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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Recent blog posts
A Technology of Connectivity: New Light on Animal Sacrifice

Exciting new scholarship is exploding many of the old “myths” about animal sacrifice and casting fresh light onto the origins and meanings of this ancient and—to many of us today—mysterious practice.

Some findings from the emerging new consensus on the topic:

Animal sacrifice is a phenomenon of pastoral and agricultural societies. Hunters-gatherers don't practice animal sacrifice. (Think about it: how could they?) Of course, they do make offerings; hunters may set aside the god's portion from their kill. But in virtually all known examples, animal sacrifice comprises the offering and sharing of a domestic animal.

Animal sacrifice is not a “primitive” phenomenon. The old “evolutionary” paradigms for understanding the history of religions broke down long ago. Some religions sacrifice; some don't. The absence of animal sacrifice in contemporary Judaism and Christianity is due to specific developments in the history of these particular religions, which cannot properly be generalized to other religions.

There is no single reason for, or meaning of, animal sacrifice. Animal sacrifice is polysemous: it means different things to different people. It may mean something different to every single person attending any given sacrifice. Previous theorists attempting to extract a single origin, purpose, or meaning for animal sacrifice were mistaken. While it makes sense to compare sacrificial practice across cultures, there are no universals when it comes to meaning.

Last modified on

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Great-Rite-a-Thon

A beloved and well-respected community elder fell gravely ill.

Word went around that at such-and-so a time on such-and-so a day, people were to enact the Great Rite on his behalf.

And so it was.

Uncle Wolf died peacefully not long thereafter, knowing that dozens of people had been making love because of him.

Last modified on

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Anathema!

If you're of an ecumenical frame of mind, you may want to stop in at your local Eastern Orthodox church next Orthodoxy Sunday, the first Sunday in Lent.

That's the day every year on which the Church holds a ritual to publicly curse its enemies.

I kid you not. One by one, they name those that disagree with them, living or dead—heretics, they call them—and proclaim: Anathema! Anathema! Anathema!

Jeez. And people think witches are spiteful.

Of course, some churches take this ritual more seriously than others. Some American Orthodox don't even do the anathematizing any more.

But some of the whackier, out-on-the-end-of-the-branch Orthodox churches—and if you think pagans can be weird, believe me, we are mere pikers by comparison*—take it very seriously indeed, and carefully update the list of curses every year.

Even so, I almost swallowed my gum when I saw this one:

Last modified on
Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Gus diZerega
    Gus diZerega says #
    I love your take on its significance!
  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Mr. Posch, Thanks for sharing! It makes me smile that our old friends haven't forgotten us. Perhaps they're sad that the death ca

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Sabbat Incense: Beltane

Beltane is right around the corner, so this is a great time to make some incense for your Beltane celebration.  Here’s a fun recipe that’s easy to roll and could be the perfect companion to your Beltane rites.  While Beltane is strongly associated with fertility, remember that fertility is about more than sexual reproduction.  It is also about bringing new ideas and plans to fruition.  It’s about moving from planning something to bringing that project to life.

Last modified on

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Two Points in Search of a Line

At the crucial moment of our Spring Equinox ritual this year, I screwed up the chant.

Today, April 14, we're having a blizzard.

Now, do I honestly believe that there's any causal connection between those two facts?

No, of course not. Of course I don't. There is no connection whatsoever between a botched ritual nearly a month ago and today's weather.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Funny thing about pagan ritual: though it may not have any direct effect on the world around us, it does change our sense of conne
  • Carl Neal
    Carl Neal says #
    Hmmm... That being the case, perhaps you need West Coast representation to help provide these "protection" services. We should ch
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Gotta love that pagan entrepreneurial spirit. We'll talk. I'm coming to think that one of the big differences between pagans and
  • Carl Neal
    Carl Neal says #
    I'm sure the chant had nothing to do with the, what, 4 massive winter storms so far this Spring? Although I'm confident you had n
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    Your mind is telling you that it can't possibly be your fault, not on your own at least. Your heart and stomach on the other hand

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Hurray Hurray

 Hurray, hurray, the First of May:

outdoor f**king begins today.

 

Imagine: you live, in what is essentially a one-room house, along with your spouse, your kids, your parents, grandma, and an unmarried sibling or two.

Maybe even the cow.

All winter long you've been stuck in there with them all.

The whole smokey, stinky, crowded winter, with nary a moment of privacy.

Finally, after all those months, it's—almost—warm enough to slip off to the woods for some long-awaited quality time and a little surreptitious love-making.

Last modified on

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Dancing Away the Snow

At an elevation of 3,743 feet, the Brocken is the highest peak of the Harz range, Northern Germany's highest mountains. At such an altitude, winter lingers long.

That's why the witches go there for Walpurgisnacht.

We go there, they say, "to dance away the snow."

An ocean and a continent away, here in the American Midwest we're in a similar situation. The maples are blooming and the redbirds are singing for all they're worth, but yet another winter storm is bearing down on us, and we could well be seeing another 8 to 12 inches of snow this weekend. The Winter that Won't Let Go has still got us in its icy grip.

You can see why here in the North, the outstanding religious obligation of Beltane is to dance barefoot on the ground. Someone's got to melt all that snow.

Every year around now we sing the Minnesota May Song.

Last modified on

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