Pagan Paths


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Paths Blogs

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

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Here's another section of that paper I wrote for class in April.


b2ap3_thumbnail_hepetglyph_20140605-165400_1.gifEvery Egyptian expected to make an arduous journey following physical death. Escorted by Anubis, the soul would enter a complex and frightening place called the Duat. Though neither above nor below this world, the Duat is often referred to as an underworld. Rather, it is an afterlife region of transition from death to transformation and rebirth into a new life as an akh, or transfigured spirit. In the Duat, the soul encounters a series of gates for which s/he must be prepared to give a password, as well as strange creatures, a lake of fire, and other often-fearsome things. Most of this is navigated by boat on a winding waterway beneath which lurks a giant menacing serpent. Upon passing successfully through the Duat, the soul appears before Osiris for the weighing-of-the-heart ceremony.

b2ap3_thumbnail_bookofgatesramesses1a_20140605-165627_1.jpgThere are other ancient Egyptian texts which describe pictorially what the soul might expect to encounter, and provide spells for use in achieving the goal of transfiguration and eternal life. They include: the Coffin Texts; the Amduat; the Book of Caverns; the Book of the Earth; the Book of Nut; the Book of the Heavenly Cow; the Book of the Night; the Book of Nut; the Book of Gates; and the Book of the Dead. These texts, or parts of them, are found on innumerable tomb walls, coffins, stelae and papyrus scrolls buried with their owner, although some were reserved for the king, e.g., the Pyramid Texts.

Although the afterlife journey begins in darkness with the setting of the sun, it is a journey which results in emergence, or “Coming Forth By Day” (the actual title of the so-called Book of the Dead). (Naydler, 1996) It was not a place of punishment, for it was not a permanent location for anyone, but rather a sort of proving ground for regeneration. The sun, as embodied by Ra, traveled through the Duat each night. The soul which was successful in making the same journey could anticipate a similar rebirth at dawn.

Several primal deities take part in the cosmic drama of the Duat, and are later shown to unite, their fusion suggesting that each deity is an aspect of the others. In simple terms, Kheper is the sun at dawn (the word kheper is the verb meaning “to become”), Horus is the sun at noon, at the height of its powers and lifespan, and Ra is the elderly, declining sun as it sets in the west. The west is thought of as the place of the dead. Cemeteries were typically situated on the west bank of the Nile, e.g., Giza and Saqqara, and the deceased were said to have journeyed to imentet, the place of the west.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_springnyc.jpgIt was spring, finally. The Westerosi-esque winter had finally departed, but on the first beautiful day NYC had in 2014, my partner and I were not frolicking in the park like the sane people, but wading through a "Hoarders" meets "Chernobyl Diaries" landscape: a scent memory that surfaces and spins at inconvenient moments like the little rainbow-wheel on a frozen Mac. Two friends donned homemade haz-mat suits made of shower caps and black plastic bags from the liquor store while our roommate followed us through the putrid maze, dabbing a "apartment-claiming" spell she'd whipped together made of vinegar and a dab of her own urine. She's never done a lot of spellwork before, but frankly, the New York Real Estate race will make a Witch out of anyone.

'I'm going to write about this, and I'll wish I were joking,' I thought as I watched the teenager from down the hall roll around on the linoleum in the hall, groaning, "I CAN'T! IT SMELLS TOO MUCH! I CAN'T!" 

Our neighbor had been evicted and she abandoned 23 frightened, malnourished cats in a two-bedroom apartment stacked so high with years of garbage, walking through the halls required a weird little dance I'd only performed in Twister, before. Through a series of frustrating events, my partner and I ended up as wardens of the kitties. By the time we got into the apartment, the little ones had been alone for at least three days and there were no signs that they had any food or water during that time.

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  • Courtney Weber
    Courtney Weber says #
    Thank you, Anne! I'm sorry you had to go through the illness (it, like alcoholism, is an illness that affects the family). I appre
  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    Thank you for this post: heartbreaking, wise, and down-to-earth, all at the same time. As a survivor of a hoarding parent (though,

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

b2ap3_thumbnail_sekhmet.gifSekhmet dropped in on me again the other day.  For me, she’s not been one for words, turning up on rare occasion in startling, stark gestures (I tell about the most dramatic encounter in my book, Pool of Lotus).  But during a meditation with my group the Eye of Ra reached out to me, touching my third eye with a cool sizzle that arced instantly through all of me like lightning.  “You must be hard,” she said.  Strong and unyielding like stone.  Durable as a mountain.  In fact, for you Francophones, what I heard was, “You must be dur.” 

Not what I was looking for at the end of an intensely-stressful week.  I’d just learned of the death of a close friend, finished up a tough semester of studies, juggled two jobs and conducted two weddings.  All of it was happy stuff, but somehow the current holding me steady faltered, leaving me like jelly inside, tearful and anxious on the outside.  But there was more; the next day my friend’s husband would call to ask me to lead her memorial service in a few days.  Sekhmet’s admonition began to make more sense. 

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  • Holli Emore
    Holli Emore says #
    Thanks for sharing this Ilyssa! It is her MO, indeed, isn't it Sekhmet is such a paradox of toughness and compassion.
  • Ilyssa Silfen
    Ilyssa Silfen says #
    Sekhmet is my Matron Goddess, and I was performing a ritual for Her once upon a time during a particularly stressful time in my li

In our society, we feel more and more the disconnection with those things that are meaningful and which truly nourish us... nature, spirit, community, wisdom traditions, and a sense of belonging. For some, connecting with the ways and wisdom of the ancestors is an important way of remembering who we are, and of reconnecting with the wisdom we once knew. But beyond an Irish grandmother or connection to a Scottish clan, those connections can seem tenuous... in place of a strong remembered lineage, it can be very easy to fill the gap with modern ideas or projections, no matter how sincere those may be.

A quick google search for 'Celtic wisdom' or 'Celtic paganism' and the like reveals a remarkable array of websites all professing to be a direct line to 'the' ancient Celtic knowledge... regardless of the fact that the information presented directly contradicts the other sites (as well as historical evidence), or that the vast majority is a blend of medieval (male upper class dominated) non-Celtic magic, Victorian perceptions of pan-European folklore, and modern occult and NeoPagan traditions. Apparently by paying for a two year program in Celtic shamanism (4-6 weekend meetings) one becomes qualified to start one's own website and proclaim oneself ready to transmit an entire ancient tradition.

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This essay appears in Eternal Haunted Summer magazine, where it was originally published. It's part of my memoir about shamanic experience.

Sigyn and Loki_Shirl Sazynski

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  • Shirl Sazynski
    Shirl Sazynski says #
    Thanks, Jill. Having known Loki for awhile, he is definitely not evil. If you want to learn more, there's an excellent article ab
  • Jill Swift
    Jill Swift says #
    I have been very intrigued by Loki. I know its weird with the movies that are out and about, but for some weird reason,Loki was th
  • Shirl Sazynski
    Shirl Sazynski says #
    Good luck to you as well. (:

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

b2ap3_thumbnail_b2ap3_thumbnail_xxIMG_0936_20140611-130802_1.jpg


I previously shared my favorite tarot decks.  In the last post and this one, I want to share my own personal tarot deck that I created from some of my favorite artists.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

 

Le crabe enrage protection charm

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