Culture Blogs


PaganSquare is a community blog space where Pagans can discuss topics relevant to the life and spiritual practice of all Pagans.

  • Home
    Home This is where you can find all the blog posts throughout the site.
  • Tags
    Tags Displays a list of tags that have been used in the blog.
  • Bloggers
    Bloggers Search for your favorite blogger from this site.
  • Login
    Login Login form

Culture Blogs

Popular subjects in contemporary Pagan culture and practice.

Category contains 2 blog entries contributed to teamblogs

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Does Evil Exist?

Does evil exist?

The ancestors certainly thought so. Looking around me in the world, I can't help but think that they were right.

I sometimes hear pagans dismissing the existence of evil with a cavalier wave of the hand. (I've been there myself.) As, many of us, people of privilege living in a society of privilege—some of us reacting against upbringings obsessed with metaphysical evil—it's easy to be dismissive.

But the ancestors knew about evil long before the coming of the missionaries. 5500 years ago, speakers of the Indo-European Mother Tongue knew evil as *upelo-. 3000 years later, the speakers of Common Germanic spoke of *ubilaz. The Anglo-Saxon tribe known as the Hwicce, the original Tribe of Witches, called if yfel (Watkins 98).

I'm not arguing for the existence of evil as a principle or a metaphysical entity. Although—linguistically speaking—evil may be a noun, it's not a thing in se.

Last modified on
Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    My working definition of evil is "superlative wrongdoing." Nobody does the right thing all the time; most (if not all) of us somet
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I once read a book by Lyall Watson titled: "Dark Nature" in which he talks about the biology of evil. I took some notes. "7 mor

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Tree of Souls

Well, they're starting their annual journey to the Valley of Souls.

Black-and-orange, black-and-orange, black-and-orange.

Even as a kid, they struck me as foreshadowing, as little flecks of Samhain fluttering, by some act of temporal disturbance, into summer.

Danaus plexippus: known variously as the milkweed, tiger, or (for unclear reasons) the monarch butterfly.

When did butterflies first come to symbolize souls? Who can say? (They're not uncommon in Minoan glyptic art.) The reasons for the connection are certainly clear enough. Probably you could rattle off three or four, if you wanted to.

And—among other reasons—like souls, butterflies are migratory.

Last modified on
Recent comment in this post - Show all comments
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    We used to have a patch of Michel mass daisies; a kind of tall lavender aster, when I was a teenager. The Monarch butterflies wou

Brown Girl in the RingBrown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Read for the Women of Genre Fiction challenge, the 12 Awards in 12 Months challenge, the LGBTQ Speculative Fiction challengeand the Vernon Library Summer Reading challenge. I was going to read this for the Apocalypse Now! Challenge, but the world was not destroyed and therefore, it does not qualify.

I loved this book. I loved everything about it! I have encountered some of Nalo Hopkinson’s short fiction before and was intrigued, but this novel received a lot of awards and a lot of critical acclaim, and was her first explosion on the scene. One of those awards was the Aurora Award, which is Canada’s tribute to our science fiction and fantasy writers, so naturally I was honour-bound to read it eventually anyway, but what a pleasure!

In this novel of magical realism, which takes place in a dystopian Toronto that has been abandoned by the Canadian and Ontario governments after an economic collapse, Ti-Jeanne has just recently left the father of her baby to live with her grandmother because he is a drug addict who has gotten mixed up with the local organized crime syndicate who runs the inner city, called the Posse, and she realizes that as much as she loves him, he’s no good for her and less good for the baby. There is no police force in operation in the urban remains, none of the city’s infrastructure is supported, and economy has gone back to bartering and growing what one can in the remains of the city’s many iconic parks, so there is little consequence for participating in crime and the Posse has a free rein in the city. The leader of the Posse, Rudy, has made a deal with a shady hospital to provide a human heart for a transplant to the Premier of the Province (for you Americans, that’s like the state governor.) Rudy has learned that Tony, the father of Ti-Jeanne’s baby, has been skimming off the top of the drugs he has been selling for Rudy to support his own habit, and has blackmailed him into fetching the heart from one of the local urban residents – by force. Tony was once a nurse before his habit got him fired.

What makes this scenario really interesting is that Ti-Jeanne’s grandmother, Gros-Jeanne (yes, for those of you who speak French, the names are deliberately symbolic) is a Caribbean immigrant who is a priestess of a Caribbean Afro-Diasporic tradition. The Afro-Diasporic traditions are syncretic faiths such as Voodoo and Santeria; Gros-Jeanne never specifies her tradition and actually says that they are all essentially the same. This turns the sordid scenario into an epic spirit quest in the Caribbean spiritual tradition, taking place partially in the physical world and partially in the spirit world. Much of the magic, until near the end of the book, might only be happening in the minds of the characters, and best of all, the Voodoo is real. I am a Wiccan priestess and have had the opportunity to learn just enough about Voodoo from practitioners that I have met to recognize the rituals, the symbolism, the magical practices and the spirits themselves.

The overall effect is an exercise in surrealism, told with a masterful hand. The language is simple but the characters and the story are deep. I don’t dare tell you anymore for risk of spoiling the story. I will say that I loved everything about it, from the story itself, to the mythic themes of Caribbean culture that were mined to create the story structure, to the evocative descriptions, to the use of modern iconic places to create a sense of realism, to the theme, which, ultimately, is a complex examination of what “family” actually is. I find myself beaming with Canadian pride in Nalo Hopkinson, and I highly recommend this novel to pretty much anyone.

View all my reviews

Last modified on

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Think Before You Hex

“So, what are you guys doing for New Moon?”

I'm talking long-distance with a friend.

“We're having a discussion about cursing,” I tell her.

These days, we generally do at Full, and discuss at New. Mostly, it makes for a good balance; you need to get things done, but you also need to think about things.

“Touchy subject,” she replies. “Should be an interesting discussion.”

She pauses, then laughs, adding: “Assuming it doesn't break up the coven first.”

Last modified on
Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Michele
    Michele says #
    I always think before I hex. I have in fact, only hexed once, and I thought a great deal about it. But I think I disagree with yo
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    I agree completely, Megan. There are nearly always better ways to get the job done.
  • Megan Gypsy Minx
    Megan Gypsy Minx says #
    Thank you, a good reminder of why hexes and curses are usually never worth it.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
What Do You Do With Old Offerings?

If you build the candy cottage, the children will come.

If you build a temple, people will come and, being pagans, they will, of course, bring offerings.

Offerings belong to the god, which makes them (by definition) sacred. So what do you do with them when they begin to pile up?

With consumables, that's one thing. Libations are poured out onto the ground. Token amounts of food are placed onto the earth (but never directly; they should always be placed on a layer of something biodegradable: leaves, grass, sticks). Food offerings in quantity traditionally revert to the temple staff; part of the god's responsibility to his people is to see that they're fed. (Richard Reidy calls this “reversion of offerings.”)

But the non-consumable offerings, what of them?

Last modified on
Scars of Honor: A Brief Disquisition on the Men's Mysteries

 What no man may tell, nor woman know.

My father once said, What do you want for your children? You want them to have what you never did.

I had presided at G's Naming, so when it came time for his Man-Making, it was natural that his foster father should give me a call. We got together with G's godfather, and together the three of us planned a nice, tight little ritual, the rite that we all wished we'd had ourselves.

Later that night, as I was writing up the outline that we'd crafted, I realized that we'd left out something important. Actually, what we had left out was the single most important thing of all.

Last modified on
Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Gods, yes.
  • Piper
    Piper says #
    Should have added this, sometimes men come with their own scars, we just honor them and how they were acquired
  • Piper
    Piper says #
    AHO!

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Hazel Moon: New Moon in Virgo

 

In Irish mythology, there is a story of the salmon who swam in the Well of Knowledge, around which grew sacred hazel trees. The salmon ate nine hazel nuts that fell into the Well, and suddenly become possessed of the all the knowledge in the world. Anyone who caught and consumed the salmon would also take in the blessing of wisdom, and so the salmon was pursued by heroes for years.

...
Last modified on

Additional information