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Posted by on in Culture Blogs


Unsurprisingly, the couple that sold handmade brooms at the Renn Fest turned out to be witches.

Now, Witch World is a small place, with three degrees of separation at most, so each year, I would make it a point to stop in, and we'd swap stories for a while.

One year I was absolutely wowed by a set of hand-crafted wooden bellows hanging on the wall, the surface beautifully carved with a Green Man face.

The symbolism could hardly be more apposite. Bellows = air = the breath of life. Whose image could they possibly bear other than that of the God of All Green Life, whose reciprocal breath gives life to all us Red-bloods. And bellows blow up the Fire, which burns....wood, of course, the Green Man's very flesh. Rendered in—what else?—wood.

Charmed, I took the bellows up to the till.

“Tell,” I said.

The Green Man bellows had been crafted by their coven woodcarver. “They're his first,” they told me. “He'll be delighted to hear that he's made a sale.”

I was in love, and the price was more than reasonable, so of course I bought the Green Man bellows. I've joked for years about how I seem to be redoing my house in Early Green Man, which is frankly no more than the truth. Walking through my home, you'll find more Green Men than you could...well, than you could shake a stick at.

Back at the Renn Fest a few weeks later, I naturally stopped in at Broomhilda to say “Blessed Be.”

Laughing, they told me the story. They'd called their coven brother to tell him that he'd made a sale, and asked if he wanted to carve another set.

“F*ck no,” he told them. “Making those was so much work, I couldn't possibly charge enough to make it worthwhile.”

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs




Everybody knows that witches don't have leaders. Granny Weatherwax was the leader that the witches didn't have.”

(Terry Pratchett)


I'm fortunate in having friends who aren't afraid to ask the Big Questions, so let me ask you one such that my friend and colleague Frebur posed to me recently: What is the Great Work of the Witch?

To answer this question, we first must ask another: What is the witch's most important tool?

(If you said “athame,” think again.)

Having established means, let us next establish ends: What is the Witch's Work?

Well, that's easy: the Work of the Witch is Transformation.

We transform What Is into What Is Not.

We transform Winter into Spring, and Summer into Fall.

We transform a Line into a Circle, and a Circle into a Line.

We transform What Is Not into What Is.

What, then, is the Great Work of the Witch? Is it not, as Frebur wrote, “to live every aspect and moment of one’s life as a witch?”

Is not, after all, the Greatest Transformation ultimately the Transformation of Self?

Some are content to be who they are. Well, there's no shame in that.

But that's not the Way of the Witch. The witch will never be content with being who she is.

The witch wants to be who she can become. This is the deep witchery.

Well, there are witches and witches. You know the ones that I mean: the ones that witches themselves look at and say, Now there's a witch!

Now there's a witch, they say, shaking their heads: half in admiration, half in disbelief.

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white candles on black surface


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Public prayer is often sung prayer—to one another, we speak; to the gods, we sing—and good prayer (whether sung or spoken) deserves a good, communal conclusion.

What follows is three musical settings for “So mote it be,” two serious and one satirical.

You can draw your own conclusions.


First Tone

“So mote it be” is sung on the same note for each word, but “so” is held twice as long as the other three, thus giving it an emphasis: SO mote it be.

X  x  x  x

 As in all good music—or poetry, for that matter—the tune reinforces the meaning of the words.


Second Tone

“So mote it be” is sung with three notes, all held to equal length. “So” establishes the base note. “Mote” goes up a step from the base note. “It” goes down a step from the base note. “Be” returns to the base note.

x  x+1  x-1  x

This setting has a nice “circular” quality to it; here, also, beginning and ending on the same note musically restates what the words say.

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
The Breath of Flame


I am the Goddess of Fire

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Masks of the Piper | El prado del Sátiro

He the Horned, God of Witches, is known as the Merry Piper: who among us has not danced to his piping?

His the Primal Sound, the song of creation.

(To the silent Breath of Life, the Pipes give Voice.)

Come, let me speak a Mystery in your ear.

His pipes are female.

Think of Pan and Syrinx, the nymph who became the pipes. Think of Krishna's flute, herself a goddess incarnate.

The Voice of those Pipes brings What Is into Being.

In company with sheep-herds and cow-herds, His piping arouses and, thrusting, drives the Dance of Life.

The lure of those Pipes recalls to life the Dead.

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Some Brighid and Imbolc Facts
With Imbolc fast approaching there is a lot of information going around about both the holiday and the goddess. I thought it might be helpful here to offer some basic information about both, sourced from the original texts.
The name Brighid comes from the older name Brig or Bric, which means power, vigour, strength, authority according to the electronic Dictionary of the Irish Language. It is in this form that we find older references to the goddess, such as in the Cath Maige Tuired. In later use, such as the Sanas Cormaic we see it spelled Brigit and there are now several variants. Its suggested the earlier root in proto-Indo-European would mean high or height giving us 'exalted one'. The popular idea that Brighid comes from Breo-saighead or Breo-aighead meaning "fiery arrow" is a fanciful folk etymology from Cormac's Glossary. This is the full entry: "Brigit .i. banfile ingen in Dagdai. is eiside Brigit baneceas (ł be neicsi) .i. Brigit bandee noadradís filid. arba romor ⁊ baroán afri thgnam. is airesin ideo eam (deam) uocant poetarum hoc nomine cuius sorores erant Brigit be legis Brigit bé goibnechta .i. bandé .i. tri hingena in Dagdai insin. de quarum nominibus pene omnes Hibernenses dea Brigit uocabatur. Brigit din .i. breoaigit ł breoṡaigit." (Brigit - a poet, daughter of the Dagda. This Brigit is a woman of poetry (female poet) and is Brigit the goddess worshipped by poets because her protection was very great and well known. This is why she is called a goddess by poets. Her sisters were Brigit the woman of healing and Brigit the woman of smithcraft, goddesses; they are three daughters of the Dagda. Almost all Irish goddesses are called a Brigit. Brigit then from breoaigit or breoshaigit, 'fiery arrow').
Its unknown what Imbolg means but the leading suggestion is i-mbolg "in the belly" although alternatives have also been suggested over the years. The name is referenced in the Táin Bó Cuiliagne and Dindshenchas, usually as a time marker, ie "luan samain sáinriuth cossin cetáin iar n-imbulc" (monday of Samhain particularly until the Wednesday of Imbolg). We also find this reference to Imbolc in the Dindshenchas: "iar n-imbulc, ba garb a ngeilt" (after Imbolc, rough was their herding). There is no information as far as I am ware of older celebration practices for this holiday.
An alternative name for the holiday is Oimelc or Oimelg, possibly meaning "ewe's milk", oi meilg, although this name appears to be later and less common. We see a reference to Oimelc in The Wooing of Emer: "55 To Oimolc, i.e., the beginning of spring, viz., different (ime) is its wet (folc), viz the wet of spring, and the wet of winter. Or, oi-melc, viz., oi, in the language of poetry, is a name for sheep, whence oibá (sheep's death) is named, ut dicitur coinbá (dog's death), echbá (horse's death), duineba (men's death), as bath is a name for 'death'. Oi-melc, then, is the time in which the sheep come out and are milked, whence oisc (a ewe), i.e., oisc viz., barren sheep."
We also have this about Oimelc in the Sanas Cormaic: "oimelc .i. oimelg .i. isí aimser andsín tic ass caerach." (Oimelc that is oimelg that is the season when the sheep are in milk.)
I know this is a lot of references and facts to throw out there but beyond the huge array of personal practices and folk customs these are the main factual items that I see coming up either skewed or inaccurately relayed. I hoped it would help to provide some basics for people to work outwards from.
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