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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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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Vesta & Painted Glass

Hello all, I wanted to share something really cool from my collection of Vesta artifacts with you. This is called a "magic lantern" glass slide. They were used from the 1800's 'til the early 1900's mostly for educational purposes. This one is of the Temple of Hercules in the Forum Boarium by the Tiber. Because of its circular shape, this temple was for a long time thought to be the Temple of Vesta.

In all likelihood, this temple served a dual purpose - Hercules and Vesta. That's how I deal with this temple in my book Brides of Rome: A Novel of the Vestal Virgins.  The Vestal priestesses had a spot near here from where they would gather water from the Tiber to make mola salsa.  I believe they would have wanted a functional temple close by, perhaps to bless the water.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
A 1st-Century BCE Gold Cernunnos?

The Horned God is hot right now.

So call me a skeptic if you like, but I'm sorry: some things are just a little too convenient. How do you say "Too good to be true" in Witch?

An item that turned up on E-bay some while back was identified by the seller as a 1st century BCE golden La Tène phalera (harness decoration) depicting the god Cernunnos. Unprovenanced, supposedly from a private collection, it was priced at $7400.

Sorry, I'm not convinced. How convenient that a piece of art—previously, so far as I can tell, unknown to any art historian—depicting this god and none other (arguably the most identifiable god in Keltic mythology) should just happen to turn up in a "private collection."

If genuine, it's a pretty significant artifact, of intense interest to scholarship. If not...well.

The supposed phalera depicts the god in bust, with raised arms and branching (and intertwining) antlers. In his hands the god holds two items identified by the seller as torques, but which look more like curvilinear swastikas. If what he's wearing around his neck is supposed to be a torque, it doesn't resemble any other torque that I've ever seen in Keltic art.

And there's something wrong with those antlers, with their wavy tines on both sides of the beam. Image-search "Deer in Keltic art" and see if you can turn up anything like them.

More than anything else, the piece looks like the famous Gundestrup Antlered re-rendered in the form of the god-busts on the same cauldron, made by an artist not quite fluent in Keltic style. It's an interesting coincidence that, of all the "Cernunnoi" known from Keltic antiquity, only this one and the Gundestrup god are unbearded.

Art forgery is a profitable business. Within months of the initial excavations at Knossos, Minoan fakes were readily available on the European art market. Demand was high, and money good.

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  • Mab Nahash
    Mab Nahash says #
    The biggest giveaway is the squashed nose and right side of the face. Clearly that's an attempt to render the battered look of the

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
The anything goes altar...

An altar is a very personal thing and I firmly believe that unless you follow a strict tradition that sets the layout for you that you should ‘go with the flow’ with your altar and put things on it that your intuition guides you to.

An altar doesn’t have to be big and it doesn’t have to be fancy, just a vase of flowers on a window sill is good enough to be a focal point for your altar.

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Why Charming of the Plough is Celebrated On More Than One Date

If you actually have a farm and use a real plough, it's traditional to bless the plough right before using it. The date that one would begin using one's plough would be different in different locations. 

Most pagan and heathen groups that celebrate Charming of the Plough on a specific date don't actually use a real plough for anything. Some American Asatru groups celebrate Charming of the Plough on the second day after Twelfth Night, which is January 3rd. Some celebrate it on February 2nd, which is otherwise called Candlemas / Groundhog Day / Imbolc / Imbolg / Brigid's Day. 

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  • Erin Lale
    Erin Lale says #
    Anthony, I love the Old Farmers' Almanac. I live in the Mojave Desert bioregion just south of Las Vegas, Nevada. We have different
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    Back when I was still gardening I would use the "Old Farmer's Almanac" to determine planting times for vegetables. I think the ear

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Which Way to Hell?

Which way to Hell?

For some, the Land of the Dead is a place of fire, but here in the North we know better.

It's ice all the way.

Which way lies Hell? Norðr ok níðr, says Snorri: “To the north and down.” "North and nether," one might say.

Oh, she's beautiful but deadly, Winter. Whether she comes as screeching black hag or ice-blue maiden, her embrace withers and kills.

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  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    You've shot to the heart, Mab, the very heart of pagan spirituality. Danger and reverence are close kin. A safe "nature" is a fals
  • Mab Nahash
    Mab Nahash says #
    I wonder how much of the sacrality of that feeling of snow stillness springs from the potential danger? I'm in Savannah, GA, and t

b2ap3_thumbnail_lazarus.jpg

Title: Strange Magic: A Yancy Lazarus Novel (Pilot Episode)

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Reinventing the Wheel

If the orientation of the monuments that they left behind is anything to go by, the peoples of megalithic Britain observed both quarters (sunsteads and evendays) and cross-quarters (Samhain, Imbolc, etc.).

Just like we do.

Different peoples, different ways. As they've come down to us, the cross-quarters are largely a phenomenon of Keltic cultures, the quarters Germanic; hence the names by which they're generally called.

For this reason, some purists have decided to restrict themselves to observance only of quarters or cross-quarters. Well, everyone gets to make his or her own call. My own position is that purism is its own punishment.

According to maverick historian Stephen J. Yeates, the Anglo-Saxon tribe known as the Hwicce—the original Tribe of Witches—settled in the territory of the Keltic people known as the Dobunni, and both archaeology and genetics suggest that there's strong continuity between the two peoples, both demographically and culturally.

In other words, we would expect the tribe of Witches to be (culturally) a Kelto-Germanic amalgam.

Which, of course, is exactly what we are.

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