PaganSquare is a community blog space where Pagans can discuss topics relevant to the life and spiritual practice of all Pagans.

  • Home
    Home This is where you can find all the blog posts throughout the site.
  • Tags
    Tags Displays a list of tags that have been used in the blog.
  • Bloggers
    Bloggers Search for your favorite blogger from this site.
  • Login
    Login Login form
Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Kalasha

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Who Are the New Pagan Heroes?

Some people have saints. Pagans have heroes.

But you don't have to slay dragons to become one.

To the ancestors, heroes (the term is gender-neutral) were those who had done such outstanding things that they deserved to be remembered for them.

You found a city, you're a hero. You teach the People something important that makes their life better, you're a hero.

Who are our modern pagan heroes? Well, they differ from group to group. Some would number Gerald Gardner among them. Doreen Valiente, Robert Graves, Robert Cochrane: they weren't perfect people, they weren't gods.

But they each did something remarkable, something that we, their inheritors, have benefited from, and therefore they deserve to be remembered.

The Kalasha of NW Pakistan are the only surviving Indo-European people who have practiced their ancient religion uninterruptedly since antiquity. In their valleys, there's an altar to the hero who taught the People to make cheese.

Last modified on

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Great Remembering

The Khazí is the guardian of the legends. With his songs and his stories he reminds us all who we are and where we come from.” (Saifullah Jan, of Khazi Khoshnawaz)


Paganism is a matter of remembering.

We are pagan because we remember.

For a long, long time we forgot who we are. We forgot who our people are. We forgot what our people do. We forgot our stories, our songs, our rituals. We even forgot our gods.

It was a time of forgetting, the time between the Old Paganisms and the New. You could call it the Great Interruption. You could call it the Great Forgetting.

Last modified on

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Golden Bough

In 2006, Italian anthropologist Augusto Cacopardo went to NW Pakistan to study the Winter Solstice festivities of the Kalasha, the last remaining polytheists of the Hindu Kush.

Of all the Indo-European-speaking peoples, the Kalasha are the only ones whose religion has never been either stamped out, or subsumed into one of the Big Name religions. They are as close as we will ever get to the living paganism of the European ancestors.

After the purifications, the sacrifices, the sacred dances, the torch-race, and the traditional (and well-omened) sexual banter ("Your scrotum is so hairy you could weave a pair of leggings from the wool!"), came the most sacred part of the entire month-long Winter Solstice celebration. Cacopardo was permitted to witness, but not to record, it. He could see, but not hear, what was happening.

This is what he saw. A very old man, the custodian of the ghach, the festival's secret and most sacred prayer, known only to a very few, covered his head and face with his mantle and recited the sacred formula. As he did so, he held in his hand a plant which, in the dark, Cacopardo could not see clearly.

"What's the plant that he's holding?" he asked the man standing next to him.

The man explained that it was zaróri, a very sacred and pure plant that had to be brought from another valley because it did not grow locally. It would also be used, he added, in the holiday's closing ceremony the next day.

At the ritual the following day, Cacopardo managed to get a good look at the zaróri.

Last modified on

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Why Are You Pagan?

I'll be speaking to the local Theosophists this coming January on Why I Am a Pagan.

So let me ask: why are you pagan?

Why are so many of us pagans?

You might think that in the Marketplace of Religions the paganisms lost out long ago.

Yet today, world Pagandom is estimated to number somewhere between 7 and 10 million people.

That's a lot of pagans.

Last modified on
Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Lisa Jean Fleming Philpot
    Lisa Jean Fleming Philpot says #
    Why am I pagan? Because as a child in a world where woman are (even in this day) told to sit down shut up and just listen while "t
  • Lisa Jean Fleming Philpot
    Lisa Jean Fleming Philpot says #
    take the you out of "church service you up leaves"... i hate being dyslexic
  • Kile Martz
    Kile Martz says #
    I am currently pondering my attraction to pagan beliefs with intensity. Why is it making sense to me at this point in my life? Fo
When the Wights Are Angry, Everyone Suffers: Mythologizing Climate Change

Imagine that we were to discover an ancient Keltic tribe living in three isolated valleys up in the Alps.

Imagine that, through all the intervening centuries of the Great Interruption, they had, nonetheless, somehow managed to hold on to their Old Religion.

Amazingly enough—specifics aside—this not an imaginary scenario.

As the Indo-European-speaking peoples first entered the Indian subcontinent, groups broke off the main migration and settled along the way.

That's how the Kalasha, the last surviving pagans of the Hindu Kush, came to live in three isolated mountain valleys in what is now NW Pakistan.

Their religion, practiced continuously since antiquity, strongly resembles the religion of the Rig Veda, modern Hinduism's oldest scripture; some of the gods are even the same.

Alone among the Indo-European peoples, the religion of the Kalasha has never been subsumed by one of the Big Name religions. This small tribe of 4000-some people is as close as we will ever come to touching the old paganisms of the European ancestors.

As such, they have much to teach us.

Last modified on
Why Did We Lose in the First Place?

Once everyone was pagan.

Today we're not.

So: if paganism was so great in the first place, why did we lose out?

It's a question that every thoughtful contemporary pagan wrestles with. Most often, our answers present us as having been victims, of coercion or of out-maneuvering.

These are stories of agency from without.

The Kalasha—the last remaining pagans of the Hindu Kush—tell a different story.

A story of broken taboos and failed leadership.

A story from within.

Last modified on
Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Mab Nahash
    Mab Nahash says #
    I think the failure from within is more complicated than leadership. What I see in my own religious communities is failure of iden
  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Mr. Posch, You are totally correct about the sweeping generalizations and oversimplification. I was very tired. I still believe
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Thanks, Jamie. We've both made some pretty big generalizations here, and vastly oversimplified a complex situation. Realistically,
  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Mr. Posch, Honestly, I think that most people generally give less thought to spiritual matters than they give to more pressing da

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Pagans Are Pagans Everywhere

The Two Arrows

When the Kalasha people first entered Rumbur Valley, their greatest shaman, Naga Dehár, stood at the pass with his back to Afghanistan. He fired two arrows, one red and one black. Where the black arrow landed, they built the altar to Sájigor, still the most sacred place in the Kalasha valleys.

Where the red arrow landed, they built the first bashali—the women's moon-house (Maggi 47).


It's as if one were to discover an ancient Celtic tribe living up in the mountains, still practicing their old religion.

The Kalasha are a people some 4000-strong who live in three remote valleys in the Hindu Kush mountains of what is now Pakistan. They are known far and wide for their wine-drinking, for the beauty (and social freedom) of their women, and for their proudly polytheist religion, which in many ways more closely resembles pre-Hindu Vedic religion than anything else.

With their pantheon of gods and goddesses, animal sacrifices, and sacred dances, the Kalasha are probably as close as we will ever come to the Indo-European ancestors.

The more that I learn more about the Kalasha, the more struck I am by just how familiar they seem.

Last modified on

Additional information