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Culture Blogs

Popular subjects in contemporary Pagan culture and practice.

Category contains 2 blog entries contributed to teamblogs

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Witches of Now

Witch?

It's a tribal name—theedish, we would say. (In Witch, a thede is a tribe.)

Some 50 generations gone, a people called the Hwicce lived along the River Severn in what is now south-west England. (1400 years later, we still name our daughters Sabrina in Her honor.)

The Hwicce of then, you see, are the Witches of now.

It's not all lineal descent, of course. There are ways and ways of belonging, and bloodlines only one.

(You can adopt in, you can marry in. You can initiate in, acculturate in. Peoples have always been porous around the edges.)

We have our own tribal religion, though it's not witchcraft per se. (Witchcraft is our magic.) Not all Witches practice, of course, but if you're a Witch, it's your religion (and your magic), to hold to or not, as you yourself see fit.

Is it historic, you ask: Old Hwicce to New Witch?

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
E-Ritual Is Like Phone Sex

Beltane's coming up in less than a Moon, and all over Pagandom, folks are gearing up for the big May Eve Zoom-ritual.

Sigh.

(One wonders what the effect on this year's harvest will be. Hopefully, enough couples will manage to make it out to—socially-distanced—fields that the crops won't be too adversely affected.)

The pagan world is a place of gradation. Skyclad ritual is better than robed ritual. (So say some.) Robed ritual is better than ritual in street clothes. Ritual in street clothes is better than no ritual at all.

To hold a ritual is better than not to hold one. For the most part, collective ritual is preferable to solo.

Is group e-ritual, then, better than solo real-world ritual?

Um: Reply hazy; try again later.

Oh well. We haven't survived for 150,000 years by being inflexible. For now, we'll set up our e-rituals and be glad to have them.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
What Does Isobel Gowdie's Name Mean?

The things that you learn from your students.

A group of us were reading and discussing our way through the transcripts of “17th” century Scottish witch Isobel Gowdie's trial dittays when my then-apprentice asked a stunning question: “What does Gowdie's name mean?”

In 300 years of witchcraft scholarship, apparently no one had ever thought to ask before.

Isobel Gowdie (GOE-dee: rhymes with Cody, not howdy) is arguably the most influential witch in history. Her series of detailed confessions shaped Margaret Murray's idea of what the Craft looked like—covens of 13, quarter- and cross-quarter-days—and from there the rest is Wiccan history.

Naming practices in early modern Lowland Scotland were strikingly different from those of Sassenach-land to the south. Women did not assume their husbands' surnames at marriage; they kept their own family names all their lives. So whatever “Gowdie” means, we can be reasonably certain that it was the name that Isobel was born with.

The majority of surnames at the time were patronymics. Your name identified you as either the son (Mac- or Mc-) or daughter (Nic- or Nc-) of your father. The son and daughter of a man named Donald would then have been, respectively, X MacDonald and Y NicDonald.

(Nicneven—a traditional name of the witches' Goddess—means “daughter of Fury [Nemhain]" in Scots Gaelic.)

In this way—as in contemporary Iceland—a woman, her husband, and their son and daughter could potentially all have had different surnames.

Gowdie's surname, obviously, is not of this type. Throughout Europe, the patronymic was the most common form of surname, followed by occupation names (Taylor, Baker, Smith) and nicknames usually identifying some outstanding characteristic of the eponymous ancestor.

This last is how the Gowdie family got its surname. In Lallans—Lowland Scots—it means “Goldie.”

Isobel must have had an ancestor who was strikingly blonde.

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Libra Full Moon: Find Strength and Beauty Within

Libra Full Moon: Find Strength and Beauty Within ***April 7 at 7:35 pm PDT***
(Zodiac Goddess Power deck*)

Benzaitan is a Japanese Goddess and here's a poem I wrote for her:
 
Libra Goddess: Benzaitan
Dragon Lover
Mating cry
White snakes hover
Beauty flies
Divine balance
In the sky
Guiding talent
Battle cry.
 
*Please note that the release of my third oracle deck, the Zodiac Goddess Power deck has been delayed but will hopefully be released this summer.
 
Libra Affirmations
• I focus on beauty, harmony and cooperation within my personal relationships
• I am serene and at peace
• Harmony fills my soul
• I come alive to the rhythm of tribal beats through dance and movement
• I see and understand every woman’s point of view
• I see beauty all around me
• My inner scales are in perfect balance.

Sparkly Blessings!
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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
When the Sun Is Highest in the Sky

Sitting on his front porch recently, a friend of mine noticed an eagle wheeling over the house across the street.

Here in Minneapolis, we're nowhere very far from the Mississippi Valley, and we're blessed with a healthy urban eagle population. Still, it's not exactly common to see them in this neighborhood, where there's not a lot to draw them.

A few days later, my friend saw the eagle—or an eagle, at least—again, over the same house.

A day or two after that, he saw it a third time.

When next he talked with his neighbor, he mentioned seeing the eagle over her house.

His neighbor is Dakota. She hadn't seen the eagle herself, but she didn't seem surprised to hear about it. She asked him what time of day he had seen it.

“Was it around the time when the Sun's highest in the Sky?” she asked.

“As a matter of fact, it was,” he said, “all three times.”

She nodded.

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On 'Abrahamic' Privilege and the Pagan Consolation

So: a rabbi, an imam, and a pastor walk into a radio studio.

Actually, they skype in.

Are you as sick as I am of hearing the media's treatment of “the religious response to covid-19” being reduced (over and over and over and over and over again) to the usual voices of the usual Big Three?

Where are the Hindu voices, the Buddhist? Where are the Native elders? You'd think that the rest of us don't even exist.

Ironically, the media thinks that it's being inclusive. Good old "Abrahamic" privilege.

These segments always end with the same question: In these hard times, what gives you strength?

Said rabbi, imam, or pastor invariably respond with some navel-gazing citation from Scripture or well-polished nugget of wisdom from their respective traditions.

Figures. Their narcissistic fixation on humanity is one of the great historic wrongs that the “A-list” religions have visited on the world.

As for me, I'm a pagan. For me—as for the ancestors, as for Indigenous peoples of the world to this very day—the very heart of our living inheres not so much in looking in as in looking out.

What gives me strength in these hard times? I'll tell you.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Sarah Israelson
    Sarah Israelson says #
    Yes! I was just saying this to myself as I took time to witness Nature around me yesterday. The whales are migrating by our beach,
  • Mark Green
    Mark Green says #
    YES. This.
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Venice is under lockdown for, what, a month now? Already the fish are coming back into the canals. "Nature"'s ability to regenerat
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I've looked at a couple of coronavirus lock down effects on wild animals videos on YouTube. The sight of wild boars in the streets
  • Katie
    Katie says #
    Every time I go outside, breathe the air, feel the breeze, I am strengthened. Every time I see the sun shining, I am energized. Wh
Heart Mending and Chi-boosting Crystals

We have all encountered situations whch are very draining. Right now, the Covid-19 pandemic is causing fear, illness, worry, financial difficultuy and is impacting us all very negatively. Such energy drains take away little pieces of your chi, or life force, leaving holes in your aura. You can identify the places that need patching because they will become noticeably cold as you pass a crystal over them. Pick your favorite stone between amethyst, citrine, or any quartz and run it all around you at a distance of about three inches. Make note of the cold spots and lay the crystal on those places for about five minutes, until the spot feels warmer. You will have repaired the holes in your etheric body and should begin to feel a pleasant sense of renewed wholeness once again.

Here’s another technique: crystal combing. It sounds odd, but you will become an aficionado immediately after you have felt the wonderfully soothing results. The beautiful pink kunzite is amazing as a mental management crystal. Take the crystal and brush it in gentle, slow, downward strokes from the top of your head, the crown chakra, to the bottom of your feet. The next time you feel overwhelmed by anxiety, try this and you will feel more relaxed and in control afterward.

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