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'For Frith and Year': The Story of Grandfather Sheaf

Listen well, now, for this is the story of Grandfather Sheaf.

Long ago our people lived on the shores of the Northern Sea, and we knew neither bread nor beer, neither brewing nor baking. We hunted and fished and gathered, as our people had always done, since the time of the Great Ice and before.

One day in spring, with the ice newly broken, a ship came slowly to shore: a long ship, with a high, antlered prow. The strange thing was that this ship was completely empty. But going down to meet it, we saw that indeed the ship was not empty, for in it lay a babe, a man-child asleep and naked, and cradled in a shield, and under his head a barley sheaf.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    It's my understanding that even though Hiawatha is an Iroquois folk hero Longfellow borrowed from an ethnographer who was writing
  • Paul B. Rucker
    Paul B. Rucker says #
    I will definitely keep this image in mind. I have a few others that have been incubating, or will be. Is this story Baltic or Nord
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Germanic all the way: Norse and Old English. The story of Shield (OE Scyld) opens Beowulf, in fact.
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I think there is a story in Longfellow's Hiawatha were Hiawatha meets a young man in green feathers who wrestles with him. The yo
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    A religious connection to our food sources sure does pop up in tradition after tradition. Where Longfellow might have got his stor

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Hearken to the Witches' Runes

We can be virtually certain that the Hwicce, the Anglo-Saxon tribe said (by some) to have given its name and lore to historic witchcraft, knew and used the runes.

They, of course, would have named them in the Mercian dialect of Old English, the language that they spoke every day. It is worth asking what those names might have become had the runes remained in continuous use into our day.

Certainly they would have modernized along with the rest of the language; many of the Anglo-Saxon rune-names have remained part of the living language and are entirely recognizable today. We would expect the names to have retained a certain amount of archaic vocabulary, and also to reflect a certain degree of semantic and phonetic “drift” as well: i.e. to include words whose meanings have changed over the centuries, and whose pronunciations no longer reflect those of Old English.

Since some of my family come from the old Hwiccan tribal territories, I figure I have as much right to the runes as anybody. My entirely personal decision to base this version on the Elder, rather than the Anglo-Saxon, furthorc may offend some rune purists. Oh, well. In my experience (I wrestle with it myself), purism is usually its own punishment.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Nisse

I was standing at the till of our neighborhood Scandinavian store. (I live in Minneapolis, where we have such things.) The cashier was ringing up my purchase when the cash register ran out of receipt tape.

“This will take just a second,” she said, and began to put a new roll in.

It didn't take just a second. She fiddled and fiddled with it, and the tape just would not go in.

“What's wrong with me today?” she said. “I've done this hundreds of t—“

She stopped. Her squinched features relaxed into understanding. In an undertone, more to herself than to me, she said: “The nisse.”

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Zap the World!

65 years ago the number of new pagans in the world was negligible. Now we number (possibly) in the (low) tens of millions, in (probably) every country of the world. (Did you know that there are New Pagan movements in virtually all of the Turkic-speaking countries of Central Asia? G****e Tengrism.) (Tengri = Blue Father Sky.) In the course of the history of religions, that's really pretty remarkable. How in the world did it happen?

According to Sparky T. Rabbit, it's a spell.

Yes, folks, Gerald Gardner cast a spell and zap! Here we are.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    A tale lyrically told, Linette, and all the better for being true. I join my voice to yours.
  • Linette
    Linette says #
    When I was a kid, even a very little kid, I had this "thing" I did with the Universe. This very wonderful innate relationship wher
Entering the Cave of Bones: A Preview of "Doorways to the Underworld"

Through Doorways to the Underworld, the Minneapolis Collective of Pagan Artists' Samhain 2014 exhibit, we enter into the disquieting—sometimes disturbing—dreamscape that is both Samhain and the world of contemporary pagan art.

In Anne Marie Forrester's Bear Priestess, the viewer stands at the mouth of a cave literally packed with skulls and leg-bones. Between us and the cave sits the bear priestess herself, all breasts, belly, and thighs, dressed only in the head and skin of (apparently) a bear cub. She wields that classic shamanic tool, the frame drum, in her role of go-between for living and dead, past and present.

The painting disturbs on a number of levels. Content is one: corpulence, nudity, powerful female eroticism. Another is scale. The priestess' head is too small for her mountainous body, the bear's head that she wears too small for her own too-small head. One cannot help but be reminded of Paleolithic “Venus” figurines, whose heads and feet dwindle into unimportance compared with their massive bodies, the true center of their power. Small as it is, though, the priestess' head is still much larger than the skulls that frame her in the cave mouth. The viewer experiences a dizzying loss of sense of proportion.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Remembering Sparky: The Memorial Service

 

A Rite of Memorial

and

Crossing the River

 

Peter Bruner Soderberg

February 3, 1954 – June 1, 2014

Order of Service

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Remembering Sparky T. Rabbit (1954-2014)

 

Remembering Sparky 

A Rite of Memorial

and

Crossing the River

Last modified on

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