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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

 Wedding Traditions and Meanings: Jumping the broom

 

Modern witches have been jumping brooms at weddings pretty much since there were modern witches. One readily sees why: of the affinity between witches and brooms, you don't need me to tell you.

Jumping the broom in the sense of a de facto marriage, unsanctioned by either church or state, originates in Lalland Scots lore. It's from there that the custom spread to the southeastern US and became current among enslaved Africans, denied the right to legal marriage.

The first time that I presided at a public handfasting, the couple had made for the purpose, from the three traditional woods, a beautiful ritual broom. (Ash, birch, and willow, in case you're wondering.) Lo and behold, come the day of the wedding, the ritual broom languished forgotten at home. (It's not a real ritual unless something goes wrong.) So they ended up jumping a manky old broom from the janitor's closet instead. The broom-jump retained its magical transformative power, nonetheless. Hey, a broom's a broom.

As to meaning, I'll leave that to you to divine. Personally, I can't help but suspect that “jumping the broom” was originally some sort of sexual euphemism, but maybe that's just me. As a humble domestic tool, of course, the broom represents the home and home-life; I've also heard it said to stand-in for the threshold.

In lots of places, couples tend to do a simple run-and-jump—over and off—but around here we do things a little differently. First you sweep the bad luck away from the couple: three times around, widdershins, of course.

Then you lay down the broom. Three times, as people clap, the couple circles deosil, hand-in-hand. Each time around, they jump the broom. Third time over, we pelt them with barley, and done's done.

(Rice? Rice? Ha! What are you, some kind of cowan?)

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Ah yes, that lovely old institution of "indentured servitude": slavery lite. Yeesh!
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    Interesting, I thought the practice grew up in Virginia during colonial times when Anglican marriages were the only ones that were

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
What Is a Stupa?

Around six weeks ago, my family and I visited Sedona, Arizona to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. 

The highlight of our trip was a Vortex Jeep Tour. (I'll be making a post on the symbolism of vortices soon, as well as sharing our personal experiences with them). 

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Hollyhocks: Old-fashioned Beauty and Magic

I purchased hollyhocks for my garden this spring. Here in northern New England it’s early spring; the daffodils haven’t bloomed yet. One reason I chose hollyhocks was that they were in the gardens of my parents and grandparents. Those tall spires of large flowers were impressive (and still are) as they reach six to eight feet tall.
     The common hollyhock (Alcea rosea) is also known as althea and rose mallow. The five overlapping petals create a bowl-shaped flower that ranges from white to pink to purplish red. The hollyhocks I bought are a cultivar with dark purples, almost black, flowers. Hollyhock has large, heart-shaped leaves with three to seven lobes. They grow up to eight inches long, but become progressively smaller toward the top of the stalk.
     Hollyhocks were a mainstay in cottage gardens and used to treat a range of ailments including snakebites and scorpion stings. They were also grown for beauty; the medieval commoner’s roses. Hollyhocks were also believed to provide protection from the devil and other perceived evils.
     A seventeenth century recipe listed hollyhock as an ingredient for fairy oil, which when anointed to the eyes made the usually invisible fae visible. An elaborate ritual was used to gather the ingredients, which also included grass from a faery circle. With the proper incantations, the oil was also used to conjure a faery known as Elaby Gathon. Nannies called upon this faery to protect babies as they slept to prevent bad faeries from substituting changelings.
     Hollyhocks in the garden attract abundance, prosperity, and happiness. After moving to a new house, crumble a handful of dried flowers, and then sprinkle them around, inside and out, to help you and your family feel at home. Of course, also look for faeries who may also feel at home in your garden with the hollyhocks.

 

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 Quarter of Americans Convinced Sun Revolves Around Earth, Survey Finds -  ABC News

 

Founded more than 50 years ago in 1970, the Pagan Movement in Britain and Ireland was headquartered on a pagan communal farm in rural Carmarthenshire (Wales). It originally grew out of a London organization called the Regency, which in turn had its roots in (and was founded by former members of) Robert Cochrane's Royal Windsor Coven.

What follows is a hymn to Earth and Sun from the PM's Rite of Imbolc, which marked the reborn Sun's Coming-of-Age. (Though not directly named, Earth is the “thee” to whom the piece is addressed.) It is sung to the tune of Edward Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance March #1, familiar to Americans as the processional march at high school graduation ceremonies, also known as Land of Hope and Glory.

Though not attributed, the lyrics were clearly the work of Tony Kelly (1943-1997), the PM's leading light, and my own beloved teacher. Kelly was a brilliant but deeply flawed man; Old Craft historian Michael Howard once described him to me as having had “horns of gold and hooves of clay.” Truly one of the Wise, his understanding of the Old Ways and their gods was deep beyond telling. It was from him that I learned what many pagans, 50 years on, have still to realize: that the truest and most authentic pagan experience comes, not from dusting off some old god or goddess from Long Ago and Far Away, but from an active lived relationship with—to begin with—Earth and Sun, Here and Now.

Though a brilliant and articulate writer, Kelly's verse suffers from his fondness for archaic diction and his willingness to sacrifice anything, even clarity and grammatical integrity, for the sake of rhyme. (That said, rhyming "Goddess" with "forest" is sheer pyrotechnic verbal genius, brilliant.) Still, Proud the Sun Adore Thee has much to teach.

You can see the hymn in its original ritual matrix here. Please note that a number of errors have crept into the version cited in the Weebly Pagan Movement Archive, foremost among them the inversion of the first and second lines of stanzas one and three. I have here restored the song to its original form.

 

Proud the Sun Adore Thee

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Earth Day Insights

Now more than ever, the earth is crying out for our help. Natural disasters have become an unnatural common occurrence on every corner of the globe. To turn a blind eye on what we see going on around us every day, even if it doesn’t effect us directly, is akin to being the monkey who sees no evil until it is too late. Our neglect and willful ignorance on this matter is most definitely to our own peril. The common question is often, “Well, what can I do? What small difference can I make?” A lot my friends, a lot. Every little bit helps. According to recent expert reports, at this point we have roughly three years to act, otherwise we’re pretty much screwed. Of course, we already should have been taking steps back in the 70s when the first Earth Day was introduced by Environmentalist Senator Gaylord Nelson, from my home state of Wisconsin, no less, but we still have a small window to make an impact.

GET INVOLVED

Many communities have river cleanups and activities not just today, but throughout the year. Look up what’s going on close to home and start there.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Seven Sacred Stones Bracelet

Take any silver chain-link bracelet and add “charm” to it! Bracelets act as protection jewelry, and, well, they look simply divine on our delicate wrists, do they not? Of late, the trend has been to layer bracelets, but with gem magic, there’s a danger that jeweled pieces worn together could cancel each other out because they have conflicting energies. So, I’m going to recommend that you wear this bracelet alone, without other magical wrist wear.

To make this piece, you’ll need seven stones on small pendent settings, a silver chain-link bracelet, seven jump rings, and pliers. Plain silver chain-link bracelets are easy to obtain at any jewelry department or store, from Target to Tiffany. Jump rings, which have an opening through which you can slide a pendant and then close up with small chain-nose pliers, are readily available at any craft or jewelry store. 

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Twinkle-Star Toe Ring

Every step you take will be supernatural when you wear your Twinkle-Star Toe Ring! To make this ring, you’ll need forty-four tiny amethyst beads, 18 inches of elastic thread, two sewing needles or two wire thread needles, and glue. Once you get the knack of the projects, you can try it again and vary the number and type of crystal beads.

Begin by blessing the beads on your altar. Next, thread the needles onto each end of the elastic thread and then string four beads to the center of the elastic. Thread the left needle through the last bead on the right-hand side. Pull it tight, forming a diamond shape. Next, string one bead on the left thread end and two beads on the right. Thread the left needle through the last bead on the right. Pull it tight. Repeat until all the beads are used. In order to close the ring, thread the left needle through the end bead of the first diamond, instead of the last bead on the right. Pull tight, tie the ring off with a double knot, and place a drop of glue on the knot.

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