PaganSquare


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

  • Home
    Home This is where you can find all the blog posts throughout the site.
  • Tags
    Tags Displays a list of tags that have been used in the blog.
  • Bloggers
    Bloggers Search for your favorite blogger from this site.
  • Login
    Login Login form
Recent blog posts

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Let there be light!

The Minoans were a Bronze Age people, so obviously they didn't have electric lights. So how did they light their living spaces?

With oil lamps.

...
Last modified on
Why We Need to Stop Respecting Religion

Religion has, for far too long, been given carte blanche to run rampant throughout the world, throughout culture, society and government. Religion has been hiding behind a facade of infallibility; behind the notion that just because it is a religious belief, it must be inherently respected and protected. This needs to end NOW.

It is a very controversial thought, but it is high time for religion to stop getting the “respect” that it never, ever deserved. Do we even question why we “respect” everyone’s religious beliefs? Granted, not everyone, even (or especially) within religions, respects the other beliefs. This is plainly evident in wars like the Crusades and the never-ending conflicts in the Middle East, for example.

What is this fear that has kept too many people from really examining and critiquing religion the way it desperately needs to be? What is this fear that makes people think they can’t speak up against an injustice or atrocity just because it is under a banner of religion? It is especially
because certain actions are done in the name of religion that they should fall under the most scrutiny and should not ever be seen as beyond reproach. If there is or ever was one thing in human existence that is not beyond reproach, it is the poison that is religion.

Religious people are afflicted with what I call the Sundae Syndrome. Imagine the most beautiful, perfect ice cream sundae you can, with all your favorite toppings. You're about to dig in but right there in the middle, sticking out with it's antennae wiggling, is a huge cockroach. You would put the spoon down and walk away, wouldn't you? Or run.

Religious people just eat around the cockroach. They don't walk away. They don't say "Ew!" and ditch the sundae. They think, "Well, yes, the church has done some bad things in the past and some people in the church are very bad but the religion is good and I still want it!" But the cockroach is the religion. Not the sundae. Even if it were, you still don't want a sundae tainted by a roach, do you? The sundae is what the religion disguises itself in. But make no mistake, there is a big disgusting cockroach waiting for you in there.

If you never have before (or if you have), consider these questions -

1. Why do I have religious beliefs? Why do I believe what I believe?
2. Why do I respect other people’s religious beliefs, even the ones I disagree with?
3. Do I really think that all religious beliefs and practices should be protected? Why?
4. What am I so afraid of that keeps me not only believing what I believe, but keeps me respecting other beliefs?
5. What is it about a “religious belief” that makes me instantly think that it should be respected?


I don’t think that many people will have good answers to any of these questions, though surely the most self-righteous and virtue signaling will certainly think that they do. Ultimately it will just be a lot of grandeur, posturing and regurgitation of whatever has been fed to them in their ecclesiastical echo chambers.

The root of all evil in this world is not money, it is religion. Religion is the culprit at the center of all the hate and “isms” that are destroying the world – racism, sexism, xenophobia, the list goes on. Fears of the other, the different, the deviant. Hatred for the other, the different, the deviant.

Religion was made by men for men. We already know that this is a man’s world, that it is run by a crushing patriarchy, and religion is at the heart of that. So of course, no surprise that religion is also patriarchal. So men have allowed themselves to be brainwashed to believe, by religion, that they are above nature, above women, above all others who are not like them. This is one of the greatest, if not the greatest lie of humanity. What began as a way to cope with our mortality and the harder aspects of the human experience became a simple way to control people.

There has been no real separation of church and state, though one is desperately needed. In fact, the church and religion were originally created by the “state” for the purpose of controlling the masses and exploiting them. Religion is built upon a foundation of control and it’s main tools are fear and guilt. Religion
creates fear and guilt in people in order to control them.

The notion that religion just demands automatic respect is so out of control that a non-religious person gets shamed for not bowing their head while grace is being said. In a “Miss Manners" advice letter, the writer relates that they were at a relative’s house for dinner and that they did not bow their head during the blessing, for which they were chided by their sister after the meal.

The religious believe that they are so entitled to so much “respect” and coddling that they do not even consider the beliefs, feelings or comfort of others. This is just the tip of the iceberg that is religious hypocrisy. If you do not practice or believe in something, there is no requirement to respect it. If anything, hospitality demands that guests be as comfortable as possible, and if your guest is not comfortable participating in “saying grace” then that is what should be respected. No, contrary to how Miss Manners responded, one does not have to participate in or even respect the religious beliefs of others, not even when in their home.

Do not misunderstand, this does not mean one should stand up and denounce another’s beliefs right in their own home. Not respecting something doesn’t mean that you go full tilt and attack it. But it does mean that you don’t have to participate in any measure if you don’t want to. Unfortunately autonomy is not something the religious understand.

Why are the beliefs of the religious (or any of the delusional that this world is crawling with these days) so very delicate? Why do they seem to think that if they don’t get coddled or kowtowed to, that they are somehow being slighted or that their beliefs – or the veracity of those beliefs – is negated if the other person doesn’t support it? Do they know deep down that these delusions are indeed so false and damaging that they can’t hang on to them if someone else isn’t enabling them?

So now ask yourself, “If no one respected any of my beliefs, would I still have them?” That at least is the way to tell if a belief is part of who you genuinely are, or if it dictates who you are because of fear and what others expect you to be because of their beliefs.

Many people pretend to be something they’re not in order to be loved or accepted. A particularly delusional woman I once knew, who destroyed two marriages and lost many friends and later her own children because of those delusions, admitted that she was afraid other people not liking her. This made her a very weak and phony person. Who then was she, if she made herself into an image that she thought everyone would like?

To be fair, we all do that to some extent. Obviously we all want to be loved and accepted and we all make adjustments to our appearance, our personality etc. in order to gain that love and acceptance. But it’s not hard for this to go too far, and for people to essentially play a role in order to gain love, power, control, money, safety, or confidence. But if you are fabricating an entire character, as though in a role playing game, then you are missing the mark and the inauthenticity of that character will poison your life, just as the costumes and inauthenticity of religion have poisoned the world.

I could go into a very long dissertation about all the different evils, inconsistencies, damages etc. caused by religion, all religions. But I will leave that to the late, great Christopher Hitchens and recommend his excellent book “God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything”.

More people need to start questioning religion more, resisting is influence more, and being more honest with themselves about what they believe and why. Belief ultimately shapes our lives and our worlds so we need to start being much, much more careful with our beliefs. Stop accepting, start questioning, and stop respecting religion just because it is religion. It is time to evolve.

...
Last modified on
Color is Magic: A Guide to Choosing Candles for Your Spells

This list can be useful when choosing candles for magical rituals or spells, tinting bath salts, or designing entire rituals around herbal products. Some differences of opinion do exist, and color itself is a magical system. Use your instinct. Here is what each of the colors represents so that you can select the right ones for your magical ritual.

White: Protection, purification, peace, truth, binding, sincerity, chastity, happiness, exorcism, spirituality, tranquility

...
Last modified on

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
The Oracle of Water: Ocean

Humans have been navigating and charting the seas at least since the Phoenicians, yet the ocean remains the last frontier. Even outer space is not as mysterious to us as the depths of the oceans, of which an estimate of only about 5% has been explored and charted. This is staggering considering the ocean covers 70% of our planet.

This is not unlike our own emotions or subconscious which, among many other things, the ocean represents. Our subconscious and darker sides are often as deep and mysterious to us as the abyss. There is no escaping that we are incredibly emotional and watery creatures. This also makes us magical for, as anthropologist Loren Eisley put it, “If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water.” We are water, and we therefore contain magic as well as records and ancestral memories in that strange medium. Also containing salt, we are like walking micro-oceans, ever connected to our source.

While there are different names for the different parts of the ocean, it is all one ocean in the end, one whole being connected all over the planet. This interconnection is echoed throughout nature and the human condition, and in all our individual lives.

In many traditions, the ocean represents the primordial source of life itself. Just as life emerged from the depths of the ocean in evolutionary narratives, so too does it signify the origins of creation in spiritual contexts. It is often seen as the womb of existence, where all life began and where all life returns. In this sense, the ocean becomes a metaphor for the eternal cycle of birth, death, and rebirth.

...
Last modified on

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Baba Yaga's Lawn

You can tell which house is Baba Yagá's by the lawn. The grass around it grows so thick, so lush, and so green that (I swear) you could pasture a cow on it.

It also, I swear, grows faster than that of any other house on the block.

I should know. I'm the one that mows it.

 

(You've heard of Vasilissa the beautiful, right: the one who does housework for Baba Yaga?

Well, I'm Steven the grounds-keeper. I do yardwork for Baba Yaga.)

 

Calamities

In her shrine in Pig's Eye, MN (a.k.a. “St” Paul), Baba Yaga—the fearsome old forest-witch of Russian folklore—has been receiving prayers and offerings for more than 30 years now.

Say what you will about Old Boney Legs, she's anything but antisocial. In fact, she shares her shrine with the ancestors, the Sun, and the Moon.

Also with Poverty, Famine, Disease, and Death. Really: they've got altars and everything.

 

In the Yard of Baba Yaga

It's not just grass that grows richly in Baba Yaga's yard.

Now, in May, the dandelions are numerous and huge, practically the size of peonies. The nettles here sting worse than anywhere else. They also make a delicious soup.

Talking with the resident priest before I begin my tour of grounds-keeping, I shake my head.

“Whatever you're doing,” I tell him, “it sure does seem to be working.”

 

Apotropaics

It's a very Slavic way to see things, though of course Slavs aren't the only ones to think apotropaically.

Apo-tropaic: literally, “turning away, averting.”

Keep the dangerous ones happy, and maybe they'll leave you alone.

Last modified on

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 Are you making beans on toast wrong ...

 

I always make baked beans for Beltane.

There are reasons and reasons. Beltane is often our first outdoor feast of the year, and baked beans are quintessential picnic food. Beltane is also a busy time and, benefiting from long, slow baking as they do, you can make them well before festivities get underway. They're cheap, nourishing, and good food. Everybody likes them. They likewise guarantee (as I make them, anyway) at least one vegetarian entree on the Beltane board.

Another seasonal connection: a friend once suggested, only half-humorously, that with the advent of Outdoor season, breaking wind becomes somewhat less socially problematic.

(The secret of good baked beans? Easily told: be generous with the sugar. For years, health-conscious kind of guy that I am, I skimped on the sugar, and my beans suffered as a result. To be everything that they should be, baked beans need plenty of sweet, paired with a nice, healthy dollop of cider vinegar.)

Baked beans were always one of my father's favorite foods. Not long before he died, I finally thought to ask him why.

My father grew up hungry: in a large family, during the Depression. “When you had baked beans for supper,” he told me, “the pot would go around the table and, by the time it got back to you, there were still enough left that you could have more.

Indeed. Even after a hungry coven has eaten its fill—witching is hard work—there are always enough baked beans left over for one of my very favorite breakfasts, beans on toast, next morning.

Beans on toast is part of the classic British full breakfast. This is not, I gather, a tradition of long-standing—dating, as it does, to the era of rationed food after World War II—but oh, it's good.

My friend Zoa and I once traveled to Malta to visit the megalithic temples there. I can truly say that Maltese food was some of the worst that I have ever eaten: bad Italian and bad British, mostly. No whole grains, no fresh fruit, no fresh vegetables. (Hopefully, in the intervening years, things have changed for the better.) For days, we lived basically on bad pizza and pasta with insipid red sauce. (Spaghetti sauce, on the other hand, does not benefit from generous sugaring.) After a week, we were both hopelessly constipated.

Then one morning, there on the breakfast menu, salvation: beans on toast. We were both so excited at the prospect that the waitress thought we were making fun of her.

Praise be to Mother Bean. Together with her partner, Father Grain, she maketh complete our protein: Complementarity writ large.

Last modified on

It's time to revisit the topic of Asatru kindreds in my local area because the last time I posted about it was before the pandemic. I often get emails from people looking for a kindred to join in my local area, the Las Vegas valley. I received another such email recently and here is my reply:

"My kindred, American Celebration Kindred, is almost ready to accept new members but not quite. Our main ritual house had a pest control problem this winter and we're waiting until it's bug free to resume holding rituals and get-togethers. We've been closed to new members since the first Covid lockdowns started but are hoping to resume accepting new members soon. American Celebration Kindred does both Asatru and American holidays. If you're interested, I'll let you know when we're ready to meet new members.

...
Last modified on

Additional information