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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Times of balance

The spring equinox is only a few weeks away. It is part of the modern festival wheel, not because there’s any real evidence for it being celebrated historically, but because it balances things up nicely. It being the time when days and nights are the same length, we tend to talk a lot about balance around these two festivals. However, every lunar month offers two rounds of balance between light and dark in the shape of the moon, so there are other times we might feel directed to consider balance, too.

Are equinoxes really a time of balance? I do not feel that point of day and night in equilibrium especially. What I do notice a lot at this time of year, is the racing change in day length. Around the equinoxes, we have the greatest pace on the balance between night and day changing. Every day right now is a little longer than the one before it, and I’m intensely conscious not of balance, but of a sudden feeling of hurtling towards summer.

I’m waking earlier as the first light comes a lot sooner, and I’m seeing shades of blue in the sky into the evening. My living patterns shift with the changing light. I have more energy in the light half of the year. My days are longer, and soon I will be able to go back to waking in the evenings – something I love to do but which just doesn’t work in the middle of winter. So on a personal level I’m not feeling balance, I’m feeling change, and that shifting from the hibernating part of the year when I don’t want to go out much, into the better weather and more light, when I have more energy and feel more inclined to be out and about.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Back-door benefits to divination

Some months ago I decided to set aside years to skepticism and conscious non-attunement in the interest of developing my divination skills.  As I mentioned to one of the other bloggers on this site, part of that practice is by using the Lymerian oracle daily, to get a sense of how an established system works, particularly one that was used by my Hellenic ancestors.  However, I'm a money guy, so I've also been trying out coin divination, with interesting results.

That journey began with the purchase of a copy of Raymond Buckland's Coin Divination.  It's available for as little as one cent on Amazon, and my initial impression was one of being had, since there's only about six pages of original information in the book, and even that was pulled from previously-published works by the author.  Nevertheless, the few pages which aren't a rehash of the I Ching or an awkward attempt to use coins as if they were a tarot deck have some intriguing possibilities, so I have been exploring them.  It's been a very slow process of discovering a system for myself, and it's long from over, but it is has had unexpected benefits.

Beginning in early November, and concluding today, I have flipped a single coin from a set I put together and asked one question:  "Will I have more cash in hand at the end of today?"  I use a total of seven coins (one was added later in the process, after the picture was taken) in rotation, and I have recorded the results of the coin flip and the answer to the question for each day.

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Sacred Tattooing : A Brief Introduction

Altering the body as a means of drawing close to our gods, signaling our membership in a religious community, or communicating our beliefs has a long history. Tattooing has a proud place in human religious practices. For thousands of years we have sunk pigments into  our skin in a painful, transformative process. While those of us in the West may often think of tattoos as some combination of art or fad, there have always been those who practice tattooing as part of their spirituality. And among these people, we see a rich history of women tattoo artists and Goddess imagery. 

A recent issue of Archaeology delighted me with an overview of some ancient tattoo practices, including the role that women played in various cultures. I would like to introduce you to some of these ancient tattooers and their work over the course of the next few posts that I make. This will build up to the eventual discussion of spiritually significant tattooing in women's lives today. At some point, I will share with you the experience I went through adding an ancient tattoo image to my own collection of tattoos.

To get started, let's look at a quick assortment of ancient tattoo images.

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

In the chorus of one of the sillier songs on my “Out of the Broom Closet” CD I gleefully sing:

 

“Well I’m a libertarian socialist, Christian Witch,

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    This is wonderful, Lizann - and a timely reminder to all of us, that just because we may not be able to reconcile opposing notions
  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham says #
    Thank you so much Ted for your kind words about my odd but wonderful life. Yes, I get to hang out in Berkeley - still an interest

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

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Ok...don't fall out of your chairs.  Your eyes are not deceiving you...two posts in one day!  When I saw who the next divinity on my list was...inspiration struck.  #10 on the devotions on the gods from the "graveyard".  

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

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A few weeks ago, in a conversation on Facebook with several of my customers about negative Spirit activity, one of them asked me which process I used for cleansing and protecting my own home. Since I am a professional Spiritist (professional as in making my living out of it), I get this kind of question almost very day – and I think my answer always disappoints them.

I spiritually cleanse my house weekly, using seasonal but simple elements like Salt, Sage, Resin Incense and Blessed Water, always caring that they are of the best quality possible. I go from the front of the house to the back, and then from the back to the front, saying a simple prayer that banishes negativity and encourages peace, protection and abundance – not more than two or three lines, that I can learn by memory quickly. If I feel a particularly negative energy I will choose a prayer from any of the prayer books I use, but that is very rare.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

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Today’s blog is on the di Penates or Penates.  Blog number 9 of my gods of the “graveyard” series.  This one was extremely difficult to write because…well no one really agrees on who the Penates are.  The concept for the Penates and Lares comes from the ancient Roman domestic cultus and were at some point included as part of civil or state rituals.  They remind me a lot of the ancient Greek agathos daimons, which are good spirits/gods of home, family and/or individual.  Everything I’ve read on Penates and Lares boils down to the individual.  I’m including the Lares in this blog because they are often honored with the Penates and very hard for the researcher to tell apart.

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Who, then, are the gods of the new pagans?

I would suggest that Two, at least, among Them are revealing Themselves to us even as you read these words.

Not through the mouths of prophets do they speak to us today, but through the hands of artists: a revelation not in words, but in shape and line and color.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Greybeard
    Greybeard says #
    Good stuff, Steve. I am also put off by the tendency of some who try to merge all Gods into "One God." Or all Goddesses into "On
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Thanks, Greybeard. I'm not sure when Aunt Violet's reductionist dictum about all gods being one god, all goddesses being one godde
  • Anne Forrester
    Anne Forrester says #
    Great article Steve! I wish you had included some links to actual art. Here's a couple of paintings that are my take on the Red Go

 

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Sometimes we think of Greek myth as a pre-patriarchal or less patriarchal alternative to the stories of the Bible. After all, Goddesses appear in Greek myths while they are nearly absent from the Bible. Right?

So far so good, but when we look more closely we can see that Greek myth enshrines patriarchal ideology just as surely as the Bible does.  We are so dazzled by the stories told by the Greeks that we designate them “the origin” of culture. We also have been taught that Greek myths contain “eternal archetypes” of the psyche. I hope the brief “deconstruction” of the myth of Ariadne which follows will begin to “deconstruct” these views as well. 

Ariadne is a pre-Greek word. The “ne” ending is not found in Greek. As the name is attributed to a princess in Greek myth, we might speculate that Ariadne could have been one of the names of the Goddess in ancient Crete. But in Greek myth Ariadne is cast in a drama in which she is a decidedly unattractive heroine. 

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  • Carol P. Christ
    Carol P. Christ says #
    What is interesting to me is that myths that are so clearly anti-female as the ones about Pasiphae are not recognized as such, but
  • Greybeard
    Greybeard says #
    You have many good things to say, Carol. It would be nice sometimes if you could learn to say them without the inevitable misand
  • Aryós Héngwis
    Aryós Héngwis says #
    I don't read any misandry in "sometimes we think of Greek myth as a pre-patriarchal or less patriarchal alternative to the stories

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
A Devotional Polytheist Meme

While interfaith discussion with neo-pagans is valuable, I'd personally like to see more discussion of our own traditions and religious praxis. So, I came up with a bunch of questions to get the ball rolling. I'm going to answer these over the course of this month via a series of posts here and anyone else who likes them is also free to participate. 

 

1. What wealth have the divinities brought into your life?

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs
PantheaCon Book Purchases

Although I’ve been trying to lighten up the bookshelves in my home by donating some books to Pagan libraries, loaning out many (which seldom seem to return home), and simply putting some books I’ve read “in circulation,” such as leaving them at my gym or giving them to someone else to read with no expectation of getting them back.  However, that doesn’t mean a bibliophile such as me has ceased buying books altogether.  In spite of limited funds for non-essentials, I do consider books to be essential to my life, so I still buy them, albeit much more selectively than I’ve done in the past.  I especially tend to purchase books of poetry, even more especially if I know the poet, and/or anthologies in which their work is published.  I feel strongly about supporting the arts as much as we can; this is one of my ways of supporting the arts.

I returned home from PantheaCon with only two new books; I restrained myself. 

One is Gus diZerega’s Fault Lines: The Sixties, the Culture Wars, and the Return of the Divine Feminine.  I’ve been reading parts of earlier iterations of this work, and, having lived a life that fits into the title, I’m eager to read it when I don’t have plenty of reading piled up that pertains to projects I’m working on.  The cover is jarring, perhaps as it should be considering the subject matter, but it’s not appealing to me.  As they say, “you can’t tell a book by its cover.”

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

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I wrote this article to encourage us, as pagans, wiccans, polytheists, earth lovers, weirdoes, wanderers, and alternative folk to move beyond the sterile concepts of acceptance and equality. For many, being wholly accepted by the mass-produced mainstream becomes our goal. But why? Perhaps being equal to means being complacent to and abiding of habits and norms that are destroying species, lands, waterways, air quality, indigenous communities, traditions, and languages. Rather than hope to acquire the status of affluence and static commonality, sometimes we do greater service to our spirit by moving from comfort to challenging the perimeters of a “normal” existence.
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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

There are some things religious Pagans are not encouraged to talk about. Doubt is one of them. I believe that the Gods exist, that They are real entities, who rule over life and death, and who dictate the way we should behave through teachings found in mythology and ancient societies. I chose to follow the Hellenic Gods in Their teachings, not disregarding that there are other Gods, but recognizing my human shortcomings, I could never honor all of the Gods in the way They feel They are entitled to be worshipped. And so I leave the worship of the Norse Gods to the Asatruar, the worship of the Egyptian Gods to the Kemetics, etc. I have specialized, so to say, in the Hellenic Gods, but to me, all the Gods are real and worthy of respect.

 

I didn't grow up religious. My parents were raised in various denominations of Christianity, but they had both rejected it before I was even born. My parents do not disapprove of faith, but they discouraged it, regardless. I did not have an easy childhood, and by the time I was twelve, I was already searching for religion, longing to satisfy the need in myself I found to reach out to beings beyond my reach who could offer me something to hold on to. I investigated the common, major, religions and found them lacking. I can see the beauty in many of them now, but for my twelve year old self, they were passive and lacking in what I needed: structure, active Gods, and the focus on household worship.

 

I found Paganism and self-dedicated after a year and a day of reading and practicing. I was thirteen at the time, and while I did not believe in the God and Goddess I found int eh books, the concept drew me in enough to start performing the rites, to start celebreating the festivals and to find my peace there. It took me years until I truly believed in the Gods, at least four or five years of active practice. It wasn't something that happened overnight, but I did find myself looking back and thinking 'when did I start believing?'. For me, it wasn't a specific ritual, or a moment in time that cemented my faith. Once day, I realized that I believed, and that was that.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Carol P. Christ
    Carol P. Christ says #
    I agree that we have not become better. I believe that as long as we judge ourselves for practices that harm others and do not aut
  • Carol P. Christ
    Carol P. Christ says #
    I live in Greece and am Greek (citizen and in my heart) but the Greek pantheon as portrayed in the Greek myths (Hesiod, Homer, et.
  • Elani Temperance
    Elani Temperance says #
    Back in 2012, I wrote a long and detailed post about rape in ancient Hellenic mythology and culture that you might like to read. Y

Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Interfaith Dialogue in a Polarized World

At PantheaCon, I ran into someone with whom I'd had a disagreement online. This point of contention was a hot-button issue for me, and my reaction to it had been too quick and strident. When I met the person in question, our meeting was cordial, and I don't even think he recognized me. I left things alone, but when we crossed paths a second time, I confronted the situation directly and apologized for being too blunt. Because my "hot button" had been pressed - inadvertently - I had barreled ahead without finding out more about his take on the situation.

After a 10- or 15-minute conversation, we parted ways, having interacted cordially, but not having addressed the issue upon which we disagreed. He mentioned that we should do so at some point, and I agreed. In honesty, I doubt either of us will change the other's mind, but do we really need to? It's fine to be open to learning about another person's perspective without feeling obligated to embrace it as our own.

Polarization

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  • Aline "Macha" O'Brien
    Aline "Macha" O'Brien says #
    Thanks for this helpful piece, Stifyn. Would you had been at the discussion in the CoG suite of "Wiccanate privilege" in interfai

According to my sources, Mother Berhta (otherwise known as Old Witch Winter and the Widdershins Polar Vortex) is angry because an insufficient number of people honored her on Bertha's Night this year.

The situation, admittedly, is complicated by the fact that exactly when Berhta's Night falls is a matter of dispute. According to some, Berhta's Night is Old Yule, Thirteenth Night (i.e. the Thirteenth Night after Midwinter's Eve). Some would say, Twenty-Sixth Night; some, Thirty-Ninth Night.

Date notwithstanding, most authorities are agreed on the correct manner of propitiation. This constitutes a festive Pancake Supper, with pancakes left at the doorstep for Mother B. herself.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

As the sun set on February 1st, Pagans everywhere began their preparations to celebrate Imbolc. This is an Irish word meaning “in the belly”, because lambs would be developing “in the belly” of the ewes (female sheep) at this time, waiting to be born in the spring. It is a fire feast because now we can truly see that the sun is growing stronger in the winter skies, and the days are getting longer.

But February 1st through 2nd (note: Irish pagans see the day as starting at dust the prior evening) is also sacred to the Celtic goddess known as Brigid or Bride. (The Celts were the tribes of people who eventually became the Welsh, Manx, Cornish, Scots, Irish, and people of Brittany). Her name means “Exalted (mighty) One”, as well as “Bright Arrow”. She is often seen as 3 goddesses in one, known as a “triple goddess”, because she had mastery over three things: fire and smith-craft, hearth and home, and poetry – which was thought of as magical, and born from the “fire” of inspiration. She is a goddess of fire, but also of water.

This may surprise you, but it is often true: for something to thrive, it needs a little bit of it’s opposite. The warmth of the sun (fire) makes things grow, but it can’t do it without the rain (water). The fire goddess Brigid is also goddess of sacred wells where people would go for healings. So that the goddess would remember them and aid their health, people would tie strips of white cloths, called “clooties”, to the branches of the trees surrounding the wells. It is similar to the way some Christians light candles before a statue of a saint in church, to be a reminder that their help is needed.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

I've been planning a post on how right-wing Christians have framed their attempts to impose their religion on everyone else as "religious liberty."  It's a clever bit of framing, although rather transparent.  However, Rev. Emily C. Heath has said it far better than I could:

How to Determine if Your Religious Liberty Is Being Threatened in Just 10 Quick Questions.

by Rev. Emily C. Heath*

 Just pick "A" or "B" for each question.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Hec
    Hec says #
    Mr. Ward, Sadly, I do not have a direct link. If you find one, would you please share? Thanks!
  • Greybeard
    Greybeard says #
    The answer is C. My religious liberty is at risk when the religion of others is being attacked. No matter how "right" the attac
  • Terence P Ward
    Terence P Ward says #
    This is wonderfully framed. Do you have a link to the original? I'd like to repost it directly on one of my blogs, so the audien

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

b2ap3_thumbnail_diver-and-fish.jpgBe not the slave of your own past. Plunge into the sublime seas, dive deep and swim far, so you shall come back with self-respect, with new power, with an advanced experience that shall explain and overlook the old.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

This New Moon in Pisces on March 1st is remarkable for the fact that three planets — Mercury, Mars and Saturn — will be standing still in the sky (stationing retrograde or direct) within 24 hours of the New Moon moment. This will amplify the strength of those three planets in this chart, and in classical astrology, Mars and Saturn were considered the “malefic” planets — with good reason. Mars tends to deliver conflict and violence, while Saturn often brings restriction and loss. (But hey, at least Mercury’s going direct.) Both Mars and Saturn do, of course, have more beneficial manifestations — Mars can bring strength, passion and needed action, while Saturn can deliver earned material rewards and wisdom teachings. As always, an individual or focused group can do a lot to shape the energy of a chart towards growth and positive change, but en masse we tend to see the less conscious demonstrations of whatever the chart promises. Let’s look at how we can work with these planetary configurations at the New Moon to manifest wise and constructive action in the month ahead, because in the chart cast for Washington, DC, (which is predictive for the whole USA), Mars and Saturn — not to mention Jupiter, Uranus and Pluto — are kicking ass and taking names. 

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Mysterious Egypt: Cairo, Karnak, Luxor and the Valley of Queens

 My initial trip to sprawling Cairo with a group of UNMO (United Nations Military Officers) wives happened to coincide with the birthday of an influential Muslim saint, what a party! The souk, Khan- el Khalili, was a campground of hookah smoking, lamb chops broiling and camp stoves smoldering. Barefoot children dressed in dirty off–white galabiyas dashed in and out of the throngs of colorful Middle Eastern clad men and women. Eerie sounds of drum and flute filtered throughout the warm night as the thousands of Muslims gathered in the square. Canadian Reiki Master, writer and explorer me was expectant of the same scenario each future trip to Cairo.

 “You leave your reason at the border,” I was told by my Israeli travel consultant before departing on a comprehensive Egyptian tour a few months later.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Pagan Faith 1: Science v Religion?

I've been helping my oldest kid with her homework lately. Her grades are slipping a bit in science, which is normally her best subject. It's not a mystery why this is happening: she's in middle school and the work is getting harder, the concepts more complex. Her class is working on geology and evolution at the moment, so she's learning about continental drift, natural selection, DNA, fossils and mutation. She's working hard on it, and I'm glad. She has to work hard because there's a lot of material and it requires her to put real effort into understanding and applying it. It's hard because she's learning science, real science, and that's something you cant take for granted anymore.

We live in a very conservative congressional district. Our house is literally surrounded by churches of various kinds. My congressman is rabidly anti-immigrant and has sponsored fetal person-hood legislation; he obviously does not represent me or my values. While I do not hide my faith, I do not feel empowered to speak about it to my neighbors or the parents of my kids' friends. I accept all of that with more or less good grace. While I hate to use the phrase 'culture war' and give energy to that narrative, I feel the annoyance and discomfort that comes with being a member of a minority religion, when the majority culture is resentful of sharing space. So I put up with the clueless chirping about “having a blessed day” and puzzled inquiries into whether I'm Jewish, when replying “none” to inquiries about which church my family attends. And I fully admit, I still fall back on traditions I grew up with, putting up a Christmas tree and saying, “Merry Christmas” without discomfort, and let other people make whatever assumption they want. I have no desire to do a mini-interfaith negotiation with random neighbors and co-workers by wishing them “Happy Solstice, and have a blessed Yule.”

But given the demographics of where I live, and what feels like the constant push to include and privilege a Christianist thread in all public discourse, I was very relieved to see what my kid was struggling to learn. The science curriculum for her class listed the age of the Earth in millions of years, not thousands. It presented fossil and DNA evidence of human origins, and made no mention of ”teaching the controversy” or presenting “both sides” of an evolutionary “debate.” The teacher is not framing this in any way as “science versus religion”. There was no allusion that this might even be an issue: this is the curriculum, this is what my kids are learning. No mention was made of religion at all. This is how it should be. And I am so grateful this is so, knowing what other school districts are going through on the issue of how and even if this branch of science should be taught. I am grateful that I don't have to ring in on this issue with her school, or provide my own corrective lessons at home.

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