Pagan Paths


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Paths Blogs

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

Fashion & Faith: Wear Medusa, Honor Vesta

While I’m not what you’d call a “girly girl” – I prefer sci-fi movies to chick flicks and grey pencil skirts to flowered dresses – I do love jewelry.  And like most things I love, I’ve managed to find a way to integrate it into the way I honor Vesta.

Of course, wearing jewelry to symbolize one’s faith is nothing new.  Modern Christians wear crosses or crucifixes in the same way that the ancient pagans before them wore pendants, rings and bracelets that depicted the faces of their gods, goddesses and heroes.  And with the resurgence of traditions like Vesta, we are starting to see this happen again.  I, for one, am happy as a clam about it.

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  • BlondieWitch
    BlondieWitch says #
    Hi Debra, I am drawn to your blogs and knowledge of Vesta. I am a solitary green witch, and I feel honoring Vesta just makes sen

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

I've probably been involved in well over 500 Pagan rituals over the last twenty years.  Most of them have been pretty forgettable, but there are five or so that really stick out.  There's a couple of Samhains in there of course, a big crazy 1899 ritual, my year and a day dedication ritual, and the night I was initiated.  Those are the experiences I'll take to the grave with me, especially the last one of those.  

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  • Phaedra Bonewits
    Phaedra Bonewits says #
    We also used to say, if six months after your initiation your life hadn't gone through some major changes, it didn't "take" :-D I
  • Lady Pythia
    Lady Pythia says #
    Lovely article, Jason, which takes me back to my own Passage Rites. And, Phaedra, yes, yes, yes! I probably scoffed in 1975, as
  • Phaedra Bonewits
    Phaedra Bonewits says #
    I have several initiations myself, and I have no particular problem with non-lineage initiations. What I do find problematical is
  • Phaedra Bonewits
    Phaedra Bonewits says #
    Reading a play is not like watching a production of a play. Watching a play is not the same as performing in a play. Reading a rit

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Equality for Minoan Men!

It can be hard for us modern folks who have always lived in a patriarchal society to envision any other kind of culture. As Riane Eisler perceptively noted in her book The Chalice and the Blade, we come from a dominance hierarchy type society so we tend to assume that any other kind of society from history or prehistory must be similar. In other words, if the men aren’t in charge and disproportionately powerful compared to the women in a culture, then the reverse must be true: the women must hold all the power while the men are largely powerless and oppressed.

This unfortunate bias has spilled over into our interpretation of Minoan society. I can’t count how many times people have told me, “Oh, those Minoans, their art is all women. You don’t see men anywhere, so the women must have held all the power.” I’d like to dispel this myth, for myth it is, and it’s totally inaccurate. It’s based on the idea that all societies must be dominance hierarchy types and it fails to consider another type of society: the egalitarian culture, which is what the Minoans really had. That’s a society in which women and men are equals and all adults have the same standing regardless of gender. This myth is also based on a careful selection of Minoan art that in no way represents the enormous and beautiful collection we have from this ancient civilization. So let’s explore the accuracy (or lack thereof) of the women-in-charge myth by actually looking at the art of the ancient Minoans.

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  • Thesseli
    Thesseli says #
    This article makes me think of this story -- http://www.npr.org/templates/transcript/transcript.php?storyId=197390707 -- an in par
  • Laura Perry
    Laura Perry says #
    That's kind of disturbing, but I guess it's a reminder that what we think we see isn't necessarily the same as what's really there

The retrieval and revival of indigenous ceremonial traditions is a growing concern in this increasingly disconnected world, and one that has great promise for the restoration of methods of sustainable living, sound ecological practices and the preservation of ancient knowledge. Sound recordings of elders are being made around the world, as well as video recordings (where possible and appropriate) of aspects of traditional ritual. For some tribes, preservation and the training of the younger generation are key. For other native cultures, these efforts hinge around the retrieval of fragmentary and partially forgotten evidence. This is the situation with native Celtic ritual practices, some of which have died out, and others which survive in traditional Celtic-language speaking communities and which are not advertised or generally made public.

Every book, group and spiritual teacher who professes to practice 'ancient Celtic or Druidic ritual' has a completely different system on offer, which in and of itself is a red flag. The vast majority of these are based on modern occult and Neo-Pagan traditions, Neo-Shamanism of a non-Celtic provenance, and various New Age ideas, with a smattering of Celtic words or symbols. The reason for this is totally understandable: without living elders to pass along an intact tradition, or detailed written evidence that preserves such a system (provided by and approved by living descendants of native tradition bearers), there is enormous confusion and controversy over what Celtic ritual is or should be like.

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  • Alan O ' Domhnaill
    Alan O ' Domhnaill says #
    Language is in a continual state of evolvement. Possibly our way of expressing and understanding too. Should ritual not also be ev
  • Alison Leigh Lilly
    Alison Leigh Lilly says #
    Thanks for this article -- a good, informative run-down of some basic commonalities in ritual from different ancient Celtic cultur
  • Síthearan NicLeòid
    Síthearan NicLeòid says #
    Hi Alison - Thank you for your very insightful and thoughtful message! Yes, I can clarify.... Since what I am personally trying t
  • Greybeard
    Greybeard says #
    Thank you for this article and knowledge.
  • Síthearan NicLeòid
    Síthearan NicLeòid says #
    You are very welcome, Greybeard! May it serve and inspire!

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Holding a Heathen Ritual Upstairs

Continuing my story of my personal journey on my path, in the late 90s I started holding my own blots and sumbels in my apartment. My local area had neither festivals with public rituals nor any heathen groups I could find to join, so I started holding the holidays myself, sometimes alone and sometimes with friends. When I had non-heathen friends over for the holidays of the American holiday calendar, I did my holidays the American way. That eventually grew into my personal practice which I talk about in my book American Celebration. 

When I held specifically Asatru rituals, I usually held a sumbel (toasting ritual) but also sometimes held a blot (blessing) in addition. In preparing to hold a blot or sumbel for the first time, there was a practical consideration: Where do I pour out the blotbolli or horn? At the end of a heathen ritual, there is leftover liquid-- usually mead these days-- in a bowl (for a blot) or a horn (for a sumbel.) This liquid is supposed to be given to the landwights. I would have had to leave ritual space to access the ground, which was a common strip of lawn used by all the neighbors, down a flight of stairs. So I decided to pour the horn or bowl into my potted plants on the balcony, which I called "the hanging gardens of Las Vegas."

Offering through my plants connected my potted garden, in which I grew food, flowers, and small trees, with the land spirit. There is something very primal, very pagan, about gardening. It connected me with the land, the seasons, the weather, and all those gods and beings related to those things: spring maiden and harvest lord, sun and rain, and the spirits of nature.

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Everywhere, Spring is being celebrated. I feel it, too: the warm air on my arms (hey, sweater season gets annoying!), the heavenly scent of jasmine, the first buds on the jacarandas. But underneath it I feel a sense of dread. Here in Los Angeles, rainy season is over.

Last month I got a price quote from a vegetable gardening service, hoping to finally get my garden in shape. But it's been weeks and I can't bring myself to pull the trigger. What if the guy comes out and the next day, restrictions go into place? Even if they don't (and our lackadaisical municipal governments aren't making any move to ration), can I really justify expanding my garden when water is so scarce? Everyone knows lawns are bad, but are tomatoes okay?

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  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    I think you'll probably be doing this... http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/cities-are-now/los-angeles-imports-nearly-85-percent-of

 

 

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