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

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There has been a lot of very heated discussion lately about Paganism and Polytheism, with some people suggestion that there are certain practices or beliefs that one should hold in order to be able to call themselves a polytheist or pagan. Modern paganism being as diverse as it is, this has taken a lot of people by surprise, and accusations and name calling is happening from all corners.

I know this, and this only: I am a member of an organization that acknowledges "We are people who normally would not mix." (Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 17) But here we are--representing all sections of this country, all political, economic, and social backgrounds.  And-here's where I want you to pay attention--all religious backgrounds.

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  • Apuleius Platonicus
    Apuleius Platonicus says #
    I think it's important for people to know that there are 12-step groups where you don't have to recite the Lord's Prayer or in any
  • Hope M.
    Hope M. says #
    No 12 Step program requires you to conform to Christian religious beliefs and practices. Even groups that make us of Christian pra
  • Stifyn Emrys
    Stifyn Emrys says #
    It has never been my impression that serving as a role model had anything to do with 12-step programs. My understanding is that yo
  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    I've been told that in my attempts to restore civility and reason to PSQ I'm being a "Kindergarten Cop." Well, I'll be happy to ta
  • Stifyn Emrys
    Stifyn Emrys says #
    This space is something you set up and maintain. As such, I think it's important to accord you extra respect. It's easy to take th

 

If you want to hide the truth from the uninitiated, keep it in plain sight. Even reveal it to them, openly and honestly! They will not believe you.

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  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    Thank you for your comment, Greybeard! I appreciate the contact.
  • Greybeard
    Greybeard says #
    You are right that conspiracy theorists don't want the truth. Another good example is all the "Bermuda Triangle" hype. The truth

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

b2ap3_thumbnail_stela1-100dpi.jpgThe ancient, sacred city of Abydos hosted an annual ritual drama about the mysteries of Osiris.  Along a processional way the festival crowd re-enacted the abduction and murder of Osiris by his brother Set, and inside the temples, priests conducted uber-holy rites away from the public eye.  Every good Egyptian hoped to go on pilgrimage to Abydos at least once in her life. Nearly as good was to have a tablet (called a stela, plural is stelae) set up on the processional route stating your name, titles, a statement of offering (and usually an offering picture) and a request for passers-by to stop and recite the offering prayer on behalf of the deceased.  Many thousands of stelae have been found in Abydos, which was also the burial site of predynastic and First and Second Dynasty kings. 

b2ap3_thumbnail_stela2.pngIn Abydos Osiris is most often known by the name of a jackal-headed god who came from that locale and eventually took on Asar’s identity, Khenti-amentu, “first of the Westerners.”  Any mention of the west was an oblique reference to having died (like the sun, which sets in the west).  Stelae like the ones at Abydos came to be used at lots of pilgrimage sites, as tomb markers (just like our modern tombstones), and even inside burial chambers.  The picture usually shows the deceased standing in front of an offering table piled with bread, beer, geese, the leg of a bull, alabaster and lengths of linen.  A typical inscription, known as an “offering formula” among Egyptologists, might say something like:

"An offering of thousands of bread, beer, meat, fowl, alabaster and lengths of linen, and all good, pure and beautiful things, which Pashed gives to the great god (neter aa) Khenti-amentu, first among those at Abdju, for the soul of Pashed."

b2ap3_thumbnail_stela4.jpgLast week I was worrying a little about how the whole world get to enjoy ancient Egyptian heritage because moderns have basically robbed thousands of graves.  Then I thought about how the Egyptians counted on their descendants and/or priests to perform rituals, “say the prayer,” for them in perpetuity.  Obviously, that system broke down in the same centuries that brought Christianity then Islam to Kemet.  And yet, here we are all these centuries later, reading and admiring the stelae, contemplating the original owner, pondering what his or her life was like.  If you are a student of hieroglyphs like me, you find yourself reciting the offering formulas over and over again in lessons.

To me, that is part of the power and mystery of hieroglyphs, that somehow they have emerged from a time almost before memory to continue to remember the ancestors and honor their wishes.  I wish I knew more about people like Pashed, but it’s clear that what he wanted most after his death was to be remembered as constant in his devotion to Osiris.  May I be at least in part as dutiful in my respect for those who came before me.

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs


    Considering the articles I've read lately about whether or not pop culture icons and fluffy bunnies are appropriate idols for worship, and whether or not to bow to them, I'd like to address the reverence I feel for Classical music and the composers of that art.  At the beginning of May, I sang in a concert of music by Beethoven.  This concert may have changed my life.  Towards peace. 

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  • Taylor Ellwood
    Taylor Ellwood says #
    Well said. And I agree...what we do is ultimately up to each person and whatever path calls to them.

Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Meditations on Hávamál, 19-22

Here's the latest round of translations and commentary from my ongoing examination of the gnomic verses of Hávamál, the Sayings of the High One. While many of the verses deal with the magic of the Norse, many of the lines simply offer sage advice on best behaviour, especially when one travels.

19.
Haldi-t maðr á keri,
drekki þó at hófi mjöð,
mæli þarft eða þegi,
ókynnis þess
vár þik engi maðr,
at þú gangir snemma at sofa.

20.
Gráðugr halr,
nema geðs viti,
etr sér aldrtrega;
oft fær hlægis,
er með horskum kemr,
manni heimskum magi.

21.
Hjarðir þat vitu,
nær þær heim skulu,
ok ganga þá af grasi;
en ósviðr maðr
kann ævagi
síns of mál maga.

22.
Vesall maðr
ok illa skapi
hlær at hvívetna;
hittki hann veit,
er hann vita þyrfti,
at hann er-a vamma vanr.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

For the men of Ireland have again followed gentlidecht as it was at first before belief, before Patrick’s advent, save only that they have not worshipped idols. For the heathen had a lie and a good word, and this existeth not today. And every evil which the heathen used to do is done at this time in the land of Ériu, save only that the Irish do not worship idols. Howbeit they perpetrate wounding and theft and adultery and parricides and manslaughter, and the wrecking of churches and clerics, covetousness and perjury and lies and false judgment, and destruction of God’s church, draidecht, and gentlidecht, and dealing in charms, philters and enchantments and fidlanna.

—“Adomnán’s Second Vision” (c. 1096 CE), §15-16

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  • Chris Vermeers
    Chris Vermeers says #
    Also, the modern Irish spelling is gintlíocht.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The meaning of Pagan

I have written much about my feelings of the word "pagan" on my primary religious blog, Of Thespiae.  I've written about how the use of the word in the pagan community has become so loose that it's meaningless for all practical purposes.  I've written about how, in spite of regular protests from the pagan community, the implicit "positive definition" of "paganism" ("positive definition" meaning "defining what something is"; whereas "negative definitions" define by what a word is not) is incredibly Eurocentric [2].  I've even mentioned how the "negative definition" of the word "pagan" isn't necessarily true, as the tradition of Christopaganism certainly makes it hard to say where the Christianity ends and the paganism begins.  I've written about the incredibly secular climate of the pagan community in current culture.

The word "pagan" is not one I've been terribly fond of.  Early on in my spiritual journey, earliest possible point being around either 1989 (when a nun at my old Catholic school gave me a copy of D'Aulaire's Book of Greek Myths and, I swear, I felt touched by Apollon in ways that Jesus and El Shaddai just never really could) or 1993 (when I first really started exploring ostensibly "pagan" paths), the word "pagan" was practically interchangeable with "Wiccan" or "witchcraft", or so it seemed  when trying to find any books on the topic; there was a minority of books about Heathenry, Celtic polytheism, and neo-Druidry, but there was no uncertainty to the dominance of witchcraft-based paganism, and frankly, that only barely interested me, and not enough to really look too deeply into it.  For a very brief time in high school, I practised a hodgepodge "Celtic reconstruction" of my own design, but I eschewed the word "pagan" because this didn't fit the common idea that most people had of "pagans" in the modern days, which was pretty much synonymous with "witchcraft", even if one knew that religious witchcraft wasn't as phantasmagorical as scenes from The Craft or even Practical Magic, they didn't really conceptualise it as simply "worshipping the gods of the British Isles", which is what I did, then.  Toward the end of high school, I just gave up on my self-made Panceltic religion, cos most of those gods barely seemed "real" to me, and I joined the Church of Satan briefly, which is adamantly not pagan, in its self-definition, and though most members describe Satanism under the definition of Anton LaVey as "atheistic", further reading into LaVey's later essays, and not to mention certain interpretations of passages in The Satanic Bible and The Satanic Rituals, suggest that he himself was better defined as Maltheistic (a word of earliest use in print traced to Usenet in 1985, and defining one who ostensibly believes in one or more gods, but deems It/(S)He/Them as unfit for human worship; see LaVey's "God of the Assholes", which appears in Satan Speaks! ©1997, for the most clear evidence of LaVey's maltheistic, rather than atheistic beliefs).  I was never a good atheist, somewhere in my head, I always believed in the gods of Hellas, and I was never maltheistic, either, because even if some deities don't want, need, or even deserve my worship, there are others that do, and by the time I was twenty-two, I basically outgrew the need for LaVey's church that I briefly had. But pagan?  To see if that word fit, I put a toe in the on-line pagan community for the first time in six years when I was about twenty-four, and at that time, I'd discovered a vibrant and thriving community of Hellenic reconstructionists, most of whom had mixed feelings about the word "pagan".  I pretty much only interacted with other recons for about another two or three years, and though I forget what ultimately teased me out, I had never really fully embraced "pagan" as a part of my religious identity.

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  • John Halstead
    John Halstead says #
    I'm not saying Jesus is an archetype to Christians (from an Eric perspective). I'm saying Jesus is *archetypal* to Christians. (
  • John Halstead
    John Halstead says #
    I meant "etic" not Eric -- damn spellcheck.
  • Ruadhán J McElroy
    Ruadhán J McElroy says #
    You mean autocorrect. Spellcheck just highlights or underlines the misspelled words.
  • Ruadhán J McElroy
    Ruadhán J McElroy says #
    So I'm just supposed to ignore the first portion of your comment, cos in juxtaposition with the rest, it clearly means what I infe
  • John Halstead
    John Halstead says #
    Surely you will agree that the type you described so lovingly does not represent a majority or even a plurality of self-described

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