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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Tug-O-War Rope - Rental-World

The center of the ritual that night was to be a tug-of-war between Summer and Winter.

I think the occasion was Beltane, back in the early days of Paganistan, down at the old River Circle, in its grove of cottonwood trees. Energy was high; folks couldn't wait.

I can't remember how we chose who was going to pull for Summer, and who for Winter; maybe we counted off around the circle. Maybe we drew lots.

Anyone, there we were: rope in hands, ready to have a good haul to settle which season would prevail. (This being Minnesota, I can only hope that the Winter folks would have had the good sense—not to mention the sense of civic duty—to put up a good struggle, and then let Summer win.)

As I said, energy was high. Once we had the rope in hand, people immediately started shouting and tugging. Everyone was having lots of fun; the power in the air was palpable.

Then the priestess killed it.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Minoans and Etruscans: Is there a link?

The Etruscans are every bit as enigmatic a civilization as the Minoans. People like to speculate about the Etruscans and wonder who they really were and where they originally came from. Part of this process often includes the possibility that there's a connection between them and the Minoans. But is that really the case? Or can we even tell?

First, let me be clear that the two cultures don't overlap in time or space. The last major Minoan city, Knossos, was destroyed around 1350 BCE. Anything resembling Minoan culture on Crete that may have remained after the cities fell then disappeared altogether during the LBA collapse, around 1100 BCE.

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May the warm sun
remind you
that you are nourished.
May the solid earth
remind you
that you are held.
May the swift hum of blood
through your veins
remind you
that you are connected.
May the sweet breeze
in your chest
and across your face,
remind you
that you are loved.
May you remember
that you are carried
by the elements,
your life its own
kind of magic. 

Reminder: our ongoing daily practice, #30DaysofGoddess, is updated monthly with prompts, prayers, printables, and practices.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs


Och, it's the same every year.

The Yule house-cleaning, though not finished, is well under way. The gifts, though yet to be wrapped and sent off, are all bought. Now arises the prospect of the next job-lot of work, and the annual question: to Tree, or not to Tree?

Every year, I remind myself: this is a choice.

Every year, I remind myself: it will still be Yule without it.

And every year—so far, at least—I do it anyway.

Oh, the Yule Tree: that indoor Yggdrasil, that hearth and axis of the season, that island of light and color in a bleak white winter sea.

Long ago, I settled in my own mind the ethics of the matter: these, after all, are farmed trees, born for this sacrifice. (Still, though, I try each year to see at least one tree planted in recompense: the traditional life for a life.) Cutting the tree, I make the wonted prayers and offerings.

Oh, but the work involved.

Decking is the least of the matter. That's a joy, seeing again after nearly a year the old well-loved treasures, some of which have been in the family for more than a hundred years. (There's not much room in the steamer trunk of an immigrant, but somehow for these they managed to find a place.) Each ornament bears a memory, if not a story. Each ornament is a prayer.

The lights, that's the issue. Putting them on will be the work of several hours, taking them off again the same, with the added prickly discomfort attending the fact that invariably I leave the Tree up too long. Is it really, I ask myself, worth all the work?

Then there's the expense. Trees hereabouts this year are running $10 a foot. Seven or eight foot's-worth of Yule tree could buy a lot of groceries.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Movement Dreams: Dancing

Dance is a way to express yourself that, in our dreams, can symbolize things like freedom, joy, and passion. If you’re dancing in your dream, your subconscious might be encouraging you to set yourself free and relax. Think about your waking life and what sort of situations might be putting pressure on you. If you feel like your individuality is being stifled or you are overwhelming yourself with too many obligations like school activities, work, clubs, etc., this dream might be your subconscious telling you to live a little. It’s okay to let go and let loose. Let your creativity flow —you will start to feel much happier once you do!

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 The Lion's Roar - Facing Your Fears | Kathleen Ann Thompson

A Lesson in Leadership


It once so happened that an orphaned lion cub was reared by a pack of dogs. One day the lion, now fully grown, came to the leader of the pack.

“You look troubled,” said the dog. “What's the problem?”

“Respect,” said the lion. “I get no respect from anyone.”

“I'll tell you why you get no respect,” said the dog. “You're a lion, but you act like a dog. What's the first thing you do when you meet someone? You schniff im tukhis, just like everyone else.”

“What should I do instead?” asks the lion.

“Here's what you do,” says the dog. “When you meet someone, you throw out your chest, you lift up your head, and you let out a roar.”

The lion decides to give it a try. Sure enough, it works. Whenever he meets someone, he lets out a roar, and pretty soon, he's getting plenty of respect.

A few days later, he runs into the leader of the pack again.

“So, how's the respect coming along?” asks the dog.

“RRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!” roars the lion.

The dog grins and sidles up next to him.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 For many Hawaiians, lava flows are a time to honor, reflect

The Real and the Store-Bought

If you want to see what real paganism—as distinguished from the store-bought kind—looks like on the ground, check out this article about Traditional Hawaiian response to the current eruption of Mauna Loa.

In a sacred version of volcano tourism, Hawaiian cultural practitioners are making pilgrimage to the lava flows that are the living presence of Madame Pele, both to witness, and to honor, the ancient Power that (literally) made their islands.

There, they make offerings of dance, chant, and prayer, as well as offerings of a more tangible kind: bottles of gin, red scarves, ti leaves, money, tobacco.

A goddess is present, and so we go to meet and to honor her. That's what the real thing looks like on the ground.


Standing With Our Backs to the World


I think of a Samhain ritual that I recently attended. The best I can say for it is that it was well-intentioned.

The ritual, rightly, began at sundown. During the Summer, from the ritual circle in its sacred grove, you can't see the Western skyline for the leaves; but now, with the trees newly naked, the setting Samhain Sun stood, splendid, upon the horizon.

A god was present, but no one paid any attention. (Well, I did: I slipped out of the circle, made the wonted observances, and—unobtrusively, I hope—slipped back in.) No, we were too busy casting our circle to notice, standing—as is, alas, all too often the way of neo-pagans—with our backs to the world.

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