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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Celtic Month of Rowan

Published in the 1940s, The White Goddess written by Robert Graves has served as the basis for a great deal of popular information on the Celtic ogham. Despite being the grandson of ogham scholar Charles Graves, Robert took liberties with the history of the ogham alphabet and added embellishments such as the thirteen-month ogham tree calendar. The appeal of this calendar for working with the energy of trees has captured the imagination of many of us who have incorporated it into our magical practices.

While it is a modern construct, the tree calendar holds meaning because of the concepts it has come to symbolize and the significance it has for twenty-first century magic, ritual, and everyday life. In 2019, I am exploring the wheel of the year through the plants of the Celtic tree calendar.

January 21st begins the time of rowan and its ogham character Luis. Commonly known as rowan in the United Kingdom, in North America this tree is known as mountain ash. Although the leaves of the rowan resemble those of the ash, true ash trees are in the genus Fraxinus. The energy of this period is associated with the coming of new life born from the darkness of winter. Rowan is associated with protection, strength, and creativity. It is also associated with the goddess Brigid whose fire guides us to the light within.

During the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries in England, rowan had a negative reputation because it was associated with witchcraft. The most likely reason for this is that the berry carries a pentagram design at its base. Some herbalists avoided using rowan for fear of being labeled a witch and suffering the consequences. In northern Europe, this tree was planted near homes and stables to ward off lightning strikes because rowan was associated with the storm god Thor who had the power of protection. Rowan wood was used by the Celts when reciting magical incantations.

Draw the ogham character Luis on a candle for protection to burn during magic, ritual, or astral travel. Because rowan is a powerful ally for divination and for contacting elementals, burn a small piece of bark or twig to enhance psychic abilities. To attract success, cut five branches to the same length and lay them out in a pentagram shape on your altar. Hold a rowan branch to connect with your spirit guides when seeking their advice.

Rowan makes a good, magically protective walking stick. Enhance its power by carving its ogham into the wood. Burn a piece of rowan wood or a dried leaf to express your dedication to a deity or to acknowledge the blessings in your life.

Native to North America, the American mountain ash (Sorbus americana) is a small, shrubby tree reaching fifteen to twenty-five feet tall. Its lance-shaped leaflets are dark green with gray-green undersides. They turn yellow in the fall. The common mountain ash or European mountain ash (S. aucuparia) grows twenty to forty feet tall. It has medium-green, lance-shaped leaflets that turn yellow to reddish-purple in the fall. Both trees produce dense, flattened clusters of white flowers that bloom in May. After the flowers, orange-red berries develop and ripen in late summer.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_hex-vet.jpg

Title: Hex Vet: Witches In Training

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Intimations of Emergence: When Pottery Speaks

The clay bowl on the coffee table could be in a museum, but it isn't.

What the potter who, some 5500 years ago in what is now Ukraine, painted the swirling designs on its surface, meant by them, we do do know. Possibly, nothing at all.

But when you look closely at the patterns, that's hard to believe.

This evocative bowl is an artifact of a remarkable culture known after the “type site” as Trypillian. (Named for the Ukrainian village nearest the original digging site, the word—appropriately enough—means “Three Fields.”) This is one of those glittering Old European cultures made famous in the English-speaking world by Lithuanian archaeologist (and feminist ideologue) Marija Gimbutas.

During the course of her career, Gimbutas handled thousands upon thousands of painted ceramics like this little bowl. She was convinced that the designs not only bore meaning to their makers, but that we can—to some degree, at least—read them today.

Hold this little clay bowl in your hands. Look closely. What do you see? Yonis? Buds? Antlers? Paired chrysalises? A butterfly? A woman, arms upraised?

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Making a Brídeog

Tis the season to prepare for the Festival of Brigid. Here in Ireland the customs of the goddess Brighid and St. Brigit, Abbess of Kildare, are often conflated. There was a Fire Temple at the Abbey until Henry VIII broke up the monasteries. Both the saint and goddess rule poetry, healing and craft. Both represent abundance, springtime, and returning light. In 'being both' Brigid (or Brighid or Brigit or Biddy or Bride) is a prime example of spiritual adapt and survive. Nothing is lost. It transforms a bit and moves with the times, but the essence is still there. What is important is to keep what is useful of the old and infuse it with up-to-date intentions as time rolls on, feeding the well spring of inspiration.

Back in 2017 I made my first brídeog or Biddy doll. I nicknamed her Activist Brigid. She eventually went to live in Co.Clare when she was a raffle prize as the last Wise Woman Weekend that year.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Game of Doubles

A few times a month I get an e-mail from an on-line vanity company that tracks names mentioned in academic periodicals. For a mere $95 a month, I too could get specifics every time Steven Posch is mentioned in a scholarly paper.

Well, gee, thanks, I think I'll give it a pass. Still, it's nice to know that academics are noticing. (If you're reading this, Hi!) I happen to think that at least some of what I say is worth paying attention to, and it's gratifying to know that at least some other (presumably thoughtful) people feel the same.

Of course, one can't assume that every Steven Posch mentioned in every academic paper is me. There's more than one Steven Posch out there, for certain: Steven Posch the tennis pro, for example. One wonders what Steven Posch, tennis pro, thinks of his pagan double, assuming he knows he exists. Hey, I've got as much gay narcissism as the next guy.

Even so, I was pretty mystified to find out last week that, in a recent publication, “a member of the Mechanical Engineering department at Technological Educational Institute (TEI) of Piraeus mentions the name 'Steven Posch.'”

Mechanical Engineering? Technological Institute? Piraeus? (Presumably, the one in Greece, yes?) I rather doubt that the Steven Posch mentioned in this particular paper is either Steven Posch the tennis pro or Steven Posch the pagan storyteller.

In this world of doubles it would, admittedly, be amusing to know what the others out there are up to these days.

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Surprise! Leo Super Full Moon Vibes Jan. 20-22

Mama Moon enters the Fixed, Fire sign of Leo on Jan. 20 at 7:54 pm Pacific Time until Jan. 22. She is a Super Moon at Perigee at 9:16 pm on Jan. 20 which means she’s as close as she can be to Earth and Full. She is also ECLIPSED by the Sun at 6:36 pm on Jan. 20. So, what does it all mean?

Pick a card to find out. Also, take a peek at your natal birth chart to see if the Sun which is currently at 0º Leo conjuncts or opposes a natal planet or angle.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Is Paganism an -Ism?

Hey, Pagan Pride: I've got a suggestion.

A web-search for Twin Cities Pagan Pride turned up (in more than one location) the following lead sentence.


"Pagan Pride is a free fall event, open to the public, that offers education about Paganism to the larger community."

With all due praise to the local Pride committee—who work their butts off every year to offer to pagan and cowan alike a beautiful event in a sacred place, an event that we can truly be proud of—I'd like to suggest a gentle rewrite.

Whether or not such a thing as a unified “Paganism” ever existed anywhere but in the minds of those who hated the Old Ways, I very much doubt. It didn't exist then, it doesn't exist now, and (thank gods), it never will exist. This fact is encoded, genetic: the very nature of the “pagan” religions, new and old alike, militates against such a unity.

“Paganism” isn't an “-ism.” “Pagan” is a descriptor, an identity perhaps: a way of talking about something that already exists, not a thing in and of itself.

So here's my suggestion for an opening that's truer to lived Pagan reality:

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Murphy Pizza
    Murphy Pizza says #
    Depends. I've argued since the start of my research that Paganism isn't about *who* you worship, but *how*. The Pagans I have enco
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    While I was out driving on interstate 95 this morning I was wondering if Christo-Pagans stand out as a separate group when the ide
  • Aline "Macha" O'Brien
    Aline "Macha" O'Brien says #
    "Has Paganism Gone Mainstream?" Using the singular here because, for one thing, it sounds wrong to use plural here, and two, beca
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Yes, it seems to me that one of the most important things that we have to bring to the table (to invoke a much overworked phrase)
  • Aline "Macha" O'Brien
    Aline "Macha" O'Brien says #
    We are way more alike than not, and that's why I get so demoralized when I see the internal bullying that's been fracturing our co

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