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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Holidays

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Holiday Magick with the Four Aces

The winter festival time can be stressful, even for Pagans. Some honor their family’s holiday traditions with a bit of discomfort. Others are caught up in the responsibilities of cooking, baking, gifting and visiting like everyone else.

Whatever you celebrate this time of year, tarot can help you make it more joyful, more inspiring and more fun.

All you need are the Four Aces.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Happy Equinox

With the school term having started again, things are crazy-busy for me here. Still, I wanted to post something for the Fall Equinox, since it begins my absolute favorite time of year. This is a little something I wrote a couple of years ago. Enjoy, folks. 

I adore this time of year. There’s a crispness in the air, the herald of colder, darker things to come. The leaves are just beginning to change into what, in my region of the US, will soon become a riotous panoply of color. I live in the belly of the mountains, in the Hudson River Valley and fall is something to be celebrated here for its beauty alone. It’s as if the lines of varied color show, for a few brief weeks, the very and varied musculature of the mountains, rippling, stretching and preparing for the long sleep of winter. It’s an awe-inspiring sight. 

 Of course I would celebrate Autumn anyway. I’ve never been a summer person and I greet the cooling days with immense joy. They bring me vitality, a renewed sense of purpose, and the feeling of an immense burden being lifted (i.e. the paralyzing heat of the summer!). Fall provides a feast for the senses: the smell of burning leaves, the sweet chill of cooling nights, the spice of Thanksgiving-time sweets, the rich tapestry of color inherent in the trees and harvest vegetables, and above all the transformation of nature’s green into the reds, golds, oranges, siennas, and browns of autumn. What a glorious relief! What a joyous sight! Moreover, these seasonal changes remind me that we’re rapidly passing out of the time of Harvest and moving instead into the time of internal reflection and quiet that can, ideally, be part of Winter. That is no small thing to honor. 

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  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    Thank you, Galina, for reminding me that facing the terror and expressing it out loud can help strengthen me, so I can become the

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Celebrating “All Snakes’ Day” March 17 as a protest against St. Patrick’s Day has become a sort of tradition among many of us Neo-Pagans. “He didn’t drive us all out!” is the sentiment, referring to the assumption that the “snakes” St. Patrick drove out were really symbols for the Druids. However, unlike most religions, Neo-Pagans are a relentlessly self-examining lot; we’re keenly interested in historical and archeological findings that may support or undermine the assumptions we’ve built our beliefs and practices upon. As a response, there’s a growing counter-movement to All Snakes’ Day based on two arguments: 1) St. Patrick wasn’t in fact the cruel, genocidal destroyer of Druids he’s been portrayed as, and 2) the snakes he allegedly drove out didn’t stand for anything; it’s just a fairy tale explaining why there aren’t any real snakes in Ireland.

Let’s start with Patrick’s reputation. Many Neo-Pagans see him as a sort of Hitler figure, responsible for the destruction of ancient temples, groves, and even many people who practiced the Old Ways. This is understandable, given that the mythology of St. Patrick credits him with battling, cursing, and killing non-believers in a heroic (or barbaric) way (depending on your perspective).

However, these myths have little factual basis, and seem to have been created long after Patrick’s death – a common impulse among hero-makers. As Jason Pitzl-Waters points out in The Wild Hunt blog, “Paganism thrived in Ireland for generations after Patrick lived and died, and, as [Pagan scholar P. Sufenas Virius] Lupus puts it, ‘the ‘final’ Christianization of the culture didn’t take place until the fourteenth century CE.’ There was no Irish pagan genocide, no proof of any great violent Druid purge in Ireland…”

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

I have a confession to make: Christmas is not my holiday. Never has been. I grew up Jewish, and the only time I ever celebrated Christmas was the couple of years I was married, way back in the 1980's. And these days, as a Pagan who runs an artists' cooperative shop (and sells her jewelry there), I am mostly just grateful that it isn't my holiday, so I don't have to feel guilty about focusing all my energy on making money...

This doesn't mean I don't celebrate at all, though. Every year, my group Blue Moon Circle gets together for a Yule dinner party at my house. We don't do a ritual, so it is a "safe" time for people to bring the husband who isn't comfortable with witchcraft, or the kids who don't sit still well. We usually invite a pagan-friendly friend or two, as well. BMC is really one big family anyway, so for us it is a time to gather as an extended tribe and enjoy being together and celebrating the light in the midst of the darkness.

We always have a big feast. Everyone brings a dish to share, all of them made with love (and no little cooking talent). Unlike the post-ritual feasts we normally have at the other sabbats, where we tend to sit around the living room with paper plates on our knees, we actually put all the leaves in the dining room table and sit down together. There are often over a dozen of us, so it can be kind of crowded, but nobody minds.

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I recently read an online post about Japanese food in which the author’s grandmother advised her to chew her first bite of rice eighty-eight times. The process of taking rice from seed to tongue apparently takes eight-eight steps, including the agricultural growing process, harvesting, processing, cooking, and so forth. Chewing eighty-eight times is a way, then, of showing respect to the rice, the farmers, the cooks, and so forth.

I have long been interested in what author Margaret Visser calls “the rituals of dinner” in the book of the same title. Visser has penned several tomes on the anthropological construction of mealtimes, including the aforementioned Rituals of Dinner and Much Depends on Dinner, and she dives into everything from good table manners (children pack their mouths with food because as infants they had taste sensors in their cheeks, for example) to utensil choice to throwing dinner parties  to deciding to prepare food oneself or to have it prepared (and take the chance that someone might intentionally poison it). Perhaps my favorite chapter in Rituals, however, is “Dinner is Served,” in which she looks at hand-washing, dinner bells, the role of “tasters” (to avoid those pesky poisons), and most importantly, noticing the food, the host or hostess, the other diners, and other atmospheric elements. Such notice, and the natural expressions of appreciation which accompany it, have become the traditions of saying “grace” or “thanks” for the meal before eating.

We have passed Thanksgiving, and are moving towards the winter holidays at rapid speed. I come from a culture where saying grace before a meal is simply “what’s done,” and while it usually comes with Christian overtones or contexts, the leader of the prayer is solely responsible for its content. Much gets made of the idea of saying grace even within Pagan communities, by way of offering thanks to the plants and animals who have given their lives that we might live, and that we might show appreciation to the gods for the blessing of another meal in the company of those we love. I love the quiet moment of grace before a meal, myself, and find that food is seldom foremost on my mind during such prayers. Instead, the consumption of bodily nourishment becomes secondary to the nourishment provided by gratitude and awareness.

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs
The Turning

 

In less than a month we will be at a threshold that has been looming for many years. I'm talking about the Winter Solstice of 2012 with all its associated hype and hoopla. For the sake of simplicity, I will talk about the upcoming Winter Solstice, with full knowledge that it is also the Summer Solstice for our neighbors south of the equator. What I have say applies whether it is Summer or Winter. Countless books and articles have been written about this momentous point in time. For some in the New Age and metaphysical communities this has been the focus of their studies or careers for some time. As the owner of a metaphysical shop, I've had quite a number of people ask me whether or not I believe in the Winter Solstice of 2012. Sometimes glibly, I've responded “yes of course I believe in it”, and then I point at the calendar and “say there it is.” Then, if they are willing to listen, I share what I'm about to share with you in this blog.

 

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Damn the Man, Save the Empire

Liv Tyler wasn't always an elf.  Robin Tunney wasn't always a witch.  Renee Zellweger wasn't always Bridget Jones.  Once, they worked at a record store together in that hazy fun that was the 90's.  

I came of age during the 90's.  I remember when my parents would leave my sister and I home alone we would listen to their records, lying on the floor on our tummies for hours, singing along until we heard the garage door open and we would put everything away quickly so our parents wouldn't get the wrong idea that they could ever possibly own anything that would be considered cool to us.

There aren't as many record stores now.  Or music stores for the matter.  We can bemoan what was or accept that things have changed.  It's a different world now for retailers.  But just because we shop more in our pajamas at home sipping on St. Germain (just me?  Okay.) doesn't mean that we shouldn't still support our independent business owners during the holidaze.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Simple Samhain Rites

I love this time of year. Where I live, here in upstate New York, the summer’s heat has given way to autumn’s chill, the leaves are shifting into colorful hues of yellow, orange, and red, and the farmer’s markets are filled with pumpkins ready to be carved.

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  • Deborah Blake
    Deborah Blake says #
    Thanks! It's a great idea...and then you get to eat it, too!
  • Hunter Liguore
    Hunter Liguore says #
    Insightful... love cooking those ancestor dishes!

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Hi everyone, and welcome to my inaugural blog post for Witches and Pagans. I'm happy to be here, and I hope you'll enjoy reading along with my monthly meanderings. This blog—Celebrate!—is about exactly that: the ways we Pagan-types mark cyclic and special times, events, and celebrations in our everyday lives. Expect the path to be winding…. We'll probably talk about the traditional eight Sabbats from time to time, also known as the quarter and cross-quarter dates. We may explore the fire festivals associated with the ancient Celts. We might drift into purely agricultural season markers or gaze heavenward for a lesson in seasonal astronomy and reading the night sky. You might join me as we ramble off-trail, touching on wildcrafting or phenology or biodynamic gardening as a way to shape an observance. Or, we might gather in the kitchen for a bit of hearth magick. We could even pull a couple of comparative mythology books off the shelf, considering religious or cultural approaches to celebration and commemoration or following Joseph Campbell's hero's journey. And we're almost sure to read some folklore and practice some magick along the way…. I want this blog to be interesting, entertaining, and, I hope, thought-provoking, and I'm looking forward to your feedback to help me fine-tune the process.

A technical note: I live in Oregon, in the northwestern corner of the United States and very close to the 45th parallel. When I talk about time, I'll be using my own Pacific time zone, and all references to the seasons and the heavens will be north-hemisphere centric. For my readers "down under," please adjust as needed. ? Also, I'll be using the US system of weights, measures, and temperatures.

As I write this, the first day of "astronomical autumn" is just around the corner, with the autumnal equinox due to arrive on Saturday, Sept. 22 at 7:49 am (US Pacific). An equinox occurs when the Sun's visible path through the sky—known as the solar ecliptic—crosses the celestial equator. What's the celestial equator? Imagine you're standing on Earth's equator. Now imagine extending the entire equator outward into the heavens, and you'll have created the celestial equator, an important marker we use to talk about movements of the Sun, Moon, and other heavenly bodies. The Sun's ecliptic crosses the celestial equator twice a year, creating the autumnal (autumn) and vernal (spring) equinoxes. At the equinoxes, night and day are approximately equal in length, making it easy to see how these astronomical points mark a shift in the seasons.

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  • Susan “Moonwriter” Pesznecker
    Susan “Moonwriter” Pesznecker says #
    Theresa, forgive me for the slow reply-- it's lovely to meet you! Rebecca, at this point, anything's possible. And thank you for
  • Rebecca Buchanan
    Rebecca Buchanan says #
    Welcome to PaganSquare! Will you by any chance be writing about modern festivals created by co temporary Pagans? For instance, He
  • Theresa Wymer
    Theresa Wymer says #
    Idunn and Pomona have been very generous this year! We can't keep up with the apple yield from the one Gravenstein in our backyard

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