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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
Dead of Winter: January 31, Hecate's Feast

Many years ago, from some long forgotten source, I read that the goddess Hecate's sacred festival was celebrated on January 31. Although I have never been able to find the source or corroborate this information (Stewart and Janet Farrar's classic “The Witches' Goddess” mentions August 13 for her annual festival as well as the night of the Full moon), I have celebrated this feast every year, in preparation for Imbolc and as an entry into the coldest (but not darkest) part of the Winter.

My experience of Hecate is as a seasonal Goddess. I sense her presence in October, as the frost bitten garden finally dies back, as the light deepens into honey and amber, in the first tantalizing days of Hallowstide, the first days of the thinning Veil. She is present in the Descent, and in the Underworld, and in the solemn, silent movements of our beloved dead. She is present in the rapidly darkening year, and she helps to midwife in the promise of the sacred Child, reborn as the Sun at the Winter Solstice.

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  • Leisa Reynolds
    Leisa Reynolds says #
    My mother passed 21 years ago this Jan 31 and every year since her passing I have gotten up and taken a deep breath and thought to
  • Leni Hester
    Leni Hester says #
    Thanks for sharing this, Leisa! My mom and gramma have died in the past 2 years, and the loss is so present with me, at this time
  • Deborah Blake
    Deborah Blake says #
    I love this :-)
  • Leni Hester
    Leni Hester says #
    Thanks, Deborah! signed, squeeing fangirl of your work!

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
High Summer: The Reflection

For the 8 Sabbats that are a part of the Pagans Down Under blog project, I've decided to share my fledgling '8 Spoked Wheel' system as I work through them properly for the first time myself in my own practice. This is a work in progress that follows a practice for a number of years that did follow the traditional neo-pagan sabbats but after serious reflection I've decided to give an adjusted practice a go that reflects a system I have created that suits.

I don't imagine this could be directly adopted by anyone else and see it as a personal weaving of my own creation. This series of festivals incorporates colour magic and is adapted to suit my local climate and so we begin with Red and an observation I have termed The Reflection. The energy of this thrums throughout late January and early February and could be shifted to suit astrological or lunar correspondences. For this year that would suit the 3rd of February, when a Full Moon in Leo is experienced. The Full Moon in this sign lends a shining, fabulous quality to the season.

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Direct Democracy: A Part of Our Pagan Heritage

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Ahl al-Kitab

I guide without need of scripture,

for my words are written on the hearts of my people.
 

Muhammad was right.

There are the ahl al-kitâb—the People of the Book—and then there are the pagans.

One of the things that impresses me most about the New Paganisms—and this is one of the ways in which we have remained most true to the ways of the ancestors—is that, from our very beginnings, we have been, and remain, non-scriptural religions. Occasional jokes about Edda-thumping aside (“Snorri said it, I believe it, That settles it”), we have, for the most part, managed to dodge the silver bullet of Canon. In a world in which religions are defined by their scriptures, this is an impressive achievement, rendered all the more striking by the apparently unconscious nature of the decision.

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  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis says #
    Yes!

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
the Pagan Experience: Voice
Although they are only breath, words which I command are immortal --Sappho

When I was a younger woman, I wanted to be a Writer; I wanted to be an Author, and I wanted to write literary fiction and poetry. In 2002, that changed dramatically, because my Muse sidled up to me and suggested a romance story. I'd never done that sort of thing before, and while I wasn't morally against it, I wasn't sure if I could do a good job of it. And it didn't particularly match my mental map of myself - I dabbled in romance reading, mostly well-written historical romances, but the genre blending of speculative romance was in its infancy then.

But I jumped in and found that I loved writing romance. There are people who think that writing to that genre is easy and formulaic; I think they should try it themselves and see how "easy" it is to write to the guidelines while making the characters and situations fresh, fun, and invigorating. There's also more than a little whiff of sexism about those who are dismissive of romance entirely; romance is a genre that concerns itself with women's desires and inner lives.

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The 5 of Pentacles & Spiritual Lessons Learned from Snow-Shoveling

This post also appears on www.tarotbyhilary.com.

This week may have been the week of the “Snowpocalypse That Never Was” in the media, and people complaining about how the press and the people making the decisions overreacted. Me? I’m firmly in the “better safe than sorry” camp in that regard. Even my card of the day for the start of the storm was the 5 of Pentacles… I was tending to agree with the weathermen that the storm would be as bad as they said it would be.

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  • Janet Boyer
    Janet Boyer says #
    What a great post, Hilary. I'll never look at snow-shoveling. winter volunteering, or the 5 of Pentacles quite the same way again.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Of Goddesses and Squirrels

Hey, it was the 80s, and we were Gay Urban Pioneers. Of course we over-planted the yard.

If you Google Earth our address (yes, that is a verb: what a language!), you won't see the house at all. The neighbors' houses, yes, but in between them: the magic forest. Think of it as warding: urban invisibility.

Living in a sea of trees as we do, of course we're well populated with squirrels. We've got a whole clan of them living around us; just now in late January, the trees are filled with their drays. (Yes, English actually does have a word referring specifically to a squirrel's nest. When I hear people bemoaning the poverty of our language, I smile and say nothing.)

I call them the White Ears clan. They're standard issue Midwest gray squirrels, Sciurus carolinensis, but unusual in that their outer ears are white, not gray like the rest of their fur. Clearly there's a gene for albinism in this population, and every few years we actually see a white squirrel among them. In fact, there was one just last summer.

White squirrels don't usually last for very long: their hyper-visibility puts them at a disadvantage when it comes to predators. But for me a Year of the White Squirrel is always an opportunity to take a little extra time to appreciate the beauty of squirrels. Living among so many of them as we do, it's easy to forget just what amazing little beings they actually are.

Albinism and melanism are both recessive traits, but they're actually pretty common among the urban squirrel population here; most neighborhoods have at least one black or white squirrel. I'd never given this fact much thought until I heard something that Arvol Looking Horse said in 2009.

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