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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Group Gratitude

So often, when I volunteer to lead a ceremony or a class, I haven’t a clue of what the group activity should actually be. In the time leading up to it, inspiration seems to come in little puffs.

I really like creative activity in any group setting. Recently, I had a puff of inspiration in preparation for a women’s ritual I conducted in New York City this summer. It worked well, but had a couple of hitches.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Edge of the Woods

I have always walked at the edges of worlds.

Growing up in suburban Massachusetts in the 1980’s, nobody knew what to make of the kid who could give long lectures on American and Irish history but couldn’t tie his shoes or keep track of homework assignments and lacked the social skills to put together a Dungeons & Dragons game.

Nor did I know what to make of the people around me. I was constantly waiting for my people – who at various times included Luke Skywalker, the Daoine Sidhe, King Arthur, and Carl Sagan – to come find me and take me where I really belonged. But, they never did, so I disappeared into fantasy novels and into the swamp behind my house where sometimes strange creatures flashed at the edge of my field of vision.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Mr. Donahue, Thanks for sharing! Being different seems like a curse when we are young, but the Deathless Ones have blessed you w
  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham says #
    Welcome to the PaganSquare blogging community. I look forward to your insights and observations.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
A Love Letter

I love October.

I mean, I really, really love it.  Do you know that fluttery, warm, sparkling feeling you get when you hold hands with your beloved, when you catch the eyes of your crush, when you see a message or note with that special name on it?

Well, my calendar is showing that special name.  October’s eyes are bright.  October’s hands are cool.  October’s name is like sweet honey on my tongue.

Ah, October.

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Recent comment in this post - Show all comments
  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham says #
    beautiful! thank you!

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Stangmen

They call them the Stangmen.

They also call them the Witchmen, though generally out of earshot.

A bunch of grizzled old farmers that look just like anyone else, though everyone knows who they are.

Everyone knows that at the Old Times they go up to the Hill—the one that everyone still calls Old Baldie, though the trees grew back long since—and there they do their work.

Back before the trees grew back, you could see every field and pasture in the district from up there.

They call them the Stangmen because they keep the four old stangs, handed down since no one knows when.

Different stangs for different times and different purposes: Ram, Bull, Stag, Goat.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs


“Mother, mother
There’s too many of you crying
Brother, brother, brother
There’s far too many of you dying
You know we’ve got to find a way
To bring some lovin’ here today”
Marvin Gaye

A friend of mine went on a rant on Facebook the other day. She’s a lovely woman whose posts are usually filled with warm tales of family, nature, and reflections on her Pagan spiritual life. She doesn’t often get angry, but now she was angry. Angry with the violence and hatred that was happening all around us, angry at the inability of our society to respond appropriately to the environmental crisis we are in the midst of, angry at the way people were treating each other. She detailed, in bullet points, about half a dozen of the things she had read about or seen that had brought her to this state, ending each point with “WHAT THE F**K” in big capital letters.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Pop Culture Protectors

It’s a big scary world out there that isn’t always kind.  Sometimes you’re strong and fortified and ready to face whatever life can dish out, and sometimes you’re not.  Sometimes you feel damaged and vulnerable, too vulnerable to deal with the world at large alone.  Thankfully, as a magickal practitioner you never have to.  When I’m feeling a little too raw to deal with the slings and arrows of the world at large I turn to my pop culture protectors for aid. 

There are as many forms of pop culture protection magick as there are practitioners times the amount of pop culture available to them - so rather a lot, to put it mildly.  As my pop culture magick tends to be character driven, my favorite thing to do when I need some extra protection is select a character that I have a good working relationship with and ask them to accompany through my day.  You can think of a pop culture protector as a metaphysical bodyguard.  Their job is to watch over you, protect you from incoming threats, and help you deal with negative energies that you encounter. 

There are several traits that make characters more or less suitable for work as protectors.  First and foremost is your relationship with that character.  A character you have a strong and healthy relationship with will always be better for protective work than one you don’t know well, even if your character isn’t, at first glance, intrinsically protective.  Obvious protectors are warrior characters - think superheroes, soldiers, most video game protagonists, and the like - for whom defense is integral to the character.  Sorcerers, witches, and other magickal fighters are also fairly obvious protectors - think Merlin, Gandalf, Glenda, etc - as they have the power to go up against almost any foe.  However, a character doesn’t need to wield fireballs, swords, or guns to be an effective protector.  Just like regular people, pop culture characters will perform astonishing feats of strength to protect those they care for.  Further, the support of a friend is often more effective against negativity than any barrier.  I’d rather have Molly Weasley as a protector than Conan the Barbarian (even though Conan could toss most threats out a window) because Molly and I have a relationship whereas Conan and I do not (the fact that Molly is a total badass is just a plus).

The second trait to look at is a character’s resilience and adaptability.  Unless your chosen character is a fighter who’s used to navigating the mundane world (think Jessica Jones or James Bond), your character will need to adapt to the role of protector and withstand anything you come up against.  Some characters, while brilliant in their own environment, either aren’t terribly suited for navigating the mundane or just aren’t strong enough to deal with the energies most people deal with day to day.  While a delicate flower fairy can be a lovely and supportive companion, they aren’t exactly going to take down a hellhound.  A protector needs to inspire confidence and a feeling of safety, whatever that looks like for you.

Another important factor is the situation you find yourself in.  If you know ahead of time what type of antagonists you’re likely to deal with you can choose your protectors accordingly.  If you need help dealing with a work or school environment you can choose a character that does particularly well there, Hermione or Tony Stark for example.  If you know you’ll need to deal with family difficulties you can choose the character best suited for that, perhaps Aunt May or Wilfred Mott (Donna’s grandfather from Doctor Who).  Of course, me being me, I tend to opt for “my monster is scarier than your monster” type protection regardless of the situation - I scoff at the term “overkill.”

Once you’ve chosen a character that you’d like as a protector you have to ask them how they feel about it.  More than any other type of working, a protector must choose you as much as you choose them; a reluctant or coerced protector is ineffective at best and obstructive at worst.  Yet another reason I recommend choosing a character you have an established relationship with as a protector.  Set out the reasons you’d like the character to be your protector and for how long.  You can do this by having a conversation with the character, through a divination tool, through ritual, etc. - whatever method you find most effective.  Depending on the character, you may be asked to give a specific offering or perform an act of gratitude in exchange for their help.  If the character agrees freely, then you’re good to go.  Don’t force things if they’re unwilling.  Really.

After the agreed time frame of protection has finished (or periodically if it’s ongoing) it is important to properly thank your protector.  If you work with the character regularly it may be as simple as just saying “thanks.”  Just as mundane friends don’t often require elaborate thanks due to the constant exchange of gratitude and affection, neither do many pop culture entity friends.  The less well you know the entity the more thanks are required, as they’ve come and done you a favor either in exchange for a promise of some sort or on faith that you’d be gracious about it.  Once thanks are given and any promises made are fulfilled you may dismiss the entity however you usually do so. 

While I have several characters that I work with as protectors, most commonly it’s the Winter Soldier.  We have a long and regular working history; I probably do something with him weekly at the least.  I have him accompany me as a protector whenever I’m feeling particularly threatened or vulnerable - particularly when I’m riding transit alone or crossing dark parking lots.  He’s functions a lot like a combination of bodyguard and security blanket and it’s such a relief to have him around.  I highly recommend cultivating a good relationship with at least one solid protector. 

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Pagan News Beagle: Earthy Thursday, September 29

Web cartoonist Randall Munroe skewers climate change deniers who say the climate's "always changing." A look at the phenomenon of "quantum teleporting." And scientists attempt to plot the origins of human myths back to the Paleolithic. It's Earthy Thursday, our weekly segment on science and Earth-related news! All this and more for the Pagan News Beagle!

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