Pagan Studies


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Studies Blogs

Advanced and/or academic Pagan subjects such as history, ethics, sociology, etc.

Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Nettles & Mugwort

While I was reading Sylvia Townsend Warner's Lolly Willowes, a too much neglected classic of witchcraft fiction, I was struck by a rhyme Lolly's Nannie Quantrell had taught her as a child, which she had learned from her grandmother:

If they would eat nettles in March

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs
How to unlock hidden universes

I recently visited Disneyland for five days. During those 5 days all I did was go on rides, and experience the magic and wonder of Disney. It was a liminal experience. I wasn't engaged in my usual routine and in some ways it very much felt like I had entered a pocket universe. When my trip was over it took me several days to get back into my regular routine.

If you've ever attended a Pagan conference or festival, you've undoubtedly had a similar experience. Once you go into the conference, you enter a different space and you encounter a difference sense of time. It is a space and time that is sacred in its own way, created by the intentional consciousness of the people participating in that space, similar to a ritual, but different as well, because you participating in this group consciousness, but it may or may not have required an overt ritual to occur.

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Recent History: Doreen Valiente

I usually stick to much older history, but having had the chance to catch the Doreen Valiente exhibit at Preston Manor in Brighton, I figured I should share a few pictures as I know it's a bit tricky for many folks to get there. The exhibit itself is small but there's a great delight in seeing how intimately history is made by a most unassuming woman. I picked up Philip Heseltine's biography too and am much enjoying it. Here are some of the artifacts collected:

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Wisteria's Summer Solstice

For many years I would travel to Wisteria for Pagan Spirit Gathering.  From 2001 until 2008 I spent my Summer Solstice at Wisteria at PSG and loved it.  The community was phenomenal and the energy amazing; however, in 2009 PSG moved to a different location.  Ironically, just as I was going through a divorce it would seem the PSG also went through a divorce with Wisteria and the festival moved to a different venue.  I loved the sense of community that I felt at PSG, but I was also very much in love with the land at Wisteria.  It had a magical and mystical quality for me.

When my father died in 2004 I made a pilgrimage the following year to Wisteria's Faerie Shrine, a location at Wisteria that wasn't part of the PSG programming, and made an offering of my father's US Navy dog tag.  In 2008 I attended Between the Worlds Festival at Wisteria and while there I attended a ritual at the Faerie Shrine honoring our ancestors and sacred dead.  When I enter the Faerie Shrine I can feel my father's presence and the love he has for me as one of my sacred ancestors.  The Faerie Shrine at Wisteria always had an ethereal quality for me that added to the magical and mystical quality of the overall site.  My connection to the land is real and has meaning for me.

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Staying Power

I took a few days off from the world so I could stay in it for the next few  decades. Many things have happened in the last month, that have pushed me off my center, upset the balance of my emotions. I was interviewed on June 10th about my work with AIDS as an activist and as the executive director for Delaware’s main AIDS/HIV organization in the 80s and early 90s. It was like a war zone during those years. One year I attended the funerals of 65 friends, I stopped going to funerals for many years. The memories opened old wounds. Then the massacre of LGBTQ people in Orlando happened. I have friends and personal connections there. I am also a Cuban that’s been in the US since fleeing Cuba in 1961, that was woven into my experience of the massacre as well. In addition to my own distress, I had to put on the clergy hat and be available for others who needed comfort and support. And all of this in the midst of a horrible election cycle, more tragedies for people of color, more glaring examples of rape culture, more bigotry against trans people, crises in the lives of my community members, internecine conflicts in my broader spiritual communities, and more. Then I was treated poorly by people that I have helped often. I shrugged it off, reminding myself that when you try to free an animal from a trap it is just as likely to bite you as to bless you when you help it.The last straw was the report of a father unwilling to pick up his son’s body for burial because his son was gay. I was thrown away by my parents when I was 18. I was done.

I knew I was in trouble. I tried to arrange a meeting to unburden myself with a friend, but didn't manage to call her. I started re-reading the Stoic philosophers, usually a bad sign for me. I doubled my meditative practices. It wasn’t enough. Most people tell me they experience me as perennially helpful, engaged, kind, and patient. Moment to moment I was flipping the Janus faced coin of incandescent rage and ice-bound sadness. I put away my cell phone, turned off my wifi, cancelled everything I could, and stayed home. I listened to music, read fiction, worked in the garden, hugged my husband, played with our dogs, and did not try to explain myself to anyone. My Jim, answered the land line, dealt with people who showed up at the door, warned off people that wanted to be helpful, and gave me the space I needed. This is not the first time that I have taken a break from the world nor will it be my last. It is the first time I am telling people of my struggles and why I drop off the grid. I intend to stay in the world and to stay on target with my work for many, many years. I’m back again, until I take another needed retreat from the world in several years. 

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Holli Emore
    Holli Emore says #
    love and gentle calm to you
  • Aline "Macha" O'Brien
    Aline "Macha" O'Brien says #
    Brigit's balm, my friend.
  • Jae Sea
    Jae Sea says #
    It's so important to allow the space, uncrowded, to flow. I'm here for you. Hugs & Love.
  • Byron Ballard
    Byron Ballard says #
    Holding you, my brother. Always. I spoke your name to the Midsummer Moon at PSG and prayed a prayer of peace and justice, but abov

Posted by on in Studies Blogs
"For Entertainment Purposes Only"

 

"For Entertainment Purposes Only" Or "I Went To A Psychic Fair & No One Knew I Was Sad"

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Midsummer Behind a Cyclone Fence

Yesterday we (the Wiccan circle at San Quentin State Prison) did a combination Midsummer and Fathers’ Day celebration, after the noisy Juneteenth celebration in the main prison yard.  We have to meet when and where permitted, and with limited access to such things as water for bathing or bonfires.  (There is water for drinking.)

Most times we meet in a little storage room off the breezeway where the Roman Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, and Islamic chapels are.  It is literally a storeroom, with stacks of folding chairs and tables and old file cabinets.  Since I’ve been going there the file cabinets were moved.  At this point, it’s been cleaned out enough that we only have two tables and a bunch of stacked chairs.  It’s considered to be the Minority Faiths Chapel.

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