Culture Blogs


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Culture Blogs

Popular subjects in contemporary Pagan culture and practice.

Category contains 2 blog entries contributed to teamblogs
Pagan Dharma 3: Love and Pleasure, and the Absence of Both

For the first time in 4 years, my rose bush is blooming.

After years of not blooming, I was pretty shocked, one morning in late May, to go into the back yard and notice that the rose bush was covered in hundreds of tight green buds. A few weeks later, the roses—small red ones—began to open, just a few at first, then more every day, until the whole thing is livid with scarlet petals and crawling with bees. Every few days, I cut off some of open blooms, and put them in water, but there are always more every morning. Every morning the cool air in the garden smells of roses, the apple trees and cottonwoods are damp with dew, birds are trilling and flitting between the branches. It's sweet and luscious, this moment as the day is beginning, in those sweet weeks as Spring ebbs into Summer. The world is beautiful, the weather is beautiful, the world is throbbing with life. Every cell is full of pleasure and joy, the world vibrates with it.

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Incan Summer Solstice Ceremony

I visited the Sacred Valley and the Temple of the Sun in Peru for my 40th Birthday, and these lands are a sight to behold. At the time of the Summer Solstice each year, the rising sun reflects off a certain point of a mountain in the Ollantaytambo archaeological site, and bounces off the altar atop the temple, where the Incans strategically placed it some 500 years ago. The fact that these laid by hand granite stones still stood now– with no cement holding them together– untouched– was truly spiritual. My mother, who had accompanied me, was moved to tears, taking it all in. Each year, not unlike their British counterparts at Stonehenge, local Peruvians reenact the Incan Summer Solstice ritual. I am sure it is a spectacle to appreciate, based on what I have seen and the commemorative photos marking the event.

Litha, or the Summer Solstice, is many a Pagan and Wiccan's favorite festival of the year. If you'd like to make yours truly special, here are some suggestions for a simple ritual, in tribute to Inti Raymi, not unlike our Incan ancestors held.

Buy some brightly-colored flowers and throw them festively around the ground of your firepit. Encourage participants to wear silver and gold jewelry, and have everyone bring a small carved wooden sun symbol or figure to place in a backyard bonfire. Since I'm sure you wouldn't want to sacrifice any white llamas, burn some white sage instead. Smudge everyone first, and then offer it to your fire as a sacrifice to the Sun God. Make a procession of building your fire where each guest contributes by adding to it. Build it first, and wait to light it at sunset, adding some straw and dancing around it to raise energy clockwise. Give a nod to each of the four wind directions as you do.

Give thanks to Suyos, representing the snake for the world below, the puma for life on earth and the condor, who presides over the upper world of the gods. These three animals were very honored and seen repeatedly in architecture and artwork throughout Cusco and the surrounding areas.

Celebrate and feast with some Pisco Sours (the national cocktail), ceviche,  Peruvian roasted potatoes (see recipe below) and Inca Kola – if you can get your hands on it! When the fire dies down a bit, those who feel able-bodied should take a running jump over the pit for good luck. Revel in the sunset.

     ROASTED PERUVIAN POTATOES
     Start to finish: 1 hour
     Servings: 4 to 6
     2 pounds Peruvian purple potatoes, scrubbed
     1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
     1 tablespoon Mexican oregano
     1 tablespoon minced garlic
     Salt and freshly ground black pepper
     1 tablespoon cilantro
     Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

     Halve the potatoes and place them in a bowl. Cover them with water if you cut them ahead of time.
     In another bowl, mix olive oil, oregano, garlic, salt, and pepper. Mix well. Drain potatoes well and add them to the oil mixture. Toss with olive oil mixture. Spread the potatoes on a sheet pan. Roast for 30 minutes until potatoes are tender. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve
(Recipe from Aaron Sanchez, foodnetwork.com)


Resources:

http://latinamericanhistory.about.com/od/ancientlatinamerica/p/Inti-The-Inca-Sun-God.htm
http://www.livescience.com/22869-machu-picchu.html

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Feel the Pour

It's one of the older conundrums in the ritualist's book.

You're pouring at a public ritual. You've brought the libation. You paid for it, so the other attendees have no investment, no personal stake in it.

How, then, do you get them to feel the pour?

Here's my recommendation: beautiful as it is, leave grandma's silver libation ewer at home.

Pour straight from the bottle.

And pour out the whole thing.

Every last drop.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Every system of thought has its own inherent flaws. That's why we have to keep changing.
  • Tony Lima
    Tony Lima says #
    Who can provide realistic technical knowledge in Paganism? Me! The biggest problem in old paganism was in pointless fears, and big
  • Tony Lima
    Tony Lima says #
    Paganism in its rightful way under scientific knowledge at large, is probably better than Christianity.
Women, Power and Religion in Ancient Athens

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Recent comment in this post - Show all comments
  • Carol P. Christ
    Carol P. Christ says #
    Love your speculations on women's power in early Athens. Also love the ending invocation of Athena and women as callers of peace.

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Heart of the Storm

It may well be my first memory.

I'm laying in the dark screaming, terrified of the thunder that has wakened me. My father comes into the room and scoops me up into his arms.

We're moving. I distinctly remember passing from the darkness of the hall into the light of the kitchen. My mother is saying: Russell, what are you doing? Russell, what are you doing?

He carries me out the back door. Rain is sluicing down. We both must have been soaked through immediately, though I don't remember noticing. Out we go, into the heart of the storm.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    It's a date.
  • Aline "Macha" O'Brien
    Aline "Macha" O'Brien says #
    I remember dancing and playing in the warm Summer rains in NJ, but not when there was lightning. Our collie used to cower in fear
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Yikes. Doesn't know His own strength.
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    We had a squall line of thunderstorms blow through here last Thursday. It lest as much damage as some of the hurricanes have. So
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    We've just had a line of destructive storms roll through to the north of us, with (yikes) apple-sized hail. Even in the city, wher
Kick-Ass Traditional Scandinavian Midsummer's Recipe

By Midsummer's, the garden is really starting to kick in and feed us. There on the traditional Scandinavian Midsummer's Eve table, along with the caraway cheese, the deviled eggs, the new potatoes and dill, the cucumbers in sour cream, the roasted baby beets, and the strawberry-rhubarb pie, is this absolutely stunning puree of asparagus and fresh garden peas: the very essence of green life.

If ever you've wondered what Midsummer's tastes like, this is it.

 

Green Pea-Asparagus Puree

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Night on Witches' Hill

The cop car careens up into the park, right over the grass. It slams to a stop; two doors fly open simultaneously and a cop leaps out of each one, hands on holsters, poised and ready to go.

Welcome to our Midsummer's Eve.

There we were, up on the highest hill in the metropagan area: us and folks from our sister coven. We'd decked ourselves and the picnic tables with oak leaves. We'd sung the songs, danced the dances, and shared the feast of new foods.

Now it's sunset, and everyone's gone up to the top of the hill to bid farewell to the Sun at its latest setting of the year.

Except for me. Here's old Uncle Steve, right in character, down in the park running around with the kids. There's even one sitting on my shoulders.

I don't know what the cops were expecting. Something nefarious, I suppose. Something occult. Black hooded robes and a virgin in a white gown.

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