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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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

Today my favourite picnic table is available. Then I ask, what does that mean, since I come here only for a few days, every couple of years?

My commitment to Local Magic came not after years of living in one place, although I felt committed to that place. My actual commitment was after I had moved, feeling uncertain and disconnected and – to an extent – unwilling to fall in love with the new land I was living on. I spent a year in that in-between state – living somewhere I hadn’t formed a deep magical bond with – before realising that days and months of my life were passing in disconnection and that not committing because I didn’t know the future was absurd. Sure, I might move and feel that my heart was wrenched out of me. Sure, this would be yet another place I loved and might be parted from, and so be it. This is the way of it; in place, in relationship, probably in all endeavours.

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Reaping and Sowing

It's good to know when all your training comes into play. The years of hard work you have put in. All the practice that I have done in Zen Buddhism, Druidry and other aspects of Western Paganism has greatly helped me during a very difficult week.

Breathing. It's amazing how much just focusing on the breath can calm the mind and the body. For the mind and body are one. What affects one, affects the other. Five focused breaths, in and out, feeling the air move through your nose, down your throat and into your lungs, expanding, and then back out in reverse. Concentration on this small action. The heartbeat slows, the mind has a pause to reset. And perspective floods in.

The cycles of life and death are one. It is ouroboros, the snake eating its tail, no beginning, no ending, only being. There is only energy, in different forms and degrees of manifestation.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Suzanne Tidewater
    Suzanne Tidewater says #
    I appreciate what you've written. Bringing my mind back to my breath has been a powerful meditative practice!
  • Tasha Halpert
    Tasha Halpert says #
    Lovely piece of writing and so very true. Thanks for sharing.

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Minoan Cooking: A taste of the ancient world

One way we can connect with ancient cultures is by exploring their daily lives: how they cooked, dressed, worked, played, and so on. These are things we all do, things we in the modern world can relate to and that can help make ancient people more real to us. And this, in turn, can help us connect with their spirituality.

So how about the Minoans? Let's explore their food a little bit so we can get a taste (ahem) of what their life was like.

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Searching for Owls

One of the things I love about this time of year, is that the evenings are often warm enough to be out and about at twilight, but it gets dark early enough that I can be out at night without overtiring myself. I’m not good at late nights, and around midsummer I often end up in bed before its properly dark. As someone who loves night creatures, this can be a less than perfectly happy state of affairs.

But now, early autumn is upon us, the dark comes earlier and I can be out in it. I go out to listen to the owls – we get little owls, barn owls and tawny owls around my home. They often start calling before the sun has set. Pipistrelle and noctule bats both come out a little bit before the sun sets, too. Most bat species need it to be properly dark, so the odds of seeing them are slim.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Keeping It Together

It’s been a rough summer; honestly, it’s been a rough year.  Like many people, I suffer from depression.  My emotional and energetic state often reflects that of the people and world around me.  In the best of times it can be difficult for me think positively and move forward creatively.  In times like these it’s pretty much all I can do just to keep up the illusion of being a fully functional adult.  Thankfully, as a magickal person I have a whole host of spirits and allies to help me keep it together.

My personal practice is a unique amalgam of traditional and pop culture practices and when it comes to dealing with my depression it's pretty much all hands on deck.  I know there are a lot of people out there with strong reservations about mixing practices.  While I can understand seeing mixed practices and pantheons as potentially problematic, I believe it’s all a matter of execution.  In my view  a sincere practice done respectfully and with the full consent of all participating parties is pretty much always acceptable.  It’s not uncommon for me to call on Santa Muerte, Baron Samedi, and Tony Stark in the course of an evening.  Yes, I will call on a Mexican folk saint, a Loa, and an Avenger at the same time, but I do not do so lightly.  I have strong, long-standing working relationships with these metaphysical beings; we know each other very well.  I’ve worked with all of them on their own and have discussed and gotten permission from them to call on them in inter-pantheon situations.  The relationships that I have with my allies forge a connection between them, as they all care about me, and make mixing pantheons and practices a lot less incongruous than it would be otherwise.  It’s like asking your sibling, best friend, and favorite co-worker to help you move; they may not really know each other but because of their close relationship with you they can probably get along well enough to help you out.  I wouldn’t want to call on spirits I hadn’t worked with before in a mixed practice setting.  This is more like putting up a craigslist ad for help moving and expecting everyone that happens to show up to get along.  Not a great idea.  When needs are sincere and explicit permission from the beings involved has been acquired, then call on whatever and whomever will best aid the situation.

Depression is a gnarly and ever-changing beast that manifests differently for everyone.  For me, depression can morph its form at any time, requiring different energies moment to moment just to make it through the day.  The different entities that I work with on a regular basis all have different qualities that can help me in different ways.  This is why I will shamelessly mix practices and pantheons as needed.  Tony Stark is my go to ally when I’m depressed because his depression and emotional difficulties manifest similarly to mine.  He’s a character that tends to take the world on his shoulders and get beaten down by the big picture while putting up the facade of thriving.  That’s pretty much what my depression looks like.  I often call on him to help me feel less isolated and to feel understood.  I also have a big plushie Iron Man that functions as part talisman, part comfort object - a little juvenile sure, but it helps.  I’ll also almost always call on Santa Muerte when I’m not feeling my best.  You may not know this, but Santa Muerte gives awesome hugs.  No matter what’s going on she’s always there for me with real acceptance and without any kind of judgment.  She’s my go to particularly when I need to forgive myself.  When I need permission to take care of myself rather than helping everyone around me I call on Baron Samedi.  Strangely, or not, death deities and spirits are spectacular at reminding you what it means to be alive and the value thereof.  The Baron is amazing at helping me to see the beauty and joy around me and to actually take the time to engage with it; to live life rather than merely getting by. 

The aid received from my various allies can manifest in many different ways.  Simple conversation is the most common form of aid I request while dealing with negative emotions.  Just because you’re calling on a magickal being for aid doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to get them to do magickal work.  Metaphysical beings have entirely different wells of wisdom and past experiences to draw from in giving advice as well as offering comfort or support.  Witnessing of sorrows and an energetic hug can be as powerful a catalyst for emotional healing as any spell or working.  That being said, I often call on my allies to help hold my shields when I’m emotionally compromised.  Depression is hell on your aura and can make you a lot more vulnerable to external negative energies as well as sapping the energies you’d normally have to respond to trouble.  I’ve called on Buffy Summers a time or two to watch my back when I didn’t have the energy to do it myself.  The other main magick I’ll ask for help with while depressed is divination.  Depression is a dirty, rotten liar.  Depression clouds judgment like nothing else I’ve ever experienced, making clear divination a must when having to make critical decisions under its influence.  I’ve called on everyone from Cerridwen to Yoda to guide important divinations to help mitigate the incredible pessimism and negativity that depression brings.  Everyone has different needs while dealing with negative emotions, but we must remember that our metaphysical allies care about us and are willing to help.

When times are tough the wise practitioner calls for help.  We spend years cultivating relationships with a diverse host of deities, spirits, and other metaphysical beings so that we can call on them when we need them.  We must remember that our own mental and emotional health is as valid a reason to call for help as any other.  Our allies care about us, want us to thrive, and are willing to help us to do so - particularly when we are unable to help ourselves.  Regardless of what entities you have relationships with, take the time to discuss how they would be willing to help you.  If you’re prone to depression consider cultivating a few relationships just for aid with it.  Then, when the time comes actually utilize those relationships and ask for help.  A practitioner is never truly alone, there is always something listening.  Ask for help from beloved allies and you will keep it together.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Review of Horn of the Kraken

Set in the Fate of the Norns universe originated by Andrew Valkauskas, Horn of the Kraken by Stephen B. Pearl is the first in a new series within that universe. This is a universe full of magic and fantastical beasts, where the Norns choose human champions. Based on historical conversion-era Europe, featuring some historical figures such as Eric Blood-Axe, Horn of the Kraken is also set during Fimbulwinter, the prelude to Ragnarok. Fimbulwinter is the breakdown in the cycle of the seasons in which the sun never rises again and winter lasts until the end of the world. The world’s central problem is the mass failure of agriculture, and the world’s politics centers on the impact that would have if it occurred during the Viking Age. The villains, who are Christians out to convert the heathen and control the world’s economy and political structures, are using a mysterious new superweapon, the Horn of the Kraken.

Into this come five chosen heroes. Fjorn is a nobleman and a fighter/bard. Politics stalks him because of his bloodlines. Sigurlina is a seidhkona, a type of heathen witch with powers of necromancy and healing. She serves Freya and is sworn to avenge her family against Christian ruler Hakon. Audun is a rune master who has a near-death experience at the hands of the Christian enemy that echoes the story of Odin’s runic initiation on the Tree. Ragna is a thief. She tags along to get out of town ahead of trouble. Vidurr is a werewolf who serves Surtr, the king of the fiery underworld who is prophesied to fight against the gods at Ragnarok and destroy the world. Vidurr’s sole desire in life is to avenge his family against the Christian “crusaders.” Although those who serve Odin and those who serve Surtr are theological enemies within heathenry, they join forces against the outside threat of the Christians. Pearl knows enough about heathenry to portray both the Odin’s man and the Surtr’s man as having no god-based conflict with the Freya’s woman.

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My complete argument criticizing 'cultural appropriation,' and offering a more interesting alternative, is now up.

For those of you interested in examining the complete argument criticizing the entire idea of 'cultural appropriation' and describing a far better, and much more interesting, alternative view, I have now posted it up on my web site.

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