Pagan Paths


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Paths Blogs

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

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

After taking a couple of weeks off from blogging, and then being gently informed by my editor that those couple of weeks were actually six months, I realized that I’m burned out on gods.

I never came to Witchcraft for the gods, but mythological deities--you know, the ones whose stories you can read at your local public library--hold such a fundamental place in modern Paganism that they quickly seeped into my practice. Starhawk’s writings center on nature, the immanent Goddess, and the horned God; Reclaiming Witchcraft centers on gods from world mythology and folklore to the point that--and this is a very gentle, loving critique--we hold rituals in Redwood forests and on dramatic beaches and give only the most cursory nod to the abundant spirits around us, focusing instead on gods and stories from faraway cultures. I stepped back from my local ritual planning circle in part because we invoked gods even for business meetings, and I was tired of elaborate, theatrical invocations for deities I didn’t care about. Other Reclaimers find deep meaning in the gods they work with, and I’m happy for them. But I eventually had to admit that it wasn’t for me.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Gwion Raven
    Gwion Raven says #
    Oh Asa! I didn'r realize how much I missed your writing until I stumbled across this post today (almost a month after you posted i
  • Carol P. Christ
    Carol P. Christ says #
    I agree. The stories of the Gods and Goddesses come from patriarchal and warlike cultures for the most part. The idea that they ar
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I tried to do the eight Sabbats and the full moon ritual and they didn't click for me. I was just bored with it. Now I'm going w

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Embla

My practice of honoring the First Woman started with a weed. A weed is a plant growing where one doesn't want it. 

In June of 2016, I found a four foot tall plant in my tomato bed. Online friends on the Plant Identification group helped me positively identify it as a Siberian Elm, which is not the same species as the American Elm. Siberian Elm is an invasive non-native species, so it had to go. But, it was an elm. Elm is the tree the threefold Odin made the first woman from. Embla was her name, and was also the word for elm. I was unlikely to have an elm sapling again, so I had to make good use of it. I pulled it up roots and all and whittled it into an Embla doll with my pocket knife.

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A New Hope: Star Wars Magick

Like most anyone under the age of 50, I grew up with Star Wars As an integral part of my childhood.  Through movies, video games, pen and paper RPGs, cartoons, books, toys, and more, tales of Jedi, rebels, rogues, and the empire have permeated almost every level pop culture.  One of the most powerful and enduring themes in all Star Wars stories is the promise of hope in the darkest of places.  As the new year dawns that message of hope is needed more than ever.  In this post I will explore some of the many ways we can use Star Wars to bring hope and light to dark times.

***Note - This post will be discussing the use of Star Wars in generic pop culture magick.  While I am aware of the Jedi religion, I don’t really know any of the details.  If you’re looking for information on the Jedi religion or Jedism in Paganism you’ll need to look elsewhere.***

The music of the Star Wars universe is some of the most evocative and easily recognizable in the public consciousness.  I think I first heard the opening fanfare of John William’s Star Wars Theme when I was about four years old and from that first time I have always known that hearing that music meant I was about to embark on a journey of hope, heroism, and adventure.  Magickally, the song has a powerful energizing effect.  It can be used as a catalyst for taking action, inspiration, or charging objects with energy for hope and rebellion against tyranny.  On par with the opening theme, for its place is the public mind, is the Imperial March.  If you want to charge a spell or object with the power of intimidation or an ability to exert control then this is the piece of music for you.  It can also be used to powerfully identify “the enemy.”  There’s so much music to choose from across the (currently) eight films and numerous cartoons and video games, there’s a perfect piece of Star Wars music to enhance or empower just about any magickal act.

Star Wars has also provided us with many classic lines and catchphrases that can be used as incantations or mantras.  Some of the classic lines that can be used in magick for hope and making a difference include: “Do or do not, there is no try”, “May the force be with you”, “Never tell me the odds”, and “I am one with the force and the force is with me.”  These are all phrases that are deep in the currents of pop culture and draw on tremendous power.  “May the force be with you” is as powerful as any traditional blessing and resonates across cultural lines without engaging the triggers of potentially antagonistic religions.  Using any of these lines in magick immediately taps into the emotion and resonance of the scenes in which they were uttered, giving them the potential to tap into far more power than something more traditional. 

The characters of the Star Wars franchise include some of the most easily recognizable and iconic in existence; I challenge you to find anyone who does not immediately recognize Luke Skywalker, Leia Organa, or Han Solo - to name a very few.  If you need to work with a character to help you with believing in yourself, taking action in the face of overwhelming odds, doing the right thing in spite of immediate self interest, or to feel connected with others in similar situations then there is a Star Wars character just waiting to help you.  For example, you could invoke Yoda to gain the wisdom to determine the correct actions to take in a given situations or call on Princess Leia to help you bring people together in a common cause.  In the Star Wars universe everyone from smugglers, farm boys, and urchins to engineers, soldiers, and politicians have something they can do to help make their worlds better.  They show us that there is always something we can do, no matter our circumstances, and they give us courage to do it. 

*** Here be Rogue One spoilers ***

Sometimes one must be willing to put oneself in danger and make sacrifices to stand up for what one believes in.  Something as simple as standing up against cyberbullying can put one in danger of being doxxed, harassed, or assaulted.  In dangerous political climates doing the right thing can get you arrested or worse.  In Rogue One we see a small group of courageous people make the ultimate sacrifice in a stand against tyranny in order to give hope to the rebellion.  Each individual makes small but irreplaceable actions that, in the end, make ultimate victory possible.  Call upon these heroes when you need the courage and strength to put yourself at risk for what you believe in or to shine light on how the smallest act can make all the difference.

*** End Rogue One spoilers ***

As the first movie franchise to truly embrace merchandising, Star Wars presents the pop culture practitioner with a near endless array of options for tools, talismans, and enchanting.  You can get action figure or bobble heads of pretty much every character in the Star Wars universe, making creating a spirit house for a character you want to work with absolutely effortless.  You can get everything from t-shirts to underwear with symbols of the rebel alliance as camouflaged talismans.  You can even get fine watches and jewelry of lightsabers, droids, or emblems to enchant and wear in even the most formal of situations.  Further, the amount of fan made art and crafts available are staggering.  (As of 12/26/2016 an etsy search of “Star Wars” yields almost 100,000 items including everything from sculptures to knitting patterns.)  Any object you could possibly want to enhance your magick is available to you. 

In its many forms, the Star Wars universe gives us all the opportunity to embrace our own inner hero and stand up in the face of evil.  It brings us a message of hope and resistance that we all need to endure and overcome dark times.  Further, it gives us such a diverse number of heroes, great and small, that each one of us can find someone who seems just like us doing something incredible.  Remember, rebellions are built on hope.  May the force be with you.

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Shortly after beginning to write this post I heard that Carrie Fisher had been hospitalized after suffering a heart attack.  As of publishing she is in stable condition, but still in intensive care.  May the gods watch over her. Update 12/27/2016 - RIP Carrie Fisher.  I have no words.

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Goddesses Brew

My Northern Lights Goddesses Brew debuted at Yule 2016, but it can be used for any occasion when one wishes to honor the heathen goddesses. It's an extract of herbs in grain alcohol. Because it uses fresh lavender, I can only make it when lavender is blooming in my garden. The grain in the grain alcohol honors Sif, goddess of wheat and corn. The herbs honor other goddesses, as listed below. I first extract and then strain the fresh lavender, which takes between one to three weeks, and then extract the other herbs from commercial tea, which takes about a week. 

Grain for Sif 

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What do you call a Minoan midwinter god?

I've talked before about the names the ancient Minoans used for their gods, here and here, and the difficulties of trying to figure out what those original names were. All we really have to go on is the administrative texts written in Linear B by the Myceneans (or their Minoan scribes). So all that information is filtered through the lens of the Mycenaean Greeks. Case in point: Dionysus.

He's very apropos for today - Winter Solstice - since this is his birthday in the Minoan sacred calendar, when he is born to the great mother goddess Rhea in her cave at sunrise. If you want to view the Minoan pantheon in terms of hierarchy, you'd have to say Rhea is at the top (at least, of the earthbound and Underworld gods - the ocean goddess Posidaeja and the cosmic goddess Ourania could be considered to be "above" her but that's another blog post).

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  • Gwion Raven
    Gwion Raven says #
    Thank you. I very much enjoyed this piece
  • Laura Perry
    Laura Perry says #
    You're very welcome!
The Promise of Three Fires - A Solstice Blessing

 

The Promise of Three Fires – A Solstice Blessing

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The oak-log symbolises the regeneration of the earth at Winter Solstice but at this time of the year, the attention is on the holly and between the beginning of the month and the Winter Solstice (21st) the scarlet berries on the holly will become more and more spectacular. The kind of holly brought into a couple’s home for their first Midwinter Festival together is of great significance. If the holly leaves have sharp prickles (known as he-holly) the man will be master of the marriage; if the holly has no prickles, or the prickles feel soft and flexible (she-holly) then the woman will rule the marriage. Some folklore says this only holds true for one year, so the same procedure needs to be carried out at each Midwinter Festival to find the dominant partner for the following twelvemonth.

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