Pagan Paths


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Paths Blogs

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

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Toilet Snobs and other Modern Problems

There is a certain kind of mindset that says that we, the current oh-so-modern inhabitants of the world, are the epitome of social and biological evolution, that we are an improvement over everything and everyone who has come before us. This concept was very popular in Victorian times thanks to Social Darwinism, a misapplication of the concept of evolution to social and cultural contexts. It was simply an easy way for well-off white Westerners to feel superior to non-whites, non-Westerners and pretty much every single culture that had come before them. So it came as quite a shock to Victorian society when Sir Arthur Evans uncovered the ruins of Minoan civilization and discovered complex architecture, beautiful naturalistic art and (gasp!) enclosed sewers and flush toilets. It turns out, ancient Crete wasn’t alone in this kind of ‘modernity.’ Almost every house in the ancient Indus Valley cities of Mohenjo-daro and Harappa had flush toilets attached to a sophisticated system of sewers.

The concept of linear cultural and social evolution, of simpler and cruder things leading to more complex and elegant things, derives from the Judeo-Christian worldview that offers a beginning (creation) and steady progress to an end (Judgment Day). This viewpoint colors our expectations of ancient cultures and our interpretations of what we find. But many cultures around the world, especially the ancient world, had a non-linear view of history. They did not see a straight path from beginning to end so much as an ever-spiraling cycle, like the seasons but on a larger, almost epic, scale. I think this circular/spiral mindset is more helpful than the linear one as a lens for viewing ancient cultures. It allows us to recognize the ups and downs of history and prehistory, the fact that people have always been intelligent, ingenious and adaptive.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

b2ap3_thumbnail_freyja.jpgFreya is the daughter of Njord (and likely Nerthus), the twin sister of Frey, and one of three Vanir who were sent to Asgard as hostages following the Aesir-Vanir war.  Like her brother, she is connected with fertility, and portrayed in lore as being extremely sexual.  However she is also a warrior and a mistress of magic, and a very complex figure.  

How should one periphrase Freya? Thus: by calling her Daughter of Njordr, Sister of Frey, Wife of Odr, Mother of Hnoss, Possessor of the Slain, of Sessrumnir, of the Gib-Cats, and of Brisingamen; Goddess of the Vanir, Lady of the Vanir, Goddess Beautiful in Tears, Goddess of Love. -Skaldskaparsmal 20  

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
The Jacaranda is the Queen of Spring!

Boy, my last post was a downer, huh? Believe it or not, spring in LA isn't all bad. One of my favorite events in spring--something I look forward to all year long--is the blooming of the Jacaranda trees.

Here's the Jacaranda closest to my home, visible from my daughter's window and our patio. I won't lie--out of all the Jacarandas in my neighborhood, this one is the most resplendent. The spirit of this tree is sweet and proud.

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  • Melinda Judy/Lyndie Diamond
    Melinda Judy/Lyndie Diamond says #
    The blog is also on my website www.lyndidiamond.com
  • Melinda Judy/Lyndie Diamond
    Melinda Judy/Lyndie Diamond says #
    Jacaranda trees are beautiful. Love the purple blossoms this time of year. Hi I'm new to this site and pretty much to paganism. I

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
A Ritual for the Elements

Working with the Elements is a core piece of magic I teach in the Reclaiming Tradition. I revisit this work every so often as a teacher and as a student. In my last five articles I've chronicled my explorations with Air, my connections with Firemy dive into Water my complex dance the Earth and finally finding myself standing in the Center.

A Ritual for the Elements

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Should the Catholic Church Acknowledge the Destruction of Classical Pagan Culture?

I recently read an article that offered a christian apology to Jewish People for the wrongs committed against them. The author also acknowledged the way that Christianity was "built" on Judaism. That's great; however, there's a glaring omission here. Christianity was also largely "built" on the destruction and desecration of Greco-Roman polytheistic culture.

To be sure, Christians suffered under the early Empire. This was partly due to their beliefs and partly due to their behaviour. The Christian cult took root in a Roman world that was remarkably tolerant of most religions and in which co-existence was the norm; however, Christians were unique in their assertiveness to position their god as the "one true god," their willingness to renounce their family for their god and their frequent apocalyptic predictions.

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  • Linette
    Linette says #
    I think it is a good thing to set the record straight. Those ignorant of history are doomed to repeat the same errors. But truly

b2ap3_thumbnail_101_0669.JPGRecently, Osireion celebrated the vernal equinox (spring) with our own version of the Egyptian secular holiday, Sham el Nessim.  We held a ritual to honor Isis, piling her altar with the simple feast which would follow: lettuce, smoked salmon, capers, onions, boiled eggs and cream cheese (yes, we like lox and bagels!).  Each of us decorated a red-dyed egg with glyphs and used it during ritual, then ate it afterwards.  We peeled little spring scallions, “sniffed the breeze” (sham el nessim translated) and nibbled them, and sang to welcome spring – “we see your life in the greening of the land, we feel your love and begin to understand.” 

At the same time that many of us were holding various kinds of Pagan ceremonies to mark the equinox, present-day Egyptians were picnicking and doing some of the same things.  I hear that Muslim authorities don’t like it, but for most Egyptians it’s a national holiday, involving the eggs, salted fish and onions.  Certainly, after such a long winter here in the States, going outside with family and friends to sniff the breeze and have some picnic-innocent fun has been quite welcome. 

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Early Net Experiences Part 2: The Writing of Asatru For Beginners

I had only been a member of MSN ASATRU for a few months when suddenly one day I logged in and discovered I had been made the group's manager. The previous manager was nowhere to be found. There were no other managers, moderators, or admins. I was a still a near-total net newbie and I didn't know how to make a thread show me previous comments, let alone how to manage an internet forum. I had to learn how to use the back end controls of the time period. I had to learn some html programming so I could put text and graphics on the landing page and other pages, and create live links to photos hosted on host sites (yes, you had to known html to do that back then.)

When it came to actual content, though, I was on firm ground, having been heathen since 1986. I was always seeing newbies come on the group and ask for a beginner's book and people directing them to read the Eddas or academic papers, which can be intimidating even for adult readers, and a lot of the newbies were in their early teens, and just did not have the educational background to understand classical literature or college-level papers.

I started compiling a FAQ file on the group site. The FAQ page eventually became the first chapter of Asatru For Beginners.

At the time, my mom was a public high school English teacher. Sometimes she had free reading time in her classroom, and she kept a rack of books and other reading material for the students. I asked her what the typical American 14 year old boy read for pleasure during free reading, and she said Motor Sports Magazine. That's the reader for whom I wrote my book.

I kept Asatru For Beginners down to 20,000 words because mom told me that many average level teen readers found books longer than that so intimidating that they would not even start them. I kept the book entirely free of footnotes and quotes from foreign languages, both of which were typically found in any given Asatru related paper of the time period, since almost everything available was written for an academic readership. I wrote in American Family Newspaper style, with which I was familiar because I had written for newspapers.  I also filled my book with handy lists, so that as the book's owners became more advanced, they would still find it useful. I made my book non-sectarian, which set it apart from any other beginner's books available at the time, the others having been produced by sectarian organizations.

Since I first wrote it, Asatru has experienced some generational change, and some change sparked by the changing technology of the internet.  I'm working on a new edition to reflect these generational changes, which I hope to publish in 2017 when the book's current contract runs out. In the meantime, I still think it's the best and the easiest to understand of the beginner's books on Asatru.

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