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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Church Decides to Return Sacred Boulder to Lakota

In traditional Lakota lore, it is well-known that powerful spirit beings—what some contemporary pagans would call wights—reside in certain large stones.

One such sacred stone—called in Lakota Eyá Shau, “Red Rock”—is located in the town of Newport, about 10 miles south of the city of “St.” Paul, on the grounds of the Newport United Methodist Church.

And thereby hangs a tale.

Red Rock is a granite glacial erratic boulder measuring about 2 x 3 feet, weighing roughly a ton. In this sedimentary landscape of sandstone and limestone, its unusual composition marks it out as mysterious and powerful.

For centuries, traveling Lakota would stop at Red Rock, then located near the banks of the Mississippi, to make offerings and pray; the rock was named for the custom of ruddling the rock with red ocher.

In time-honored Christian tradition, Methodist missionary to the Lakota Benjamin Kavanaugh set up shop beside the Red Rock in 1839. (Religions come and go, but holy places tend to stay the same.) The town that grew up around this mission—later renamed Newport—was in fact originally called Red Rock. In later years, the church that Kavanaugh had founded changed location several times. Interestingly, with each subsequent relocation, they took Red Rock along with them.

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Minotaur: A book review of a Sir Arthur Evans biography

Sir Arthur Evans is the name most closely associated with the rediscovery of ancient Minoan civilization. Though local Cretan archaeologist Minos Kalokairinos discovered the site of Knossos and did some preliminary digging there, it's Evans who undertook a large-scale, systematic excavation of the largest of the Minoan cities with its enormous temple complex and who introduced the ancient Minoans into the modern world. Joseph Alexander MacGillivray is another archaeologist whose focus is on Minoan civilization, and he has written a fascinating biography of Evans, titled Minotaur: Sir Arthur Evans and the Archaeology of the Minoan Myth.

First, let me point out that this book is a biography of Evans, not a retelling of the Minotaur myth. I've seen a few reviews from people who weren't able to suss out that fact (seriously, did you read the back cover or the online description?) and were disappointed when they read the book. It helps to pay attention before buying a book so you know what you're getting. What you're getting, in this case, is an amazingly detailed biography of a fascinating, complex, contradictory man who made quite a place for himself in history.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Fairy Folks Are in Old Oaks

It's well-known in Iceland that elves make their homes in certain boulders.

Some years ago, a certain farmer near Reykjavik resolved to blow up a particular boulder in order to make room for a new henhouse. With this in mind, he went out and bought some dynamite.

From that day, his hens began to lay fewer and fewer eggs.

Every day there were fewer eggs, until finally there were none.

The farmer called in the vet. The vet examined the chickens. The chickens were in fine health; nothing was wrong with their feed. There was no organic reason why the hens should not be laying.

The farmer decided not to blow up the boulder after all. He gave the dynamite away.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Northern Mandate

Call it the Northern Mandate.

For some, Spring Cleaning is an annual rite.

But here in the Uttermost North, we have Fall Cleaning too.

During Summer, our attentions and efforts are outward-directed. We're out doing things. (Quickly, there's not much time.) Doors and windows are open. In-house work gets neglected.

But now it's Winter. Our attentions and efforts turn inward. Windows and doors are closed, and we're facing the prospect of being shut in with all this for the next six months.

It's only natural to do what you can to undo Summer's lapses: to make where you are as bearable as you possibly can.

Well, the White Ravens have flown. Yet again we give in to the age-old urge.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Gods speed the work.
  • Kile Martz
    Kile Martz says #
    Just such has gripped me. Moving furniture, dispatching dust bunnies, and moving broken things on to their next lives.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Foundation Offerings

The offering bears the prayer.

The ancestors thought long and hard about their foundation offerings.

In their choices, we see their intent, their wit and (like enough) their humor.

When the New Stone and Copper Age ancestors of Old Europe built a new house, they buried beneath its floor a little model of a house, lovingly rendered in ceramic detail.

No one needs to tell you what that means.

To the ancestors, it was obvious that when you built something important like a house or a temple, you first laid an offering in the ground to bear the embodied prayers of the builders.

We too have thought long and hard about what offerings to lay beneath the Bull Stone, when we raise it to mark the Marriage Point of Earth with Sky, of Land with People.

There will be three.

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The Magic of Childbirth: Rites of Protection

Violet Moore Higgins, "Three days agone - I found a tiny fair-haired infant"

This year has been a year of changes for me, some of which have yet to occur and others that have already occurred. The biggest, of course, was the birth of my second child in August. With her came the upset of routine, family dynamic, sleep, and all those other disorienting but completely natural shifts inherent in bringing a new life – a new spirit (or spirits, depending on your conception of the Self) – into this brilliant, dynamic world of the living. Of course, thanks to modern medicine, childbirth for me was a much less daunting experience than it was for my ancestors (and, sadly, for those today who live without access to adequate medical care).

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A Full Moon of Samhain Ritual to Remember

The candles were lit, the incense smoking, and the bells of the church ringing in the still night air. Friday night is the practice night for the village bell-ringers, and so our ritual was accentuated by their skilful tones. The moon was riding high in a hazy sky, and haloed with an ever-widening ring that spoke of the Otherworld.

We raised our boundary, which was to the whole of the property, and called to the realms of Land, Sea and Sky. We honoured the ancestors at the full moon of Samhain, as well as the spirits of place. We invited the Fair Folk who were in tune with our intention, as they have been a part of our rituals since we began. We sang to the four quarters, and then invoked the gods. We invited all who were harmony with us this Samhain night. This was our first time in invoking the god into our full moon ritual, but it felt right. How right, we were just about to discover.

We honoured the tides of Samhain, the winter months of darkness. We then performed our magical working at the fire, and gathering our clooties: ribbons of intention that we tie to the branches of the apple tree at the bottom of the garden every month. Walking back to the terrace where the bird bath, now a sacred basin of water reflecting the moonlight, served as our vessel as we drew down the moon into the water. The church bells rang in time to our working, and stopped just as we finished. The air was utterly still.

Suddenly, a loud bark sounded from the other side of the hedge, down the track a little ways. A fallow deer stag, wandering the moonlit night. We stopped and turned to the noise, and he barked again, this time a little closer. We looked to each other and smiled, feeling blessed by his presence. Then an enormous bark, just the other side of the cedar boundary, which made us all jump. He was right up against the hedge, near the little hole that the muntjac, fallow deer and badgers made.

And he was trying to come through.

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