Culture Blogs


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Culture Blogs

Popular subjects in contemporary Pagan culture and practice.

Category contains 2 blog entries contributed to teamblogs

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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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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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 Baths of Caracalla, Rome: interior of the Tepidarium | Works of Art | RA  Collection | Royal Academy of Arts

 

Two bathhouses for more than a thousand sweaty pagans? You've got to be kidding me.

The campground where the big pagan festival was being held that summer usually catered to music festivals. Maybe at heart the wholly inadequate shower facilities was largely a matter of demographics.

Even so. After waiting in line for more than an hour one morning for my 60 seconds under the showerhead, I go up to the office to protest and lobby for some sort of temporary accommodation. Propane showers, maybe?

The campground manager does her best to be mollifying. I'm clearly not the first to bring the issue to her doorstep. Equally clear is the fact that they're not going to be doing anything to rectify the problem any time soon. Thank Goddess for Turtle Creek.

As I turn to leave, she shakes her head.

“You pagans sure are a cleanly lot,” she says, sounding a little surprised.

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 The Full Moon Reflected On The Lake Surface Stock Photo - Download Image  Now - iStock

 

Who is the divine patron/matron of your city?

 

The Secular City

 

She left her temple in Uruk to descend into the Underworld.

She left her temple in Larsa to descend into the Underworld.

She left her temple in Nippur to descend into the Underworld.

 

So begins the story of the Sumerian goddess Inanna's descent into the Underworld.

(If the prospect of the Goddess leaving her people to descend into non-existence seems harrowing, it's true: we've been there, and seen what comes of it. Consider, though, that we've gone through non-existence along with her and, along with her, come out on the other side.)

Long ago, I noticed that there are certain aspects of the original that just don't translate.

 

She left her temple in Cleveland to descend into the Underworld.

She left her temple in Peoria to descend into the Underworld.

She left her temple in Fresno to descend into the Underworld.

 

Laughable, isn't it?

Once cities were sacred places. Now we live in what theologian Harvey Cox called “the secular city.”

That's the problem.

 

The View from the Broom

 

It once happened that I flew into the city of Minneapolis on the night of the full Moon. It was then that I made a surprising discovery.

(I was flying in an airplane, as it happens, but the view from the broom would be the same.)

You could easily tell when we'd reached Minnesota: they call it the Land of Lakes. (So we have been since the end of the last Ice Age.) The very name Minnesota means “Sky Water.” We're said to be the Land of 10,000 Lakes; actually, there are more.

What I discovered that night is that there's a full Moon in each of them.

 

The City of Minneapolis, Her Seal

 

Years back, several of us sat down to discuss—as a matter of course—what the Seal of Pagan Minneapolis, City of Lakes, should look like.

(Why, you might ask, do we get to decide? Not hard. We get to decide because we were the ones that asked the question.)

The question is not so quixotic as it might seem on the face of it. There are many pagans here, and have been for a long time. Then, as now, we were convinced that the future is pagan.

 

Mermaid rises from lake, wearing mural crown.

In one hand, she bears an ear of wheat, in the other, a fish.

 

Which came first, Athens or Athene? In the old days, cities were themselves accounted goddesses, iconographically identifiable by the mural—city-wall—crowns that they wear.

Minneapolis was first (paganly) settled by witches, Children of the Moon.

This, then, from the City of the Moon Goddess, Mother of Witches. If, for us, she wears a fish's tail, what's it to you?

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Tip 'n' Tricks: The Salt of the Earth

You can cleanse all of your jewelry by placing it into a bowl of sea salt for seven days to make sure nobody else’s energy is permeating the pieces. This is especially helpful if you own antique or estate jewelry.

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All by Itself, the Humble Sweet Potato Colonized the World - The New York  Times

The sweet potato lies in the middle of the porch roof. Looking out the window, I wonder if it's an omen.

An omen, as a warlock friend of mine once pointed out, needs to be something out of the ordinary. In order to know what's out of the ordinary, you first have to know what's ordinary.

(He was out on a first date with a Druid one night, when the guy picked up an oak leaf from the ground and said sententiously, “In my tradition”—gods, I hate it when pagans start sentences that way—“it's a favorable omen to find an oak leaf.” Then he paused, expectantly. At the time, they were standing in an oak grove. It was autumn. Needless to say, there were no more dates.)

I presume that the sweet potato in question came from the compost, and got to the roof via squirrel. That's ordinary enough around here, though I can't recall having composted any sweet potatoes lately. Still, mine isn't the only backyard midden on this alley.

A sweet potato on the roof, though: I'll grant that tentative “out of the ordinary” status. Now, of course, we arrive at the central crux of omen-reading: what the flock does it mean?

OK: it's on this roof, so clearly—if it is a sign—it's a sign for this household.

As for meaning, well: nice fat tuber, comes from underground, gold in color.

I'd say: Unexpected windfall coming soon. Gods grant the omen.

A few hours later, I remember and look out the window again. The sweet potato is gone.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 

 Tales from the Pagan Resistance

 

In the days of the Byzantine emperors, long after most of the empire had been converted—forcibly or otherwise—one little Anatolian town held resolute to the Old Ways. Despite repeated warnings to accept baptism or suffer the consequences, the entire community stood firm.

One day imperial forces marched into the city. After the massacre, they sawed the arms and legs off every man, woman, and child, and hung the severed limbs along the streets as a warning.

 

 I regret to inform you that the above story is true. In Catherine Nixey's 2018 The Darkening Age: The Christian Destruction of the Classical World, you can read similarly grim stories on virtually every page. Be warned: this is no easy read.

I have to be careful reading books about the history of what we really must call the Christianities; reading too many tends to make me morbid. I get angry; I start making stupid and thoughtless generalizations; I fall into an “us and them” mode of thinking that, down the years, I have come to eschew as ultimately counterproductive.

But we are who we are because we remember, so I read on. Many times during the reading of Nixey's engagingly-written, but devastating, history of the horror show that was 4th- and 5th-century Christianity, I've found myself laying the book down because I simply couldn't bear to read any more. Each time, though, I find myself picking up the book once again, needing to know the rest.

Let me quote from Nixey's introduction:

As Samuel Johnson...put it, pithy as ever: “The heathens were easily converted, because they had nothing to give up.”

He was wrong. Many converted happily to Christianity, it is true. But many did not. Many Romans and Greeks did not smile as they saw their religious liberties removed, their books burned, their temples destroyed, and their ancient statues shattered by thugs with hammers. This book tells their story; it is a book that unashamedly mourns the largest destruction of art that human history has ever seen. It is a book about the tragedies behind the “triumph” of Christianity (Nixey xxiv).

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