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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Why Can't We Be Friends? The role of friendship in a coven

What is the role of friendship in a coven? What is a coven’s purpose? Must you be friends with the members of your coven for it to function properly?

A few months ago, we released a member of our coven and resolidified/unified our coven in preparation for the coming year, and to reassert our group mind without gaps or division in it. Things were brought up (things always are) when a member chooses to leave a magickal group, and this was no different. In it, it was said that this person was looking for friendship instead of a coven... that they didn’t want a coven in the first place. Which begs the question: is friendship/fellowship a requirement for coven life? MUST you be friends with your covenmates? Is this the role that the coven is supposed to take on?

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PaganNewsBeagle Faithful Friday Dec 19

Today's Faithful Friday post concentrates on stories of the upcoming Winter Solstice (with one celebrating the corresponding Summer Solstice in the Southern Hemisphere). Stonehenge for Solstice?; Manchester (UK) streets salute the winter sun; Solstice at Native American site Cahokia Mounds; Solstice parade in NYC; Christmas in New Zealand.

Want to go to Stonehenge to celebrate Winter Solstice? English Heritage has the official scoop on what, when, and where. (The "why" you'll need to come up with yourself.)

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Our Lady of Blue Glass

A few winters ago, I was lucky enough to spend the end of December in Europe, and one of the most beautiful, sacred sites of my trip was the Chartres Cathedral in France, outside of Paris. I’d long been fascinated with this spot, since it turns up again and again in Grail lore and stories of the Magdalene heresy, but what I  didn’t know before making this pilgrimage was that the cathedral stands over a holy well, and before the current stone structure was built, the site was possible a Druidic grove or Celtic holy site.  Wherever the magic comes from that infuses Chartres, it’s tangible, and the visit lingers with me as one of profound peace and personal exploration.

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Solstice Comes But Once A Year, Now It’s Here! by Carol P. Christ

Actually it comes twice, once in midsummer, the longest day of the year, and once in midwinter, the longest night.  Winter Solstice is also known as the first day of winter.

For those of us attuned to the cycles of Mother Earth, Winter Solstice is a time to celebrate the dark and the transformations that come in the dark. Many of the customs associated with Christmas and Hannukah, including candles, Yule logs, and trees decorated with lights were originally associated with Winter Solstice.  The extra pounds put on during winter feasting were insulation against the cold winter nights.

Those who fear that many of the customs of the Christmas season might be pagan are right.  As we learn again to honor our place within the cycles of birth, death, and regeneration, we return these customs to their roots in the circle of life.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Longest Night

I have always loved the colour of the night sky in winter.  It almost never seems entirely black; instead, it blue with refracted gloaming, even at the dark of the moon, even at midnight.  And yet, the stars are never so clear as they are in the midst of winter, as Orion charges out from the horizon to chase Taurus with Canis Major barking at his heels.  The jewel in the Great Dog’s collar, Sirius, sparkles like a radiant prism diamond as it cycles through white, red, green and blue (though of course this is only atmospheric refraction) just over the Southern Horizon; Castor and Pollux wink out of the sky’s zenity; and the Pleiades sparkle like a celestial diamond ring.  Meanwhile, in the Northern Horizon the Dragon rears his head, and the Big and Little Bears point the way.

It’s dark for a long time here above the 49th Parallel at this time of year.  The sun sets at around 3:30 pm and it doesn’t rise again until almost 8:30 in the morning.  That’s seventeen hours worth of night.  I find it challenging to deal with.  But it gives you a long time to contemplate the stars and the celestial mysteries.  Maybe that long night is part of the reason why the stars are so clear; there’s so much less sunlight leaking into the sky by the time one considers the stars in winter.  Or maybe it’s because high-pressure fronts coming down from the Arctic Circle chase the clouds away and the sky opens up to reveal the vastness of the celestial firmament.

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  • Martin
    Martin says #
    I often find the winter months trying, so I enjoy reading works like this. Thank you for taking the the time to brighten my dark
How Openness to Experience brings you to Presence

One of the values I ascribe to in my magical practice is keeping an open mind. A recent conversation with an acquaintance got me to thinking about what keeping an open mind means to me, and I consequently decided to revise that value to one which I feel is more accurate to who I am and how I approach life. I keep myself open to experience. There is a distinct difference to keeping an open mind and keeping yourself open to experience. Keeping yourself open to experience is a recognition that genuine openness isn't something you can keep in the realm of the conceptual. An open mind might conceptually consider an idea, but not engage it in a fundamental manner that actually enables real experience to occur. Keeping yourself open to experience, on the other hand, moves away from concept. The experience is important because it requires a level of engagement that goes beyond just thinking about something.

In Awakening the Sacred Body and Embryonic Breathing, both authors discuss the importance of maintaining a state of openness to experience. Both books are about meditation and experiences of altered awareness and what both authors recognize is that a conceptual treatment of the topic won't provide the necessary understanding and development of skills that the reader ideally wants. The only way the reader can learn about these topics is to open him/herself to the actual experience of doing the work. Even more important, for the person to get real value out of the work s/he must as best as possible avoid preconceptions that may shape the experience in ways that are less than helpful. Being open to experience means truly being open to the actual experience, allowing yourself to be present without analyzing or categorizing it. That can be hard for anyone to do, because so much of what we're taught is to categorize and label our experiences.

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Midwest Nativity

Emma Wilkinson, 12 years old, awoke that night aware that someone she did not know stood over her bed.

In the heartbeat moment before she opened her eyes, she found that she knew several other things as well.

That her family, including her sister in bed next to her, all slept quite peacefully.

That she herself felt no fear.

She opened her eyes. The banked fire had burned down to coals, but Emma could see the girl quite plainly. She wore white buckskins and a buffalo robe; her face was strange, but the eyes Emma knew.

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