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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b2ap3_thumbnail_Detail_of_antlered_figure_on_the_Gundestrup_Cauldron.jpgWe are animals, just as the other creatures of the world, but we are the only animals that have the ability to consciously and willfully deny our positions in the pattern, the only ones (as far as we know!) who consider themselves above “all that”. We train our children, those most connected to the truth, to deny their animal selves, to be “proper” and “civilized”, when all the world is calling us, begging us, to remember that we too used to dance in the mud, call out in the night, swing through the trees singing the songs of the birds, that we knew for a certainty that elves and dragons and unicorns lived in the forests and mountains (they still do, you just need eyes to see them!). Shake off the shackles of civilization and dance wild like a maenad or a troop of baboons. Sing to the moon and the sun without care for who is listening.

(Nicanthiel Hrafnhild in my book Visions of Vanaheim)

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The elaborately carved entrance stone and roof lintel at Newgrange are powerful symbols of humankind's ability to mark, measure and sanctify time - such as the upcoming Winter Solstice. These evocative images, however, pre-date the Celts by thousands of years, and like the dolmens and stone circles which many associate with 'Celts' or 'druids,' these do not form part of Celtic native culture. There are some Celtic legends which have become attached to some of these sites, which were built by people many centuries before, with undoubtedly different intentions in mind!

However, there are some ancient stones which can 'speak' to us in this day and age about the beliefs and practices of the early Celtic peoples. These are not 'native' stones either in a sense, but they do contain interesting and somewhat 'coded' information about the ancient Celts. I'm referring to stone inscriptions created during the Romano-Celtic period in many parts of Europe, including the Continent and Britain.

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Winter Solstice - A ritual invocation or the coolest band name ever!

A long, long, long time before the word "Solstice" was ever uttered, eons before the ancients looked upward at that shining orb in the sky and said "goddess" or "god", billions of years before humankind realized that some times were warmer and lighter and other times were colder and darker, this planet danced.

For roughly four and a half billion years, give or take a million, the earth has rocked forward and backward. Axial Tilt is the official term for it. Axial Tilt would also make a great name for a band and should I ever decide to get the band back together again, I think Axial Tilt will be the front-runner for the name.

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Book Review: The Other Side of Virtue by Brendan Myers

Brendan Myers is a Canadian Pagan author who has done two very difficult things.  One is that he has broken out of the Canadian market; the other is that he has broken out of the Pagan market.  He's a professor of philosophy in Gatineau, Quebec and this, plus his background in Druidry and Humanistic Paganism have come together in his 2008 book The Other Side of Virtue: Where Our Virtues Come from, What They Really Mean, and Where They Might Be Taking Us.  I've had a signed copy of this book sitting on my "to read" shelf since I saw Brendan at the Western Gate Festival a couple of years ago, but only now finally got around to finding time to read it.  I'm sorry I waited.

This book could be a modern manifesto for humanistic Paganism; but its theories can also be applied to most modern Pagan practice.  And it could also be read and enjoyed by humanists and naturalists of any faith. It could possibly even be held up to Neil deGrasse Tyson and Stephen Hawking as an answer on the value of philosophy.  Philosophy is not dead, Myers argues.  It has merely changed form.  A hard-core rationalist might ask "What use does philosophy have in the modern scientific and rational world?"  The answer is "to teach us how to live a good life without faith to fall back on."  But that being said, it does not challenge the existence of faith; rather, it suggests that ethics and values are essential and positive driving forces that cross the boundaries of religion or spirituality, and are equally applicable to everyone.

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Activist Clergy: Protesting from the Sidelines

I wrote this piece to the discordant music of police helicopters circling above.  Monday night my friends and colleagues marched through the streets of Berkeley, CA, protesting the killing of unarmed black men in the United States.  While many of them went home after awhile, some stayed to shut down Interstate 80 for a time.  Those dozen or so folks were part of a group that were cordoned off, surrounded by the police.  While they awaited arrest, the chaplains and ministers I spend my days with here at the Pacific School of Religion led the two hundred or so activists in Christmas carols, pop songs, and hymns.  Our Professor of Worship served a communion of almonds and tea to anyone who wanted to partake.  The group sang to the police for hours and the peaceful presence of the religious leaders kept things calm on both sides. It is the kind of work that I think religious leaders are well suited for.  I was with them many hours before, offering energy-based activist training and my loving support as they prepared for this action.  I've shed many tears this last week, filled with anguish for the injustice I see happening in my country and frustrated with my body's inability to march in the streets.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    This brings back memories of my past protesting at Lawrence Livermore Lab when I, too, was a student at PSR. Though it's been deca
  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham says #
    Thank you for all the work you did readying the group and supporting in the long hours that followed.
  • Kai Koumatos
    Kai Koumatos says #
    THANK YOU, Lizann, for your gentle invitations and unwavering support. You are a gem.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Waiting

So the Mother comes to the birthing-stool. Painted with white clay patterns of birth, she waits.

Around her the animals gather in silent expectation. They say that at midnight on Midwinter's Eve, they will speak. They wait.

They say that at midnight on Midwinter's Eve, the trees will burst into blossom. They wait.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Molly
    Molly says #
    This is lovely!
  • Alana Erickson
    Alana Erickson says #
    Makes me want to get clay in my hands again and make some little figurines for yule time!

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

b2ap3_thumbnail_virgin-guadalupe-roses-vector-28130810.jpg

For the past hundred years in the early hours of December 12, traditional Aztec dancers, devout Mexicans, and Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples all over the Americas rise early to honor Tonantzin, the Holy Mother of Guadalupe. December 12 is her Feast Day. She is known as the Holy Mother of the Americas and combines sacred symbols of the Aztecs with the image of Mother Mary brought by the European settlers. Regardless of her conflicted and ambiguous history, it is without question that the Guadalupana is a revered and adored Divine Mother with reverential followers across many ethnic and national identities.

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