PaganSquare is a community blog space where Pagans can discuss topics relevant to the life and spiritual practice of all Pagans.
The sacred dances of Winter's magical midpoint—now a mere fortnight away—have long been the stomp-dances that rouse the seeds and animals that sleep within the frozen Earth.
We generally begin our February Eve doings with just such a dance, turning to the farthings and calling in turn upon their respective animal powers, the hibernating and migrating beings whose stirring marks the turning towards Spring. In the traditional Appalachian song which accompanies this dance we call to Groundhog, Redbird, Rattlesnake, and Muskrat. Those who associate Four Elements with the quarters will not have far to seek.
Groundhog, the holiday's eponymous patron, is also known in American English as Woodchuck, a variant (by folk etymology) of Cree ochek, a name which inspired the playful tongue-twisting folk query:
How much wood would a woodchuck chuck [= toss]
if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
Mantra (mantram in the singular) are an important part of spiritual practice in many religious traditions. They are a core component of individual sadhana (discipline) and of the work done together in community, serving on multiple levels to effectuate transformation. Individuals, for example, may perform japa, the recitation of a particular mantram on a mala (rosary), to meditate and gain access to places of deeper insight. Spiritual practitioners working together may use mantra during puja (worship) to evoke the divine essence.
It is the vibration of sound in each case that forges a link between this world and the unseen realm. Mantra in this way can aid the seeker in harnessing the potency of one of the underlying truths of Tantra. The metaphysics state that a connection exists between the reality we experience through our bodies and the ripples left in space-time by the Divine moving into and out of the cycle of life on Earth. It offers that this provides a glimpse at (and potential access to) the unfathomable Goddess. With just the smallest fraction of this power—Shakti—in our midst, we may be able to overcome the burden of our karmas and become whole....
Austerities are for the obsessed, the unhinged and the desperate. But it sure does get someone's attention, doesn't it? It's sort of like stalking the universe* until She's forced to notice you. That kind of passion, that kind of desire starts fires that burn everything down to the ground.
Well. At least we can see the moon....
In today's Watery Wednesday community news, we've got a new Asatru temple in Iceland; Heathens recognized by the U.S. military; Pagans in Costa Rica?; John Becket on social costs of being Pagan; a new location for the Sacred Harvest festival.
It's about time: the first Heathen temple built in Iceland in a millennium is coming soon.
The United States Army has finally added Ásatrú and Heathen as options in its religious preference list.The Norse Mythology blog covers the story....
A version of this appeared a day ago in Patheos. I think the points I am making are important enough to put this both places.
Violence in the name of a monotheistic religion has again captured the world’s attention. This time it was committed in Islam’s name. In response many columnists and politicians who should know better claim something supposedly unique to Islam is responsible. This malign misdiagnosis gets two central points utterly wrong.
First, there are over one billion Muslims in the world, and the great majority are not violent. Second, while there has been considerable violence by some Muslims in the name of their religion, the majority of their victims have been other Muslims. In this respect Islam is not unusual. Historically a great many victims of monotheistic violence have been those most other people would regard as practicing the same religion.
For mostly historical reasons, most religious violence today is by those claiming to be Muslims. But Islam has no monopoly here. Christianity has spilled plenty of blood in its past. The end of its worst violence did not come as a result of any advances in Christian morality or spiritual understanding. Relative peace arose from mutual exhaustion, when the various factions realized they could never kill all the other side.
True religious tolerance considered as a matter of principle had to wait the coming of the Enlightenment, the rise of deism, and the triumph of the American Revolution. Deism is not monotheism, which is why so many Christian leaders of that time called them atheists.
In my last post, I described Neo-Paganism as a modern-day mystery religion. Historically, initiates into the mystery religions experienced a ritual death and rebirth. Some Neo-Pagan rituals follow this format. The idea is that we die to our old selves and awaken to a new, more expansive Self. In Jungian terms, the Self is the wholeness of our many disparate selves, conscious and unconscious. But to encounter the Self, we must let our old selves, our egos, die. This is a psychological death, but no less significant than physical death from the perspective of the ego. For the ego, the experience can be as painful as dying physically, and some people would prefer physical death....