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PanGaia Editorials - PaganSquare - Join the conversation!

Paganism and the Planet

Elizabeth Barrette
Impressions by Elizabeth Barrette, PanGaia editor.

Paganism and the Planet
by Elizabeth Barrette

 

Click for full description.I am myself and what is around me, and if I do not save it, it will not save me.
   — Jose Ortegay Gasset

We are a part of the Earth, and the Earth is part of us. We are not cogs in some cosmic clock; we are cells in a body, our lives bound up inextricably with that of the whole biosphere. We can survive outside it to about the extent that our blood cells can survive outside our bodies: briefly.

Right now the chief difference between Paganism and most other religions is that we remember this, while a majority of other religions have forgotten it. Some people really like that cogin-clock metaphor. They like the idea that the world is mechanical: regular, reliable, meticulous. They like the idea that no individual person, animal, plant, or species is unique and irreplaceable. If it wears out or dies out, no problem; you can just throw it out and get a new one. Except the world doesn’t actually work that way.

Read more: Paganism and the Planet

Dreams and Visions

Elizabeth Barrette
Impressions by Elizabeth Barrette, PanGaia editor.

Dreams and Visions
by Elizabeth Barrette

 

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   Two gates the silent house
of Sleep adorn:
   Of polished ivory this,
that of transparent horn:

   True visions through transparent
horn arise;

   Through polished ivory pass
deluding lies.

       — Virgil, in Aeneid, VI (Dryden trans.)

Dreams and visions are mysteries of the soul. We may strive to understand them, but our understanding will always be limited. They exist in a different layer of reality than the one our minds ordinarily inhabit. We can cross that threshold into the realm of dreams and visions — indeed, most of us do it nightly — but what happens there follows a logic all its own, often beyond the ability of our waking minds to make sense of. Only through practice and study can we learn how to tap the power of dreams and visions.

Different cultures deal with these things in varying ways. Many tribal cultures have sophisticated knowledge of dreamlore. There are shamans who can interpret dreams, explain what techniques to use in search of a vision depending on the person and context, or mix entheogens with an eye to what colors the individual plants will bring out in a vision.1 Some cultures have “maps” of places and images frequently encountered in the spirit world.

Read more: Dreams and Visions

Language and the Craft

Elizabeth Barrette
Impressions by Elizabeth Barrette, PanGaia editor.

Language and the Craft
by Elizabeth Barrette

 

Click for full description.“The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.”
         
– Mark Twain

It is language that makes us human. Language allows us to communicate with each other and preserve ideas. The beginning and end of all things is the Word. Most especially, the Word controls and shapes power.

The creative force of words appears in many different religions. Origin myths often attribute the world’s existence to the divine Word. According to Egyptian mythology, Ptah created the world with speech, the word taking form in his heart and then emerging from his mouth to do its work.

According to Christian mythology, the Word of God guided creation, a motif repeated in C.S. Lewis’ novel The Magician’s Nephew when Aslan sings Narnia into manifestation. According to Miwok mythology, Silver Fox and Coyote danced and sang, and beneath them Earth took shape.

Language can shape not only the world, but the worldview. Each language has a unique way of describing things, events, and ideas — which influences how native speakers observe them. When a language dies out for lack of speakers, we lose a precious piece of diversity.

When you learn a new language, however, you expand your options for perception and expression. This also brings you closer to the language’s home culture, a key reason why some Pagans choose to learn the historic language of their religion. Irish, Welsh, and Gaelic enjoy increasing popularity in part because of Druidic and Avalonian practitioners.

Read more: Language and the Craft

The Art of the Craft

Elizabeth Barrette
Impressions by Elizabeth Barrette, PanGaia editor.

The Art of the Craft
by Elizabeth Barrette

 

Click for full description.“It is in the gift for employing all the vicissitudes of life to one’s own advantage and to that of one’s craft that a large part of genius consists.” – Georg C. Lichtenberg

Everything that you create arises from some hidden place within you and emerges into the world through your actions. You put a little bit of your spirit into each thing that you make. You take the tools and supplies around you, and shape them into things of worth and beauty. Your experiences become part of your creations. That’s craft — and sometimes, that’s genius.

As Pagans, we believe that the world is alive. All things contain spirit. The stones, the metals, the woods, the fibers, the pigments, everything we work with — we understand that these things do not wholly belong to us. We did not cause them to exist. Yet when we take them into our hands and give them a new form, we create works of art.

We begin with raw materials and turn them into something unique, based on our own inner vision. Those creations belong to us, made as much with our time and our imagination as with the goods themselves. They are expressions of ourselves, and therefore sacred.

Read more: The Art of the Craft

Why We Need Ritual

Elizabeth Barrette
Impressions by Elizabeth Barrette, PanGaia editor.

Why We Need Ritual
by Elizabeth Barrette

 

Click for full description.The actor searches vainly for the sound of a vanished tradition, and critic and audience follow suit. We have lost all sense of ritual and ceremony — whether it be connected with Christmas, birthdays or funerals — but the words remain with us and old impulses stir in the marrow. We feel we should have rituals, we should do something about getting them and we blame the artists for not finding them for us. So the artist sometimes attempts to find new rituals with only his imagination as his source: he imitates the outer form of ceremonies, pagan or baroque, unfortunately adding his own trapping — the result is rarely convincing. And after the years and years of weaker and waterier imitations we now find ourselves rejecting the very notion of a holy stage. It is not the fault of the holy that it has become a middle-class weapon to keep the children good.
                     
– Peter (Stephen Paul) Brook

We need rituals. We need ways to mark the milestones of life, our accomplishments and passages, holidays and anniversaries, joinings and partings, all the important changes that make up our journey from cradle to grave. We need ceremonies to make sense of events, to celebrate, to comfort, to formalize arrangements. Rituals can impose a pattern on occurrences that seem otherwise random, and place them into a context where we can understand what has happened. Ceremonies can define who a person is — or is becoming. We need these things.

Read more: Why We Need Ritual

Getting Real with Gaia

Elizabeth Barrette
Impressions by Elizabeth Barrette, PanGaia editor.

Getting Real with Gaia
by Elizabeth Barrette

 

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A town is saved, not more by the righteous men in it than by the woods and swamps that surround it. – Henry David Thoreau

Or not, as the case may be. I’ve observed a year full of natural disasters. Earth, air, fire, and water all do things from time to time that humans find upsetting. We face earthquakes, landslides, hurricanes, tornados, wildfires, epic droughts, floods, tidal waves, and many other challenges. In every case, the overt force of damage is one that we cannot control; forces of nature aren’t weapons or punishments, they simply are. In almost every case, however, we have opportunities to increase or decrease the amount of mayhem caused by said forces — and we increase it more often than we decrease it.

Read more: Getting Real with Gaia

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