Pagan Paths


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Paths Blogs

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

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Our last blog post was Part 1 of building the Cernunnos Shrine.  Picking up here right where that one left off….

 

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More Than Meets the Eye: The Minoan Goddess Amalthea

When I talk about Minoan spirituality, people tend to recognize the names Ariadne and Dionysus, and maybe Rhea and Minos as well. But there's one that often leaves them shaking their heads: Amalthea. I actually had someone ask me one day if Amalthea was one of the characters from Game of Thrones. Um, no. LOL

Amalthea is a Minoan goddess who, like Ariadne and the others, was absorbed into later Greek myth as something less than divine (FYI the Minoans weren't Greek). But I promise you, she was originally a full-fledged goddess and not just a goat-herding foster mother of Zeus. In fact, you'll note that Zeus is a Greek god, not a Minoan one. Like the Romans, the Greeks enjoyed equating foreign deities with their own, both as a way to understand other pantheons and as a handy method for taking over those cultures and absorbing them. So when the Greeks say that Amalthea was the foster mother of "Cretan Zeus," they're talking about Dionysus, the Minoan god who is born in his mother Rhea's cave at the Winter Solstice. And Amalthea plays a role in that story.

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  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I'm slowly making my way through "Crete to Egypt: Missing Links of the Rig Veda" by Dr. Liny Srinivasan. The author's premise is

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On Loki and Teacups

Long-time readers of this blog have watched me go through a strange journey. After 25 years as Priestess of Freya, comfortable with my spiritual routines, it was weird to suddenly have Loki crack open my head and funnel all the other gods in, all because I walked out of a movie saying, "I bet I could write something more authentic than that."

It's had it's up and downs, but my life is so much better now. Some of the changes have been big, some small. Sometimes it's the small things that impact everyday life. Once, one of my friends on social media asked rhetorically "Who needs more chaos in their life?"

Well, I did. Or at least, I needed less order. I needed to be less rigid in my personal rules for myself. I had thought there was something wrong with drinking tea from a coffee cup. My mom, with whom I share a house, thought there was something wrong with making a kettle of tea and using a real teacup for a single cup when I could just microwave a coffee mug. Rather than either argue with her or use the "wrong" cup for my tea, sometimes I wanted a cup of tea and didn't make one.  Loki reduced my excessive rule-following. He showed me it was OK to have tea in a coffee cup.

One of the processes Loki led me through was to break each of my unthinking routines, one by one. Each one had to be examined to see if it was really useful or if it was unnecessary. The useful habits were kept, and the unnecessary ones jettisoned, just like going through an old closet and trying on the clothes to see which ones to keep.

I got used to being able to drink my tea from a coffee cup and not feel uncomfortable. And then-- presto! About a year later I found a box of gorgeous antique teacups in the garage. My gramma's, I guess. So now I can drink tea from a teacup again-- a better one. And that's Loki all over.

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A couple weekends ago I went to Paganicon 2017 in St. Louis Park, Minnesota. There were all kinds of amazing workshops, rituals and conversations with great people that I had which I will discuss in following posts. At the final panel discussion was about making space in the broader culture, which is especially important as many religious and other types of minorities are currently experiencing a resurgence of fear and pressure to choose blending into the background or being more assertive about who we are. One assumption that kept being made is one I want to challenge. The idea that Pagan conventions, festivals or other places in which we are more open, such as Burning Man, Renaissance festivals and so forth are not "the real world" that other people who don't get what it is that we are doing are mundanes, Muggles, cowans or whatever term. Now I understand that has a spiritual side to this, particularly with rituals in which sacred space is created, we are going into a gathering in which somewhat different social norms apply. However when we reinforce this dichotomy, we erase and negate our own experiences and identities as Pagans, Witches, polytheists and esoteric practitioners in the rest of lives. We may purify ourselves, put on special clothing or jewelry in preparation for holidays, prayers or ritual or set aside a piece of furniture, room, or even a building for spiritual use. We may not be as visible in our day to day lives as distinct minorities. But we are still Pagans the rest of the time. I know for myself, it's difficult to remember not so much due to the influence of Christianity per se, but consumerism and alienation of overall society. Conversely, around people sincerely practiced their religions, and folk customs I feel much more at home. This is one reason I feel much more comfortable in the very multicultural, multi-religious neighborhoods in which I live and work, in spite of many comments I get from others about how "scary" they perceive these places to be. I think their ignorant comments are much scarier. And yet I refuse to be intimidated. The ancestor shrines in Korean, Thai and Vietnamese restaurants remind me of how around much of the world, and most of human history animism is the rule, not the exception. In the very Mexican-American neighborhood in which I work, the Virgin of Guadalupe can be found everywhere from ornaments on cars to arm tattoos and yes, shrines in businesses and yards. While many of these neighbors identify as Buddhist or Catholic, or even secular rather than Pagan, I can see those commonalities. In small Midwestern towns you may hear tales in Lutheran church basements of nisse, tomten and trolls and in suburban malls teens spread rumors and Internet legends that are as recycled as many of the Hollywood movies that they come to watch!  My favorite way to discover "suspiciously pagan" things is from both atheists and conservative Christians complaining about superstitious things members of their flock do. It's like the modern version of learning about folk customs from missionary accounts.

 

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Hello, and blessings to all!

It's been quite a few months since my last posting, as I was busy finishing up a new book, which should be out later this year. The working title is "Celtic Cosmology and the Otherworld: Mythic Origins, Sovereignty and Liminality," and it's on a small and wondrous academic press - McFarland (you can get on their mailing list to receive up to the moment notices).

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Manifesting Your Path As An Artist

This past weekend at Paganicon in Minneapolis, MN, I gave workshops on Witchcraft, Ritual Movement, and Art.  The latter especially focused on my own path as an artist and where it intersects with my Witchcraft.  Alas, 90 minutes wasn't quite enough time to get it all in, so I figured I'd write up 6 key points here for y'all.

In my lecture, I talked about how art schools rarely give artists the tools they need to really succeed.  Sure, we can learn the craft of being artists from a technical standpoint and refine the use of our media - but when it comes to promotion and being professional, those areas are sorely lacking in formal art education.  Which means finding your way through a lot of trial and error. 

So how do you get your work out there as an artist?

1) Have a presence on the internet: a facebook page for your work, Instagram account, your own website, or being on a portfolio website (deviantart, behance, etc), etc.  This requires also getting good photos and/or scans of your artwork, as well as crafting a short biography, artist statement, and build a resume of shows/events/awards/education. Watermark your art! 

2) Have a physical presence in the real world: invest in business cards, postcards, etc - that you pass out with your work and online presence on them. Network with other artists, check out local groups, galleries, and other events.  Does your local town/city have an artwalk? Check out the spaces, see what the art is like. 

3) Craft a plan for each year, setting goals for what you want to accomplish.  Goals can be along the lines of: doing a series of 10 paintings on X theme, participate in 3 group shows, get a solo show, do 1 outdoor festival, etc.  It all depends on your media and where you want to go with your artwork.

4) Keep your word and be realistic.  This seems like a common sense thing, but unfortunately there is often a lot of substance behind the idea of the "flakey artists."  I can't tell you how many times I've filled in at events for artists who have flaked at the last minute because they didn't get work done for the show. However, shit does happen, so if you suspect you're not able to do an event or make a deadline, give the host/organizer PLENTY of time, so they can adjust accordingly.  Saying yes and falling through again and again damages your reputation, no matter how good your work may be. 

5) Presentation and Products! Consider the ways you can show and replicate your artwork so that you can get it out there and make money off of it.  Is your work easy to frame? What size works best? How durable is it? How much will it cost to hang it properly? Be creative! Prints, notecards, calendars, magnets, t-shirts, etc - can be really awesome - or a money pit. Go to events and see what similar artists (subject, media, etc) are doing, and consider what can be your own take. Look to create a variety of pricepoints as well.  For example, I have notecards that are $4, prints from $20-$30, higher end prints from $45-$150, and then original art - so art for a variety of budgets.  

6) Make art.  No really, make it. Don't just think about it or talk about it, or plan it. MAKE IT. The only way to expand as an artist is to keep making art, keep producing it, keep developing and trying out ideas.  

Now there's a lot more that can be done, but these 6 points I believe are at the root of developing your brand and growing as an artist.  "Overnight success" is the result of years of hard work that most people never see. 


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Numerology and the Page of the Tarot Cards

I've been doing a lot of work with the court cards in the tarot, recently. Some of this is due to the projects on which I'm working in my mundane job as an author, and some of it is my own research. The correlation between numerology and the tarot has piqued my interest. However, the court cards aren't numbered, so how do you go about reading them when using numerology? Do you simply count them as 11 (Page), 12 (Knight), 13 (Queen) and 14 (King)? What if there were another way of looking at them? 

What I've found has resonated with me—and your mileage may well vary—is to look at the court cards as a more complex set of numbers, rather than just as court cards. In numerology the number 11 is known as a master number, and it does seem to resonate well with the energy of the Page. It's a combination of both 1 and 2. As the Page is the first card in the second part of the suit, the first card in the court cards, it also takes on the energy of both 1 and 2. 

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