Pagan Studies

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Studies Blogs

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

At my house, we've put away the harvest decor that has been up since late September and set up the house for Yule. Earlier in the fall, my mom gave me a straw cornucopia that she's had for years, and as I put it away with the autumn-hued table runner and wreath, I thought of how far back the cornucopia reaches into the past, and what it means.

Nourishment and Wildness

These days, cornucopias often take the form of vaguely horn-shaped baskets of faux fruit and flowers, like the one my mom gave me. But it was originally a real goat horn holding fresh fruits, vegetables, flowers, and grains. Literally meaning "horn of plenty" in Latin, the cornucopia originated in ancient Greece. In one origin myth, the infant Zeus was nourished with milk from the goat Amalthea on the island of Crete. Because He was extremely strong even as an infant, He broke off one of her horns, and the hollow horn gave forth unending nourishment.

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We all have biases, its part of human nature, but many people don't acknowledge their biases, and may not even be aware of them. Its important in both spirituality and life to try to root out where our biases are and see how they are effecting, for good or bad, our interaction with things around us. This is something that I have been thinking a lot about today as I see the effects of bias within various fairy-interest communities. 

We relate to the world through a series of mental schema which act as shortcuts for our minds to assess situations and organize information. These schema are essential to the way the human mind works because they provide frameworks for us to relate to the world around us quickly and efficiently. However this mental process lends itself to the formation of biases, or ingrained beliefs and ideas about people and things. Biases are slightly different from schema but are part of the same wider mental process that looks for shortcuts to processing and understanding information. Biases are usually learned or taught and can be positive or negative, for example a person may have a positive bias towards teachers or a negative bias towards people who are unemployed. 

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As I sit down to write this, it's the eleventh of November, 2020 – so far the worst time in the worldwide Corona virus pandemic. If that weren't enough to worry about, for the past month and a half my 75 year-old wife has been in two rehab centers where they're trying to strengthen her legs and get her back onto her feet, interspersed with transports to two different hospitals, due to a bowel blockage and vomiting blood. Somehow in spite of all these transfers and multiple contacts, we have both managed to remain Covid-free so far. The doctors and nurses and other medical personnel here in Arizona have been really wonderful in their adherence to all the PPE (personal protection equipment) rules.


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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Mr. Czukor, No worries, brother. Thank you! Stay safe.
  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Mr. Czukor, I'm sorry about your wife's medical issues. Prayers and offerings to Apollo and Asklepios, for comfort and healing to
  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    You are very kind, Jamie. Sorry I took so long to acknowledge your post.

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In honor of the first snow of the year where I am, arriving today, and Samhain tomorrow, I'd like to share my translation of a 9th century Irish poem:

Scél lemm dúib:
Dordaid dam,
Snigid gaim,
Ro-fáith sam;
Gáeth ard úar,
Ísel grían,
Gair a rith,
Ruirthech rían;
Ro-rúad rath
Ro-cleth cruth,
Ro-gab gnáth
Guigrann guth;
Ro-gab úacht
Etti én
Aigre re
É mo scél.
- 9th century Irish
I have news for you:
The stag bells,
Winter snows,
Summer has gone;
Wind high and cold,
The sun low,
Short its course
The sea running high;
Deep red the bracken
Its shape lost,
The wild goose has
Raised its accustomed cry;
Cold has seized
The birds’ wings
Season of ice
This is my news.
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Ever since I can remember, when I've had to do something difficult -- having a hard but necessary conversation, atoning for a wrong, going through a process of change, or persisting through a hardship or trauma -- this phrase would come to me: Walk through the fire. Even as a kid, I knew it meant that I could get through whatever it was in one piece if I held myself together, kept my eyes and feet facing forward, and accepted whatever happened as it came. If I kept going at a steady pace, the “fire” wouldn't consume me; I'd make it to the other side. I didn't know where that phrase came from, but it always gave me strength. It still does. And it’s true -- I’ve always come out on the other side, more or less in one piece.

Hares and Fire

Fast-forward to me in my 20s, reading Terry Pratchett's I Shall Wear Midnight for the first time, and I come to this poem:

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Several years ago, I bought a small wormwood plant at a local nursery. I loved its soft, silvery leaves, clean scent, and knew of its use in absinthe, so I had to have it. I potted it for a year or so, and it didn’t do very well (to be fair, I’m not great with potted plants). But I knew that we would be moving eventually, and I didn’t want to leave it behind when we did. Two and a half years ago, we made our move to the Blue Ridge mountains and I brought my sad little wormwood with me. Not long after I planted it in the ground -- a claiming act -- beside our front porch, it sprang back to life. It’s full and vital now, and its clean scent, feathery texture, silvery green color, and powerful magic have preserved its status as one of my favorites (my mints share that status).


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Irish Pagan Resources

One of the questions I am asked fairly regularly is what books I recommend for people interested in studying Irish Paganism, as there is so much confusion out there about what's good and what's not. Obviously different people will have their own suggestions here but I wanted to write a bit about how I judge sources and also offer a selection of good books (and a few websites) that I have found to be useful for people studying Irish Paganism. 

Basic Suggestions for Judging Sources

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Additional information