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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Land, Lede, Lore

What makes a religion pagan?

I'm going to contend that paganisms are preeminently religions of land, lede, and lore.

Land. Paganism is local, intimately related to specific places. Pagans are by definition the People of the Place; when peoples change their place, they bring their mythologies with them, and those mythologies naturalize to the new place. While the term “nature religion” is problematic on numerous levels, the paganisms direct themselves largely to this-worldly concerns, and engage the environment and the non-human beings with whom we share that environment as a matter of primary spiritual course. There are no universal paganisms; or, rather, the paganisms are at their most universal insofar they are most specifically local.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

b2ap3_thumbnail_milky-way-and-haystack-rock.jpgI’ve felt a lot closer to Star Mother since moving to Oregon in 2013.  I've really felt closer to the Vanir in general since moving out here, but right now I will talk about connecting with Star Mother.

When I first moved to Portland I took a lot of walks at night to calm down (as my move had been under less than ideal circumstances and I had a lot to deal with in a very short amount of time, I was pretty stressed) and it became a meditative exercise.  When I moved to a semi-rural area in January of this year, there was a lot less light pollution and I could see the stars more clearly in the sky (though enough light pollution that I couldn’t see beyond a few handfuls); this past Imbolc, I went for a ride out to a more remote location, and for the first time in my life I saw the Milky Way, and the sky dotted with what seemed like millions of stars.  It was a sight that moved me to tears, and I couldn’t speak except to say, in Eshnesk (the language of the Eshnahai, or Vanic elves) Alekteya, Naiandu Adami.  (lit. “Blessings, Star Mother.”)  There was joy, but also what I can only describe as holy terror.  It was so beautiful, the sky seemed endless, and I felt very, very small.  I could feel the presence of Something much bigger than myself, and in her embrace, I felt like a child again.  As powerless as I felt, so tiny - a tiny pale dot on a tiny blue dot in the vastness of space - I felt held, at the same time.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Do You Speak Pagan?

Paganism is a language.

It is, for many of us, a language that we are still learning to speak. We may have been speaking this tongue for many years--decades, in some cases--but it is still, nonetheless, not our mother tongue.

This fact has implications. We may have mastered the grammar and have a large vocabulary. We may, over the years, have become fluent speakers of Pagan. But we are still not native speakers, and we never will be.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Mariah
    Mariah says #
    Yes, I think if you're talking about (Neo) Paganism it can be very broad theologically- we have the tradition-minded polytheists,
  • Gregory Elliott
    Gregory Elliott says #
    Yeah, the 'what is paganism?' can of worms has been opened. If you go with a simple 'paganism is nature reverence and this worldly
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Your definition of paganism has the advantage of being clear and testable. Assmann (who doesn't use the term "paganism") prefers t
  • Gregory Elliott
    Gregory Elliott says #
    "...religions that arise out of humanity's religious instinct and its interaction with the world, and the religions that arise out
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    "Pidgin Pagan"! Gregory, I rarely belly-laugh before noon. Modern English having started out as essentially an Anglo-Norse Trading
PaganNewsBeagle Watery Wednesday Oct 8

Today's Watery Wednesday focuses on community news for Pagans, Heathens, polytheists, pantheists and all our allies! North Carolina Pagans in the spotlight; Pagan interfaith progress; a new book on devotional polytheism; real vs "fake" names on Facebook.

It's October, the season when mainstream culture focuses on Paganism. This week, the Tarheel state seems to be in the focus. Kelley Harrell describes contemporary Witchcraft in this piece at a Raleigh website. The Asheville Citizen-Times highlights an unique program that includes Witches (like H Byron Ballard) in a program that shares various religions in a once-a-year program to local high school students.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

b2ap3_thumbnail_800px-Leaves_in_Oregon.jpgThis is my second fall in Oregon, and only the second "real" fall I've had in eight years.  Last year, after I first moved here, the sight of the leaves changing color and falling to the ground made me cry.  I knew I'd missed the big dramatic seasonal changes of New England, but didn't realize how much. Not experiencing "real" seasonal changes during my almost-seven years in SoCal (beyond rainy and really hot) really messed with my head, and contributed to my general sense of feeling out of place there.  In a way, my life reflected that - I was stuck, and like much of the flora that is naturally suited for New England or the Pacific Northwest but not SoCal, I wasn't thriving there.  I was perpetually dry, burned to a crisp.

When I moved here, it wasn't just that the beauty of fall foliage nourished my soul.  I really like rain. (Which is good, because we have an abundance of that up here.)  But even above and beyond that... it was like an internal clock that had stopped ticking, started ticking again.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    Welcome "home." (Even though you never lived here before. In this life, anyway.) I lived in an amazing place in Northern Californi
  • Nornoriel Lokason
    Nornoriel Lokason says #
    Thank you! Western Oregon has amazing energy, especially the coast. Words do not even properly do justice to how I feel about th

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

b2ap3_thumbnail_800px-Birch_bog20060915_083.jpgI have known, over the years, some folks who identify as Vanatru where the only real distinction between them and Asatruar (or other cultural-specific branches of heathenry) is that they focus on the Vanir gods, and usually the most well-known - Frey, Freya, Njord, maybe Nerthus... but their practice otherwise looks like standard heathenry, doing blót ritual.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with this.  This is actually how I got my start in Vanatru, back in 2004, and this was the way I did things for a number of years... and I still blót, on occasion.

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs

My jaw DROPPED when I saw the words to "Choral Hymns from the Rig Veda."  In no uncertain terms, these songs directly invoke Hindu deities from a Hindu scripture and implore them for help.

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