Pagan Paths


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Paths Blogs

Specific paths such as Heathenism, blended traditions, polytheist reconstructionism, etc.

b2ap3_thumbnail_227.jpgI was an animist before I was pagan.  From earliest childhood I had a sense that the world was alive, I could sense the spirits in the land around me.  I was a loner growing up and spent a lot of time outside, enthralled by the magic of the land, the wonder and beauty.  I loved the changes in weather - I still love walking in the rain - and the changes of seasons.  The outdoors, and some particular pockets of forest, were my solace during those years; in my teens I took up hiking and frequently went on ten-mile hikes, just to immerse myself in the woods and their mystery.  When I became pagan, I got my greatest spiritual charge out of doing ritual and magick outdoors, the Powers always felt more present there... and eventually I found my way to the Vanir, and felt drawn to Them as the Powers of the Land.

With my connection to nature, I was environmentally conscious from a young age.  This was back in the 1980s during the Reagan administration.  I used some of my allowance to donate money to Greenpeace.  I spent time cleaning up litter, I dutifully recycled before recycling was a convenient and popular option (I recycled before it was mainstream *hipster glasses*), and I lectured peers and adults about littering and not recycling; I got my elementary school to switch to using recycled paper after giving a speech on destruction of the forest.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_448px-Oregon_forest_and_mist.jpgFor each of the Vanic virtues, I plan on writing something on how Vanic pagans can better incorporate these virtues into their daily lives, living Vanatru.  So with the third virtue, Naturalism, here is a list of suggestions (not demands, I am not interested in telling people what to do) of activities to better express this virtue:

-Spend some time outside every day, even if just for 5-10 minutes.  (Spending a half-hour to an hour would be ideal, but not everyone can do ideal, for health reasons or other reasons.)  Look at the land around you.  Observe the weather.  Observe the changes of the land with the weather and the seasons.  If you are visually impaired, you can utilize your other senses - feel, touch, smell, listen.  (You can do this even if you're not visually impaired, doing things like holding a fallen leaf, smelling wildflowers, etc.)

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

b2ap3_thumbnail_10647028_10152639569303232_2654539940423990677_n-e1409779680543-300x300.jpgI'm not sure that every coven unrelated to a specific tradition needs a "Book of Shadows." I probably wanted one for my coven because I have strange control issues. After finding a ritual structure that worked for our circle I wanted to get it all down on paper, and share it with everyone in our little group. For our group a BoS made perfect sense because we work the same way ritual to ritual.  

A BoS is not necessarily a rigid, never-changing book of instructions, but it often contains ideas that consistently work. If the quarter calls I'm using "work" why would I want to change them every month or so? I also think there's real power in repeating a ritual structure over and over again. It takes the guess work out of ritual and creates an atmosphere that lets the mind and spirit quickly ease into ritual mode. When my coven's opening chant starts I'm in "work mode" and instantly push outside concerns away.  

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Thanksgiving, an American Celebration

"Thanksgiving is celebrated as a family harvest celebration, and its origins are swept under the rug. Public schools of my era put up decorations of cutesy Pilgrims and Indians and indoctrinated children in the propaganda that Thanksgiving was a continuous celebration from the First Thanksgiving and had been celebrated the same way ever since, and that the First Thanksgiving was when the settlers had a great harvest and invited the happy, friendly natives to the feast."

That's a quote from my latest book, American Celebration. I decided to write this book for several reasons. One was because I decided to go in a more modernist direction in my personal path. I reached the point where I felt that heathenry had gotten enough reconstruction to have a firm foundation and it was time to build the rest of the house. Becoming a viable religion in modern times means we have to think about how we fit into modern culture. I wanted to spend more of my holidays with my family and friends who are part of my real life, and American secular holiday culture provides a framework for celebrating with friends and family of different faiths. 

Another reason I wrote this book is because I've heard all my life that the United States doesn't have a real culture like other countries do. It's not true. There are American folkways. I discovered things I never knew about my own country's customs while researching this book, which is new this year.

Another reason I wrote the book is because while I was running for office, one day a woman from another country who happened to be at a political event with her fellow asked me why Americans are always worshipping our flag. That got me to thinking, and I also wrote this book for foreigners who want to understand peculiar customs in the United States. 

I'll return to the story of my personal journey on my path in my next blog post.

Here's another quote from the entry on Thanksgiving in American Celebration:

"Thanksgiving as we know it today was created by Abraham Lincoln for the purpose of uniting the bitterly divided American people in the shadow of the Civil War. He created the mythology of Pilgrims and Indians feasting together as a model of how the North and the South ought to come together after the massive bloodshed which had just happened. In reaching back for a foundation myth that reflected a happier and shinier view of the real history of the colonization of America, he hoped to perpetuate a happier and shinier America in his present and the future."

Links to American Celebration:

Amazon (print edition): http://www.amazon.com/American-Celebration-Erin-Lale/dp/1304916138/ref=la_B004GLACQQ_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1416415380&sr=1-2

Smashwords (ebook): https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/400543

Barnes & Noble (ebook): http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/american-celebration-erin-lale/1118328548?ean=2940045599979 

American Celebration would make a great Yule gift.

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The Vanir are, among other things, the powers of Nature and all it encompasses. To then claim to worship them, and deny the agency, importance, and power of their domain and subjects is gross blasphemy. Those who honor the powers of nature should be first to embrace their non-human kin on an equal level, as all part of the great design. This may take many forms, as all of us have different strengths and spheres of influence, but the trifecta of reduce, reuse, recycle should be at the core of any practical and truly-honoring Vanic practice.

(Nicanthiel Hrafnhild in my bookVisions of Vanaheim)

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Tattooed Pagans - A ritual in ink

The time for preparation is over. I have eaten. I have stripped down and am bare from the waist up. I have been washed. I have been shaved. I have stepped into the circle I have cast and taken my seat. I've sent words to the gods that I' d like protection and ease and fortitude of mind and body. This ritual is a test. This is my journey to make alone.

Then the buzzing starts. "Are you ready?" I'm asked. I nod and I feel the first sting of the needle as it pierces my skin. Long strokes up and down my spine. The weight of another's arm on my back holding me in place. The concurrent thoughts of "What the hell am I doing?" and "Oh I've waited so long for this, I can't believe it's finally happening". 

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Gwion Raven
    Gwion Raven says #
    gwionraven@comcast.net or you can post it over at the Witches and Pagans face book page if you like. There are now hundreds of tat
  • David LeBarron
    David LeBarron says #
    sure!
  • Gwion Raven
    Gwion Raven says #
    Hello David, Now that's a great story. I'd happily send you my email address if you'd like and you can email a picture to me. I'l
  • David LeBarron
    David LeBarron says #
    I just got an addition to an old tattoo. I added some sacred geometry, smoke and pentagrams. The best part was the tattooist is al
  • Peggy Frye
    Peggy Frye says #
    I've several Celtic tattoos - crows and hounds (stylized) and now I have two half sleeves depicting The Morrigan and Cu Chulainn -

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Thoughts on the Aesir

Years ago, when my friend Nornoriel's writings on the Vanir as a tribe were first starting to become popular (he was Svartesol at the time; make sure to give him credit if you quote his older work!), I felt a pull towards attempting to write about the Aesir as a people, as a collective, and was urged to do so by Odin (as doing PR for Asgard in general, and not just for Him personally, is supposed to be part of my Job). But I ran into a few challenges, the first one being one of an assumed entitlement: why do the Aesir need PR in the first place, when all of the myths are supposedly written from our/Their perspective, and when the most well-known modern religion established for the gods of the north (Asatru) is literally named for Them?

And yet, Asatru is not specifically about the Aesir per se, as a tribe or a culture (a culture that encompasses more than just the known Aesic deities); it is a religion that also takes in the Vanir-- basically a catch-all for the worship of the northern gods in general. So clearly, the fact that Asatru exists is not a substitute for what I was being asked to do. Also, regarding the myths being from an Aesic perspective, I don't think that's necessarily the case either; they were written from a human perspective, and to a large extent the people who recorded them (the skalds of the Viking era) were not interested in differentiating between the tribes of the gods, so much as in telling a good story. And as much as I find Nornoriel's explorations of the Vanir to be important, engrossing, and long-overdue, they do leave something of a gap. In celebrating the Vanir as the gods of nature, agriculture, passion, and creativity, the Aesir become relegated, in contrast, to what I personally consider the “boring” categories: civilization, laws and their enforcement, teaching—in other words, strictly human concerns. (Both tribes have an equal claim on warfare though, it seems.)

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