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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 The dazzling crown which sat on the Queen's coffin - BBC News

Well, I sure hope that pagans were watching attentively during the recent funeral of Queen Elizabeth II.

Let's just admit it: for the most part, large-scale pagan ritual (at least here in the US) is, frankly, pretty execrable. Modern pagan ritual, handicapped by its default grounding in the Wiccan-style Magic Circle, only rarely—if ever—makes good ritual of scale.

Fortunately, nobody does ritual of scale like the English.

Some highlights from the royal funeral—from the parts of it, at least, that I saw myself:


The Cortege to St. George's Chapel

Ritual of scale requires choreography, and an eye for larger patterns. Watching the Coldstream Guards—and those with them—walking in unified lockstep as they accompanied the queen's body down the three-mile Long Walk to St. George's Chapel was deeply moving.

Takeaway: Many people doing the same thing together—especially moving together—in unison, has immense power to stir deeply


Carrying the Coffin Up the Stairs of St. George's Chapel

Surrounded by stillness, eight beautiful, burly young guys slowly bore the royal coffin, draped with the monarch's personal flag, the crown jewels, and flowers, up the stairs. The coffin never tilted with the incline of the stairs, but was borne horizontal to the ground at all times.

Takeaways: Precision matters. Use your resources to their best effect. Use available beauty to best advantage.


The Removal of the Crown Jewels from Coffin to Altar

One by one, the Royal Jeweler removed the Crown Jewels from the coffin where they had rested throughout the funeral. Then they were borne to the altar, where three purple cushions awaited them: first the scepter, placed to the left; then the orb, placed right; and lastly the crown, placed center. (Importance ritual principle: Save the most important till last.) Did you notice the order in which they were removed? Did you notice the different orientation of the three cushions? Did you notice that everyone handling the regalia wore gloves, with the exception of the consecrated priest?

Takeaway: Ritual of scale imparts a sense of meaning whether or not we understand the significance of every detail. Don't explain; symbolism should speak for itself.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 Deer Hunting Camo | Buy Whitetail Deer Hunting Camouflage Clothing & Gear -  Natural Gear


They say that the Horned, god of witches, has a cloak of invisibility.

Dernmantle, they call it—a dern is a secret—for which reason Dernmantle is counted among his many by-names. Remind me to tell you some time the tale of how he came by it.

(Some, though, call it a cap or helm: the Dernhelm.)

In this way, he walks among us, unknown, unseen. Lord of Beasts, where animals are, he is: nor do we always see him.

Down the long years, he has walked unseen. Through the hidden centuries, he walked among us still.

We, his people, are like to him. We, too, have the power to walk unseen.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Dreams Help Us With All the Feels

Our dreams are like a lab where our brain tests out emotions and enables us to process them in a healthy way. This is called the “The Emotional Regulation Theory,” and researchers claim that this is the main function of dreams—to support us in coping with our feelings and, most importantly, the really difficult ones such as loss, grief, trauma, sadness, and those *feels* that are an unavoidable part of life. Your dreaming mind is a safe space where you can “practice” for what you might encounter in real life. I am sure you have had emotionally charged dreams in your REM sleep and woke up thinking it was all real. These vivid dreams are your brain at work.

Do you share your dreams with others and talk about them? I suggest you do, as neuroscientists, those who specialize in how our brains work, discovered a high degree of empathy in those who discuss their dreams with family and friends. This is yet another way in which dreams are really good for us!

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs


Power being the immemorial fantasy of the powerless, it's unsurprising that modern witches should ask: What if the king were one of ours? What if the king were a witch?

Ever since Margaret Murray, who viewed witchery as a kind of Protest Paganism, first suggested a hundred years ago that the ancient cult of the Sacral/Sacrifical Kingship persisted in the British Isles into early modern times, novelists have asked the question again and again.

Forthwith, a few memorable examples.


The King is a Witch (Evelyn Eaton, 1965)

The year is 1342, the king is Edward III, and yes, he's a witch: our kind of witch, the pagan/Old Religion kind.

Alas, that doesn't mean that he's not a nasty piece of work who spends most of his time looking for divine substitutes to die—in his stead—for the life of the people.

So maybe he's not our kind of witch, after all.


The Devil and King John (Philip Lindsay, 1956)

The king isn't a witch, but his wife is. Bad “my kingdom for a horse” King John, from an Old Craft Revisionist Historical p.o.v.

Well, it's a romp.


King of the Wood (Valerie Anand, 1989)

The king isn't a witch, but his boyfriend is. The life of William II “Rufus”—he of Lammas sacrifice fame—like you've never heard it before.

Let me just mention that his boyfriend, Ralph des Aix, is a horn-wearing King of the Witches himself. He leads the secret (but international) Cult of the Wood, and has a grouping of moles shaped like the constellation Orion on his chest.

Are you in love yet, too?


Watch the North Wind Rise/Seven Days in New Crete (Robert Graves, 1949)

You'll never forget the Midsummer sacrifice of the Antlered King of New Crete, Robert Graves' Goddess-worshiping utopia (but is it?) of the post-apocalyptic future.

Pagan ritual should always be so good.


Dies the Fire (S. M. Stirling, 2004 et seq.)

I'm a sucker for “Witches-rebuild-civilization-after-the-apocalypse” fiction—to my mind, it seems a realistic enough possibility—and Stirling's Emberverse series gets a place of honor in that surprisingly well-populated genre. Hel, at fifteen novels, it gets its own shelf in the section.

In King Artos I of Montival—that's plain old Rudi Mackenzie of Oregon, back home at the covenstead—Stirling aims for a larger-than-life hero in the old Cuchulainn/Achilles/Beowulf mold. His most memorable feat: surviving the unstoppable stampede of a million-strong bison herd by mounting and riding a buffalo bull.

Alas, in the end, this (literally) post-Modern hero simply does not measure up to his counterparts of yore. Heroes engage because, though in some ways larger than life, their flaws nonetheless instill in the rest of us a sense of fellow-feeling. In this way, they inspire us to become better than ourselves. If Cuchulainn, with all his flaws, can be so generous, then maybe I can, too.

Artos, though, has no flaws. Though Stirling, skilled writer that he is, strives mightily to make us like this character, at thirteenth and last, he's simply too perfect. Drop-dead gorgeous, wise, generous, unfailingly fair, good at everything that he does, incapable of losing a fight—he even has a sense of humor—he successfully quests for the magic Sword of the Lady that gives him the ability to read minds and to speak any language fluently, and so (in the end) manages to save the world from an attempted invasion by Cthulhu & Co.

Yes, that Cthulhu.


Lammas Night (Katherine Kurtz, 1983)

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 Cow's Lick | Cow, Fluffy cows, Cow pictures

“You reeking cowan,” I say, fondly.

My friend grins back. He's no more a cowan than I am; he's been pagan for most of his life. Long enough to get the joke, anyway.

COW-an: first syllable like the animal, and no, that's not a dig. Pagans like cattle. (Hey, we domesticated them, didn't we?) Nor does it imply that they exist only to be milked. In the old days, when the family cow could spell the difference between thriving and starvation, she was virtually kin.

Of course, the proper venereal—collective—term for a group of non-pagans, is—as for bovines—a herd. “Gods, there's a whole herd of cowans coming down the street!” Draw your own conclusions accordingly.

Every people has a name for those other people: you know, the ones that aren't us. To my ear, it beats mundane (not to mention muggle) all hollow. They may not be pagan, but can't we leave them at least some dignity?

Hey, cowans can't help being cowans. Virtually all of us number at least a few among our friends and relatives. Yes, the name is an exercise in alterity; but it can also be, as it is here, a playful term of affection.

Well, affection of a sort.

My friend's grin grows broader.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Quiet Mind Meditation

Try this before you go to bed when you are stressed or have a big day planned so you are calm and ready for anything! The great psychic and healer Edgar Cayce used this blue beauty for achieving remarkable meditative states during which he had astoundingly accurate visions and prophetic dreams. Indeed, azurite helps achieve a high state of mental clarity and powers of concentration. If you can’t find the answer to a problem in the here and now, try looking for solutions on the astral plane. Write the problem down on paper and place it under a small azurite overnight on a windowsill so it collects moonlight.

At 11:11 a.m., lie comfortably in a quiet and darkened room with the azurite stone placed over your third eye on your forehead. Clear your mind of everything for eleven minutes and meditate. Sit up and listen for the first thing that comes into your mind—it should be the answer or a message regarding the issue at hand. Write down the words you receive. The rest of the day you will be in a state of grace and higher mind during which you will hear information and answers to help guide you in many aspects of your life. If you, like me, enjoy this meditation, you may want to do it every day at 11:11 a.m. and every night at 11:11 p.m. I strongly suggest that you keep a journal of these “azurite answers.” You may receive information that you won’t understand until many years have passed, making the journal an invaluable resource and key to your very special life.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
The Minoan Herb Garden and Spice Cabinet

Last time, we looked at what kinds of vegetables the Minoans grew in their gardens. But they needed to season those veggies so they were especially tasty to eat, right? So what kinds of herbs and other seasonings did they use?

The first and most obvious one is salt. Like other island-dwelling people, the Minoans used sea salt. It's easy to make - just collect up some sea water and evaporate the liquid, using heat from the Sun or from fire. The Minoans were surely doing this all the way back in the Neolithic, though most of the evidence for it comes from later on.

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