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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in death

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
A Contract with Death

The island lies at the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers. To the Dakota, old in the land, it marked the Center of the World.

That's where we gather for Samhain.

In the river valley, the Sun sets early. By late afternoon, people have already begun to gather at the stone-built fire-hall, and kindled a fire in its central hearth. At sunset we close the doors.

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Processing Suicide Through a Pagan Paradigm

**Trigger Warning** I am going to discuss some very personal perspectives on processing grief and feelings around suicide. These are my own feelings, and should not be taken as any generalized statement on these issues. If this topic is particularly painful, please remain cognizant of your own emotional status and stop reading as you must.

Before I can even begin to process the amazing emotions and revelations of the last week as a participant of the Parliament of the World's Religions, I have to take a moment to grieve the loss of a friend.

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  • Holli Emore
    Holli Emore says #
    Sending you love and peace, Denora. I struggled with thoughts of suicide for many years and actually felt envy when someone I knew

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Journeying to the Realm of the Dead

Ancient Minoan civilization was part of a widespread Bronze Age cultural group that encompassed much of the Mediterranean. This included the Cyclades, a large group of islands off the southeast coast of Greece, just north of Crete. At the center of the Cyclades is the island of Delos, which was sacred to a number of the Aegean Bronze Age societies, including the Minoans. In fact, it figures prominently in the Theseus-and-Ariadne myth.

The Cyclades had their own culture that included a unique art style: small figurines carved out of white marble, with a simplistic style that looks almost post-modern. The photo above shows the most widespread type of figurine, a female figure with her arms crossed over her abdomen, the left above the right. Some male carvings in a similar posture have been found, but by far the majority are female. The interesting thing is, they all come from Cycladic graves.

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"The Veil Between The Worlds Is Thin"--What Does It Even Mean?

If you've been studying magic for a while, you've probably heard it a million times. For those in the Northern Hemisphere, in October - and particularly on October 31st (or Samhain) - the veil between the worlds is thin.

But what exactly is this veil? And why does it thin? And why does it matter?

As you may know, the realm of magic is something we understand through symbol, emotion, and vibration...Although it's important to remember that we never quite understand it, at least in the most literal sense. The divine, magical realm is always mysterious. By its very definition, it resides just outside our everyday consciousness and linear, reasoning mind.

This doesn't mean that we can't have a familiar, working relationship with all that is magical and mysterious, or that we can't draw upon it to create positive change. We absolutely can, and it works fabulously well. It just means that we can never quite put our finger on what exactly it is and how it works.

Of course, drawing upon magic to create positive change becomes much, much easier when we take the time on a regular basis - through things like ritual, communing with nature, and meditation - to tap into the divine/magical realm. When we do this, we remember that while we appear separate, we are in fact one with each other and with All That Is. Knowing this, we are empowered to wield our power to do things like energetically protect ourselves and manifest the conditions we desire. Additionally, things that appear like "cold, hard reality" in everyday consciousness - such as the separation of life and death, seen and unseen, known and unknown, as well as the linear and finite nature of time - are, quite obviously, revealed to be illusions.

And now we've arrived at what the veil is. It's the ethereal curtain between the everyday illusion of separation and the divine truth of eternity and oneness with all that is. When we meditate or perform ritual, or when we have a mystical experience of any variety, this curtain parts and we are able to gaze into the place of power, the place between the worlds.

And in October - particularly as we approach the end of the month - the Wheel of the Year naturally thins the veil for us so that it is easier to tap in and see the truth of interconnection, empowerment, and eternity.

Why? Because the days are getting shorter and the natural world is preparing to temporarily withdraw from the realm of life and growth. In other words, the harvest cycle is waning, but it's not gone. It's a transition, a doorway between the season of life and the season of death. We are reminded that in this realm, everything is in a state of flux. This allows us to see that beneath this realm of constant change, there is a wide open space of eternity. A place of stillness in which the appearance of change arises. A serene openness to which we will always return, and with which we are one, even at this very moment.

And that's why we love fall!

Its also why we naturally feel drawn to certain themes at this time of year, all of which correspond to the parted veil. Let's briefly examine a few of them.


There's no denying that at this time of year, whether or not you're magically inclined, death is the primary cultural symbol. Scary movies, ghosts, graveyards, zombies, and skeletons abound. And it's worth noting that for a culture that normally does its best to brush the topic of death under the rug (or to pretend that it's a freak occurrence that only happens to other people), this is rather astonishing. Also astonishing is that this time of year (which falls in May in the Southern Hemisphere) is rather consistently associated with death, across cultures and continents.

For three generations, my dad's side of the family has been in the funeral business. And I love visiting the Spanish style funeral chapel in my rural California hometown because it's always like October there: the veil between the worlds is always thin. It's a place where the transition between this realm and the other realm has been honored over and over and over again for decades. There is something about the way the sunlight shines through the windows that brings you smack into the center of eternity.

Black Cats

If you're friends with a black cat, you likely know that that consciously connecting with one can be like gazing beyond the veil of time and separation, and looking straight into the heart of magic. Why? I couldn't say.

It's (quite fittingly) a mystery.

And why do stray black cats like to make their home base the garage of my hometown funeral chapel? Besides the fact that my dad feeds them and takes care of them, that's a mystery too.

Although I'm sure it all has something to do with the fact that cats - particularly black cats - have been traditionally considered "psychopomps," or beings that assist with the transition from this realm to the next by kindly ushering souls into the spiritual realm.

Magic and Witchcraft

Finally, for magical practitioners and non-magical practitioners alike, magic and witchcraft are a favorite theme of the season. Naturally! As we've discussed, the place of power is between the worlds. It's the place where we remember that we can draw upon the unseen world to affect the seen world and vice versa. It's the place where we bravely gaze into the realm of death and transcend our fear so that we can draw upon the infinite power that is our birthright. Here, everything is illuminated with that special light that reminds us that mundane is the illusion and only magic is real.


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Pagan News Beagle: Earthy Thursday, March 12

As a part of the natural world we must deal constantly with cycles of life and death. Several of today's stories in Earthy Thursday deal with these and related themes, as well as what sits just beyond our everyday human experience.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs


Lithuanians tell of
Giltine, the death goddess
Long nose, even longer tongue
dripping deadly venom
Clad in a white sheet
Found in cemeteries
seeking coffins’ contents
her poison’s source
She bites, strangles, suffocates 
a million ways to die
Giltine knows no obstacles
fences mean nothing
doors open themselves
She’s an unseen shadow
but you will hear her whip
cracking thrice in the air
or the clatter of her bone rattle
Feel a sudden shiver
She’s looked you in the face
and moved on…this time
Though a Patroness of healers
do not interfere with her will
tricking her is possible
but all measures are temporary
She will come for you
There is no escaping fate
Look where she stands
to know thy future
foot of the bed, recovery
head of the bed
say your prayers
your life is done.

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