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The Old Antlered One

I am a product of the land I am from. If you were to cut me open you’d find that my bones are made from her compacted soil, my lungs carry her air and her rain and thunder still flow in my blood.

For as long as I can remember the land and I have engaged in deep conversation. Not a conversation of words, a conversation of sensation, the brush of a crow’s wing, the power of a threshold, the invitation to rest by a familiar tree trunk. All these things developed over the years deepening through visions alongside burying relatives into the same sacred soil.

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Mementos of Friends

I took the red and white baking dish out of the drawer under the oven and set it on the counter. An image of the person who had given it to me rose in my mind, and I sighed. We had been friends for many years. Now however she had joined the angels that she so often spoke of. Her faith was strong and she shared it on occasion though not intrusively. A colorful character, she was always fun to see and over the years she had given me other gifts I cherished.

As I reached to put on my earrings, I opened a small trinket box and fished around for a tiny plastic "ear nut." I keep a lot of them in it, ready to make sure I don't lose a precious earring. The pretty little box with a woman on the lid was another gift from a special friend and I think of her always when I open it to get one. There is a pair of cute stretchy pants in my drawer, a present from a friend who has moved away, so I don't see her any longer. I am happy to have this reminder of her and of our friendship.

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs

Someone on social media asked me what my favorite translations of [old/middle] Irish material where and I thought it would be good to answer the question here. 

 

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

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Title: A Spell for Trouble (An Enchanted Bay Mystery Book One)

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

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Anubis is the next divinity I've promised to write about, another divinity from the long ago atheists' graveyard.  However this divinity is closer to my heart than the many others I have written about.  As a devotee and messenger to Horus the elder, Anubis entered my practice in a sideways manner.  He pranked me and found my reaction hilarious.  I was pretty freaked out that the Egyptian funerary deity and guide to the dead was visiting me and even worse laughing at me.  He was the third Egyptian divinity to work his way into my life. Since then we've settled into a more comfortable "cousin" type relationship.

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  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I like the extended family view of the gods. I might be influenced by Gonzalez-Wippler's works on Santeria. My view might also b

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
A Real Old-Time Yule

 Augusto S. Cacopardo (2016) Pagan Christmas: Winter Feasts of the Kalasha of the Hindu Kush. Gingko Library.

 

If you've ever wondered what Yule used to look like back before it got Christmasized, I've got good news for you: it's not too late to find out.

Numbering about 3500, the Kalasha are the only remaining Indo-European-speaking people who have practiced their traditional religion continuously since antiquity. Living in three remote valleys in what is now northwestern Pakistan, they are famed for their wine-drinking, the beauty (and freedom) of their women, and their overtly polytheistic religion with its sacred dances, animal sacrifices, sacred groves, and (in the old way) sanctuaries both "roofed" (indoor) and "unroofed" (open-air).

Their most important holiday of the year is (surprise!) the Winter Solstice, known in Kalashagrom as Chaumós (chow-MOSS). This complex of festivities, with its feasts, bonfires, sacred songs and dances, sacrifices, and torchlit processions (any of that sound familiar?) lasts for nearly a month.

Heretofore, the only major resource on the rites of Chaumos available to English-speakers was Jean-Yves Loude and Viviane Lièvre's 1986 Kalash Solstice, a valuable study limited by poor translation from the original French, and by the fact that only about half of the book actually deals with Chaumos itself. In addition, the book was written after only two seasons of fieldwork, which—for a festival as profound and complex as Chaumos—can hardly even begin to plumb the depths.

So thank Goddess for Augusto S. Cacopardo's 2016 Pagan Christmas: Winter Feasts of the Kalasha of the Hindu Kush.

Cacopardo is an Italian anthropologist who has made a lifelong study of the peoples of the Hindu Kush, a cultural region which he rather charmingly calls Peristan, “Fairy Land.” (Belief in the mountain fairies characterizes all the local cultures of this region.) He has made a particular study of the Kalasha, and attended his first Chaumos many years ago as a young man. Since then, he's been back many times and, as a result, can offer us a treasury of lore which will, I promise you, enrich your Yule celebration in ways you never dreamed possible.

Pagans being pagans, even in a society of fewer than 4000 people, the Chaumos celebrations of the three different valleys that the Kalasha inhabit differ significantly from one another. Previous studies had focused on solstice celebrations of the Rumbúr and Bumbúret valleys, but Cacopardo focuses on Birír valley which, as he clearly demonstrates, preserves the old Chaumos traditions in their purest and most archaic forms.

Much will sound familiar here to the New Pagan reader: bonfires, torch-dances, decking with evergreens. (“The gods love the smell of juniper,” say the Kalasha. "When they smell it, they draw near.") The bean-feasts, the drumming and dancing, the sacred ball-games: Chaumos is, in many ways, very much like Yule as we know it.

Let one story suffice. One night, the last of the holiday, Cacopardo is privileged to witness—although not, as an outsider, to hear—the recitation of the ghach, the secret prayer known only to a few elders, which actualizes and directs the energies of the entire Chaumos celebration. Cacopardo notices that the old man reciting the ghach is holding a green branch in his hand as he does so.

“What's he holding?” he asks his informant.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
December 2019 Heathen and Asatru Holidays

Moveable feasts in this time period include Krampuslauf, which is the weekend closest to Dec. 15th before Yule (Urglaawe.) Midwinterhoorn Blazen in the province of Overijssel Beginning of Advent until the Sunday following Epiphany (Netherlands.) Although Luciadagen is fixed on Dec. 13 elsewhere, it is 1 week before winter solstice among the Swedish minority in Finland.

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Sinterklaas (Holland),
Sinterklaas Avond (Netherlands)

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Samichlaus Abend (Switzerland),
Neklosdag (Luxembourg)

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Day of Egill Skallagrimson (American Asatru, American Odinist)

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Luciadagen (Norway),
Lusinatta (Sweden) 

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Krampuslauf begins (Urglaawe)

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Krampuslauf ends (Urglaawe)

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Mother Night (alternate date) (American Asatru),
Ærre-Geól begins (Theod),
Julfest begins (German), Juleaften (Denmark)   

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Yule (American Asatru, Theod),
Beginning of 12 Days of Yule (American Asatru, England),
High Feast of Yule (American Asatru),
Yuul begins (Urglaawe),
Yol (Icelandic Asatru),
Juledag (Denmark),
Midvinterblot (Swedish Forn Sed)

22 Mōdraniht (American Asatru)

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Twelfth Night (American Asatru, England, Urglaawe),
Berchtaslaaf (Urglaawe),
Silvesterabend (Switzerland),
Nytarsaften (Denmark) 



Image: closeup of the word "jol" (Yule) spelled out in Elder Futhark runes in pie crust on an apple pie, pie made by Erin Lale, photo by Erin Lale.

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