Culture Blogs


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Culture Blogs

Popular subjects in contemporary Pagan culture and practice.

Category contains 2 blog entries contributed to teamblogs
Why Can't We Be Friends? The role of friendship in a coven

What is the role of friendship in a coven? What is a coven’s purpose? Must you be friends with the members of your coven for it to function properly?

A few months ago, we released a member of our coven and resolidified/unified our coven in preparation for the coming year, and to reassert our group mind without gaps or division in it. Things were brought up (things always are) when a member chooses to leave a magickal group, and this was no different. In it, it was said that this person was looking for friendship instead of a coven... that they didn’t want a coven in the first place. Which begs the question: is friendship/fellowship a requirement for coven life? MUST you be friends with your covenmates? Is this the role that the coven is supposed to take on?

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Our Lady of Blue Glass

A few winters ago, I was lucky enough to spend the end of December in Europe, and one of the most beautiful, sacred sites of my trip was the Chartres Cathedral in France, outside of Paris. I’d long been fascinated with this spot, since it turns up again and again in Grail lore and stories of the Magdalene heresy, but what I  didn’t know before making this pilgrimage was that the cathedral stands over a holy well, and before the current stone structure was built, the site was possible a Druidic grove or Celtic holy site.  Wherever the magic comes from that infuses Chartres, it’s tangible, and the visit lingers with me as one of profound peace and personal exploration.

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The Longest Night

I have always loved the colour of the night sky in winter.  It almost never seems entirely black; instead, it blue with refracted gloaming, even at the dark of the moon, even at midnight.  And yet, the stars are never so clear as they are in the midst of winter, as Orion charges out from the horizon to chase Taurus with Canis Major barking at his heels.  The jewel in the Great Dog’s collar, Sirius, sparkles like a radiant prism diamond as it cycles through white, red, green and blue (though of course this is only atmospheric refraction) just over the Southern Horizon; Castor and Pollux wink out of the sky’s zenity; and the Pleiades sparkle like a celestial diamond ring.  Meanwhile, in the Northern Horizon the Dragon rears his head, and the Big and Little Bears point the way.

It’s dark for a long time here above the 49th Parallel at this time of year.  The sun sets at around 3:30 pm and it doesn’t rise again until almost 8:30 in the morning.  That’s seventeen hours worth of night.  I find it challenging to deal with.  But it gives you a long time to contemplate the stars and the celestial mysteries.  Maybe that long night is part of the reason why the stars are so clear; there’s so much less sunlight leaking into the sky by the time one considers the stars in winter.  Or maybe it’s because high-pressure fronts coming down from the Arctic Circle chase the clouds away and the sky opens up to reveal the vastness of the celestial firmament.

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  • Martin
    Martin says #
    I often find the winter months trying, so I enjoy reading works like this. Thank you for taking the the time to brighten my dark

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Midwest Nativity

Emma Wilkinson, 12 years old, awoke that night aware that someone she did not know stood over her bed.

In the heartbeat moment before she opened her eyes, she found that she knew several other things as well.

That her family, including her sister in bed next to her, all slept quite peacefully.

That she herself felt no fear.

She opened her eyes. The banked fire had burned down to coals, but Emma could see the girl quite plainly. She wore white buckskins and a buffalo robe; her face was strange, but the eyes Emma knew.

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Walk the Winter Solstice

Here’s a cool yule idea for you: get outside! Winter Solstice hikes are all the rage, and there are many to choose from; sponsored by area state parks, conservatories, and small businesses. Have your troop meet you at your destination site for the scheduled walk. Revel in the crisp winter air, and observe the magical changes Mother Nature has woven around you. I cannot stress this enough – layers, layers, layers. You can never have too many, and you can always wrap something around your waist, shoulders, or neck if you need to make a temperature adjustment. Don’t worry about hat hair. This really isn’t a time of year for the overly fashion-conscious. By partaking in this healthy ritual, you are embracing the colder season, not fighting it. Chances are good that you will also work up a deserved thirst and appetite.

If your band of merry travelers wish to continue celebrating with an after-party, invite them over to your place for hot cocoa, cider, and mulled wine. Keep it easy and informal. Have a cookie exchange, where people can bring over some of their excess baked treats to share. (There are always an excess of goodies in folks’ homes this time of year!) Be sure to supply plenty of candles on hand, so that everyone has one to light. 

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Create this spice-scented reminder of the sun's return to sweeten the Winter Solstice and grow good things in the year to come! You'll need: 
  • 1 navel (thick-skinned) orange Grown in warm climates, the orange, with its round shape and bright color, is symbolic of the sun. Magically, you can use oranges to bring things into your life. 
  • 1 jar (or more) of whole cloves The strongly-scented clove will provide energy for this work. It also represents fire, an element honored at both Yule and Imbolc. 
  • Ground cinnamon A fire and sun spice, cinnamon is used in magic for healing, protection and focusing energy. Put the cinnamon in a shallow bowl. The mingled scents of cinnamon, clove and orange promote an energized warmth that will help you develop a sunny outlook and a positive outcome.
  • 4 lengths of gold ribbon (long enough to wrap around your orange and tie at the bottom, leaving some length to dangle) The color gold is symbolic of the sun, fire, and the God. Magically, gold is good for thinking, problem solving and health. 
  • A straight pin or slender nail (it should be slimmer than the clove). 
 
Before you begin, decide what pattern you would like to make with the cloves on your orange. Dot your pattern onto the orange using a pen or marker—each dot will mark where you will place a clove. You can make vertical rows, or you can have a central design like a pentacle. 
 
 
When the pattern is complete, carefully drive the pin or nail into each dot--this will make it easier to push the cloves through. 
 
 
Push the cloves into the orange according to your pattern, and say, 
 
Cinnamon, clove and orange round 
And by golden ribbon bound, 
As the sun returns to me 
Let (insert your intention) grow So mote it be! 

What would you like to see grow in the coming year? Better study habits? New friendships? Fill in the blank with your intention. 

 
When all the cloves are in, place your orange in the bowl of cinnamon and roll it around, continuing to say the spell. The ground cinnamon will soak up and dry any juice that has come out of the orange, and will also help to preserve it for a while. 
 
 
Once the orange is coated with the cinnamon, remove it from the bowl and tap off the excess powder. Then, one at a time, wrap three of your ribbons around the orange, tying three times (for the Goddess) at the bottom, leaving a couple of inches of ribbon to dangle. 
 
 
Slide last piece of ribbon underneath the ribbons at the top and make a loop. Hang it indoors or out to share some sunshine!
 
by Natalie Zaman
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The insanity of the holidays can drive anyone crazy.  Getting gifts, arranging to visit with family, work parties, and more.  It is a time of the year when you can lose track of the importance of the phase of the year we are in. 

You can find any posting on what to do on Yule, how to decorate your house with all the associations, what food to cook and so on.  I don’t do any of it.  I find the holidays stressful and unbearable in most years. 

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