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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in nature

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
How straight is your wheel?

Our usual solar stories about the turning of the year focus on the birth, maturing and death of a sun god who might fight his rival at midsummer and will probably father himself. Imbolc is all about pregnancy and birth. Beltain is all about impregnating. It’s a very heterosexual narrative, when you get down to it.

Nature is not exclusively about heterosexual reproduction. What we would understand as homosexual behaviour crops up in all creatures. If you’re part of a wolf pack or a bee hive, it’s about the group, not about spreading your own genes directly. Many plants have both male and female sex organs – if you insist on understanding them in those terms! On top of this, plants will also reproduce through suckers, bulbs and other ways of doing it for themselves without any need for pollination. Some creatures change gender. Oysters have all the kit, and effectively change gender every few years. Other life forms – fungi particularly, are asexual, and reproduce without any input from anyone else.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • marianne
    marianne says #
    great post , thank you
  • Erin Lale
    Erin Lale says #
    That's one of the reasons I'm glad I'm a heathen, specifically an Asatruar, because our ritual structure doesn't have heterosexual
  • Nimue Brown
    Nimue Brown says #
    If we have three kinds of ancestors (blood, land and tradition) then we must also have three kinds of descendants. While that cann
  • Anna Belle LaFae
    Anna Belle LaFae says #
    Thank you for this article! After my child was stillborn and then subsequent infertility the reproductive emphasis of so many pag
  • Finn McGowan
    Finn McGowan says #
    I think the mythic foundations of the pagan paths are bigger than an individual's gender, sexuality or lifestyle. They are extreme

Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Supernatural, not really…

The 'supernatural' is often considered the sine qua non of religion. Certainly the Gods and Spirits must be considered supernatural, yes? Well…not necessarily.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Richard Norris
    Richard Norris says #
    Aquinas, of course, based much of his work off of Aristotle, who was previously considered a kind of Platonist. Aristotle suggest
  • Sam Webster
    Sam Webster says #
    Richard, Thank you for your comment. There are a number of us working out a philosophical basis for our Pagan ways. Posts here, a
  • Henry Buchy
    Henry Buchy says #
    never been one to use the term supernatural. if it happens it's natural. anyway. why can't 'matter' or the physical be independent
  • Diotima
    Diotima says #
    Well said, Sam. It would be interesting to dive a little further into the concept of "the All" -- the oneness of the non-physical
  • Sam Webster
    Sam Webster says #
    Blessings, Diotima, I do some work on the All on my other blog:

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs


Greetings to all!

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Celebrating the flowers

Imbolc, when the little snowdrops emerge from the earth, the first flowers, and the first sign that spring is on the way. Except if you’re dealing with floodwater just now, you probably won’t see them because they will be submerged. If you are a bit further north than I am, there will be no sign yet. People in colder climates can’t expect flowers at this time of year – my other half, who originated in Maine, continues to be perplexed by anything trying to grow at this time. Not everywhere has snowdrops, and not everywhere has winter.

There are no doubt a lot of Pagans out there who feel they should be celebrating Imbolc this weekend, because it’s the ancient Celtic festival marking the first signs of spring, and it’s here. Some will no doubt go out with scripts that talk of things which simply are not happening in their lives. I’ve done that myself. I stood in a hailstorm one year, trying to picture the gentle, generous spring maiden and her magical wild flowers, whilst getting cold, wet, miserable and confused. It was one of those key moments in my journey towards rejecting a dogmatic approach to dates and festivals.

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

Goddess - Gaia by Paola Suarez

Dearest Gaia,

I wrote this letter as I worked on my recent drawing of you. As I sat to write this I kept asking myself, “What is my relationship to Gaia?” I know I think of you not as the Goddess of Nature but Nature or the Earth itself. Intellectually I know without you, my life as a human being would not exist. I know that without humans, you would happily exist for millennia.


Oh Gaia, when I briefly lived at the edge of the jungle and beach, I felt you most powerfully in my life. During that time, I felt overwhelmed by you. I knew that I wasn't ready to live so closely to you. I was so at home with the beauty and abundance you offered me Gaia. Yet I felt as though I was pitted against you every second. It was too raw for this aspiring ecofeminist. I was not strong enough.


Oh Gaia, I am still an urban Goddess lover. Though I still hold on to the hope of living closer to you. I want to feel what it means to be Gaia’s partner. As I hold this idea I meet other Goddess sisters that commune with you so well. They walk through the grass being Priestesses meanwhile I run for the comfort of cement. I know it doesn't help to compare Gaia but it’s challenging. Here I am dreaming of a life  in an Earthship but can’t keep more than one plant alive in my house!

Oh Gaia, I believe you don’t value humans anymore than any other living being. Living with that belief is sobering. Oddly enough it also makes me want to be with you more . This isn't because it would make me more of a Goddess woman or a better Neopagan. It’s because you force me to be present. I can’t help but be conscious of what is around me-- be it gnats or gorgeous foliage. You make me think of balance, community, and being with the uncomfortable. You help me understand that dirt and bugs are a part of life. I am a part of something bigger. You, Gaia, are where everything dies and is reborn.

I feel as though you are going through the motions of shaking human beings up Gaia. During this difficult time, I want to live in harmony with you as much as I can. So I’m not ready to live in my Earthship right now but I can start taking baby steps. I was thinking of trying to sit on the grass without three layers of cloth. Though please Gaia, can we keep the bug bites to a minimum? :)


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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs


For me, Autumn is far less about the dying away, and far more about the stocking up. Granted, the leaves beyond my window are turning, shades of yellow and brown creeping in amongst the greens. It’s late this year, but then, so was the spring.

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Loblolly by the-specious@flickrI'm always reminding clients and students to use their totems, not just visit them in trance and arrange them just-so on altars. I don't know if it's a Western habit or a general human one, but it seems a constant reminder is needed that we have resources, we have help. Isn't that the crux of animism? We're not alone. We don't have to do everything alone.
One of the key components of shamanism that makes it viable is the engaging of totems in holding space, not just acknowledging them every now and then, but actually allowing them to help us create, hold, and be the space. Any time, any place.
Case in point: After a long hiatus from working out due to chronic health conditions, I've recently begun running again. It's been a long time since I've run, actually. Over the last two years I've done all sorts of other workouts sporadically, though managing acute asthma took a toll on sticking with consistent activity. In that timeframe my body has been telling me to run, and I've avoided doing so, partly out of sheer fatigue, but also out of fear, trepidation that I'd trigger the awful episodes I've worked so hard to control.
Last week I threw caution to the wind and decided it was time, not just to engage in duration exercise, but to do what my body has been telling me it wants to do: run. I've started with short duration and gone a little longer each day, climate-controlled, nice and tidy. The other day it was cool outside, so I ran outdoors. Once I got past the initial aches and moans of an asphalt half mile, I found my rhythm, then minor annoyances abated. However, other chatter began. My lungs began to burn and that familiar choking sensation crept through my airways, wrapped my throat, and I began coughing. I started stressing.
I slowed my pace but stayed moving, soothing the worried voice in my head. As I did, I noticed birds singing, a soft breeze blowing in the treetops, dogs barking, rasping cicada tymbals. I smelled pine, freshly mown grass.  Surrounded by Nature, I decided to take my own medicine. I realized my inherent soul connection to the elements around me, and thanked them for supporting me on my run. I invited them to tell me what they need from me, and was told to engage them again, and again. I really felt like I wasn't running through the elements, but with them, actively.
These weren't new spirit visitors or Nature friends. I've worked with many of them before in fleeting engagements. I honor them each time I create sacred space in my home because they are the Nature Spirits of my land, its Elders. However, bringing them into my daily routine was a vastly more validating experience, interactive not just in my senses, but my cells.
And yes, my breathing eased. I finished the run with no problem.
No, they weren't my personal totems. I don't have likenesses of loblollies or cicadas on my altar. The thing is, they don't have to be. Even in off-the-hook shamanist and totemist circles, there still pervades the idea that we're locked into certain totems, forever and always, that we can't just honor drive-by connections, or ones that suit specific circumstances. Such limitation is what inhibits deep animistic connections. It's just too easy to move through the space around us and not notice all the support that's there. Yet it's equally easy to pause for a second and consider the spiritual surroundings, the waiting support.
I say it over and over, but the hardest part of mindfulness and forging an authentic spiritual path is to remember to pause.  When we remember the pause, we recall to choose how we move forward.

I haven't run outdoors since, but I will. I have, however, driven through my neighborhood every day, seeing it, hearing it, experiencing it with different appreciation, a fuller sense of being.
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