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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
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.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Hearken to the Witch's Reel

 Darksome night and shining steel...

My friend Doc once said to me, somewhat wistfully, “Someday we'll have our sacred dances again.”

Well, here's one we'll be doing at this coming summer's Grand Sabbat, along with (among others) the Mill, the Horned Serpent, and the Back-to-Back. Check it out: Rattlejag Morris' The Witch Reel.

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We take Samhaintide seriously here in the southern highlands of Appalachia.  There are rituals and ceremonies, discussions and interviews.  I am blessed to live in the land where my Ancestors lie buried and so I also have the sacred duty of tending their graves in the Darkening of the year.

Then there is the garden to put to bed and there were festivals and cons to attend and so I have been called away from here for some time. I will try to be more faithful to this writing as the Solstice vigil fires are set and fed, and as the winter lingers in the land.

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Book Review: The Other Side of Virtue by Brendan Myers

Brendan Myers is a Canadian Pagan author who has done two very difficult things.  One is that he has broken out of the Canadian market; the other is that he has broken out of the Pagan market.  He's a professor of philosophy in Gatineau, Quebec and this, plus his background in Druidry and Humanistic Paganism have come together in his 2008 book The Other Side of Virtue: Where Our Virtues Come from, What They Really Mean, and Where They Might Be Taking Us.  I've had a signed copy of this book sitting on my "to read" shelf since I saw Brendan at the Western Gate Festival a couple of years ago, but only now finally got around to finding time to read it.  I'm sorry I waited.

This book could be a modern manifesto for humanistic Paganism; but its theories can also be applied to most modern Pagan practice.  And it could also be read and enjoyed by humanists and naturalists of any faith. It could possibly even be held up to Neil deGrasse Tyson and Stephen Hawking as an answer on the value of philosophy.  Philosophy is not dead, Myers argues.  It has merely changed form.  A hard-core rationalist might ask "What use does philosophy have in the modern scientific and rational world?"  The answer is "to teach us how to live a good life without faith to fall back on."  But that being said, it does not challenge the existence of faith; rather, it suggests that ethics and values are essential and positive driving forces that cross the boundaries of religion or spirituality, and are equally applicable to everyone.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Waiting

So the Mother comes to the birthing-stool. Painted with white clay patterns of birth, she waits.

Around her the animals gather in silent expectation. They say that at midnight on Midwinter's Eve, they will speak. They wait.

They say that at midnight on Midwinter's Eve, the trees will burst into blossom. They wait.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Molly
    Molly says #
    This is lovely!
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Just pulling together the pieces, Molly. Glad you like it. My experience has always been that the best stories are the most speci
  • Alana Erickson
    Alana Erickson says #
    Makes me want to get clay in my hands again and make some little figurines for yule time!
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Around Big Mama on her stool, the under-the-tree menagerie just grows every year: the Minoan bull, the faience hippo, the Proto-Ge

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