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Culture Blogs

Popular subjects in contemporary Pagan culture and practice.

Category contains 2 blog entries contributed to teamblogs
The Book That I'd Write, If I Had the Backing (Hint: The Mother of All Cauldrons)

Considering its fame and (literally) iconic status, it's absolutely incredible that there is, in English, no good, general book about the Gundestrup Cauldron.

Absolutely incredible.

Oh, there are scads of specialist articles, and a few of general interest. There's one academic monograph that attempts to read the Gundestrup Cauldron as an early redaction of the same Keltic tale told in the Táin Bó Cualigne. (Since the scenes depicted on the Cauldron differ from the Irish Táin in several notable ways, the author contends that it represents an earlier form of the tale instead. Mmm: sounds circular to me.)

So I figure, I'll write it. Beautiful plates, and everything we know—or can guess—so far. The finding, general trends of interpretation, how it fits into its time, etc. There will, of course, be a chapter on its (massive) impact on contemporary paganism, as well as one on the solid gold Gundestrup-style cauldron (but with original art) that the Nazis commissioned (I kid you not). (It was discovered by divers in the waters of a Bavarian lake in 2001.) Honestly, you couldn't make these things up.

Well, I'll need a travel budget, of course—Denmark and Bavaria at the very least—and naturally I'll have to talk to the experts. Six months to research, six months to write. I figure I could probably do it for under 40 grand. In the book industry, that's nothing.

They say that as a writer, it's your job to write the book that you'd like to read.

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  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    You might try applying for a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. Check your local library and see if they have a book

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Flowers, Flowers Everywhere

Flowers are powerful symbols.

They've been associated with wars (if even indirectly), frenzied consumerism (although most of Tulip Mania lore is false) and mysterious killings (e.g. The Black Dahlia). Flower symbols grace the pages of myriad sacred texts, stand-ins for personality traits and virtues. Some flowers were thought to be gods,  turned into blooms by angry fellow deities (e.g. Narcissus, Anemone, Myrtle)--or via deep (or unrequited) love (e.g. Poppy, Crocus, Heliotrope).

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AstroGemology: Gemini Soul Stones and Power Crystals

Gemini, First Half: May 20-June 4

Orange sapphire has long been associated with communication, specifically the telling of truths. As a soul stone, it can help early-half Geminis achieve the mastery of communication that is their karmic due. Sapphires are the hardest of gems after diamonds. In India of old, the orange sapphire was prized beyond any other; it was called padparadscha, the Sanskrit word for lotus blossom. The Chaldeans associated this stone with this sign after observing the orange tint of the planet Mercury, the ruler of Gemini.

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A Very Pagan Kind of Pain

 “The very great virtue of the Old Ways is that they see the world as it is, not as they wish it were.”

(Alain Daniélou)


Life is full of pain.

That's what my grandmother would say when you skinned your knee, or grated a knuckle along with the cheese.

(“A little blood makes everything taste sweeter,” was another of her ungainsayable sayings.)

As I've grown older, I've found myself saying the same. As an observation, it's hard to fault.

A friend once accused me of closet Buddhism on the basis of this saying. If I were the kind of person who took easy offense, I would have been offended. So far as I'm concerned, Buddhism is just another damned missionary religion, may they all rot.

But he was wrong, so I let it go by. Life is full of pain.

No, there's nothing Buddhist about this simple saying. This is a pagan Life is full of pain through and through, pragmatically acknowledging the way that things are and then getting on with it.

The expression lends itself to ready irony. When things are merely irritating, or merely inconvenient, it means: it could be worse. Which, of course, is usually true.

And when it addresses real pain instead, it gives perspective. No pain is unique. In pain, as in joy, we always have fellows.

Yes, it hurts, I know, but you'll get through. Yes, it's inconvenient, but it could be so much worse; just accept it and get on with it. Are you going to let a little pain stop you? Come on, you're bigger than that, and besides, there's dinner to make.

No, this is a life-affirming Life is full of pain. Yes there's pain, but there's joy, too. If you're lucky, they'll balance each other out. If not, well...when there's joy, then savor it all the more, knowing that that won't last either.

There's an incompetent in the White House, the country has lost its way, and I don't look nearly as good naked as I used to. Life is full of pain. There it is, and we get on from there as best we may.

Life is full of pain, but the implication is not: Therefore, life is no good. The implication is: Savor, then, while you may.

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Witch Craft: Lavender Calendula Herbal Healing

I’ve found that my remedy box has grown into a cupboard over the years.  I tend to study and read up on a condition and seek out the most effective and reliably recommended remedy to treat it.  most herbs, tinctures, and essential oils have more than one therapeutic use, and my knowledge has grown as a result of having some of these herbs in my cupboard.  Often, the range of uses is wide; for example, lavender oil is indicated for skin conditions, respiratory and circulation problems, nervous tension and exhaustion, coughs and colds, muscle aches, and menstrual cramps, as well as cuts.  I stanched a deep cut on my toe with lavender oil recently, a new use for me, and it worked great.  It’s a natural disinfectant, too!  I would estimate that this cure cost me about a dime as opposed to a $2000 trip to a crowded emergency room, with an exposure to myriad viruses.  It was peace of mind for pennies.


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The Magical Month of Oak

Following the wheel of the year through the Celtic tree calendar, June 10th begins the time of the oak tree and its ogham character Duir. While the tree calendar is a modern construct, it holds meaning because of the concepts it has come to symbolize and the significance it has for twenty-first century magic, ritual, and everyday life.

The energy of this period (from June 10 to July 7) fosters a time of wisdom with an emphasis on inner strength. With strength comes confidence, which makes this a good time to work on any self-confidence issues. Like the mighty oak, we can be strong and wise and provide security to those around us.

Oaks can live for many centuries and are bound up with human history. They were considered especially sacred to the Greeks and Romans, who associated them with their most powerful gods. In the British Isles, the Celtic god Bilé and the Druids are very closely linked with this tree. According to legend, King Arthur’s roundtable was made from oak, and Sherwood Forest with its massive Major Oak is linked with Robin Hood.

Placing oak leaves in the home helps clear away negative energy, and when used on the altar in ritual they represent the potency of the God. For healing or when seeking wisdom, hold a piece of bark between your hands and visualize your desired outcome. Also use a piece of bark to help ground energy after ritual. Dry a small twig with leaves and hang it in your kitchen to invite abundance into your home. Leaves placed under the bed aids fertility and virility. To add power to spells, make a cross by tying two bare twigs together with black thread, which will draw elemental balance along with the strength of the oak. 

Paint oak’s ogham Duir on an acorn to carry with you when you need to bolster your courage. It will also aid you in feeling secure and confident. Draw the ogham on three oak leaves or a picture of oak leaves to burn as you visualize achieving success in any of your goals.

The black oak (Quercus velutina) and white oak (Q. alba) are the most common types of oak trees in North America. Its leaves have pointed lobes tipped with tiny bristles. The white oak’s leaves are rounded and smooth. The acorns of the black oak take two years to mature; the white oak’s acorns mature in one year.

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Thanking Tony Kelly

Last night I finally got to thank the man who gave me the gods.

This might not seem so strange except for the fact that he's been dead for 20 years, and that I never actually met him in person.

But actions taken in dreams signify. You know that they do. When you have an erotic dream about someone, it changes the relationship, whether or not you've ever actually slept together. An initiation received in a dream is a valid initiation, as (incredible, maybe, but true) the courts have determined.

How can I claim as my teacher someone that I never actually met? Well, through Tony Kelly—specifically through his writings—I first came to the gods. From him I learned to think like a pagan. From him I learned to do ritual.

If that doesn't make him my teacher, I don't know what would.

In the dream, Tony sat across a wooden table from me. (There was much between us when he was alive, including the Atlantic Ocean and the fact that he was a mature thinker while I was still a callow youth.) I thanked him for everything that he'd given me, and in particular for teaching me the names of the gods. To hear him pronounce the Sacred Name of Earth was a blessing in itself.

I've never met either of the Grand Old Men of the Craft in dreams—GBG or Bobby Cochrane—but I did once dream about meeting the Regency's George Winter and Ronald “Chalky” White (1921-1998) in an elevator: going down, I think. And now I've dream-met Tony Kelly of the Pagan Movement in Britain and Ireland.

Interestingly, Tony was “off of” the Regency, as the Regency was “off of” Bobby Cochrane's Royal Windsor coven. So I guess (inter alia) that's my lineage, for what it's worth.

Back in the old days, resources were few and hooking up was hard. When in Fate magazine I saw a classified ad for the Pagan Movement in Britain and Ireland, I immediately wrote and, eventually, became (along with Margot Adler and Tom deLong, later known as Gwydion) an overseas member. That's how I learned about Tony Kelly, one of the New Paganisms' deepest thinkers.

That's how my life changed forever.

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