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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
On Frigga


She is not the most beautiful woman at the court of the Aesir, nor the most glamorous, not the most vivacious and charming. Those roles are held by Freyja, said by some to be Her rival, by others to be another, earlier, side of Herself. (In mainland Germany, there was no Frigga and no Freyja—only Frija, apparently an amalgam of the two goddesses.) There is no contest: Freyja is the star who draws all eyes in Asgard.

But Frigga will gladly cede this to Her, because She is more than that: She is Asgard's Queen, the one who holds the heart of its King and who carries His keys. She runs His household, has borne and raised His children, and sits at His side. She is the one He turns to for comfort, counsel, and blessings. She is the one who offers sacred drink to those who sit at His table, and that drink itself carries a mystery from the past that few--beyond the two of Them—know or speak of.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
St. Margaret Hamilton Rides Again

Wicca-schmicca. The iconic witch of the 20th century is Margaret Hamilton, the Wicked Witch of the West. If you've ever wondered why she's green, any Midwesterner can tell you. Tornado skies really are that color.

My friend Stephanie and I are big Wizard of Oz folks. Is that really a filmic epiphany of the Triple Goddess there in Munchkinland, or are you just glad to see me?

Stephanie's doorbell hasn't worked for years. Why have it repaired when you can hang a Bell Out of Order: Please Knock sign on your front door instead? For all I know, the doorbell actually does work.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Ruth Pace
    Ruth Pace says #
    the stereotyped picture of a witch came out before Wizard of Oz - half-healed bruises will take on a greenish tint. Add to the pic
  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham says #
    Being a good Christian Witch, I do so love this story

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

What’s the difference between a pentagram and a pentacle? Aren’t pentagrams satanic? Why do some Wiccans wear pentagrams? Do I have to wear a pentagram to be a Wiccan?

A pentagram is a five-pointed star, usually depicted as interwoven, or with the lines used to draw it overlapping. A pentacle is a pentagram with a circle around it. Pentagrams and pentacles have long been symbols of protection and warding off evil, and they are used for that purpose by many Wiccans today.

A Little History

Pentagrams have been used for thousands of years and appear in ancient Greek, Roman, Mesopotamian, and Egyptian art. They have been used by Christians, too—perhaps most famously by Hildegard of Bingen, who, along with other twelfth-century Christian scholars, associated the number five with the five senses and the human body (one head, two arms, and two legs; it reminds me a bit of Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man), and saw it as the symbol of the microcosm, or the divine reflected on earth. The symbolism of the pentacle plays an important role in the medieval poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and of course it is also associated with the Christmas star and sits atop the Christmas tree in many Christian homes.

The pentagram has been used extensively by practitioners of alchemy and high magic (both past and present), including Cornelius Agrippa and Eliphas Levi, who developed the Tetragrammaton Pentagram. The pentagram was adopted by fraternal organizations such as the Freemasons and the Order of the Eastern Star, which associates each point with a woman from the bible.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Growing Up Among Almond Trees

Almond Orchards

As a child in Ripon, California, I lived surrounded by almond orchards. The trees grew in neat, straight rows, in accordance with human desires rather than their own. The only time the trees were able to have a little freedom was during the annual Almond Blossom Festival, when they dropped pinkish-white petals all over the ground. Almond trees lined the main street of town, and the petals collected in drifts on the street, and blew through the air during the parade. I could sense the trees' exuberant happiness at that time of year.

The orchards were not just full of trees, though. They were also full of angry honeybees who lived to sting humans. I understood why. They were being kept as slaves, and forced to live a migrant lifestyle that did not suit them. Commercial beehives were moved around from one orchard to another, disorienting the bees. Although I could sense why they hated human beings, understanding them did not make me any less afraid of them. I was allergic and would pass out if I was stung, and they would chase humans, and they terrified me. 40 years later, I'm free of that fear, though the cost was too high-- I'll write about that when I catch up to the present day.

The Tradition of Hospitality

My mom's parents, who immigrated from Austria and were native speakers of Plattdeutsch, were nominally Christian but observed a number of traditional Germanic customs that no doubt originated in heathen times. Some of these customs had a coat of Christian paint on old heathen wood. There is an old tradition known among heathens today as Guestright. That is taking in transients, and goes back to the days when there was no such thing as a hotel, and back to a place where sleeping outdoors would surely mean freezing to death, so the custom had a practical function in society. It also had heathen religious overtones, because there were many stories of Odin wandering in disguise, and the traveler who came to the door might be Odin, and one had best not turn him away and anger him. My grandfather observed a custom of inviting a "bum" home for Christmas Eve every year. Although it was tied to a Christian holiday, that very holiday is also an old pagan and heathen holiday, Yule. The family claimed this tradition was about charity, but it was transparently really about honoring the wanderer. If it had been about charity, they could have invited a poor person from the local area, or made a donation. The custom was very clear that the person invited to the feast had to be an anonymous vagrant whose real name no one knew. Looking back, knowing what I know now about heathen stories and customs, it is quite obvious to me that was a survival of a folk custom meant to honor Odin. And it was still being practiced in the 1970s.

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

As we journey through the waning moon, it is time to listen to the night wind woman and to trust the talkative silence...

Listen to what is walking here b2ap3_thumbnail_June-2014-016.JPG
tiptoeing through your dreams
knocking at the door of your unconscious mind
whispering from shadows
calling from the full moon
twinkling in the stars
carried by the night wind woman
rising at sunset
peeking out
in tentative
yet persistent purpose.

Listen to the call
trust the talkative silence…

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Recent comment in this post - Show all comments
  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham says #
    Thank you for this post and your endarkenment post. Blessings in the darkness as our eyes adjust and we find, as you said, it's n
The Element of Fire: Passion, Creation and Ignition

This is the second of my series of posts on how I connect to the elements from a Southern Hemisphere perspective living on the western coast of Australia. Previously, I called in Air, in the East.

I now turn to the North, and call in passion, creation, desire, heat: I call to you, o Fire! Standing in the circle, we have already established a sense of presence in the breath of life, the whisper is on the winds, the intention is set, the inspiration has arrived. Fire is called next as it now has the Air to breathe, to ignite a sense of drive into what we do in this space, a flurry of sparks: let's turn that whisper into a roar. 

When calling in Fire, I can hear the sound of a match being lit. I can feel the warmth spread from my hands, spreading across my chest and then catching on to the circle behind me. And fire is catching. To the far north of this place lies the red hot Pilbara region, where the dirt is red and the land expands for hundreds and hundreds of kilometres like a Martian landscape. There is no where else like it on Earth. If the elemental creatures of myth such as the salamanders had a home, you can easily imagine them being conjured from such a place. When you are up North, the red dirt gets into everything: your car is covered, the washing on your line is tinted, sometimes it even feels like your lungs are coated in red dust.

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[Important Notice] Site Update: Comments, Images, and Other Issues Fixed

Hey, friends and fellow Pagans.

So some of you may have noticed that we've been experiencing a number of technical glitches, errors, and other problems for the last two weeks. This came about as a result of a major update our site's host went through, which caused a lot of our code to no longer work as it had previously. After much wrangling, bugtesting, and other hard work, we're happy to report that these issues are no longer a problem.

Some of the issues you may have experienced include (but are not limited to) the following:

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Soli
    Soli says #
    I have several different blogs from the Square in my Feedly reader. The RSS is now messed up so posts by other people are winding
  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    Soli, can you please email us directly about this problem. It's likely you'll have to re-subscribe because the cause of all the tr
  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    Yes, thank you. Congratulations on your world-wide readership. Eastern Europe? Amazing!
  • Aryós Héngwis
    Aryós Héngwis says #
    Not very many, but yes, we have followers in Russia and Romania (to name two such countries where we've interacted with readers di
  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham says #
    Thanks for all your work!

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