Culture Blogs


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Culture Blogs

Popular subjects in contemporary Pagan culture and practice.

Category contains 2 blog entries contributed to teamblogs

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Putting the 'Bare Ass' in Embarrass

“The roofers are coming tomorrow,” my housemate tells me one evening. “You might want to spend the day out; it's going to be noisy.”

I thank him for the heads up and continue getting ready for bed.

Next morning, I get up early. I climb out of bed, stretch, and open the blind.

On the roof immediately outside the window, his eye caught by the movement, stands one of the roofers, looking in.

Meanwhile, I'm standing there butt-naked, scratching my nuts. Shades of Life of Brian. I'm not sure which of us is the more surprised, or embarrassed.

Oh well. If you're going to do something, do it gracefully.

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Recent comment in this post - Show all comments
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I saw that movie. I vividly remember the scene your referring too.
Nature as Classroom for Healers: Herbal Cures

Centuries ago, healers were the wise women of the village, the healers and midwives who could halt a fever with a poultice or hasten the setting of bones by concocting medicinal tea. The lore of growing and gathering healing herbs has been passed down for hundreds of years. A learned healer knows which phases of the moon are best for planting seeds, how to plan your garden by the stars, and how to create spells for health and harmony. In the grand tradition, I learned at the knee of my aunt Edith, a very wise woman who would take me for walks through the woods and show me the uses and meanings of every flower, weed, and tree. From her, I learned that lovely Queen Anne’s lace is, in fact, wild carrot; that pokeberries make the finest blood-red inks; and which meadow greens and shade-loving mushrooms are safe for a noonday salad. I was in awe during our tromps through the woods, walking mule upon mile to map every acre and spy every specimen.

 Nature was our cathedral, our classroom, and our calendar. Every spring, we could mark April I by the blossoming of a solitary clump of delicate Dutchman’s breeches amid a raft of rarest wildflowers. I thought Aunt Edith was teaching me about plants and trees, only to discover years later that she had shown me the sanctity of life and passed on a legacy I now treasure and pass on to you.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Language of Serpents

In the dream, the whole coven is over for New Moon. We're discussing the writings of occultist Dion Fortune: in particular, a passage in which she writes that, after disincarnation, she will return as a golden serpent. We discuss whether or not this could actually be so.

It so happens that the long-time partner of one of us, a magician who sometimes attends our rituals, is himself conversant in the Language of Serpents.

As one, we turn toward the temple's snake-hole. (Since the days of Knossos, every good temple has had a snake-hole.) In the Language of Serpents, with his arms extended and palms turned down, M— delivers the invocation.

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'In the Old Days...'

“In the old days....”

Lots of New Pagan narratives begin this way: implicitly, if nothing else. Back in Pagan Days, you see, we used to....

Then follows the story of what we did or thought or hoped for, back when Pagandom extended far.

In the old days isn't good anthropology. Good anthropology requires specifics of time and place. In northern Staffordshire during the 1850s.....

But in the old days isn't anthropology: it's myth. Back in the Pagan Dreamtime, in the days before May Eve, the young bucks would spend time in the woods building May bowers. That way, you'd have someplace (relatively) private to bring your sweetheart back to after the bonfire revels.

Or so they say.

Don't mistake in the old days for history, although it may be that too. When pagans talk about the Old Days, we're not really talking about how it was.

What we're really talking about is how it's going to be.

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Hedgewitch Wellness Wisdom: Tea Magic

Many enthusiasts enjoy several cups a day of their favorite herbal infusion which is a large portion of herb brewed for at least four hours and as long as ten. I recommend placing one cup of the dried herb into a quart canning jar and filling it with freshly boiled water. After the steeping, strain with a non-metallic method such as cheesecloth or bamboo. Herbal infusions can be made with the leaves and fruits which provide  healing aspects of this comforting brew. Many of the favorite kitchen garden herbs contain minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals including the list herein. 

 

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As the Crow Flies: Of May Bowers, Nests, and Omens

I didn't really notice the crow until it flew over the second time.

The coven had gathered for New Moon in the park, not so much for ritual as for the reassuring pleasure of one another's company. As covens go, we're a close one—that happens, after 40 years together—and it was good to be able to catch up and sing together again. Whatever pleasures social distancing may take away, you don't have to be close at hand to sing.

That's when the crow flew over for the first time.

Now, in a park in April it's not unusual for birds to fly overhead. But when it flew over again in the opposite direction shortly thereafter, you could see ears pricking up. This is, after all, a group of witches. Like other predators, witches are hyper-aware of surroundings and, of course, an omen is an omen.

Then it came back again.

In folk prognostication, crows are generally accounted bad omens—often omens of death—but crows and witches share certain affinities, and besides: this crow was on a special mission.

We watched it alight high in a budding maple tree. After a brief struggle, it flew back overhead, twig in beak.

Well, there's your answer. Whatever else it may be, a crow building a nest is no omen of death.

We discuss the advantages of building your nest with fresh, supple twigs. (All the better to weave you with, my dear.) We watch to see where it's nesting. (We can't tell, though it's clearly—here's an omen for you—in the pagan neighborhood.) We laugh, and sing another May song.

Chances are that, back when we still lived in trees, like our cousins the gorillas, we humans built nests there for sleeping. When we came down from the trees and moved out onto the savannahs, we kept building nests for ourselves, though tipped up onto their sides: twig bothies offer something in the way of privacy, shelter from the wind, and protection from lions. (Lions, being—after all—cats, prefer to sneak up on their prey from behind.)

Back in the old days, just before May Eve, the young bucks would spend time in the woods building May bowers. That way, you'd have someplace (relatively) private to bring your sweetheart back to after the bonfire revels.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Moon Horns

Shortly after sunset, the horns ring out.

These are the Moon Horns, sounding from the Tower on Witches' Hill, the highest point in the city, a signal from the official watchers. It can mean only one thing: New Moon!

The First Crescent has been sighted in the sky, marking the beginning of another month. Across the city, horns ring out in reply, passing along the happy news, washing out from the Tower in concentric circles like ripples from a lake-cast stone.

The Moon Call is broadcast on local radio and television as well. Everyone that can dons their finery and rushes out, facing West, to greet the First Crescent in the sky with the traditional incense, hymns, and libations.

Hail to thee, thou New Moon,

guiding jewel of gentleness;

I am bending to thee my knee,

I am offering thee my love.

Others hasten to light the bonfires in park and backyard where people will gather to welcome the return of She Who Shines by Night and to wish one another Merry Moon.

The sound of drums rises across the city. The parties will continue well into the night.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Soon may we see it, Sarah!
  • Sarah Israelson
    Sarah Israelson says #
    I love this. I love the imagery it portrays and the longing that it creates in my heart.

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