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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in deities

I have been focused on the art of surrender lately – I am deeply interested in what it takes for your average modern person to consciously live the Will of the Gods, what the difference is between partial and complete surrender (I have the sinking suspicion the latter feels like sitting between two stools, while the other feels like connected bliss) and what a contemporary mystic’s journey can be like…and in this case, how that journey begins.

When I was first exploring paganism and Reclaiming witchcraft (later coming to the Feri Tradition through Reclaiming) I hand-picked the Goddesses and Gods that I wanted to work with, calling to the energies which sparkled and sparked outside of me, just within the reach of my imagination. I found it intensely powerful to strike up my first Goddess relationship with Brighid, keeper of the forge of my heart. Over the years, I have worked with many Goddesses, as I have felt called…but the deepest relationships I have experienced with the Divine have emerged when I have trusted the Divine to choose me.

A few years back, in the midst of a small crisis of faith, I was feeling very disconnected from my spirituality and practice. I wouldn’t call it a dark night of the soul – it felt more like a gray apathy of the psyche. I discussed this feeling of spiritual disconnection with a trusted friend, and she suggested that I create an altar: barely decorated, with a white altar cloth and a bowl of salt water, she suggested I sit in front of this altar every night and ask to be contacted by gods, being open to Whomever wanted to come through and make contact. This idea intrigued me, as I had never before relinquished so much control of my spiritual connection with deity. It felt like a growing edge, and I love growing edges.

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  • Heather Freysdottir
    Heather Freysdottir says #
    I was god-stalked by Loki. Before He made His Holy Presence known, I wasn't heathen or familiar with Him (that I was aware of). He

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Invoking Deities with Tarot

One of the most powerful aspects of ritual work is invocation. To invoke an element, a spirit or a deity is to bring their energy to your circle, and to bring their healing magickal power to yourself.

Many Pagans use statues, images and altar tools to help with the process of invocation. To have the image of a deity on your altar not only honors the deity, it assists in invoking the energy of that deity.

 We choose specific deities to invoke for specific reasons. Some of us invoke specific deities on certain holidays.  It is also helpful to invoke a deity based on your specific need. A mother Goddess like Quan Yin might be helpful if you are doing fertility magick, for instance. A God associated with animals, like Cernuous, might be helpful in the healing of a pet. A Goddess of prosperity like Lakshmi might help with financial issues.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

Last year, there was a tumultuous discussion over Brendan Myers' article on the Wild Hunt.  A comment by Sannion hit me like a load of bricks:

My rituals are done to please the gods. Therefore, if you do not acknowledge the existence of those gods then there is absolutely no reason to be in attendance at the rites because — and I know this will come as a shock to some — true worship isn’t about us and what we get out of the experience however much one may, indeed, get out of it.  (emphasis Sannion's)

You can feel the power of that statement.  I completely disagree with it, but I respect it.  Why?  Because it displays integrity.  Sannion lays out his beliefs in a way that is totally unambiguous: the gods are real, and ritual is for them.

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  • Editor B
    Editor B says #
    Very thought-provoking. I hope this article garners some comments because I would be interested in hearing reactions. All I can sa
  • B. T. Newberg
    B. T. Newberg says #
    Thanks, B. Yes, ritual is all over secular life as well. It may often get called "ceremony" but it's there in spades.
  • John Halstead
    John Halstead says #
    This is a really good. I think the idea that worshiping the gods serves the culture as well as the individual practitioners is ve

Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Which Voices?

The God/dess/es do not care about your rice krispies nor are their messages to be found in the snap, crackle, and pop. I have had what I believe to be genuine communication with the beings that I consider to be Deities and have experienced a number of forms of divine embodiment, or divine possession if you prefer. As such I do believe and have personal experiences that deepen the belief that the Great Ones do directly affect our lives. However, I regularly encounter people who report a chatty, friendly, rapport with the God/dess/es that they work with and/or worship. I have puzzled about this and in many cases it seems very sincere, but I doubt that beings whose scale of perception and consciousness are large enough to be considered Deities engage in small talk. I will warrant that this may simply be a limitation of my imagination and sensibilities, but I have another thought. 

 

I talk to my dogs, and like so many other doting dog lovers, I also talk for them. There is real communication between us, but there is also much that I add for my own benefit. Many humans are prone to anthropomorphizing pretty much anything as a way of bridging the gap between what we are and what is different from ourselves. This is actually a very sound and useful strategy as a starting point, so long as we remain aware that it is not the end of the process. The same is true when we theanthroposize, when we ascribe human emotions and thought patterns to a God/dess. Once again a good beginning point but one that requires heightened vigilance. This is complicated by the fact that many in this culture have a religion of origin that encouraged the idea of a personal relationship with God. Upon making the transition to some form of Paganism, this concept of personal relationship often remains relatively unchanged and unexamined. This can create another overlay of expectations that interfere with true communication with the Divine. I do believe that we each have a personal concept of the Divine and a personal way in which we relate to the Divine. Accordingly, I do suggest that a full and extensive re-examination of the parameters of human and Divine interactions is a good idea when we move to a new faith.

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  • Diana Todd
    Diana Todd says #
    “I do whatever my rice krispies tell me to do” Is humorous, but it is also unsettling for how true it is for some. Discernment is

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Being a devotee of *cough* "lesser-known" Deities does occasionally suck. In my case, while I honor well-known Deities such as Hermes and The Muses and Artemis and Hekate, I am also very devoted to The Charites.

The usual response to that statement is "who?"

If I said "The Graces" instead, would that help?

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Crossing the Sacred Threshold: The Gods of Small Things

 

I am a Latin teacher currently (and laboriously) working my way toward a PhD in Classics. I read a lot of Latin texts (in Latin and usually with quite a bit of cussing along the way as I attempt to untangle classical Latin syntax). Fortunately, for the most part, I enjoy this and one of the tangential elements that I find particularly satisfying in my studies is occasionally coming across an interesting reference to ancient Roman [polytheistic] religion along the way.  It happens a lot and for all that I am Heathen, not a practitioner of Religio Romana, I find that every time I read about how a man or woman, raised in Roman culture, steeped in its religion honored his or her Gods, I find my own practices enriched.

When I started in Classics I was told (by a PhD candidate) that no one really understands Roman religion. I admit to being a bit taken aback. It always made perfect sense to me: honor your ancestors, honor the living spirit of your city, its genus loci, maintain the proper household and public rituals, and live in a world where everything has its spirit, everything is alive. It made perfect sense to me and I’ll tell you why: for all of their diversity, polytheistic religions – which are indigenous religions-- seem, in my opinion, to share a common thread, one quite alien to monotheistic thought; that common thread is rooted not just in a polytheistic and by extension pluralistic worldview, but in one that is, to greater or lesser degree, animist.

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  • Galina Krasskova
    Galina Krasskova says #
    Anne, I"ll try to write something on that soon.
  • Joseph Bloch
    Joseph Bloch says #
    I've been pushing for a re-recognition of the spirits of the land and household for years, now, both in my personal practice and e
  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    I'd love to hear more about *how* to connect with the small gods of place; although I'm quite well acquainted with the larger deit

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Warning: blatant self-promotion ahead! But, there is a really good reason for said self-promotion, so please bear with me.

Science fiction as a genre is both extremely popular and notoriously difficult to define. It is often a case of "I'll know it when I see it." Stars Wars? Yes. Star Trek? Yes. McCaffrey's Pern books? Yes. KA Laity's Owl Stretching? Considering the people-eating aliens and near-future setting, yes. Devon Monk's The Age of Steam series? Um ... it's set in the Wild West, but it's steampunk, which is often considered a subgenre of science fiction, but it's got faeries and magic, too, so ... maybe? Lucian of Samosata's True History? Um ... second century fable-ish proto-science fiction? 

Throwing "Pagan" into the mix makes things even more difficult. How does one define "Pagan" in this context? Does the author of a work have to identity as some flavor of Pagan? Or does only the work itself have to deal with Pagan Deities, philosophies, and myths?

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  • Eli Effinger-Weintraub
    Eli Effinger-Weintraub says #
    Hey, Rebecca. I wanted to mention The Pagan Anthology of Short Fiction, a co-effort of Llewellyn and our own Witches&Pagans. Sever
  • Ryan Musgrave-Evans
    Ryan Musgrave-Evans says #
    Hey guys. If there's a free-for-all on self promotion going at the moment, I'll mention my own works. "Dead Stars" is a 110,000 wo
  • Sophie Gale
    Sophie Gale says #
    Now you've got me hunting for Pagan authors! SF is a labor of love for JMG, not necessarily a paying gig. Patricia Kennealy-Morr

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Every month, the members of Neos Alexandria study three different Deities for our Gods of the Month Club. Originally, the Deities were limited to the official Hellenistic-oriented pantheon of Neos Alexandria itself. This year, though, members agreed that we could start looking into Deities outside ancient Alexandria, allowing for some very lively discussions (is Brigid three Goddesses or a trinity?) and comparisons (who knew Athena and Kali had so much in common?).

Early on in the GMC program -- though I can't remember exactly when -- I made a capital-P Promise that I would write at least one poem in honor of each Deity for that month. So far, I have managed to keep that promise. And, I have to admit, I have been very surprised to discover that it is not my matron and patron Deities that I am most excited to write for (though I will take any chance to pen a poem for Hermes or The Charites), but rather those Deities with whom I have only a passing familiarity or no familiarity at all.

I remember the month when Neith was selected. My initial response was "Um ... she's like the Egyptian version of Athena, right?" Well, not exactly. The two Goddesses do indeed have some areas of interest (like warcraft and weaving), but they are distinct Deities with their own personalities and histories. I learned a lot about Neith that month, came to appreciate Her as a Goddess in Her own right, and was inspired to write two very different cosmogonic poems in Her honor.

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  • Elani Temperance
    Elani Temperance says #
    I am absolutely terrible at poetry. Brighid was my matron for years and still, I never grew out of the fourteen year old emo poems

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

A few weeks back, I listed the how-to writing guides which I found most useful. Among them was Corrine Kenner's Tarot for Writers. Throughout her text, Kenner references the traditional Rider-Waite deck -- a deck which I have never owned or used. Nonetheless, Kenner's exercises and suggested spreads work with (virtually) any deck.

That (virtually) there is important. The book has proven most useful not just with the decks with which I am most familiar, but also those decks that contain the most densely packed imagery.

The first two decks that I purchased (I really can't remember which came first) were The Motherpeace Round Tarot by Karen Vogel and Vicki Noble, and The Goddess Tarot by Kris Waldherr. I have since added The Anubis Oracle by Nicki Scully, Linda Star Wolf, and Kris Waldherr; Ancient Feminine Wisdom of Goddesses and Heroines by Kay Steventon and Brian Clark; The New Mythic Tarot by Juliet Sharman-Burke, Liz Greene, and Giovanni Caselli; and the Art Nouveau tarot from Lo Scarabeo, to my collection.

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  • Rebecca Buchanan
    Rebecca Buchanan says #
    Thanks for mentioning Dugan's new tarot deck. I will have to see if I can find a copy.
  • Emily Mills
    Emily Mills says #
    Wonderful post! I haven't picked up The Goddess Tarot, but I love that the staves are the path of Freya. I just took a class about

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

I am about to tell you a Deep Reclaiming Secret. Seriously. This is, like, twelfth-level initiate stuff.* This is the secret of how to become a Reclaiming Witch. Are you ready? Here goes (at least, as I was taught. Your Moose May Vamoose):

In order to be considered a member of the Reclaiming Tradition, you must name yourself as such  and agree to abide by the Principles of Unity.

Ta-da!

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Over at Patheos, Star Foster recently blogged about the paganizing influence of books such as the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. It is a conversation I have had many times, online and in person: do such books really bring people to Paganism (of whatever tradition)? Based on my own completely unscientific survey, I believe the answer is yes. Books like the Percy Jackson series -- and possibly Rowling's Harry Potter, Neil Gaiman's Odd and the Frost Giants, Anne Ursu's The Cronus Chronicles, and others -- do seem to spark an interest in the old Gods and mythologies. Or, perhaps, fan a flame that was already there.

 
At the same time .... I have to confess, I did not particularly enjoy The Lightning Thief, the first book in the Percy Jackson series. I got so little enjoyment out of it, in fact, that I did not bother to continue with the books, or even pick up Riordan's other series (The Kane Chronicles and Heroes of Olympus). I was ... disappointed. Let down. I had so been looking forward to a story which drew upon the ancient mythology and treated the Gods of old respectfully that ... eh ... shallow characters, shallow use of mythology, et cetera and so on.
 
I suppose I should have known better. This is a series written for mass entertainment. Riordan (so far as I know) is not any persuasion of Pagan, and he did not write the books with a Pagan audience in mind. This series was written for people who treat the old Gods and myths as fictional characters, not as real beings or sources of wisdom.
 
Which leads me to the second half of the title above: yes, we can do better. We -- the Pagan community at large -- need to be writing stories for our children about the Gods we honor and the traditions we practice. We need to offer them positive role models, kids just like them who struggle with the same problems and who do their best to act honorably. Heck, we need to be writing such stories for the non-Pagan community, too; show what we're all about.
 
So, consider this column a call to arms ... or rather, pens. Get your collective butts in your chairs, offer up a prayer or two for guidance and inspiration, and get writing! And here are a few ideas, free and clear, to do with as you please. Adopt them whole, take pieces here and there, use them as a launching pad for your ideas. Whatever. Just get writing!
 
One) Ecological. Ages 4-8. A dryad who lives in Central Park befriends a group of young children who play hide and seek near her tree. She introduces them to the wonders of the Park, to the amazing plants and animals who make it their home. For fans of The Magic School Bus series by Joanna Cole and Bruce Degen, The Cat in the Hat's Learning Library series, and the Reading Rainbow books. 
 
Two) Mystery series. Ages 7-12. A young devotee of Athena uses math and science to solve crimes. The Goddess Herself makes at least one appearance in each story, offering the young girl guidance by explaining mathematical theories and principles, scientific concepts, and so forth. For fans of The Magic School Bus series by Joanna Cole and Bruce Degen, The Magic Treehouse series Mary Pope Osborne and Sal Murdocca, and The Goddess Girls series by Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams.
 
Three) Adventure series. Ages 7-12. In 8th century northern Europe, a young boy accompanies his father as they sail around the Baltic Sea, down the Atlantic coast of  Europe, and through the Mediterranean to distant Byzantium. Along the way, he encounters strange new cultures, languages, religions, and animals. A stealthy way to teach kids about geography, history and even map reading. For fans of The Ranger's Apprentice series by John Flanagan and the Young Samurai series by Chris Bradford.
 
Four) Paranormal. Ages 10-13. In the early 1800s, the young woman who will become Queen Victoria befriends three sisters. Unbeknownst to Victoria, the sisters practice British Traditional Witchcraft in secret, and they use their abilities to protect the future Queen. A great way to explore British history, women's history, and pre-Wicca Witchcraft. For fans of the Hex Hall series by Rachel Hawkins and the Sweep series by Cate Tiernan.
 
Five) Alternate history. Ages 12-18. In this what if ... series, the Pharaohs still rule a polytheistic Egypt. Follow the adventures of one of Pharaoh's daughters, as she solves mysteries, undertakes diplomatic missions, and romances handsome princes -- with style, of course. For fans of The Princess Academy series by Shannon Hale, the Luxe series by Anne Godbersen, and Oh. My. Gods. by Tera Lyn Child.
 
Six) Fantasy. Ages 12-18. Too many fantasy books draw on Greek mythology, or maybe some mash-up of Middle Eastern mythology. Time for a change. Go Aztec. It is an incredibly rich source of fantastic creatures, terrible monsters and great warriors, peopled by amazing Gods. Treat the source material with respect and go for it. For fans of The Forest of Hands and Teeth series by Carrie Ryan, The Wolves of Mercy Falls series by Maggie Stiefvater, and The Last Apprentice series by Joseph Delaney.
 
Seven) Paranormal. Ages 13-18. In the years immediately following World War II, an American teen accompanies his family to occupied Japan, where his father is stationed. When he befriends several Japanese teens, he gets caught up in a mystery involving an ancient ghost. How better to sneak in important lessons about war, peace, forgiveness, Shinto, Buddhism, and Ainu traditions? For fans of Soldier Boys by Dean Hughes, Farewell to Manzanar by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston, and Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata.
 
Eight) Science fiction. Ages 13-18. When the Earth can no longer support human life, generation ships filled with colonists flee for the nearest habitable planet. But it will take decades to reach their new home. Follow one Wiccan coven across the years as they adjust to life on the ship, adapt their traditions and practices to their new surroundings, fall in and out of love, marry, pass those traditions on to their children and grandchildren, and finally make landfall on their new home. For fans of the Across the Universe books by Beth Revis, the Matched series by Ally Condie, and the Sirantha Jax books by Ann Aguirre.
 
So, there you have them: eight ideas for Pagan- and/or polytheist-centric books for kids, tweens and teens. Choose one or two. Pick up your pen, your pencil, your laptop, whatever. And get writing! 



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  • Tess Dawson
    Tess Dawson says #
    It seems I have taken you up on your challenge, Rebecca: http://witchesandpagans.com/Pagan-Paths-Blogs/the-man-who-wailed-at-the-s
  • Rebecca Buchanan
    Rebecca Buchanan says #
    @Brian: give it a shot. You might discover you have a talent for writing after all.
  • Rebecca Buchanan
    Rebecca Buchanan says #
    @Amy: thanks for the suggestion. I will add Bird's book to my To Read list.

A few days now, I have tackled controversial topics on this blog so to give everyone, including myself, a rest, I'm going to tackle a good old fashioned ancient Greek topic; the peculiar place of beggars in ancient Greek society. After all, of all professions there were in ancient Greece, the profession of beggar is, perhaps, the most difficult to understand.

A beggar, or ptóchos (πτωχός), was both a welcomed and a loathed sight at the gates of ancient Greek cities. According to some sources, most notable Hesiod's Works and Days, being a beggar is a profession, equated with potters and minstrels. They performed a public function simply by being who they were and doing what they did. But what did they do?

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  • Luke Hauser
    Luke Hauser says #
    Good research on an unusual topc -- thanks for the post
  • Elani Temperance
    Elani Temperance says #
    Unusual topics are the most fun ;-) Thank you for your kind feedback.
  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Thanks for the great post! There is nothing so modern as the problems of the ancient world. Except the problem of 'purifying' our

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Chancleta Deficit Disorder Part II

"The Case of the Consulting Shaman and the Crusty Client."

 

Consider the subtitle a nod to the BBC series “Sherlock.” I’ve recently become a fan after being introduced to the series by one of my friends. I swear, British television has ruined me, just ruined me, but in all the best ways, of course. This particular series is brilliantly written and quite inspiring to anyone who deals regularly with clients of any sort. It’s hilarious. But, before I digress too badly, where did I leave off my last post? Ah yes, with exhortations that my readers arm themselves with a good stiff drink before proceeding further. Ready? Drink in hand? Good, then I shall begin.

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  • Rebecca Buchanan
    Rebecca Buchanan says #
    *gurgle* Just ... Wow ....
  • Elani Temperance
    Elani Temperance says #
    I am... completely shell-shocked by this case. I've read it thrice now and still I can't wrap my head around it. This really happe
  • Christine L Berger
    Christine L Berger says #
    This is really a most extraordinary blog. There is so much information here and serious reminders about at the very least showing

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

No, that title is not a typo. I do mean theoilogy.

Theology, to quote the ever-handy Wikipedia, derives "from Ancient Greek Θεός meaning "God" and λόγος-logy, meaning "study of." God. Singular. By its very nature, at its very root, the word assumes a single Godhead. As such, I find the term best suited only to those religious systems which are explicitly monotheistic or monistic, eg Islam, most strains of Christianity, some branches of Judaism, and some sects within Hinduism.*

But, it is an ill-fit with explicitly polytheistic or even duotheistic systems, such as some branches of Judaism, some Christian sects, most sects within Hinduism, and the majority of Pagan and indigenous traditions. When I write about the nature of Zeus, I am not engaging in theology -- I am engaging in theoilogy. Zeus is not God Alone. He is part of a vast family of Deities; He is part of a web of relationships and responsibilities, and I cannot even begin to comprehend him outside of that web. Thus, theoilogy, from the Ancient Greek Θεοί meaning "Gods." Plural.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 

 

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  • Brian Shea
    Brian Shea says #
    I wonder if it's the same with leprechauns on St. Patties day?
  • Emily Mills
    Emily Mills says #
    I've often thought about this subject in terms of museums, but never thought about the Tiki connection. There's an art museum near

Posted by on in Studies Blogs

First, I want to thank all the folks who have posted kind words about my starting this blog. It is deeply encouraging to be so warmly received. Thank you!

Before turn to my topic for this post, I wish to reflect on the interesting conversation about the use of the term ‘pagan’ in this, its uncapitalized form. I’ve given my opinion already, in that I feel it has no referent, and that it represents a distortion of the past, but for that please see the original post and its comments. What is interesting to me is that folks would defend its use. It was and is an insult, as common in use as the ’n-word’ was at a time. By naming ourselves ‘Pagan’ we proudly turn that opprobrium into an honorable name for a new and defiant religion, ours. . . . . .

So, then, what is ‘religion’? I’ll start by citing a not-bad version of the dictionary definition for religion: “a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.” (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/religion)

You will no doubt notice the primacy of ‘belief’ in this definition. Ritual also gets a mention, as does morality, but only as a optional quality.

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  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    Good thinking, Sam; in this day-and-age the words "religion" and "spirituality" have become so entangled that reasoned discourse s
  • Gareth Storm
    Gareth Storm says #
    Another fascinating thought experiment captured in little "black" pixels surrounded by "white" ones, showing us just how much gray

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

One of the key foundations of modern (and ancient) Paganism is also one of the most contentious. We find it very hard to talk about, it seems, and yet it's fairly key to many people's personal practice. When I've talked about it in the past, it almost seems like I'm breaking a taboo, with the words themselves being 'dirty' or embarrassing. And yet, learning from my passionate and heartfelt Heathen friends, that embarrassment is itself disrespectful, dishonourable and, ultimately, rather foolish.

Who are your Gods and Goddesses? What does Deity mean to you, and how does it influence and affect your Paganism? From the Platonic 'ultimate Male/Female' images (tallying with 'All Gods/Goddesses are One') to the pantheistic, international eclectic transference of pretty much any deity with any other no matter where you yourself live, talking about Deity is a tricky business. Especially because ultimately, nobody can really tell you you're wrong. Or right. Except, perhaps, those Gods themselves.

The Judgement of Paris (Classical)

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  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    Cat: Like Elani, you are articulating one of the major cutting edges of contemporary Paganism -- what *do* we believe? I, for one,
  • Rebecca Buchanan
    Rebecca Buchanan says #
    Wonderful post. I think about the Gods in general, and my patron/matron Gods, all the time. But too often I forget to stop, liste

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Your Garden Could Use Some TLC

Some Pagans sure do like to get into everyone's business, don't they? Now that all the hubbub over who's a fat Pagan has died down (thank you any gods that will listen!), we're now onto who's a Pagan based upon which source materials they're referencing to find spiritual growth and their purpose in this world. Are you kidding me?

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Title: The Prince of the Dolomites: An Old Italian Tale 

Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich

Creator: Tomie dePaola

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  • Larksong
    Larksong says #
    Hi Rebecca, I noticed there was not much of this post showing above the fold. This is because the automatic system allows for thr

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

I've returned today from performing a Handfasting with my partner - not unusual at this time of year. But this was our first on a beach.

Yes, this is Britain. Yes, we've just had semi-monsoon conditions for the last few months. Summer was rumoured to have been cancelled. So much could have gone wrong.

It was beautiful. Golden sands, blue sky, bright sun, lush green grasses and flowers on the path leading from the couple's home to the beach itself... everyone commented that you couldn't have wished for a better day.

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