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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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Milk-White Pony: A May Game

Here's one of my favorite May-games: a kind of ritualized mock orgy. It's called “Milk-White Pony.”

(I got it from a local Wiccan priest who claims to have learned it at Boy Scout camp. To judge from the stories I've heard, I could well believe this.)

The dance takes place in a circle, with everyone singing and clapping. Here's the verse:

 

I saw N on his/her pony

riding on a milk-pony

I saw N on his/her pony

and this is what he/she told me

 

During the singing of the verse, N “rides” around the circle on an imaginary pony. At the end of the verse, the rider stops to face someone in the circle.

Then you sing the chorus:

 

Front, front, front

O baby

Back, back, back

O baby

Side, side, side

O baby

This is what he/she told me.

 

Both dancers thrust their pelvises at each other as they do this, front-to-front, back-to-back, or side-to-side as the lyrics call for.

Then N rejoins the circle, whoever he or she danced with hops into the middle, and the game continues.

No doubt the tune is out there somewhere—everything's on Youtube—but if so, I haven't been able to find it yet. I promise to keep looking. Meanwhile, consult your favorite ex-Scout.

Every coven should have one.

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Where Witches Dance: Some Thoughts on the Name 'Paganistan'

 “...and to the republic where witches dance...”

 

When, back in the mid-80s, I coined the name “Paganistan” as a term for the Twin Cities pagan community, it was with tongue firmly in cheek. No one is more surprised than I am that it actually seems to have caught on.

The word itself is a partial loan-translation of the hybrid Arabic-Persian Kafiristan, “land of the pagans,” the name given to the wild mountainous region of northeastern Afghanistan (“land of the Afghans”), which as late as the 1890s was still home to some of history's very last Indo-European-speakers to practice their ancient polytheist tribal religions.

(In a major land-grab in 1896, the Emir of Kabul declared jihad against the fierce mountain Kafirs, and in the end rifles and bullets won out over spears and arrows: the area was forcibly Islamized and renamed Nuristan, “land of light.” Saved by the Durand line, however, the Kalasha, the last culturally-intact Kafiristanis, numbering some 4000, still—in what is now northwestern Pakistan—worship their ancient gods with wine, dance, and animal sacrifice. Long may they live and flourish.)

The name Paganistan first saw print in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune a year later when Jim "Moon Dog" Runnels was quoted as referring to the Twin Cities as the “capital of Paganistan.”

That's how we became the first named community of modern pagan times.

The name spread with the rise of internet paganism, notably through the publication of our resident anthropologist Murphy Pizza's 1994 Paganistan: Contemporary Pagan Community in Minnesota's Twin Cities, and—latterly—through the present blog.

After thirty-some years of Paganistan, it remains a sorrow to me that the name's derivation from us, and not from the Land, marks it as a non-Indigenous—and, in this sense, an imposed—name.

But this would be valid grounds for critique only if the term were to be used in a triumphalist, or supercessionist, manner: which, of course, it never is. No one, much less myself, would propose that we replace an Indigenous name, Minnesota (“sky water”) with a non-Indigenous Paganistan. Paganistan is the pagan name for this place as home to the local community. It's the Twin Cities' Craft name. That's all.

Of course, we do have our own flag (Witch's Hat Tower, gray, on a blue, yellow and green field) and our own “national” anthem (no, I didn't pen it myself). But that's all by the by, offspring of the infinitely playful cauldron of creativity that is local Paganry.

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Beltane's Flower: In Appreciation of Ian Anderson's 'Cup of Wonder'

If the modern Beltane has an anthem, it must surely be Ian (“Jethro Tull”) Anderson's Cup of Wonder.

When I first heard the song in 1977, it came as something of a revelation, managing (in what is surely the cultural and aesthetic touchstone of the New Paganisms) to sound both ancient and modern simultaneously. Of course, at the time we took it entirely for granted. Youthful arrogance has a beauty all its own.

If you haven't heard Cup of Wonder before, it's well worth a listen. If—like me—you haven't heard it recently, let me recommend a revisit. While very much of its own time, Anderson's sight remains true, his vision crisp, and his truth as deep as it ever was.

Wishing you joy of Beltane and a Merry May.

 

Cup of Wonder

 


May I make my fond excuses for the lateness of the hour,

but we accept your invitation, and would bring you Beltane's flower;

for the May Day is the great day, sung along the old straight track,

and those who ancient lines did "ley" will heed the song that calls them back:

 


Pass the cup, and pass the Lady,

pass the plate to all who hunger;

pass the wit of ancient wisdom,

pass the Cup of Crimson Wonder.

 

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Pick-a-Card for the Taurus New Moon on May 4 | Awaken Spirit Freedom Presence (REVEAL is within)

Everythin's a changin' all the time. I've been putting painting FIRST with the help of my coach, Jen DeTracey and I feel like a kid again. Now if only my hair was still red (or brown hehehe). Below is the fruit of my labour (cats and other animals painted on rustic wood slices of oak and sugar bush turned into jewelry plus a 4 card oracle spread so you can pick a card for the Taurus New Moon on May 4.

What feeds your soul?

Taurus New Moon: Pick a Card (from the spread in the photo)

Relax your breath.
Go within.
Ask a question (or not)
and then scroll down for this month's New Moon Reading.

*cards are from the lefty oracle and elfin ally oracle decks*
 

Taurus New Moon Card REVEAL
 

CARD 1: Guess poet
Mantra: I am present.
Affirmation: I dream the Divine in everything. The poet within wants to sing!
Element: Air

If this card appears in a reading It’s time to go more deeply into your current journal practice by branching out into another form of writing such as poetry, creative writing, automatic writing, non dominant hand printing, dream analysis, drama, song writing, to name a few. Take some time to sit quietly and gather your thoughts and then simply plunge in and start writing. Time yourself or set a word limit such as writing one hundred words a day, no more or no less. Working with this kind of restrictive format can help you ‘go with the flow’ so look out for poetry appearing like magick without much effort at all.

In my own life I spent a few weeks writing one hundred words a day and poetry just flowed out of me. It was so easy.
 
CARD 2:Seagull
Keyword: Freedom
Meaning: Be bold and daring in your approach.
Reversed: You are earthbound and not ready to move forward.

Affirmation: I am free.
Astrology: Cancer, Moon, Neptune, Pisces
Element: Water

Medicine: You embody the WIND, the AIR, our breath – pure and in the moment, free to BE.

Lore: She was in awe. Her ally, the Seagull, meant everything to her. He was freedom, joy, eternal flight, and to where, she didn't care.

I am free, you tell me over and over again until I hear your voice in my bones and I can fly – free, beautiful and loud!
 
CARD 3: Crazee Janice dancing as fast as she can
Mantra:
I ride the roller coaster.
Affirmation: I slow things down step-by-step.
Element: Spirit

If this card appears in a reading anything could happen! Things are going fast and so are you. Is it time to slow down yet? Can you manage it? Breathe…repeat. This too shall pass.

In my own life I have been on this sort of rollercoaster life ride before, especially during the early stages of menopause which also occurred during my astrological mid life transition. It’s called Uranus Opposition and it occurs for all of us around the age of forty. It was a ride I could NOT seem to get off! Crazee indeed. But I survived and even though I knew it was going to happen all I could do was to hang on. Sorry, no great advice to offer you, other than to get ready!
 
CARD 4: Kingfisher
Keyword: Awake
Meaning: You have a calling. What is it? Allow your inner compass to guide you to the answer.
Reversed: Noise and confusion disrupt your peace of mind.

Affirmation: I am cherished.
Astrology: Leo, Neptune, Pisces, Pluto, Saturn
Element: Earth, Fire, Water

Medicine: Your inventive ways invigorate and brighten our days.
Lore: She was fine, just fine, with all that was, will be, and is. With Kingfisher as her ally she could light up a room, and spark your heart ‘til it glowed.

“Always and forever we will be friends,” said this elf to her ally, the Kingfisher, for he brought her fish each day and she treated him to a rhyme and a prayer in return.
 
Sparkly Blessings!
Kathy Crabbe

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Bring Back the May Baskets!

Even if it’s not all spring sunshine where you are today, there’s no reason not to get in the lighthearted spirit of May Day and Beltane. I’ll never forget the first time I was gifted with a brightly colored, homemade May Day basket by a new neighbor in our development out in the country. All it had contained was a fun mixture of popcorn and jellybeans, but the fact that it had been crafted by hand, and dutifully delivered to each home in the neighborhood by a determined little girl warmed my heart. It got me thinking about the tradition, and how this simple act of kindness probably wasn’t practiced much anymore. I miss those more trusting times when we used to be able to trick-or-treat after dark in a rural setting and not worry, as well. If you are fortunate enough to be blessed with a nice neighbor, a cute cat, or anyone deserving of one of these old-fashioned treasures, then bring back the May baskets, I say.

MAY DAY BASKET FOR A NICE NEIGHBOR

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The Worst Maypole Dance I Ever Saw

To begin with, real Maypoles don't have streamers.

Oh, they may have ribbons: brightly-colored ones, along with the garlands of flowers and fresh greenery.

But “wrapping the Maypole,” now: that's a 19th century import from Bavaria—where the two highest points in any given town are usually the steeple and the Maypole—that educators loved because it was such a “pretty” custom. Ugh.

(In Bavaria, the streamer dance is performed as a show of skill. The point is not to wrap the maypole, but to wrap and then unwrap it. Now that shows prowess.)

Nope; when it comes to Maypoles, the real thing is a real, live tree, fresh-cut that morning and borne rejoicing from the woods (the original magic here is to bring home the vitality of the Wild) by the young folks of the village, who probably did a little early-morning rejoicing of their own in the woods. You lop off all the branches except the ones at the very top, deck it with the flowers and greenery that you gathered in the woods, and set it up as the centerpiece of the May Day merriment.

(In the Rites of May, the Maypole presides only over the Day festivities, the centerpiece of the Night revels being, of course, the Fire of Nine Woods.)

Real Maypole dances don't have anything to do with streamers. They're ring dances performed around the Maypole.

The worst Maypole dance that I ever saw—fortunately I was a musician that year and hence not criminally liable—was perpetrated by an enthusiastic crew with lots of Wiccan training under their cinctures, each one just brimming with magical Intent.

Unfortunately, they all had different Intents.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    And thank Goddess for greenhouses! How the ancestors would have loved them.
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Some years we have to make do with box and holly. Oh, well. In Scandinavia, the "May Stang" goes up at Midsummer's. All paganism i
  • JudithAnn
    JudithAnn says #
    Great piece on traditional Beltane. Now only if I lived in a place where flowers and greenery might be gathered on May first. At l

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