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A friend of mine hosted the Lughnasadh celebration for our multi-tradition ritual group, and she asked me if I’d help her out and take some speaking parts. I accepted, and I made sure to go over my lines before we gathered. We even practiced together before the ritual began, which should have meant that I was prepared for my cues and that the script should have flowed smoothly and beautifully.
Only it didn’t because naturally I missed my cue and had to stumble to find my place and get the ritual back on track while everyone waited patiently for me to get my act together. I was a little embarrassed of course, but no one really minded (or if they did they were gracious and didn’t make me feel bad.) But I’ve been thinking about this moment a lot since the ritual, held at the end of July. Maybe I missed my cue because I just wasn’t paying attention and I’m easily distracted, but I’d like to think that I missed my cue because the ritual was actually working, that the message our talented hostess was trying to share with the group was coming across to me loud and clear.
I love rituals. I mean, I really love rituals. I'm enchanted by the very act of drawing a temenos line between this moment and that moment. Time itself seems to stand still or speed up or shift in some way that doesn't seem quite congruent with the way I understand the universe to usually work on an otherwise ordinary Monday afternoon. I find there's a fluidity of speech and movement. The words and actions take on a life of their own as if they themselves are animated for the sole purpose of co-creating this exact moment of devotion.
I've found that effective ritual practices don't have to be elaborate or on a grand scale. Although, let me just say that I'm partial to a thrumming mass of Pagan-type folk all gathered together for the expressed purpose of being in consensual ritual practice together. I've had the pleasure to attend and help create the magic for the annual Reclaiming Spiral Dance in San Francisco, which is now in its 35th year. There's a variety of rituals from every imaginable Pagan tradition at events like Pantheacon. I thoroughly enjoy being a little thrown off by rituals that use a different lexicon than my own tradition; rituals that have their own distinct meter and rhythm.
I was going to write about something related but different in my next column. But I read Shauna Aura Knight’s excellent post about her stance on the Frosts this morning, and the controversy she has encountered has encouraged me to change focus. It seems to me that much of the criticism and condemnation boils down to, "She's not playing nice." Well, here's the problem with "niceness." I must tread carefully to protect privacy so much of my language is deliberately vague.
One of our tradition members – an initiate of an initiate – contacted my husband and priest. She said that her teenage daughter had told her that her husband had sexually abused her. The couple have been married for many years; the girl in question is the man’s daughter genetically. The mother was, quite understandably, in tears. She wanted to know what she should do....
This is the third of a series of posts about how I relate to the elements in the Southern Hemisphere living on the western coast of Australia; this time, we are going To Dare and explore the element of Water. Previously, I called in Fire, in the North.
I've always wanted to be a mermaid. There was just something so appealing about it. I never actually watched The Little Mermaid as a child, weirdly enough as a kid who grew up in the 1980s and 90s, that boat sailed right by me. However I have always been enchanted by the 'seaside', and I have lived within a short drive or a short walk away from the beach my whole life. I am lucky enough to be on the doorstep of the Indian Ocean, and have ready access to some of the world's most beautiful beaches. I used to run down to the beach in the hot summers as a lanky 14 year old with my body board in tow and the waves I used to catch when I was by myself makes me shake my head with bewilderment today. Somewhere I found my fear as an adult; perhaps it was one too many times getting dumped by the waves into the harsh sandbar....
This edition of our Watery Wednesday feed features news from the Covenant of the Goddess; an update on the continuing legal battle over the Matreum of Cybele; a call for submissions to a new Pagan traditions anthology; and two stories on the drought in the American west.
Covenant of the Goddess (a national Wiccan organization) accomplished a lot at their yearly Merry Meet convention, including establishing an Award for Outstanding Service; honored military Pagans; established an educational committee to fight sexual abuse; and adopted a formal statement on environmental issues. Read all the press releases from Merry Meet for all the details....
A few weeks ago I wrote about Dionysos, one of the major gods within the Minoan pantheon. Today I’m going to explore the character of Zagreus. He is sometimes considered an aspect of Dionysos and sometimes viewed as a separate deity. The tapestry of Minoan spirituality is a complicated thing, and it’s often difficult to tease out the individual threads, but I’ll give it a go and see what we can discover about this interesting, and ancient, deity.
In his seminal work Dionysos: Archetypal Image of Indestructible Life, Karl Kerenyi identified Zagreus with the ecstatic Dionysiac festivals in which wild animals were torn limb from limb by crazed worshipers. Kerenyi connected Zagreus’ name with the Greek term for a trapper – a hunter who catches live animals rather than killing them. But the etymology of the name can also be traced back to a root meaning torn or dismembered, another thread connecting this intriguing god with those Dionysiac rites. Just to be clear: Zagreus is not the same as the Hellenic god Zeus, even though their names look somewhat alike. In their effort to create an ancient ancestry for their deities, the Greeks made Zeus the son of the Minoan goddess Rhea and said he was born on Crete, but he is a later deity and not the same as Zagreus....