Pagan Paths


PaganSquare is a community blog space where Pagans can discuss topics relevant to the life and spiritual practice of all Pagans.

  • Home
    Home This is where you can find all the blog posts throughout the site.
  • Tags
    Tags Displays a list of tags that have been used in the blog.
  • Bloggers
    Bloggers Search for your favorite blogger from this site.
  • Login
    Login Login form

Paths Blogs

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

b2ap3_thumbnail_Louises-drawing.jpg

Portrait of me by author & artist Louise Hewitt. Louise entitled this piece “She Who Wears the Antlers’ not knowing that my name in the ‘real’ world is ‘She Who Wears Antlers’

 

The Old Antlered One

I am a product of the land I am from. If you were to cut me open you’d find that my bones are made from her compacted soil, my lungs carry her air and her rain and thunder still flow in my blood.

...
Last modified on

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Offerings, Minoan Style

We're modern people, not Bronze Age Minoans. But in Modern Minoan Paganism, we do some things that ancient people would have found familiar. Among those is the presentation of offerings to the gods. We do this quietly on our home altars or a bit more loudly sometimes, in group ritual.

A while back, I wrote about the kinds of offerings we make to the various gods and goddesses - what they like and what they don't. But the way we make offerings, or more specifically, the kinds of containers we use for them, take their inspiration from the Minoans.

...
Last modified on
Elementals and the Ineffable: Gods Not in Our Image

Man created God in his image. Before he (and I do mean he) decided to do that, humans venerated the powers and beings of Nature just as they were. They honored life-altering forces and powers that defied explanation, from the radiant rays of the Sun to the mysterious waters of woman’s womb, and all the delights and dangers of Nature in between.

These Nature spirits were held in the highest esteem, and propitiatory offerings were made to them. Occasionally, as the result of atmospheric conditions or the peculiar sensitiveness of the devotee, they became visible. Many authors wrote concerning them in terms which signify that they had actually beheld these inhabitants of Nature’s finer realms. A number of authorities are of the opinion that many of the gods worshiped by the pagans were elementals, for some of these invisibles were believed to be of commanding stature and magnificent deportment.” - Manly P. Hall, The Secret Teachings of All Ages

Earlier humans were in awe of the thunderstorm. They saw all of creation in the glistening surface of the seemingly endless sea that supplied them with food, tools and decor. They listened to the lapping, splashing rivers and the tingling whispers and caresses of the winds. They knew that there was something moving them that moved in everything else, something they could not see, but rarely, that they could yet feel and see the result of.

There was once a greater sense of the ineffable – of that which is unknowable and unspeakable. Now humans are obsessed with themselves and with “knowing” and speaking, labeling, explaining, defining, compartmentalizing, and have been for ages.

They have also become obsessed with something that H.P. Blavatsky called blasphemous: anthropomorphism. She argued that if God is infinite and uncreated, then God is not a being but an incorporeal principle and therefore should not be anthropomorphized.

Despite the obsession with knowledge, humans don’t seem to understand how little they know, how little they are capable of knowing. Yet they have gone to war over what they think they know. Over what they believe.

Though these are impressions I’ve been having for a long time now, it was the recent encouragement I seemed to feel emanating from the fragments of a pre-Socratic philosopher named Xenophanes that got me finally writing this. He poignantly observed over 2,500 years ago that

Mortals suppose that gods are born, wear their own clothes and have a voice and body. Ethiopians say that their gods are snub-nosed and black; Thracians that theirs are blue-eyed and red-haired. But if horses or oxen or lions had hands or could draw with their hands and accomplish such works as men, horses would draw the figures of the gods as similar to horses, and the oxen as similar to oxen, and they would make the bodies of the sort which each of them had.

Xenophanes cautioned against misconceptions of the divine based on human tendencies and flaws, and supported a view of religion based more on rationality than on traditionally held beliefs. Yet he was not an atheist or humanist by any means. His almost mystical views and references to multiple gods, as well as the One God, “neither in form like unto mortals nor in thought”, confirm this.

I assume that most reading this might understand that “the gods” are metaphors and symbolic energies and that they have been (or should only be) anthropomorphized to make them more relatable and to serve as embodiments of certain forces and ideals to which we may aspire to emulate (let me here firmly exclude the contrarily wanton and immoral ancient Greek gods with whom Xenophanes was disgusted) or at least learn from. We have created them. It has become a circle, as our creations influence us and take on energies just as thought forms.

However, clearly many Pagans still heavily and pointedly anthropomorphize, dogmatize, name and strictly define and take the existence, forms and human characteristics of their gods every bit as literally as Christians do.

So many of us have crowed over the blatantly stolen and thinly veiled paganisms displayed in Catholic and other Christian rituals and practices. Yet I see an ironic amount of Christianity play out in many modern pagan writings, practices and attitudes.

It is no secret that most Pagans today have come screaming from Christianity or some offshoot thereof. So, it should be no surprise that many still bring with them much of the same attitude, belief, modes of worship and ritual, methods of “literalizing” and general understandings of deity and apply them to a pagan pantheon established by other mortals long dead, rather than to the decidedly masculine Christian “Trinity”, also established by other mortals long dead. Old habits die hard, after all.

I don’t think we need religion. Yet we don’t need to abandon notorious organized world religions to instead simply leaf through a catalog of alternative, indigenous spiritualities, gods and witchcraft and pick the regional aesthetic and system we like most (or a hodgepodge of several) and slap on the corresponding nametag either. At least not if we’re going to take every single thing as literally as Christians take everything in that old bugaboo, the Bible.

There are so many different names for the same thing. The One Thing, in fact. But also, many other things by which we are surrounded. 

There is a difference between Elementals and the One Thing; the Source; the original incomprehensible Universal Mind that is always becoming and never is. Yet the elements and the beings that inhabit them are a part and manifestation of that One; of what we mere, precious, silly humans, with our human opinions that Heraclitus called “toys for children”, cannot and will not ever begin to know or understand.

For, as my man Xenophanes says,

There never was nor will be a man who has certain knowledge about the gods and about all the things I speak of. Even if he should chance to say the complete truth, yet he himself knows not that it is so. But all may have their fancy.”

Indeed, Xeno. Let us have our fancies and our opinions, so long as we know that that is what they are, and that Zeus, Mithras, Jesus, Morrigan, Loki, Marduk, Amaterasu, Yemaya, Quetzalcoatl and the rest are just names. They are the creations of mortals. As such, they are little more than those names. But at their cores, what they represent and teach us are much, much more. 

The elements became “gods”. The sky above you is a god. The rains and rivers and oceans are gods. The flowers and the ladybugs that adorn them are gods. The mountain peaks and echoing caverns are gods. The trees, the animals, the flash of lightning and the howling winds are gods. All these things were so ages before any human deigned to give them - even the One - his own form and start naming them and saying what is so and what is not. None can say. None can know. We are surrounded by and composed of the magic of the ineffable and what we call God is not in our image.


© 2018 Meredith Everwhite – All Rights Reserved


Featured image: “Epiphany” 1940 by Max Ernst

References:
Insights into the Invisible World of Elemental Forces by H.P. Blavatsky
www.philaletheians.co.uk

The Secret Teachings of All Ages by Manly P. Hall

Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
www.iep.utm.edu/xenoph/

Xenophanes of Colophon: Selected Fragments
people.wku.edu/jan.garrett/302/302xenof.htm

Last modified on
Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Meredith Everwhite
    Meredith Everwhite says #
    It only creates an obstacle if it is taken too far or too literally. The Ineffable, by its very definition, obviously cannot be ex
  • Steve
    Steve says #
    Who can explain the ineffable? This seems to be a difficult concept for many to grasp, particularly those Christians you mentioned

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Shinto and sexuality: A gift of life



With the recent ban on adult content on Tumblr, it has given way to a lot of discussion about adult content online and what is or isn't acceptable. Legitimate issues were brought up in how violence is more normalized than intimacy and sexuality, and how the bans would affect sex workers and nsfw artists greatly – Tumblr, one of the last safe mainstream social media platforms that could ensure an income and audience base is now also being ripped out from under them. I feel this is not right and even a dangerous and irresponsible decision to make. Instead of relying on bots and algorithms to moderate between adult content and all-ages content, they should hire a dedicated moderation team, and proper safety features into the site to protect minors, but also while not censoring adult content creators and their adult consumers. There were ways that worked before that do not require a site-wide ban.

 

...
Last modified on
Recent comment in this post - Show all comments
  • Aryós Héngwis
    Aryós Héngwis says #
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this important subject. I haven't used Tumblr for personal use in a very long time and the NSF

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
How the Minoans got mixed up with Wicca

Today I'm sharing a guest post from my dear friend Dana Corby (author of The Witches' Runes, which I heartily recommend). She has many years of experience in the Pagan community and has seen all sorts of theories and points of view come and go. Today, she has generously offered to share her knowledge about the way Minoan spirituality has intertwined with Wicca over the years and how that has sometimes led to misunderstandings about the Minoans, their culture, and their religion.

* * * * *

...
Last modified on
Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Carmen Beaudry
    Carmen Beaudry says #
    One of the lovely things about having little to no involvement in the more public side of Wicca is that I never felt the need to t
  • Hearth M Rising
    Hearth M Rising says #
    Yes! Crete was a great neighborhood before those nasty lesbians moved in with their lying feminism. They appropriated what had bee
  • Mark Green
    Mark Green says #
    While I don't really buy that modern Witchcraft and Paganism has any lineal relationship with ancient traditions, I really appreci

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Effective Atheopagan Leadership: A Curriculum

As I’ve written before, my conceptualization of Atheopaganism as a path and a tradition does not incorporate concepts of degrees of advancement or “clergy”. I just find these to be fraught with too many pitfalls, ranging from “higher-level” persons gatekeeping access to knowledge and training from lower-level ones, to those with “status” potentially being able to leverage that status in unhealthy ways ranging from minor pomposity all the way to harassment and abuse.

The whole idea of “initiations into secrets” is a holdover from secretive organizations like the Masons, with their roots in the Romantic movement of the 18th and 19th centuries. There is no longer any legitimate reason why secrecy should apply to anything that has to do with religious practice…and in the era of the Internet, frankly, in practical terms it does not.

...
Last modified on
Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Mark Green
    Mark Green says #
    Thanks, folks!
  • Murphy Pizza
    Murphy Pizza says #
    I LIKE IT!! There's much useful here, Atheopagan or not. I will be revisiting this.
  • Meredith Everwhite
    Meredith Everwhite says #
    Very thought-provoking and a lot to think about & look into, thank you!

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Modern Minoan Paganism: no rules to break

A while back, I wrote a blog post about how there isn't really a rule book in Modern Minoan Paganism in terms of how people have to practice their spirituality. Unlike some named traditions, Modern Minoan Paganism is more a wide pathway than a strict method.

Yes, we have our pantheon full of all kinds of deities, and we do interpret them in specific ways. And we have our preferred activities and focal points: altarslabyrinth walking, offerings and libations, even ecstatic body postures. These are things we all share, though not everyone gets into everything equally.

...
Last modified on

Additional information