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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in fertility rites
Folk Dance: Creative Power and Connecting to the Land

 

I'm learning how to flatfoot.

...
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Damnedest Thing

I tell you, it's the damnedest thing.

Every few years, the witches get together up on the ridge for one of their big shindigs.

Every few years, without any rhyme or reason to it.

Harvest time coming on, and suddenly they'll be up there, hooting and hollering and carrying on. All night they'll be at it, sun-down to sun-up.

Eeriest thing you ever heard. Hear the drums for miles, you can.

Funny, those are always bumper years: corn, apples, hay. Hens laying like crazy, and the cows! Seems like you never stop milking.

There's always good hunting, too, the falls of those years. Those are good venison years.

And here's something else: after the last one, in the spring, that's when Martha had the Twins. Nobody else in her family, or mine, ever had twins before.

Now, ain't that just the damnedest thing?

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Spilling Seed

Well gentlemen, it's that time of year again: time to spill that seed on the ground.

Call it a religious obligation. Good old paganism.

Making love in the fields at the sowing to make the crops grow has probably been around for as long as we've been agricultural animals. It's sympathetic magic of the most basic kind, no explanation needed. I sure do hope that there are places in the world where they still do it. According to folklorist Vance Randolph, they did in the Ozarks during the 1950s.

I'm reminded of a scene from the jaw-dropping BBC series Rome. The newly-ennobled Senator Lucius Vorenus has acquired a new country property. To take official legal possession, he and his wife process out to a newly-plowed field along with a priest and their tenant farmers. After the priest makes offerings, Vorenus and Niobe go out into the field. She lays down, and he lays on top of her.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Holy Shit

It's a curse word. It's the ultimate bad comparison: “Smells like....” “Tastes like....” To the poisoning of our waters and the impoverishment of our fields, we flush it away so we can pretend it doesn't exist. Frequently enough our collective aversion seems to take on a moral tone. Bad shit.

I think we've got it wrong. The opprobrium in which we hold shit is a mistaken opprobrium. I don't think this is how pagans think.

Old English scîtan, “to defecate.” We didn't have fancy Latinisms back then to describe an everyday bodily function and its product. Same with Old Norse skíta and Old High German skîzzan. We've been talking shit for a long time, it would seem. All the offspring of Common Germanic *skîtan, “to separate, defecate.” Separate and defecate. Where's the opprobrium?

The Kalasha of Pakistan are the last remaining pagans of the Hindu Kush. The greatest festival of their year is Chaumos, the winter solstice. To decorate their houses and temples for the holiday, the children whitewash the walls and cover them with good luck paintings for the coming year: sun-wheels, trees, pastures, hunters, and goats, goats, goats. (The goat is central to the Kalasha economy.)

An anthropologist observing while the children painted these designs noticed that many of them were surrounded by dots; in many of the paintings, the lines of dots actually served to unify the compositions visually. She asked the kids what the dots were.

“Oh, that's dung,” the kids explained. To the Kalasha, dung is a valuable commodity because it fertilizes the fields. Lots of dung is a desideratum because it means lots of herds to drop it, and lots of crops to be nourished by it. Dung = fertility.

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  • Laura Perry
    Laura Perry says #
    Some of the best Indian incense includes cow dung, for exactly the reason those kids said. Also, I find it instructive that the wo

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Planting Day

So here's to the plowman and to his left stone,

to plow a fine furrow, the seed for to sow,

the seed for to sow till it's lovely to see:

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