Pagan Paths


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Paths Blogs

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

This blog has taken many hours - and no small measure of courage - to write, and is written from the heart. It discusses some potentially uncomfortable aspects of modern Celtic Paganism. I encourage you to read and contemplate. Note: Flaming will be deleted, and protection is already set in place, as well as spirit assistance to return anything harmful to sender. The ultimate message here is awareness and respect. If that doesn’t resonate for you, please pass on by. 


I want to say some things on the topic of showing respect for our fellow/sister/trans Celtic/Druidic pagans. Many - if not most - pagans believe that nature is sacred, as well as all of its beings. 
That includes human beings, who have complex lives and experiences, struggles or situations, as well as strengths and insights, the extent of which we may not be aware (especially if our only ‘knowledge’ of them is through Facebook or the internet).Why would we have compassion for a wounded or struggling plant or animal, but not for another human being?
 
As some are aware, over the last year or so there have been some flareups of aggressive and judgmental words and behaviors from some in this community towards others. This is of course nothing new, but in recent times, the diatribe has been fueled by labeling others as engaging in cultural appropriation.
 
That’s a handy term to fling about in order to cast aspersions on other people, the details of whose lives or practices we may not be fully aware. In light of this, we should define what the term actually means. Here is a good summation from Wikipedia:

“Cultural appropriation, at times also phrased cultural misappropriation,is the adoption of elements of a minority culture by members of the dominant culture. Because of the presence of power imbalances that are a byproduct of colonialism and oppression, cultural appropriation is distinct from equal cultural exchange.

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  • Síthearan NicLeòid
    Síthearan NicLeòid says #
    I’m so pleased if any of this was of service or inspiration! Wishing you every blessing on your path!
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    Thank you for sharing. My own practice is based on book learning and dream inspiration. I am a solitary practitioner.
  • Kris Hughes
    Kris Hughes says #
    Sharon, I applaud your bravery and openness in writing this. We (and sometimes me) are too quick to judge people's specific experi
  • Síthearan NicLeòid
    Síthearan NicLeòid says #
    Kris I’m so relieved that the true intention and message could be heard and appreciated. It was hard to say and probably even hard
  • Síthearan NicLeòid
    Síthearan NicLeòid says #
    Oops, typos! And joy, not enjoy. And that makes us, not what. There, not they are. One must be ever vigilant with voice recognitio

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Autumn Grand Ceremony & 120 Years Anniversary!

This November 3rd, 2018, we held our Autumn Grand Ceremony (Shuuki Reitaisai) and the 120th year anniversary of our shrine's founding in Yokosuka.

 

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  • Aryós Héngwis
    Aryós Héngwis says #
    Looking forward to seeing more updates from you! Also wow that's a lot of people! Very good attendance it would seem!

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Asatru FAQ: What's a Nokean?

A Nokian, or Nokean, is someone who opposes Lokeans. A Lokean is a type of pagan or heathen whose personal religious practice is primarily about following Loki. Some Lokeans also consider themselves to be Asatruars, or Wiccans, or other sects, and some don't. Asatru includes Loki in its traditional list of gods, so many Asatruars who do not consider themselves Lokeans do honor Loki, just not as their primary deity.

A Nokian actively tries to get people who follow or honor Loki to leave public heathen spaces or stay silent within them, and tries to convince people who are seeking a religious path that Loki isn't an acceptable part of heathenry. While Lokeanism is a religious practice, Nokeanism is a form of proselytizing. People who simply prefer not to acknowledge Loki and don't have a relationship with him are not Nokeans; they are just ordinary heathens, pagans, etc. who don't have Loki in their personal or group practice. A Nokean is someone who tries to control the personal and group practice of other people to get others to exclude Loki.

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  • Erin Lale
    Erin Lale says #
    Anthony, it's a huge subject and I'm only just barely introducing it in my comment. The main takeaway here is that the impact of N
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I should probably have added the qualifier "currently available" to "lore and practices" though a 40 day time frame would give the
  • Erin Lale
    Erin Lale says #
    Anthony, that's an interesting way to look at the elements. In heathen literature, there are trees considered male that poetically
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    In "Two Flutes Playing" by Andrew Ramer the author describes gay energy as tree energy and says it is represented in art and stor
  • Erin Lale
    Erin Lale says #
    Anthony, oh, Odin is also a trickster He and Loki are very much brothers. Meredith, in one of our stories Loki enters an eating

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Sound and Silence

The real in us is silent; the acquired is talkative.” – Kahlil Gibran

In my first post here, “An Introduction to Creating an Element-Based Spirituality”, I pointed out that Native American tribes, in addition to the four elements, also include in a fifth element of Sacred Sound. Shortly after I published that, it occurred to me that this was something I might want to verify.

I had remembered reading (or hearing) it some time ago in what I had believed to be a reliable source but now I can’t even remember where I read it or, by extension, just how reliable it may have been. Nor have I even been able to find any references or information online regarding any such specific belief.

Naturally, I know that sound is indeed sacred and powerful in Native American tribes and culture, as is illustrated by its use for healing (among many other spiritual contexts) via flutes and drums. I know that the Thunderbirds are sacred and dwell in the watery quarter of the West. I know that many vocables and wordless chants were also used for multiple purposes.

However, I’m no longer so sure that there actually was believed to be a fifth element of sound, per se, as far as any Native Americans were concerned. This served as a reminder to me of just how much modern, “New Age” and “Neopagan” information and enthusiasm regarding Native American spirituality, while usually well intentioned, is often simply completely erroneous.

I am loath to spread misinformation or fall victim to misappropriation (these days often unfortunately confused with the relatively less harmful and seemingly inevitable term and action of “appropriation”), so unless anyone can comment and maybe enlighten me as to where I may have heard/read this or if it actually has any basis in truth, I will have to clarify that, while a nice idea, it may not be contextually accurate.

That being said, Sound is still a very powerful and sacred force and my search to correct myself led me to reflect on it and realize that maybe it can still be considered a sort of element. On the same token then, so too is Silence.

Many creation stories have to do with sound, a word or words being used to create realms and life. Or to destroy them. In the Finnish epic poem, Kalevala, the main hero is called a wizard and a minstrel, and his famous singing of legendary songs leads a young rival from the North to challenge him to a fantastic, mountain-crumbling, ocean-heaving duel of magical songs and chants that have power of their own.

Sound is vibration, more technically defined as pressure change, particle displacement, and simply the changing motion of molecules through matter. So, sound has the power to influence or create, but sound itself is the result of something else that already exists and that is moving and vibrating, thus putting out compression waves. Creating sound is a great power. In all our different practices we all know about names, words of power, of sacred songs, chants, mantras, etc.

We also know, at least on some level, that even all of our everyday words have power. Yet this seems to be something easily forgotten, particularly in an age where communication is made faster and easier all the time, yet ironically leads to more communications breakdowns and misunderstandings. “Raise your vibrations” is first accomplished by raising your standards of both behavior and speech, both of which put out and define your vibe.

How often do even the most intuitive, learned and “enlightened” of us still say things we don’t mean, things that hurt others, or that attract energy we’d rather not want? Probably far more than a lot of us realize. Perhaps you’ve known someone who simply loves to hear the sound of their own voice, someone who will carry on and on talking about everything they (think they) know, everything this god told them or that they read in that book or this UPG or that thing that so-and-so claims that is actually bullshit, so on and so forth? Or have you simply had your heart broken or your world turned upside-down by hateful or false words?

Well, ‘tis the season to be silent. Literally. We’re coming into Winter now, a time when life slows down (in theory, natural life anyway), much life even ceases, blankets of snow muffle the Earth and fluid, babbling water freezes up into her solid, silent form.




Water is a very relevant element this time of year. It is the only element – pretty much the only thing – that exists in three different states: solid, liquid and gaseous. What if we would truly “be like water”? What if we allowed ourselves to shift and adapt more naturally, to really mirror the energy of the season, to know when to flow and when to freeze? When to speak and when to be silent? There is such power in sound and speech, and there is just as much power in silence; in knowing when not to speak or make sound.

When was the last time you sat in complete silence for an extended period of time? I realize I might be putting the question to the wrong crowd, albeit rhetorical, assuming that many of you do indeed meditate in silence regularly, or otherwise spend significant time not talking, not typing away texts or emails, not blaring music or a show in the background. However, I think we could always use even more silence.

This is an overstimulating age in which so many people are competing to be heard, in which we often can’t go to any social setting and have conversations without everyone talking over and interrupting each other. There is still a general desire, even expectation, to fill everything up with sound, noise, talk, busy-ness, distractions. Much of this gives many people, or is the result of, an inflated sense of self-importance. Mankind in general has a terribly grandiose sense of self-importance and feels like it just needs to make noise because it can, like an infant shrieking while discovering its own voice.

Winter humbles us. Winter silences us. Winter wants us to go inward, to reflect, to think, to really know ourselves long before we start opening our mouths and letting all kinds of energy and noise spill forth. We need to learn our truths instead of trying to tell others what theirs are or should be, in any way. We need to know how little we know, and understand that even what we do know doesn’t have to be shouted out all the time. We need to enjoy the sound of silence.


After all, as Maurice Switzer put it, "It is better to remain silent at the risk of being thought a fool than to talk and remove all doubt of it."


Featured image: The Hermit (detail, enhanced) by Pamela Colman-Smith
"Seasons - Winter" by Erté

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Yule: A Compendium

Over the years, I've posted quite a bit about my Atheopagan Yule traditions. I thought I'd pull links to them together here for easy reference.

Yule, overlapping so heavily with the Christian/secular holiday of Christmas, is a time when many of our Pagan traditions are widespread, and with many old threads of lore and practice layered over one another. Whether your household goes all out, with a tree and gifts and parties and the Holly King in his guise as Saint Nicholas, or simply lights candles to call back the light into the world, it is a time of both hope and fear, a time for reflection on what has gone before, a time for thinking about new projects and initiatives.

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Mulled Wine--a Yule Invocation

It begins where the smoke hits your eyes: smouldering peat,
Mutton stew on a broad iron hook,
Deep snow. How can it ever have been summer?
Apples wrinkling and mice in the barley—
With so much to fear, thank the stars for company!
We’ll tell our tales, remember how we passed the cold
Last year, and that before. And those who couldn’t.

The grape leans across the seasons,
Clasps the hand of summer’s dried rind,
Dreaming the new fruit,
Calling the sun back,
World without end amen.

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Two Blades: Minoan ritual labryses and practical tools

The labrys is one of the most iconic symbols of Minoan civilization. The two-bladed axe shape evokes ideas ranging from bloody human sacrifice to butterflies in a spiritual garden. I have my own ideas about what the labrys means to me, and may have meant to the Minoans as well.

One thing I've noticed, though, is that a lot of people use the term "double axe" to refer to these artifacts, conflating them with practical tools. But they're not the same thing.

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  • Greybeard
    Greybeard says #
    Weight is an important part of a useful ax, not just for strength. A ceremonial ax would not need weight. I have never seen a bu

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