DRAGON HILLS PAGAN MUSIC FESTIVAL 2016!
Three Days and Two Nights of Pagan Music, Workshops, Vending, and Festivities.
Join us May 26-29, 2016 at Dragon Hills Campground in rural Bowdon, Georgia.
PaganSquare is a community blog space where Pagans can discuss topics relevant to the life and spiritual practice of all Pagans.
The past few weeks have been wintery indeed. Yes it is March, but there is still plenty of snow in my yard, and there's more snow in the forecast. It was not until yesterday that a sudden warm snap began to hint at the Spring that is due to arrive any time now. So while many of my friends have been chattering at me about tree buds, or cherry blossoms, or legions of daffodils suddenly popping up in a sunny patch of their yards, it all sounds like a fable to me, and I didn't quite believe any of it.
A Rocky Mountain Spring takes its own sweet damn time anyway, and March and April are our snowiest months traditionally. So as weary as one gets to be of Winter by now, we are also grateful for the cold and the snow, for a deeper snow pack, for flowers that bloom in concert with arrival of the birds and insects that feed on them. All of us have noticed the rhythms and cycles of the seasons where we live, and no doubt all of us have noticed changes in recent years. I certainly have—drier, colder Winters that end abruptly, hot smoky Summers. So I am perfectly content for the Winter to go on as long as it needs to. I have lots of work to do in the garden before planting can start. I have plenty to do in my house and office, clearing and cleaning before the new projects of the year can truly begin. I may grumble about having to shift yet another five inches of new fallen snow, or having to run errands in 20 degrees of icy fog, but given the alarming specter of permanent climate change, a real Winter, with a real Winter's bite, is somewhat reassuring....
Did you know that there's a specific name for a statue of the Horned God?
Neither did I, until I read Dorothy Edward's 1981 children's novel, The Witches and the Grinnygog.
Back during the Troubles, goes the story (the Witch Troubles, not the Irish ones), the three appointed Keepers of the most sacred image of the Master just barely manage to escape (on brooms) with their lives and the Lord. They hide Him away in a safe place, and go into a deep, deep sleep until such a time as they shall be needed again.
That time is our day. Where's the best place to hide a Grinnygog? Well, of course, precisely where no one would ever think to look for Him: among the carvings of the local church.
But now the historic church is being dismantled stone by stone, preparatory to being moved to a new location, and the Lord is once more in danger. (Or is He?) His guardians awake, and their magic along with them.
Tomorrow's one of my favorite days of the year: Egg-Dye Sunday.
We've been doing it every year since 1979 (what they call the Paganolithic). On the Sunday before the Equinox, a whole slew of us get together, stoke up the dye-pots, and (using only the finest natural dyestocks) dye up tens (if not scores) of dozens of eggs.
(With the advent of Paganicon, our local weekend-before-the-equinox Pantheacon North, the egg-dye, like clocks at Daylight Savings, has jumped forward. Old-Stylist that I am, I can't say that I'm best pleased with this turn of events, but the Old Ways haven't survived all these years without staying flexible.)
Among the preeminent deities of ancient Arabia were the Triple Goddesses of Mecca: al-Lât, al-'Uzzá, and Manât. We don't know much about them—the mosque far out-did the church in ruthlessness when it came to destruction of the past—but they certainly did cause problems for Muhammad. And, in fact, they still do.
When Muhammad had gained enough power to become a player in local politics, grandees from some of Mecca's most prestigious families came to him and said: “Look, make a place in your system for the Three Goddesses—they don't have to be on top, just make a place for them—and we'll back you.”
Muhammad was well-known for having self-serving revelations. His wife 'A'isha once remarked that it sure was convenient how Allah seemed to back him in every argument. So he goes up to Mount Nûr and, lo and behold, the angel Jibrîl whispers into his ear:
Have you seen al-Lât and al-'Uzzá,
and Manât, the third, the other?
These are the exalted cranes,
their intercession much to be desired.
Limoncello is a glass of liquid sunshine. As the light grows and we approach Ostara, the Spring Equinox where the light overtakes the darkness, there is no better drink to celebrate the season. Sweet, tart, strong, and delicious, a little glass of limoncello is like drinking in the growing sun.
Some pagans make mead, others brew beer, others steep all sorts of fruits in any strong drink they can find. I make limoncello. I first learned of limoncello while traveling in Italy. We were staying in Sorrento, a seaside town with much the same climate as my native southern California. The local drink was this delicious concoction of local lemons, sugar, water, and booze. I had to try it. After I did, I had to find the recipe....
I'd never met anyone that raises mandrakes before.
Over breakfast one morning at a festival, a couple that do just that were telling a group of us about the process. It's very interesting. Where they live, it's too cold for the mandrakes to over-winter in the ground, so they dig them up every fall and keep them in boxes of sand through the winter. Then in the spring they replant them.
The advantage of all this exhuming and replanting, of course, being that they get to know each of the roots individually, maybe shape them a little, and photograph the mandrakes as they grow. Did we want to see the pictures?
Did we ever.
So there we are, oohing and aahing as the photos circulate. For all the world as if we were looking at pictures of someone's grandchildren: beaming grandparents, admiring circle. Witches and mandrakes.