PaganSquare


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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A Homeland More of Time Than Place: In Search of an Anthem for the Pagan Revival

Is there an anthem of the Pagan Revival?

Short answer: No, although it sure would be nice to have one.

Probably the closest we get to a New Pagan anthem is “Gwydion Pendderwen”'s 1981 We Won't Wait Any Longer:

We Won't Wait Any Longer

 

We won't wait any longer,

We are stronger than before;

We won't wait any longer,

We are stronger!

 

We have trusted no man's promise,

We have kept to just ourselves,

We have suffered from the lies

In all the books on all your shelves,

But our patience and endurance

Through the Burning Times til now

Have given us the strength to keep our vow.

 

Chorus

 

You have grazed away the heather,

You have razed the sacred grove,

You have driven native peoples

From the places that they love;

Though your greed has been unbounded,

You have felt the pangs of shame

Each time you trod upon the Mother's name.

 

Chorus

 

Though you thought you had destroyed

Each memory of the ancient ways,

Still the people light the balefire

Every year on Solstice day;

And on Beltane and at Samhain

You will find us on the hill,

Invoking once again the Triple Will!

 

Chorus

 

Through the ages many peoples

Have risen and have gone,

But dispersed among the nations

Of the world we linger on.

Now the time has come to take

The sacred Cauldron of Rebirth,

And fulfill our ancient pledges to the Earth!

 

Chorus

 

Kudos to Gwydion, who considered himself a Muse poet in the Gravesian tradition, for being the first to dream of a fine, rousing anthem for the New Old Religion(s). Alas that his aims generally outpaced his abilities.

As an anthem, We Won't Wait Any Longer hasn't aged well. The Pagan World has marched on in the last few decades, and the song's specifically Wiccan imagery reads more exclusively now than it did then.

Likewise, while fully endorsing the song's sentiments, I've always felt that it was weakened by the fact that it specifically addresses itself to...whom? Christianity? The Church? The non-pagan world in general? In any event, to them: the bad guys of our story.

To this, my attitude is: Why make our enemies the center of our discourse? F**k 'em! Let's direct our anthem to ourselves, or to our gods.

Well, there's no reason why, as New Pagans, we need an anthem, or—in what is, after all, the Wonderful World of the Many—anthems. Perhaps some day someone will write one that we can all get behind.

Until such a time (if any), my own nomination for New Pagan Anthem goes to Daniel Pemberton's We Shall Go Home/Song of Exile*, from the 2004 film King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.

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30-Second Magic: Take 30 For Expansion 1-18-20

Think magic has to be hard? It requires no expensive tools or elaborate ritual setups.

If you were here for Friday’s Take 30 you know the drill. The first step for balanced and effective magic or ritual is tuning yourself to the greater, cosmic, divine energies all around us. One simple way to do this is to take 30 seconds each day to tap into the power of one of the eight directions at a certain time and ask for guidance. 30 seconds! What could be easier?

Saturday morning, between 9 and 11 AM, face North West and take 30 focused seconds to connect with the energy of expansion. That’s it!

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Three cheers for oral traditions, and two for texts

 Unlike Abrahamic and Dharmic traditions, modern NeoPaganism has no texts regarded as divinely inspired. Perhaps the closest for some is the Hermetica, a late Classical text supposedly dictated by Hermes Trismegistus, but parts of which are truly ancient. Most NeoPagans have never read it, nor does it play much role in our practice. To the best of my knowledge, the Hermetica has never been used to determine who is, or is not, a NeoPagan. Nor, to my knowledge, are equivalent texts found in other Pagan traditions, unless you include Hinduism, which is usually included in the Dharmic traditions.

The New Forest Coven,  with whom Gerald Gardner  circled,  called themselves Wican (with one ‘c.’) The earliest Wican Book of Shadows about which we know was filled with directions for rituals and spell casting. Just as important, according to Gardner, these original texts were  fragmentary. To flesh them out, Gardner and Doreen Valiente  added important parts to create the existing Gardnerian BOS. As some have observed, a BOS is much more like a ‘cookbook’ than a scripture.

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    Anthony Gresham says #
    About a month ago I got on Reddit. In one of the subreddits someone asked if there was a male counterpart to the Maiden, Mother,
30-Second Magic: Take 30 for Clearing Negativity

Think magic has to be hard? It requires no expensive tools or elaborate ritual setups. 30 seconds is all it takes.


The first step in any balanced, effective magical or ritual practice is tuning yourself to the greater, cosmic, divine energies circulating all around us. One simple way to do this is to take 30 seconds each day to tap into the power of one of the eight cardinal directions at a certain time and ask for guidance. 30 seconds! What could be easier?

We’re already innately used to doing this, celebrating certain holidays at around certain dates every year. , This practice works no matter your path, and can even be shared with non-pagans.

So, here’s a start:

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Deeper Into the Labyrinth: Exploring Modern Minoan Paganism

Back in 2015, I responded to a request from some members of Ariadne's Tribe by creating an online course in Modern Minoan Paganism (MMP). Thus, Into the Labyrinth was born. The course wends its way through the basics of the MMP sacred calendar. I've taught it every year since then, and even though I wrote the course, I learn something new every time I teach it - that's one of the perks of being a teacher whose students are really interested in the subject.

As soon as that first class was over, those students asked for a second course that delves deeper into some of the deities and practices of MMP. So I dug into our pantheon and our calendar and created Deeper Into the Labyrinth. And once again, I discovered that my students often had as much to teach me as the other way around.

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Tree Magic: Sylvian Spells

In Celtic lore, certain kinds of trees were called wishing trees.   Taoists refer to them as money trees;  either way, they can be giving trees. Choose from among these magical trees, or trust your intuition in arboreal matters:

Willow- for healing broken hearts

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
The Afterlife in Asatru

In Asatru, and many other sects of heathenry, we believe the soul has multiple parts, and that some of these parts can go on to an afterlife, while other parts can be reincarnated. The soul part that corresponds with the personality and memory can go either way, and it can also reach oblivion before being recycled / reincarnated. Other parts of the soul complex can go on, be reincarnated, or just stop. Actions one can take on Earth can affect this outcome. If one is going on to an afterlife, there are many possible afterlife destinations, some of which are here on Earth—which we call Midgard—and some of which are in other worlds / other dimensions.

Some people have been sharing a meme based on a Wikipedia page on one sect of heathenry, "Norse Paganism," thinking that it applies to all sects. It does not apply to Asatru. The page, and the meme, is divided into 4 sections, labeled Valhalla, Folkvangr, Helgafjell, and Helheim. The sections on Valhalla and Folkvangr are not bad. Those realms are the two places where the battle slain go, to Odin in Valhalla within Gladsheim and to Freya in Sessrumnir within Folkvangr.

The section on Hel gets Hel wrong. Hel is not a place of punishment. It's just the world of the dead. Christians used the word Hel to translate their word for the realm of the dead, just like they used the word godh (god) to translate their word for God. Both words ended up having Christian connotations in modern English, but the original heathen Hel had as much resemblance to the Christian Hell as original heathen god has to Christian God. Rather than a place of punishment, Hel or Helheim is the catch-all, or default realm. It is ruled by Hel, or Hela. Hel the goddess and Hel the place have the same name for the same reason that Normandy is the name of a land and a Duke.

Helgafjel is an obscure place name that most heathens don't even recognize. Is it a place within Hel, or a mountain on Earth? It can be argued that all grave mounds are simultaneously on this earth and in the realm of the dead. There is a real place in Iceland called Helgafell, meaning "holy mountain." The place spelled Helgafjel also means "holy mountain," but it may not have been the same place. It may have been in Norway, in which case, it is now named something else, since it no longer appears on any maps. Either way, Helgafjel was a real physical mountain, and the belief in Helgafjel was a local belief in a mountain in which the dead of a particular set of linked families or the dead of a particular locality went. The page is specific to a sect of heathenry where the people lived within sight of the mountain. The meme makers have mistaken it for a generalized belief across heathen cultures (that is, pagan cultures which worshipped the gods generally called the Norse gods.) As a physical place where the dead are said to reside, this then is a type of mound-dead belief, even though there is no evidence the mountain was actually used as a burial site. The dead in a specific mountain, mound, ship burial, graveyard, etc. are specific dead people with names, usually people who lived in the area.

Historically, the line between the mound-dead and the mound-elf was fuzzy. Freyr as king of Alfheim (elf home) may have had an aspect in which he was also king of the male dead ancestors. His sister Freya may have had an aspect as queen of the female dead ancestors, as indicated by her name Vanadis, goddess of the disir (female ancestral spirits.)

Other possible afterlife destinations include the home of Thor, who may have been considered to collect farmers in historical times, although the word used in the lore was a more general word for the non-warrior caste. The goddess Ran collects the drowned dead. Frigga (or Frau Holle) collects the souls of dead children; this is the meaning of Mother Night, when the Dark Mother rides the Wild Hunt. In an earlier time, when Tyr was king, his wife Zisa collected the dead in her war-boat. Gefjon, who may be an aspect of Freya, is said to collect the souls of unmarried women. Many if not most of the heathen pantheon have halls where they house the souls of dead humans.

In historical times, people who wanted to go to a specific god tried to live their lives in such a way that they would be likely to die doing the god’s special thing, such as sailing. Some heathens today also do this, although others believe that devotion to a god as a priest or other type of specialist opens the way to that god.

Naming customs also can affect the afterlife, but it affects the afterlife of the named person, although this is a bit complicated. The soul part in which talents reside is not the same as the soul part that contains memories, so when someone names a child after their grandfather hoping to gain grandfather’s musical talents, that does not necessarily draw the memory part; it is possible for grandfather to both be reborn in his line and stay with his god in the afterlife at the same time. On the other hand, if one names a child after a friend specifically to honor that friend who is still alive, no part of the still alive person’s soul is transferred at the ceremony, but it is possible for part of the soul to arrive later, upon the death of the other party, as the shared name opens the way between them.

Historical heathen cultures spanned a great deal of time over a great many places. Some heathens spoke languages that other heathens from other times and places would not understand. Modern heathens in America usually draw their heathenry from a wide variety of cultures, although some of them can be as local and specific as their European counterparts.

Image: Valknut, fiber art by Erin Lale

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