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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in omens

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

When I perceive the gods' presence in nature, sometimes I feel that it is a sign as in an omen and sometimes it's just a sign of their presence as in a way that one detects them. When we talk about whether something is a sign, I think a lot of us talk past each other because someone will call something a sign and mean it as in the signs and symptoms of the presence of x thing, and other people will think they are talking about being the chosen one of a novel.

I've heard people say not every thunderstorm is Thor, but to me, every thunderstorm is definitely Thor. Sometimes he's showing up for me and sometimes he's just doing his thing. And either way, thunder is a sign-- of his presence. It's how we detect him. It doesn't necessarily mean anything else, unless there is some context in which his presence would be the answer to a question, but that would be highly unusual to the point of nearly unheard-of. Which is why I think people misunderstand when I say he's in every thunder roll. They misunderstand when I say he will sometimes show up for me. And sometimes he would show up for my mom, even though she was an atheist. 

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 Palamedes, knucklebones and virtual dice rollers | Original D&D Discussion

A True Story


The priests of a certain sanctuary wished to build a shrine on a particular piece of land. Accordingly, they summoned a diviner to take omens for the project.

“Build elsewhere,” said the omens. “Build here, and in five years' time, there will be no shrine.”

Now, the priest-kind misliked this divination, for the site was indeed a choice one. They brought in a second diviner who, as you will not be surprised to hear, soon found omens more to their liking.

Without even offering sacrifices of propitiation, as one might expect, the priests soon oversaw the building of a fine shrine in the chosen location.

Five years later, this shrine was destroyed by a flood.

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  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I remember reading that the Romans were known for rejecting omens they didn't agree with. And making terrible mistakes when they d

All by Itself, the Humble Sweet Potato Colonized the World - The New York  Times

The sweet potato lies in the middle of the porch roof. Looking out the window, I wonder if it's an omen.

An omen, as a warlock friend of mine once pointed out, needs to be something out of the ordinary. In order to know what's out of the ordinary, you first have to know what's ordinary.

(He was out on a first date with a Druid one night, when the guy picked up an oak leaf from the ground and said sententiously, “In my tradition”—gods, I hate it when pagans start sentences that way—“it's a favorable omen to find an oak leaf.” Then he paused, expectantly. At the time, they were standing in an oak grove. It was autumn. Needless to say, there were no more dates.)

I presume that the sweet potato in question came from the compost, and got to the roof via squirrel. That's ordinary enough around here, though I can't recall having composted any sweet potatoes lately. Still, mine isn't the only backyard midden on this alley.

A sweet potato on the roof, though: I'll grant that tentative “out of the ordinary” status. Now, of course, we arrive at the central crux of omen-reading: what the flock does it mean?

OK: it's on this roof, so clearly—if it is a sign—it's a sign for this household.

As for meaning, well: nice fat tuber, comes from underground, gold in color.

I'd say: Unexpected windfall coming soon. Gods grant the omen.

A few hours later, I remember and look out the window again. The sweet potato is gone.

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Feather Messages: Symbols on the Wind

As you jog through the park or walk to work, you might find a feather in your path. It could be a message. You might glean hidden meanings, for example, in the glistening iridescence of a raven’s feather. Native peoples believed feathers to be gifts of healing or “feather medicine” from the Great Spirit. The wind is a form of the change-bringing element of air.

Another type of daily exercise in mindfulness is to actively look for feathers. There is much magic that can lie within something as small and light as this.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs


Lilac Bush: Plant Care & Growing Guide


Half a moon to Samhain, and here in Minneapolis the lilacs are blooming.

Anomaly. Anomaly. In the American Midwest, lilacs usually flower around Bealtaine.

What's going on?

I first noticed the phenomenon a few weeks ago at Sweetwood sanctuary down in the Driftless Area of southwestern Witchconsin. I made a few lame-ass jokes about the Glastonbury Thorn—“...but at Sweetwood, the lilacs bloom both at Bealtaine and at Samhain, haha”—but inside I harbored less cheerful suspicions.

Lilacs, like most blooming woody plants, set their blossoms in the fall. An old apple tree will often bloom out of season just before it dies, one final, poignant, display of beauty before the end. Apple trees are the poets of the orchard.

But no, the resident priest assured me that the Sweetwood lilacs had done the same the previous year.

A couple of hundred miles to the north, lilacs were blooming here in Minneapolis just last week. Others, not yet blooming, are leafing out, as in a normal year one would expect to see in late April.

I hear different things from the voices around me. It's normal, it's not normal. It's drought-stress (but Sweetwood hasn't been in drought this summer). It's climate change. It's this autumn's extended warm weather.

Well, omens are notoriously ambivalent in the interpreting. If this is an omen, I for one am uncertain how to read it.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs


Housefly - Wikipedia


Here's the odd thing this Yule: I've been experiencing a plague of flies.

What's odd is not the flies themselves, but the timing. Usually about a fortnight or so after I move the outdoor plants inside before Samhain, there's a hatching of flies. I presume that the eggs come in with the plants, and the warmth of the house hatches them out. Hence, flies. It always takes me a few days to hunt them all down. With flies, I've learned, you have to be pretty ruthless. If you don't get them before they breed, you'll be sorry.

This autumn there was no hatching of flies. At the time, I remarked the fact, but can't say that I missed them.

On the first day of Yule, though, I saw the first fly. The next day, there were a couple more. The next, a few more.

You know how it is with the Yuledays: things that happen then somehow take on added significance.

Well, the mistletoe is still hanging, and has been since Midwinter's Eve. Technically, this means that the house is under the bough, i.e. in a state of Yulefrith—the peace of Yule—and that nothing should be killed here for the duration.

I'll admit that this gave me pause, but only briefly. Call me impious, but in my house the Yulefrith extends to fellow humans and—if we're pushing it—to fellow mammals. Yes, flies are kin, too—We be of one blood, you and I—but when it comes to frith, I'm sorry: bugs don't count. As I've said before, sometimes you have to be ruthless.

So, I killed them as I saw them. Every day, through all the first Twelve Days of Yule, there were more flies for me to kill, like some sort of weird sacrificial holiday ritual.

Was this a seasonal anomaly, I wonder: the usual autumn hatching, come late? Did I maybe bring them in with the Yule tree, or with the holly from the yard that I cut and brought in a couple of days before Midwinter's Eve?

A buddy of mine once made the observation that omens imply the out-of-place. To know what's unusual, you first have to know what's usual. (He was dating a Druid at the time who, out walking one day, picked up an oak leaf from the ground and said: Oh, it's an omen of great good luck to find an oak leaf! as if this were some nugget of ancient Druidic wisdom.  My friend thought: Um, it's November, and we're in a stand of oak trees. Needless to say, that relationship didn't last long.) In Minnesota, flies in late December are out of place. So what does it mean that I've had an infestation of flies through all the days of Yule?

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  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I think of flies as omens of tribulation. Each fly you dealt with per day would mean the number of tribulations you will face eac

Posted by on in Culture Blogs


I don't know if you have this thede (custom) where you come from, but around here the first ornament on the Yule Tree—after the lights and star, of course—is the Luck.

First ornament on, last ornament off. That's the Luck o' the Tree.

I don't suppose that there's any particular form that a Luck has to take, but here at my house it's a huge, clear glass bubble, big as your two fists held together. (Being the largest ornament on the Tree, it makes good aesthetic sense that it should be the first to be placed, as well.) After a lifetime of collecting, there are many rare and beautiful ornaments on my tree, but the plain, unadorned Luck is always the most beautiful of them all: in it the lights of the Tree, and in fact the whole Tree itself, are reflected (upside-down, of course). It's the whole Tree in little, the World-Tree in small. I suppose that's what makes it the Luck.

Last year, while decking the tree, I heard something bounce, and land. An ornament from one of the upper branches had slipped its twig and fallen onto the hearthstone. Fortunately, it hadn't broken when it landed. Whew, I thought.

It wasn't until I crunched glass underfoot that I realized what had happened. In its fall, the ornament had bounced off of the Luck and—gods, what an omen—broken it.

No wonder 2020 turned out the way it did.

Heartsick, wondering what the omen meant, I turned to take down the Luck. As I did so, I realized that, though the accident had broken out a section of the glass bubble's surface, the Luck itself was still largely intact. From a few steps away, you couldn't even tell that it had been broken.

I left it up for the remainder of the season, and it was the last ornament off the Tree, as usual.

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