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Predictably enough, they're calling it the “Christmas Star”; actually, of course, it's neither.

Once in every 800 years, Jupiter and Saturn meet in the sky and kiss. Seen from Earth, they will appear to join and become one. This time around, this Great Marriage occurs—of all the well-omened days of the year—on the day of the Winter Solstice.

Let me be frank: after this dark, dark year, we'll take whatever omens we can get.

Winter is Sky Time. The leaves come down, and the heavens open up. Historically, here in Minnesota, December is the year's cloudiest month, but this year has brought us a succession of clear, fair days of long, slanting Sunlight. These last Sunrises of the waning year have been spectacular, and our Northern nights have been alive with Northern Lights, the dancing daughters of Earth and Sun.

You yourself can witness this 800-year Wonder, this Great Rite in the Sky, wherever you are.

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'The Union of the Gods Renews the World'

Paganistan was born from an act of love.

Beltane 1976. For the first time, on May Eve the Minnesota Church of the Wicca (MCoW) selects, by lot, a woman and a man who, while the rest dance and sing to raise the power, retire to the May bower to enact the Great Marriage of the Gods.

It was the making of our community.

We've enacted the rite ever since. This year marks the 43th annual May Marriage, the local community's oldest ongoing tradition. It's a record that any New Pagan community could envy.

The tradition is currently carried by the Wiccan Church of Minnesota, MCoW's daughter organization, but has worked its way out into the community at large. “The Union of the Gods renews the world,” wrote local priestess Hillary Pell (herself a May Queen emerita) in 1998.

Last year, winter lingered late. A freak mid-April blizzard paralyzed growth and, two weeks later, there was still nary a sign of Spring to be seen.

In the dusk of May Eve, we kindled the Beltane Fire. Our newest member led her partner off to the May bower. As they made love, we sang and danced the sacred dances.

Now, whether or not it had anything to do with what we—or they—did that night, I don't claim to know. (I rather doubt it.) But this much I can tell you.

By the next day, there was green everywhere. Overnight, the buds had broken. Between the setting and the rising of the “ithyphallic adolescent Sun” (to quote Feraferia's Fred Adams), Spring—in amazing chloroplast explosion—had sprung.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
When the New Gods Fail

The 1860s in Sweden saw a disastrous series of failed harvests.

The good farmers of Tisselskog, Dalsland repeatedly went to church and pleaded for divine assistance, but none, apparently, was forthcoming. Each subsequent harvest was worse than the one before.

What do you do when the new gods fail you?

Of course, you turn to the old.


Tisselskog is home to one of west Sweden's richest collections of Bronze Age rock art. More than 50 rock panels are covered with thousands of carvings of footprints, warriors, Sun wheels, and ships. Common also is the cupmark, known rather more poetically in Swedish as an älvkvarn, an “elf-quern” or “elf-mill.” Those who wished, in the skald Sighvatr Þórðarson's words, to “offer to the elves” would place their offerings—milk, a coin, a little smeared fat—in one of these elf-querns.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The People of the Wheel

The Witch's Wheel isn't just a calendar.

It's a Great Rite.

Most would think of the Wheel, with its quarters and cross-quarters, as an image of the year.

In this sense, it is an icon of Time, sacred Time.

But of course the Wheel is also an icon of Space, sacred Space: the compass rose, with its eight directions, not to mention the magic circle.

So together it's an icon of Time-Space.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

In this season of the Fathers and Mothers, one last ancestral tale, before we descend into Darkness.

His name, ironically, was Charlie Coward, and they say he was seven feet tall. It was he that made the Blood Marriage with the Land, and so we are Americans today.

In my family's Long Memory, his is the oldest name remembered in full. The oldest of all—but his given name is long forgotten—would be that Cow Herd whose name his descendants still bear.

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs


Here we are, just past the midpoint between Litha and Mabon. The sun, while not at its zenith, is still high in the sky and hot upon the land. Early crops are being harvested while even more bounty makes ready to soon laden our tables and altars with sustenance and gifts, and fill our pantries with stores for the dark half of the year.

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