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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in taboos

 

 

Dear Boss Warlock:

I wanted to make some chutney, so I bought some rhubarb at a store, even though as a native Midwesterner I understood that in doing so, I was breaking a major local taboo.

Now I'm afraid of the resultant Curse: that for the rest of the year, I'll be snowed under with gifts of rhubarb from everyone that I know.

Help! Is there any way to escape the Great Midwestern Rhubarb Curse?

Wincing in Winona

 

Dear Wince,

Whichever gods you honor, my friend, you now owe them big-time. Since the Great Midwestern Rhubarb Curse is a strictly regional phenomenon, there is a way out of your conundrum.

Here's your “Get Out of Hell Free” card, Wince: Local taboos only apply locally.

Before you make your chutney, first cast a circle and, for the duration, declare the entire kitchen to be somewhere else, somewhere that the Curse does not apply—say, California, or Florida.

Good luck, my friend. Let me add that, chutney made, it might very well be politic to send Boss Warlock his own jar by way of thanks for having bailed your sorry Midwestern butt out of this mess in the first place. As it happens, Boss Warlock just loves rhubarb chutney.

My address will be arriving shortly by psychic post.

Boss Warlock

 

 

 

A Note to Readers:

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 Rhubarb Information and Facts

Dear Boss Warlock:

Help!

As a native Midwesterner, I know that it's wrong to buy rhubarb, but—in a moment of weakness—I actually did. From a store, no less.

Now my guilt over what I've done is crushing me. Please, what can I do to get clean of it?


Guilty in Galena

 

Dear Guilty:

I'm afraid there are some crimes that are beyond even Boss Warlock's power to forgive.

By your own admission, you bought—actually paid money for—rhubarb, knowing that what you were doing was wrong. The fact is, there's no way that you can get clean of a crime of such magnitude. Basically, Guilty, you're screwed.

(For the benefit of the non-Midwesterners among us, let me explain that Guilty—by his own admission—has violated one of the prime taboos of Midwestern culture. Every Midwesterner is born knowing that you never buy rhubarb. As a proper Midwesterner, you should have your own clump, growing out by the back door. Even if you can't grow your own—say you're a renter somewhere—you should be able to get your rhubarb from friends or relatives who, of course, have their own clumps growing out by the back door.)

No, Guilty, by violating this taboo, you have laid yourself open to the Curse. For the next twelve months, you will be buried in rhubarb. Once word gets out—and, believe me, I've already hacked into your account and let every single one of your contacts know—everyone within three degrees of separation will be giving you rhubarb. In fact, I've already over-nighted you some from my own garden. Expect it by tomorrow.

Here's your only hope, Guilty: get your butt over to somebody's house and get a plug from their rhubarb. (No, for gods' sakes, don't go to a lawn center and buy a plug! What are you, suicidal?!)

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    One of my plants didn't make it through the winter, either. If this is an omen, i wonder what it means.
  • Kile Martz
    Kile Martz says #
    I had two impressive plants in the garden down by the river for many years -- chunks from a friends yard, of course. I expected th
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Sorry, Transplant, ignorance of the law is no excuse. Prepare to be inundated. You may want to check out my new book, 1303 Things
  • Katie
    Katie says #
    Dear Boss Warlock, Oh, dear! I must be truly cursed... over the years past, I have bought Rhubarb because the clump in my back ya

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Holy Cusswords

Holy cusswords, [email protected]&m*n! Cussing is of course a euphemism for cursing, which can mean using a socially unacceptable word, naming a power in an undignified manner ("taking the Lord's name in vain") or formally casting bad magic. Present day Asatruars use the Old Icelandic word blot, meaning sacrifice, as a name for one of our rituals. In modern Icelandic, the word has become blota, which means a cuss word. That which is holy transformed over time into what is a curse and then into what is an empty phrase that may once have been a curse, merely a cuss now. Or is it still a curse? Or is it still holy?

Words have power; that's why a magic spell is called a spell, the same word that means to write a word. When we use a minor cussword like f--- or sh-- that refers to a bodily function, the thing that makes it a cussword is the social taboo of the word and of the action, that is, it refers to something society considers unacceptable to do in public. The same goes for cuss words that refer to parts of the body; they are socially taboo because they refer to body parts normally covered by clothing. These words and concepts are not inherently bad, merely socially taboo. But more religious oriented cusswords like d--- or the name of a god are in another category. To say d--- is to literally curse, that is, to place a curse of damnation on someone or something. If we believe in magic we should be cautious about using such words. If we believe in gods we should be respectful of their names. To say H--- is to call upon Hel, goddess of the dead. The situation may call for that, or it may not. We should be mindful whether the situation calls for calling upon such a god.

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If Pagans Had a Food Taboo, What Would It Be?

By and large, the pagan religions are not known for their food taboos.

Oh, we may have our dietary preferences, but it's worth noting that, when food taboos are present among pagans, they tend to apply only to the priesthood, or to be observed only for a certain period of time. Otherwise, generally speaking, the default food setting for pagans is Omnivore.

But if, say, Indo-European-speaking pagans did have a food taboo, what might it be?

Please note that what follows is neither prescription nor suggestion. It is, merely, three points of historic data.

West

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
What Pagans Do

Do you know the punishment for cutting down a sacred tree?

Did you know that, at a sacrifice, it's proper at the moment of the killing for women present to cry out?

Do you know why one should always end a funeral with a ring-dance around the grave?

Neither did I.

But now I do, and you will too, once you've read Ken Dowden's European Paganism: The Realities of Cult from Antiquity to the Middle Ages.

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If You Kill Someone in a Dream, Does That Make You a Murderer?

If you break a taboo in a dream, does it count?

What the dream itself was about, I don't even remember. What I do recall is that as I turned to leave, and was going out through the door, I stepped directly onto the threshold.

Thresholds, like hearths, are loci of sanctity. The threshold of every building is inherently sacred, even the thresholds of non-sacred buildings like stores. In the old days, they would bury the foundation offerings beneath them, and in traditional cultures they continue to be places of sacrifice. A threshold is a god's place. They say that the Horned, god of the In-Between, sits on every threshold; it is his sacred place in every building, large or small, sacred or secular. Whenever you enter or leave a building, it's an encounter with a god. Welcome to the pagan universe.

So it's bad to step on a threshold. (One steps over a threshold, not on it.) Not bad as in murdering someone, but bad as in pissing toward the Sun; it's rude, a ritual violation that puts you out of synch with the Powers. It's important to be in synch with the Powers; our people have always felt so.

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Recent comment in this post - Show all comments
  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    I sometimes get the clear impression that a dream infraction is a suppressed guilt from another life, or from an earlier time in t

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

Society is an ever-chancing construct, influenced by the people living (in) it and changing those people in return. What was socially acceptable as little as ten years ago, may not be socially acceptable today. Smoking in public spaces, for example. Imagine going back hundreds of years to a society much unlike our own. Most of what we do today would have been taboo then, and much of what was daily practice then, is taboo today. This post will serve to highlight some of these taboos, from both sides of the coin. Please, remember this post is all in good fun; some of these practices may seem barbaric, but that's your culture speaking. For the ancient Hellens, it was absolutely normal: it was their culture and no modern Hellenic would try to bring back practices which are now against the law.

On to the taboos!

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