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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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Waning Moon Moving On Spell

Most of us have had problems giving up on a relationship. This ritual will help you let go. Perform this ritual during the waning moon, when things can best be put to rest. Gather:

Black string

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 In Praise of Local Orthopraxy

 

Do pagans "do" theology?

Reflecting on decades of experience in Interfaith outreach, my friend and colleague Macha Nightmare recently noted that, in these contexts, non-pagans frequently want to know about pagan theology.

But theology is not really an operative question for pagans, she observes. Theology qua systematic theology—in the sense of an overarching, internally-consistent conceptual framework—is a product of Christian thought, and not hence really applicable to the pagan religions.

Point taken. Still, I find myself both agreeing and disagreeing.

Maybe I've been contaminated by growing up in a Christian environment. When I look at myself, though, I find that I do, indeed, have a (more or less) internally-consistent conceptual framework for my paganism. (Regular readers of the Paganistan blog have been subjected to it for years now.) I can't help but think—or at least hope—that pretty much any thinking pagan (Macha included) does too. The unexamined religion, after all, is not worth practicing.

Theology is a fine old pagan word and concept. I'm with David “New Polytheism” Miller in this: whenever we talk (and think) about the gods, we're theologizing. That's the prisca theologia, the primal theology, theology as it was before being abducted and codified into orthodoxies.

Pagans, I would contend, have plenty of theology. What, as pagans, we lack is a shared theology.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Heal Your Heart Charm

The Friday before the new moon—Venus’ Day—is the perfect time to create a new opportunity and clear away relationship “baggage.” Place a bowl of water on your altar. Light two rose- scented pink candles and a gardenia or vanilla-scented white candle. Burn amber incense in between the candles. Sprinkle salt on your altar cloth and ring a bell, then recite aloud:

Hurt and pain are banished this night;

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“They don't remember very much about their god.”

That was the phrase that leapt out at me.

I'm a gangly teenager in the family room of our home on the southern shores of Lake Erie, reading for the first time—with mounting excitement—Gerald Gardner's Witchcraft Today.

“They don't remember very much about their god.”

As if in the voice of an anthropologist observing from outside, Gardner is describing the beliefs of the witches of the New Forest.

How can you not know much about the god you worship? I think, with typical adolescent arrogance.

Naturally, I wanted to know more.

Now, just how much any human can be said to know about any god remains, of course, an operative theological—or perhaps epistemological—question. Rhetorically, Gardner's observation very cleverly turns a defect into an advantage. “They've been around for so long that they've forgotten much,” he implies. In fact, as we now know, the reality of the situation was somewhat more complex.

In fact, this type of forgetting does happen regularly in oral traditions. The Kalasha of what is now northwestern Pakistan, the only Indo-European-speaking people who have practiced their traditional religion continuously since antiquity, have lost virtually all of their mythology, and their gods tend to be shadowy figures, known mainly for their practical functions. (That's what happens when life is a struggle: it's the basics that you hold onto, while the non-essentials slough away.) Why do the altars of the gods all feature four carved wooden horse heads? No one among the Kalasha remembers any more. We don't know why, they tell researchers: it's always been that way.

(Cross-cultural comparativism provides a ready answer to the question: they're the four horses that pull the god's chariot. Altar as quadriga: a characteristically Indo-European kind of metaphor, preserved like a flower in amber for more than 4000 years. Yes Diana, academic arrogance aside, sometimes the anthropologist really does know more than the informant.)

That skinny, wide-eyed teen in Erie, Pennsylvania didn't know any of this, of course; he was feeling his way with his skin. That didn't stop him from taking up the challenge, though: just as Gardner intended, perhaps.

As I make the physical and spiritual preparations for this summer's upcoming Grand Sabbat, the ecstatic adoration of the embodied Horned Lord, I look back over a life of more than 50 years in the Craft.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Brexit chickens come home to roost ...

 

So: someone took a potshot at Donald Tr*mp and winged his ear.

As a friend of mine observed this morning: “Half the country are saying, 'Thank god he's OK,' and the other half, 'Damn, he missed.'”

Hearing the talking heads mouth the obligatory words last night and today, decrying the violence, I couldn't help but think that they're maybe saying what has to be said in public. Fortunately, being myself a nobody from nowhere, I at least have the freedom to be more honest.

If anyone has done more to foment political violence in the US than Donny-boy himself, I can't think who. In many ways, he's been given a taste of his own medicine. Call it—fully savoring the mangled metaphor—cows coming home to roost.

Don-don, you brought it on yourself.

If the twice-impeached convicted felon/presumptive Republican presidential candidate (!) is smart, he'll ramp down the violent rhetoric from here on in.

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The Dobunni: The Tribe of Witches ...

 

Did the original Celtic Tribe of Witches originate with the merger of two boy-bands?

Likely, we'll never know for sure.

Listen as I weave my tale.

 

2000 years ago, a Celtic-speaking people known as the Dobunni, the “[People of] Two Bands”, lived in the Severn basin of what is now England.

(600-some years later, they morphed—maybe I should say shape-shifted—into an Anglo-Saxon-speaking people called the Hwicce, the origin and namesake—so say some—of today's Witches. But that's another story for another night.)

Though the origin of the Dobunni's name is disputed, if indeed it does mean the People of the Two Bands, there are parallels with the ethnonyms of other Celtic-speaking peoples: the Continental Tricorii and Petrucorii clearly mean “Three [War-] Bands” and “Four [War-] Bands” respectively.

But the koryos—war-band—for which these peoples were named was not just any kind of war-band.

 

How, you may have wondered, did the Indo-European-speaking ancestors manage to conquer, populate, and bequeath their languages to virtually all of Europe and much of Western Asia?

On current evidence, it would appear to have been a kind of franchise operation.

 

The traditional pantheons of most Indo-European peoples featured, not one, but two gods of war. (In current terms, we would denote these Thunder and the Horned.) These were respectively the patrons of two different fighting forces: the teutâ (in Witch English, this would be thede, “tribe”), the initiated, adult men of the tribe, and the koryos (WE here), the uninitiated youths still in training for full adulthood. Each of these fighting forces had its own patronal god: Thunder to the thede, the Horned to the here.

(Ah, just savor that alliteration. Sometimes the language seems to be expressing an opinion of its own, doesn't it?)

This explains why, to this day, it is the Horned who presides both at initiations and at the rites of man-making of the latter-day Tribe of Witches.

 

According to Kris Kershaw in his 2000 monograph The One-Eyed God: Odin and the (Indo-) Germanic Männerbünde, the boys of the koryos/here lived together in the wild—often the forest—while they learned the skills and lore necessary to adult men of the People. Set apart by their unkempt dress and hair—think dreads*—and wild behavior, they had a reputation for being the fiercest, most fearless, most unrestrained fighters of all. Unmarried, owning nothing, testosterone-fueled, they had nothing to lose. It was they who reived the cattle of neighboring tribes, and terrified the Red Crests by charging into battle stark naked, wearing nothing but a neck-ring and a belt.

(Easy, when you don't own armor or a helmet to don anyway. Say what you will, though, that's bravado!)

Since it was only after full initiation into tribal manhood that one could marry and acquire land and property, it was these bands of uninitiated youths who spearheaded the Indo-European expansion. Once the thede had settled down for a while, available land and goods would become scarce.

In search of new territory and herds of their own, it was the boy-bands who led the charge.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Emotions like Waves of Water

 Well, faithful readers, this blog post finds me with emotions all over the place. I realize that the sign of Cancer the Crab can be sensitive, but this is ridiculous. In part, I know it is largely due to the loss of a very dear friend of mine for a little over 20 years. Her name was Cheryl Ann. She was a giving, kind, artsy spirit with a joyful laugh. She loved organic food, belly dancing, theatre, and traveling. I’m so glad she was able to make her dream journey to Greece and Italy come true before she passed away. It hits close to home when someone disappears so suddenly, and young. Life is such a strange and fleeting thing, so we’ve got to savor every moment we’ve got, and let those know who are important to us, how much we deeply care for them. I believe Cheryl Ann knew that about myself and our mutual friends. I will dance on for her, the best that I can.

Astrological Influences

 And the passing of sweet Shelley Duvall strikes a chord, as well. She was a great inspiration for our musical parody, “Shining in Misery: A King-Size Parody.” A true comedic and serious talent both–her sensitivity and talent will be missed. I have always had many close friends who are Cancerians, Astrologer/Medium/Reiki Master, Lynette Corsten, being one of them. She is a beloved return guest on our “Women Who Howl at the Moon” podcast and came up with a splendid idea to do randomly chosen readings for five of our listeners this month! There are some great overviews for the remainder of the year for Capricorns and Pisces, so you’ll definitely want to give this fun new format a listen! You can learn more about Lynette and the services she has to offer at her website.

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