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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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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
On Being a Steve

Hi, my name is: Steve.

The name my parents gave me at birth has always been a comfortable fit. Although—unfortunately—a biblical name, by origin it's impeccably pagan. Steven: from the Greek stéfanos, “a wreath (or crown).” Not the kind of wreath that you hang on your door, but the one that you win in a competition.

One of the things that I like about it has always been that, though not a common name, it's familiar enough not to seem weird or be impossible to remember.

That said, if you run into a guy that lives on my block and say: Steve?, you'll stand a good chance of being right. There are four of us here (that I know of). I suppose that statistically it was bound to happen sooner or later. There's me, the guy down at the other end of the block, and the two Stephens next door, one upstairs, one down.

(Responding to the moronic nazz quip “'God' didn't create Adam and Steve, you know,” gay comic David Sedaris pertly retorts: “Of course not! It was Adam and Steven,” alluding to the stereotype that gay men prefer formal forms of their names. I suppose that it encourages people to take us seriously, which can be difficult for gay guys. Adam and Steven: the first gay couple.)

Me, I tend to use Steven in formal situations and Steve in informal. I suppose that makes me bi.

Yes, it's a name I bear like a victor's crown. Although I've had plenty of pagan names over the years—Deer Stands Up and Two Stags F*cking, both gifts, are my two favorites—none of them have ever really stuck. That's OK with me. I don't divide my life into the pagan and the rest. I decided a long time ago that I wanted to be pagan full-time, and that's how I've led my life.

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Combining Traditions: MMP at the Pagan Buffet

These days, we in the Pagan community have many choices in terms of traditions and paths to explore and practice. Most of the folx I know include more than one tradition in their regular spiritual practice.

How does that work, and what happens when you have traditions whose calendars don't fit with each other?

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Serene Space Spell: Herbal Protection Magic

 Even if you don’t ascribe to magic, you would probably guess that certain flowers and herbs have their own energies, in the same way they have uniquely lovely scents and oils. Simmer this mixture whenever you feel the need to infuse your home and hearth with the energies of quietude and protection. This will safeguard you and your loved ones from outside influences that could be negative or disruptive. Set your intention for how you want your space to and gather together the following dried herbs:

 1/4 cup rose petals

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The One Thing Never to Say to a Cowan Man

Although as contemporary pagans, we spend much of our lives surrounded by cowans—non-pagans—there remains much about cowan thinking that pagans find opaque.

So, in the interest of maintaining grith—the old Witch word for “peace between communities”—I'd like to offer a point of inter-communal etiquette that might well save you from a potentially embarrassing situation.

Never compare a cowan man to a woman.

If you do, he will interpret it as an insult.

If you're thinking: But that doesn't make any sense; why would anyone find being compared to a woman insulting? please be aware that I share your bewilderment.

Even so, counter-intuitive as it may seem, this is how many cowans think, and as good pagan neighbors, it's our responsibility to be aware and to be respectful, even when we disagree.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Novel Gnosis part 40: Yggdrasil

Yggdrasil is the World-Tree in heathen mythology. It grew by itself in the deeps of time, before the worlds came to be. The worlds are the fruit of its branches. Some art of the World-Tree depicts all nine worlds in the branches, while some depicts the worlds of fire and ice below the Tree with the Tree's roots going down into them. That image references the story of the birth of the universe in which the magically charged void divided into two main powers called fire (energy) and ice (patterns.) The dynamic combination of those two powers gave rise to matter and everything else, including the Tree, the Sacred Cow that woke up the gods and the giants, the Well at the root of the Tree, and all the raw materials from which our world was made.

Throughout most of the retellings in Some Say Fire of the stories collectively known as The Lore, the World-Tree is pretty much as described in the mythology. During the parts of the story that take place during Ragnarok, though, the main human character P sees Yggdrasil from the deck of the Naglfarr, the boat made of nails. She is basically in space, but also in a higher dimension, and the boat is not as it seems. It’s not literally a Viking longship despite how it appears. The view she has of the Tree is meant to be literal within the story, though. And the Tree is rotted in the heart-wood, hollow, and the Well below it is on fire. This shows how messed up everything is, and how much Ragnarok is needed by that point. At that point in the story, someone really needs to push the reset button on the universe and make a new one, because the old one is no longer sustainable.

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  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    It's interesting to see how the myths of my ancestors are interpreted in a different country. The Norse gods appear in Oh, my God
Novel Gnosis part 39: Wolves Ravens and Brothers

Continuing my series on novel gnosis, that is, religious insights I gained via writing my unpublished novel Some Say Fire, today I'm talking about Odin and the number 3. Three as a sacred number recurs in many stories in heathen mythology, that it, the mythology of the pre-Xian peoples of northern Europe. It also occurs again and again in the broader context of pagan mythology in the rest of Europe and related cultures. Odin's symbol the Valknut is a set of 3 interlocking triangles.

In the Fireverse, the universe of Some Say Fire, Odin’s 2 wolves Geri and Freki are generated out of Odin. Like his 2 ravens and his 2 brothers, he creates them by dividing himself. He has the power to divide himself into 3 parts and he does it 3 times: once each to create the wolves, the ravens, and his brothers.

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The Guy in the Red Porsche, or: What I Should Have Said

“Need a ride?”

I didn't, but the golden young guy leaning out of the red Porsche convertible that's just pulled over beside me is gorgeous, absolutely drop-dead gorgeous: way out of my league, actually. In its own way, gay male society is just as much a caste system as traditional India.

I play clueless American, as if I didn't know full well what he means.

“No thanks, I'm just down the road here a bit,” I say, pointing with my chin.

Him: Upper-crust Anglo-Norman, beautiful as a god. Judging from his clothes, car, and posh accent, moneyed. Really, a gayboy's fantasy, just waiting to happen.

His smile melts something inside me. “Oh, come on, let me give you a ride.”

Me: scruffy American, walking back from town to the orchard—in bloom, no less—at the foot of Glastonbury Tor, where I'm camped with our sister coven. Biker boots, black leather jacket, nose ring. Nice body, if you like skinny, but probably—after a week in a van—not smelling very good.

He clearly wants this. In some ways, so do I. I consider his offer.

OK: I'm in another country. Nobody—not even the friends that I'm traveling with—knows where I am. So: I'm going to get into a car with a guy that I don't know, and go off to wherever he decides to take me? 100 years ago, my yeoman ancestors left Staffordshire for other shores. 100 years on, I still retain their deepset suspicion of the ruling classes.

Ah, risk assessment. Maybe I'm being foolish here. Maybe I've seen too many films about uppa closs decadence, and am just being a reverse snob. I could have the time of my life and a story to tell for the rest of my days. I could end up chained up in a well-appointed torture chamber, and buried in the back shrubbery.

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