Culture Blogs

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Culture Blogs

Popular subjects in contemporary Pagan culture and practice.

Category contains 2 blog entries contributed to teamblogs

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Fall Reflections

Samhain or Halloween, the year is waning. The sun is out less and less (in the northern hemisphere).  The weather is more unpredictable (depending on where you are).  The dark of the year is coming. 

What does this mean?  What are we meant to do with the dark of the year?  It’s a time to harvest all the things you’ve been doing for the spring and summer.  It’s a time of year when you start to pull your energy into yourself to reflect on how you’ve been doing, where you are with your goals, and life in general.

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Pop Culture Wild Hunt

(is as described on the label)

I had no plans to be a Pop Culture Pagan but that appears to be happening anyway. I had no plans to permanently pick up a Joker, but that appears to be happening too. Being with J makes me feel like I understand Beth Wodandis' comment about how being with Odin is like being with a great white shark who's decided to be friendly. I don't think my J is Odin, but I think They have a common bond there. In case you're wondering what J is like, here ya go.

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What Do We the Living Owe the Dead?

 What do we the living owe the dead?

Three measures of respect: respect of body,

respect of offering, respect of memory.

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The Old Ways Endure

A rural Anabaptist commune in mid-20th century Manitoba seems an unlikely time and place for a sacrifice to a river.

But that is the story that journalist Mary-Ann Kirby tells in her autobiography I Am Hutterite.

Some memories, it would seem, live long indeed.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

b2ap3_thumbnail_fortune-teller-dog.jpg"You don't really believe in astrology, do you?"

It amazes me how often I have been asked this question, even by people who know I am a professional astrologer (and it’s a pretty insulting question to ask a professional.). The question itself is symptomatic of a deep bias against astrology that comes out of the scientific community. Refuting the reasons for that bias would take a whole book, and fortunately astrologer Pam Gregory has written one with the same title. But there are a few key points about astrology and science I’d like to make here.

1) Bias is a lousy basis for experimentation.

In the course of acquiring a solid scientific education, one of the first things I learned is that science is based on objective observation and testing. Theories are encouraged, but if your theory gets in the way of your facts, then it’s back to the drawing board or the lab bench. I also learned that scientists, like other humans, can be far from objective, cherish their pet theories, and even descend into intellectual dishonesty in defense of their preferred world view (or their grants). Astrology threatens the core world view of many scientists, and they attack it with such ferocity that it’s clear they have a real emotional investment in demolishing it. This leads to flawed reasoning, testing, and interpretation.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Diotima
    Diotima says #
    Anthony, Yes, the midpoint between a solstice and equinox or equinox and solstice is always at 15 degrees of a fixed sign. Betwee
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I once counted the days between the Autumnal Equinox and the Winter Solstice and found that the midpoint was around November 6th.
"The Veil Between The Worlds Is Thin"--What Does It Even Mean?

If you've been studying magic for a while, you've probably heard it a million times. For those in the Northern Hemisphere, in October - and particularly on October 31st (or Samhain) - the veil between the worlds is thin.

But what exactly is this veil? And why does it thin? And why does it matter?

As you may know, the realm of magic is something we understand through symbol, emotion, and vibration...Although it's important to remember that we never quite understand it, at least in the most literal sense. The divine, magical realm is always mysterious. By its very definition, it resides just outside our everyday consciousness and linear, reasoning mind.

This doesn't mean that we can't have a familiar, working relationship with all that is magical and mysterious, or that we can't draw upon it to create positive change. We absolutely can, and it works fabulously well. It just means that we can never quite put our finger on what exactly it is and how it works.

Of course, drawing upon magic to create positive change becomes much, much easier when we take the time on a regular basis - through things like ritual, communing with nature, and meditation - to tap into the divine/magical realm. When we do this, we remember that while we appear separate, we are in fact one with each other and with All That Is. Knowing this, we are empowered to wield our power to do things like energetically protect ourselves and manifest the conditions we desire. Additionally, things that appear like "cold, hard reality" in everyday consciousness - such as the separation of life and death, seen and unseen, known and unknown, as well as the linear and finite nature of time - are, quite obviously, revealed to be illusions.

And now we've arrived at what the veil is. It's the ethereal curtain between the everyday illusion of separation and the divine truth of eternity and oneness with all that is. When we meditate or perform ritual, or when we have a mystical experience of any variety, this curtain parts and we are able to gaze into the place of power, the place between the worlds.

And in October - particularly as we approach the end of the month - the Wheel of the Year naturally thins the veil for us so that it is easier to tap in and see the truth of interconnection, empowerment, and eternity.

Why? Because the days are getting shorter and the natural world is preparing to temporarily withdraw from the realm of life and growth. In other words, the harvest cycle is waning, but it's not gone. It's a transition, a doorway between the season of life and the season of death. We are reminded that in this realm, everything is in a state of flux. This allows us to see that beneath this realm of constant change, there is a wide open space of eternity. A place of stillness in which the appearance of change arises. A serene openness to which we will always return, and with which we are one, even at this very moment.

And that's why we love fall!

Its also why we naturally feel drawn to certain themes at this time of year, all of which correspond to the parted veil. Let's briefly examine a few of them.


There's no denying that at this time of year, whether or not you're magically inclined, death is the primary cultural symbol. Scary movies, ghosts, graveyards, zombies, and skeletons abound. And it's worth noting that for a culture that normally does its best to brush the topic of death under the rug (or to pretend that it's a freak occurrence that only happens to other people), this is rather astonishing. Also astonishing is that this time of year (which falls in May in the Southern Hemisphere) is rather consistently associated with death, across cultures and continents.

For three generations, my dad's side of the family has been in the funeral business. And I love visiting the Spanish style funeral chapel in my rural California hometown because it's always like October there: the veil between the worlds is always thin. It's a place where the transition between this realm and the other realm has been honored over and over and over again for decades. There is something about the way the sunlight shines through the windows that brings you smack into the center of eternity.

Black Cats

If you're friends with a black cat, you likely know that that consciously connecting with one can be like gazing beyond the veil of time and separation, and looking straight into the heart of magic. Why? I couldn't say.

It's (quite fittingly) a mystery.

And why do stray black cats like to make their home base the garage of my hometown funeral chapel? Besides the fact that my dad feeds them and takes care of them, that's a mystery too.

Although I'm sure it all has something to do with the fact that cats - particularly black cats - have been traditionally considered "psychopomps," or beings that assist with the transition from this realm to the next by kindly ushering souls into the spiritual realm.

Magic and Witchcraft

Finally, for magical practitioners and non-magical practitioners alike, magic and witchcraft are a favorite theme of the season. Naturally! As we've discussed, the place of power is between the worlds. It's the place where we remember that we can draw upon the unseen world to affect the seen world and vice versa. It's the place where we bravely gaze into the realm of death and transcend our fear so that we can draw upon the infinite power that is our birthright. Here, everything is illuminated with that special light that reminds us that mundane is the illusion and only magic is real.


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Text Messages of the Gods

So, I heard about a guy who gets text messages from his patron deity.

Text messages.

My initial impulse was to roll my eyes and think, “Pagans.” To misquote G. K. Chesterton, “Once people start believing, they don't just believe in something; they'll believe in anything.”

But I've begun to reconsider.

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