Pagan Paths


PaganSquare is a community blog space where Pagans can discuss topics relevant to the life and spiritual practice of all Pagans.

  • Home
    Home This is where you can find all the blog posts throughout the site.
  • Tags
    Tags Displays a list of tags that have been used in the blog.
  • Bloggers
    Bloggers Search for your favorite blogger from this site.
  • Login
    Login Login form

Paths Blogs

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

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Big Ritual for Solitaries

The ancient Minoans had a lot of opportunities for what I like to call Big Ritual. The priesthood of the temples at Knossos, Phaistos, Malia and Zakro put on Mystery plays for the public, enacting stories from Minoan mythology at the solstice and equinoxes as well as at other festival dates. The cave shrines and peak sanctuaries were staffed by priestesses and priests who provided ceremonies for the public at the sacred times throughout the year. The more important inhabitants of the towns even had the prospect of attending large rituals within the temples themselves. But we modern folks don’t generally have access to that sort of event.

Sure, we have our altars and shrines at home, just as the Minoans and other ancient peoples did. But sitting in meditation with an altar is its own special kind of activity and doesn’t push the same buttons, if you see what I mean, as Big Ritual does.

...
Last modified on

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Genii Loci: Communal Spirits of Place

Having returned a few years ago to the general vicinity of my birth, I found myself more than ever considering regional cultus. There's something magical to the land touched by the Missouri River for me; it sings to me about it being my home and blood. I am the 5th generation of my family that has called this space home, and I marked the birth of the 6th generation with my daughter here as well. My husband jokingly refers to this as my spawning ground, but I sometimes wonder if there's truth to that.

I've set to trying to learn what I can classify as the Genii, an ambiguous term for the divine part of spirit in all things with souls. These may be Lares, heroes, natural spirits, or minor Gods; they may be Manes, the spirits of the Dead not quite elevated to the status of Lares yet. They may be somewhere in between, indefinable when not stretched under the pull of over-rationalization that I'm sometimes prone to.

This isn't always an easy task, but it's one I feel is important to undertake. So many times I fall to the trap of keeping my mind intellectually pinned into the space and time that the Roman Empire touched that I build solid walls that trap myself in. So I find myself asking regularly Who are our American Gods? Where do we find Them? And not simply the Spirits and Gods who were here before my European ancestors got here, but those we have created and transplanted as we've settled in this space.

Last modified on
Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Anna Applegate
    Anna Applegate says #
    Wonderful article! I've had experiences both positive and negative working with the land spirits of places I've lived in (not my b
  • Camilla Laurentine
    Camilla Laurentine says #
    I agree most emphatically that not all spirits wish to have anything to do with humans. There are places we really simply don't b
  • Anna Applegate
    Anna Applegate says #
    That's so cool that you used to live by the Marshall Field's building--you have no idea how much I miss shopping there! (Macy's ca

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

b2ap3_thumbnail_The-Veiled-Virgin-Marble-Statue-3.jpgThis post is for The Pagan Experience: "Deity and the Divine- This will be the third week’s topic every month and an opportunity for you to share with everyone those who guide, inspire and inform you."

Nerthus is the twin and consort of Njord.  She lives alone on an island in Vanaheim that none are allowed to visit except Njord, sometimes her children, and her priest; she leaves the island once a year, to travel throughout Vanaheim and Midgard and bless the land with her presence, a time of merry-making and letting go of grudges and regrets, celebrating abundance and family.  

...
Last modified on

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Introduction to Do ut Des

15 years ago I found myself walking down the streets of downtown Chicago on my way home from an English class. It was my first week of classes at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and I was experiencing the culture shock of moving from small town Iowa to downtown Chicago. On that afternoon, I'd finally gotten to the point of being comfortable enough to talk to a young man I'd spent the nights before listening debate philosophy with a few others. I was so paralyzed by social anxiety in those days that I was certain I was developing an ulcer, and later another friend had expressed shock over me not actually being mute as he believed when he first met me. However, this was the first time I'd had a chance to sit and listen to philosophy and political discussions between my peers that didn't involve Christianity or the Matrix. Like many college freshman, this sudden arrival of discussing thought was a whole new world ripe with possibilities. We were adults.

Last modified on
Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    Your welcome, I hope it sparks your dreams and imagination.
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    Hello, I'm Unitarian Universalist myself. I've read Ovid's Metamorphosis and enjoyed it. I highly recommend it. I have not yet
  • Camilla Laurentine
    Camilla Laurentine says #
    I still mentally toy with the thought of going to UU divinity school for my upcoming higher education. I spent quite a few years

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
The Red Rock Power Spot

Continuing my story of my personal journey, I found Red Rock Park to be a healing place. Red Rock Park near Las Vegas, Nevada, is a popular hiking, rock climbing, and picnicking destination where one can view petroglyphs. I often meditated in a shallow cave I named the Yoda Hole. The trailhead to the rock climbing area with many small caves is on the first overlook of the scenic road in the park.

The image that accompanies this post is a photo of the the Yoda Hole. It was pristine when I used to visit it for healing in the 90s, but had been defaced with graffiti at the time I took this picture. The circular design in the middle of the cave roof is natural, and I liked to position my head under it when I meditated. 

 A quote from my memoir:

     “When my feet touched the red rock I felt power go through me.  It was like plugging into a socket.  My energy level skyrocketed, and I found my pace quickening.  I walked right out onto the promontory of calico stone and sat down, my hands caressing the deep red stone.  At the same time that I realized this was the first stirring of psychic power I had felt in a long time, and I reveled in the feel of the power coursing through me from the rock, I also wondered what it was in the rock that set it apart and made it powerful.  Was the red color from iron, like rust?  If so, was what I felt as magical power actually a magnetic field?"

The red color is, in fact, from iron. Meditating in the Yoda Hole and hiking in the park improved my health. I became able to sense other minds again, including the gods. The gray lifted from me, and there was color in the world again.  

Last modified on
Pre-PantheaCon Rituals - or -Where is my cool hat?

You should see my bedroom right now. It looks as if all of the magical clothing from every magical clothing store decided to leave the comfort of their lovely racks and shelves and start a squatter's collective in the middle of my bed. Apparently they also called the "make-up" fairies and the "don't forget all of these accessories" gnomes and said, "hey you should all come over here and see what Gwion is trying to stuff in his suitcase. It's a laugh riot!"

In all seriousness, I love going to PantheaCon and there's a certain amount of ritual that goes into preparing for this one of a kind, four day event. 

...
Last modified on
Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Peggy Frye
    Peggy Frye says #
    I loved meeting you (for the first time) at PCon! Thank you for your kind (tattoo) comments!
  • Gwion Raven
    Gwion Raven says #
    Oh Peggy! The pleasure was all mine. Thank you for sharing your amazing ink and the stories that go with them.
  • Annika Mongan
    Annika Mongan says #
    Of course I didn't get around to reading this because I was too steeped in my own pre-Pantheacon ritual which involved a romantic
  • Gwion Raven
    Gwion Raven says #
    Wait, you were reciting a mantra to end your romantic date so you could go to Pcon? Oh Annika

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Existentialism Part 2: Choosing Faith

I had been able to confidently say the gods are real because I could feel them as well as I felt other humans and animals. Then, suddenly, I couldn't feel them. Not the gods, and not other people. Not animals, not nature, nothing. This is how it happened:

Trigger warnings: physical health and mental health issues, mention of childhood abuse

It was 1997. I had a life-threatening medical problem, and was given a medicine which included in its listed side effects weight gain and depression. I gained 60 lbs. in 3 months, and I became depressed in an equally rapid and thorough manner. When I switched to a different medicine, I stopped gaining weight, but the weight I already had gained did not just disappear, it was still there. The same was true of the depression. It was still there, and I had to deal with it. 

For me, depression meant not being able to feel the presence of other minds, not the gods, and not other people. Nothing felt real. All the color leached out of the universe. Clear skies were gray, and sunsets were gray, and chocolate was ashes. I was cut off from sensation and physical pleasure.  I started having flashbacks to childhood experiences of sexual abuse. 

None of the medicines I tried got my medical problem under control, I was constantly in danger of death, was in constant pain, sometimes was too disabled to leave my house, I could not work, and had to close my bookstore.

I tried everything I could think of help with both the physical and mental issues, including magic. I called on the healer goddess Eir, not knowing at the time that calling on her would provoke a healing crisis. That meant things would seem to get worse before they got better.

My insurance company canceled my policy, and when I looked for help dealing with the depression and flashbacks, I was going bankrupt and could not access for-profit doctors and ended up having to seek help from the state mental health system, which treated me so badly that in addition to my original problems I developed additional ones. The state doctor prescribed an SSRI antidepressant, which relieved fatigue and gave me enough energy to get things done despite still being depressed, and still being physically ill as well. In that time period, SSRIs did not yet list suicidal ideation as a known side effect. Eventually I found better help; I talk about my healing journey in my memoir, so readers interested in the details are directed to that book. 

In the meantime, I had an experience that I was convinced should have killed me and that my body's sudden, odd resilience was uncanny.

A quote from my memoir, Greater Than the Sum of My Parts: My Triumph Over Dissociative Identity Disorder:

     "In the days that followed, as I thought about the strange happening, I realized that I had to decide to what I would attribute it:  failure or miracle.  I chose miracle.  I told myself, “Goddess won’t let me die.”

     I still could not feel her presence.  But I chose to believe she was there.  For the first time in my life, I had true faith."

That was a major turning point in my life, and on my heathen path. Eventually, my ability to sense the gods and other people returned, but not until I healed myself with the help of a therapist. I had to get rid of the depression, and the flashbacks, and the panic, and become whole, before I could advance any farther spiritually. When I started being able to feel the presence of the gods again, I felt them more clearly than ever before. But if I had not experienced that, I would never have developed faith, because faith is the choice to believe in the absence of evidence, and until then, I had always had the evidence of my senses.

How we interpret the events of our lives is a choice, just like the existential choice of choosing whether to believe other people, the gods, and our own sensory lived experiences are real. I consciously chose my personal narrative of these events, and I chose this: Freya saved my life.

Last modified on

Additional information