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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Celebrating the Lambs

In standard, wheel of the year, northern hemisphere Paganism, we talk about lambs at Imbolc. Or at least, we link the name of the festival to ewes’ milk. That may be all the sheepy goodness we get. Of course, how sheep relate to your landscape is a very local issue. In some places, they don’t feature much, while in others there may be a very long history of grazing. There are huge differences between vast, industrial flocks massively impacting on the local, environment, and small sustainable flocks. We can treat sheep and the environment well, or badly. Not all farming is created equal.

However you feel about farming animals for meat and/or wool, I think it’s important to acknowledge the role they have played, for thousands of years, in the lives of our ancestors. In the UK, grazing has shaped some landscapes. It’s important to know how ancestral use of land impacts on the landscape you now inhabit.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Vegan Ritual Objects

            Despite the convenience of the internet, most Neo-pagans love the experience of a brick-and-mortar magic shop. The incense, statues, music, and company are inspiring. For vegans who may be trying to avoid the use of animal products (including feathers, fur, and leather), finding that perfect something can be a little more difficult. With the addition of some down-home craftiness, we can make certain objects and have fun cruising the shops for the rest.

            One of the easiest ways to attain ritual objects is to find them in nature. Stones, feathers, shells, bones, shed reptile skins, and leaves are just a few examples of items you can just pick up on a walk in the woods or on the beach. Finding animal products is often considered a better alternative than buying them. Buying them sometimes sustains a market for animal exploitation. Finding items gives you a more magical connection to them. They remind you of an experience that you had in nature.

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Beltane Rites and Lore

Beltane is the start of summer, at the opposite end of the Wheel of the Year to Samhain, Summer's End. Cattle would be brought to the higher ground and summer pastures, tended by the women and children while the men would work the farms. In Irish Gaelic it is Beltaine, in Welsh it is Calan Mai, and in Scottish Gaelic Bealtainn. It is the other time when the veils between the worlds are thin, and the Fair Folk can be seen wandering the land in abundance. By the calendar, Beltane begins at dusk on the 30th April and runs to dusk on the 1 May. If celebrating by the local flora, it is when the hawthorn, or May is out in flower. In the UK, the first weekend in May is still celebrated with a bank holiday, perhaps as a remnant of this very important Celtic Festival.

Fire is an important part of this festival, for Beltane is often translated as "the fires of Bel", who was a sun deity. All household fires were extinguished on the eve of Beltane, and then fires were lit on hilltops at dawn, similar to but in reverse at Samhain, where fires were lit at sunset.[1] It was important to not give away any fire from your household at Beltane, for your luck would soon run out. In Ireland, the focus on fire and hilltops shifted from Tlachtga and Tara to Uisnech.  It is said that the first Beltane fire was lit at Uisnech by the Druid, Mide, whose name means "the centre". Beltane is a hinge for the world to open and change, as at Samhain. [2] In Scotland and Wales, the Beltane bonfires were made from nine woods collected and put together by nine men, and called "needfires". [3] Cattle were driven between two bonfires on this day before heading out to their summer pastures. They were said to pass close enough to the fires so that their hair might be singed. The heat and smoke of the bonfires might have been enough to cause any parasites to fall off the animals that may have taken up residence in the winter quarters. Fire is also an important part of the Beltane ceremonies today, as at Edinburgh with the Beltane Fire Society putting on a spectacular event every year, as previously mentioned.

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For millennia, people have used a wide variety of methods designed to foretell future events or to gain advice from the spirit realm. In many cultures, the ability to divine the future was a highly valued skill, and the word of augurs and professional soothsayers could influence important political or strategic decisions, such as whether or not an army should head into battle, or if planting or harvesting should commence. The ability to decipher meaning from the chaos of everyday life helped to establish a sense of order in the cosmos.

Divination remains popular in today’s society, even if the status of most professional readers and astrologers may not be quite as illustrious as in the past. Some of the more familiar forms of divination, such as tarot cards, are relatively recent inventions, while others—such as throwing bones or scrying for patterns in a crystal ball or flames are quite ancient. What all these forms of divination hold in common is a desire to try to provide answers for an oftentimes uncertain world.

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

Traditional lore can inform, gently point to mysteries, and outright open gateways. But, nowadays, in the Pagan community, rigid interpretation of lore often becomes a stranglehold on magical and spiritual practices.

 

I’ve spent years learning lore, meditating on it so it can inform shamanic lessons I give, and creating ritual based in lore. So I’d be the first to insist that, sometimes, lore provides definitive, irrefutable facts. However, common sense is needed.  

 

My mother taught me to think for myself. It was one of the greatest gifts a parent can give. 

 

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Judith Shaw
    Judith Shaw says #
    Very well put. Dogma is the death of spirituality. Our spiritual practices seem to be best served if we remain open to growth an
  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis says #
    Judith, thanks so much! I *really* appreciate your support re my essay.
  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis says #
    Tasha, thank you so much for your kind words. I’m so glad you relate to what I’m saying. Bright blessings back at you!
  • Tasha Halpert
    Tasha Halpert says #
    What you said in this well written piece is right on in my book. Thank you for putting it so well. There are many masks worn by th
  • Dragon Dancer
    Dragon Dancer says #
    I feel you on this. I have a (tentative, I'm still very new and learning) relationship with Death as an entity, usually presenting

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

Do Druids Cast Spells? A Look at Magic in Druidry 

I’m not sure where it happened, but somewhere along the way the notion that Druidry and magic are somehow separate things seems to have slipped into the collective consciousness. Perhaps it is because in Neo-paganism we tend to view magic as being the purview of witches and Wicca, the role of magic in Druidry has by consequence been diminished to the point that some may forget it is even there in the first place!

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  • Joanna van der Hoeven
    Joanna van der Hoeven says #
    Hiya - I find this post very interesting, but difficult to read because of what looks like a formatting error. Am I the only one e
Spring Equinox tradition and lore

The Spring Equinox or vernal equinox occurs between 20 - 22 March. The word equinox is Latin for "equal night". It is also known as Ostara, Eostre or by its Welsh name, Alban Eiler, "the light on the earth". It is a time when day and night are of equal length, and the sun rises and sets due east and west respectively. In secular society, the spring equinox marks the first days of spring, but as we've seen above, Imbolc is actually when the first signs appear, at least in Britain.

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