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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Gabble Ratchet

As a young woman, I fell in love with the work of Mary Stewart and have read all of her books.  There is one that is set in Lebanon called The Gabriel Hounds and from it I learned the phrase "gabble ratchet" which is a folk corruption of "Gabriel's hounds." It means the sound of wild geese flying, a sound that is evocative of a pack of baying hounds. In folklore, the Gabriel hounds are sometimes the souls of unbaptized children crying in the night, or they may foretell a death or they're thought to be the hounds of Hel(l).

In my heart, though, that eerie sound--so full of longing and grief--always evokes the Ancestors, the Beloved Dead. My writing desk sets by a west-facing window and that window looks out over the French Broad River. The Canada geese use the old river as a flight path that sweeps them northward to a couple of good feeding grounds and a man-made lake. In the spring, we are rewarded with the site of families of the gabble ratchets with their fuzzy chicks, grazing on the chickweed near the old railroad tracks.

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Posted by on in Pagan News Beagle
PaganNewsBeagle October 13

Howdy and Good Monday, Beagle fans! Today we have an Airy Monday featuring stories for looking up (astronomy) and looking into the past (archaeology.) First, in space: check out the upcoming Solar Eclipse; photos from an astronaut orbiting Earth; the supercluster Laniakea. Next, in the past: discovery of a shrine to Brigitana in England; the tomb of the father of Alexander the Great; and the great Sex and Death mystery rituals of the past.

Spectators in Western North America will be in a great position to observe the upcoming partial Solar Eclipse, reports Sky and Telescope magazine.

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In previous posts, we explored the cosmology of the Celts and the concept of Sacred Reciprocity. In traditional cultures, it is understood that human beings live in relationship with many other beings - plants, animals, birds, fish, insects, and features of the natural landscape. In addition, what appears to the modern mindset as 'empty space' is in fact often filled with other beings more difficult to see or identify. This is the realm of the gods and spirits, who may inhabit cosmic realms like the sky, ocean and underworld, or whose domain may be part of the world they share with us.

In western materialist culture, acknowledging, perceiving or discussing this traditional perception of reality is grounds for being labeled delusional or even insane. However, as modern physics is beginning to understand (and catch up with ancient wisdom), there is a great deal going on in the 'empty spaces' around us. Indeed, in some scientific models, what we perceive in our world can only be explained scientifically and mathematically if there are a number of other planes of existence. I have to admit I often picture a group of indigenous shamans sitting around the fire and having a jolly laugh as they watch the struggles of scientists to finally figure out what they have known for millennia!

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Do You Speak Pagan?

Paganism is a language.

It is, for many of us, a language that we are still learning to speak. We may have been speaking this tongue for many years--decades, in some cases--but it is still, nonetheless, not our mother tongue.

This fact has implications. We may have mastered the grammar and have a large vocabulary. We may, over the years, have become fluent speakers of Pagan. But we are still not native speakers, and we never will be.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Egyptologist Jan Assmann says (in his Price of Monotheism) that (in effect) paganisms can be polytheist, monotheist, monist, or (f
  • Gregory Elliott
    Gregory Elliott says #
    Being primarily of an Indo-European slant, I feel compelled to listen to Hinduism to help me 'speak Pagan', but I will agree that
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Thorny the question may be, Gregory, but well worth the asking. There's certainly much about Hinduism (I'll use this as shorthand
  • Gregory Elliott
    Gregory Elliott says #
    I realize this could get into the thorny issue of defining 'Paganism', but as briefly as possible why do you not 'regard the Hindu
The Hero's Journey: Supernatural Aid

       This post is one of a series examining the individual steps in Joseph Campbell’s “hero’s journey” model.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

b2ap3_thumbnail_abydos-crop1small.jpgThe crafting of a life is an epic journey, the story of which has been told around the world for as long as we have memory. For the ancient Nile dwellers, survival was exquisitely poised on the banks of that great river, where the mysterious flood arose each year, bringing new fertility to all the land. This is the time of year when the flood used to peak.  But the Egyptians also carried the understanding of how this life is linked to the next one, the deep mysteries of life, death, rebirth and new, transformed life.

The story of those mysteries comes to us from numerous writings preserved in the royal tombs and temples: the Book of Going Forth By Day; the Book of Gates; the Book of Caverns, the Amduat, and several other afterlife texts. Each of them is a variation on the 12-hour journey of the sun through the netherworld, or Duat. Each hour requires passage through a gate, each hour is a stage of personal transformation for the soul. The journey culminates with the re-emergence of the sun - the transformed life - in the brilliant light of dawn. In ancient times, priests of the temple played the role of the gods in the story, as well as reciting and chanting praises and prayers.  We know many of these today through the so-called Book of the Dead.

Traces of the Egyptian mysteries were preserved in the books known as the Hermetica, and the process shows up again in the work of the medieval alchemists. Our ceremony tonight is based on the Book of the Night, found in the Osireion at the Temple of Sety in Abydos. The goddess Nut, with her lapis-blue star-spangled body, spans the ceiling of a transverse chapel of the Osireion. There we see the sun in its solar boat beginning the journey through her body.

The afterlife books are filled with layer upon layer of myth and meaning, hundreds and hundreds of years of allegory and symbolism. Sometimes the dying and reborn god is Ra, and sometimes Osiris; the goddess may appear as Hathor or as Sekhmet. Sometimes the goddess Maat is the divine woman wearing a feather on her head, and sometimes maat is the abstract principle of truth, justice, balance, right living. But the central figure is the soul of the dead, whom we will here call Ani, navigating through the dark in the solar boat. Whether a pharaoh or one of us, that soul begins the afterlife journey at the death of its physical body, is rebirthed in the Duat, and emerges as Horus, the powerful shining one who soars like a hawk across the daytime sky.

As we embark on another cycle through the dark time of the year, may your journey bring you to the eastern gates, transformed into an akh, a shining one.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

b2ap3_thumbnail_800px-Road-to-chester-swamp.png...After my post last week wherein I talked about my deep love of the Pacific Northwest and feeling like I've come home here and intending to spend the rest of my life here... life threw me a curveball.

For reasons I won't get into here, I am having to move back to New England, and am looking at doing so before the end of 2014 (not immediately, but in the not too distant future).  While this is not what I wanted, it also could be a lot worse, and I accept what is - there are also some serious pros to the situation, including being able to bring my cat with me, getting a chance to focus on my writing and art career, and I have a bigger support network on the east coast than I do out here.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Nornoriel, Welcome soon to New England! This place is in your blood and in your soul, like many of us. May the Gods and spirits s
  • Nornoriel Lokason
    Nornoriel Lokason says #
    Hi Jamie! Thank you for the welcome as well as the blessing and well wishes, I appreciate it. I've missed New England a lot. In

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