PaganSquare


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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While we haven't had the hard winter that Boston and much of the Eastern Seaboard of the United States has had, it has still been a rough season here in Texas. Late February snow and ice, followed by a series of overcast days, have kept me in my home and away from so many of my favorite early spring activities. I am grateful for the much-needed water that will (hopefully) help alleviate the long drought we've been suffering here in the Lone Star state. And yet when the weather turns dark and moody and cold and wet, I find myself often turning inward. This inward state is not self-reflective or introspective as it might otherwise be. No, my winter "turning inward" is often a function of depression -- what I call my Black Dog -- and is as hard to shake as the Texas gumbo mud on my shoes. This winter has been one of re-evaluation, principally of the career which has been the center of my life for more than a decade. I am finding less and less joy and more and more frustration in the classroom, and becoming increasingly frustrated with the exploitative nature of part-time faculty life. And yet the idea of changing my path is fraught with emotional landmines -- a sense of having given up, of having failed, of being adrift and not knowing what to do or where to turn next. In many ways this is my relationship with the Element of Water -- it is so easy for me to give into the darker side of my emotions, to pain, to self-pity, and to fear. Perhaps because I have always lived in land-locked places, the idea of open water terrifies me. And the sense I've had of being adrift upon a vast sea has, of late, been really stoking my fears.

And so this week, Yemanja (otherwise known as Yemaya), the Holy Queen Sea of the Yoruba pantheon, has come to remind me that when we fight the current, we drown. But when we can surrender to the flow, we float.

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  • Susan Harper
    Susan Harper says #
    Thank you so much, Connie. Surrendering to the flow is hard -- I'm a make-it-happen kind of gal -- but I know that this is exactly
  • Connie Lazenby
    Connie Lazenby says #
    Susan, i found myself in much the same position during the summer and fall of last year. Thankfully the decision as to exactly w

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

b2ap3_thumbnail_fire.jpg

I offer what I offer
I give what I give
I share what I share
I am who I am…

via The Warrior-Priestess

When planning a ritual involving children, I always have to remind myself to keep it short and simple! Just in time for Spring Equinox, I'd like to share the simple ritual of spring welcome that my family and I enjoyed over the weekend with a group of our friends. This ritual is designed to be done at night around a campfire and to be followed by a drum circle...

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Putting Vesta & Faith in Historical Context

I’m a classicist at heart.  Since first meeting a Vestal priestess in 1989, I’ve been captivated by the ancient Roman world.  Before law school, I studied Latin, Roman history, mythology, art and culture at university.  If it had “Roman” or Greco-Roman” in the course description, I signed up.

As a follower of Vesta – goddess of the home and hearth – I find great significance in putting the Vesta tradition in historical context.  Not only does this deepen my understanding of this faith, it alerts me to the ways that it must adapt to 21st century humanist values so that it can survive and continue to bring comfort, meaning and happiness to the lives of its faithful.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Happy, um, Pasch

Hey you. Yeah, you: Christian.

Hey, check this out. Did you know that  Easter is really the name of a pagan goddess? Seriously. Easter is a pagan goddess: goddess of dawn. And spring, of course. Really.

Says so right here in Bede. Yeah, that's the one, the “Venerable Bede.” Always a venerable, never a saint, ha ha. Well, actually, I think he is a saint now, isn't he? Didn't they canonize him a while back? A saint wouldn't lie about that kind of thing now, would he?

Hey, check this out: Pasch. Rhymes with “flask.” Nice, hunh? Beautiful. (Makes sign of aversion behind back.) Gotta love that funky spelling.

Fine old Christian word, Pasch. Actually the original name for the holiday, back before the pagans got their mitts on it. Goes all the way back to Aramaic. Really. The language of Jesus, right. Used the word himself, no doubt about it. Whatsoever. Jesus. Yeah.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Appealing to your ancestors

In a recent reading I did for a client regarding a problematic spirit relationship, one of the potential solutions that came up for dealing with her situation was to appeal to her ancestors and the gods of her bloodline for assistance. Since she had questions about this, I’m thinking other people out there might, too.

Yes, I know the topic of ancestor work can be a controversial one in the pagan community, because so many of us have deceased family members we wouldn’t call on if it was the last option open to us. For example, if your late Uncle Mort was a child molester, chances are you don’t really want to be inviting him into your home. Also, as many of us are first generation pagans in monotheistic families, we might feel alienated by some of our immediate ancestors, feeling that they can’t possibly share very much with us and unsure why they would want to help with our relationships with pagan deities, demons, spirits, or what have you.

But we all have bloodlines that go back more than just the few generations we might know about. Whether you know it or not, whether you can trace it objectively or not, you have a bloodline that reaches back into the pagan past, into the depths of antiquity. Depending on what country your ancestors came from, what ethnicity you are, you have ancestors who worshiped Odin, or Cerridwen, or Isis, or Ogun. Some of our ancestors, granted, return to the “primordial soup” that provides a source for new souls at the birth of children. Of those who qualify as Mighty Dead—those who managed to distinguish themselves in life in some way—some may be reborn as themselves (with their individual spirit intact), in a new body; some may choose to dwell in the spirit realms and join groups of spirits such as the Wild Hunt. But every bloodline has one or two who qualify to be ranked among the Mighty Dead and who choose to remain attached to their own blood lineage, to watch over their descendants. These are the people to turn to when you get yourself into a sticky situation with a god, demon, or other entity who you seem to be stuck in an abusive relationship with (assuming you have tried to work things out directly with that entity and it has failed, or it isn’t possible or advisable to deal directly with them for whatever reason).

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  • kayly
    kayly says #
    Thank you for this post. It offers good insight into what a person might expect when they begin to work with ancestors and how to
Easter is Risen: Philip A. Shaw's "Pagan Goddesses in the Early Germanic World"

Eosturmonath [April] [is] called after a goddess of theirs named Eostre, in whose honor feasts [festa] were celebrated in that month.

This lone sentence from chapter 15 of Bede of Jarrow's De Temporum Ratione ("On the Reckoning of Time"), along with the fact that, from very early times, a Christian festival came to be called by her name, is literally all that we know about the Anglo-Saxon goddess Easter. Literally all.

Under the circumstances, scholars have tended in two directions. The Maximalists have viewed Easter as a pan-Germanic goddess, herself a reflex of a pan-Indo-European Dawn goddess whose sister-selves include Vedic Ushas, Greek Eos, and Latin Aurora.

The Minimalists—many of them clearly driven by pique that so Christian a festival should bear so blatantly pagan a name—deny that such a goddess ever existed at all, and seek alternate (and non-pagan) derivations for the name of the church's great spring festival.

In Pagan Goddesses in the Early Germanic World: Eostre, Hreda, and the Cult of Matrons, Philip A. Shaw, lecturer in English and Old English at Leicester University, in a work surprisingly readable for all its dense erudition, attempts to stake out a centrist ground midway between maximalist and minimalist positions. Of greatest interest to the contemporary pagan reader (to this contemporary pagan reader, at any rate) is his marshaling of new information to shed new light on the subject.

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

b2ap3_thumbnail_union-0.pngWhat about men?

That's the question people often ask me as I'm praising women's bellies as sacred, not shameful. Praising our body's center as home to the soul-power kin to the magnificent Source Energy creating, sustaining, and renewing the world.

What about men? Don't they have soul-power too?

"What about men?" is also the title of a chapter my editor chose not to include in The Woman's Belly Book, for whatever reason. You can read the full text of that chapter here.

The chapter's major point: As a man enters into his own wholeness, integrating feminine and masculine polarities,

he begins to perceive a woman as a person, informed by her own purpose. His need to control her diminishes. He becomes more capable of entering into a relationship of mutual respect.

As men increasingly live and breathe from center, they prepare themselves to enter into the egalitarian relationships many women desire, and which we deserve. Truly loving relationships can develop as the partners each live from their inner source of being and support each other in returning to their core wisdom, again and again. In this way the relationship takes its strength from the shared center that emerges in the partners' midst.

As men and women support each other in coming home to ourselves, we can engender a more peaceful, just, and sustainable way of being human together on this planet.

Loving relationships? There's a story, origin said to be circa 1450, that — by my lights — holds the key to loving relationships between women and men.

I came across this story as I was preparing The Woman's Belly Book and its companion, the Rite For Reconsecrating Our Womanhood. As part of my research, I delved into Maureen Murdock's book, The Heroine's Journey.

Murdock tells the story of Lady Ragnell and Sir Gawain. The story is part and parcel of Arthurian legend; it relates to other tales of transformation as well.

You can read the original in Middle English here and adaptations into modern English here and hereIn brief, the story demonstrates just what restores women's beauty and balance: Men perceiving women as persons, informed by our own purpose. Men recognizing, respecting, and supporting our autonomy, our sovereignty.

Respecting our sovereignty? A man by the name of Padma Aon Prakasha copied the text of my "What About Men?" chapter into his own book — without ever asking my permission. In his "note to the reader" he asserts his entitlement to appropriate others' words. That's either amusing or appalling, or maybe both.

b2ap3_thumbnail_TBtoast-.jpgBut here's something much more interesting, and a thrill: My friend Denise Ostler (a.k.a. Merri Beacon) has of her own accord, without any previous inkling of Lady Ragnell's story, written her own and up-to-date version as part of her Fairytale Medicine series.

Her Goals & Dreams tale begins

Once upon a time, in a tiny kingdom, there dwelt a sweet princess who cared for injured animals. She created a special place in the royal stables where she could tend to her patients. She loved her work, but alas, it was time for her to marry.

The king narrowed her suitors down to three eligible princes. Each prince was invited to dine at the castle and give a speech about why he would be the best match for the princess. On the first night, a very handsome and confident prince stood to address the royal assembly....

The story continues here. Enjoy!

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