Chicago adopted grandmother used to like in homemade church blouses, eyelet white lace curtains festooned with paper ribbons in the ceiling, entwined with silk flower vines, glitter easter-eggs, feather butterflies in “old-lady chic” the guidebook calls it, ribbons hanging from the trophy animals, dusty green-red pheasant I can’t see his tail, two deer heads with gold mardi gras beads wrapped ’round dead necks and antlers, soft orange carrot salad a feast of hunter’s stew between potato pancakes plump meat chunks tucked in a surprise the old man with Andy Warhol hair arguing cheerfully with the middle-aged waiter reading a conservative fantasy novel, this food is better than your mother’s he says with a straight face, expecting the rejoinder as my husband checks out, tart herbaceous currant juice, the color of crushed berries — it tastes like secrets –

 

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  • Shirl Sazynski
    Shirl Sazynski says #
    Thanks, Courtney! Unfortunately I don't live in the Metro area anymore-- I miss the Polish food, Central Park and the Met-- but I
  • Courtney Weber
    Courtney Weber says #
    I love this! I've had those same thoughts about the 168th subway tunnel--glad I'm not the only one who noticed. I live in the ci

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Uni is the supreme goddess of the Etruscan pantheon.  She is part of a ruling triad together with her husband, Tinia, and the goddess Menrva.  The Etruscans were distinct culture that occupied a region north of Rome.  They were most likely an aboriginal people conquered by a Near Eastern culture which was then influenced by Greek traders (as I understand it any way).  Originally they overshadowed their Roman neighbors who took on a lot of the Etruscan culture, especially religiously.   Eventually the Etruscans became subordinate to the Romans and essentially disappeared into the Roman Empire.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

I spent a bit of time in my garden yesterday, and one emotion overwhelmed me more than any other: despair, and yearning.

Well, that’s a bit dramatic. But I’ve been doing a fair amount of thinking about the Wheel and how it relates to my practice, and the seasons too, and this season is definitely my least favourite. For me, the seasons are intrinsically connected to my practice, which is indeed earth-centred and intimately connected with the land. Working with, and not against, the land can be a challenge at times. Especially when the seasons turn harsh and the spiritual struggles that accompany, particularly the sense of ‘waiting’ can be the bane of the more impatient amongst us!

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  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    Sorry for the sloppy communication, Lee; in my case, at least, I was referring to ME as the whiner - not you. As I was here in th
  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    Yes, Greybeard, as a Phoenician I was thinking the same thing. My wife and I have lived here for 30 years - and yes, Lee, I unders
  • Lee Pike
    Lee Pike says #
    As much as this post is a 'whine', it has been confirmed the hottest summer on record for Perth, Australia, including the hottest

Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Supernatural, not really…

The 'supernatural' is often considered the sine qua non of religion. Certainly the Gods and Spirits must be considered supernatural, yes? Well…not necessarily.

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  • Richard Norris
    Richard Norris says #
    Aquinas, of course, based much of his work off of Aristotle, who was previously considered a kind of Platonist. Aristotle suggest
  • Sam Webster
    Sam Webster says #
    Richard, Thank you for your comment. There are a number of us working out a philosophical basis for our Pagan ways. Posts here, a
  • Henry Buchy
    Henry Buchy says #
    never been one to use the term supernatural. if it happens it's natural. anyway. why can't 'matter' or the physical be independent

As Pagans, we're more used to being discriminated against than to discriminating against others.  Those of us who run businesses or sell our wares are, especially in these economic times, generally only too happy to get a new customer.  And so we're usually quite happy to read Tarot, even for the devout Christian who slips off to see us behind her pastor's back, or to perform a computer upgrade even for the atheist who thinks that devotion to any deity is a sign of mental illness.  After all, we're pretty much a live-and-let live group.  We're not out to convert others to our ways and we generally don't presume to determine what religion is best for anyone else.  (Heck, I can think of a number of people whom I hope don't become Pagan.)  Honest pay for honest work or honest wares is generally all we ask. 

Our main concern with laws (such as the one that was recently vetoed in Arizona) that would allow businesses to discriminate based upon "religious convictions" has been the impact those laws could have on QLTBG, etc. people.  Of course, those laws could have been used to discriminate against even those of us who are "straight but not narrow," as well.  Wear a pentacle around your neck when you take your child to the farmers' market and the lady selling apples could refuse to sell your child an apple because her religion teaches her that you "shall not suffer a Witch to live," and selling apples helps you to live.  If the sleeve on your jacket slips, the nurse at the 24-hour medical center could see your tattoo and refuse to sew up the cut that you got doing woodwork because he says that your pentagram offends his religious sensibilities.  You finally grab a cab late at night in a sketchy part of town only to be told that the cab driver doesn't believe that women should be out, unescorted and won't give you a ride.  If you get mugged a few minutes later, well, that just proves his point.

It's easy to imagine that the next step is some method that will allow the discriminating religious to easily determine whether the potential renter, car buyer, or restaurant patron meets all of the necessary requirements.  (Why stop at refusing to sell a cake to a same-sex couple?  What about a couple that includes a previously-divorced person or a couple not willing to specify that they are entering a "covenant marriage" where the man will "exercise headship."  (Don't blame me; that's the way they talk!)  What about selling nursery furniture to prospective parents who won't agree that sparing the rod spoils the child or selling a house to people who won't commit to attending your church every Sunday?  To voting Rapeublican since they are generally more favorable to rightwing Christians?)

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  • Greybeard
    Greybeard says #
    One of the problems with laws is that they apply to everyone. Suppose a gay couple is running a bakery and the Westboro Baptist c
  • Stifyn Emrys
    Stifyn Emrys says #
    I think it's ironic that a group formerly subject to oppression (see the Decian persecution) now seeks to impose its beliefs on ot
  • Greybeard
    Greybeard says #
    So is it now illegal to refuse to purchase GMO food because you believe it is harmful? I can see why big corporations would oppos

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Hope Springs Anew

    

 

Sumer is icumen in, / Lhude sing cuccu! / Groweth sed and bloweth med / And springth the wude nu. / Sing cuccu!

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  • Carol P. Christ
    Carol P. Christ says #
    In my first ritual group we embraced the pagan themes of Christian culture. And we enjoyed becoming like children again, coloring
Welcoming the Light at the Spring Equinox

The sun rises ever earlier, the days becoming longer. Soon the balance will tip, when the night gives way to the lengthening days. The spring equinox falls on March 20th this year, and after a very wet winter I am very much looking forward to it.

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  • Carol P. Christ
    Carol P. Christ says #
    Here in my garden in Greece Henry the tortoise sunned in the garden for a little while then went back to sleep when it clouded ove

Posted by on in Studies Blogs
PantheaCon upon Reflection

Thursday Night thru Saturday Afternoon

To avoid the hassle of driving busy Bay Area freeways during the day, and because I’m not an early riser, I drove down to San Jose late Thursday evening.  I anticipated that this would allow me a few more leisurely visits with other early arrivers, especially those from afar, before the Con got nuts.  I was right.

I had printed out schedules of the events I was most drawn to ahead of time, together with some hospitality suite schedules and meal dates made in the previous weeks.  Over the years I’ve relaxed my schedule by not applying to do a presentation of any kind, rather only sitting on panels now and then when asked, or performing a ritual role when invited to do so.  I try to get to the most appealing presentations, but some of them are too crowded.  I know that some of them I can see at other venues.  If I happen to get involved in a compelling discussion or a tête-à-tête and miss something I wanted to attend, I can follow where I’m drawn, or I can break away if I absolutely have to be somewhere.  This year I played it loose.

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  • Stifyn Emrys
    Stifyn Emrys says #
    I'm sorry I missed Sabina's presentation. I've been a fan of her "Witching Culture" for some time. I chose a different event at th

Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Wiccanate Privilege: What Now?

There's been a good deal of conversation online about the term "Wiccanate privilege" the past few days, and I think it illustrates the importance of choosing our words carefully when communicating important issues - especially those that others might find sensitive or take personally.

I have to admit the phrase rubbed me the wrong way to some degree. Whenever this happens, I ask myself why, and my attempt to answer that question usually starts with establishing definitions. When I looked up "Wiccanate" in Merriam-Webster's online dictionary, it told me, "The word you're looking for isn't in the dictionary" and advised me to try another spelling (the top three suggestions were "wagonette," "white and" and, disconcertingly, "witch hunt"). It came as no surprise when the word failed to show up, as it seemed like one of those terms coined for the sake of convenience or because nothing else quite seemed to fit.

Next, I looked around online and found references to it. Among the most helpful definitions was one I found at a blog called Finnchuill's Mast, which described it as "referring to practices either specifically Wiccan, or of traditions like Feri and Reclaiming that share many reasonably similar practices like circle casting and working with four elements." My first reaction is that the term could be seen as artificial and offensive (I know of at least one person who described it as such). What if someone were to label your tradition "Paganesque" or "Reconstructionistic"? You might not take too kindly to that. Shorthand and jargon can be convenient, but it also can come off as flippant, dismissive and/or exclusionary - the last because only certain people will know what it means.

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  • Nova
    Nova says #
    Woops somehow I doubled post they really need to consider some edit options.
  • Nova
    Nova says #
    I agree that the minority word does need to be heard and I understand that when someone gets offended or a bit tired of one thing
  • John Halstead
    John Halstead says #
    Rather than trying to create a universal Pagan ritual for pan-Pagan events like Pagan Pride Day, how about we celebrate our divers

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

Sorry I've been a bit remiss with my blogs. Crazy times, as with everyone. But I've decided to definitely continue on. I'm hoping to write somewhat shorter blogs, but with more frequency. So, here I go:

Since the season of Brazilian Carnaval is upon us, I thought I might spend the next few sessions discussing the history and meaning of this tradition. Wait, you say! Aren't you supposed to be blogging about Brazilian folk religions? Well, yes I am. And you really cannot separate the Carnaval celebration from the Afro-Brazilian religions. The music played, the rhythms, the instruments, the dances, the costumes, and more all cross over into the Brazilian religions. So bear with me while I talk about the history, what Carnaval is like today, the Samba Schools. and the story of the parades. After that, I'll talk about various instruments and their functions both in the celebration of Carnaval and in the religion. Besides, this stuff is interesting and will give you a more in-depth picture of Brazil and Brazilians (at least I hope it will).

History of Brazilian Carnaval

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

Recently, I received a message about health and healing. The questions centered on healing from physical injury, support during surgery, and common practices in ancient Hellas in these types of situations both of the injured and their families. Seeing as most of us will most likely wat to request the healing aid of the Gods at one point in our lives, I though I would make a blog post out of it.

In ancient Hellas, people got sick just like we get sick now. With the poorer hygiene conditions and often heavy physical labor that was undertaken, epidemics one one illness or another must have been quite common, and accidents were prone to happen. As such, there were quite a number of deities who were especially prone to help humanity recover from diseases and injuries.

When we discuss health and healing, we must first look at the worship of Asklēpiós. Asklēpiós was, and is, a much beloved Theos. He started out being honored as a hero--the son of Apollon and Koronis--but became a God in His own right because of his healing skill. It seems Asklēpiós was such a fine healer, He could even bring the dead back to life, even though He is no longer permitted to do that. Apollon presides over the healing proccess as well--in general with the Hellenic deities, younger generations preside over the building blocks of the previous generation, so while Apollon has 'healing' in His portfolio, much of the actual healing is done by his younger son, and specific subsets of healing are distributed amongst Asklēpiós' daughters.

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  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Ms. Temperance, Thanks for sharing! These are deities that most Hellenists, myself included, should probably honor more.

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

It seems somehow appropriate that Isis is my Goddess for the week....

 

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Common Sense tea

The Common Sense Spell Book

By Debbie Dawson

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  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Mistress Polly, Thanks for clueing us in about another fascinating bit of Kiwiana! I hope it sells well. You write from long ex
  • J'Karrah
    J'Karrah says #
    Bought the Kindle version! I'm always on the lookout for new material to add to my website's suggested reading list and always ha
Some Musings on Wiccanate Privilege, Words, and Pop Culture Magic

At Pantheacon I attended a discussion about Wiccanate Privilege (See this post by Lupus for an accurate overview of the discussion). I was curious about this term because it had been applied to me in a post that Ivo Dominguez had written about the Literacy of Magic. The person who applied it, Ruadhan McElroy commented on a comment I made about how I felt the Pagan community was divorcing itself from Magic in order to achieve mainstream acceptance. He made the point that such a statement displayed a level of privilege and assumption about magic's place in a given Pagan spiritual practice. Another commenter also pointed this out in a different way and in subsequent comments I came to better understand the perspective of magic as an optional practice because its simply not central to the given spiritual practices of a particular spiritual tradition.  I'll admit that when I think of Paganism, I typically associate magic with Paganism and with anything that might fall under the rather broad umbrella of Paganism (which as I'll discuss later points to a distinct problem). I think that Ruadhan made an accurate point, though at the time it blew my mind that the practice of Magic could be perceived as a form of privilege (mainly because my own experiences in mainstream culture, but in this case Ruadahan is referring to the Pagan subculture, and in that context it makes sense).

The conversation that occurred at Pantheacon helped me further understand this aspect of privilege, and where Ruadhan is coming from. Ruadhan also wrote a post about Wiccanate Privilege and noted the following:

Within the pagan community, the “Generic Popular Wicca-based Neopaganism” (henceforth “Wiccanate paganism”; Traditional Wicca, such as BT/Gardnerian or Alexandrian, is “Wicca”) is the assumed default. During the “pagan identity crisis” that’s been cycling the pagan blogosphere every few months since 2010, I’ve seen several people comment not only as non-Wiccanates who lament this, but as Wiccanate pagans unaware of their own privilege and insisting that we’re all united because, as far as they’re concerned, “we all share a history with Wicca” (an exact quote I’ve seen from several people).

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  • Nova
    Nova says #
    Sorry but I suck at double checking my own post. Since there isn't an edit button... Hmm? So hard to ask? I've honestly had it w
  • Nova
    Nova says #
    I'v honestly had it with the idea of privilege. priv·i·lege ˈpriv(ə)lij/ noun 1. a special right, advantage, or immunity granted
  • Terence P Ward
    Terence P Ward says #
    I have found being a member of a minority-within-a-minority very instructive. I'm a (mostly) middle-class white guy, one who has
Getting Through the Long Winter: Spirit, Spells & Sharing

Winters are often tough, but this one has really been a challenge for many of us. Much of the US has dealt with long stretches of bitter cold and winter storms bringing snow and ice as far south as Texas. On the far western side of the country, there are droughts and winds instead. Outside the United States, the weather has also been extreme, although not always cold. It’s the beginning of March, and I don’t know about you, but I’m starting to feel like this winter is Never Going to End.

Of course, there are plenty of practical things that can help you keep going: exercise, rest, and of course, lots of chocolate. But if those aren’t working for you this year, I’ve got a few ideas for how to cope, using spirit, spells, and sharing—hopefully one or more of these approaches help you make it through until the spring comes.

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Crystals with Water in them or Enhydro Crystals

Here's another awesome question from my friend Karen, this time, about Enhydro crystals. She asks:

Enhydros (sp?) Crystal? Have you come across any of these? Can you share more of what they do? I have learned they balance the Divine Masculine/Feminine. Is this correct? Thanks!

a1sx2_Thumbnail1_enhydrowwwbeautiful-mineralsDOTtumblrDOTcom.jpgOh, I LOVE LOVE LOVE Enhydro crystals. For those that don't know, they are crystals with water (fluid) inside them. The only way to know if you have an Enhydro (if there is water or fluid present) is if they have something IN the water (usually an air bubble, sometimes sediment of some kind, but most usually air)... or if the fluid is colored as in the photo to the left. Most Enhydro crystals present as clear crystals with clear water, so to see them you turn the crystal and the air bubble (or sediment) moves. If it is sediment it will move down because it is heavier than the water, and if an air bubble, it will move up because it is lighter than the water (imagine the bubble in a carpenter's level). In the photo above, the fluid in the cavity is golden colored. It is very striking to see such a crystal because you are able to easily see where the fluid is. As in the photograph below, in a clear crystal with clear water, you are only able to "see" the water when the bubble moves.

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  • Carol P. Christ
    Carol P. Christ says #
    How cool. I have a magic wand with gel that moves inside it. I love to play with it. How much more wonderful the real thing must b
  • Genn John
    Genn John says #
    Hey carol! I used to have a pen with a little boat in it that moved when you tilted it, it seemed I could play with that for days.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Once & Future People

Žemė, “Earth.” Pendant: amber (with vegetal inclusions), 2¾' x 1¾'. George Romulis, 2012

George Romulis, at 93, has been working amber for more than 70 years. He is an emeritus member of the Riga Amber-Workers Guild and one of the living treasures of Latvia.

This stunning pendant, titled Žemė, “Earth”, fits neatly into the palm of the hand, but its clean lines and boldness of form give it a striking monumentality; it feels larger than it actually is. It is also profoundly female. We all know these lines; we've seen them many times before: in the bodies of the women around us, as in what our coven kid Robin used to call the “clay ladies” of ancient Europe and the Middle East, here elegantly stylized but readily recognizable nonetheless.

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