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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Magical and Healing Aloe Vera

With over three hundred species of aloe, the one simply called Aloe vera, meaning “true aloe,” is the most common. Aloe is a perennial plant with succulent leaves that can grow up to two feet long from a center base. If you are lucky, it will produce a spike of yellow or orange flowers. As a houseplant, it is commonly kept in the kitchen for first aid treatment of burns; just break off the end of a leaf and apply a little of the translucent gel. A yellow sap known as bitter aloe is exuded at the base of the leaves. Bitter aloe should never be used on the skin or ingested.

Well known for healing burns, aloe gel is also good for cuts, insect stings, acne, and other skin ailments. When used on burns and scalds, it helps prevent blisters and scarring. Also called medicine plant and healing plant, aloe has a long history of use that dates back thousands of years. It is believed to be the plant mentioned on a Sumerian tablet.

Certain documentation comes from 16th century BCE in the Ebers papyrus, the oldest written record on the use of medicinal plants in Egypt. In addition to healing, it was included in preparations to beautify the skin and protect it from the harsh, damaging desert climate. Aloe’s use in the embalming process earned it the name plant of immortality. Greek physician Pedanius Dioscorides (c. 40-90 CE) and naturalist Pliny the Elder (23-79 CE) both extolled its merits in their writings.

Of course, like most medicinal plants, aloe was also used for magical purposes. In Mesopotamia and throughout the Middle East, it was believed to provide protection. Leaves were hung over doorways for this purpose and to ward off evil spirits. Aloe was also used for protection from accidents and a charm to bring good luck.

Position an aloe plant on a windowsill at the front of your house to dispel negative energy and attract good luck. If you live in a place where aloe can grow outside, plant it near your front door or set a potted plant outside for the summer. For protection, break off the end of a leaf and dab a little of the gel over each exterior doorway. For healing spells, place a little of the gel at the base of a green candle. For your esbat ritual, use the gel on a white candle or put the plant on your altar to draw on the power and wisdom of Luna.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Dark Light

There's a phenomenon of pagan ritual that I've noticed again and again down through the years.

I'll call it the “dark light.”

The pagan calendar (day begins at sundown) and pagan schedules (most of us work day jobs) being what they are, we do a lot of our ritual at night. This means that we do much of our ritual by firelight.

Bonfires, candlelight, torchlight. Which is it to say that, by the usual electric-lit 21st century standards, there isn't very much light.

And yet consistently, again and again, as I think back to any given ritual, I find myself remembering more light than could possibly have been there.

But it's not just a matter of memory. In ritual, colors are brighter. Bodies, faces, things seem to glow as if from within, transfigured.

I think of the Grand Sabbat. Cross-legged up there on his altar, the Horned glows, I swear it. I swear it. He's lambent: the light comes from Him.

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The Ceremonial Medicine Wheel

It was while I lived in Jerusalem, Israel, in the winter of 1992, and previous to becoming a metaphysician and fire priestess, that I began a surprising although insightful journey. Having spent days curled up on my couch glued to a Mary Summer Rain book titled, Dreamwalker, a book I found in Tel Aviv, I was hooked. I could not put that book down, it held me spellbound. Having noted the name Silver Eagle, Dreamwalker, a bell went off in my psyche. When I read that one could support this Tennessee US Native Dreamwalker by purchasing his hand made earrings consisting of beads, wood and or feathers, I determined to write to him. Dreamwalkers are individuals who can use dreams to visit people, or teleport themselves and read ones energy vibration, offering help and assistance.

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Stations of the Descent: A Call to Wiccan Artists

The truly puzzling thing is, there's no dearth of Wiccan artists out there.

That's what makes the absence all the more striking.

The story of the Lady's Descent into the Underworld is, arguably, Wicca's foundational myth.

Where, then, is the art depicting it?

It's a profoundly visual story. One could readily envision sequences of the Descent à la (if you'll pardon the comparison) Catholicism's Stations of the Cross.

Where are they?

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Mercury Retrograde In Aries (and How to Use Tarot to Survive and Thrive)

Several years ago, I made a post here on Pagan Square about the ins and outs of Mercury Retrograde. You can get the scoop at this link.

Mercury goes Retrograde March 22nd through April 15th in 2018 in fiery Aries. To recap my other blog post, Mercury is a trickster god that symbolizes communications of all types--including the technology associated with messages.

Aries is symbolized by The Ram, an impetuous, aggressive energy that heralds the first day of Spring--a time of fresh starts.


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In Which Our Intrepid Blogger Reviews a Book on a (Gasp!) Non-Pagan Subject

This is Not the Resurrection You're Looking For

Resurrecting Easter would be a better book if it knew what it wanted to be. Art history? A husband-wife travelogue? A mystery novel à la Da Vinci Code?

Unfortunately, it never manages to decide.

In it, Jesus Seminar rockstar John Dominic Crossan and his wife Sarah travel to the ends of Christendom to tell the story of the emergence of the iconography of the Resurrection. (He writes, she takes the pictures.) This important topic has received surprisingly little attention from art historians. Apart from Anna Kartsonis' magisterial 1988 Anastasis: The Making of an Image, there are virtually no monographs on the subject. The Phaidon Press series of anthologies on the art of Holy Week—Last Supper, Crucifixion, and Descent (i.e. deposition from the cross)—does not, surprisingly, devote a volume to the art of the Resurrection. Somehow, when it comes to art history, it's always Nativity, never Pascha.

So I praise the Crossans for perceiving this lack and attempting to address it. It's a pity they couldn't do so more successfully.

Oh, they do manage to chronicle the emergence and development of Christendom's two major visual representations of the Resurrection, with some attention to various dead ends and roads-not-taken along the way. Unfortunately, the art-historical material is interspersed almost randomly with pointless tales from their travels, including local-color details about what time they caught the cab and what T-shirt the driver was wearing. The quest—and narrative—are driven by forced cliff-hanger questions about the iconography (“What happens to the universal resurrection tradition in Eastern Christianity during that same fateful period?”) that are meant to seem urgent but mostly fall flat.

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Recent comment in this post - Show all comments
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I can go onto Bing images and type in resurrection to get a whole bunch of pictures. If I haven't run out of ink in my printer I

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Sifting for Gold

It’s a soft, rainy spring day. I’m grateful for the rain—we need it—and for the lush green it has brought to the hills and meadows, the vineyards carpeted with bright mustard flowers.

These are such challenging times. The circumstances of my personal life are stressful and frightening; the broader culture is caught in the nightmare of Donald Trump’s willful smashing of all that is decent and righteous. Friends are struggling to make ends meet; my area is still grappling with the incomprehensible shock of last October’s wildfires.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Mark Green
    Mark Green says #
    You're very welcome! There are lots of us non-theist Pagans. If you haven't checked out the website yet, we're at atheopaganism.wo
  • Lisa
    Lisa says #
    Thank you for your blog, and also the article in the latest W & P! I really appreciated your point of view and could relate.

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