Pagan Paths

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Paths Blogs

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

"It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of a living god."

-- Hebrews 10:3

Recently, Pan-devotee Jason Mankey stirred some pots by asking whether the current interest of many Pagans in the Morrigan is "just a fad." Jason, who is himself a polytheist, was not suggesting that the Morrigan is not real. After all, he admits, his own patron deity, Pan, was once a "fad" circa 1800-1920. But, nevertheless, the word "fad" is a provocative term. morriganMorpheus Ravenna, herself a devotee of the Morrigan, responded that the use of the word "fad" in this context is dismissive and direspectful. More importantly, she says, it's shallow:

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The Many Faces of Minoan Dionysos

Most people are familiar with Dionysos as a vegetation god. In fact, that’s how he started life (so to speak) among humans, dying each year at the time of the grape harvest. In the Mediterranean, where Crete is located, that happens most years in late August or early September. So in many ways Dionysos is similar to the other dying-and-reborn vegetation gods we’re familiar with from the Near East, Europe and other regions. But as so often happens, cultures change over time, inventing or importing new ideas and layering them onto what’s already there. Something like that happened with Dionysos in ancient Crete.

Before we get to his details, though, let me explain a bit about how the Minoan pantheon works. Rather than having a particular slot in a human-style family tree, the Minoan gods and goddesses unfold out of each other in a multi-faceted fashion. In a way, all the deities within the Minoan pantheon can be considered reflections or facets of the Great Mother Goddess Rhea. But for practical purposes, they behave as individual deities with their own personalities and qualities. This henotheistic setup can make it difficult to tease out exactly which aspects go with which deity name, and to sort out whether two different names belong to two different gods or a single one. In addition, as Minoan society changed over time, more layers were added onto those already-complicated facets, and some of the deity names only come down to us in later forms, from languages and cultures foreign to the Minoans. I’ll do my best to untangle some of the bits about Dionysos today. I’ve worked with him for a long time and as far as I can tell, these aspects of him manage to work well together in spite of their apparent differences.

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Opening the Way of the Sacred Fool

When I first became interested in Paganism, one of the things that drew me in was the idea of women's spirituality and bringing the unique experiences of being a woman (often left out of Christianity and Judaism) into my path. As I further explored though, many of the concepts mainstream feminism focused on, like how to juggle career and motherhood, didn't seem to resonate with me. The way I think, and how I communicate is shaped through my perspective as an autistic woman. Along with the growing, mostly online neurodiversity community, I came to see autism not as a set of deficits, but as a different way of thinking and being. I found further inspiration in the GLBT community, as I saw folks like P. Sufenas Virius Lupus honor queer ancestors, heroes and deities. As a bisexual, I drew on that heritage, while also looking to eccentric inventors, artists and mystics throughout history and disabled gods like Hephaestus. I felt a calling to share this understanding of disability as a part of human experience, rather than something to only be pitied, "fixed" or medicalized.

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  • Jan Johnson
    Jan Johnson says #
    I'm looking at the Way of the Sacred Fool much as you are, Mariah. I'm ADD, CFS/FM, a former Christian chaplain (now a retired Pag
Spirits of Place - What They Need You to Know

It's just after noon. The weather is warm. There's a slight breeze that causes the leaves high in the canopy to rustle. The redwoods are creaking as they rub against each other. Loud raven clicks and caws punctuate the quiet forest. I'm one of only a few people standing in the camp grounds and we are all silent, breathing deeply, settling our rushed minds and sinking in, just sinking in.

In two hours witches from all of over the world will arrive. Some journeying to these woods for the first time, others coming home as they do each year. There will be hugs and kisses and hearty shouts of "oh! There you are. I'm so glad you came back." After the hub-bub of getting here subsides and the first night's dinner dishes have been put away, it's time for ritual.

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  • Gwion Raven
    Gwion Raven says #
    Raggedrose - Thank you for your comment. The forest is indeed in a transitional space. What we look at as Ancient, in many cases,
  • Raggedrose
    Raggedrose says #
    Mendocino Woodlands is indeed a powerful and wonderful place. The forest there is in transition, which makes it only more so. It w
  • Gwion Raven
    Gwion Raven says #
    Thank you Steve. Your connection to and passion for the Spirits of Place and the planet we share is obvious and runs deep. Be wel
  • steve
    steve says #
    The title really caught my attention, the Spirits of Place, and that's due to my own interaction with the spirits of places. They

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Finding Pop Culture Magick

A lot of people have been asking me how I got into pop culture magick of late. It’s a difficult question to answer because it’s always been a part of my magickal practice. When I was a little girl I remember imagining Rainbow Brite protecting me from thunderstorms and nightmares. When I was a teenager I would “talk” to Hamlet and Horatio when I felt misunderstood and needed guidance. So even before I knew what real magick was, I was doing bits and pieces of pop culture magick. I suppose the first time I intentionally did pop culture magick, though I didn’t call it that at the time, was when I first started working with the elements.

For my use of pop culture magick to really make sense you’ll need a little context. I grew up in a household where hiking and enjoying nature were valued side by side with science and engineering. I remember meandering through woodland trails in the North Cascades while talking to my Dad about NASA, Star Trek, and fairy tales interchangeably. My love of mountains and general geekery were born and nurtured at the same time and in largely the same way, so they’ve always been intertwined in my mind. For me, there’s never really been a separation between the magicks of nature and the realities of the mundane world.

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  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    Thank you for sharing. I once had a dream where I was in a barren dark grey wasteland. Ahead of me were the goggle boys from the
  • Dragon Dancer
    Dragon Dancer says #
    Oh. My. Gods! I think I've done this in the past and never even known it! I surround myself with fandom and fantasy, always have
  • Emily Carlin
    Emily Carlin says #
    I'm so glad you enjoyed the article There will be many more to come. Please let me know if you have any particular questions or

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Dionysos, Bulls and Funerals

Over at Ariadne’s Tribe we’ve been developing a liturgy for modern Minoan Paganism – a yearly calendar of sacred events and their meanings, along with tidbits about the deities who are involved with each one. Throughout the year, Dionysos plays a big part in Minoan spirituality. In fact, he’s the most prominent god, to the point that the Greeks compared him to their Zeus. In addition to his well-known associations with wine, Dionysos also figures as the dying-and-reborn god of the solar year, an aspect that adds quite a few layers to his presence. Lately I’ve been thinking about how his different festivals and annual milestones dovetail together, and what that might mean in terms of some of the well-known bits of life in ancient Crete, bull-leaping in particular.

Before we dive into this subject, it’s important to realize that Minoan civilization, in the form we’re accustomed to think of it, lasted for a solid 15 centuries, from roughly 3000 to 1500 BCE. During that time, the religious practices of the island shifted and changed, from fairly simple ancestor-based activities all the way to an official state religion run by the big temples. Alongside the official religion, the people always had their own home-based practices, which echoed the state religion in some ways and diverged from it in others. But throughout this time, Dionysos played a prominent role.

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  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Funny, I'd just written up a piece on bull-leaping myself. Must be something in the air.
  • Thesseli
    Thesseli says #
    Very nice!

My apologies to Anne and the crew at Witches and Pagans for being absent for awhile. I started several pieces--one of which is polished and ready to publish, but it still sits in my draft-box. Every time I would start to write something seemingly poignant and important, the world would change with either horror or triumph and would render the piece no longer relevant--at least for now.

Several years ago....

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