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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
On 'Idolatry'

This is not a River; it is a statue.

This is not the Mississippi. This is a statue of the Mississippi.

Yet, everyone will agree, in some mysterious way, this statue makes the Mississippi present.

The mechanics of just how this making-present occur are, to be sure, a matter of perennial debate among the wise. The question of agency is a particularly interesting one.

But that it actually happens, we can all agree.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Allosaurus: Be Fierce

One of the best known dinosaurs, Allosaurus is often featured in science fiction movies. Usually a group of hapless scientists go back in prehistory to explore early life. They end up being stalked and eaten by this dinosaur. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle started this particular trope by featuring Allosaurus in his novel, “The Lost World (1912).”

As one of the earliest dinosaurs to be discovered in the American West, Allosaurus was a part of the “Bone Wars” (1877-95) between Othniel C. Marsh and Edward D. Cope. Since the fossils of this dinosaur were readily found, various sets of his bones were regarded as either a new Allosaurus species or were the bones of other dinosaurs. Even today, paleontologists are still sorting out who is an Allosaurus and who is not. The one species that is universally recognized is A. fragilis, because of his many bone fractures.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Golden Bough

In 2006, Italian anthropologist Augusto Cacopardo went to NW Pakistan to study the Winter Solstice festivities of the Kalasha, the last remaining polytheists of the Hindu Kush.

Of all the Indo-European-speaking peoples, the Kalasha are the only ones whose religion has never been either stamped out, or subsumed into one of the Big Name religions. They are as close as we will ever get to the living paganism of the European ancestors.

After the purifications, the sacrifices, the sacred dances, the torch-race, and the traditional (and well-omened) sexual banter ("Your scrotum is so hairy you could weave a pair of leggings from the wool!"), came the most sacred part of the entire month-long Winter Solstice celebration. Cacopardo was permitted to witness, but not to record, it. He could see, but not hear, what was happening.

This is what he saw. A very old man, the custodian of the ghach, the festival's secret and most sacred prayer, known only to a very few, covered his head and face with his mantle and recited the sacred formula. As he did so, he held in his hand a plant which, in the dark, Cacopardo could not see clearly.

"What's the plant that he's holding?" he asked the man standing next to him.

The man explained that it was zaróri, a very sacred and pure plant that had to be brought from another valley because it did not grow locally. It would also be used, he added, in the holiday's closing ceremony the next day.

At the ritual the following day, Cacopardo managed to get a good look at the zaróri.

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Why Tarot?

Why Tarot? Why not astrology? Or numerology? Or any of the other divination tools? Why did I choose Tarot?

b2ap3_thumbnail_ArwenRenFair8993.jpg

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Asatru FAQ: The Valknut

The valknut or "Knot of the Fallen" is used by contemporary heathens as a symbol of Odin. Those dedicated to Odin, most but not all of whom consider themselves warriors, wear a valknut to indicate their dedication. Some heathens say that wearing a Valknut means you are willing to die in battle and hope to be chosen to become an Einherjar, one of Odin's warriors in Valhalla. 

Odin and his brothers are a trinity (or triple god, depending on how you see it.) The brothers Odhinn, Honir, and Lodhur sculpted the world out of the body of Ymir, the primal giant, and sculpted the first humans out of driftwood. They are creator gods. The trinity has three sets of names: Odhinn / Honir / Lodhur, Odhinn / Vili / Ve, and Odin / Honir / Loki. In other languages, these names have slightly different forms. For example, Odin and Wotan are basically the same god, although one could have different experiences with the different cultural variations. 

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    Long ago in the public library I remember coming across a book titled: "The men in the Pink Triangle". On the back of the book wa
  • Erin Lale
    Erin Lale says #
    Hi Anthony, I'm not an expert on that part of history, but it is my understand that the black code was for political opponents of

Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Fake Magic

I've long had a fascinating with grifters and fakes. In the Middle Ages, as now, there were plenty of folk looking for a quick windfall by pretending to be something they were not. Sometimes they had good reasons: the young woman Silence who pretended to be a minstrel and then a knight and rose to the heights of both professions needed to hide the fact that -- well, she was female.

Most often of course the hoodwinking was to get money out of the unwary (like Chaucer's Canon's Yeoman's tale). Money wasn't the only motivator though: there are few guilty pleasures as delicious as revenge well-served. A fine example is the Scottish text, The Freiris of Berwick.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Learning Hunger

Among the many things that I learned from my family, there's one that I didn't.

How to be hungry.

I grew up in a time and place—O rarity of human history—where there was always enough food. So I never learned how to be hungry. I never had to.

Instead, I've had to teach myself.

Sometimes hunger is a matter of necessity: there's just no food. That's involuntary hunger.

But the longer that I walk the Old Ways, the more convinced I become that sometimes—for our own spiritual health—we need to take on voluntary hunger as well.

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