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PaganSquare is a community blog space where Pagans can discuss topics relevant to the life and spiritual practice of all Pagans.

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The Holy, the Wye, and the Rumanian Treasure: Being a Brief (but Deep) Excursion through the Ancestral Mind

In colloquial English we tend to think of holy and sacred as being vaguely synonymous, but to the ancestors they were two distinct, if related, forms of being.

The original meaning of holy—Old English hâlig—emerges when we examine its sister-words deriving from the same Old Germanic root: hale, healthy, whole, hail, wholesome, hallow. Holy denotes an intrinsic state of being characterized by radical completeness in self: wholeness, entirety, unbrokenness.

The first observation to make about sacred, on the other hand, is that it derives from Latin rather than Old English. Possibly Latin sacer replaced Old English wîh (or wêoh) because of the latter's pagan associations. If so, they don't seem to have had this problem on the Continent, where the old Germanic word still survives in the Modern German name for Christmas Eve: Weihnacht, “holy night.” (It's worth noting that modern German-speaking pagans refer to Yule as Weihenacht, an archaic form of the same word.)

But in fact both the Latin and Old English words refer to the same concept. What is sacer or wîh is something that belongs to a god. Hence, to sacrifice (literally, “make sacer”) something is to give it to a god. Sacrilege is the theft of something that belongs to a god: in the eyes of the ancestors, one of the most terrible of crimes.

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Pagan News Beagle: Airy Monday, August 10

Welcome back to Airy Monday, our weekly take on pop culture as it relates to magic and religion. This week our topic of discussion is identity: what it means to you, what it means to us, and what it means to others. Join us as we take a look at racebending, feminism, and the importance of representation in this week's edition. All this and more for the Pagan News Beagle!

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Are You Intuitive or Psychic?

As metaphysical discussions become commonplace, I hear certain terms used interchangeably and the same words used to explain different things. This is a natural progression as we talk about the inexplicable. We are charting new territory. We are going to try out labels and see how they fit.

I adore the courage of so many people who are coming out of their shells and sharing what they once feared to admit. We are meeting each other in beautiful ways, having mind opening dialogues, and making much progress in understanding how the worlds beyond the five senses operate. We have an appreciation for energy. The presence of helping spirits is accepted.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
RAINBOWS - Hope and Optimism

Continuing on with our discussion of the different named configurations in quartz crystals, Rainbows in crystals is the topic this week.

Rainbows may be present inside a crystal due to fractures or on the internal wall of two connected crystals. Some of the fractures are what I call Mirror Fractures; they look like mirrors and sometimes are called Wall crystals. I did a whole blog post on Mirror Fractures and Fairy Frost (both of which are often accompanied by Rainbows). (Click this link to revisit the blog post on Mirror Fractures and Fairy Frost. ) Following is a paraphrased portion of that blog post, describing Mirror Fractures.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The American Sabbat

Around the Fourth of July, I began to write this essay. I was inspired by the ways in which the Fourth is celebrated: by families and neighborhoods, with fireworks and games and picnics and all-day, Summery leisure. I watched movies about the American Revolution, and I thought at length about the Fourth, as a civic celebration, as an iconic moment of childhood, as an inspiration for the immigrants who come here, for artists and writers aspiring to greater depth of talent and expression. For anyone longing for liberation, this celebration of independence and freedom seems full of promise, full of encouragement to go boldly in the direction of one's heart's desire. This is an American narrative of liberty and opportunity, the one we teach school children, the one that inspires numerous people to immigrate despite hardship and challenge (not to mention a less than warm welcome once they arrive). It is based on a shared history that is inspiring and ennobling, as well as horrifically violent and racist.

The Fourth's observance, with its emotion and spectacle, is truly an American Sabbat, a day of remembrance and revelry. Its arrival soon after the beginning of Summer marks its as a time of play and pleasure. It's also a time to recall our civic Ancestors: not merely the Founding Fathers or members of the military, but everyone who died in pursuit of freedom and liberty, not all of whom were warriors. I always feel that part of this Sabbat is marking the sacrifices others have made in building this country, and how far we are from coming into our country's fullest promise of liberty and security.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

b2ap3_thumbnail_Lion-love.png"The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them.~ Thomas Merton

The August New Moon, in fun-loving, generous, heart- (and sometimes self-) centered Leo, forms a threesome with Venus, planet of relationships. This configuration tends to turn astrologer’s minds to hearts and flowers and “Love Is in the Air” . But a closer look at the chart reveals that you won’t be able to get away with a saccharine and shallow approach to relationships this month. (Though by all means, feel free to drag out the disco music. Someday I’ll do an astrological study of the disco scene in the 70s and will, I have no doubt, find a prominent Leo signature in the charts).

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Lollus, Löhl, and Ursul din Lăloaia

Genealogical research led me to a god of which I'd never heard. My family name, Lale, was originally spelled Löhl. Lale is a phonetic spelling in English of the way Löhl would have been pronounced.

Back in the 90s when I became an initiate of the modern version of the Bersarkrgangr tradition (see my paper Bersarkrgangr: The Viking Martial Art) they told me my name was a Chatti name, and that the Chatti tribe were cat-type bersarkrs who followed Freya, just like me. The Chatti came from the area in Europe that was briefly Alsace-Lorraine, an area of mixed French and German influence. That meant I was from one of the right families, which was one of the two prerequisites to be eligible to join their group.

The internet era has enabled genealogical research with records from all over the world that have been scanned and are now available through this marvelous device right from home, without having to travel to every town and country and examine the records in person or pay someone else to do so. Family legend said the original Lale ancestor in America was kicked out of France for lycanthropy. That would have been in the 1700s, before the American Revolution. Recent genealogical research my brother did on the net turned up a kernel of truth. We did have an ancestor who was banished from a country, but it was Bavaria, not France, it was the late 1500s, and the charge was not being a werewolf but being a Protestant. That's a sobering example of how much oral transmission of information can change the story over time.

That's as far back as an unbroken line of records go, so with anything earlier than that, I'm just speculating about whether it has any connection to my family, but what I found is interesting nonetheless.

There is a river Löhle in today's Germany, near the town of Böblingen in the region of Württemberg. Württemberg is where the Lale ancestor who came to America was actually from (not France as the family legend said.) The river may have been named for Lollus, or the other way around.

Lollus was known as a god of the Franks, a Germanic tribe. There was a Saint Lollus in the 700s. Offerings of grapes and grain were given to Lullus or Lollus at the place called Löhle or Lölle. Whether these gifts were to the god Lollus or to Saint Lollus, or whether the people making the offerings drew any distinction between the two, is unclear. Did the god Lollus walk among the people in the 700s in the form of a human, Christian Saint?

Not much is written about Lollus in English. The book Barbarian Rites: The Spiritual World of the Vikings and the Germanic Tribes by Hans-Peter Hasenfratz, translated by Michael Moynihan, says Lollus was depicted as a naked young man holding his tongue. It suggests he may have been paired with Frija, a combined form of Frigga and Freya.

A name dictionary I consulted as a teenager told me the name Lale meant nothing in French, but meant "one who speaks" in German. This article on entheology.org connects Lollus to speaking in tongues, and states that the opium poppy was sacred to him: http://entheology.org/edoto/anmviewer.asp?a=259

So, are people with the name Lale or Löhl descended from the people who worshipped Lollus, the people from the area bearing his name? I don't know, but I wonder.

The earliest reference my brother uncovered to a name that could be a Lale variant is a Roman soldier named Laleianus. The name is on Trajan's Column in Rome. Supposedly Laleianus helped conquer the Pannonians, a people that lived in what is today Romania and the Danube region. This did not seem to connect with Lollus the 8th century god or saint. There was however another Roman, named Marcus Lollius, a prominent political figure who was the patron of the city of Sagalassos in Turkey.

The story of Laleianus and the Romanians did not seem to connect with bersarkrs, either, until I ran across this video of a Romanian folk dance labeled Urs Laloaia:

Romanian Bear Dance Urs Laloaia:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sNm4JaCbSIg

With thanks to translator James Hoscyns: ursul din
Lăloaia means the bear from Lăloaia. Lăloaia is the name of a mountain and a village at its base in Bacău in Romania.

The music has this drum song:

Dum tek dum tek dum
Dum tek dum
Dum tek dum tek dum
Dum tek dum tek dum
Dum tek dum
Dum tek dum
(pause then repeat)

The dancers step on the dums. 

This dance has been preserved as a festival dance in parts of Romania and Moldova. Here are a couple of videos where the camera was closer to the dancers:

Parade through town: 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Y_gEfV6hYs

March through a snowy street and then dancing at a house:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GTuoQ84b8Jk

More videos of this dance are found by searching the keywords Tot Ursi or Ursul de la Dărmăneşti.

The bear dancers in each of these videos make a strange trilling sound. It is not really a bear-like sound. It is unlikely to be a direct imitation of the sounds that bears make. This trill has some other origin. Could it be connected to the lalling of Lollus?

So far there does not appear to be any evidence beyond similarity of names and the strange trilling sound of the dancers connecting Lollus with bears, or with the bear dance, or bersarkrs, but this is an interesting avenue for further research. Eventually I hope to turn this quest for knowledge about my ancestors into a formal paper on Lollus. I would very much appreciate being directed to more information on Lollus, or the Lale name in any of its variations, or the bear dance.

Image caption:
Ursul de la Dărmăneşti dancer, photo credit Dan Duta via Mediafax Foto.

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