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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in death

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

I thought I’d share this poem I wrote a couple of years ago. It was inspired by Pinkola Estes’ telling of the La Loba story–the woman who sings over the bones.

 

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Warrior's Grief

I ease my students into Beowulf by having them read the Anglo-Saxon poem 'The Wanderer' first. It's a great introduction to the warrior ethos that the longer narrative celebrates, but in a short form. It's a poem about grief but the first thing we'll notice is that the loss mourned isn't a partner, child or parent, but the narrator's leader.

Wyrd bið ful aræd!       Fate always goes as it must!

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Byron Ballard
    Byron Ballard says #
    We don't hear enough about the sanctity and beauty of the warrior ethic from these traditions. You know how much I love "Beowulf"
  • Kate Laity
    Kate Laity says #
    Thank you, my dear. This piece actually motivated me to kick off a series on Hávamál, so I hope you'll find that appealing as well
  • Hunter Liguore
    Hunter Liguore says #
    Really great information here. Lots to take in and consider.
  • Kate Laity
    Kate Laity says #
    Thank you, Hunter.

Early Fall is upon us, and the year’s Wheel turns from harvest into the darkening time leading to Samhain. This reminds us that one great distinction between modern NeoPaganism and most contemporary religions is our different relationship to death. For the monotheistic traditions death entered into the world as a consequence of sin. As I understand Buddhism, death is one of many forms taken by suffering, and suffering is evidence something is amiss with embodied existence. The secular modern ‘religion’ of scientism hopes someday to enable us to achieve immortality, perhaps as consciousness encased within a computer.

Today many of the deceased are painted to look as if they are still alive, ‘sleeping,’ and their bodies buried in ornate caskets with comfy cushions to protect them for as long as possible from finding physical oneness with the earth. We mourn the loss of loved ones but we mourn from within a different context than do those who see death as a misfortune.

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  • Natalie Reed
    Natalie Reed says #
    Gus - couldn't agree more. Humans were built to eat meat, too much evidence to go into here, but in a nutshell, we wouldn't be hum
  • Amy Wolf
    Amy Wolf says #
    Hi Alan: Thanks. Congenital honesty, a flaw esp in wicca and online. Usually when there's an option of "username", that's what get
  • Theresa Wymer
    Theresa Wymer says #
    The arguments you brought up about farming are also maintained by Jainists, who do not plow for exactly that reason. Good articl
  • Gus diZerega
    Gus diZerega says #
    Theresa- That is why I used "scientism" - the faith/ideology that all knowledge comes from science and can be demonstrated or disc
  • Amy Wolf
    Amy Wolf says #
    Nice of Witches and Pagans to use my real name after asking for a username...ok... Here's my comment: I wish those of us concerned

I got back from my city trip to Berlin late last night and I had planned on writing about some experiences from that trip, but I received my daily e-mail from a friend who informed me that his wife's cousin had taken his own life unexpectedly, and that his life was pretty hectic right now because of it. He would therefor need some time to get back to me. After that, the concept and act of suicide was set firmly in my mind and I could write about nothing else. So here is fair warning; this post is about suicide, it touches on depression, my interesting childhood and my opinion on suicide. If any of these are triggers for you, I would ask you to come back tomorrow. Also, and I will get back to this, depression lies.

I grew up in a household where the threat of suicide was prevalent. When I mentioned moving out, when I got angry, when something went wrong (especially if it was something I had caused--or for which I was blamed), I was stopped and the emotions repressed by a veiled or outright threat of suicide by my mother. I used to be angry about that, but as I got older, I understood that it was simply her only way to deal with the depression and personality disorders she was struggling with. She did try once, and it was a horrible experience for all involved. After that, though, I think she realized that no matter how miserable she was, she wasn't really going to go through with it. The threats only stopped when we agreed that she was only allowed to call me with a suicide threat if she really meant it. She never spoke of it again.

Through my experience with suicide, I have developed a very low patience threshold for people who use (the threat of) suicide as an excuse to get attention. For people in my social circle who honestly feel they might commit suicide, I am there. All I ask of them is that they ask for help if they need it. I will gladly give it. I'll get up in the middle of the night for weeks to talk them off of any ledge they might be on, but I need honesty and I will not be guilt tripped into helping them. I did that for at least ten years. I'm a very decent human being. If you need me, in any way, I will be there for you. You don't have to lie. But if you simply need attention, if you need a shoulder to cry on and someone to tell you what a miserable life you have and act shocked you have even considered the act of suicide, I am not the person to go to. I'm the person you go to for help, and to get you help.

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  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    No harm done, glad to be of service.
  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    I appreciate your concern; thank you. If you do NOT want to give the impression you'd been suicidal yourself, you should consider
  • Elani Temperance
    Elani Temperance says #
    Done, thank you. I apologize for any inconvenience.
  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    Thanks for this moving post; I, too had a mother whose threats of suicide rules our household. (Along with my father's rage attack
  • Elani Temperance
    Elani Temperance says #
    Thank you, Anne. I'm sorry you went through what you went through. I never considered suicide myself, vowing early on to do the ex

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