Pagan Paths


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Paths Blogs

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

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Good Guys, Bad Guys, and Utopias

The world is a complicated place, and it’s tempting to divide it up into good guys and bad guys to simplify things, make life a little easier to digest. A good example of this kind of simplification is the Minoans of ancient Crete.

I’ll admit, when I first discovered this fascinating Bronze Age civilization, I felt like they were practically a utopia: equality for women, no military, a beautiful religion based around nature. Heck, they even had paved streets and flush toilets.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
2015 Pagan Best of the Best

It's that time of year again folks, when the media starts releasing lists. The "Most Memorable Moments of 2015" or the "Top Ten Really Important Things That You've Already Forgotten About". I'm not a fan of lists. I find that lists make me grumpy. Why should I only remember these ten things? I frequently find that I didn't see any of those Top Ten must see movies and I'm pretty sure that those Top Ten Celebrities That Changed America, didn't actually change much at all.

So this is not a "list" blog. Think of it, perhaps, as a collection of my favourite seven (I like seven, it's sort of witchy and isn't Ten) Pagan writings that you might like to read at some point, and in no particular order (except number one on the list. You do have to read that one first). Imagine that the author (that's me) just sort of bumped into you at your favorite eating spot and said "Oh! Look what I think is interesting and compelling. Read these."

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Intuition and Inspiration

My spiritual journey, as a South African born Pagan, began at the age of six. Both my parents worked full time and I was raised by a Zulu nanny in their absence. Virginia would walk me home from school in the afternoons. One afternoon as I was about to walk into the kitchen, Virginia shouted to me to stand still. She had never before raised her voice at anyone. I froze. Seconds later a lightning bolt struck the top of the metal door frame, slid down and up the doorway, and disappeared. I remember the smell of pure electricity. She took me by the hand and sat me down at the kitchen table. While she poured a cup of tea and placed the sugar bowl in front of me, I wondered how she had known about the lightning strike before it happened.

This memory has remained vivid for me to this day. It served as the first small awakening for what has become a life-long quest to know more about and understand the occult - the hidden. Over the last 40 or more years I have explored and studied Shamanism, Traditional African religions, Druidry, western and eastern magical traditions, occultism, divinations, medicinal and magical herbalism, folk-lore, mythology, European 'pagan' religions and Witchcraft. I consciously identified as a Witch by the age of 20. As I near my fiftieth birthday, it's become easier to quantify my personal belief system as a combination of animism and pantheism.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

There's a cycle in the Pagan blogosphere that needs to be interrupted. This or that public figure of Paganism stumbles, mildly or majorly, anything from making an offensive statement to doing something seriously unethical and even illegal. More than half the time, I think to myself "Who is this person, and why should I care?" But one by one, many take it upon themselves to step up and denounce or defend to demonstrate their upholding of ethics, Real Paganism(tm) or Loyalty and Respect for Our Elders (tm) Then we get upset about which "sides" our favorite bloggers, authors, festival presenters have taken, or not taken and there's another wave of backlash. I admit to taking part in this, but this last couple times I hesitated. What impact does my speaking or writing on this have? Is this person accountable to me? Do they follow the same value system as me? Do they represent my tradition or organization? Can I have a face to face conversation with them? 

I often put more thought into my writing than my speech. I try to talk quickly to get in all the words I want to and end up sounder more foolish as a result. The Druidic virtue of eloquence is certainly one I need to work on! I know my Wiccan compatriots have a saying about "Speak ye little, listen much" and the title of this blog post refers to the Witches' Pyramid, To Know, To Will, and To Keep Silent. I guess To Speak falls under To Will- it's not my pyramid, so y'all might have to explain it to me.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • John Reder
    John Reder says #
    Maybe "cliquishness" is a word that is grossly underused as though seemingly an undramatic little word it does cut to the heart of
  • Mariah Sheehy
    Mariah Sheehy says #
    I agree we need to call people out for bigoted comments and behavior. Since I don't know any of the people involved in this partic
  • Lizzy Hood
    Lizzy Hood says #
    I agree with your approach, especially the "I statements" method. That said, I would like to see more voices raise up, not in judg
  • John Reder
    John Reder says #
    The main problem Lizzy is the matter of "elders" in the Pagan communities. In almost every community (or coven) one is subservien
  • John Reder
    John Reder says #
    Mariah is addressing confrontations that are directly hostile, such as most of the political discourse that appears on the interne

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Asatru Altar for Sumbel and Blot

This photo is my altar for a holiday sumbel and blot, such as Yule. Sumbel is the toasting and blot is the blessing.

Altars for different purposes will have different things on them. This one is a portable altar used for community ritual. A permanent altar dedicated to a god or ancestor or to the gods generally, also called a shrine, would generally have fewer working tools and more symbols, and would probably include representations of the gods or other beings to whom it is dedicated, such as statues or pictures, and possibly sacrifices to them. Some Asatruars keep shrines and some don't, but any Asatru community ritual includes a sumbel, and most include a blot.

The altar for a sumbel has to include something to drink since sumbel is a toasting ritual. Asatru uses a drinking horn for this ritual. We use a cow's horn to honor Audhumla, the sacred cow who was the first self-aware being. Our mythology says that before time began or the World Tree grew, Audhumla licked the gods and the giants out of the ice and nurtured them on her milk. So a cow's horn represents the Great Mother.

There are two bottles and two horns on the altar in this picture because one bottle and horn set is for alcohol and one is for a non-alcoholic beverage. This altar also contains a bottle opener. This isn't a dedicated holy bottle opener, just the normal one from my kitchen, but being used for ritual means this opener is going to have a bit of specialness about it even after being returned to normal use. It is traditional to toast with mead, but other beverages work, too.

The altar for blot almost always contains all the things for sumbel as well because sumbel usually comes first and then blot. In the old days, the blot bowl caught the blood of a sacrificed animal, keeping the blood from touching the ground, and then the blood was sprinkled over the participants to bless them. In modern times, the bowl is partially filled with water, and then the dregs of the horn are poured in the bowl after the sumbel, and the mead / water mixture is sprinkled over the participants to bless them.

The pine branch on the altar is the asperger, which is used to sprinkle the water onto the participants. This pine branch is from a sacred pine tree I maintain at my home for this purpose. Before the main ritual, I ritually cut the asperger from the tree with this ritual knife. The knife can then go on the altar, on my belt, or can be put away.

This basic altar contains only the things necessary for the ritual. It can also be decorated with seasonally appropriate decorations, symbols of the gods, and anything meaningful to the godhi or gythia (the conductor of the ritual) or to the ritual participants.

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The flight to Egypt; dancing in the moonlight

I just recently came back from my [5th, this time] pilgrimage-journey to Egypt; and, I want to tell many stories about my journeys to the land of Netjeru, and my experiences and my spiritual findings and illuminations… so, this would be the first post dealing with the topic, and I need to begin with a story of how I went to Egypt first time ever, and what happened after.

I’ve been drawn to Egypt since my childhood. It was a connection deeper than just fascination by Egyptian art, history, and mythology. In fact, I didn’t like Egyptian mythology much, even, because there were not enough myths in books for children in Soviet Union available, and the myths that were, lacked the adventures which make Greek and Norse myths much more dynamic.

I loved Ancient Egypt as a whole thing. I studied the history, and enjoyed historical fiction; I taught myself not to be frightened in the dim lit Egyptian Hall in the Hermitage, and taught myself not to be disappointed that Egyptian deities look rather obscure, compared to their greek/roman counterparts in the museum halls “next door”. Greek and roman statues of Gods looked like statues of humans, just having all the beauty and perfection. The Netjeru guarded the mysteries.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Objectification

Objects can hold power, and collect energy.  In "The Magick of Making", we explored how magick can be instilled into artwork by the maker.  But what if you're not an artist/maker? And what about items that weren't originally made with magical intent but take on meaning for you? 

Even if you don't consider yourself a "material" person, there is undoubtedly some sort of token that means more than the sum of its parts to you: your grandmother's thimble, a book from your father, the feather you found on the street on that really rough day, the rock from the hike you went on during that vacation, your "lucky" sweater. 

Whether an item is made by humans, manufactured by machine, or created by nature, it has the potential for meaning, and meaning can be acquired most typically via association or by function. 

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Recent comment in this post - Show all comments
  • Melissa
    Melissa says #
    I had to smile when you started talking about mugs. I have a mug that was given to me by a good friend of mine, just before she di

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