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To All Those Just Now Discovering Paganism:

Welcome to the real world.

If your experience is anything like what mine was 50 years ago, you're feeling a lot of excitement right now, and a sense of homecoming.

But you're also wondering: What am I getting myself into? Is this stuff for real? Am I fooling myself?

Well, I can only speak for myself, but let me tell you this much: The longer you do it, the realer it gets.

Yesterday, I took down Yule. (Up here in the North, we still keep the old, Long Yule.) Earth, the Sun: these are the heart of Yule, of course. Boxing things up, taking the tree out, I found myself thinking back to Midwinter's Eve, and to what we did then: the fire, the greens, the dancing.

Carrying the boxes upstairs, seeing through the southern windows that strong young Sun shining down on the snow-covered Earth, I melted with love. I couldn't help but think: This just gets realer and realer all the time. At this point, I couldn't be anything else, even if I wanted to; and why ever, for gods' sakes, would I want to be something else?

At this point in your pagan career, my friend, you're gathering up pieces. Some fifty years on, I find myself beginning to have a sense of how all those pieces fit together. The inner integrity of their pattern—what philosophers call “depth coherence”—simply takes my breath away.

Welcome home, new pagan. You're not deceiving yourself; you're not walking into a fantasy.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs



When you go to a holy place—a temple, say—sometimes you want to take some of the sacred Fire home with you.

But, of course, traveling with a living Flame is not always possible. (Just try getting onto an airplane with one.) So here's what you do.

You kindle a virgin candle—one that has never been lighted before—from the sanctuary Fire. Then you extinguish It. (You should do this by pinching, not by blowing; it's more respectful.)

Then, when you get to where you're going, you relight the candle. This will then be the same Fire as that of the sanctuary, sacred Fire of sacred Fire.

How so, you ask? Easily told.

Though extinguished, the flame lives in the wick.

Call this, if you like, a convenient legal fiction. But is it really? Is not all Fire, in the end, Fire?

(What, after all, is Fire? May we call It a Being? Is It not more process than thing, more verb than noun?)


There are some who would say that we can never be pagan as the ancestors were pagan. They would contend that too much has been lost, that we are too much changed by time, and that we can never now regain what was theirs by eldright.

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'In the Old Days...'

“In the old days....”

Lots of New Pagan narratives begin this way: implicitly, if nothing else. Back in Pagan Days, you see, we used to....

Then follows the story of what we did or thought or hoped for, back when Pagandom extended far.

In the old days isn't good anthropology. Good anthropology requires specifics of time and place. In northern Staffordshire during the 1850s.....

But in the old days isn't anthropology: it's myth. Back in the Pagan Dreamtime, in the days before May Eve, the young bucks would spend time in the woods building May bowers. That way, you'd have someplace (relatively) private to bring your sweetheart back to after the bonfire revels.

Or so they say.

Don't mistake in the old days for history, although it may be that too. When pagans talk about the Old Days, we're not really talking about how it was.

What we're really talking about is how it's going to be.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Original People

We are the pagans.

We are the Firstborn.

We were here in the beginning.

We have been here all along.

While humanity endures, we will always be here.

We are the pagans, the Firstborn: the Original People.

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The Other Side of Night

What did they think, those old pagans, as they saw the Old Ways that they loved falling to the ground around them?

What did they feel?

Did they hate? Did they hope? Did they despair?

They fought, we know that they did. They hid. They dissembled.

They draped the Old in the cloak of the New.

They laid their love carefully away, bidding Earth hold it close, until a new day should come.

Did they, looking into darkness, hope for another dawn?

Did they, with eyes of hope, see to the other side of night?

Did they see us?

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  • Dr. Mays
    Dr. Mays says #
    Dear Stephen, Your meditation is beautiful, and I am reminded that this is precisely what Indigenous peoples of the Americas have

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