Culture Blogs


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Culture Blogs

Popular subjects in contemporary Pagan culture and practice.

Category contains 2 blog entries contributed to teamblogs

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

The insanity of the holidays can drive anyone crazy.  Getting gifts, arranging to visit with family, work parties, and more.  It is a time of the year when you can lose track of the importance of the phase of the year we are in. 

You can find any posting on what to do on Yule, how to decorate your house with all the associations, what food to cook and so on.  I don’t do any of it.  I find the holidays stressful and unbearable in most years. 

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Old Holidays Die Hard

Old holidays die hard.

Throughout the Persian-speaking world—Iran, Afghanistan, Kurdistan—the Winter Solstice is a widely-celebrated, if secular, holiday. (For Zoroastrians, of course, it retains its religious character.) In Farsi, it's called Yalda, a word which may or may not be related to the Semitic root YLD, “to give birth.”

It's customary to stay up all night, to see the year's longest night through from beginning to end. People pass the long candle-lit hours, as one would expect, telling stories, singing songs, and eating. In Iran, the tradition is to serve 13 different fresh fruits—pomegranates, melons, cucumbers—one for each moon of the coming year.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
A Psalm to Ba'al: For Hanuka

Forget the Maccabees.

This time of year, the press goes into overdrive about the Temple in Jerusalem, miracles, and trick oil cruets.

Don't believe them.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

It was one year ago today that my life changed forever.  It didn't change as much as it could have changed, and for that I'm grateful, but nothing has been the same since this day one year ago.  My own error resulted in my falling 10 feet onto the thin edge of the control panel of a spare washing machine.  I broke 6 ribs at both ends and broke my left shoulder blade in half.  I spent several days in the hospital, 2 months off work, and 6+ months in physical therapy.  I would never have made it through all of this without amazing support from my friends, family, and co-workers.  I am still paying off medical bills, but I am alive and healthy.  I am nearly back to the level I was before the accident (and in some ways I am actually healthier).  It still amazes me that less than 2 months after the accident I climbed on a plane and flew to San Jose to do my 3 workshop presentations at PantheaCon.  I owe thanks to many of the people at that event as well.  While lurching around with broken bones, trying to haul incense making supplies from one workshop to the next, a lot of people I'd never met helped me haul things around and set up or tear down.  THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO HAS HELPED IN THE LAST YEAR.

But there was more help given to me than that and I want to try and thank as many people as I can from the Pagan Community.  In less than 1 day after my accident I was able to get online and, very slowly, type a message with one hand.  I sent out that email letting folks know what happened and asking for any spare energy to help me with the extraordinary pain as well as energy to heal.  The response was overwhelming and nearly immediate.  Within an hour of sending that message, I began to feel the energy pouring in.  I know that there were groups or covens who sent me energy and that was an immense kindness that truly made a difference.  Even more surprising was the energy that continued to come to me for weeks, much of it being sent by Solitary Pagans who had never met (or even heard of) me and who lived hundreds or even thousands of miles away.  That Community of Solitaries, without any coordination whatsoever, continued this outpouring of love and energy for months.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Wassailing the Trees

One of the things that strikes me about pagan holidays is the way that they're all implicated in one another. Yule doesn't just sit enshrined in its own golden halo at the end of the year, touching nothing else. As both the end and the beginning of the solar year—and indeed, the whole of the coming year in microcosm—it reaches back to the previous growing season and harvest, and forward to the coming ones. They say that the Yule you keep affects the year ahead. That's why it's so important to eat rich and ample food during all Thirteen Days. The Devil promised a would-be witch in hunger-stricken 17th century Lowland Scotland, “Thou shalt eat every day as [well as] if it were Yule.”

A few years back a neighbor popped in for some reason or other during the Yuledays. “Beautiful tree,” she remarked. “Not the least bit Christmas-y.”

Well, no. It's covered with blown-glass fruits and vegetables. Every ornament's a prayer.

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Welcome to the 2014 edition of BookMusings' Literary Discoveries! *insert much tooting of horns and throwing of confetti here* Looking back over my LibraryThing account and my postings here on PaganSquare, as well as at Eternal Haunted Summer, this has been quite a year for good literature. Not only did I find many new books and series to enjoy, and recommend to others, but I discovered entirely new authors.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_cooking-cauldron.jpgWe have some important planetary shifts happening within hours of each other on the Winter Solstice, which makes it a a powerful time magically, but be ready to run with some wild energy. Here’s what’s happening: on December 21, Uranus stations direct (changes its apparent direction of movement in the sky) at 5:46 PM (all times EST). The Sun shifts into Capricorn, marking Solstice at 6:04 PM, and then at 8:37 PM we have a New Moon — which is, of course, right on the degree of the Solstice.  Saturn is at the final (critical) degree of Scorpio, getting ready to move into Sagittarius on the 23rd. And, of course, the square between Uranus and Pluto is still very close to exact. Whew! But this confluence of planetary energy gives us a variety of options in working magic. (You can find the chart for the Solstice here.)

The Winter Solstice marks the time when the Sun reaches its most southern point in the sky — the Tropic of Capricorn. It is the time in the Sun’s cycle that is analogous to a New Moon.  This powerful day gives us an opportunity to work on a Dark Moon and Sun in high-minded Sagittarius for deep inner work or to eliminate something from our lives. Or we can wait to fire up the cauldron until everything has shifted, the Sun has returned, and the newly-born Sun and Moon have joined the other planets in practical, manifesting Capricorn. In the New Moon chart, five planets are packed into the first fifteen degrees of Capricorn. That is some earthy energy we can put to use for building, manifesting and organizing, as well as setting clear boundaries. It’s intensified by Uranus prodding us for growth and change as it is standing still in the sky.  A planet stationing (direct or retrograde) marks an intensification of the planet’s energy, and unpredictable, electrifying, break-the-rules Uranus always makes a pointed statement.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Diotima
    Diotima says #
    It's always a relief to know I have not descended too far into unintelligible jargon. :-) Thanks for the feedback!
  • Byron Ballard
    Byron Ballard says #
    Thank you so much for this. Not being an astrologer, I sometimes find all this information confusing. Grateful for your clarity.

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