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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An Imperfect Cane, or: Purism Is Its Own Punishment

When my friend got back from the hospital, it was clear that he was going to need a cane, at least for a while. I offered to go to the cane store to get him one.

My friend being who he is, he drew up a page-long list of what he wanted in a new cane. It had to be thus-and-so, it couldn't be thus-and-so.

When I got to the cane store, it was clear that I was never going to be able to find a cane that fit all of his specifications. So—on the principle that When you need a cane, it's better to have an imperfect cane than not to have a perfect one—I picked out one that came as close as it could.

***

As pagans, our situation in some ways resembles that of the Indigenous children of North America and Australia who were torn away from their families and sent off to residential schools for reenculturation. Forbidden to speak their own languages, or practice their own religions, they became the living lost. Cultural genocide is hideous, but you can't deny its effectiveness.

For the pagan peoples of Europe, this happened hundreds of years ago. Much has been lost forever to us, their latter-day children. Our laments for the wantonness of that destruction will never cease to sound while ever our people endure.

So we take what we have and go from there. Much of what passes for modern paganism just isn't anywhere near as good as I would want it to be. Much of what we have is pro tem: what we've made for ourselves. It hasn't had the centuries of honing and deepening that come with generations of transmission.

If as a people we manage to survive, we know for absolute certain that, in time, the excellence will come. That's how cultures work. In the meantime, we make for ourselves the best that we can and go on. When we see something that's worthy, let us take heed, praise it, and strive to emulate it.

And by all means let us avoid the deathtrap of premature canonization.

***

We were learning a new chant one night. One covensib objected to it on the grounds that the imagery was mixed and internally contradictory.

His critique was a valid one, but then arose the obvious question: Did he have something better to put in its place?

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Tales of Paganistan: Earth is a Woman, Too, or How Not to Take Back the Night

Remember Take Back the Night?

Back in the 80s, there would be a big rally and march here in Minneapolis every summer. The organizing committee, notoriously dysfunctional, was a seething cauldron of in-fighting and ideological purism. The general tone of the marches was outrage, anger.

Except for the pagans.

Hel, we figured we had as much right to be there as anyone. We opposed violence against women. (We still do.) We were staunchly feminist. (We still are.) We hated rape. (We still do.)

But we weren't interested in rage or ideological purity.

We wanted the night back.

So we took it.

We danced, we drummed, we satirized. We chanted the praises of our Goddess through the streets.

The organizers hated us.

At the very last march—just before the organizing committee (irony of ironies) finally tore itself to shreds in a maelstrom of self-directed, woman-on-woman violence—we were consigned to being literally the very last group in the march.

Since we were last, everyone else left the park before we did. That was the moment of horror.

The hillside where people had sat listening to speeches and music, now empty of occupants, was blanketed with garbage: papers, soda cans, water bottles.

That year, the pagans were irate, too.

Talk about not getting it, we said.

Don't they see that everything is connected? we said.

Earth is a Woman, too, we said.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Bags in hand, some of us went back the next morning to Take Back the Day.
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    Would I be right in guessing that you pulled out trash bags, picked up trash and turned it into a ritual to take back the night?

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Celebrating the insects

This is the time of year when I see most insects. Dragonflies, damsel flies and demoiselle flies over the water. Hungry, blood-seeking insects at twilight. There have been unidentifiable red moths (too fast, too far away). I’ve seen my first stripy caterpillars – who will grow up to be cinnabar moths. I’ve rescued various other caterpillars I couldn’t identify, I’ve put bees safely onto flowers, and got out of the way of passing beetles. It’s busy out there.

Of all the native wild things, insects are the ones I have the most trouble identifying. There’s so many of them. I can identify a grasshopper, but not which kind of grasshopper it is – and there are many. I can only reliably identify a couple of bee species. I know a handful of beetles and the rest are little scuttling mysteries. I have some idea about butterflies, am rubbish at moths, and have no clue about flies. I try to learn a few new names every year but at this rate I will remain embarrassed by my ignorance for the rest of my life.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Of Apples, Deep Gods, and Witches

Consider the apple tree and its ways.

Early in summer, it sets as much fruit as it can.

Later on, it drops many—even most—of those hard little unripe apples.

With what it can draw from Earth, Sun, and Thunder—the Deep Gods of the witches—the tree has only so much main—energy—at its disposal. The resources available to the tree to nurture its apples are limited. With what it has, it can produce either many small, or a few select, apples.

As I rake up fallen green fruit, I reflect. The Craft is an apple tree. Why do so many leave?

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

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Title: American Magic

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House Magic for the New Moon: Sacred Space Cleanse

I haven’t used store-bought cleansers since the year 2004 when a health challenge awakened me to the importance of ridding my environment of any toxins or potentially harmful chemicals. I think it is a very good idea for all of us to consider as our health is precious. I know this made a difference for me and my loved ones. And the smell of a home freshly cleaned with lemons and scentful natural oils feels wonderful.

Gather the following: 

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Channeled message: Fear versus Flow

This blog post will be a bit of a departure from the norm.

It occurred to me a bit ago that I have never asked for a channeled message for myself (and it isn't because I am not struggling with issues!)

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