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 Image result for tapers burning

How many Old Craft witches does it take to change a lightbulb?

—If candles were good enough for the ancestors, they're good enough for me.


A buddy had signed up for a correspondence course in a certain Wiccan trad. I asked him how it was going.

He told me about the first lesson. It was all about what color candle to burn in order to get what you want: green for money, purple for passion, that sort of thing.

Well, at least you've got to give them credit for going for results from the very beginning.

He says nothing; neither do I. I think about the definition of authenticity that a couple of friends and I hashed out over the course of one particularly gratifying weekend together years ago: Contextual cognitive resonance. I ask myself how long dyed candles have been around. Early to mid “20th” century, maybe?

Colored candles. This is your witchcraft?

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Back in the Paganolithic. I remember those days fondly.
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    When I was very young we had some candles that were white with thin coats of colored wax on the outside. I think it was in the la

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Seeding the Future - New Moon Ritual

What are your intentions for the coming months? What you can imagine, you can bring into being. This ritual will aid you in getting what you want and need for yourself and loved ones. Nothing says “new beginnings” like planting a seed, so use the power of a growing plant to bring success to your own new moon projects.

Assemble the following:

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs



In his old age, the poet Simonides (ca. 556-468 bce) went to Sicily to live as an honored guest at the court of Dionysios of Syracuse, the richest and most powerful man in the world.

One day Dionysios said to him: Simonides, poets sing the praises of the gods, and know all their lore; they can justifiably be said to know as much about the gods as anyone. So let me ask you: What is a god?

That's a big question, said Simonides. Give me a day to think about it.

The next day Dionysios came to Simonides and said: So, Simonides, what is a god?

I need another day to think about it, Simonides replies.

The next day Dionysios comes to Simonides and says again: So, Simonides, what is a god?

Give me three more days, says Simonides.

Dionysios lifts his hands in the air. What? he says.

Simonides shakes his head. I find that the more I consider the question, he says, the more opaque it becomes.

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New Moon Flower Power Potpourri

This flower-infused potpourri is wonderful for clearing the way for the new in your life and planting “seeds” for new moon beginnings. You can also create a wreath with garlic bulbs for self-protection and insurance that your newly laid plans won’t go awry.

Flower ingredients:

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs





 Thoughts on Some Names in Robert Graves' 'Seven Days in New Crete'


The Moon, the White Goddess herself, proclaims a savage truth:

The only permanence is impermanence.

This is the theme of British poet-novelist Robert Graves' 1949 utopian-dystopian novel of the Goddess-worshiping future, Seven Days in New Crete (published in the US as Watch the North Wind Rise). In it, he creates the ideal civilization of the eco-matriarchal future: Goddess-centered, socially stable, ecologically sustainable. Then he destroys it.

Impermanence is the only permanence.

The Goddess, you see—whose very nature is dynamism—has grown weary of the stagnation inherent in her perfect pagan society of the future. So she calls up a messy agent of instability from the messy past—Robert Graves himself—to plant a seed of life-giving chaos in a future that has become terminally tidy.

Robert Graves was something of an outlier in “20th” century English literature: deeply (if crankily) religious in an anti-religious age, anti-modernist in an age of modernity, a New Pagan voice before the rise of the New Paganisms.

In Seven Days in New Crete, as in Robert Graves' life as a whole, there are two important characters: Graves himself and the Goddess, whom he thought of as being temporarily incarnate in whichever woman he happened to be in love with at the time. (Just how psychologically healthy such a psycho-dynamic may or may not be, I leave to the reader to decide.) In the novel, the Robert Graves character appears as poet Edward Venn-Thomas, and the White Goddess as (among others) his former love-hate interest Erica Yvonne Turner. (“Only these days I don't use the 'Yvonne'” she says.)

Graves has chosen these names carefully. Though they look like regular names on the surface, they are anything but. As a poet, Graves always insists on verbal precision, even when, as here, it is cunningly cloaked in the ordinary.

(The novel is filled with little jokes of this sort for those who have the linguistic savvy to recognize them. The Israeli anthropologist who provides the initial impetus for what, in the end, becomes the New Cretan civilization—remember that the state of Israel was founded in 1947, only two years before the publication of 7D—is named ben Yeshu: “son of Jesus”!)

I always tell students that Seven Days in New Crete is The White Goddess in novel form, and much that reads mysteriously in the former is handily elucidated in the latter. As it happens, both Erica and Yvonne allude to the sacred Tree Calendar which lies at the very heart of TWG. Erica is Latin for “heather,” and Yvonne derives ultimately from the French word for “yew." These sacred trees represent, respectively, the Goddess in her orgiastic, erotic Springtime character and her death-dealing (though promising rebirth) Winter persona.

The only constant is constant change. This truth the Lady of the Moon, “that nightly changes in her circled orb,” embodies. She is, indeed, the epitome of the shape-shifter: the Turner. Hence Erica Yvonne Turner: she who changes form, alternately life-giving and deadly.

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Of Magic and Mardi Gras

Journeying With Tarot

In my second delightful interview with High Priestess, Author, and Activist Phyllis Curott, we dove deeper into her new tarot deck, The Witches' Wisdom Tarot. She shared how she and artist Danielle Barlow journeyed to discover the true meanings of the cards and they developed them together organically. I intimated that I treated myself to the tarot as a gift for the holiday season and have been doing some journeying of my own with them. To be sure, this is no ordinary deck, but a re-envisioned working of the tarot deck concept, with a focus on nature, the Goddess, and an "as above/so below" theme which is much more aligned with the belief system of Witches, Wiccans, and Pagans. Each card is meant to be meditated on—there are lessons to be learned as well as overall themes and takeaways. Additionally, Phyllis has included a bit of magic you can perform incorporating the card into your spellwork. Intriguingly, drawing just one card a day while familiarizing myself with them has been telling the story of what's going on in my life in the here and now. The cards beautifully echo what is in already in the framework and help me focus on next steps for my goals. I can also tune into areas or relationships that might need more of my attention. Listen to one woman's journey with the cards described in detail in our latest "Women Who Howl at the Moon" podcast interview.

 Podcasting and Patreon

Phyllis also had some exciting news in the way of a trilogy of new books she's working on! Speaking of things exciting and new, I'm launching a Patreon page where listeners can lend support for my "Women Who Howl at the Moon" podcast. There are opportunities for giveaways, gift bags, and personally crafted spells for you, so please do check it out. It's also a chance to hear extended versions of the witchy good interviews I'll be conducting–many are so fascinating I'm reluctant to edit them down, so this is a win-win for me, as well! To hear more details, I will have the extended interview with Phyllis available for Patreon patrons.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs



Your words to me are as the milk of your breasts.


In many Wiccan circles, as—on the Goddess's behalf—the priestess recites The Charge of the Great Mother, it's customary for her to stand in the Star or Goddess position, with legs and arms spread wide. It's a posture of revelation and self-offering.

Well and good. But there's another liturgical possibility here, a very ancient one.

In Russian painter and mystic Nicholas Roerich's 1910 Idols (Pagan Russia), shown above, we see a depiction of a pre-Christian Slavic sanctuary featuring standing wooden images of various gods, surrounded by a temenos wall.

Let me call your attention to the second figure to the right. Clothed in a checkered skirt, the goddess here depicted cups her hands beneath her breasts.

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