Pagan Studies


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Studies Blogs

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

In my last blog here I talked about blending personal gnosis and folklore or other people's anecdotal accounts. Today I want to look at another important factor to consider as you set off on the Fairy Road - considering the perspective of the sources you are using. We live in a time when there are possibly more resources for studying fairies than ever before but the quality of these sources is, shall we say, exceedingly wide ranging. There are an abundance of good quality sources of course but people seem to take any and all such material equally rather than giving different weight to each based on its individual biases and viewpoint.

Considering a source's perspective is very important in deciding how to approach the material - to put a twist on an old saying 'not all sources are created equal'. And not all sources share a common view or understanding even of the same subject. The way that the educated English of the early modern period understood and approached fairies is very different from the way that the people in rural communities seemed to have done the same, and both are very different again from how people in Ireland in the same period understood the Daoine Sidhe. Lowland Scottish folklore about fairies found in the ballad material has its own perspective as well. And all of these differ from anecdotes we may find today in those same places. We also have to consider that people - myself included - who are outside the living cultures may have a different perspective as well.

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Divining The Lines

This post started as notes in preparation for a talk I was planning for the seers group in my tradition. I decided to share it with some modifications to make it more broadly applicable. The following points are offered to encourage mindfulness and dialogue regarding the ethics and best practices for divination, oracular work, and allied disciplines. They do not cover all possible situations and differences in applications or doctrines, so change and adapt what is here to match your needs. I think that it is important for your sake and the sake of those lives that you touch to be clear on your ethical guidelines if you offer readings or oracular sessions of any kind. If you do not agree with any or all of these suggestions, I hope you will work to create your own or consider these a template that you can adjust.

1.   Ethics & Morals

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Witches Do Not Bend*

Allow me a moment's irritation that this persistent misinformation continues to get shared. The 'witch' of witch hazel or witch elm is *not* that witch. This is the Proto-IndoEuropean root *weik

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Animal Guardians on the Roof

A while back, my husband and I came across Escape to the Country on Netflix. We love house-hunting shows in general, and we enjoyed the glimpses into the local cultures, traditions, and landscapes of different regions of the UK, where the majority of our ancestors came from. In episodes featuring thatched homes, the straw bird finials that sometimes occupy the roof lines stood out to me as a particularly interesting craft. The show didn't make too much mention of them, but it was obvious that there was more to them than mere decoration.

 

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Picatrix

I'm delighted that a long-anticipated book is out at last! The Picatrix: A Medieval Treatise on Astral Magic has been long in production for the Penn State Magic in History line. As a member of Societas Magica I have seen bits of the work in progress which tantalised. From the blurb:

A manual for constructing talismans, mixing magical compounds, summoning planetary spirits, and determining astrological conditions, Picatrix is a cornerstone of Western esotericism. It offers important insights not only into occult practices and beliefs but also into the transmission of magical ideas from antiquity to the present. Dan Attrell and David Porreca’s English translation opens the world of this vital medieval treatise to modern-day scholars and lay readers.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    What other titles are in tis series?
  • Kate Laity
    Kate Laity says #
    Click the link to the publisher to see them all.
Uniting Personal Gnosis and Folklore with Fairies

It's a perennial discussion that goes around online and in-person: how much should we rely on personal gnosis and how much should we look to recorded material and other people's experiences (i.e. folklore)? This is a particularly pertinent question when it comes to those who interact with fairies because of the diversity of understandings that exist in relation to them. There are those who argue in favour of relying solely on personal experiences and those who reject the idea of modern experiences entirely, and some who advocate different balances of the two. I used to think balance was the ideal approach myself, but as I've thought about it I've come to a different view.

Folklore is an essential groundwork for anyone, in my opinion, who wants to understand the Good People. Whatever culture we happen to be talking about looking at the accumulated material that has been collected to describe previous people's experiences with and beliefs around fairies is enormously helpful in building our own understanding. Such folklore represents a valuable corpus of belief going back countless generations that can be relied on to teach us how to safely interact with Otherworldly beings, what to expect in different circumstances, and show us various outcomes of previous encounters. In short, immersing in this folklore means we don't have to learn all the hard lessons (hopefully) all over again for ourselves because we can look back to other people's previous experiences to help guide us.

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We're all trying to become better people. We've slogged through endless exercises for positive thinking, and we hope to evolve in the fullness of time so that we might commit fewer mistakes. But, in the meantime, what a long, bumpy, land-mine strewn road it is! And we are always told that there are no shortcuts.

Oh come on, not even one? Isn't there at least one little trick, one small Get-Out-of-Jail-Free card that we can use to our benefit when the going gets rough?

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Recent comment in this post - Show all comments
  • Archer
    Archer says #
    Ted, this is such good advice! Withholding judgment, extracting the gold from the dross...not easy, but profitable.

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