Pagan Paths


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Paths Blogs

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

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
The Kalends at Three

Tomorrow marks the Kalends of April, the first day of the month. In Ancient Rome, this was the day that state-sanctioned sacrifices were made to Juno, Janus, and the Lares. The date of the Nones, the day all other monthly festivals were publicly announced, was given. While a few syncretic Roman Revivalists follow the lunar cycle of marking the Kalends, which would be when the first sliver of a new moon could be seen in the sky or (not quite as accurately) the new moon, most of us observe the first of the month as the Kalends. That was how it was marked for the majority of Rome's history.

Most months, I work extra hard to make sure that I cook a modest but well-balanced meal for my family from scratch on this day. We offer at the lararium, or shrine to the Lares and household Gods, that sits in the middle of our dining room table. In my home, we bring the Gods to the table with us when we eat. We offer the first bites of food from our plate to the Lares, giving Them what They are due, along with all food that might happen to fall onto the floor. With a toddler in our house, the Lares get fed well with all the food that falls.

The rest of the religious duties of the day fall on me, though, and that's because I'm technically the only person in the house of this religion.

Except this is going to change this month. It was agreed upon many years ago that any child I had would be raised within my religion, since my husband is an agnostic humanist who loves Christmas. Now at 3-years-old, I feel like my daughter has hit that magical age where she's ready to start really learning about the Gods (though she continues to insist there are only 2 Gods) and participate in her mother's religion.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Goddess Art and Body Image

Images of large bodied goddess figures really helped me deal with sudden changes to my body that happened in 1997. I dealt with more pressing issues first, but eventually I dealt with suddenly being a fat person, a person society perceives as less hard working, less beautiful, having less willpower, less healthy, less strong-- just generally less. I made several artworks based on different goddesses of the ancient world, and it helped me process those issues.

This art is a sunprint, which is a contact photograph that yields a photonegative image of the printed object, in this case a paper cutout of a line drawing I made of the goddess of Laussel. This is an adaptation rather than a replica, so it isn't precisely like the statue. The curved line represents the icy cave entrance, with the warmth of the earth within.

Some don't call these images goddesses, but fertility fetishes. These types of Stone Age statuary are officially named Venuses, such as the Venus of Willendorf, and Venus of Laussel, but Venus is a goddess name and is culturally specific. If I said I was making fetish art, people would get the totally wrong idea. When I was looking for images like these to adapt to sunprint art, I found them in art books in the public library as Mother Goddess figures, so that's the idea I'm going with. I've been considering them goddesses since I first saw them and by now they have become part of my personal path, so to me they are goddesses.

Given the age of the Willendorf and Laussel sculptures, between 20,000 to 25,000 years old, the people of that time and place would have been hunter-gatherers. Having a large body would have indicated abundance and prosperity, and fertility derived from same, all of which are positive things. None of  those are things I had at the time I was making this art, but re-imagining the social meaning of a large body from a negative to a positive still helped me pull out of negative thinking and depression. Identifying with these ancient body-positive images made a positive difference in my life.

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Fashion & Faith: Wear Medusa, Honor Vesta

While I’m not what you’d call a “girly girl” – I prefer sci-fi movies to chick flicks and grey pencil skirts to flowered dresses – I do love jewelry.  And like most things I love, I’ve managed to find a way to integrate it into the way I honor Vesta.

Of course, wearing jewelry to symbolize one’s faith is nothing new.  Modern Christians wear crosses or crucifixes in the same way that the ancient pagans before them wore pendants, rings and bracelets that depicted the faces of their gods, goddesses and heroes.  And with the resurgence of traditions like Vesta, we are starting to see this happen again.  I, for one, am happy as a clam about it.

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  • BlondieWitch
    BlondieWitch says #
    Hi Debra, I am drawn to your blogs and knowledge of Vesta. I am a solitary green witch, and I feel honoring Vesta just makes sen

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

I've probably been involved in well over 500 Pagan rituals over the last twenty years.  Most of them have been pretty forgettable, but there are five or so that really stick out.  There's a couple of Samhains in there of course, a big crazy 1899 ritual, my year and a day dedication ritual, and the night I was initiated.  Those are the experiences I'll take to the grave with me, especially the last one of those.  

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  • Phaedra Bonewits
    Phaedra Bonewits says #
    We also used to say, if six months after your initiation your life hadn't gone through some major changes, it didn't "take" :-D I
  • Lady Pythia
    Lady Pythia says #
    Lovely article, Jason, which takes me back to my own Passage Rites. And, Phaedra, yes, yes, yes! I probably scoffed in 1975, as
  • Phaedra Bonewits
    Phaedra Bonewits says #
    I have several initiations myself, and I have no particular problem with non-lineage initiations. What I do find problematical is
  • Phaedra Bonewits
    Phaedra Bonewits says #
    Reading a play is not like watching a production of a play. Watching a play is not the same as performing in a play. Reading a rit

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Equality for Minoan Men!

It can be hard for us modern folks who have always lived in a patriarchal society to envision any other kind of culture. As Riane Eisler perceptively noted in her book The Chalice and the Blade, we come from a dominance hierarchy type society so we tend to assume that any other kind of society from history or prehistory must be similar. In other words, if the men aren’t in charge and disproportionately powerful compared to the women in a culture, then the reverse must be true: the women must hold all the power while the men are largely powerless and oppressed.

This unfortunate bias has spilled over into our interpretation of Minoan society. I can’t count how many times people have told me, “Oh, those Minoans, their art is all women. You don’t see men anywhere, so the women must have held all the power.” I’d like to dispel this myth, for myth it is, and it’s totally inaccurate. It’s based on the idea that all societies must be dominance hierarchy types and it fails to consider another type of society: the egalitarian culture, which is what the Minoans really had. That’s a society in which women and men are equals and all adults have the same standing regardless of gender. This myth is also based on a careful selection of Minoan art that in no way represents the enormous and beautiful collection we have from this ancient civilization. So let’s explore the accuracy (or lack thereof) of the women-in-charge myth by actually looking at the art of the ancient Minoans.

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  • Thesseli
    Thesseli says #
    This article makes me think of this story -- http://www.npr.org/templates/transcript/transcript.php?storyId=197390707 -- an in par
  • Laura Perry
    Laura Perry says #
    That's kind of disturbing, but I guess it's a reminder that what we think we see isn't necessarily the same as what's really there

The retrieval and revival of indigenous ceremonial traditions is a growing concern in this increasingly disconnected world, and one that has great promise for the restoration of methods of sustainable living, sound ecological practices and the preservation of ancient knowledge. Sound recordings of elders are being made around the world, as well as video recordings (where possible and appropriate) of aspects of traditional ritual. For some tribes, preservation and the training of the younger generation are key. For other native cultures, these efforts hinge around the retrieval of fragmentary and partially forgotten evidence. This is the situation with native Celtic ritual practices, some of which have died out, and others which survive in traditional Celtic-language speaking communities and which are not advertised or generally made public.

Every book, group and spiritual teacher who professes to practice 'ancient Celtic or Druidic ritual' has a completely different system on offer, which in and of itself is a red flag. The vast majority of these are based on modern occult and Neo-Pagan traditions, Neo-Shamanism of a non-Celtic provenance, and various New Age ideas, with a smattering of Celtic words or symbols. The reason for this is totally understandable: without living elders to pass along an intact tradition, or detailed written evidence that preserves such a system (provided by and approved by living descendants of native tradition bearers), there is enormous confusion and controversy over what Celtic ritual is or should be like.

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  • Alan O ' Domhnaill
    Alan O ' Domhnaill says #
    Language is in a continual state of evolvement. Possibly our way of expressing and understanding too. Should ritual not also be ev
  • Alison Leigh Lilly
    Alison Leigh Lilly says #
    Thanks for this article -- a good, informative run-down of some basic commonalities in ritual from different ancient Celtic cultur
  • Síthearan NicLeòid
    Síthearan NicLeòid says #
    Hi Alison - Thank you for your very insightful and thoughtful message! Yes, I can clarify.... Since what I am personally trying t
  • Greybeard
    Greybeard says #
    Thank you for this article and knowledge.
  • Síthearan NicLeòid
    Síthearan NicLeòid says #
    You are very welcome, Greybeard! May it serve and inspire!

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