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
Bone & Spirit

As Halloween and the Day of the Dead approach, I see more and more skulls both cheery and eerie decorating homes and businesses. This year I have seen them in greater abundance than in previous years. This may be true or it may be that I am taking better note of them. To be truthful, I have some skulls that are decor and some that are altar pieces that grace our home year round. Last night I took a crystal skull out of one of our cabinets and sat it on the table, and took a contemplative ramble.

 

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Witches, Fairies, and Hallowe'en

 When people think of Halloween, or from a more pagan perspective Samhain, the image of witches comes quickly to mind and it may be the single day of the year most strongly associated with witches in Western culture. Yet there is another layer to Halloween that also intersects with witchcraft and witches but isn't as commonly acknowledged in mainstream culture and that is fairies. Halloween and the general period of time around Halloween has long been known in the folklore and folk practices of the various Celtic-language speaking countries to be a time when the Good Folk are more active and more present.

The connection between witches and fairies more generally is complex and multi layered. Scottish witches who were brought to trial mentioned dealing with fairies as often as dealing with demons and were as likely to say they had sworn themselves to the Queen of King of Fairy as to the Christian Devil. This is discussed in Emma Wilby's books 'Cunning Folk and Familiar Spirits' and 'The Visions of Isobel Gowdie' and touched on in Davies 'Popular Magic' which all review various material from the Scottish witchcraft trials in which confessed witches talk about their connections to the fairies. We also see references to both Irish witches and mná feasa [wise women] who learned their skill from the Good Neighbours, as well as specialists called fairy doctors in English who were supposed to have been taught by the fairies (Daimler, 2014). This overlap, briefly summarized here, was one where the witch might both serve Fairy and also be served by it. 

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My Spiritual Pilgrimage Day 3

Recently I was visiting Long Beach, Washington and while I was there I ended up visiting another site for the Confluence Project. Turns out that Long Beach was actually the first site consecrated for the project and what was fascinating to me was that you could see 5 different parts of the project. There was a board walk with writing on it about the geographic and historical dates for the Lewis and Clark trail, an amphitheater, a fish cleaning table and a view point. And all of those places were intriguing but the one which really spoke to me was the Cedar Grove Circle.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Cedar-grove.jpg

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Alfablot: Honoring the Spirits of the Earth and the Dead

“‘Do not come any farther in, wretched fellow’, said the woman; ‘I fear the wrath of Óðinn; we are heathen.’ The disagreeable female, who drove me away like a wolf without hesitation, said they were holding a sacrifice to the elves inside her farmhouse.” (“Austrfararvísur”)

Feast of Spirits

The Alfablot is an ancient Norse holiday celebrated around this time of year, the end of the harvest and the start of the winter season. As for many other peoples across the world, offerings to the spirits were in order during seasonal shifts, especially when advancing into the most challenging season.

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  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    Having read Journey to Ixilan by Castaneda and Supernatural by Graham Hancock I am inclined to view the Elves as primarily the spi
Experiencing Iceland: Stories and Spirits

I was fortunate enough last month to be able to visit Iceland for just under two weeks. I had never been there before and had been looking forward to the trip, as Iceland has a reputation for its beauty and for its deeply ingrained folklore. Neither disappointed. 

Words cannot do the country's beauty justice. It is truly amazing and everywhere you look seems more gorgeous than the last. Not only the natural places but even the cities, which I am not prone to favouring, are beautiful and full of statues and street art. I saw more murals on walls in Reykjavik than I have ever seen anywhere else and the art was a nice counterpoint to the natural beauty. My main focus wasn't on the ambience though, impressive as it was, but on the spiritual connection and folklore. 

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  • Morgan Daimler
    Morgan Daimler says #
    We did. When we first arrived we did something quiet and personal individually to introduce ourselves and to get to know the feel
  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    Great story! Iceland is now firmly cemented on my bucket list. I'm land-spirit sensitive, and I'm glad that Iceland was welcoming

Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Charms A-Plenty

There's a wonderful new book out that I have just barely had time to crack open, but if you're interested in the history of magic you will doubtless want to look into it as well:

Traditional Magic Spells for Protection and Healing
By Claude Lecouteux. 2016. Rochester: Inner Traditions. 328 pages.
ISBN: 978-1-62055-621-4 

There's a comprehensive review over at the Journal of Folklore Research, which is why I picked it up at once. Yelena Francis points out the strengths of Lecouteax's background and the accessibility of the format. There are also some great additional and often rare resources in the appendices. And because it's from Inner Traditions rather than a big academic press, it's actually an affordable volume (though you should be able to get it via interlibrary loan as well). 

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Storm-Warding Charms and Rituals

Florence is pounding at the coastline of the Carolinas as I write. If you’ve been watching meteorologists’ predictions this past week, you’ll have noticed how frequently and wildly projections of her path have changed. She is a massive, powerful, and unpredictable force. Storms like Florence remind us of Mother Nature’s terrible power and that, in spite of all our cunning and advanced technology, we cannot control her; we remain subject to her, a small part of the greater tapestry of teeming, whirling life.

My neighbors’ parents live in Charleston and have come to stay with them to escape the worst of the storm. But even here, some 300 miles from the Virginia coast and buffeted by the ancient Appalachian peaks, we’re still anticipating winds up to 35 miles per hour and three to five inches of rain – nothing compared to our easterly neighbors, but a shock nonetheless for a region that doesn’t often see hurricanes. And, considering how our valley is predisposed to flooding and has already received quite a bit of rain in the past week, we’re all more than a little nervous, wondering how Florence will treat us when she arrives at our doorstep. It’s the subject of every half-overheard conversation I pass by. I can feel it coming – the sky is a mass of mottled gray; the winds are cooler and more persistent; there’s a tension in the air itself, as if every tree and bird and beast is bracing itself for the impact.

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  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I live in Colonial Heights a town south of Richmond. Florence turned south and will miss most of Virginia. I did no storm wardin
  • The Cunning Wife
    The Cunning Wife says #
    That's great! I love hearing about others' rituals and traditions. At the time I was writing this post, it did look like Florence

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