Pagan Paths


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Paths Blogs

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

A Rune Magic Book Set Me On My Heathen Path

Continuing the story of my early experiences that led me to Asatru, I finally arrived at the trailhead of the heathen path at 17. In this quote from my memoir, Greater Than the Sum of My Parts, my older brother’s girlfriend Cynthia gave me a gift that set me on the road of the runes:
 
     “On my 17th birthday, Cynthia gave me a slender book, Futhark:  A Handbook of Rune Magic, by Edred Thorsson.  Reading it felt more like recognition than discovery, and by the time I put it down I knew I had seen Truth.  As a devotee of Tolkien I knew that runes were ancient writing, and could be used for magic.  Now I saw infinite levels of meaning in the mysteries the runes symbolized.  What clinched the feeling of Truth for me was that, understood metaphorically, nothing in the eldritch rune lore contradicted what I knew of science.  In Norse legend, in the beginning was the void, and the first other thing to exist was the differentiation of fehu and isa, fire and ice, the primal energy and the primal pattern.  It was easy to read this as energy and matter, two sides of the same coin, or the same magically charged void, but also a realistic description of the first things to exist in the multiverse, particles / waves.  Only then came the multiverse, then the giants or old gods, then the new gods, then our world, and then us.  Human beings were shaped from trees, and then followed a succession of human types known as Great Grandmother and Great Grandfather, Grandmother and Grandfather, Mother and Father, and finally Noble—that’s us.  It was evolution writ large, gods included.

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Under the Spell

It comes up every few months. It starts small but soon enough blossoms to a full-time preoccupation. I drift through reality, experience heightened by desire, appetite sharpening my senses. I’m unable to resist the enchantment even when I fear the strength of its pull.

 

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  • Shirley Koger
    Shirley Koger says #
    Thoroughly enjoyed this article. I've been writing fan-fic for almost 6 years now. I bring a lot of the Craft to my stories. Resea
  • Archer
    Archer says #
    Dear Shirley: I'm always impressed by the degree of research that goes into some of the best fan fic, and I can see how the fictio

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My Own Personal Jesus

On my beside table are a Loki action figure, a Goddess rosary…and a prayer card with an image of Jesus showing off his sacred heart.

 

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Kung Fu, Chi, Magic, and Fear

In my teens, I lived in a martial arts school. My brother Jay was the Sifu of Lale's Kung Fu Academy. I did not become a black belt because I would never take the oaths that went with high rank. Something in me knew Kung Fu wasn't my path for life, even though I was so fully immersed in the world of martial arts that I identified myself as a Taoist at the time. I learned the entire system, though, even the secrets that were supposed to be reserved for the black belts, including the Poison Hand. As the Sifu's sister, I was always available and would always be part of the family tradition even without taking any oaths, so when Jay started developing his own system, evolving a proto-MMA, I was his sparring partner. Formally, our family style was known as  Shaolin Sho Shu Kung Fu Way of the Beast.

Long before Jay started teaching, I had already learned Eastern-style meditation from the same place Jay learned it, our father, who had learned it in Japan. I learned to meditate before I learned  to read. Eastern-style meditation has been the foundation on which I built all my magical practices, even the heathen and pagan ones, because mental discipline, the ability to visualize, the ability to quiet my mind, and the ability to feel and direct the flow of chi are applicable to any type of magic from any system.

There is still a traditional school in California teaching the system of 7 Beasts Sho Shu Kung Fu as my brother learned it from Master Al Moore before Jay dreamed up his proto- Mixed Martial Arts style. I learned both the original system and the new system, and also saw every point along the way as Jay worked on it. The traditional seven beasts are Bear, Cobra, Crane, Dragon, Mantis, Mongoose, and Tiger. The three beasts I favored were Bear, Mantis, and Tiger, and those later became my three "skins" in the Bersarkrgangr martial arts system as well.

Having grown up with Kung Fu, my life has been shaped in many positive ways. Because of Kung Fu, I carry myself in a way that projects physical confidence, such that I've only experienced a handful of sexual attacks by strangers, all of which I escaped from physically unscathed, and I am hardly ever subject to harassment on the street or at a convention, no matter what I'm wearing (even a hobbit costume with a corset), which I'm given to understand is not the usual experience of women. Kung Fu provided me friends, physical exercise, the development of mind and body, the opportunity to enter organized competitions, and an outlook on life and self-discipline that has stayed with me even after I discovered that heathenry is my path. By the time I encountered other magical systems, I already possessed the basics for learning advanced magics. By the time I encountered the martial art of Bersarkrgangr, I already possessed fighting techniques to which I could apply to Bersarkrgangr, which is an entirely internal form and has no actual fighting moves of its own, so its practitioners must know other arts first.

Hanging on the wall of my family home / martial arts school when I was in high school was a quote that has been a touchstone in my life, and which I still live by today. It has been variously ascribed to Lao Tzu, Confucius, and Buddha. I have pushed myself to live up to this ideal all my life, and I believe it is completely compatible with a heathen outlook on life despite its Eastern origin. That quote is:

"He who conquers fear, conquers himself. He who conquers himself is the greatest of warriors. Never again walk in fear."

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b2ap3_thumbnail_unasbc2_20140802-154336_1.pngMay the sky make the sunlight strong for you, may you rise up to the sky as the Eye of Ra, may you stand at that left Eye of Horus by means of which the speech of the gods is heard. Stand up at the head of the spirits as Horus stood at the head of the living; stand up at the head of the spirits as Osiris stood at the head of the spirits. – Pyramid Texts, utterance 523 (Faulkner) 

The Pyramid Texts are said to be the oldest extant religious texts in the world. Right off the bat, this makes them very difficult to understand, for they are full of more than 4,000-year old idioms, metaphors and jargon which are meaningless, at first glance, to us. The prayer above is one of the more accessible verses (“utterances”), but that is mostly because I have lifted it out of context and we read it with a modern slant. 

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What is CoS?

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I'd like to imagine that starting a coven is a completely organic process.  Perhaps a few friends get together and decide that it's time to form a coven or at least begin operating as one.  On the traditional side it's easy to imagine a Priestess and Priest recently elevated to Third Degree and hiving off to form a new coven, perhaps taking a few of their old coven mates with them in order to do so.  Both of those scenarios sound better then how our group started.  Our coven began with a question:  "who should we invite over for ritual?"  

b2ap3_thumbnail_Ari-calling-goddess.JPG

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