PaganSquare


PaganSquare is a community blog space where Pagans can discuss topics relevant to the life and spiritual practice of all Pagans.

  • Home
    Home This is where you can find all the blog posts throughout the site.
  • Tags
    Tags Displays a list of tags that have been used in the blog.
  • Bloggers
    Bloggers Search for your favorite blogger from this site.
  • Login
    Login Login form
Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in oaths
A Promise to the Ferryman, or: How I Ended Up Sitting (Literally) Bare-Assed in the Snow One Midwinter's Eve

At the big public Samhain that year, everybody had paid a coin to the Ferryman to cross the River.

Obviously, money collected under such circumstances can't be put to just any use. After the ritual, we donated the bulk of it to the local AIDS hospice. (That seemed appropriate.) But the foreign coins and the gaming arcade tokens (talk about cheap) called for a different—if still respectful—disposal.

As it happens, one of the great rivers of the world flows through our city, so I volunteered to take the coins down to the Mississippi and throw them in.

Well, I put it off and I put it off. (It was a snowy year, if you want my lame-ass excuse.) Suddenly it was Midwinter's Eve, and I still hadn't disposed of the coins.

“This can't wait,” I thought. “It really has to be done tonight; tomorrow will be too late.”

So after our Mother Night ritual and feast, I drove down to the site where, 1000 years ago, a summer village once stood on the East Bank of the River. Like the ancient Egyptians, the Old People who lived there buried their dead across the River on the West Bank.

Being a warmish Yule that year, I was wearing my kilt: commando, of course. (You know what they say: With underwear, it's just a skirt.)

The warm weather had given the snow a slick crust. Just as I was negotiating the last snowbank down to the River....

Last modified on
Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Thanks, Erin. I think of it as ham on wry.
  • Erin Lale
    Erin Lale says #
    lol. I really enjoy your sense of humor.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Ye Gods!

“Ye gods!” I hear myself say. “That's terrible!”

A neighbor had been telling me about a stabbing that had just taken place on the block. Such is life in urban America.

What she thought of my involuntary expostulation, I don't know. Probably nothing. If it registered at all, she probably thought I was just being precious.

But I wasn't, really. “Ye gods” has become my oath-of-choice.

The nice thing about “Ye gods” is that—unlike most pagan oaths—it's remained in current English usage for the past 400 years or so, so it doesn't have the “trying too hard” quality that mars modern pagan oaths of the “By Thor's hairy balls!” variety.

How that came to be so makes an interesting story. Back in Shakespeare's time, new anti-blasphemy legislation made it legally punishable to use the name of the Christian god(s) on stage. Playwrights responded by using the names of pagan gods instead. (That's when “by Jove!” entered the English lexicon.) Ah, the good old Renaissance: when the old paganisms saved Christian Europe from itself.

Last modified on
Recent comment in this post - Show all comments
  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Mr. Posch, When I'm around my friends, I'll usually say, "Gods!" When I'm alone and confronting some greater or lesser unpleasan
What Do You Swear On When You Take a Public Oath?

You're giving testimony in court, or maybe you're assuming public office.

In both cases, it's customary to swear on a holy object.

So, Pagan: on what do you swear?

Strike me dead if I'd swear on one of their accursed books.

Strike me dead if I'd swear on a book at all.

Last modified on
Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Makes sense: who is as stable or trustworthy as Earth? And, of course, she knows everything.
  • The Cunning Wife
    The Cunning Wife says #
    Traditionally, Slavic people would take a lump of earth in hand while making an oath and then eat it. I like it.
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I once read that the ancient Egyptians took their oaths on an onion. Something about those concentric rings in an onion. I like
  • Ian Phanes
    Ian Phanes says #
    I've thought that an altar pentacle could work for a witch.

Posted by on in Studies Blogs
I'll Tell You

 

It is a fairly common custom for Traditions and Schools to have materials that are oathbound, teachings or practices that can only be shared with members or initiates. I have friends that are old school Witches, or Masons, or one of any number of systems that can eloquently explain why they have oathbound materials. I will not speak for them, and I honor their right to follow their ways. The Tradition of which I am a member, the Assembly of the Sacred Wheel, does not have any teachings or practices that are oathbound, in fact it is more accurate to say that we are openbound. It is not my intention in this post to assert that oathbound, openbound, or any other approach is better than the other. What constitutes better is a matter of your perspectives, values, the purpose of your system, and the nature of your goals. What I’d like to offer here is information on how we manage boundaries for our lore and practices. The Assembly has been around since 1984 and we are 13 covens with a 14th in the process of formation.

...
Last modified on

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Who Do You Swear By?

Just before the last presidential inauguration, a petition made the rounds requesting that language referring to “God” be dropped from the presidential oath.

Me, I didn't sign it.

I think it's right and good that those entering public office should swear by the gods that they honor. It's a time-honored old pagan tradition.

But to each, his own gods. When the time comes—hasten, O hasten, the day—that it's a pagan taking that presidential oath, I want to hear those pagan gods called to witness.

Then I'll die happy.

Who among your gods witnesses oaths? Who would you swear by, if you were taking the oath of office tomorrow?

Last modified on

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
God's Balls

A heathen I once knew had a favorite oath: "By the balls of Thor!"

I can see where he's going with this, and it's definitely in the right direction. We swear best when we swear by our own gods, and pretty much everyone acknowledges the Thunderer to be the most virile of them all. Some of us have even seen the proof. Mammiform ("breast-shaped") clouds, they call them, but to this not-unbiased observer they look like nothing so much as giant testicles, hundreds of them, filling the sky with their hanging. (Each one of those clouds could potentially descend to earth to form its own separate funnel cloud. Yikes.) Many-breasted Earth, many-teste'd Storm.

Now, I'm all for living our own culture, but “By the balls of Thor” is what my friend Drew Miller calls “trying too hard.”

Last modified on

Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Three Knots

 

Dear readers I hope you'll forgive me for not posting as frequently to this blog as I would like to. I'm in the midst of finishing my next book, and have a heavy teaching and ritual schedule for the next several months. The blog post after this one will return to the topic of the mechanics of how rituals can be done from a distance. I did feel moved by a third degree initiation that just occurred this past weekend to quickly share a few thoughts.

...
Last modified on

Additional information