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Culture Blogs

Popular subjects in contemporary Pagan culture and practice.

Category contains 1 blog entry contributed to teamblogs

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
An Imbolc Idea

This winter has been a harsh one thus far, to say the least. Rather than resist it, the best tactic for coping might in fact be facing it head on. Provided that February 2 does not fall into dangerous windchill temps in your neck of the woods, I recommend a meditation by skiing. Cross-country, that is. I will never forget the Saturday afternoon back in high school that I cross-country skied to my best friend's house across a barren cornfield. The weather conditions were ideal. The sun was out and making the snow on the ground glisten. It was warm enough that I could eventually unbutton my long overcoat. I was listening to Pink Floyd's, "Dark Side of the Moon," on my walkman. If that dates me, I don't care. The experience was paradisiacal. 

 

Even if you don't own a pair of skis, there are usually inexpensive options for a daily rent at a supply shop. Or if you are a member of a nature center, such as the Urban Ecology Center in Milwaukee, you may check out a pair for free with your membership. Find your ideal deserted woodsy setting– preferably something straight out of a Robert Frost poem, and get skiing. If you opt for music, your really can't go wrong with the afore-mentioned Pink Floyd. Otherwise, choose something instrumental and soothing that you can clear your mind to. Karen Drucker also has some lovely selections off of her "Songs of the Spirit" CD that could help focus your meditation to the Goddess. Besides clearing your mind and enlivening your soul, your body will get a great workout. If opting for no music, tune into the sounds of wildlife creatures, the swish swish of your skis gliding along at a steady pace, and the occasional soft plump of falling or melting snow. Breathe in deep and let the fresh, clean air open up your lungs. Let the gratitude of being healthy, outside, and able to still enjoy these things fill your heart.

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"Only the gods are without flaw. All one can ask of a man

is that he do more good than ill, and no ill willingly."

(tr. Posch)

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Deep Winter here, and as one does, I dream of Spring.

According to Classicist M. L. West, “Swinging is a recurrent feature of Indo-European springtime and midsummer festivities.”

Sure enough: in Hindu India, in ancient (and modern) Greece and Rome, in Russia, in the Balkans, in the Baltics: springtime (often Easter) is when you hang a swing from the leafing-out branch of a tree and jump on for a ride (and better it be if it's with a buddy). Half the Latvian Easter dainas that I've seen focus on swinging. There's said to be a sympathetic correlation between how high one swings and how high the crops will stand in the coming growing season.

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 For all that we're no People of the Book, M. L. West's magisterial Indo-European Poetry and Myth comes as close to a one-stop-shop for pagan Received Tradition as I can think of.

 I first discovered the Wonderful World of West while tracking down a purported taboo in Indo-European cultures against pissing toward the Sun.

 Sure enough, in culture after culture, there it is, written not on paper but in the hearts and minds of the people: you don't piss toward the Sun.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Creating Intention Mandalas


Mandala is a Sanskrit word for "circle" and is a sacred, symbolic diagram used for contemplation. In Buddhism and Hinduism, mandalas usually include images of Buddhas or deities. Yantra is a Sanksrit word for "instrument", and is meant to inspire inner visualizations, meditations, and spiritual experiences. However, since the two terms are often used interchangeably, the word mandala usually refers to any circular image or diagram.

You can create your own mandala for meditation, as well as for a specific intent. For example, perhaps you'd like to allow prosperity and abundance in your life. Or, maybe you'd like to be more courageous and learn how to speak up for yourself.

Click here for a full-size blank mandala template that I've created for you to print and use.
 
Creating A Mandala With Intention
 
Step 1: Gather the medium/s you choose to use for creating your mandala. You can use crayons, watercolors, chalk, colored pencils, etc.
 
Step 2: Find a quiet spot, and consider something that you'd like to allow into your life. Breath deeply, from your belly, slowly inhaling to the count of 5...then exhaling to the count of 5. Do this several times until you feel calm and centered.
 
Step 3: Working from the center, draw, paint, or color how you feel about what you want to allow in your life. There is no wrong way to create a mandala. This process is a personal one, and for your own empowerment, growth, and peace.
 
Step 4: After completing your mandala, place it in a prominent position where you'll see it often. You could buy thin magnetic strips with sticky backing to hang it up on your refrigerator or metal cabinetry. Or, frame your mandala and hang it on a wall. This will remind you of your intent, and help you focus and allow what you are wanting to bring into your life.
 
Examples Of Intention
 
Here are some intentions for creating a mandala:
 
*To allow joy
*To surrender worrisome circumstances
*To allow love into your life
*Self-acceptance
*For world peace
*To allow abundance
*For gratitude
*To release anger and bitterness
*For working through grief
*To welcome the job of your dreams
*To connect with the Divine
*To learn to say NO
*To culivate a compassionate attitude
 
Many blessings to you as you create a mandala for intent!
 
My husband, Ron, created the mandala above. Click here to see the larger version.
 
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