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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
The Mysteries: The cycle of being

You've probably heard the story of Persephone's abduction to the Underworld by Hades and her mother Demeter's frantic search for her. But what if the original story was a little different from that? Instead of the young goddess being taken against her will and needing to be rescued, what if she descended to the Underworld of her own free will, to aid and guard the spirits of the dead during the fallow season when she wasn't needed in the World Above? And what if her mother didn't frantically search to find her, but simply went to where she already knew her daughter was, in order to let her know it was time to ascend from the Underworld?

The Persephone-and-Demeter story was enshrined in the Eleusinian Mysteries, which were so popular they survived from classical times several centuries into the Christian era. It's possible that the Eleusinian Mysteries began in the pre-Greek era, perhaps in Minoan Crete and/or mainland Greece among the people who lived there before the arrival of the Indo-European Mycenaeans (check out Karl Kerenyi's book Dionysos for some interesting theories along these lines).

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Pagan Paradox

You and I are both standing in the temple, gazing upon the face of the god.

You are really tuned in. For you, the god is entirely present. You're seeing the god himself.

Me, though, not so much. For me, I'm just seeing the statue: a masterwork, true, but still only a statue.

Two worshipers, standing side by side: for one, the god is present; for the other, not.

Call it the Pagan Paradox: in the same image, at the same time, the god is both present and not present simultaneously.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I'm reminded of a story I once heard about Orthodox Icons. Most of the time they are just painted wood, but sometimes there is th
  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Mr. Posch, It's my belief that a tiny bit of divine essence is refracted through the agalma (holy image). Failing to sense that g
The Defender at the Door: Wormwood Folklore and Household Uses

Several years ago, I bought a small wormwood plant at a local nursery. I loved its soft, silvery leaves, clean scent, and knew of its use in absinthe, so I had to have it. I potted it for a year or so, and it didn’t do very well (to be fair, I’m not great with potted plants). But I knew that we would be moving eventually, and I didn’t want to leave it behind when we did. Two and a half years ago, we made our move to the Blue Ridge mountains and I brought my sad little wormwood with me. Not long after I planted it in the ground -- a claiming act -- beside our front porch, it sprang back to life. It’s full and vital now, and its clean scent, feathery texture, silvery green color, and powerful magic have preserved its status as one of my favorites (my mints share that status).

 

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Odin's Third Eye

Sometimes insights come from lighthearted conversation rather than deep mystical trances in the woods. This is one of the challenges we face in these times of isolation: the challenge of just have conversations with other heathens or mystics or etc. Internet forums and plain old telephones come to our rescue. It isn't always enough, but this time it was.

I was talking on the phone to another heathen and mentioned the solar lights I added to my pool this year, claiming I have a light-up pool eyeball. Of course I was just joking when I said, "My pool is Mimir's Well and I swim in it every day, and at night I swim with the light-up eyeball. I don't think it's Odin's eye, though, it's the eye of a monster. The monster that lives in my pool."

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Irish Pagan Resources

One of the questions I am asked fairly regularly is what books I recommend for people interested in studying Irish Paganism, as there is so much confusion out there about what's good and what's not. Obviously different people will have their own suggestions here but I wanted to write a bit about how I judge sources and also offer a selection of good books (and a few websites) that I have found to be useful for people studying Irish Paganism. 

Basic Suggestions for Judging Sources

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Why Pagan Naturalism is Better Than Non-Pagan Naturalism

I caught the tail end of an interview with a non-pagan naturalist this morning. Much of what he had to say sounded, to my ear, very pagan.

(Note: The term “Nature” is profoundly conceptually problematic; I use it here for convenience only.)

  • Humanity comes out of “Nature.”
  • Because of this, humanity harbors a deep nostalgia for “Nature.”
  • Humanity's environmental destructiveness arises out of our disregard for—or unlove of—“Nature.”
  • Instilling a sense of love for “Nature” is the most effective way to undo humanity's current trajectory of eco-suicide.

In this Age of Covid, many non-religious people have been rediscovering what pagans have always known: the consolation of “Nature.” “Nature” heals.

The religions called “pagan” have always known this and, in their fullest realization—be it acknowledged that revival paganism in particular often falls far short of this mark—still do.

Unsurprisingly, I would contend that pagan naturalists have a number of advantages over non-religious naturalists. Of the top, I can think of three.

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Recent comment in this post - Show all comments
  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Mr. Posch, Hear, hear!

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Spinning Magic with a Spider

As a gardener I have made my peace with spiders but I could never bring myself to intentionally touch one. While the spider plays an important role in the ecosystem and is part of the army of “good bugs,” it does not engender warm, cuddly feelings, as does the butterfly. However, its ephemeral web is a source of endless fascination, beauty, and metaphor. I must admit I have been enchanted with the yellow and black orb-weaver spider in my garden, perhaps because it spins a spiral shaped web.

In various Native American tribes, Spider Woman or Spider Grandmother is regarded as a benevolent being who guides and provides. She is also considered a supreme creatrix. In Hindu myth, the spider symbolizes the goddess Maya. Representing a divine creative force, she is a goddess of illusion, wisdom, and intuition. Spinning the web of fate, she is associated with magic and witchcraft. Likewise in Europe, a number of goddesses are associated with the magical craft of spinning and weaving. Both the spider web and weaving symbolize magic because from seemingly nothing, something is brought into existence.

As for magic, don’t worry you don’t need to handle spiders in order to use them for magic or ritual. Symbolism, energy, intention, and visualization provide the means to call on their power and influence. We can visualize the energy we send out as a web of magic that weaves together our ideas and their manifested outcomes. We can call on the energy of the spider to fire up and support our creativity and to develop the skills we need to express it. The spider also helps us in creating or renewing connections and communicating with other people. It can help us recognize opportunities and have the patience to wait and work on desired goals. Known for its aggressiveness, the spider can teach us how and when to employ assertive power that is guided by wisdom.

 

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