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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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Ancestral hearths- A wisewomans Cornish Retreat.


This winter has been a season of wind and rain, and I've been lucky enough to spend some well needed time really seizing this opportunity to look within, to seek vision in the deep silence of the fireside at night, and take some time out to go on retreat on the wild Cornish coast, a place of pixies, ancient tin mines that stretch for miles filled with the ghosts of times past, and tales of pirates and shipwrecks.

Cornwall is an ancient land, where Celtic villages like Carn Euny and Chysauster can still be found. Their stones walls breaking through the hummocks of turf, it's possible to stand by their hearths and look out to sea, as they did long ago. Traders with the Romans, Greeks  and those who came before, these were a proud and clever people. They mined their land for tin,  copper and even gold and lead, and were skilled metal workers with trading links all across Europe. Sitting sheltered from the harsh February winds against their strong walls there is a still and steady presence, as if the passage of time can be cast away and it is possible to sense their lives all around.

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Twelve Healing Stars is a yearlong project in cooperation with the Temple of Witchcraft that explores social justice through the lessons of the 12 Zodiac Signs. This is part six. Basic social psychology suggests that religion can be a very dangerous thing. Open any introductory textbook to the chapter on social psych, and you’ll be hit with a flurry of concepts that build upon each other to show us how tribal, exclusionary, and potentially violent religion – any religion – can become.

  • The Out Group Homogeneity Effect tells of our tendency to see all people that are not part of our group as “all the same.”
  • In Group Bias is our ability to tolerate differences within our own groups, even as we don’t see them in other groups.
  • The Fundamental Attribution Error leads us to blame another person’s character for mistakes they make and any behavior they do while ignoring the situational variables that could have caused the mistake or behavior.
  • Group Polarization is our tendency, once within a group, to gravitate toward extreme thinking. Our opinions may be moderate on a topic, but as we hang out with people with more extreme opinions, we move in that direction.
  • Groupthink tells us that when we have a charismatic leader and a lack of dissenting opinions in a group, we make very poor choices.

Add these together, and any time a group gets together they risk extreme thinking and tribalism. We see that play out in everything from sports team rivalries to international politics. We tend to naturally separate ourselves from others. And one of the places we see it way too often in is religion. Ethnobiologist E.O. Wilson is working on a trilogy to explore the human condition and its intersections with spiritual practice. He says that a major problem with religion is this tribal mentality. “Religion,” he says “features supernatural elements that other tribes – other faiths - cannot accept.” The problem with that is that, “Every tribe, no matter how generous, benign, loving, and charitable, nonetheless looks down on all other tribes.” Mix that with social psychology and you are creating a pretty toxic brew for humanity’s survival. There is a way out of this. Another concept from social psychology, a deceptively simple one, can be our key. It’s called the Mere Exposure Effect. We’ve all experienced it. When a person begins with a negative attitude toward a person or group, spending time around that group – merely being exposed to it – can improve their attitude. It’s one of the reasons that coming out of our closets, be they broom closets or any other kind of closet, is so important. When we know good people who belong to a misunderstood group, our perceptions of that group improve.  Instead of separation, we need to come together. We need the Piscean message of merging together, yet we can’t lose what makes us all unique. This is a large part of the mission for Alix Wright, the Pisces Lead Minister for the Temple of Witchcraft. Paganism of any brand, but especially Witchcraft, runs a great risk of being misunderstood and maligned. Wright says that, “The air of mystery surrounding the various pagan faiths could feed the fear of those who don’t truly know what we do.” She adds that, “Anytime you keep things closed off and secretive, those not in ‘the know’ have the opportunity to put their own spin on things and can demonize what the only have minimal, or no, understanding of.”

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Pantheacon: A Gathering of Kindred

I just came back early last week from one of my favorite places on earth. No, not Disney (which I'd never survive), but rather Pantheacon, the huge Pagan convention held every year in mid-February in San Jose, California. Since I live in upstate NY, all the way across the country, I don't make it to PCon as often as I'd like to, but I went in 2008, then 2011, and this year in 2015. And as always, I had a blast, met up with lots of fabulous people (including my beloved Llewellyn editor Elysia Gallo, publicist Kat, and photo-bombing publisher Bill, seen in the picture above), and got really really tired.

I'm almost recovered enough now to talk about it. Although returning to the snow and bitter cold after the lovely weather in CA hasn't made it any easier to bounce back. Sigh.

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13 Reasons Why You Should Attend the Canadian National Pagan Conference

So I had this article all ready to go: then I found out that I was going to be one of the keynote speakers!  (Awkward . . .)  But none of these points are invalidated by the fact that I'm going to be there . . . except . . .. holy cow I'm going to be there!  I'm so excited!  (Happy dance!)  Gaia Gathering: the Canadian National Pagan Conference is happening in Edmonton on the weekend of May 15th to 18th so it's relatively close to me and so long before the invitation, there was no way I was going to miss it. I think everyone should do it at least once; and I know that once you have, you'll want to do it again.  Here's why:

13 Reasons Why You Should Attend the Canadian National Pagan Conference:

Kerr Cuhulain

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

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Dr. Lori Arviso Alvord, M.D., Assistant Professor of Surgery and Psychiatry and Associate Dean of Students and Multicultural Affairs at Dartmouth Medical School

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Joy is Sacred

Joy is sacred, He said, and I didn’t understand. Isn’t all of this serious stuff? Shouldn’t I be in awe and terror of You?

Do you respect Me? Do you take Me seriously when I need you do that?

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

We sat in a small circle on a slab of rock, looking down into the dramatic valley and across to the sunset. There was a cold wind but the view and the place were worth it. Usually we begin by checking in, listening as one by one we speak, telling of what’s happening in our lives or strong for us at the moment. After it was suggested we start the check in we fell silent, waiting for someone to speak. 

We fell silent but the world around us wasn’t silent. I heard birds chittering and calling out as they gathered in bushes, getting ready for the night. We heard insects, buzzing and humming. The winds in the valley swept up the sides of the cliff and we heard them as a whole soundscape. The longer we stayed quiet, the more and more we heard. It stretched out. Still no-one spoke and still we heard more and more. There were a dozen or more different birds calling and singing, choruses of them; themes that continued with commentaries that circled round and returned, notes that were sustained and sounds that interrupted, before fading back to be part of the whole.

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  • Susan B. Chandler
    Susan B. Chandler says #
    There are many times, especially when I am hiking alone in the forest, that the place will, upon rounding a bend in the trail, cal

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