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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
Triptych, with Horns

In India, on nights of the autumn full moon, the blue god Krishna stands in a clearing in the forest and plays his flute.

Hearing this, his worshipers—regardless of caste or marital status—cast social convention aside, and rush off to the woods for an ecstatic celebration, in which they dance wildly and have sex with their god.

This is called the rasa-lila, or "juice-play."

 ***

Among the Kalasha of what is now Pakistan, the only surviving Indo-European people who have practiced their ancestral religion continuously since ancient times, the presiding figure of the Prûn festival, the autumnal celebration which honors the grape-harvest and the return of the flocks from their summer pastures, is called the Budálak.

The Budalak is a virile young goat-herd who, dressed in goat-skins and horns, dances vigorously with the young women in wine-fueled, fire-lit nighttime celebrations, while—to the sound of drums and flutes—the old women sing his raunchy, raucous songs.

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Frau Harke, Goddess of the First Harvest

Around Lughnasadh or soon after, I saw my first mourning dove at our Appalachian farmhouse. We’ve lived here since March, and while I’ve seen blue jays, cardinals, chickadees, nuthatches, falcons, crows, and more, mourning doves were conspicuously absent. And then there it was on our white post-and-rail fence. The next day, I saw another, and then more appeared in the bushes and trees over the next weeks. This morning, there were five perched on the fence, observing me as I let out our dog.

I think of Frau Harke when I see them, thanks to Jacob Grimm, who wrote in Teutonic Mythology that "Harke flies through the air in the shape of a dove, making the fields fruitful” (Vol. 4, p.1364). Harke is a giantess of German folklore in the Brandenburg and Thuringia regions. Her name means “to rake,” calling to mind the harvest and care of the earth. While usually a dweller of wild mountain forests, she does travel about during her holy days, like other goddesses of her type. Folklorist Benjamin Thorpe wrote that "At Heteborn, when the flax was not housed at Bartholomew-tide [August 24], it was formerly the saying, 'Frau Harke will come'” (142).

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Divine Economy

In India, when you go to temple, you generally take along a tray of offerings: food, flowers, an oil lamp, incense, some cash. (Only a neo-pagan would go to see a god empty-handed.) You take this tray to the temple, and give it to the priest.

The priest offers it to the god, removes the god's portion—generally the incense and the money—and returns the rest to you. It's now become something sacred, something that the god shares with you.

These holy leftovers are called prasadam: literally, “grace.”

This, of course, is how the Pagan Economy, both human and divine, works: a gift for a gift. You give to the god, the god gives back to you. But of course, what you've given to the god is originally the gift of the god anyway—“thine own of thine own we offer to thee”—and so it goes, one giant Wheel a-turning.

I don't often have the privilege of worshiping in a temple, but in the contemporary pagan world there are still plenty of “holy overs”: things over from the ritual or the feast last night, things over from the festival. I generally partake of them with the sense that's there's value added here. The holy overs give us the opportunity to participate at a distance of time or place.

We need a good word in Pagan English for prasadam. “Holy leftovers” won't do: as a poet, let me tell you that joke names are always a mistake. “Grace” doesn't cut it, and prasadam is someone else's word. For so basic a concept, we need a name of our own.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Deborah Blake
    Deborah Blake says #
    I love this.
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    Sorry, I don't know enough old English or Proto-Indo-European to be of any help here. You might try the Oxford English dictionary

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

Cernunnos is known by many names. The Horned God, God of the Hunt, Lord of the Animals. He can be found in the sacred grove in the heart of the forest, in the call of the rutting stag. Of all the names he is known as I grew up knowing him as Herne the Hunter. As I generally make female dolls I was quite surprised that Cernunnos appeared, maybe I was inspired by the fallow deer stags I got to hang out with this summer.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Jude Lally
    Jude Lally says #
    Ah! I was wondering who he had a message for, as it wasn't me!!!
  • Dragon Dancer
    Dragon Dancer says #
    Yep, apparently!
  • Dragon Dancer
    Dragon Dancer says #
    OMG I love him! I shouldn't have, but...yeah, that was me who just snatched him up. I've been wanting one of your dolls - still in

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Astrogemology: Virgo Soul Stones

Virgo, First Half: August 22-September 5: Black opal is the soul stone for early Virgos. Virgos are perhaps the most discriminating of signs and would relish the fact that until recently, black opals came from only a few acres in Australia. The ancient Romans, seeing the rainbow colors of opals, believed them to be the bridge between heaven and Earth, but they especially desired the few poor-quality black opals (now believed to have been faked) held by the barbarians in Hungary. The finest grade of black opal was discovered on the island of Java, in Indonesia. For Virgos, only the best and only the real black opals will do. Members of the sign of service and help to others, Virgos gain strength and intensity and augment their own purity with black opals. This stone has been called the gem of hope, and, as such, offers a high level of consciousness for Virgos.

 The power talisman for first-half Virgos is labradorite, the lovely iridescent stone that originated in Labrador. Like Gemini, Virgos are ruled by Mercury, and the quicksilver, peacock-hued labradorite is good for providing the mental swiftness Virgos need to accomplish all of their goals in life. This type of feldspar can reflect every color of the spectrum and help Virgos from becoming too task oriented—too focused on one thing. No one can work harder than Virgos, and labradorite can prevent exhaustion from overwork and can also ensure that early Virgos activate a variety of talents.

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Cait Sith (Kellas Cat):Understanding Nonduality

 The Cait Sith of Scotland is a large black cat with dark green eyes, long ears and a white spot on her chest. If a person encountered the Cait Sith, they would hear a prophecy from Her. As a being from the Otherworld, She watches humans and reports on what She sees. In addition, the Cait Sith guards the secrets of the Otherworld. 

People should be wary of the Cait Sith for a number of reasons. First and foremost, She steals people’s souls from their bodies. In Scotland when a person died, the family would guard the body in a Feille Fadalach (late wake). The first thing, they did was to douse all the fires. Afterwards, they lit a fire far away from the body to entice the Cait Sith to its warmth. Catnip was also spread around there as well. To distract the Cait Sith, people played music, held wrestling matches, and told riddles.

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The Mammoth in the Cave, or: What Moral Authority?

So: a given organization claims to be operating on behalf of a particular god.

In fact, the organization claims to be speaking for that god. They claim that said god actually works through them.

Then it becomes clear that said organization has actually been operating in its own self-interest and, in so doing, has not only permitted, but has systematically protected—and, in protecting, promoted—the most profoundly immoral and destructive behaviors among its functionaries.

Now, this is just me asking, a nobody from nowhere. But really, I have to wonder.

If you had ever taken seriously this organization's claims to be acting on behalf of its god....

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