Pagan Paths


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Paths Blogs

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

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Burgeoning

It’s definite now: the light is stronger, the days are longer. Here in the northern hemisphere, winter is passing, and spring is coming on.

Where I live, in coastal Northern California, the very first wildflowers are the milk maids, and they are already gone now, faded to buttercups and hounds’ tongues and shooting stars: the survivals of what once was a landscape carpeted with flowers in the spring. European grasses have forcibly taken over our hills, but the native flowers yet persist.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Mark Green
    Mark Green says #
    Of course! https://atheopaganism.wordpress.com/2014/08/28/an-atheopagan-rosary/
  • Kile Martz
    Kile Martz says #
    So glad you found a new path of employment, though I envy you your relationship with spring. Here in the upper Midwest we are stil
  • Carla Benejam
    Carla Benejam says #
    Mark, happy to hear about your new job! And reading your column made me want to add that the first wildflowers here on the "centra
  • Mark Green
    Mark Green says #
    Thank you! Yes, mustard is an early arrival here, too, but I was sticking to the native Californian wildflowers--should have menti
  • Mark Green
    Mark Green says #
    Good luck! I hope you get it.

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Painting With Pan

Oh Pan, you have your ways. 

When it was time to figure out what Nathaniel and I were going to submit for PantheaCon 2019, we knew we wanted to do another dance-music-ritual experience - following in the footsteps of "Hekate at the Crossroads" (2017) and "Dreaming the Raven" (2014). I had just finished writing some pieces for an annual that will be published next year, and Pan had goated his way into that work. He was also showing up pretty much everywhere I looked.  I know what that meant, and so we submitted a presentation called "A Revel for Pan."

Which got accepted, meaning now we'd have to get into the grotto and get some work done. Yes, I tend to work in such a way that I present ideas - and if there's interest, then I put it into motion and start the actual planning. 

As I contemplated what the Revel would look, sound, and feel like, the vision of having a large painting as an altar piece kept poking at me like a set of persistent horns butting against my head. I looked around my studio for available panels to paint on, and was informed they were all "too small." Then a large 2'x2' panel that had had several unsuccessful attempts at a "Witch's Sabbat Ride" theme fell over. Not so subtle hint taken.

I contemplated full body renditions on this square hunk of wood - something along the lines of the Pan that I created for Jason Mankey (middle of the bottom row here). I thought about head and shoulder shots - but when I sat down to paint, I felt I needed to reject a square presentation and turn the panel into a diamond shape.  This made it very hard to stabilize on both my easel and desk, but it gave me the most amount of room to include his horns, and possibly include shoulders and a panpipe.  As I got to work, just the head was the message I got and that was more than enough. 

After I got the basics down, the expression that was needed nagged at me. What came to mind was a headstudy of Pan that I saw in a "Museums of the World" book, going back at least 20, if not 30+ years in my memory.  What I remember most was the eyes were oddly shaped with a unique expression, very fey and full of mischief.  I couldn't find that original image from my memory, but as it happens, Nathaniel has been known to take on that very same expression. AND I had photographic evidence of him looking just like that. He's actually the only person I've ever seen to pull it off - and every time he has done it, that memory would sail on by.  Strange how weird things are connected through time and space! 

I had also just freshly re-read "Jitterbug Perfume" by Tom Robbins, so that added another layer to the image. There is a blending of a face emerging from leaves, taking physical form - as well as a sense of the invisible made visible - with a touch of Green Man feel. 

Perhaps though the trickiest part of all of this was figuring out how to have this heavy piece of diamond-oriented wood affixed to an altar in a hotel ballroom that was about to be filled with 300 people reveling.  With some help from friends, gaffer tape, a ballroom chair, and a sari - we managed to secure the painting in front of the stage - and it stayed put the entire revel! 

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  • Dragon Dancer
    Dragon Dancer says #
    He's gorgeous and inspiring! Thank you for sharing.

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
The Incredible, Elemental Egg

We are now between the time of Imbolc, when the fires in the belly quicken and hint at the coming rebirth, and Ostara, when that new birth of Spring occurs and the hibernating potential bursts forth in colorful blossoms and familiar bunnies and chicks.

Then there is the most familiar Egg: the supreme symbol of Ostara, Spring, new life and fertility. Yet it is so much more than that. Eggs have been painted, decorated, preserved, carved, crafted, offered, venerated and used as symbols and in rituals probably from the earliest days of humankind, certainly millennia before they came to be associated with the “borrowed” Easter of modern Christianity.

Eggs are the perfect symbol of life. They are literally life! All creatures begin as eggs in some form or another and all are composed of all four elements, which are perfectly represented by the parts of the egg: the shell is Earth, the membrane is Air, the white is Water, and the yolk is Fire.

It is easy to understand why so many different cosmologies and creation stories feature one or more “cosmic eggs” from which all beings, the world, indeed the whole universe are created. Several deities, such as Atargatis, are also believed to have been born from sacred eggs. Certain magical creatures are born from eggs under strange circumstances, such as the basilisk, which is hatched by a cockerel from a serpent’s egg.

There is the Greek Orphic Egg which hatched the first primordial being who created all the other gods, the Egyptian cosmic egg which birthed the sun god Ra, and the seven duck eggs hatched on the knee of the Finnish goddess Ilmatar, thus creating the various parts of the world.

Interestingly enough, the theory of the cosmic egg has a place in modern cosmological science. Current models suggest that over 13 billion years ago, the mass of all the universe was compressed into a singularity from which it expanded into its current state after the “Big Bang”. Could the Big Bang have been the moment of fertilization for the singular “egg”? The sparking action all life requires to ignite the potential contained in the seed which then expands and grows and even creates subsequent life?

More and more do quantum physics and other cutting-edge “modern” sciences begin to reflect, accept and even prove ideas that have existed in spirituality and mysticism since time immemorial; concepts that have been believed and perhaps truly known long before the advent of the tools and measuring devices mandated by science to verify the existence of anything.  

So how could the egg not be supremely sacred, and how could it not hold the key to the mysteries of all life and creation? Eggs contain life, potential for life, and they contain all the elements. So too then are the elements, from which everything is created, the keys to truth and understanding.

My kitchen altar is very simple and consists of a single candle, a very cute little plush cow with a tiny porcelain teacup and saucer, and a polished, egg-shaped onyx crystal resting in an egg cup. It serves as a focal point and constant reminder of all I have already said about eggs and then some. I can’t sing their praises enough! Particularly in the kitchen, where they are obviously most common. They are delicious, nutritious and wildly versatile.

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No, Christianity Didn't Steal Ash Wednesday from Heathens

No, Ash Wednesday is not a heathen or pagan holiday. Yes, Wednesday is named after Odin (Woden.) Yes, other cultures besides Christianity used ritual fire and some even used ritual ash. Some Hindus in India receive a blessing from ash from a sacred fire. Fire as a source of cleansing, heat, and light is pretty basic and obvious, and the fact that x culture used it does not mean y culture stole the idea from x culture.

The internet meme making the rounds that claims that fire and ash is an exclusively heathen or pagan symbol is ridiculous on its face; all cultures used fire. The internet meme claims the ashes from heathen festivals were protective in heathen culture. While it is possible that some heathens in the past did use ash for some magical or religious purpose, but if so the person who created the meme really ought to cite the source.

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Myth-information: Minoan facts, rumors, and wild tales

The Internet is a great source of information, but it turns out that it's also a repository of out-of-date and incorrect ideas that keep getting passed around again and again simply because they're floating around in cyberspace. Believe it or not, the Minoans are the subject of quite a few of these bits of misinformation.

In the interest of efficiency, here's the list of Minoan-related concepts that I find myself having to explain most often. Don't panic; I believed many of them myself at one time. But it's a good idea to set the record straight. Plus, this way I have a link to point people to instead of having to constantly repeat myself. :-)

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