Pagan Paths


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Paths Blogs

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

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Karmadillo

The story of the karmadillo could be a parable, except that it's true. It perfectly illustrates the concepts of wyrd and orlog.

Wyrd is basically the law of cause and effect. Orlog is the layers of past action that affect current action. Past actions that affected this situation include someone in the man's society inventing a firearm, the firearm company selling firearms, the man buying one-- which implies all the past actions from the man's ancestors moving to America to the man getting a job which paid him enough to buy the home where this happened and have enough money left to buy a gun and ammunition for it-- and on the other side of the equation, all the many actions of nature that resulted in the evolution of an animal with a bulletproof armor hide.

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The Minoan Sacred Year: A Modern Pagan Calendar

Most modern Pagans are familiar with the eightfold Wheel of the Year: the solstices and equinoxes and the points halfway in between. But that's a modern construct. It also doesn't match the unique seasons of the Mediterranean region, where Crete is (and where the Minoans lived).

So in Modern Minoan Paganism, we've worked out a sacred calendar based on the Mediterranean seasonal cycle. We've combined information from Minoan artifacts and ruins, archaeoastronomy, the few fragments of myth that made it down to us via the Greeks, and a bunch of shared gnosis. That gives us a set of festivals that work for us as modern Pagans but that still reflect what we think went on among the Minoans in Bronze Age Crete.

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Everyday Elements Part 2: Healing and Learning

Welcome to Part 2 of Everyday Elements, which hopefully can help you find the magic of the elements in the “mundane” of everyday life and the tasks that rule our existence. Last week I shared ideas and information on Cooking and Cleaning, and their inherent energies of Fire and Water, respectively. Now we move on to Healing and Learning, which are influenced and driven by Earth and Air.

If you didn't catch Part 1, get caught up here.

Especially when we live in busy, bright, crowded cities and have packed schedules, it can get hard to maintain a strong connection to our spirituality, our magical practices, and to nature and the elements. But practicing awareness and gratitude and finding simple ways to incorporate the elements and their powers into things we do every day can ground us, raise our vibrations and enhance our spiritual/magical practices.



Healing – Earth

Everything in nature is self-regenerating and that includes our bodies. This ability to heal and regenerate extends beyond the physical, and allows us to heal emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Our bodies are the sacred, physical vehicles for our souls and every part of our being, and it is well known now that our body tells us not only the state of our physical health, but manifests the condition of our mental and emotional health. Yet it is circular, as taking proper care of our body and staying connected to Earth can also increase our mental, emotional and even spiritual well-being.

Nature contains everything we need to take care of and heal ourselves on every level; herbs, crystals, vitamins, minerals, flowers, spices, foods, and even sunlight and the beauty of natural environments all have nourishing and healing properties.

When I was a child growing up in south Florida, we had a handful of large aloe vera plants growing in our back yard. I spent a lot of time playing outside and, like any active child, I often cut and scraped myself. I didn’t run inside, crying and expecting one of my parents to put Neosporin and a Band-Aid on me. I simply went to the back porch, broke off the end of a thick, fleshy leaf, squeezed the cool gel onto my scratch or road burn and went back to playing!

Most of us probably don’t spend as much time outside as we did when we were children, and this is a great shame. Nature is a healer, plain and simple. Especially when I am at my most anxious, despondent, depressed and restless, I escape outside for a meditative walk and I breathe deeply, tune into the breeze, the singing birds and the abundance of beautiful trees in my area. Without fail, I always feel much better during and after such walks. Sometimes I don’t want to go back inside, even if it’s raining. That’s why I have a rain shell!

I often get my best writing ideas while walking, as the elements surround me and speak directly to me. They help me ground, relax, and not only sort out thoughts and ideas I already have, but make me more receptive to new and better ideas and inspiration.

You are probably familiar with the practice of “earthing”, which consists of simply walking or standing directly on earth in your bare feet, or laying down on the ground or on a boulder. If you’ve heard of it but haven’t really done it, do it! If you do it, do it more! It is one of the simplest things we can do to ground and connect but it is also one of the most powerful and healing methods as it puts us in direct contact with our Earth Mother. Think of it as a new baby being laid upon her mother’s breast to hear and feel her heartbeat, to rise and fall and synchronize with her calming breath and to relax upon her strong, warm support. This is what we do when we practice earthing.

Sometimes we don’t realize how separate from the Earth we often live in our day-to-day lives. Most of us, on average, probably spend much more time in our houses, then driving in cars, then in the building where we work than we do being truly in and with Nature. After a while of being deprived of a proper connection to Earth, we become more tired, more irritable, less focused and certainly less grounded.

We also often take for granted all those things that nourish and heal us all the time – herbs, flowers, vitamins, crystals, all the supplements we take, and of course even the food we eat. All the best and most natural food is healing and this ties in great with the Cooking/Fire element. When you’re sick with a cold and you brew a cup of ginger tea, you’re being healed not only by Earth but by Fire and of course Water! But all the ingredients come from the Earth herself. Even when you pop an aspirin for a headache you are enjoying the blessings of the Willow tree (Salix), the source of the active metabolite in aspirin – salicylic acid.

Try to rely on as many natural healing methods and ingredients as you can. For millennia our ancestors managed just great, probably better in a lot of instances, without extra-strength Tylenol, Neosporin, Ny-Quil, and all manner of convenient, plastic-packaged “medicines”, most of which simply mask and numb symptoms and pain rather than offer any real healing. My cold medicine is vampire-hunter-level garlic in every meal, lots of ginger tea and rose hip tea (rose hips have lots of vitamin C) and constant self-pampering bed rest. I credit the garlic alone as the reason why I get over colds now at least twice as fast as I used to when all I took was the typical pharmacy stuff.

Consider putting together an “Earth-aid kit” consisting of essential oils (lavender and peppermint are great starters that help heal anxiety and headaches, two very common ailments), Bach’s flower remedies, aloe gel, ginger tea bags or ginger chews, capsules of skullcap and/or willow bark, your favorite grounding and healing crystals, natural bath salts, and even a CD of nature sounds if you aren’t able to get outside for a walk or earthing. I can’t live without my Lifescapes “Garden Rain” CD!



Learning – Air

When I was in elementary and middle school, I loved the zany Wayside School books by Louis Sachar. I think it was in the second book, “Wayside School is Falling Down”, where we learn that the teacher Mrs. Jewls tries to teach her class three new things every day, her reasoning being that if they learn three things each day, they will eventually learn everything there is to know.

This is obviously an absurdly over-optimistic approach, especially to creating a curriculum for grade school students, but the goal of trying to learn something new every day is worth implementing! Especially into adulthood and even after all formal education, there is an infinite amount to still be learned and discovered. Even if we don’t go through our daily life with the intention to learn specific new things, we are almost always guaranteed to learn something, even if it is as simple and temporary as our usual route to work being suddenly altered by construction detours.

Air is the element traditionally associated with the mind; with thought, intellect, knowledge, speech and communication. We are constantly surrounded by air just as we are constantly surrounded by knowledge and potential knowledge. Just as we rely on air to breathe lest we rapidly suffocate and die, we need knowledge and learning or we figuratively suffocate and stagnate, and even potentially still literally die.

We rely on certain knowledge to survive as much as we rely on air. If we don’t have enough oxygen at birth, or indeed if at any point in life we experience a sustained deprivation of oxygen, our brains are damaged as is our capacity to learn, reason, speak and even control and coordinate our entire bodies.

Sometimes we learn something, or think we learn something, that is not accurate or complete, or that may eventually become inaccurate, dated and need to be replaced with new knowledge. This is not unlike the constant cycle of the breath – inhaling oxygen and exhaling carbon dioxide. If we always take every single thing we learn or are taught by others at face value and never question it, confirm it or replace/supplement it with new, expanded and/or updated knowledge, we may as well hold our breath or keep breathing only carbon dioxide, remaining stale and unrefreshed. The learning becomes useless, just as breathing would.

A version of a popular quote that may or may not be entirely correctly attributed to Einstein, though poignant nonetheless, states that “We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them”. So as air and our breath are essential to our existence, so too is our constant pursuit of both knowledge and truth and the constant desire to develop, improve and expand what we know.

Mindful breathing and various consciousness-altering breathing exercises, such as pranayama, are now well known both within and without Pagan and “new age” circles and practices. Among many other benefits and effects, awareness and control of the breath have been proven to have calming effects and to prepare the mind for concentration and meditation. This is probably the best illustration of and support for the traditional association of the Air element with the mind; they are directly connected.

So it not only greatly benefits us to try to consciously learn at least one new, helpful and interesting thing every day, but also to try to develop a regular mindful breathing practice. This isn’t hard to do if you already have a meditation practice that probably already incorporates pranayama or any mindful breathing exercise.

Particularly before you do any reading, studying, attend a class or important work meeting or before you set off on your daily adventure to learn one new thing (or Mrs. Jewls’ recommended three), try spending just a few minutes to focus on, slow and control your breath and to cultivate a heightened feeling of both awareness and gratitude for the ubiquitous invisible element that directly affects and refreshes your mind and keeps you alive.

So remember to look for the Elements in all you do every day because chances are, no matter what, they are there in some form or another and they all make everything possible. Recite to yourself this popular, simple yet profound chant now and then to remind yourself of the magic that composes your entire being and the world around you...

Earth my body
Water my blood
Air my breath
and Fire my spirit


© 2019 Meredith Everwhite - All Rights Reserved
(except for elemental chant, author unknown according to the Pagan Chant Library at www.earthspirit.com)

Image credit: Hygieia, detail from "Medicine" by Gustav Klimt

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Everyday Elements Part 1: Cooking & Cleaning

Even in the busiest, most crowded, modern, neon-lit metropolitan areas, we come into close contact with the elements countless times a day. Even – or, especially – with all our technology we truly cannot live without them!

I’m often reminded of a line from one of my favorite songs by Lady Isadora, a witch, priestess and talented singer/songwriter who pioneered the Pagan musical genre in the early 1980s. It is from her song “Witch” – “I call myself a witch because I’m not afraid to tell that the magic is in life itself, not just in some ancient book or secret spell”.

Indeed it is! Magic is everywhere at all times and it is manifested through the elements in more ways than we sometimes realize. Even the most devoted Pagan or witch can struggle to maintain their ideal practice in this demanding, fast-paced age. However, much comes down to perspective and a slight shift in our approach to “mundane” tasks can go a long way toward helping us maintain a wonderful connection to nature and to enhance our magic.

There are four things that, for the most part, we all do on a regular basis, and they each correspond nicely to the four elements: cooking, cleaning, healing and learning – fire, water, earth and air, respectively. Simple awareness and gratitude for the elements and all they allow us to accomplish in our daily lives can help create all manner of easy yet effective rituals, grounding states of mind and to raise our vibrations.


Cooking – Fire

Even if you don’t manage anything more complex than microwaving a Stouffer’s entrée or brewing a pot of coffee, not much cooking can be accomplished without fire in some form or another. A pot of boiling water on a ceramic cooktop can easily conjure images and the energy of an old bubbling cauldron suspended over an open flame in a hearth, and be just as magical.

Obviously real cooking – that is, from scratch or close to it, and going through steps to peel, chop, sauté, flambé, marinate and macerate different fresh ingredients – is not only always more likely to be much more healthy, but it is a wonderful way to connect to ancestors and can be very meditative and easily ritualized.

There are so many wonderful books about kitchen witchery that teach about spells that can be incorporated into cooking, include magical and unique recipes specifically designed for sabbats, and give ideas for turning your whole kitchen into a shrine/altar to nourishment, magic and, of course, fire!

One of my favorite such books, at least that I actually own, is “The Kitchen Witch’s Cookbook” by Patricia Telesco. While I am not Wiccan, I find Scott Cunningham’s “Wicca in the Kitchen” to be a wonderful reference for the general energies and associations of most herbs, fruits, vegetables and several other ingredients. I feel it could have easily (and perhaps more accurately) been entitled simply “Witchcraft in the Kitchen”, but that’s just my opinion based on the content of the book which doesn’t seem to reflect the specificity of just Wicca.

Another favorite is “A Sorcerer’s Cookbook”, by Brigitte Bulard-Cordeau. It is not exactly geared toward the kind of magic and ritual that specifically pagan kitchen witchery books are, but it is visually stunning, filled with very unique and interesting recipes and still has lots of fun and enlightening information about folklore, history and magical uses associated with the ingredients and recipes.

Fire is the great transformer of the elements, and its use in cooking and preparing the food that we ingest can also transform us, our health and energy. No matter what we make or how, it all begins with fire.

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The Moon Path Part One

The moon is perhaps the most magical draw to the path of Witchcraft. By its silvery light, the world is changed, is made mysterious and beautiful with darkness around its edges. The moon is utterly enchanting, as we watch it move through its phases, from dark to full and back to dark again. Within the cycle of the moon, we can see the cycle of our lives.

Yet, like all things on this planet, the moon does not operate independently. Its light is a reflection of the sun, and it is held in place by the earth’s gravitational pull. The moon pulls as well, causing the high and low tides, and swelling the world’s seas and oceans with its magnetic draw. So too are we pulled by the energy of the moon, from high to low, from dark to light, dancing in its energy.

Witches have always been associated with the moon. They were said to gather under the light of the full moon for their Sabbaths, or honour moon goddesses with devotional rites. The play of darkness and light with the moon’s energy appeals to many a Witch, who honours both the light and the dark in her or his life. There are many deities associated with the moon, and many cycles from various cultures around the world follow a lunar-based schedule, whether it is for planting or reaping crops, or creating a calendar that honours each of the 13 moons in a year’s cycle.

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Know your forests and woodlands

Forests & Woodlands

What is the difference between a forest and a woodland?  In this case it seems that size really does matter…

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Contemplating a Red Moon

Last night, 2019’s only lunar eclipse took place: a spectacular “supermoon” eclipse. We watched it from our back yard, watching the Moon slowly darken into a ruddy ball, and then, dramatically, the bright edge of ordinary Sun-lit surface burst into being and steadily reclaim it.

Lunar eclipses are really cool. Astronomical events as a whole are really cool: meteor showers, eclipses, transits, and particularly that extraordinary rarity, a prominent comet visible to the naked eye. Whenever possible, I take the opportunity to experience these phenomena, as they bring home in a visceral way that we are on a planet, in space, and there’s a lot of other stuff going on out there.

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