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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
The Milk of Human (and Divine) Kindness

We hear a lot about libations in various Pagan traditions. A libation is simply an offering of a liquid, poured out in either a casual or formal ritual setting. A casual example would be the nights my friends and family gather around the fire out in our orchard to celebrate the seasons. Once the fire is lit, I pour out the first bit of my drink (usually homemade mead) in thanks to the spirits of the land, my ancestors and the divine in general. A more formal example might be the pouring out of wine onto the ground or into a bowl during a Wiccan Sabbat ceremony as an offering to the Lord and Lady.

The word ‘libation’ often conjures up the image of an alcoholic beverage being offered – wine, mead, even beer in some contexts. But any liquid can be used for libations. I offer water to the land spirits where I live every morning. It is, after all, the liquid that is the base of life on Earth. We can be pretty sure the ancient Minoans offered wine and perhaps beer as well, in keeping with the spiritual and cultural traditions of the ancient world. But I think they also offered milk. Yes, you read that right. Milk.

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The Only Worthwhile Mythology is a Literal Mythology

Back east last weekend for the non-pagan holidays with family, I was met with a dilemma. As the family writer, I'd been asked to speak at the Easter table. Me, the pagan.

Religiously, we're all over the board (= table—e.g. "bed and board"—from the time when they set up trestles and boards for meals; the boardroom, of course, is the room with the table). The Passover seder at my cousin's had been the night before. In this, we're no more than a microcosm of the American demographic. In a generation or two, there will probably be Muslim family members at the table too. Good old America. The separation of covenstead and state is one of the best ideas anyone's had in the last 500 years. Secular governance has probably done more than any other factor to break down old ethnic and religious tensions, and I say: Gods bless it.

I decided that in this instance discretion constituted the better part of valor, so I read aloud John Updike's Seven Stanzas at Easter  (you can read it here). Although it ends weakly, the poem addresses, from within its own Christian context, the same larger issues of science, religion, and language with which every living tradition must wrestle in our day. Updike's conclusion: The only mythology worth having is a literal mythology.

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Seasons & Reasons

 

We live in private worlds mostly of our own creation, and though you may take that metaphorically or metaphysically, in this case I mean the physical conditions around us. I would wager that most of you that are reading this blog live in homes where you have the power of day and night by clicking the lights on or off. You, or someone associated with your home, probably controls the seasons of your home through heating and/or air-conditioning. Water comes to you through a faucet, and the roof keeps the storms at bay. If you so choose, and you have the coin to pay with, the fruits and vegetables of almost any climate and season can be brought to your plate. Unless you are in dire straits or have chosen an ascetic life, these domestic powers are generally taken for granted. Not that long ago in the grand scheme of things, they would have been seen as marvels to be only found in Fairyland or in a wizard’s keep. All magick has a cost, even the very tame magic that is brought about by wires, plumbing, and pistons. Although it is true that our creature comforts have economic, political, and ecological costs, it is one of the costs to our psyche that this blog will explore.

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      "A goddess!" I exclaimed, as I approached a large rounded feminine figure in the National Museum of Ethiopia.

      "No!" A man's voice echoed throughout the room.

   When he noticed people's glances upon him, the museum guide lowered his voice: "That piece is a very, very old", he said hesitantly.  "It is pagan.  She comes from the Oromo people, the largest ethnic group here in Ethiopia."

   I could not peel my eyes off the figure.  The unexpected discovery piqued my interest.

  "Does she have a name?" I asked hopefully.

   Instead of answering my question, the guide told me about Ethiopia's most famous woman:

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

There are countless books which will tell you the right way to do your initiation.  I’ve read a number of them, both for covens and for solitary.  None of them spoke to me. 

Normally I’m a simple, as little fuss as possible, type of person.  Once I felt I was ready to declare my beliefs, I decided to do a ritual – full out, go for broke ritual.  I had it typed up, planned out, everything was going to go PERFECT. 

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Eileen Troemel
    Eileen Troemel says #
    Thank you... it was a great experience
  • David LeBarron
    David LeBarron says #
    How lovely for you!

My Coven was tired.

We had been busy--for years, actually. Between leading public rituals and attending festivals, there was a mess of parties thrown by other Coveners. Several members were performers of different kinds and had shows. A couple of people started teaching locally. Then there was our standard working group time. Like "good" Coveners, we traveled to the festivals together, attended the parties, formed cheering sections at the shows and dutifully attended the classes our members led. We somehow still found the time to offer rituals and work as a group, but not a lot. I felt badly offering Coven homework when we were already such a busy group.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Philipp Kessler
    Philipp Kessler says #
    Two things. First, I just received a copy of your book from the publisher. Looking forward to reading it. Second, an earlier art
  • Courtney Weber
    Courtney Weber says #
    Hi Phillipp! The earlier article you mentioned was not written by me, but by Hilary Parry. Thanks for stopping by!
  • Philipp Kessler
    Philipp Kessler says #
    Ah, my apologies. I had misremembered who wrote it. I do hope that you get a chance to read what I write anyway. And looking forw

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Mystical Cats Tarot
There’s a handful (or two) of feline Tarots on the market, but by far the best of them is the Mystical Cats Tarot by Lunaea Weatherstone and Mickie Mueller.
 
Rather than anthropomorphisizing cats or merely posing them in Rider-Waite-Smith scenarios and stances, the creators took on the challenging task of portraying them in alignment with their varied natures: curious, mischievous, playful, mesmerized, predatory and—of course—lounging. 
 
Some of the 22 Major Arcana have been renamed (I’ll list them later) and the 16 Court Cards become Kitten (Page), Tom (Knight), Queen and King. The 40 Minor Arcana cards are divided into clans: Fire (Wands), Sea (Cups), Sky (Swords) and Earth (Pentacles). Weatherstone says of the four clans:
 
“Although every cat is unique, they have common affinities and traits that are determined by their clans, both by heritage and by clan culture. It would be difficult for an independent Sky Cat to feel at home among collective-minded Earth Cats, or for a dreamy and psychic Sea Cat to understand the restless urge for adventure that motivates a Fire Cat. Your own cats also belong to one of the clans, though they may not choose to reveal it to you. By observation and deepening your knowledge of clan characteristics, you may come to know them better—and know yourself better as well.”
 
Mystic Cats 19As with all her Tarot deck companion books, Weatherstone’s prose proves spiritually insightful and psychologically relevant, not to mention an enormously enjoyable read. For every card, she shares a general overview as well as sage “cat’s advice” for both upright and reversed images.
 
Mueller’s watercolor renderings are adorable, perfectly capturing cat antics both expected and impenetrable. What I love most about her art for the Mystical Cats Tarot, though, is her conscious act of adding herbal infusions to watercolors as part of her artistic process. Catnip made it into the paint for every image, while various card-specific herbs were included based on significance and symbolism. For example, the artist incorporated ginkgo leaf and olive into the Stars card (ginkgo is noted for its memory-enhancing qualities).
 
Thirteen artist sketches with collaborative notes between Weatherstone and Mueller serves as a nice touch to the 201-page companion book, giving us a behind-the-scenes peek into the often demanding work of deck creation. (Weatherstone’s notes to Mueller about raising up a cat’s head with the flehmen response so it doesn’t look like a Mystical Cat hairball is too funny!)
 
Cards measure approximately 4 ½ x 2 ¾ inches with a flexible, satin finish card stock that shuffles like a dream, while the attractive mirror-image cat’s paw motif on back is ideal for reading reversals. 
 
There are four spreads included in the companion book, and I’ve tried the 3-card Shield of Sekhmet layout with great success. I look forward tot trying the Nine Lives Spread sometime this year (on a momentous occasion). 
 
I’ve used the Mystical Cats Tarot several times within the last few months, and find it extraordinarily accurate—and a delight to use. Whether this is because of Weatherstone and Mueller’s talent or from owning (and loving) cats I can’t be sure. But if you DO adore cats, this is THE Tarot to own, in my opinion. 
 
Here’s a rundown of the (mostly) re-titled Major Arcana cards:
 
Mystic Cats 20The Cat (Fool)
Cat Magic (Magician)
The Priestess (High Priestess)
The Empress
The Emperor
The Priest (Hierophant)
The Lovers
The Chariot
Strength
The Hermit
The Wheel (Wheel of Fortune)
Consequences (Justice)
The Floating Cat (Hanged Man)
Death
Grace (Temperance)
Demon Cat (Devil)
The Tower
Stars (The Stars)
Moon
Sun
Good Kitty (Judgment)
The World
 
To see 18 additional images from this deck, click here.
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