Pagan Paths


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Paths Blogs

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

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Crafting a Valknut for Odin

Coming up on the one year anniversary as a Bride of Odin on June 28th, 2015, I asked Odin what he wanted for our anniversary, and he said he wanted something to represent him in my "shrine." I clarified with him what he meant by shrine, and he meant the glass display cases on the wall where I had recently starting putting spiritual souvenirs. So I made a Valknut. I made two, in fact, one for the monthly anniversary which is every 28th of the month, on May 28th, and one for the one-year anniversary on June 28th.

I made the first valknut from silk ribbon on a silk hoop. I made the template for it on the 27th and made the art object itself on May 28th. The paper template helped me put the points of the triangles in the right places. It was interesting making a val-“knut” (knot) as a fiber craft, with the lines of the triangles crossing over and under each other like a real knot.

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Where Does The Magick Happen?

"If we focus more on the end result - the product - more than we do on the process, we teach ourselves and others how to consume instead of how to create."  (Quote by me.)

I may have woken up with a tad bit of a ritual hangover this morning.  But that didn't stop my brain from diving down a fascinating rabbit hole thanks to a facebook post from Byron about art and witchery. 

We often look at art in terms of being an end result, without much thought to the process.  I'm not only talking about visual art here, but all of the arts: dance, music, writing, theater, etc.  The end result rarely speaks of all of the hours of work, training, editing, practicing, derailed personal lives, lack of sleep, cuts, bruises, sweat, blood, and a whole slew of other things that really aren't slick, sexy, or appealing in general.  Yet the result is often something of beauty - profound, moving, emotionally, mentally, and/or spiritually compelling.  Unless you're involved in that art yourself, it's hard to fathom or understand everything that went into it.  Which is another reason why art is so often devalued in our society - that it's merely entertainment, dressing, something easy and amusing, full of pleasure and indulgence. 

Yet, it's also not just some combination of elements that make it into art.  Just because you have a canvas, some paint, a brush, and some time does not mean you will have a great painting at the end of it.  You'll have a painting in the basic sense of the word, but that doesn't mean it's art. Nor does a beautiful work of art mean that lollypops, cupcakes, birds singing, and sunshine were the stuff that made that piece happen. Inversely, a dark and painful appearing work of art doesn't mean that blood, tears, and thorns were involved in the making of it. Really, unless you were there, you can't know or say, you only have your own personal experience with the end result to base your opinion upon.  Which leads us to, when we add in the concept of "beauty is in the eye of beholder" and the lines between real and fantasy, experience and validity become very wispy indeed.  

Regardless of the end result, a skilled artist calls upon their experience throughout the process of making, transforming and changing materials through focus and intent. 

Similarly, a lot of folks look at spellcraft by the results without understanding the process.  They see the results, and they see a list of ingredients, and assume that's all that is needed.  But the experienced practitioner knows that it's the will that transforms and causes change in recognition of the elements and materials. It's the application of will and focus in the process.  You can follow the motions (burning a candle, digging a root, inserting of thorns, etc), but without the understanding and focus, they're often just actions that fall flat. 

Ask any artist where the magick happens, and they'll most likely tell you it's in the making of the art.  The need and desire to create comes from the actual process.  While the ego may be pleased by the end product of the process - and yes, it's definitely the thing that everyone else responds to -  it's the art-making itself that satisfies the spirit.

Though I certainly hope that for my own work, the ordeal and experience of the process is something that the end viewer gets a glimpse of. Not so much a look at my personal process, but perhaps that it speaks to their own experiences and processes.

In the end, it's not the telling of the process nor displaying of the art or spellcrafting that makes the magick, but the actual doing of it. 



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 AUGUST TREE LORE: Hazel Magic

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No Less a Woman

 

I ran across a fascinating word while copyediting a book a few years ago. Naditum is one of the five genders in Sumerian paganism. It's a gender, a biological sex-- meaning those born female appearing who turn out after adolescence to be infertile-- and a social class, the priestess caste. The idea really resonated with me, even though that’s not my tradition. The various heathen traditions don’t have a specific gender word for those identified female at birth who cannot have children and instead become priestesses. In heathenry, that’s still a woman.

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Freedom of religion, religious tolerance and interfaith dialogue

Freedom of religion

Freedom of religion, and freedom of choosing religion [or choosing none], is one of the most valued freedoms for any human being.

The Russian Empire of the past was a country where the Orthodox Church was an official, State religion. It was not allowed to change religion and, more than that, people were punished severely for attempts to do so. Leaving the Holy Orthodoxy could lead to punishment, penalties, exile from the country, confiscation of all possessions, and even imprisonment.

I remember learning about the Soviet Union - my home country – by reading our Constitution and there was one very important thing:
- a citizen is free to belong to ANY religion, or belong to none.

This is a treasured freedom of living in a secular state.

This is a guarantee that some monotheist fanatics will not stone you because of “denouncing G-d” or however they word it, if you decide to part ways with your previous monotheistic religion.
This is a guarantee that people of all religions are equal before State.

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Ghostbusters Magick

A few weeks ago I, and a lot of other people, saw the new Ghostbusters movie.  As a child of the 80s I was a wee bit skeptical at first but ended up loving it.  To quote one of my dearest friends, “I didn’t know women wielding proton packs was what was missing from my life.”  Of course me being me, my first thought coming out of the movie was that I just have to work with these characters in my magick - they’re just too awesome not to.  Let’s take a look at the four main characters and explore some of the many ways they can be worked with in pop culture magick.

***spoiler alert - this post will contain spoilers for the new Ghostbusters movie***

Erin Gilbert

Erin is a mainstream academic with a thirst to prove herself, to gain acceptance, and have her work and value acknowledged by those around her.  As a professor, Erin would be an excellent ally to call on for matters of scholarship (study, exams, learning, etc.) as well as navigating bureaucracy (there are few establishments as political and overwrought as higher education) .  Her struggle for recognition also makes her an excellent ally in workings designed to help one gain legitimacy, to be valued for your work, and to overcome obstacles.  I would argue that Erin would also be extremely helpful in workings of self-acceptance and self-esteem.  Throughout the movie Erin struggles with the conflict between being what’s expected of her and what she truly is.  She progresses from hiding her thoughts and values in order to be accepted by the establishment to expressing her true beliefs and taking the risk of really standing up for herself.  Though she can be a little timid at times, Erin is an excellent ally for anyone who has to work in mainstream culture.

Abby Yates

Abby is a significantly less mainstream academic who is willing to take risks and buck authority in order to achieve her goals.  She is bold, passionate, and unapologetic in her approach to life while also being a fiercely loyal friend.  Abby is a fantastic ally for any work that involves going around authority or otherwise subverting the establishment.  She can also be called upon for help standing up for oneself and holding onto the courage of your convictions in the face of adversity.  An unapologetic approach and unhesitant embracing of her own weirdness also make her a good ally in workings of self-esteem and empowerment.  The strong commitment she shows both in pursuit of following her dreams and in support of her friends makes her an asset for workings of endurance, loyalty, and determination.  Abby isn’t afraid to take risks, which can cause problems when caution is needed.  Call on her wisely.

Patty Tolan

Patty is a municipal historian, blue collar worker, and possibly the human embodiment of common sense.  Where many of the other ghostbusters live in a world of theory and academics, Patty’s feet are firmly grounded in the practicalities of everyday life.  Patty is an ideal ally in matters of practical problem solving, creative resource acquisition, and working with people.  Her practicality and resourcefulness also make her an excellent ally in matters of project planning, divining hidden difficulties, and general preparedness.  Her grounding and connections to place also make her helpful as an intermediary in workings to bond with the spirit of place for a given locale.  Her courage and willingness to try new things are well tempered by common sense, making her a very wise helper in determining whether to take a given risk.  Patty may not be as flash as some of the others, but she is the rock that can help you with everyday life.

Jillian Holtzmann

Jillian is the mad scientist of this bunch.  She’s a brilliant combination of Marie Curie, Tony Stark, and Victor Frankenstein; a fearless scientist,  a brilliant engineer, and a mad genius with little respect for safety or the laws of nature.  Jillian is an excellent ally in workings for inspiration, creation, anything involving the manipulation of science or technology, as well as workings to bend the laws of physics.  Where Abby is unafraid to go around authority or bend the rules, Jillian acts as if authority and rules are utterly meaningless and simply does as her brilliant mind tells her.  Call on her when there are no f**ks to be given.  Keep in mind that, while totally awesome, this blindness to caution or safety does make her a bit dangerous and more than bit reckless.

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How do you do Minoan?

I’ve been asked all sorts of questions about Modern Minoan Paganism, but the most common one is probably also the most fundamental: How do you do it? In other words, how do you actually practice this spiritual path?

To start with, I’d like to point out that this is a very individualistic path. It’s not a monolithic tradition with a set of rules and regulations everyone has to follow. It’s more like an umbrella structure under which each person can tweak the details in the way that they find most satisfying. So you start with the basics: the gods and goddesses of ancient Crete and their stories. Then you approach them in the way that makes the most sense for you.

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