Pagan Paths


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Paths Blogs

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

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Start by Grounding - Becoming Present

I've been examining the parts that make up many common Pagan rituals. I recently wrote about Cleansing. I'm moving on to Grounding. There's real irony here, because this week, I need grounding more than ever.

Alright!  A few personal details about my life are in order to set this article up. I'm a busy witch. Over the next few months I have a lot going on. I am helping to organize California WitchCamp which happens in late June. I am presenting at the upcoming Many Gods West conference in late July. In early September I am teaching at Aurora Borealis WitchCamp in Canada and in mid-October I'm teaching/facilitating the Mysteries of Samhain retreat. Woven through all of this are planning meetings, research, magical work and scheduling - endless scheduling. I also have three classes I'm teaching between now and then and I'm one of the folks that is putting Reclaiming's 36th annual Spiral Dance on October 31st.

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Witches' Tower, San Diego, California

This pentagram is built into a small tower in Presidio Park in San Diego, California. The pentagram is on the tower roof, open to the air, which is reached by climbing a staircase.

The official name of the Witches' Tower is the Pattie Memorial, commemorating the first American to die to California. It is supposed to be built close to where a historical guardhouse and jail used to be. The Pattie Memorial is a storage building. Presidio Park is very convenient to the hotels on Hotel Circle. Multiple layers of candle wax on the pentagram attest to its ritual use.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

When my wife and I started the Oak Court (for those of you new to the column, that's the name of our coven, and the street we live on) we weren't setting out to start a coven. Heck, our little gathering didn't even have a name in those early days and certainly wasn't called "The Oak Court." We simply invited a few friends over who weren't involved in any other small-circles or covens and grew from there.  

b2ap3_thumbnail_11121771_10153151704153232_6509835819056060897_o.jpg

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  • Ian Phanes
    Ian Phanes says #
    First, I should say that I totally agree with your understanding of coven as chosen family. I tell people that to be in coven with

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

b2ap3_thumbnail_scribes.jpgMany of us are drawn to ancient Egypt, and of those a small number linger to find and follow the spiritual path embedded there.  Soon we find that for all the wealth of published material about Egypt, there is very little about modern spiritual practice.  Egyptian Pagans are also a small minority in the wider Pagan world, so it can be difficult to connect, find teachers and gather for ritual.

My early years on this path were probably characterized by more bumbling and feeling alone than anything.  But much of the first advice I received was to read the Egyptology literature, surely a daunting task for the non-scholar.  After all, few have set out to simply write about religion; more importantly, there was no monolithic single religion in ancient Egypt, at least not as we understand religious affiliation today.  Here are a few things I learned along the way.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_firebird.jpg(from my book Visions of Vanaheim)

Gullveig is a powerful witch, so much so that the Aesir burned her in fear, which caused the Vanir to rise up and avenge one of their own.  She is often thought by modern heathens to be an "evil" goddess not worthy of worship, and often conflated with Freya or Angrboda.   

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  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I've been reading "The New Revelations" by Neale Donald Walsch and copied the seventh revelation in my notebook of things I should

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Another Knotty Problem

In my last post I explored the Minoan sacral knot, a religious symbol from ancient Crete that consisted of a length of fabric knotted together with a loop at the top. But the sacral knot isn’t the only instance of knotwork in Minoan religious iconography. And while the sacral knot may be related to the Egyptian tyet (Isis’ symbol), these other knots are more closely allied with snakes.

When Sir Arthur Evans excavated Knossos more than a century ago, one of the objects he found was a figurine of a woman covered in snakes (photo at the top of this post). They twine around her hat, down her chest and arms, and around her belly. The snakes that cross her belly form a large knot that’s a prominent feature on the figurine. Evans was intrigued by this knot, even going as far as researching whether snakes in the wild ever tie themselves into knots. For the record, blindworms do, but they’re not true snakes, though the Minoans might not have been able to tell the difference.

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Celebrating With a Series of Local Groups

Sunnasfolk, Silverhof, Hammarheim, etc.

I had been trying to find a local festival or a group that put on public rituals since I had arrived in the Las Vegas area in 1995. The closest heathen festival I could find was the Thing in Arizona, which I went to once. I still wanted something local. If I couldn't find a local festival or other public ritual in which to participate, then I was ready to try a kindred again, despite my disastrous first experience with kindred membership, because I had been informally involved with enough different groups to know that the unsafe one I happened to join was the exception, not the rule, and because after that experience I would know what to watch out for to make sure I would be safe. I tried to find a ritual group to join, and could not find one. I held sort of half heathen, half American style holiday celebrations in my old apartment, but as it was almost exclusively my non-heathen friends who attended, it wasn't completely what I was looking for. I eventually gave up on that and resumed looking for a festival to attend or group to join, but didn't find either in my local area until after I moved from a more urban part of the Vegas valley to a more suburban part at the end of 2001.

After moving from my apartment to our house, I thought, "Now that I have a real house and feel a permanent tie to the land, you know what, I'm going to do it myself."

I have been a gythia of Freya continuously since my dedication to her in 1989. Sometimes I am also the gythia of a kindred. I was gythia of Sunnasfolk, and now I am gythia of the group of heathens who celebrate at my home, which does not yet have a name.

This article explains the multiple definitions of godhi and gythia:

http://www.bubblews.com/news/9864781-what-a-godhi-or-gythia-is

One of the first things I did when I moved from my old apartment to our house was to plant a pine tree that I had grown from seed, which had been living in a pot on my balcony. As gythia of Sunnasfolk, that was my sacred tree which supplied the aspergers used in blot. It's a big tree now, and now it supplies the aspergers for the rituals for my current group.

As with my American style holiday celebrations, most of the people who came to Sunnasfolk holidays were my friends and family who were not necessarily heathen, such as Etta the One Crone Band. She played the accordion and had automated drums, and provided German folk music for waltzing and other traditional dances for the party and feast time after ritual. She's a distant relative I discovered after moving to Henderson. There were actual heathens, too, but they were younger people who all dropped out over the years, mostly because of moving away from the area. College students graduated and moved. College age non-students joined the military and were deployed. Young brides had babies and apparently dropped off the face of the Earth. Sunnasfolk ended when all the other heathen members went away. That was over a decade ago now.

After Sunnasfolk Kindred, I belonged to Silverhof Kindred. Its leader, Eric Hammers, moved away and gave me my carved bone Thorshammar, and I assumed leadership of the group and tried to keep it going, but without Eric, the other members drifted away. After that, I found that several old members of Silverhof were members of Hammarheim, which had a core group of heathens but also a large group of non-heathen re-enactors and was focused on Renfaire and re-enactment events. I was not really that interested in belonging to a Renfaire guild, even though I enjoy the local faire and go every year, I didn't particularly want to spend all my weekends doing faire related things, and had neither the time nor the money to devote to that. I still wanted to be part of a local ritual group, though, so I participated in some of their Renfaire activities, in addition to their holiday celebrations. (The King credits me with saving him one night when he fell into a firepit.) Then Hammarheim sort of spun off into several other groups, all quite large, all with core groups of heathens and larger groups of non-heathens, all centered on our local Renfaire. I've participated in some holiday and other activities with one of them (the one headed by Hammarheim's old King) and visit the others at faire every year. In addition, I have celebrated both heathen and Wiccan holiday rituals at, or sponsored by, local store Well of the Moon, which closed last year.

The photo accompanying this post is me about to go parade with Hammarheim at my local Renfaire, in Viking costume, balancing my sword on my shoulder. I would have liked to post a group photo from one of the 3 kindreds I've belonged to, but not everyone is as totally out as me. (I know straw hats aren't very Viking; this is the Mojave Desert, and it's really hot in the sun. That's my Missouri farmer hat that I bought at PSG after wearing out the hat I brought with me.)

I participate in Pagan Pride Day-- my longed-for public ritual festival at last, even though heathenry is kind of a side event there and both the rituals and the workshops are dominated by Wicca and Wiccanate paganism. I've given talks on Asatru at PPD and one year sang in a band there. In 2014 I was an active member of the local PPD planning committee and led the drum circle.

Recently, I've been leading my own kindred again as a gythia of a group for modernist heathens who aren't interested in being part of a Renfaire guild, going largely with my American Celebration style in addition to blots and sumbels. Also, recently I've been attending local Asatru pubmoots, and may someday attend one of the rituals from that group. I've also attending rituals at the Temple of Sekhmet in Cactus Springs, although those are Egyptian-flavored Wiccan rituals rather than heathen ones. I was also a member, and sometimes the conductor, of the SageWomen Drum Circle, and later led the Unity Center Drum Circle. Also, during my book tour in 2010, I attended Pagan Spirit Gathering and participated in public rituals there. And in 2013, I attended PantheaCon and participated in rituals and led a public sumbel there.

So, in the 15 years I've lived in Henderson, I've formally belonged to 3 different kindreds, 2 of which I founded, and the other one I briefly ended up leading as it was winding down after its founder left. In those 15 years, I've also participated in rituals with 2 other kindreds, and in public rituals with both a nonprofit group and a for-profit store which has recently closed when its owner left the state. That's 7 different ritual groups and 1 permanent temple (not counting drum circles or out of state festivals. Also not counting the Dances of Universal Peace, almost forgot them. Mom and I used to attend with our next door neighbors. And not counting powwow dancing either, obviously, since that's a totally different tradition.) Groups come and go, but family, friends, and the gods remain. The land and the landwight remain. Both the local heathen and pagan community and the wider community on the net remain as well. The community is people, not institutions.

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