Welcome back to Watery Wednesday, our weekly take on community-centered news relevant to witches and Pagans! Join us as we review some of the positive outreach to the Ásatrúarfélag in Iceland, Tess Dawson's take on the desecration of ruins taking place in the Middle East, and the surprisingly occult history of World War II. All this and more for the Pagan News Beagle!
PaganSquare is a community blog space where Pagans can discuss topics relevant to the life and spiritual practice of all Pagans.
In this post-Enlightenment world of science and rationality, we’re used to being able to label things cleanly and clearly, to separate them into distinct levels and groups and individual pigeonholes. And we tend to become uncomfortable when we can’t do that with any given subject. But the mindset in the ancient world wasn’t always so clear-cut. Both/and thinking was common, as opposed to the either/or thinking that dominates modern society. Sometimes it’s helpful to be able to hold several different ideas in your head at the same time, to accept the complexity of a situation as a positive rather than a negative. That’s the case with the ancient Minoan pantheon, thanks to the fact that the Minoans were henotheistic rather than cleanly polytheistic.
So what on earth does henotheism mean? It’s not a word you hear very often, even among the kinds of Pagans who like to get into academic discussions. The term was coined by the German philosopher Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von Schelling in the late 18th or early 19th century as a criticism of the versions of monotheism that included both a supreme deity and lesser forms of divinity such as saints or lower gods. His idea was that ‘pure’ monotheism, the kind that denies the existence of the divine except for the single focal deity, is superior to other types of religious belief. He criticized the Vedic religions (Hindu and its variants) for professing that all the lower gods emanated from The One (Atman) and were reflections of that original unity....
China puts the pressure on nomadic ethnic minorities along its northern border. Feminists within Orthodox Judaism struggle to make their voices heard. And the Scandinavian far-right takes a populist stance. That's right it's time for Fiery Tuesday, our weekly news segment on political and social news from around the globe. If you're looking for a Pagan perspective on the news, here's our take!
This past Saturday, I attended a remembrance circle for a member of one of our covens. It was held on her birthday, about one year after her death. There had been ceremonies immediately after her death, but the passage of time allowed this ritual to focus more upon a celebration of her life than upon loss. Almost everyone present chose to speak about the times that they had shared with her. It is often said that funerary rites are more for the living than for those who have gone ahead. For the most part I agree with that statement, though in this case I believe that there were mutual parting gifts....
For many older Pagans, the personal roots of our practice lie within the ‘counterculture’ of the 60s and 70s. New spiritual winds were then blowing across the desiccated body of American religion, which for many of us had withered into beliefs rooted in fear and habit. On a mass level questions of right livelihood first began challenging the American Dream of more things and more money - and many of us accepted alternative visions to a greater or lesser degree. Across the country efforts to make real greater equality and respect between the sexes, affirmation of different cultures and ways of life, and enhanced love for the natural world, transforming many lives. Many were drawn to seeking and sometimes encountering the Divine Feminine....
When the thede (tribe) of witches foregathers, as we did recently at this year's Midwest Grand Sabbat, we kindle (wood on wood, in the old way) the traditional Fire of Gathering.
The Fire burns continuously throughout the time of assembly. Everyone tends it; offerings are made to it daily. It roars at the very heart of the sabbat itself, and on our final morning together it is ritually extinguished. People take the ashes home with them when they leave.
Anyone who grows up in a traditional culture knows how to behave around a sacred fire—how it differs from a household fire, for instance—and doesn't have to be taught What You Do and What You Don't. For those of us who (alas) did not grow up in such a culture, how then does one impart these rules, the Does and Don'ts of sacred Fires, in a manner that doesn't devolve into learning boring lists of regulations?
Well, my friend and colleague Chris Moore came up with the perfect way to do it: you give people a metaphor.