Pagan Paths

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Paths Blogs

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

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b2ap3_thumbnail_goldgubber.jpgIn Vanaheim, the Summer Solstice is the peak of "tourist season", and it is also an extremely popular day for people to get married in Vanaheim, both citizens of the realm and tourists from elsewhere.  From a Vanic perspective, the longest day of the year is an ideal time to make a lasting ceremonial bond of love - a fire ever-burning, "carrying the fire" and keeping it lit even as the year wanes; a love that stays gold and full of life.

The following is a wedding rite for a couple in a Vanic context, performed by a priest of any gender, for a couple of any gender combination.  (If you have a poly union such as a triad where more than two people are getting married, feel free to modify this ritual for three or more people.) This rite calls upon the blessings of Frey and Gerda on the union.  Adam of Bremen reports that Frey was called at weddings, and the main myth we have of Frey in the Eddas is of His lovesickness for Gerda, culminating in marriage.  As Frey is Vanir and Gerda is Jotun, they are very sympathetic to couples and other unions between consenting adults where it falls outside societal norms and is opposed or challenged by mainstream society in some way.  The marriage of Frey and Gerda is also an auspicious one to call upon for blessings because their marriage survived the challenges of culture clash, societal disapproval, war, and many other problems - their love has endured through the ages.

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This weekend my coven will be celebrating our first "outdoor" sabbat.  I know that a lot of groups exclusively meet outside but that's never really been an option for us.  While my wife and I are lucky enough to live in a house, there's another person living in our backyard.  He's not a living in a tent or anything like that, but he does occupy a studio-like living space attached to the garage.  I doubt he wants to listen to us chant in the backyard while he's trying to sleep.  


While I do share a backyard the garden spots are all mine and with the corn already over six feet it feels pretty magical. It may not be with the coven, but every time I water my garden (with grey water from the shower) I feel like I'm at least performing a private ritual. I talk to my sunflowers, implore my pumpkins to grow, and stop to bow at Aphrodite-Chicago of the Lemon Tree.  My garden is ia magical place, but it's a magical place for mostly "just me" (and sometimes my wife when she checks on things). 

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Mystery at Midsummer, Minoan Style

Mystery plays were a big part of life in the ancient world, when people’s seasonal work was punctuated throughout the year by sacred festivals of all sorts. What on earth is a mystery play? It’s not a whodunit, like a modern murder mystery. In the case of mystery plays, the word takes on an older meaning. My dictionary defines it as ‘a religious truth that man can know by revelation alone,’ in other words, something you have to experience yourself rather than just being told about it. And that’s what mystery plays are all about: letting you have the experience of the gods, the myths, the sacred, right there in your own life. A mystery isn’t just something you experience; it changes you from the inside out.

The modern world still has mystery plays of a sort. The ‘living nativity scene’ that some Christian churches put on around Christmas is a snapshot or tidbit of a mystery play and those huge Passion of Christ productions are the full-scale deal, a mystery play about the Christian festival of Easter.. But for most people these days, I suspect the movies largely take the place of the old mystery plays, allowing us to roll ourselves up emotionally in the stories that make up the mythology of the modern world: superheroes, science fiction, fantasy.

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  • Thesseli
    Thesseli says #

b2ap3_thumbnail_banff12.jpgFor the past 2 years, I've been circulating a Dropbox link to a collection of files containing Jung's Collected Works, which someone had scanned.  Unfortunately, the text recognition feature on the scanner was imperfect, which made searching and reading frustrating. 

But I have good news Jung-o-philes!

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When My Book Was Pirated: Asking Tyr for Justice

Some people in the heathen community seem to approve of piracy, what with the whole Vikings rah-rah. Successful pirate societies don't pirate from their own. Today's Somali pirates don't pirate Somali ships. That's how it worked in the Viking Age, too; Vikings raided across the sea, not across the street.

This is an account of a ritual I performed asking Tyr for justice. My book Asatru For Beginners had been pirated shortly after the print edition came out. I was originally going to tell the entire story of what happened, and how chasing pirated versions of my book all over the net eventually led me to the file sharing section of a site engaged in immoral activities, but at that point the story really becomes about non-religious matters, so I'm just going to blog about the ritual I performed once I had done all I could do by regular means.

The type of ritual I performed is the most common of heathen rituals, the sumbel. Sumbel is a toasting ritual. It is often performed in a group, for a holiday, but it can also be performed alone. It is very simple, with a Germanic efficiency that I see as elegant like something perfectly engineered, a type of beauty completely different from flowery excess.

I assembled the things I needed for the ritual, which were my portable altar, which was necessary to hold the other things, my drinking horn, and a bottle of something to put in the horn. I chose to offer him Eau de Vie de Bourgeons de Sapin, a drink made from evergreen tree needles. The reasons I chose that drink are: 1. because it is a traditional drink from Alsace, where some of my ancestors are from, thus it has a personal connection with me, 2. because evergreen has a clean, strong flavor which seems masculine to me, and I think of Tyr as manly; 3. evergreen is also symbolic of the eternal life of the gods and of nature, so it seemed appropriate as something to offer a god, and 4. because it is a rare and special drink.

I wept as I summarized the situation briefly and asked him for justice. I ended the toast with "hail Tyr," and drank to him. What was left in the horn after the toast I poured out on the ground.

Back when I was new to heathenry, some other Asatruars said that heathens don't pray, but I realize now that they were reacting against Christianity, not following the example of historical heathens. There are numerous examples in the lore of people asking the gods for various things.  We might not pray in the way that Christians do, but we do communicate with the gods in our own ways, and we do ask them for help when we need to. When I had done everything I could do myself, I asked Tyr for justice, and he delivered it.

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The Strange Tale of Loki's Cat Children

It all started back in 2004. We were still living in Philadelphia at the time, in a not-so-great inner city neighborhood. Jo had recently moved into my house, and my now-ex was still living there but we were estranged; I had been married to Odin for two years. It was July and I was doing something outside (at this point I don’t remember what) when a redheaded boy with light mocha skin (and when I say redheaded, I mean neon-bright) came up to me from out of nowhere. I had never seen this boy in the neighborhood before that day, and I never saw him again afterwards; this alone was kind of strange, because in the inner city most people can be seen hanging out on the street outside their houses, especially in the summer. But then, we have since come to believe that the boy wasn’t human; he was Loki.

He had two black kittens—about 4-6 months old, one long-haired and one short—cradled under his arms. He approached me and asked if I wanted them.

Now, for me, asking me if I want kittens is a little like asking if I want chocolate; if there isn’t a pressing reason to refuse I’m going to say yes. At that time, there wasn’t a pressing reason; we only had one cat (my Maine Coon, Sassy—now deceased) and I owned the house. There was no one to tell me I couldn’t have them (I didn’t really care what my now-ex thought, and I doubted Jo would be upset) and they looked healthy enough. So (even though I sensed eye-rollage from Odin in the background) I said yes, and the boy handed the kittens over and quickly vanished whence he had appeared.

In retrospect, I can easily suss out all of the things Loki did not actually voice at the time: “This was an experiment; I know I shouldn’t have, but I really couldn’t help myself—you should have seen the cat, he was gorgeous! They might not be completely right; they might even come with expiration dates. But I know no one will love them like you will.”

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A Midsummer tipple, Minoan style

One of the aspects of archaeology that continues to amaze me is our ability to scrape tiny bits of residue out of ancient containers and figure out exactly what those containers held thousands of years ago. With this technique, we’ve been able to determine what the ancient Minoans ate and drank and even what kinds of cosmetics they used. Most people picture the people of the ancient world drinking wine, and they certainly did that, but the Minoans also drank mead. You might tend to think of this alcoholic beverage, brewed from honey rather than grapes, in connection with the Norse and the fabulous feasts at Valhalla, but mead was actually a popular drink all over the ancient world. Just be aware that it’s actually a wine, not a beer (honey beer/ale is a different beverage) so, unless you’re a god, don’t go quaffing it by the tankard-full. Today I’m sharing my recipe for mead so, if you like,  you can follow in the footsteps of the many people who have brewed and enjoyed this beverage for millennia.

My first foray into making mead – actually, brewing at all, since mead was the first brew I made – began in 1993. I was inspired by an article I read in the Lughnasadh issue of Keltria Journal. The author of the article, Steven of Prodea, outlined his method for brewing mead. Over the years I’ve refined my recipe but the process is really quite simple. You don’t need to go out and buy any kind of fancy equipment. I brewed my first batch using an empty gallon glass jug (from store-bought apple cider) and a balloon. The ingredients are simple, too: honey, water, and yeast. The only real requirement is that you make sure anything that touches the mead – your equipment, your hands – is scrupulously clean. You don’t want any unfriendly germs competing with the yeast in your brew. The results will likely be undrinkable. So wash everything with hot, soapy water or run it through the dishwasher before using. And wash your hands well, too.

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