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PaganSquare is a community blog space where Pagans can discuss topics relevant to the life and spiritual practice of all Pagans.

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Easter is Risen: Philip A. Shaw's "Pagan Goddesses in the Early Germanic World"

Eosturmonath [April] [is] called after a goddess of theirs named Eostre, in whose honor feasts [festa] were celebrated in that month.

This lone sentence from chapter 15 of Bede of Jarrow's De Temporum Ratione ("On the Reckoning of Time"), along with the fact that, from very early times, a Christian festival came to be called by her name, is literally all that we know about the Anglo-Saxon goddess Easter. Literally all.

Under the circumstances, scholars have tended in two directions. The Maximalists have viewed Easter as a pan-Germanic goddess, herself a reflex of a pan-Indo-European Dawn goddess whose sister-selves include Vedic Ushas, Greek Eos, and Latin Aurora.

The Minimalists—many of them clearly driven by pique that so Christian a festival should bear so blatantly pagan a name—deny that such a goddess ever existed at all, and seek alternate (and non-pagan) derivations for the name of the church's great spring festival.

In Pagan Goddesses in the Early Germanic World: Eostre, Hreda, and the Cult of Matrons, Philip A. Shaw, lecturer in English and Old English at Leicester University, in a work surprisingly readable for all its dense erudition, attempts to stake out a centrist ground midway between maximalist and minimalist positions. Of greatest interest to the contemporary pagan reader (to this contemporary pagan reader, at any rate) is his marshaling of new information to shed new light on the subject.

Last modified on

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

b2ap3_thumbnail_union-0.pngWhat about men?

That's the question people often ask me as I'm praising women's bellies as sacred, not shameful. Praising our body's center as home to the soul-power kin to the magnificent Source Energy creating, sustaining, and renewing the world.

What about men? Don't they have soul-power too?

"What about men?" is also the title of a chapter my editor chose not to include in The Woman's Belly Book, for whatever reason. You can read the full text of that chapter here.

The chapter's major point: As a man enters into his own wholeness, integrating feminine and masculine polarities,

he begins to perceive a woman as a person, informed by her own purpose. His need to control her diminishes. He becomes more capable of entering into a relationship of mutual respect.

As men increasingly live and breathe from center, they prepare themselves to enter into the egalitarian relationships many women desire, and which we deserve. Truly loving relationships can develop as the partners each live from their inner source of being and support each other in returning to their core wisdom, again and again. In this way the relationship takes its strength from the shared center that emerges in the partners' midst.

As men and women support each other in coming home to ourselves, we can engender a more peaceful, just, and sustainable way of being human together on this planet.

Loving relationships? There's a story, origin said to be circa 1450, that — by my lights — holds the key to loving relationships between women and men.

I came across this story as I was preparing The Woman's Belly Book and its companion, the Rite For Reconsecrating Our Womanhood. As part of my research, I delved into Maureen Murdock's book, The Heroine's Journey.

Murdock tells the story of Lady Ragnell and Sir Gawain. The story is part and parcel of Arthurian legend; it relates to other tales of transformation as well.

You can read the original in Middle English here and adaptations into modern English here and hereIn brief, the story demonstrates just what restores women's beauty and balance: Men perceiving women as persons, informed by our own purpose. Men recognizing, respecting, and supporting our autonomy, our sovereignty.

Respecting our sovereignty? A man by the name of Padma Aon Prakasha copied the text of my "What About Men?" chapter into his own book — without ever asking my permission. In his "note to the reader" he asserts his entitlement to appropriate others' words. That's either amusing or appalling, or maybe both.

b2ap3_thumbnail_TBtoast-.jpgBut here's something much more interesting, and a thrill: My friend Denise Ostler (a.k.a. Merri Beacon) has of her own accord, without any previous inkling of Lady Ragnell's story, written her own and up-to-date version as part of her Fairytale Medicine series.

Her Goals & Dreams tale begins

Once upon a time, in a tiny kingdom, there dwelt a sweet princess who cared for injured animals. She created a special place in the royal stables where she could tend to her patients. She loved her work, but alas, it was time for her to marry.

The king narrowed her suitors down to three eligible princes. Each prince was invited to dine at the castle and give a speech about why he would be the best match for the princess. On the first night, a very handsome and confident prince stood to address the royal assembly....

The story continues here. Enjoy!

Last modified on

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
And the Winner is...

Congratulations Karen Craig, you are the winner of the Collectors Edition of the Llewellyn Classic Tarot.

In order for me to send you your prize you will need to contact me BEFORE the 20th of March at the following email energyxchangelv@gmail.com

...
Last modified on

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Milk Pails and Prayer Books

The thing about superstitions is, you just never know.

One of my favorites comes from southern Germany. If you want to find out who the witches in your parish are, when you go to church on Good Friday, slip an Easter egg into your pocket. You'll recognize the witches by three things: 

  1. Instead of hats, they'll be wearing milk pails on their heads.

  2. Instead of prayer books, they'll be carrying slabs of pork. (!)

  3. They'll be standing with their backs to the altar.

Last modified on
Pagan News Beagle: Earthy Thursday, March 12

As a part of the natural world we must deal constantly with cycles of life and death. Several of today's stories in Earthy Thursday deal with these and related themes, as well as what sits just beyond our everyday human experience.

Last modified on

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
It takes Heart

Croi - pronounced kree - is the Irish for heart. At Brigid's Day I picked that word from a basket and tied it as a clootie to a hazel tree.  It was a well wishing tree.  A plea for renewal at Imbolc.

It has seemed over this past year that so many people have had had their hearts broken.  People are ill. The earth is sick. Women are systematically violated in perversely imaginative ways. Men are imprisoned by the mythic expectations of strength. 

...
Last modified on

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Sumer Is Icumen In

It's the oldest surviving song in English to which we have both words and tune, an earthy and exuberant hymn to spring. It's also a delight.

Sumer Is Icumen In

Sumer is icumen in;

lhude sing, cuckoo.

Groweth sede and bloweth mede,

and springth the wode nu;

sing cuckoo.

Last modified on
Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Next year in Summerisle!
  • Ian Phanes
    Ian Phanes says #
    Of course, most modern Witches are familiar with the song from the classic holiday movie for Bealtaine, The Wicker Man.

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