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How do we make sense of loss, great loss, and everyday disappointment? Some would tell us that “everything has a purpose” or that whatever happens ”must be the will of God.”  I have found that these answers to questions raised by life as we know it often do more harm than good.  Yet they have a sticking power–we hear them all the time, sometimes even from other feminist seekers.

From the beginning feminists in religion rejected “the God out there” who rules the world from a throne in heaven. Most of us have insisted that “God” is more “in” the world than “beyond” or “outside it.” However we have not always been consistent in our convictions. When feminists are confronted with untimely death or great evil or just not getting what we think we want, we can sometimes be overheard to wonder, “Why did God (or Goddess) let that happen?” This question is based in the assumption that God or Goddess is omnipotent and rules the world from outside it. This is the theological idea I intend to question today.

The “zero fallacy” is a term philosopher Charles Hartshorne used to explain the “theological mistake” known as divine omnipotence.  Hartshorne pointed out that if God is omnipotent, then God has “all” or “100%” of the power. If this is so, then human beings and all other beings have “zero” power.  But if we have zero power, then do we even exist?  It is hard to imagine what “existence” means if it is a quality attributed to beings with zero power to affect the world. In fact, if God has 100% of the power, then no being other than the divine being can be said to exist. This is what Hindus may mean when they say that the world is “maya” or illusion.

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  • Diotima
    Diotima says #
    From a scientific perspective, as Neil deGrasse Tyson said; “We are all connected; To each other, biologically. To the earth, chem

Posted by on in Studies Blogs

Hi Folks!

 

In the spirit of my more successful posts, I would like to ask you if there's any topic you'd like me to research, based on "Pagan Music" or "Paganism in Classical Music." What would it be?  Would you like to see articles on archaic, pre-christian music and instruments, or would you prefer that I show you the darker side of Classical music?

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  • Peter Ringo
    Peter Ringo says #
    I don't think I was real clear. The gender nonconformity would need to be connected to spirituality in some way--as an attribute o
  • Candi
    Candi says #
    @Peter: Sure! For example, there are a number of works from the 18th century that involve a man or boy cross dressing in order to
  • Peter Ringo
    Peter Ringo says #
    The Balumain practice is awesome, but I'm looking for music literature--traditional songs and classical pieces that allude to gend

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Are you poor on purpose?

The reactions to my post voluntary poverty last week have one striking commonality:  we're talking about the voluntary poor, but no one has stepped forward to speak for the voluntary poor.  I am hoping the readers of PaganSquare can help me find at least one representative of this choice.

Do you presently know someone who is poor by choice, spiritual or otherwise?  Can you point them to this post or, if they're not a user of the internet, act as an intermediary?  Anyone interested can use this contact form.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

The beautiful thing about Hellenism is that not only do we have a clear way to honor the Theoi, and incentive to do so, we also get to live in a world governed completely by the Gods. Hellenismos is special in that regards because it also largely matches up with science. To me--and many others with me--that is something very comforting. Now, as you are probably all aware, I live in a world full of Gods and Nymphs; for example, I take great strength in greeting Eos each morning as she paves the way for Helios, but there are many Gods who are, or who control, the cycle of day and night, and I would like to write out this cycle, if I may.

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  • Elani Temperance
    Elani Temperance says #
    Thank you, Jamie! It's good to see you have returned to my blog
  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Ms. Temperance, Thanks again for recounting the lore! These are deities I honor regularly.

Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Meditations on Hávamál, 44-47
A few more verses in my ongoing translation of the Viking poem of gnomic wisdom --

 

44.
Veiztu, ef þú vin átt,
þann er þú vel trúir,
ok vill þú af hánum gótt geta,
geði skaltu við þann blanda
ok gjöfum skipta,
fara at finna oft.
You must know, if you would wish to have a friend
Who would be true to you
And from whom you would have good in exchange,
Share your thoughts with him,
And exchange gifts,
Fare often to find him.
 

The verses recognise the exchange that is necessary to feeding a good friendship. While the focus on gifts may seem a bit mercenary to modern readers, we have to take into consideration just how much gift giving has changed: we take it lightly because it is very easy to pick up something from a shop. In the Middle Ages, where survival was much more precarious, any surplus was precious. Giving it away showed great favour. Of course we understand the need to find a like mind with whom we can share our truths, hopes and fears. By such means do we knit relationships that last.
 
45.
Ef þú átt annan,
þanns þú illa trúir,
vildu af hánum þó gótt geta,
fagrt skaltu við þann mæla
en flátt hyggja
ok gjalda lausung við lygi.
If you have such another one --
He you trust little --
Yet you wish to get goodwill from him, too,
Fair shall you be in speech with him
But cunning in thought
And repay his deceit with lies.
 

As the great military strategist Sun Tzu observed, it's best to keep friends close -- and enemies closer. The High One agrees that it's best not to tip your hand to those who wish you ill, but continue to speak pleasantly to them as long as possible in the hopes that you might glean something useful from their conversation or thoughts. Though they may also conceal their intentions, often enmity betrays itself in non-verbal ways, too.
 
 
46.
Það er enn of þann
er þú illa trúir
ok þér er grunr at hans geði,
hlæja skaltu við þeim
ok um hug mæla;
glík skulu gjöld gjöfum.
Thus ever further with the one of whom
He whom you trust ill
And about whom you have suspicious mind,
You should laugh with him
And speak around your thoughts;
For with like coin should you repay a gift.
 

More on dealing with those you do not trust. Working environments may offer the best modern analogue to the situation. We all have co-workers with whom we don't trust -- and who may return the favour. The verses suggest that is the wisest course -- repaying false coin with false coin -- but it rubs against our modern notions of directness and honesty. For most of us, that honesty has only social costs. Yet how many people find it easier to be polite to someone they dislike intensely than to plainly state their antipathy? We're not always as honest as we like to think we are.
 
47.
Ungr var ek forðum,
fór ek einn saman,
þá varð ek villr vega;
auðigr þóttumk,
er ek annan fann,
maðr er manns gaman.
Young was I once,
I traveled on my own,
When I found myself astray;
Rich I thought myself
When I found another soul --
A human is human pleasure.
 

While the poet uses the word 'maðr' it's clearly used in the general sense of a person, not gendered specifically. While many of us choose to cherish solitude, imagine a world like the vikings where being alone put your survival at risk. There is not simply the joy of companionship here, but the recognition of the interdependence of community. Consider too the uncertainty of travel without modern maps -- let alone the specifics of satellite navigation. To run across another human when you have traveled on your own for a considerable space of time -- even if you're young and hearty -- must surely be a welcome sight.

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  • Byron Ballard
    Byron Ballard says #
    More, more, more! And now I want you to record them all.
  • Kate Laity
    Kate Laity says #
    Oh, now there's an idea. With kantele music... Hmmmm....
You are a public face for Paganism at Conventions

I recently attended Convocation for the first time. I was having dinner one night at the restaurant and I talked with my waiter for a bit about the convention. She asked me if I thought that she and her co-worker would be accepted if they visited the vendor room to look around and I told her that I thought it would be fine (The vendor room was open to the public as far as I knew). I thought about that conversation later on and how in that moment I was a public face for Paganism. And how at any convention that is hosted in a space such as a hotel, all of us are public faces of Paganism, even if we don't realize we are. The public space we are in is not solely a Pagan space. It is shared space and the impressions we make on the hotel staff and other guests matter.

When I'm at an event or anywhere really, I behave the way I'd want other people to behave toward me. I'm courteous to the staff, acknowledge the work they are doing and do my best to be mindful of my behavior and how others might perceive it. Now it's true that I'm at a convention to have fun, but  I also want to make a good impression because the staff and guests will come away from those experiences with their own perceptions about Pagans. And likely they'll already have some assumptions and beliefs about us based on their own spiritual beliefs, etc. However I think that how we act in public is important.

When I spoke to that waiter, I was polite and friendly and answered her questions. I don't know what she believed or thought, but I did know she was curious and I also knew that what I said in that moment could make an impression. I think I made a positive impression because she seemed more comfortable afterwards with the idea of visiting the vendor room. Now I don't know if she and her co-worker did visit or what they thought, but I would like to think that by making a positive impression I did show her that Pagans aren't so strange or different and that we're worthy of being treated with consideration.

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  • Stifyn Emrys
    Stifyn Emrys says #
    I agree it's important to be cognizant of the impressions we make on others, whether we're representing ourselves, our beliefs or
  • Taylor Ellwood
    Taylor Ellwood says #
    Having worked a number of jobs over the year where I was retail, I always remember how people treated me and make the effort in tu
  • Mariah
    Mariah says #
    Thank you. I have seen this point made many times but you made it *without stigmatizing certain groups some Pagans try to distance

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
One-Minute Magick with Tarot

 

It’s been a while since I’ve posted. The truth is, I have been really busy. That’s busy in a good way, with business, creativity, friends and family.

 

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Pagan savings challenge, week eight:  negative savings

My brother once likened debt to a negative savings account.  It's a good analogy:  debt is money you've spent before you saved it, and both will accumulate interest if arranged through a formal financial institution.  Of course, with debt the interest is being paid to someone else.

Paying off debt is a valid way to meet the Pagan savings challenge.  It could take the form of simply using the weekly savings amount to pay off a bill faster, or the money could be allowed to build over the year and used all at once for that purpose.  Either way, it strengthens the discipline of building energy through saving money.

My week eight savings:  $36, 22% ($8) of which I added today.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Dear Dr. Dever,

Firstly, a word of thanks and appreciation for your work over the years, and in particular for Did God Have A Wife? To speak only for myself, the book has shaped my own thought and understanding of my ancestral traditions, and for this you have my deep and lasting gratitude.

Anent Wife, though, I would like to point out to you an irony which I suspect has heretofore escaped your attention. To this not-altogether-objective reader, it is striking how closely your denunciations of the excesses of contemporary Goddess worship and feminist spirituality—which is, in fact, modern folk religion—resemble the Deuteronomic and Priestly hostility toward the folk religion of their own time. I find it curious that, from the position of your own academic orthodoxy, your sympathy for folk—and in particular, women’s—religion apparently extends to ancient women, but not to your contemporaries. Plus ça change….

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  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    I've long been mystified by academia's general disinterest in the new pagan religions. As a historian of religion myself, I would
  • Mariah
    Mariah says #
    That's a shame. Though there are certainly valid critiques to be made of Goddess/feminist spirituality, I think it best if they we
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    My thoroughly un-nuanced reading of Frymer-Kensky is that she's an ideologue with a monotheist ax to grind, whose work is academic

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

How do you say “pagan” in Pagan?

“Pagan”, of course, is how one says “pagan” in Cowan; it’s a name bestowed on us by outsiders. We're certainly not the first people in history to take a name bestowed in scorn and to wear it with pride, nor, we may be sure, will we be the last. But ultimately it’s an outside-looking-in (or etic) name, rooted in someone else’s perspective and thought.

The question then arises: what is our inside-looking-out (or emic) name for ourselves? What is our term of self-description rooted in the internal logic of our own worldview?

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Business as if human beings mattered more than profit

Capitalism seems invulnerable today not because anyone likes it, informed decent people do not, but because it is hard to imagine a realistic alternative. State socialism failed, and failed in a horrible way.  Going back to the land is impossible for more than a relative few of us.  Markets work better than explicit controls and markets seem inevitably to generate capitalism.  We seem trapped. 

But markets are not as predictable as economists claim and most economists confuse their theoretical categories with the real world of men and women. Consider the Mondragon cooperatives   in the Basque country of northern Spain. In September, 2012, I had the opportunity to visit these cooperatives in September of 2012 as part of an annual study group organized by the Praxis Peace Institute.  Given all that I had heard, I felt that while I could not easily afford to go financially, I could not afford not to go intellectually. 

Here is why.

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  • Stifyn Emrys
    Stifyn Emrys says #
    Intriguing analysis. It seems to me you've put your finger on a weakness of corporate capitalism as practiced in the United States
Pagan Culture and Experience: Definitions and Practice

Who gets the right to define you? To label you? Is that right solely your own, or does it belong in some measure to the culture with which you identify? I've considered this question for a long time, and I've concluded that there's no easy answer.

I've long been an advocate for the principle of self-identification: If you choose to identify yourself in specific terms, who are others to challenge it? But things really aren't that simple, are they? What about frauds who have ulterior motives for adopting a label? What about people who don't really understand what the label means?

A Huffington Post article titled "Striking Photos Challenge The Way We See Blackness" recently explored the idea of self-identification in terms of race. The writer interviewed several individuals from diverse backgrounds who identified as black, postulating that "Blackness must be recognized as something other than just skin color and specific physical attributes."

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  • Samaire Provost
    Samaire Provost says #
    Nope, not at all awkward, Steve
  • Stifyn Emrys
    Stifyn Emrys says #
    Not awkward at all, Samaire. I'm sitting right across the table from you!
  • Samaire Provost
    Samaire Provost says #
    Well isn't this an awkward meeting

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
As the Fairies Take, So Shall You Receive

Until I  moved to this magical place first settled by the mythic Tuatha dé Danaan I, too, was a fairy agnostic.  But when the land energy is so potent and palpable my disbelief was easily suspended. So yeah, I believe and have also come to know.  Unlike the Doubting Disciple of the Christian gospel I don't need to have seen to believe.  It's enough to feel.  But once you do get the vibe the communication in my personal experience gets more direct. 

 

The nearest fairy sighting I've had was on a dark night as we crossed over the Bellavally Gap. It's wild moorland with the 'gap' between Cuilcagh and Slieve Anieran said to have been made when the Tuatha dé Dannaan's magical smith, Govannan, had a green cow (Bo Glas) of Paul Bunyanesque proportions ran amuck.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

Beautiful Paga Square readers, I owe you an apology. I seem to have dropped off of the face of the earth for a few months, even though I never intended to. I have this odd quirk where I start feeling guilty and don’t know how to get back on the horse and that is what happened here. Back in October, things got a little heavy and stressful for me, and I took a little personal time, always intending to get back. Then, I forgot how to and despite returning to Pagan Square being a new year’s resolution, it’s half way through February before I finally did come back.

I’m sorry for disappearing on you without a word. I would love to promise it won’t happen again, but that would be a lie. I will promise, however, that now the first hurdle is taken, I will resume posting here, because this first post is the hardest for me. I hope to do regular scheduling again: Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. I never stopped blogging on my personal blog, so there is material enough to share with you guys.

I hope you will forgive me my human errors, and that you will enjoy the posts to come. A personal note to our wonderful host Anne (who shall be receiving an e-mail from me in a few minutes), thank you for reaching out and I apologize to you most of all.

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  • Terence P Ward
    Terence P Ward says #
    It can be tough to overcome guilt -- glad you've made the first step!

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Keeping Fit with the Tarot?

My friend and I were talking about fitness the other day. She's been wearing a 'FitBit,' and another friend of mine has been wearing  Nike FuelBand. I was contemplating investing in such a gizmo, as I'll be the first to admit I could take better care of myself than I do. These things are neat little gadgets and I'm sure they work for tracking, motivation, and encouragement . Mulling it over before sleep that night though, I started thinking about the tools that I already have. I've got a food tracker on my smartphone, I've got a pedometer, and I've got my Tarot. 

"How on Earth does the Tarot fit in with a keep fit plan," you might well ask? Before you chalk me up to being completely crazy (as opposed to just the 'way-out-there-crazy-but still-functional' type of crazy that I'll readily admit to being), hear me out. I thought I might be off my rocker, but I've played around with this for a few days now, and I've been very surprised by how well it works. 

While doing my morning meditations with the Tarot, I've started pulling a card as a 'living well' theme for the day. Sometimes it's a bit vague, and I put that down to me only starting to work with the cards in this manner. Sometimes it's uncannily appropriate. For example, yesterday I was thinking about starting to use my little set of kettle bells again, and I pulled the card, the Ten of Wands. Now, when I do Tarot readings, this card always makes me think of carrying burdens or there being too much weight on someone's shoulders. It stands to reason then that this was confirming that the kettle bells might be a good choice for that morning. 

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  • Charlie Rainbow Wolf
    Charlie Rainbow Wolf says #
    It's fun, yes? Today I drew the Devil. Wasn't sure how it fit at all... till my husband appeared with potato chips! I know it may
  • Meg Pauken
    Meg Pauken says #
    Can I just tell you how much I love this? I'm going to try it tomorrow!

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Draugadrottin

Continuing with my exploration of the Names of Odin in alphabetical order, He doesn’t have many heiti, or by-names, beginning with the letter D.  However, the one we'll be discussing today is among my favorites of all of His names anyway because it tells us so much about the essence of who and what He is.  It is generally translated as meaning “Lord of the Dead.”  Lets break it down, though, and see if we can learn more from it than that.

The drottin part of the name means chieftain, or lord, and has a cognate in the Anglo-Saxon drihten. The particular connotation here is that of a military lord, the leader of a war band (from Proto-Germanic *druti). This implies the sort of kingship portrayed in Beowulf, for example; not necessarily a hereditary role, but one decreed by merit and ability, the man who is elevated to kingship because other men look to him and trust in his abilities, the ring giver and keeper of the web of oaths that tie a war band, a tribe, or a people together.

The other half of the name, drauga, means the dead, but here again a particular type of dead person is implied.  In Germanic belief, the “ordinary” dead go to Helheim, where they are perhaps reunited with their loved ones and have a period of rest and rejuvenation prior to being reborn or going on about whatever work lies before them between lifetimes.  Some dead, in my belief, go to the abodes of the gods they have served during life if those connections are strong enough and if the god desires their continued service and companionship.  The Poetic Edda and Snorri’s Edda alike tell us that the battlefield dead are divided between Odin and Freyja, with Frejya getting first pick.  (Ladies first, after all.)

But the draugr (singular) is in a category all his own.  As depicted again and again in the Icelandic sagas, the draugar (plural) are “walkers” or “those who walk again after death.” 

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

b2ap3_thumbnail_herculaneum-isis-temple.jpgBlest is the happy man
Who knows the Mysteries the gods ordain (Euripides)

It is a mystery – that we can be One and also separate, and likewise the gods.

It is a mystery – that we can have a solitary experience which then links us inextricably with others who have shared that same experience, or one like it.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs


Canadians Take the Gold (Photo courtesy of The Guardian) 

Okay, so this is completely off the topic from what I usually post in this blog, but I am a proud Canadian, and like all Canadians, I watch when our team is at the gold medal hockey final.  It's kind of like Americans and the Superbowl.  I think it's a Canadian law or something.

Now, I admit that for a good deal of the game I was shaking my head in dismay.  The Americans played a much better game than we did for most of it.  They were much more aggressive and energetic and were just overall handling the puck better.  The Americans almost won the game when, with a minute and fifteen seconds left, Canada pulled the goalie for an extra attacker, and an inexperienced linesman interfered with one of her teammates, freeing up an American shot on goal into an empty net.  Perhaps it was an example of the manifestation of collective Will as thirty percent of Canada's population screamed, "No no NO!" and miraculously, the puck bounced off the post and the goal was averted.  But our ladies tied it up in the last five minutes, and then stole the gold in sudden death overtime!  I would hardly be considered a hockey expert, but I am Canadian, and so you learn about it whether you want to or not, and overall, this was one of the most exciting and tense games I've ever watched.  Here's the link if you want to see it.

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  • Sable Aradia
    Sable Aradia says #
    And the boys did us proud too!
  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    Yes, congratulations indeed. I was a Landed Immigrant in Canada from 1971-1973. I was a company member with the Shakespeare Fest
  • Sable Aradia
    Sable Aradia says #
    That strikes me as a uniquely, and perhaps iconic, Canadian story. Thanks so much for sharing it!

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Mary, Mary: Florence is Divine

Ten years ago, I traveled to Italy. I was a newly-minted Goddess girl, plus I’d just read The Da Vinci Code, so I spent the trip searching for the divine feminine hidden in plain sight. In Italy, I didn’t have to look very far; Mother Mary is, quite literally, represented on every street corner throughout Italy.

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  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham says #
    Sigh, I so love Florence, thanks for reminding me!
  • Jen McConnel
    Jen McConnel says #
    Of course! Thanks for commenting.

Posted by on in Studies Blogs
The Risk of Invocation

Invoke (v.): To petition for support; to cite as authority; to conjure.

What does it mean to invoke?

The word "invoke" derives from the old Latin word vocare, meaning "to call" and is related to the word vox, meaning voice. 

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  • Shawn Bolvi-Singleton
    Shawn Bolvi-Singleton says #
    Something about which to think on a chilly Monday. Thank you for sharing this wisdom.

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