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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Rivers
A Promise to the Ferryman, or: How I Ended Up Sitting (Literally) Bare-Assed in the Snow One Midwinter's Eve

At the big public Samhain that year, everybody had paid a coin to the Ferryman to cross the River.

Obviously, money collected under such circumstances can't be put to just any use. After the ritual, we donated the bulk of it to the local AIDS hospice. (That seemed appropriate.) But the foreign coins and the gaming arcade tokens (talk about cheap) called for a different—if still respectful—disposal.

As it happens, one of the great rivers of the world flows through our city, so I volunteered to take the coins down to the Mississippi and throw them in.

Well, I put it off and I put it off. (It was a snowy year, if you want my lame-ass excuse.) Suddenly it was Midwinter's Eve, and I still hadn't disposed of the coins.

“This can't wait,” I thought. “It really has to be done tonight; tomorrow will be too late.”

So after our Mother Night ritual and feast, I drove down to the site where, 1000 years ago, a summer village once stood on the East Bank of the River. Like the ancient Egyptians, the Old People who lived there buried their dead across the River on the West Bank.

Being a warmish Yule that year, I was wearing my kilt: commando, of course. (You know what they say: With underwear, it's just a skirt.)

The warm weather had given the snow a slick crust. Just as I was negotiating the last snowbank down to the River....

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  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Thanks, Erin. I think of it as ham on wry.
  • Erin Lale
    Erin Lale says #
    lol. I really enjoy your sense of humor.

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

"Braids, tapestries, and currents in the river show us the way again and again--it cannot be one clear way or another, it has got to be both ways and together."

--Eila Carrico, The Other Side of the River

...
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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Sacred River of the Witches

If you look at a map of England, you'll see on the southwestern side of the island, between Cornwall and Wales, a large waterway reaching inland from the Atlantic. This is the Estuary (in Witch, it would be “Firth”) of the River Severn.

The Severn, Britain's longest river, is traditionally considered a “female” river, its patron deity a goddess.

In its valley and throughout its watershed there dwelt, some 1300 years ago, the Anglo-Saxon tribe known as the Hwicce, from whom, some would say, derive the witches of today. And indeed, plenty of witches still live along the Lady Severn, though most of us now live elsewhere.

In any given landscape, the names of the largest rivers will always give access to the oldest reachable underlying linguistic substratum. (Think of the Mississippi, Ojibwe for “Big River.”) And so it is for the Severn.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Old Ways Endure

A rural Anabaptist commune in mid-20th century Manitoba seems an unlikely time and place for a sacrifice to a river.

But that is the story that journalist Mary-Ann Kirby tells in her autobiography I Am Hutterite.

Some memories, it would seem, live long indeed.

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Bridges: Some Reflections on the Nature of Sacrifice

At 6:05 p. m. on Wednesday, August 1, 2007, the I-35 bridge over the Mississippi in Minneapolis collapsed. Thirteen people were killed.

Thirteen. On Lammas Eve.

Of many rivers, it is said that they require a life every year. The Mississippi, our “strong brown god” (Tom Eliot) takes many more than that. Last year, here in the metro alone, it was 17.

In the old days, they say, they used to offer to rivers. Nowadays, we mostly don't. But the sacrifices continue, as they will while ever the world endures. Willing or unwilling, they offer themselves, because sacrifice is in the nature of things.

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  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Somehow in those moments when our lives touch the Big Things, one can only sit back and wonder. My gods.
  • Celeste Lovecharm
    Celeste Lovecharm says #
    My husband crossed that bridge just moments before that happened. He had decided to leave a few minutes early that day. Otherwise

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Minoan Salute

As we search out a vocabulary of gesture—articulate action—with which to embody our old-new worship, we turn both to the ways of the ancestors and to our own experience.

A gesture of reverence that occurs again and again in the glyptic art of Minoan Crete is the gesture known to scholars as the “Minoan salute.” The worshiper stands before the deity with right fist raised to brow, elbow held high. Generally the left arm is held at the side.

The gesture is clearly a formal act of reverent attention, perhaps of greeting. Sometimes the fist is held with the thumb up, sometimes with the thumb to the brow. The standard reading of the gesture is that the worshiper is shielding his or her eyes from the radiance of the deity. Try it out and see what you think of this interpretation. I do not find it personally convincing because one shades one's eyes with an open hand. This, I suspect, is something else.

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  • Laura Perry
    Laura Perry says #
    No offense taken, Steven. I'm just so used to people assuming I'm a fluffy bunny that I tend to take comments that way. Sorry I mi
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    No offense intended, Laura. If anything, my critique was directed both at myself and what I perceive as a general tendency to idea
  • Laura Perry
    Laura Perry says #
    So where do you draw the line between 'accurate reconstruction' and 'projecting our own visions of the ideal culture onto the past
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    I find the salute increasingly natural when greeting Sun, Moon, River...even geese in flight, a tree in full, flaming color, or (s
  • Laura Perry
    Laura Perry says #
    I love the way you're working with this gesture. I can't say I agree with many of Nanno Marinatos' assumptions in the kingship boo

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