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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Paganism

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

When I first placed myself under the Pagan banner and started coming out, I had already gotten a good couple of coming outs about my sexuality under my belt. The process of tap-dancing around the subject, broaching it casually and then saying the actual word was not unknown to me. Not one to back down from any challenge, I have held some sort of presentation or talk about Paganism in front of my school classes since highschool. I was always more of a 'lets-get-this-over-with-so-we-can-all-go-back-to-our-lives'-kind of girl.

Because I have always been outspoken about my religion, I have lost the company of a good few I would have loved to call friends. Because of this, I tend to come out as a lesbian and a Pagan in the first five meetings with a person. That way, we both know the score and it saves me a lot of heartache. So far, people have been incredibly understanding about both. Highschool was a bit of a mess but mostly about the gay thing. The Pagan thing, they didn't understand, didn't know how to tease me with and thus ignored. When I got older, 99 percent of the reactions ranged from excited to intrigued. That one percent of negative feedback is completely neglectable to me.

I am incredibly sad to say that most flack I have ever gotten about my religious believes has come from the Pagan community itself. When I was Neo-Wiccan, I was 'fluffy', when I was a Technopagan, I was 'disrespecting nature' and 'angering the Goddess' for accepting technology in ritual. When I was a Hedge Witch, I 'didn't know enough about herbs' to be one. When I was an Eclectic Religious Witch, I was 'lazy' and 'a pick-and-choosing thief'. Now I'm Hellenic, I'm 'elitist' and 'in disrespect of nature' again. Honestly, I can't win. Whatever I do, for the majority of Pagans, I will never be 'Pagan enough'.

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  • Tammy
    Tammy says #
    I too get annoyed by being labeled. I am many things - Pagan, Wiccan, Catholic, Witch, and whatever else interests me. all that be
  • Brynn Sillyman
    Brynn Sillyman says #
    I created an account here just so I could comment on this article, which I saw on my FB feed. I'm glad you're saying this too! Me
  • Brynn Sillyman
    Brynn Sillyman says #
    (And after I post, I see one of these exact pagans I spoke of in the sidebar to the right with an article titled, "You're doing it

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

I woke up this morning with absolutely zero inspiration. It happens every once in a while when you write a blog post every day and try not to work ahead as much as possible. Zero inspiration gives me the opportunity to look around and find something that I simply love to do, to read or to watch and blog about that. As I've been on a Falling Skies binge lately, trying to fill the void of the Olympics, that show fueled this post, although it's not much about that show.

Falling Skies, if you will indulge me the introduction, revolves around the survivors of an alien invasion as they deal with the constant threat of the aliens, the threat of humanity driven to the brink, and the challenges of reconstructing civilization.

I am a huge fan of post-apocalyptic stories and a big fan of their respective series, movies and books. Anything from Falling Skies, The Walking Dead, Carriers, Resident Evil, The Hunger Games, The Books of Amber (books preferred), The Stand, Dark Angel, and The Book of Eli, to games like Fallout, books like Orson Welles' War of the Worlds and even T.V. series like Lost. But it's not all about entertainment; it's about a very important (religious) question: what would you do?

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

Today's Hekate's Deipnon and I have a lot to do for it so I'm keeping this post brief. Since my progression into Hellenismos, I have started to consider language in Pagan practice. Although I am Dutch, I have nearly always practiced in English. I love this language; it's softer, more poetic, more fluid than Dutch. It has synonyms that make sense. 'Practicing in English' became part of my practice. When I set out onto the Hellenic path, I naturally started practicing in English. I can't read or pronounce Greek yet so it made sense. Since about a week, I am not so sure anymore.

I tried an on-the-spot translation into Dutch of my daily prayers and hymns and felt a deeper connection to Deity than I had felt before within this practice. I started wondering why that was as I stumbled through my translations this week. I think... that especially Hestia appreciates my Dutch prayers and hymns because Dutch is the language that is spoken in this household. It's part of our Oikos. I'm not sure the others care very much.

Of course, I would rather practice in ancient Greek. I got myself a home study course and will be attempting to learn as much as I can on my own before taking a language course. It's not mandatory in Hellenismos to speak Greek but I would love to be able to read the hymns, myths and plays I base my practice on in their original language and form. Translations are lovely but there is always artistic freedom. Besides, for me, it's the language of the Gods.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

In today's world, humans have become the major factor affecting our own environment - and I don't just mean ecology. Of course we are affecting the environment, causing creeping climate change and dramatic variations in weather. But we also have a huge effect on what's around us in the most mundane sense, the things that we work with and use on an everyday basis, what might be called our technological environment. One of the new things we've introduced to that technological environment is certain types of guns, and they're poisoning us from the inside out.

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  • Selina Rifkin
    Selina Rifkin says #
    I agree that violence has no place in a civil society. I would certainly not like to live in a place where I had to worry daily ab
  • Literata
    Literata says #
    Knowing those things or having those abilities doesn't make you evil. It does make you a different person. I'm not saying that yo
  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    @Elani: regarding "why own a gun?" It's a conundrum that better people than I have trouble explaining, so I'll stick with a person

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

I often get ask how I know Deity exists. I must have some sort of proof to spent so much time on Them, after all. Well, yes, I do. I'm just not sure non-religious people would find it satisfactory.

I find the Gods in the little things and one of those things is synchronicity. Synchronicity is the experience of two or more events that are apparently causally unrelated or unlikely to occur together by chance, yet are experienced as occurring together in a meaningful manner. For me that means experiencing two separate events and trusting, in my gut, that they are connected--and then making the leap to contributing the second (or both) event(s) to Deity.

I understand this will never convince a sceptic.

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  • Brian Shea
    Brian Shea says #
    You have a mix tape for Hermes? I'm curious, what pray tell is on it?
  • Elani Temperance
    Elani Temperance says #
    I'm sorry, I am usually more dilligent with my links. The mix-tape to Hermes is here: http://baringtheaegis.blogspot.nl/2012/08/mi
  • Elani Temperance
    Elani Temperance says #
    Hudley; you have made yourself very clear. Thank you for your addition to my post. I, too, feel listening and trusting yourself an

To all the writers and poets and editors out there, I offer you fair warning: you know all those how-to manuals that fill the writing and publishing sections at bookstores and libraries? 

Yeah.

Useless.

...
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  • Wendy L. Callahan
    Wendy L. Callahan says #
    As an editor with two publishers, I MUST have the latest CMOS on my desk. As a writer, I figure the dictionary and thesaurus are
  • Rachel Lee
    Rachel Lee says #
    Many Thanks Rebecca, I am looking into all these books, except the thesaurus & dictionary as I have them, but the "Tarot For Write
  • Janet Boyer
    Janet Boyer says #
    I, too, beg to differ. Being a voracious reader does not a good writer make. Writing is a craft, and it takes dedication, persever

Posted by on in Studies Blogs

First, I want to thank all the folks who have posted kind words about my starting this blog. It is deeply encouraging to be so warmly received. Thank you!

Before turn to my topic for this post, I wish to reflect on the interesting conversation about the use of the term ‘pagan’ in this, its uncapitalized form. I’ve given my opinion already, in that I feel it has no referent, and that it represents a distortion of the past, but for that please see the original post and its comments. What is interesting to me is that folks would defend its use. It was and is an insult, as common in use as the ’n-word’ was at a time. By naming ourselves ‘Pagan’ we proudly turn that opprobrium into an honorable name for a new and defiant religion, ours. . . . . .

So, then, what is ‘religion’? I’ll start by citing a not-bad version of the dictionary definition for religion: “a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.” (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/religion)

You will no doubt notice the primacy of ‘belief’ in this definition. Ritual also gets a mention, as does morality, but only as a optional quality.

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  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    Good thinking, Sam; in this day-and-age the words "religion" and "spirituality" have become so entangled that reasoned discourse s
  • Gareth Storm
    Gareth Storm says #
    Another fascinating thought experiment captured in little "black" pixels surrounded by "white" ones, showing us just how much gray

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

It's the festival season and I just spent the weekend at Castlefest. Castlefest is not, exactly, a Pagan festival but it was--and probably still is, although they're fading to the background--the festival Pagans flocked to. There is a Pagan corner of the festival terrain, a wicker burning of which the Pagan gang is in charge and many Pagan supplies can be bought there. Incense, clothing, tools, you name it. Even statues of some Pagan Gods. It sounds like Pagan heaven and in a way it is. Yet, I don't feel at home there.

I wrote yesterday that the biggest difference between me and any other Pagan there, seems to be in our views about Deity and how to approach Them. As I said then, any Recon tradition forces you to actually believe in the Gods, not as just handy tools to get your own needs fulfilled. Cara Schulz, in the very post I went off on before, but explained why later, recognizes that very problem:

"I live in a catch-22. I love going to Pagan festivals and gatherings as I love the people there and greatly enjoy the general vibe. I highly recommend them and I have a great time when ever I attend a community event or Pagan festival or Con. Yet when I attend these types of gatherings, that is when I feel the least like part of the Pagan community. I attend the workshops, the rituals, and listen to the conversations and I have almost nothing in common with any of it. I can’t relate. Casting a circle has as much in common with my religion as walking the Stations of the Cross. We have no common connection. The lovely maiden Hekate I worship that grants our family prosperity little resembles the Crone Hekate that many neo-Pagans work with for magic. The very things that should draw me closer to the Pagan community are the very things that tell me I may not belong."
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  • Byron Ballard
    Byron Ballard says #
    Thanks for this. I walk in a couple of worlds, one of which is interfaith. I am always surprised (and, to be honest, disdainful)
  • Tess Dawson
    Tess Dawson says #
    I enjoyed this post, Elani. Although I have never been to a "Pagan festival" I have been to numerous Pagan events, open circles, P
  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    You are articulating the experience of many Pagans, I believe; I count myself as one of them. I recognize that festival culture is

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

One of the key foundations of modern (and ancient) Paganism is also one of the most contentious. We find it very hard to talk about, it seems, and yet it's fairly key to many people's personal practice. When I've talked about it in the past, it almost seems like I'm breaking a taboo, with the words themselves being 'dirty' or embarrassing. And yet, learning from my passionate and heartfelt Heathen friends, that embarrassment is itself disrespectful, dishonourable and, ultimately, rather foolish.

Who are your Gods and Goddesses? What does Deity mean to you, and how does it influence and affect your Paganism? From the Platonic 'ultimate Male/Female' images (tallying with 'All Gods/Goddesses are One') to the pantheistic, international eclectic transference of pretty much any deity with any other no matter where you yourself live, talking about Deity is a tricky business. Especially because ultimately, nobody can really tell you you're wrong. Or right. Except, perhaps, those Gods themselves.

The Judgement of Paris (Classical)

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  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    Cat: Like Elani, you are articulating one of the major cutting edges of contemporary Paganism -- what *do* we believe? I, for one,
  • Rebecca Buchanan
    Rebecca Buchanan says #
    Wonderful post. I think about the Gods in general, and my patron/matron Gods, all the time. But too often I forget to stop, liste

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Patheos has been in a bit of a kerfluffle this past week -- or, at least the Pagan Channel has been. It all started with Catholic blogger Mark Shea's post of his views on small-p paganism and neo-paganism. Patheos bloggers Star Foster and Jason Mankey counter-responded, and there were lots and lots of comments below each of those posts, ranging from the thoughtful to the angry to the wtf??

Considering the focus of this blog, and in the interests of interfaith dialogue (or, at least, interfaith not-screaming-past-one-another), a few literary suggestions. Each of these books in some way addresses the relationships between Jesus, the Christianities that rose out of his teachings, the ancient Paganisms, and modern Paganism. Hopefully, they will open a few eyes, broaden a few horizons, and allow for clearer dialogue.

(And, yes, I do mean Christianities, plural. Considering the vast theological differences between Catholicism, Mormonism, Unitarian Universalism, Valentinianism, the Cathars, and et cetera and so on, Christianity is as much an umbrella term as Pagan. Thus, Christianities.)

...
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  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    Even though it's a novel, anybody interested in this subject will greatly appreciate Marion Zimmer Bradley and Diana L. Paxson's "
  • Rebecca Buchanan
    Rebecca Buchanan says #
    @Brian: yep. An interesting enough book, but I found it to be rather repetitive. It read like an essay that had been padded out t
  • Brian Shea
    Brian Shea says #
    Are you familiar with God Against The Gods by Jonathan Kirsch?

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

Today is Lammas-tide, Lughnasadh, the festival of the grain harvest. Across the land, fields full of golden wheat, barley and numerous others have been growing tall, a feast for the eyes as they bend in the breeze, a feast for the birds, bees, mice and other creatures that run between the rows.

In centuries past, it would be entire communities who came out to help with the harvest, threshing, binding and preparing the crop to last them the winter. Fuel is needed for heat, nourishment and sustenance for livestock - without a successful harvest, a lean winter means walking the path between life and death.

These days, it's more the rumble of heavy-duty farming machinery at work that is heard as the harvest is gathered in - but it's no less valuable for that. Despite the knowledge that we can import food, fuel and whatever we need from other places, there's still the essential connection between us and the land as personified in the life of our fuel-stuffs. We celebrate it, we recognise and remember it. Children make corn-dollies, singers remember John Barleycorn.

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  • Hunter Liguore
    Hunter Liguore says #
    I ventured to make "corn" dollies from corn husks, only to realize that they are made from the wheat or barley. Amazing what can b

If you know your fantasy history, you’ll spot that the title of this blog comes form the very first fantasy book written by William Morris in 1896. For the first time, Morris deviated from writing “reality” and ventured into another realm, one inhabited by otherworld creatures, like giants and wise hermits, a place governed by the laws of magic.

In Well at World’s End, Morris takes the reader into a mythical region where a magical well grants the drinker immortality. He quests with helpers to find the well, facing danger at every step. The story sounds familiar, because we’ve seen similar ones over the ages, like Percival who quests for the Holy Grail, or Ponce de León’s journey for the Fountain of Youth.

But if we go a little deeper we will find that even this road leads right back to Pagan origins. Morris, like Tolkien years later, saw that magic once held an integral part of daily life, but had slowly faded from the countryside. His book, if nothing else, is a reminder of what was, and more so what could be.

...
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  • Hunter Liguore
    Hunter Liguore says #
    Oh, my, let's skip right to the hard stuff! Adding it to the list--certainly a provocative pick and one I'm sure will lend to a ni
  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    Are you planning to cover, ahem, "popular" culture fantasy/sci fi? I'm thinking of a famously popular HBO show, the thealogy of wh
  • Lex
    Lex says #
    My favorite stories are the kind that resonate with the truth that comes from all of history, for we are all from pagan roots! T

Posted by on in Studies Blogs

The unexpected death of a friend this week brought into sharp relief the differences between traditions around death and grief, not only between different communities but also between different generations. How we handle the dead and our sorrow shows a lot about our culture.

For the Anglo-Saxons, much of what we know of their material culture -- apart descriptions in poems and histories -- come from discovered burials. But burial wasn't always the norm. We have a magnificent pagan shipboard funeral of a king in the opening lines of Beowulf. For a long time people dismissed it as a rather fanciful thing.

...
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  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    My condolences on your loss, Kate; I thank you for sharing your wisdom and reflections with our community.
  • Kate Laity
    Kate Laity says #
    Thanks so much, Anne. The power of community in bad times reflects the strength of its joy in good times. And the fluctuation betw
  • Kate Laity
    Kate Laity says #
    Thank you, my dear. It's never easy, but the weight becomes more familiar as we age, alas. It's the first time I have felt 'away'

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

I've returned today from performing a Handfasting with my partner - not unusual at this time of year. But this was our first on a beach.

Yes, this is Britain. Yes, we've just had semi-monsoon conditions for the last few months. Summer was rumoured to have been cancelled. So much could have gone wrong.

It was beautiful. Golden sands, blue sky, bright sun, lush green grasses and flowers on the path leading from the couple's home to the beach itself... everyone commented that you couldn't have wished for a better day.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Nota bene—I had planned to post this second part earlier in the week but have been drawn—lured!—down the tricky rabbit trails in our community. Some of you will understand this guilty pleasure: following link after link in a circuitous, riotous and ultimately informative research effort.

These are not issues exclusive to the Pagan/Heathen communities but—as with many other sticking points—it is writ large here. Sturm und drang—polished and deliberate language used as both weapon and shield. The bristling armed camps face each other across a wide gulf. After many months of observing, listening and analyzing, I did what any curious person would do. I went to the edge of that deep gap and simply looked in. It seemed the best way to understand the level of disconnect that I was encountering as I pondered the situations and the reactions to them.

Slick, clever, running both hot and cold, the talk (in person and on-line) surrounding some relatively simple questions of protocol belies the complexity of the times, the personalities and the issues involved.

The great scholar Gerda Lerner has often been my guide as I attempt to look through the lens/lenses of that construct we call “history.”  Her work has been instrumental in revealing the hidden roots of ostensibly modern problems.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Paganism is one of the most democratic of spiritualities, right? It allows each of us to maintain and explore our own relationship with deity, practice pretty much as we like, and generally find like-minded people to work with along the way.
Except that it's not that simple (of course). We like to think that it's all sweetness, light and friendship, but as with any human philosophy, there are speed-bumps on the road that we're travelling.
 
Something that I've been really coming up against in recent months is the issue of hierarchy. If Pagans can each hold their own method of worship, then why do we even need leaders? Perhaps rather naively, I used to assume that each person understood that following a spiritual path involved investigation, constant challenging of the self and their chosen Way - otherwise it'd be far simpler to just find one of those other faiths with a set doctrine and follow that (less thought and effort required all round).
 
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As the Green Solstice blew past us with threats of rain and humidity like a sauna, we began to contemplate the Long Dying of the Year.  Yes, I do feel a bit like Marvin in Hitchhiker's Guide as I realize that the next holy day around these parts is in fact the first harvest festival.

What has been remarkable in those days since the Solstice is the fact that nothing seems easy, everything seems to require more effort than it ever did before.  But there are also moments of such delight, of such brightness and joy.

Three interfaith adventures this week--all survived with varying degrees of success.  The school superintendent's Faith-Based Leadership Advisory Council meeting was very long and I suspect we are coming close to the place where we will not get along and be forced to talk about what happens when my religion requires you to follow it. (Not that mine does, of course.  I'm Wiccan.)

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  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    I appreciate the way you put a positive spin on the world; I could see the kids with the water hose in my mind. I'm praying for yo

The charms of Anglo-Saxon England consisted of words, herbs and actions. The folks who lived in the period after the Roman era and before the Norman Invasion of 1066 believed that words had a magic of their own especially when spoken aloud, but that the application of the right herbs would help the healing processes along, too. Sometimes other actions were required to create the right atmosphere or to move bad luck along to someone else. All three techniques used together was simply magic.

Among the most common uses for magic was for healing. Lacking any kind of organized medical care system, they pieced together charms and poultices to take care of the common health problems. But they also used charms to protect, both themselves and their belongings. Chief amongst their property was cattle. The Anglo-Saxon word for "cattle" (feoh) is the same as the word for "wealth" which shows how important cattle were. Charms also came in handy to enhance good luck and increase one's bounty.

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  • Joseph Bloch
    Joseph Bloch says #
    At the risk of being pedantic, the Ango-Saxon for cattle and movable property is "feoh". "Fé" is the Old Norse version of the word
  • Kate Laity
    Kate Laity says #
    You're right, of course! I go back and forth between OE and ON so much, I slip up on words from time to time. Good to know I've go
  • mary widner
    mary widner says #
    i enjoy reading this

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