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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Burning Local

Well, that's it, then: the last of the sweetgrass braided.

Summer braiding for winter burning.

Sweetgrass, cedar, sage: here up North, our trinity of local incenses.

There's copal, of course: exotic resin of the fabled southern Lands of Ever-Summer.

But mostly, we burn local, just as we always have.

Back in the Old World, it was the same. Frankincense, myrrh: exotic imports from the resin-cultures to the South.

Up North, we mostly burned local.

There's no common Indo-European word for incense (the old Witch word was reckels, literally “little smokes”), but if the IE-speaking ancestors did indeed have an incense culture, one could perhaps make a case for juniper, still burned as a sacred smoke in the Gaelic-speaking Hebrides, in Germany on Weihnachtsabend, and among the Kalasha, the last remaining pagans of the Hindu Kush.

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

“We are daughters of our mothers
We are mothers of our daughters
We are sisters, we are lovers
We are friends and good grandmothers

We are women like a river
Flowing on and on forever…”

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

The question often comes up: "Where it is acceptable to find and purchase (adopt) quartz crystal?". I'm not talking about where it comes from in the Earth, but what are acceptable sources available for a person to gather their working collection/family of crystals.

If you live too far away to dig your own, there are plenty of great options available. Even if you are in a town that (gasp!) doesn't have a store with gemstones. Among the options are the obvious, such as; gemstone stores and shops, gem and mineral shows, spirit fairs and festivals. Other not-so-obvious places where I have found crystals are craft stores (often drilled, for beads), flea markets, antique stores, garage/tag/estate or yard sales, second-hand stores and roadside vendors.

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs



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Posted by on in Paths Blogs


There are two ‘goddess’ trees that are found in the hedgerow. Hawthorn, sacred to the May Goddess, and Elder which belongs to the Crone and has so many virtues that, as we have seen, it is referred to as the ‘poor man’s medicine chest’. If there are any elder trees in your vicinity, you will soon gain one in your garden because birds drop the seeds after eating the fruit. The elder is a small tree or shrub that has a very mixed reputation in folklore. It features widely in Arthurian legends, Biblical tales and has always been associated with witchcraft and religion. In some parts of the country it is considered unlucky to take ‘ellan-wood’ into the house and to burn it would cause death within the family inside twelve months.

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

We stood on a rock on the top of a ridge, forested hills and valleys on every side. It was past dusk and heavily overcast, though the full moon shone behind the clouds so they glowed faintly. The mists came in, blanketing out the further hills, filling the valleys. Five of us, and looking at the others, wrapped against the chill and dampness I thought I could be gazing at standing stones, not people, or druids from another time and place, or magicians gathered to create a spell. I could see only shades of grey and black.

We had gone to this particular place because it is in the North-East of our Circle, the direction of Beltaine in the southern hemisphere and that's the time of year it is, here. But the mists and the grey and the isolation - it could have been Samhain, it felt like a night between the worlds. Sometimes the opposite Festivals reach across the Wheel so strongly, holding hands at the hub of it that it's impossible not to see this open secret - whenever it is Samhain in half the world, in the other half it is Beltaine. The earth can never have one without the other, just as it can never have night without day, simultaneously. It's not just that the opposites both exist, but that they both exist at the same time. 

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Pagans Are Pagans Everywhere

The Two Arrows

When the Kalasha people first entered Rumbur Valley, their greatest shaman, Naga Dehár, stood at the pass with his back to Afghanistan. He fired two arrows, one red and one black. Where the black arrow landed, they built the altar to Sájigor, still the most sacred place in the Kalasha valleys.

Where the red arrow landed, they built the first bashali—the women's moon-house (Maggi 47).


It's as if one were to discover an ancient Celtic tribe living up in the mountains, still practicing their old religion.

The Kalasha are a people some 4000-strong who live in three remote valleys in the Hindu Kush mountains of what is now Pakistan. They are known far and wide for their wine-drinking, for the beauty (and social freedom) of their women, and for their proudly polytheist religion, which in many ways more closely resembles pre-Hindu Vedic religion than anything else.

With their pantheon of gods and goddesses, animal sacrifices, and sacred dances, the Kalasha are probably as close as we will ever come to the Indo-European ancestors.

The more that I learn more about the Kalasha, the more struck I am by just how familiar they seem.

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