Pagan Paths


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Paths Blogs

Specific paths such as Heathenism, blended traditions, polytheist reconstructionism, etc.

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Beltane - Yesterday and Today

I'm looking forward to Beltane this year. It's one of the more fun public rituals that I participate in with my local Pagan Community and it's usually outside, which really sits well with my ritual sensibilities. I’ve celebrated Beltane for as long as I can remember, although I didn’t always know it by that name growing up. I have extremely fond childhood memories of May Day celebrations in south east London and Kent. Most of the celebrations were at my school (St. Mary Magdalene C of E) and on the church grounds themselves right on the banks of the River Thames.

Beltane celebrations happening on Church grounds weren’t particularly unique experiences. I went to lots of different May Day events at churches.  There was often a church fete with scones and knitted things and lots of elderly ladies that all sounded just like every Monty Python Character you can conjure up. What was special about these gatherings is that it felt like we were all engaging with something that was "always just done".  I even have pictures of my grandmother as a young girl in the 1930s dressed as the May Queen.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

What does Egyptian religious practice look like in the 21st century?  Maybe more to the point, why do we turn for inspiration to a culture which disappeared nearly 1800 years ago?b2ap3_thumbnail_Pached1.jpg 

The second question makes me think of my friend Marion who just loves to travel.  He’s been in more countries, more times, than I can count.  He and I have mused together about how deeply one is changed by stepping outside of everyday life and being immersed in something completely new and different.  For some of us, religious travel is just the tonic needed for a weary soul. 

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ThinkingLikeaMountain-2
"Thinking Like a Mountain" by Robert Bateman

In this time of accelerating environmental change, many of us feel a sense of urgency to help transform humanity’s relationship with the Earth.  This sense of urgency is what drew together a large group of diverse Pagans, including Pagan leaders, authors, artists, and bloggers from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia to draft “A Pagan Community Statement on the Environment.”  In honor of Earth Day, the statement has been published at ecopagan.com where you can add your signatureThe statement represents the beginning of a conversation, not the final word. Join us in our call to all people to rise to this historic moment in order to protect all life on Earth by signing the statementYou can sign on your own behalf or on behalf of a group or organization.


A Pagan Community Statement on the Environment

Who we are

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
The Landwight

This land is home now. It's the place where the land spirit protects me, and where we exchange gifts and mutually grow stronger, and happier. It's the place where my neighbors' children swim in my pool and their dogs obey me. It's the place where I delight to see butterflies on the flowers with a simple joy that blots out all other thoughts. It's the place where I can go outside and harvest food and know that it's healthy and free of poisons and a product of my love of the land and the land's love for me. It's the place where my old cats are buried.

When I first moved from my old apartment in Las Vegas to our house in Henderson, I wanted to do an Asatru land-taking ritual when I moved in. I wanted to walk the boundaries of our land and mark out our property line as an innangarth (inner yard.) But, while moving, I had attempted to carry a couch down the stairs from my old walk-up apartment and injured my knee. As I sat in my room thinking about how to walk the boundary when I couldn't walk, I looked out the window and saw my cat Shadow walking the boundary for me.

Shadow understood territory, because she was a cat. So, I started out on this land by working with nature via nature, in the form of a cat and her territorial instincts.

Gradually, I became aware of the being of this place, the genius loci. I decided to contact the land spirit and see if I could communicate and start a formal gifting relationship with it. In Asatru we call the land spirits landvaettir or landwights, and there are traditions about what a landwight might like, but those traditions were developed in Europe, dealing with the beings native to that land. Since this land is in the Nevada portion of the Mojave Desert, I thought the local landwight might be used to dealing with humans within the traditions of the local Native American tribes, so I approached it by offering corn. It liked the corn. But it turned out the landwight wasn't particular; he just wanted some of whatever we were having, only plant matter, and only what would otherwise go to waste. The landwight here is a vegan and a freetarian. I began offering to the landwight by putting things in the compost pile, and the landwight accepted these gifts and returned gifts of rich, dark soil. Yes, this is how compost normally works -- I see the magic of the return of a gift for a gift operating and simultaneously understand that this process can be explained by science, for that is what nature is for me. It is both the science and the magic, both the logic and the joy.

The photo at the top of this post is my front yard in October 2011. I designed this garden, and went through the approval process to get the local water department rebate for replacing lawn with xeriscape. I grew both the squash in the foreground and the mimosa tree on the side of the house from seed. I started the lavender bushes and Australian racer in the middle ground of the photo from cuttings; the lavender cuttings came from the back yard lavender bush, which originally came from High Country Gardens, and the racer from my grandmother's garden in Arizona. The squash seeds came from Native Seed Search, an organization for the preservation of heritage Southwest Native American food crop seeds. It's a Tohono O'odham Ha:I which I have nicknamed "the squash that ate Las Vegas" because it is rampant.

After some years living here, as my relationship with the local landwight deepened, he decided he wanted to be represented by a garden gnome statue. He does not actually look like a gnome; he is a vast power, and his true form awes me. My mom chose the gnome statue. I positioned it in the garden near where I give the landwight the "Presents for the Gnome." I distribute the gnomic blessings into the planting beds-- that is, I shovel compost-- and the garden flourishes. The garden nourishes me physically, emotionally, and spiritually. It takes care of me, I take care of it, and the cycle continues. The the mimosa and pine trees that I started from seeds in little pots in my apartment are big trees now. Their roots go down deep into the ground, and so do my psychic roots. This is my home.

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Ritual Elements Earth - Loving the Earth

Author's note: I'm re-running this article in honour of Earth Day - April 22, 2015 

I've spent the last month examining my practices and interactions with the Elements. It's one of the core pieces of magic I teach in the Reclaiming Tradition. I revisit this work every so often as a teacher and as a student. In my last three articles I've chronicled my explorations with Air, my connections with Fire and my dive into Water. I'm turning now to the Earth.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Gwion Raven
    Gwion Raven says #
    You know Annika, I pretty much always want to roll around in the soil and duff and get that rich, dark, wet earth all over me. G
  • Annika Mongan
    Annika Mongan says #
    Now I want to go out and roll around in the dirt and breathe in the scent of grass and moss and bugs and listen to the cry of bird
  • Gwion Raven
    Gwion Raven says #
    > thank you Lizann
  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham says #
    Brilliant!

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Toilet Snobs and other Modern Problems

There is a certain kind of mindset that says that we, the current oh-so-modern inhabitants of the world, are the epitome of social and biological evolution, that we are an improvement over everything and everyone who has come before us. This concept was very popular in Victorian times thanks to Social Darwinism, a misapplication of the concept of evolution to social and cultural contexts. It was simply an easy way for well-off white Westerners to feel superior to non-whites, non-Westerners and pretty much every single culture that had come before them. So it came as quite a shock to Victorian society when Sir Arthur Evans uncovered the ruins of Minoan civilization and discovered complex architecture, beautiful naturalistic art and (gasp!) enclosed sewers and flush toilets. It turns out, ancient Crete wasn’t alone in this kind of ‘modernity.’ Almost every house in the ancient Indus Valley cities of Mohenjo-daro and Harappa had flush toilets attached to a sophisticated system of sewers.

The concept of linear cultural and social evolution, of simpler and cruder things leading to more complex and elegant things, derives from the Judeo-Christian worldview that offers a beginning (creation) and steady progress to an end (Judgment Day). This viewpoint colors our expectations of ancient cultures and our interpretations of what we find. But many cultures around the world, especially the ancient world, had a non-linear view of history. They did not see a straight path from beginning to end so much as an ever-spiraling cycle, like the seasons but on a larger, almost epic, scale. I think this circular/spiral mindset is more helpful than the linear one as a lens for viewing ancient cultures. It allows us to recognize the ups and downs of history and prehistory, the fact that people have always been intelligent, ingenious and adaptive.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

b2ap3_thumbnail_freyja.jpgFreya is the daughter of Njord (and likely Nerthus), the twin sister of Frey, and one of three Vanir who were sent to Asgard as hostages following the Aesir-Vanir war.  Like her brother, she is connected with fertility, and portrayed in lore as being extremely sexual.  However she is also a warrior and a mistress of magic, and a very complex figure.  

How should one periphrase Freya? Thus: by calling her Daughter of Njordr, Sister of Frey, Wife of Odr, Mother of Hnoss, Possessor of the Slain, of Sessrumnir, of the Gib-Cats, and of Brisingamen; Goddess of the Vanir, Lady of the Vanir, Goddess Beautiful in Tears, Goddess of Love. -Skaldskaparsmal 20  

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