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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
News and Death Rites

Recently a kindred member went to Odin. Jan was exceptionally young to die. It was not his legal last name, but among us he went by Odinsson. I asked Odin if he is with him and he is.

In late March, I went to his wake at his favorite pub. There were several prominent local pagans there. There were also many members of his family and community other than just the pagans and heathens. I made several social media posts over the course of the event, starting with the Irish coffee. I remembered when Jan brought his huge fryer to my house for a post ritual feast and made lumpia from his family recipe. I remembered him standing in my kitchen working at the counter and looking up in wonder and delight when I and the folk dance group went by in the hearth room doing a dance where we clapped and turned in unison, and his wife Stephanie joined us and learned some dances. I mentioned some other good times we’d had, and listened to the others tell about their good times. Near the end of the evening, some local pagans and I attempted a rendition of Finnegan’s Wake with some of the words changed, changing it to Odinsson’s Wake.

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The Power of a Piscean Solar Eclipse


We have an exceptionally powerful total solar eclipse occurring in Pisces in a few days. You may be thinking “the eclipse is in Aries!” but it actually is quite literally in the sign of Pisces. Tropical astrology is figurative, whereas sidereal astrology is based on where the constellations actually physically are, their actual size (hint: they definitely are not all a tidy 30°) and accounts for the precession of the equinoxes. Make no mistake, we are in Pisces through-and-through and I should like to make a case for this system and for working with the eclipse in the context of Pisces, not Aries.

Pisces is deep, no pun intended. It is spiritual, mystical, intuitive creative, and of course oh-so-watery. This powerful eclipse then is ideal for divination, enhancing intuitive and magical abilities, but also to banish or end any destructive or unhelpful energies, thoughts, feelings, relationships, etc. If there are any in your life that need extra firepower (or waterpower?), now is the time. Think of it as blasting your obstacles out of the way with the surge of a fire hose.

This is a great time to delve into ourselves, our true, deepest heart, and not the Sun-driven persona that everyone else sees. The Sun yields to the emotional Moon at this time, the Moon which guides and influences us and our actions far more than the Sun does. This is a time for shadow work, for scrying, for personal development and releasing whatever is no longer serving you. Chiron sits very near this eclipse, amplifying the healing energy in particular.

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Beltane, Midsummer, Samhain, Why Is The Veil Thinner?

There are special times when it is said that the veil between the worlds is thinner than usual. These three “spirit nights” are Beltane, Midsummer and Samhain. Beltane and Samhain are Celtic festivals that celebrate the start of the summer and winter seasons, as the ancient Celts only had two seasons instead of four. The whole shift occurring in nature at these times was reflected in the lives of those who lived by the seasons. At Beltane, the cattle would be taken to their summer pastures, and driven between two large bonfires, we assume for purification, blessings, and possibly to make any nasty ticks and other bugs drop off either by the smoke or the heat. At Samhain, the cattle returned to their winter fold, and those that couldn’t be kept over winter were slaughtered. Huge feasts celebrated the ancestors and the mighty dead, and care was taken to avert the restless dead or the Sluagh na marbh. At any rate, the lives of those who lived with their cattle were very much changed and shifted during these times of the year.

The summer solstice marks the time of the greatest light, when all nature seems to be reaching its peak. As such, this too was seen as a liminal time, and very much connected to the Fair Folk, or faeries. Not just in Celtic lands, but especially in Germanic and Scandinavian countries Midsummer was a huge festival and celebration. As summer arrives later in these countries, it has a similar feel to the Celtic Beltane. Like at Beltane, here a large pole similar to the Maypole was erected and danced around. Plants were at their highest powers, and so collecting the herbs that you needed was especially important at this time. Midsummer is still one of the biggest celebrations in countries like Sweden, where there is lots of food, singing and games. Though it has been overlaid with Christian mythology the nativity of St John the Baptist, it is still more a giant party than anything else. And why not?

By why are these especially liminal times? Well, when one season switches over to the next, we can often feel like we are in an in-between time.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 Buy CraftVatika Gold Metal Panch Aarti ...

4, 2, 3, 7.

That's how you offer the lamp to a Hindu god.

Puja, also known as arati, is the major Hindu rite of temple service, in which various items—water, incense, fire, a flower (read: water, air, fire, earth) are presented to the deity indwelling the murti (statue), and then consumed by the worshiper herself.

(There's an entire theology encoded in this ritual, but I'll leave you to suss that for yourself.)

Each item is circled in the air—sunwise, of course—before the deity a certain number of times. That's where the numbers cited above come in.

  • Four small circles to the god's feet.
  • Two small circles to the god's navel.
  • Three small circles to the god's face.
  • Seven large circles around the god's entire body.

Why, I asked my friend, head pujari at the local ISCKON center, those particular numbers to those particular parts of the god?

My friend didn't know. He had, in fact, asked the same question of his teacher, who likewise did not know. While in altar training, my friend had asked all around. No one in the community seemed to know.

(This isn't really surprising. Sometimes things become so ingrained in a tradition that it simply never occurs to anyone to ask.)

Sometimes it takes an outsider to see to the heart of a given matter. I'm a ritualist myself, of a different, though related, tradition. So here, for what it's worth, is my best guess as to the meanings:

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Shamanism: A Human Birthright

I consider shamanic practice to be the purest spirituality as it is ubiquitous throughout world cultures, is rooted in nature, and is not part of any structured dogma or organized religion. The purpose of religion is to control the human spirit. The purpose of shamanism is to free it.

Shamanism has no ruling deities, no rulers or central figures of any kind, no creed, no dogma. This puts the practice, the power, the responsibility, all in the hands of the individual practitioner. Shamanism allows us to find our true and natural power within ourselves. It does not bid us prostrate ourselves before invented figureheads. Shamanism empowers the individual, and this is one of the main reasons why many would seek to malign and even eradicate it.

This has been the agenda that the church/state and organized religion has historically had against various pagan, animistic and shamanic practices. The pagan shaman has no need of confession, atonement, redemption, sacrament, baptism, repentance, forgiveness, nothing. This undermines the powers that be. The shamanic practitioner becomes the power that is.

Even Buddhism, much admired and emulated in the west, is not untainted by such socio-political agendas, having a long history of suppressing shamanism. This is a history that most Americans and other westerners are probably not familiar with, and one that I was surprised and saddened to discover.

Buddhism first arrived in Mongolia in the 13th century, primarily through Tibetan Buddhist missionaries. Over time, Buddhism became deeply integrated into Mongolian society, influencing various aspects of culture, politics, and spirituality.

Shamanism, on the other hand, had been the indigenous spiritual tradition of the Mongolian people for centuries prior to the arrival of Buddhism.

Initially, Buddhism and shamanism coexisted in Mongolia, often with elements of syncretism where practices from both traditions were incorporated into local belief systems. However, as Buddhism gained more institutional power and support from Mongolian rulers, tensions began to rise between the two belief systems.

From the 16th century onward, there were concerted efforts by Mongolian rulers, often with support from Tibetan Buddhist authorities, to suppress shamanism and promote Buddhism as the dominant religion. This was driven by various factors, including political consolidation, the desire for religious uniformity, and the perceived threat that shamanism posed to Buddhist authority.

At times, these efforts to suppress shamanism resulted in violent conflicts between Buddhist and shamanic practitioners. Temples and sacred sites associated with shamanism were sometimes destroyed, and shamans themselves were persecuted or forced to convert to Buddhism, or murdered.

Despite these efforts, shamanism survived in Mongolia and has even experienced a revival since the decline of communist influence. Shamanism itself has been flourishing around the world in the past thirty years.

Michael Harner created a “core shamanism”; a modern approach to shamanic practice that seeks to distill the essence of shamanic techniques from various indigenous cultures around the world into a cohesive and accessible system. Key features include universal techniques, shamanic journeying, power animals and spirit guides, healing and divination, and ecological awareness.

This system is the birthright of every human and no one race or culture holds a monopoly on it. We all have shamanic traditions in our ancestry, all of us, be it the Arctic shamanism of the Saami or the Amazonian shamanism of the Shipibo-Conibo. Therefore we can all benefit from returning to our shamanic roots.

Shamanic resurgence in the face of historical suppression underscores its enduring relevance and universal appeal, its essence transcends cultural boundaries, offering a pathway for all individuals to reclaim their inherent spiritual heritage. In embracing shamanic practice, we rediscover not only our own power but also our interconnection with all beings and the Earth itself—a timeless wisdom accessible to all who seek it, regardless of race, culture, or creed.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 Saint Eustace in a Landscape – Works – The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

Bright Heart, Bright Mind


Pay No Attention to That Cross Between the Antlers


“Saint” Hubert, they call him: patron of hunters.

Check out Albrecht Durer's painting of Hubert's famous vision. What do you see? A man, kneeling to a worshipful Stag, praying.

Pay no attention to that cross between the antlers.

You know the story. Maybe you've lived it yourself.

Good Friday, when all good Christians should be in church, praying. You're not among them. You, you're out in the woods instead, hunting.


What do you find there? The Horned, the worshipful Stag: the Animal God, lord of all humanity.

Hubert, hyge beorht in the old Language of the Witches: “bright heart”, “bright mind.”

That crucifix between the antlers? A mere cloak to hide behind during the Hidden Times, a bringing-in of the Old Ways.

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

The Oracle of the Swamp brings messages of awareness, warning, transformation and hidden beauty but also hidden danger. It is intricate interconnection and a delicate balance of so many forms of life. The Swamp invites you to confront obstacles and to examine and hold space in the darker realms of your existence.

This may be a time for shadow work. Like the tangled, interwoven roots beneath the surface, we are often in turmoil that is hidden beneath our own surfaces and conscious minds. It can be unpleasant, but it might be time to submerge like a stealthy crocodile and confront and untangle the messes within.

Swamps are also places of unexpected and subtle beauty that may not be obvious at first. They are as crucial to the environment as our shadow sides are to our existence. They are part of us and cannot be ignored or toxic stagnation may ensue.

the Swamp represents awareness and adaptability. Its appearance may suggest that very real, day-to-day physical challenges are present or approaching, for instance health or money matters. Something unseen may be having a profound impact and must be addressed. If it’s been a while since a check-up or other health maintenance, a visit to the doctor may be in order.

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