Pagan Studies


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Studies Blogs

Advanced and/or academic Pagan subjects such as history, ethics, sociology, etc.

The Last Harvest: Martinstag, the Räbeliechtliumzug, and Thanksgiving

We went out the door, wrapped in coats and scarves, with our paper lanterns lit. The streets were dark, but ahead of us, we could make out the shadows of other children and their parents, their faces softly illuminated by their own lanterns hung on sticks. The lanterns swayed gently as we walked. We went up the street, up the long hill, through the little Bavarian town we were temporarily calling home. It was the eve of Martinstag, November 10, and our neighbors who lived in the flat below ours had invited us to come along.

It wasn't a solemn ritual. There was laughter and chatter, an air of excitement. On the main street, a crowd gathered on either side, the lanterns brightening the darkness. A parade advanced and thundered down the street, roaring with music, vehicles decorated like ships, horses, and other modes of travel. Costumed celebrants called out, "Halloo!" a traditional battle cry, and tossed out candy that we scrambled for and stuffed into sacks.

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  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I visit my sister Barbara and her family for Thanksgiving. She serves sparkling cider. She and her husband finally decided last

Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Halloween, Samhain -- or Straif?

The surrealist artist Ithell Colquhoun may not be a name on everyone's lips. Though less well known than their mail counterparts, painters like Leonora Carrington, Remedios Varo and Leonor Fini have been getting their due much more lately. That will probably change after Amy Hale's book comes out in January 2020, but for the mean time she remains outside popular consciousness despite her long connection to occult and magic circles from the Golden Dawn to the O.T.O and the Society for Inner Light.

Colquhoun developed a completely unique and abstract vision of tarot that was inspired by colour. You can buy the book of her paintings from Fulgur Press.

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Thoughts and Samhain and the Otherworld

As Samhain approaches we see many references to the idea of a veil between worlds thinning; an idea that I have previously rejected. I know that many people embrace the concept either figuratively or literally but for myself I’ve always seen the intersection of this world and the Otherworld not as a veil but like a shoreline where earth and water meet. However after re-reading a post by Ireland’s Folklore and Traditions  https://irishfolklore.wordpress.com/2018/10/31/from-ancient-samhain-to-modern-halloween/ recently I’m reconsidering my own views to a degree.

My understanding of references to the veil, with the up front admission that it something I am looking at from the outside, is that people tend to approach it two ways. Either it’s seen as an actual barrier of some sort that separates the human world from the Otherworld, or it is a barrier in the minds of humans which obscures perception of the Otherworld and its denizens. While I can respect that other people find value in this concept it has never worked for me. I don’t see there being a barrier, per se, of any type separating the two realities rather I believe that they are something like oil and water where their very nature acts as a separator even though they are in many ways conjoined. In the same way the idea of the veil being personal to each human while closer to something I can understand doesn’t sit quite right with me, perhaps because it seems to involve too many diverse factors to creating a unified experience that would lend itself to everyone agreeing this veil is thinner at certain times. And again, I’ll repeat I do understand that this concept works well for many people and I am not trying to argue against it merely to explain my own thoughts around it.

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The Turning Wheel: Folk Tradition and Myth

 

There’s a house across the hill from mine that has a wagon wheel mounted on a post in their front yard. It’s painted white with eight spokes, and in front of it is a small garden bed with flowers. I’ve seen wagon wheels in yards and even mounted on house exteriors before, but I never thought much about them until recently. When I noticed this particular wagon wheel on the way to my son’s school one morning, it struck me as one of those old traditions that have been practiced consistently for so long that people have forgotten what they mean. But still they use them, out of superstition (a code word for lingering belief in folk magic and religion), a love of tradition, or both.

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Seeing The Shape of Folklore: From Popculture to Source Culture

One of my favourite things to contemplate is the connection between folklore as its found in the living cultures, particularly the Celtic language speaking cultures, and folklore as its manifested in popculture. I have written articles about aspects of this and even presented a paper at the University of Ohio for a conference they had in February of 2019. There are so many diverse factors that influence and shape the way that folklore is preserved within a source culture and the ways that that same material is taken, reshaped, and spread throughout popular culture. 

As I was thinking about this all today, and particularly the ways that popculture reimagines older and existing folklore it reminded me of something. There was a time in Europe when very few of the educated elite there had been to Africa, especially the interior, and so descriptions of animals found there - and more to the point artwork depicting them - were quite fantastical. For example the image with this blog was created by Albrecht Durer in 1515, based on  a written description and rough sketch he had seen although he personally never saw a living (or dead) rhinoceros. 

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White Storks in European Traditions and Stories

"I know the pond in which all the little children lie, waiting till the storks come to take them to their parents."

-Hans Christian Andersen, "The Storks"

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  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    The local library used to have a book called Australia Dreaming. If I remember correctly it mentioned that the spirits of the unb
  • The Cunning Wife
    The Cunning Wife says #
    That's fascinating!

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Weather Ward

This post was inspired by a blog post by Heron Michelle, “Hurricane Magick Index: Protection, Opportunity, Action

This is a weather ward that is to be used once a storm is very close.  It does not attempt to steer the storm away, rather it works to create a calmer microclimate around your home or business. I am a great believer in keeping weather workings as local as possible in most cases.

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