Pagan Paths


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Paths Blogs

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

30-Second Magic: Take 30 For Expansion 1-1-8-20

Think magic has to be hard? It requires no expensive tools or elaborate ritual setups.

If you were here for Friday’s Take 30 you know the drill. The first step for balanced and effective magic or ritual is tuning yourself to the greater, cosmic, divine energies all around us. One simple way to do this is to take 30 seconds each day to tap into the power of one of the eight directions at a certain time and ask for guidance. 30 seconds! What could be easier?

Saturday morning, between 9 and 11 AM, face North West and take 30 focused seconds to connect with the energy of expansion. That’s it!

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30-Second Magic: Take 30 for Clearing Negativity

Think magic has to be hard? It requires no expensive tools or elaborate ritual setups. 30 seconds is all it takes.


The first step in any balanced, effective magical or ritual practice is tuning yourself to the greater, cosmic, divine energies circulating all around us. One simple way to do this is to take 30 seconds each day to tap into the power of one of the eight cardinal directions at a certain time and ask for guidance. 30 seconds! What could be easier?

We’re already innately used to doing this, celebrating certain holidays at around certain dates every year. , This practice works no matter your path, and can even be shared with non-pagans.

So, here’s a start:

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Deeper Into the Labyrinth: Exploring Modern Minoan Paganism

Back in 2015, I responded to a request from some members of Ariadne's Tribe by creating an online course in Modern Minoan Paganism (MMP). Thus, Into the Labyrinth was born. The course wends its way through the basics of the MMP sacred calendar. I've taught it every year since then, and even though I wrote the course, I learn something new every time I teach it - that's one of the perks of being a teacher whose students are really interested in the subject.

As soon as that first class was over, those students asked for a second course that delves deeper into some of the deities and practices of MMP. So I dug into our pantheon and our calendar and created Deeper Into the Labyrinth. And once again, I discovered that my students often had as much to teach me as the other way around.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
The Afterlife in Asatru

In Asatru, and many other sects of heathenry, we believe the soul has multiple parts, and that some of these parts can go on to an afterlife, while other parts can be reincarnated. The soul part that corresponds with the personality and memory can go either way, and it can also reach oblivion before being recycled / reincarnated. Other parts of the soul complex can go on, be reincarnated, or just stop. Actions one can take on Earth can affect this outcome. If one is going on to an afterlife, there are many possible afterlife destinations, some of which are here on Earth—which we call Midgard—and some of which are in other worlds / other dimensions.

Some people have been sharing a meme based on a Wikipedia page on one sect of heathenry, "Norse Paganism," thinking that it applies to all sects. It does not apply to Asatru. The page, and the meme, is divided into 4 sections, labeled Valhalla, Folkvangr, Helgafjell, and Helheim. The sections on Valhalla and Folkvangr are not bad. Those realms are the two places where the battle slain go, to Odin in Valhalla within Gladsheim and to Freya in Sessrumnir within Folkvangr.

The section on Hel gets Hel wrong. Hel is not a place of punishment. It's just the world of the dead. Christians used the word Hel to translate their word for the realm of the dead, just like they used the word godh (god) to translate their word for God. Both words ended up having Christian connotations in modern English, but the original heathen Hel had as much resemblance to the Christian Hell as original heathen god has to Christian God. Rather than a place of punishment, Hel or Helheim is the catch-all, or default realm. It is ruled by Hel, or Hela. Hel the goddess and Hel the place have the same name for the same reason that Normandy is the name of a land and a Duke.

Helgafjel is an obscure place name that most heathens don't even recognize. Is it a place within Hel, or a mountain on Earth? It can be argued that all grave mounds are simultaneously on this earth and in the realm of the dead. There is a real place in Iceland called Helgafell, meaning "holy mountain." The place spelled Helgafjel also means "holy mountain," but it may not have been the same place. It may have been in Norway, in which case, it is now named something else, since it no longer appears on any maps. Either way, Helgafjel was a real physical mountain, and the belief in Helgafjel was a local belief in a mountain in which the dead of a particular set of linked families or the dead of a particular locality went. The page is specific to a sect of heathenry where the people lived within sight of the mountain. The meme makers have mistaken it for a generalized belief across heathen cultures (that is, pagan cultures which worshipped the gods generally called the Norse gods.) As a physical place where the dead are said to reside, this then is a type of mound-dead belief, even though there is no evidence the mountain was actually used as a burial site. The dead in a specific mountain, mound, ship burial, graveyard, etc. are specific dead people with names, usually people who lived in the area.

Historically, the line between the mound-dead and the mound-elf was fuzzy. Freyr as king of Alfheim (elf home) may have had an aspect in which he was also king of the male dead ancestors. His sister Freya may have had an aspect as queen of the female dead ancestors, as indicated by her name Vanadis, goddess of the disir (female ancestral spirits.)

Other possible afterlife destinations include the home of Thor, who may have been considered to collect farmers in historical times, although the word used in the lore was a more general word for the non-warrior caste. The goddess Ran collects the drowned dead. Frigga (or Frau Holle) collects the souls of dead children; this is the meaning of Mother Night, when the Dark Mother rides the Wild Hunt. In an earlier time, when Tyr was king, his wife Zisa collected the dead in her war-boat. Gefjon, who may be an aspect of Freya, is said to collect the souls of unmarried women. Many if not most of the heathen pantheon have halls where they house the souls of dead humans.

In historical times, people who wanted to go to a specific god tried to live their lives in such a way that they would be likely to die doing the god’s special thing, such as sailing. Some heathens today also do this, although others believe that devotion to a god as a priest or other type of specialist opens the way to that god.

Naming customs also can affect the afterlife, but it affects the afterlife of the named person, although this is a bit complicated. The soul part in which talents reside is not the same as the soul part that contains memories, so when someone names a child after their grandfather hoping to gain grandfather’s musical talents, that does not necessarily draw the memory part; it is possible for grandfather to both be reborn in his line and stay with his god in the afterlife at the same time. On the other hand, if one names a child after a friend specifically to honor that friend who is still alive, no part of the still alive person’s soul is transferred at the ceremony, but it is possible for part of the soul to arrive later, upon the death of the other party, as the shared name opens the way between them.

Historical heathen cultures spanned a great deal of time over a great many places. Some heathens spoke languages that other heathens from other times and places would not understand. Modern heathens in America usually draw their heathenry from a wide variety of cultures, although some of them can be as local and specific as their European counterparts.

Image: Valknut, fiber art by Erin Lale

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Introducing the 2020 Cast of Spring Mysteries Festival

If you knew there was a place, where the Gods walked the earth, would you go? 

For 35 years, the Aquarian Tabernacle Church has continued the Eleusinian Mysteries, originally held in ancient Greece. The Great Mother invites you to take the pilgrimage and be initiated into the ancient rites of Demeter and Persephone, on the beautiful Pacific Ocean in Washington State, Easter weekend, April 9th - 12th, 2020. Continue to see the Photo Gallery. Early Bird pricing ends on January 17! 

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Red and White: The clues in the colors of Minoan art

For a long time, I wondered what on Earth possessed the Minoans to paint women as white (not Caucasian-toned, but the color of a sheet of paper) and men as dark-dark red. After all, DNA evidence shows that, like their ancestors in Neolithic Anatolia, the Minoans all had skin in various shades of brown. So why the weirdness in the art, like the Bull Leaper fresco above?

Then I began to learn about Mediterranean folk dance. Dance ethnography isn't a subject I ever really thought about before, to be honest. Then a talented dance ethnographer began to share her insights with us, and a lot of things began to make sense. (Check out her book The Ancient and Martial Dances for some fascinating info.)

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Recent comment in this post - Show all comments
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    My copy of "The Ancient & Martial Dances" arrived in the mail today. It looks intriguing. Thank you for mentioning it.

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Cord spell to let go

Cord spell to let go

 

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