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Pagan savings challenge, week six:  cold and contemplative

I've noted before that I am devoting the money I save during the Pagan savings challenge to buying and installing a fireplace insert.  This week, my family was reminded that this is a really good idea.

We've had all manner of severe winter weather throughout the United States this season, including a cold snap and foot or more of snow in my area.  It was during the cold and dark of that heavy snowfall that my wife realized our heat was no longer on.  We tried hitting the reset button, but no dice.  We called our amazing heating guys, who talked me through several other troubleshooting steps, all which failed to solve or diagnose the problem.  He agreed to come out as soon as he confirmed that the parking lot of his shop had been plowed so he could get the work truck.

It hadn't, and it wasn't until the following morning.  Our fireplace, with some assistance from an electric mattress pad, was our only source of heat.  It was bright, cheery, and reassuringly warm, but it takes a lot of effort for a central fireplace to warm even a modest home.  The fire needed to be rekindled the following morning from cold ashes.  Our house is nearly a hundred years old, but its original primary heat source was a coal furnace, not the fireplace.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

Sannion, Chantelle d'Eros and myself just got back from checking out hotels for the Polytheist Leadership Conference and have decided to go with the Quality Inn in Fishkill, New York. They were clean and spacious and economical and most importantly we were impressed by the efficiency and friendliness of the staff. So we signed the contract and this thing is now officially a go!

The Polytheist Leadership Conference will take place Friday, July 11th through Sunday, July 13th – though we’ve made arrangements so that you can get the block room rate if you want to come in earlier on Thursday.

We’ll begin on Friday at 3:00pm with an opening prayer to our collective dead and polytheist predecessors and then have a lecture and roundtable discussion with the rest of the evening devoted to socializing and networking.

We’ll start at 10:00am on Saturday with a full day of workshops, lectures and roundtable discussions ending at 8:00pm. There’ll be half hour breaks between each session and an extended lunch and dinner.

Sunday begins at 10:00am and has two sessions with a social lunch and then a closing ceremony at 3:00pm.

We’ve got the website for the Polytheist Leadership Conference up and running and are now accepting registrations.

polytheistleadershipconference.wordpress.com/

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  • Terence P Ward
    Terence P Ward says #
    Very, very excited to see how this manifests. Thank you so much for doing the organizing work!

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
In the Name of.....

The Name holds the story and mystery of who it represents. The Name is the energetic sigil that connects and refines all parts of that individual. The Name holds the power and promise of greatness as its sound moves through space and time affirming our manifest existence.  Mundanely, we may be named for a favorite relative, as predictor of the qualities that are hoped we will possess or we may be given a name selected for the rhythm and resonance with other family member’s names. We may be named for a favorite character in a play or movie or to honor someone of achievement and greatness. Regardless of where that name originated, it is our symbol etched in the written word or the oral tome. We hear our name called by family and friends and as we grow and mature that name acts as identifier for all of our choices, interactions, achievements, failures and everything in between. Our signature of name opens doors, seals the deal and holds us accountable for how we move through life and our affairs. As we form lasting relationships we hold on dearly to our given names, take that of another or blend and weave the energies of our loved one’s name and our own in creation of a new energetic pattern.

Magickally, we select a name that will embody our perception of the intent we have for our spiritual work and the path we have chosen.  Often names of Deity will be incorporated into or used as the magickal name.  Names taken from the natural world, the celestial realms or goal of evolved attributes may be selected.  This name becomes the magnetic attractor of what we wish to become and the working tool that declares who we are in sacred space; aligned and moving in accord with our Divine nature. We invoke our magickal name and in so doing declare and call our magickal/spiritual persona into action. This name is our signature on the astral and becomes the representation of the deeper level of our Being in communication with our guides, patrons and Deity. In Ancient Egyptian belief, the Ren (name) was considered one of the five parts of the Soul. The name given at birth was guarded and protected as having power over the individual to whom it was given. The name was only shared with those who meant no harm to the individual as great magick could be worked upon the individual through the knowing of his/her name. The calling of an individual’s name affirmed the life essence within that individual and if used often and well, ensured their survival long after death in the form of legacy left by that name and the way in which the individual lived their life within its power.

The names of Deity are used frequently in personal development; holding the power and pure essence of that Deity’s energy.  The vibrations contained within that name can bring about healing, empowerment, strength, wisdom and more as we reach out and make connection through words of devotion and mantra. We are all familiar with the use of invocation in ritual and the calling forth of those Deity we wish to interact with. The power of speaking the sacred words and using the power of naming the Divine to be held in the energy of their presence is one of complete transformation.  Adding the energy of tone and breath to that calling, in the form of a chant carries those words in specific form and rhythm, enhancing the effect and preparing us as resonating vessels reaching up towards the Divine. If skillfully crafted and filled with intention in its offering, the simplest of chants can have lasting effects that can be quite profound.

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  • Robin Fennelly
    Robin Fennelly says #
    Peggy, thank you so much for your kind words. They mean more than you will know and I am truly blessed to know such wonderful peop
  • peggy levasseur
    peggy levasseur says #
    Robin, you are one of the most creative, smartest and blessed women I know. Great article.

Posted by on in Studies Blogs
The Esoteric Secrets of Fantasy Books

Kat and I are reading Puck of Pook's Hill by Rudyard Kipling right now. It's a classic Fantasy story, but what I find interesting is that in the first chapter, if you know what to look for, you discover a lot of esoteric and occult practices shared with the protagonists of the story, and this sharing continues throughout the rest of the book. It's a subtle way to teach magic to readers. Given when the book was written, the author needed to be subtle about it, but what fascinates me is that even to this day you can still find a number of fantasy writings where esoteric ideas and secrets are shared if you know what to look for. And if you don't know what to look for, well guess what? You're being given an education in magic and how it works so that if you get to that point where you actually start practicing you've already got some idea of how magic seems to work.

Kat and I like to discuss the books we are reading together, so we got into a long and fascinating conversation about not only Rudyard Kipling, but some of those writers who've written esoteric secrets into their fantasy. For example, if you've read any of Michael Moorcock's writings you'll find quite a lot of esoteric secrets shared. In Elric of Melnibone, he practically spells how to evoke an entity in several different instances where the character needs supernatural aide. In the Corum series, he focuses in on the magical aspects of gift giving and the connections gods have to people and vice versa. And there's a number of other series he writes in where he shares esoteric ideas and concepts, which I recognize many years later as playing a foundational role in my understanding of magic. As a young, impressionable reader the stories I read fascinated me because of the adventure, but as a magician I can see how my evocation practice has been shaped by what Moorcock wrote, as well as some of other esoteric beliefs and practices.

Raymond Feist is another author who mixes in esoteric ideas and practices in his books. For the most part his ideas are more metaphysically oriented, but there a few magical ideas I've gotten from reading his works, especially as it relates to energy work and the nature of reality and other planes of existence. Then there's the Deathgate Cycle by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, where they share some useful ideas about working with probabilities via sigils and sound magic. Admittedly those aren't standard esoteric secrets, but you can get a lot from the ideas and turn them into workable magical practices if you're willing to engage the material with an eye toward applying it to magical work. William S. Burroughs also integrates magical techniques into his writing. In fact, all of his writing is essentially a magical technique in and of itself. 

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

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EDIT - since this post was posted, I have received several messages asking about the items in the pictures, and about who made them - they are all from my own work and my husband's. In the bio at the end of the post, you can find a link to my website. Thanks!

Among the many types of Leaders that inspire and connect Spiritual Seekers with their Paths, Pagan Artisans are often overlooked in favour of writers, speakers and bloggers – not that any of us is upset about this; we prefer to stay away from the stage lights, completely absorbed by our work, while they get into the debating, and set the foundations for what Paganism will be in the next generations. And thank the Gods that the writers, speakers and bloggers are there! Many times, they are our voice and our patrons, purchasing, promoting and sharing our work on their sites and podcasts, and I couldn't be more grateful for their presence and support.

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  • LilithBlackDragon
    LilithBlackDragon says #
    I should think this applies to nonmaterial artists too, like musicians...
  • Carolina Gonzalez
    Carolina Gonzalez says #
    Absolutely Lilith! Music, Poetry and other arts matter just as much, and need the exact same support. Music is also an essential p
  • Molly
    Molly says #
    I appreciated this as another pagan artisan! I make sculptures and my husband does pewter casting. We co-create together at http:/

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

Places that are magical and also local to me have a special place in my heart. They become familiar, known not just as special events but in all their moods because I’m able to visit them easily and often, in a variety of conditions. I build up a deep, layered relationship with these places and I feel the magic or ritual I do there is held as part of that relationship. It’s as if these places talk with me, when I visit we pick up an ongoing conversation of the deepest possible kind; where I am a part of them and they are a part of me.

Coogee Women's Baths                 

Last week I went swimming in Coogee Women’s Baths. This is one of my favorite places in Sydney and possibly in the world. It’s one of the sea baths Sydney has so many of, set in below the cliffs; oblong pieces of sea bordered by a rock wall on the seaward side but with waves splashing over and the tides washing in and out. The Women’s Baths is somewhere I’ve been coming for thirty-one years. When I first went there the entry price was 20c. Today, still, the entry price is 20c. It could be just a beautiful place, but to me it’s magical.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

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Earlier this week Bill Nye, the "Science Guy", debated Ken Ham, founder of the creationism museum in Kentucky, and it was billed as "Science vs the Bible", among other things. I watched it, and participated in a Twitter discussion for a short time during it, and then moved over to a Facebook discussion among a friend and others who are all Atheist, as far as I can tell. When the debate was over, I was left with a few thoughts.

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  • Greybeard
    Greybeard says #
    If "the word of an infallible god" has any place at a debate the infallible god should show up and say so. Otherwise its just her
  • Arwen Lynch
    Arwen Lynch says #
    Very true words, Peter. "religion, faith, and belief should never be tools used to destroy others" Thanks for an interesting loo

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Magically Unsticking

Tarot readings aren't magic, but they can create magic. I've been doing a lot of three card readings via email lately. Normally I do SKYPE or phone or in person sessions but have been guided towards more email readings.

These are short readings since they are only three cards, but I'm finding that the questions asked are creating magic for my clients.

In these readings, I'm getting asked many things but one question keeps coming up.

How do I get unstuck?

To that end, I wanted to share a three card spread you can use for yourself. I will also show you how you can craft a spell using the three cards you get.

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  • Kasey Leavitt
    Kasey Leavitt says #
    I tried this one and loved the results. Thank you so much. I felt stuck on my novel, so I asked about that. I have a non-standard
  • Arwen Lynch
    Arwen Lynch says #
    Is that the Vision Quest deck? I love that one. I love your reading on this.
  • Arwen Lynch
    Arwen Lynch says #
    Agreed. It's a fabulous thing!

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

I had been slowly acquiring archery equipment since Christmas.   While Katniss was admittedly and unashamedly the tipping point for me, there have been others.  Buffy.  The Amazons from Xena.  I wanted to know what it would be like to be able to kick ass.

Buffy is not interested in excuses.

I took my intro to Archery class and it was a stark moment of clarity for me.  Not in a I AM MOMENTS AWAY FROM KILLING AND EATING MY OWN PREY AND BECOMING A PREDATOR sort of way.  More in a, girl this is going to be a looooooong journey. Our class was taught by a perky geeky girl wearing a red shirt with the Chinese blessing cat playing with string.  She was relentlessly upbeat while she drilled safety issues into us, all the while managing to be incredibly assertive.  Her calm demeanor had a steel undertone from being Olympic trained in competitive archery and the Vice President of the NJ Archery association.  She would decide who would be allowed range privileges.  She was a little younger than me and I was deathly afraid of her.

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  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    Your instructor's whispered words were a balm to my traditionalist soul. I was a devotee of the recurve bow going as far back as
  • Arwen Lynch
    Arwen Lynch says #
    I thoroughly enjoyed this. And your point about priorities? Yeah, ouch. I needed to hear that. Don't know that I WANTED to.
Why we all search love- and how to find it for good ♥

Love is in the air... because it's brighid time? Why do we all yearn so much for love? Whether we are in a relationship or not, love calls us...

We all know what Rumi tells us: our task is not to find love, but to let crumble the walls we put up between her and us.

I feel you who read this here in this sacred space. I feel the energy of a circle of women. I feel my eyes soften and I invite you to allow yours to soften too. For love cannot be spoken of unless we feel her. The words only get meaning when we are with her. 

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Why You Should Read LOKI: AGENT OF ASGARD

Yesterday, the first issue of Marvel's LOKI: AGENT OF ASGARD arrived in your local Comics and Games Emporium. I haven't yet acquired my copy, because a frost giants are currently attacking my neighborhood and my roommate is too busy binging on Star Trek: Enterprise to dig his car out so we can exit the driveway, but I want to encourage you to pick up this comic.* If you have any interest in Marvel comics, or the Marvel movies – or, to tread into dangerous waters, in the ongoing folkloric evolution of Norse mythology through popular culture – you should give it a read.

The first two categories should be obvious: Loki is a major character in the Marvel Universe, and arguably the second most popular character in the movies after Tony Stark. AGENT OF ASGARD appears to be the culmination of several years of intense character development for Loki as well as a re-alignment of the character to better match Tom Hiddleston's portrayal in the films. But my third reason may require more explanation.

In short: if you think Marvel's treatment of Thor, Loki, and the entire Norse pantheon doesn't have an impact on the way people approach those beings in religious practice, I think you're willfully ignoring reality. How could it not? The number of people who know of Thor through Chris Hemsworth dwarfs those who have read the myth of Thor and Loki's visit to Útgarð. Some of those people will come into Heathen religions because of that first contact. The conservative nature of Heathenry ensures that anyone who first discovers the Norse gods through pop culture will immediately learn the differences between modern media and ancient sources, but it can't help but have an impact.

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  • C.S. MacCath
    C.S. MacCath says #
    I was holding out on this one; my pull list is already a mile long. But you've talked me into it. Time to write my comic book pu
  • Taylor Ellwood
    Taylor Ellwood says #
    This is an excellent example of how pop culture benefits more traditional belief systems, because as you write it can be a gateway
  • Peter Beckley
    Peter Beckley says #
    I sometimes fear the power of pop culture; unchecked it invariably waters down the message for the sake of making it palatable to

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

A few months back, I wrote a post about proper book review etiquette. Most of it was common sense stuff: be polite, be fair, point out the good aspects and the bad. Well, I apparently forgot one obvious point of etiquette:

Use the book review space to write an actual review.

It turns out -- and this never would have occurred to me -- that one does not actually have to write a review in the review box. No. It can be used instead to ... oh ... ask for dating advice. Look for a hook-up. Play a furry rpg. Rail against those with different political or religious beliefs.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

b2ap3_thumbnail_Ipad-pics-359_20140206-081309_1.JPGOver the last couple of days I have been pondering my path, and my place in it, as you do at the beginning of any year, be it the winter or summer, as it is here in New Zealand.  Despite most cultures having celebrated or marked in some what their new year in or around the middle of winter, when the settlers came to New Zealand they did not transpose their holidays religious or secular to the relevant season, so this means we often celebrate a traditional winter celebration during summer, so obviously the energy is different, but also the same, or has my Hungarian work colleague says same same but different.  But I digress.

 At this time of the year, is hard not to feel the anticipation that reverberates throughout the most of the world as the New Year approaches, both Europe and Chinese and begins.  And for us here in New Zealand it is summer, so the seasonal energy is bright and energetic.  Very fortuitous for a new set of lessons that deepen how I understand myself and how I understand my path to show themselves.

These lessons are usually heralded by a series of symbols that have made themselves obvious to me.  However these symbols or messages often come in the form of the seemly ordinary, rather than an obviously occult or magical flavour.  Which brings me to the topic of this post.

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  • Mistress Polly
    Mistress Polly says #
    Hi Jamie i love your last line, so what i was looking for when trying to say not to take it all to far.. or as you said you 'so o
  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Mistress Polly, Great post! 'Supernatural' is almost a misnomer to me, because the Gods and Spirits are intricately woven into th

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Mercury Retrograde? No Problem!

 

When the symbol of Mercury runs backwards, many people run for cover!

Striking fear in the hearts of many, Mercury Retrograde heralds a time of email glitches, power outages, miscommunication, lost paperwork, snags with fine print and so on. More about that, and what Mercury Retrograde means, in bit.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Five Days of Silence

Five days of silence…my friends laughed in astonishment. I’d signed up for a retreat at a Buddhist centre in the woods: no reading, no writing, no talking, no eye contact. My friends were amused (amazed?) because they were familiar with just how much I could talk. But maybe not with why.

 

I talk in self-defense. Or at least that’s how it feels. I talk to seek reassurance and attention, to fill the silence, to make myself real. My words are a thicket, a fence flung up to keep threats out. It takes a lot of work—a lot of words—to keep this little ship of ego afloat. 

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

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This week’s tribute (#7) is to the goddess, Laverna, the Roman goddess of thieves, frauds, plagiarists, hypocrites and ne’er-do-wells.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

b2ap3_thumbnail_blacktomatoes2_sm.jpgWhere and how does food become a religious issue? I can think of two cases. The first is when we have a relationship with what we eat. The second, when there are purity issues at stake. In his Moral Foundations theory, Jonathan Haidt says that human concepts of purity are shaped by the psychology of disgust and contamination, and holds that the body is a temple that can be desecrated by eating something that has been contaminated. While this has not, in my experience, been the case with the Pagans I know, it is common in many other religions.

I’ve found the first case is far more common for Pagans. Ritualizing the harvest of a carefully raised animal is now not uncommon among Heathens. Of the Pagans I know who garden, raise livestock animals, or grow their own food or herbal medicines, every single one has a relationship with the land, and the living beings that thrive there. Such relationships are deeply interactive. Goats are fed and milked. The milk is drunk, and soap is made nourishing humans and creating products that can be gifted or sold. Chickens are fed and housed, their eggs supporting bodies and their antics providing food for the soul. Gardens are carefully planned, mulched, fertilized and the harvest proudly shared, or preserved.

And then there is the ethic of caring for the Earth. Modern agriculture is one of the nastier things we do to the planet.

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  • Jenn
    Jenn says #
    I am a homesteader and so food is definitely a sacred part of my life. We raise chickens (for both meat and eggs) and Shetland she

Posted by on in Studies Blogs

We know that the ancient Romans and Greeks played and sang lots of music and performed lots of dances and dramas and SACRIFICES!!!!  MWA HA HA HA! AND THEN THEY SANG ABOUT THE SACRIFICES! (I like to say sacrifices).

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A Decent Proposal: Pagan Social Services

Friends, Romans, heathens, pagans, countrymen and women, lend me your ears. From time to time, many of us bemoan bad behavior in our communities, but today I would like to put forth a serious question: what would you like to do about it?

I know that we are scattered and often many of us are isolated or solitary in our practices. But faith should bring us solace in our grief and a network of support when we are in need. What can or should we do to facilitate this?

We do have charity, and there are people doing admirable things on the local level, like Alley Valkyrie in Eugene, Be the Light Chapel, or Kyrja Withers’ organization, Hands of the Goddess here in Central Florida. And yes, Kyrja still does open and active community work as a Pagan, despite hate crimes perpetuated against her and her family.  Hands of the Goddess also has a South Georgia chapter. The Maetreum of Cybele provides shelter for abused women, despite harassment from local authorities.

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  • Heather Freysdottir
    Heather Freysdottir says #
    Thank you all for your support; for now I've started a Pinterest board for the social services that I'm already aware of at http:/
  • Kimberly Reeves
    Kimberly Reeves says #
    http://www.pagansinneed.org is our food pantry. We are just local to SE Mich but I'd love to hook up with other groups for ideas.
  • Art and Spirit Guild
    Art and Spirit Guild says #
    OMG this is so awesome. Our local community leaders really want to provide services to Pagans in need but we have a difficult tim

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

(Hee hee.)

Now that I’ve got your attention, let me tell you about the time someone criticized my student and I nearly lost my friggin’ mind.

b2ap3_thumbnail_swans.jpgI see my Coven the way most people see swans. Graceful and lovely on the surface; pedaling like mad beneath the surface to keep all things going well. Guests may see them as the calm and friendly people who call the Quarters, take the suggested $10 donations, raise the energy, and don’t let anyone open the wine until Fellowship. What they don’t see are the hours driving to NYC (for those who live in CT or Westchester), or the local members shuffling their shoulder bags full of ritual gear onto the subway, setting the space, performing the rite, cleaning up, and then shuffling everything back onto the subway, but usually with additional baggage in tow: canned food, toys, or clothing for various drives. The life of the Urban Witch often demands long journeys on foot, up and down long flights of stairs while jostling staffs, swords, candles, and goods among drunken strangers on and off of subways. It’s work. It’s a task of the Spirit and one I believe we are all glad to give. But what guests also don’t see is how many hours are spent in Circle outside of Sabbat, working on strengthening their Magickal and Energetic prowess as well as working through and with their Personal Shadows as part of becoming better Practitioners.   

About six months ago, I wrote about hearing a guest pick apart the ritual we’d just performed like it was an indi-flick they had to dissect for a film class they only took because they wanted to sleep with the instructor.
Part of my irritation came from this guest so carelessly picking apart what my Coven had selflessly given. But I put me in check reminding myself that a.) my Coveners are all adults and can handle themselves and b.) I am not actually a female bear and I do not need to rip into the guts of every perceived threat against my “cubs,” especially one that is not actually a threat, but more of a rude misstep of the mouth. I let it go that time and blogged. It was all in divine order as many people said they identified with it. Yay! Thank you, Criticism Fairy! You taught us all a lesson.

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  • Courtney Weber
    Courtney Weber says #
    Told you.
  • Terence P Ward
    Terence P Ward says #
    See?

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