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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
Matriarchies of the Midwest

I had to laugh when, at the annual Mahle Lecture at Hamline University in “St.” Paul this weekend, I heard feminist theologian Carol P. Christ describe the ideal human society as a “matriarchal egalitarianism.”

Really, I had to laugh.

The coven that I'm part of has been going strong for nearly 40 years now. Next fall we'll be 39 (a significant number = 3 x 13). We're a group of friends who share a spiritual life. Most (but not all) of us are women.

This group is the center of my social life, and the center of my spiritual life. We're deeply engaged with one another's lives. I've helped raise our youngest coven kid.

Hence my laughter.

Here in the heart of the American Midwest, I've lived in a matriarchal egalitarianism for decades.

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  • Hearth M Rising
    Hearth M Rising says #
    Thank you for this. Raising children is the central work in matriarchal communities, important in everyone's life, not just a nucl
  • Murphy Pizza
    Murphy Pizza says #
    Right on! And wasn't the Mahle Lecture blast! Such a thrill to get my battered copy of Weaving the Visions signed by both Carol Ch

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Heathen Visibility Project Does Halloween

I was invited to do a community booth for the Halloween Spooktacular sponsored by Haven Craft, an interfaith nonprofit organization in Las Vegas. It was on short notice, so I had to try to pull it off with just what I already had, and I decided on a Take a Photo with a Viking booth for the Heathen Visibility Project. I already had Viking garb.

I also already had a battle axe, which was not sharp. I asked the event organizer Melissa if heathens attending as Viking garb performers could have traditional weapons, and got the go-ahead on that before loading it into my truck. This axe was traded to me by its maker, Tony Mortimer-Kalama, under the Steel for Steel local custom. I posed for lots of photos holding my axe, but this is the only one taken with my own camera. Most of the other photos in which I'm posing with the axe are pictures in which children in Halloween costumes are getting their pictures taken with a Viking by their parents. Lots of kids wanted a picture, and I am wearing heathen symbols on my garb, so the booth was successful in furthering heathen visibility.

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Why we honour the Goddess in our Home.

When I became a priestess nobody in the family that I had grown up in were surprised to hear about it. For time immemorial I have been considered the eccentric, the odd duck, the one that just refused to fit in in our sleepy bible belt of a town that I grew up in, and consequentially moved back to four years ago.

 

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  • Carol P. Christ
    Carol P. Christ says #
    Lovely story and bless your way with your daughters.
Cultural Exchange in the Minoan World: Egypt and Others

Today, it's not at all uncommon to see people in New York wearing fashions from Paris, or kids in California watching Japanese anime TV shows (and kids in Japan watching American TV shows). It's called cultural exchange, and it has always happened, as long as people have traveled and traded and interacted with each other.

The way ancient cultures are presented in the history books often makes them sound as if they were completely separate from each other, sealed away in some sort of etheric ziptop bag, as if the borders of the various empires and cultures were non-permeable. But that's far from the case. During the Bronze Age - the time when the Minoans were being all Minoan-y - the whole eastern Mediterranean was one great big cultural exchange area, with people trading objects, ideas, styles, and fashions from one spot to another as fast as the ships could ply the seas.

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  • Tyger
    Tyger says #
    What are your thoughts on 'cultural appropriation'? I've been hearing that a lot lately.
  • Laura Perry
    Laura Perry says #
    Cultural appropriation is an issue with living cultures, such as Native Americans, and it's a very real problem that I wish more p

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

b2ap3_thumbnail_fd005255.jpgWith the onset of autumn marks the beginning of the holiday season. For people estranged from their biological kin, this can be a difficult time of the year; however, planning ahead can lessen the dread or denial you may feel and turn your sprint through the annual holiday corridor into a meaningful stroll filled with love. Planning ahead is critical to do this, though. Feeling condemned because your former family is no longer in your life and, therefore, neither should joyful holiday celebrations, is not true. Celebration is a human right and how, when, and with whom you do so is entirely up to you--an aggressive family doesn't get to decide that for you. Ever.

Realizing with the onset of cooler temperatures and the calendar that has been turned to November that again this year, and probably forever, you will not be spending Thanksgiving, Chanukah, Winter Solstice, Christmas, Kwanzaa, or New Year's celebrations with people who were once your family can pierce you to the quick. This is especially true for folks who believed that grieving for their lost family was over and that it was all water under the bridge now--that you've worked on your recovery and done deep healing so that the worst part of the shock is over. Then, a picture of a turkey with smiling relatives around it makes your heart flutter...the first snow makes your chest ache, and the smell of certain foods cooking reminds you of old memories, real or imagined, from times of childhood when needs were not met, emotional or physical. Ruminating on your losses, wondering, once again, how the situation with your family came to be, and considering, futilely, how another outcome could have been possible, swirls in your mind. This is tiring and can keep you up at night, even put a dark cloud over the bright autumnal skies that are there for you to enjoy.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Remembering Father Pagan

His parents named him Richard, but he called himself Gandalf.

We knew him as Father Pagan.

He'd been a Catholic priest for decades, but late in life he studied his way out of the church and into the Craft.

Being a man of integrity, he went to his bishop and offered to resign.

“Look,” said the bishop, "There's a shortage of priests anyway, and you're just a few years from retirement. Why don't you hang on for a little bit longer?”

So that's what he did. He lived a life of service to others all his life, and priesthood, after all, is priesthood.

In those days, here in the Midwest, the Craft was a religion of the young. Gandalf was one of the few elders that we had.

At his first pagan festival, a young woman approached him one night after the big ritual. “Can I talk to you in private?” she asked.

Gandalf was amazed. He'd heard stories about wild pagan women, but this seemed pretty direct.

Together, they went off to the woods.

“Can you hear my confession?” the woman asked.

Gandalf laughed.

“I don't really do that kind of thing any more,” he explained, “but if there's something you want to get off your chest, I'll be happy to listen,” he said.

She was only the first. Down the years, his gentle humor and quiet wisdom would enrich, and deepen, us all.

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Kitchen Witch Dolls: Modern Household Icons

My great-grandmother, whose father immigrated from Norway when he was around nine years old and whose mother was a third-generation German American, had a kitchen witch that was passed down to my mom, her granddaughter. Unfortunately, it was lost over time, but my mom remembers that it wore a long, red dress and perched on a straw broom. This is the traditional form of the kitchen witch: a long dress, usually a kerchief tied around its head rather than a witch hat, often a characteristic long nose on a friendly face, riding upon a miniature broom (or a wooden spoon!)

Over time, craftspeople have branched away from this traditional form, creating kitchen witches that reflect the various interests and needs of contemporary cooks. This is typical for folk traditions: to remain relevant, they transform over time, taking on new elements and meanings. One thing has remained the same, however: they are always friendly, always helpful, always good luck.

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  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I remember a little kitchen witch over the sink in my parents house. I think one of my sisters got it after my mother died, but I

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