Pagan Studies


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Studies Blogs

Advanced and/or academic Pagan subjects such as history, ethics, sociology, etc.

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Sharing Experiences

Just like other religious communities, Pagans experience births and deaths, pains and joys — the full range of human experience. Every week at Cherry Hill Seminary we hear comments like these:

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Spring’s Flowering: Baba Yaga and the Gift of the Winter Hag

For the past 6 months or so, I have been hosting a weekly Goddess Meditation at my healing centre. Using the beautiful and insightful Goddess Oracle by Amy Sophia Marashinsky (gorgeous artwork by Hrana Janto) has quickly become a touchstone in the week for many of us who gather on a Wednesday afternoon to see which Goddess will present Herself to us and listen to what She has to say of where we are or what we may need address at this particular time in our lives. It has been an interesting process to observe which Goddesses appear and to see a pattern emerge. There have been times when we have had a slew of challenging Crone Goddesses and the past couple of weeks seen such a trend. But this is not a surprise. These are challenging times for many of us and, though these Goddesses can be a bit unnerving, they reflect a connection to the inner resolve and inner strength that can help see us through. 

Recently, Baba Yaga (Russian/Slavic) came to join us in the meditation circle. Baba Yaga, who rides in a mortar and lives in a cottage that runs through the forest on chicken legs, is certainly one of those Goddesses to make you sit up and take notice. Perhaps the best known of Her tales is the story of Vasilisa, a Cinderella-type tale.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Tiffany Lazic
    Tiffany Lazic says #
    Warm greetings, new blogger :-) I share a fascination with Baba Yaga and her chicken-legged home! Glad you enjoyed the piece. I sa
  • Tasha Halpert
    Tasha Halpert says #
    How nice of you to respond. I look forward to more posting and more reading on this site. What fun!
  • Tasha Halpert
    Tasha Halpert says #
    I have always enjoyed reading about Baba Yaga ever since I first encountered her as a young child in my Jack and Jill magazine. In

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Opinion Piece: Privilege

**Disclaimer** I write on many topics, and focus on maintaining an objective stance whenever possible. This is an opinion piece detailing my experiences and feelings from events over the last few months. You don’t have to agree. I do however expect respectful dialogue if there is any on this subject.

I struggle at times to put into words the feelings and experiences I have as a Pagan chaplain moving in the interfaith environment. Or, more recently, as a Pagan existing in East Tennessee. I find when I have conversations with others who understand what it means to be marginalized in some way—either by race or gender or faith or some other qualifier—the necessity of articulating the struggle falls away and there is a moment of just “getting it.” These are not the people who really need to read the things I write about, but invariably they probably are, and I love you for it.

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  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham says #
    Thank you for this post. I am a chaplain at Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley. PSR is a historically christian seminary but

Posted by on in Studies Blogs
The Healing Hearth

Continuing with my first post’s examination of the significance of the hearth in a home, we’ll look at the lore regarding the healing and protective powers of the hearth, its fire, and an important hearth implement, the chimney hook. Unless cited otherwise, the information below comes from Claude Lecouteux’s excellent book on household lore, The Tradition of Household Spirits.

Before we can appreciate ancient and medieval European traditions of healing, it’s important to understand what ancient and medieval Europeans believed about the nature of illness. In Witchcraft and Magic in Europe: the Middle Ages, it’s stated that:

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs
A Visit with the Asynjur

A Visit with the Asynjur: Frigga’s Handmaidens

I have been delving deeper into seeking out lesser-known goddesses for this little project of mine, and decided that the Asynjur, also known as the Handmaidens of the Norse Goddess Frigga were certainly deserving of attention. I began to try and read through Snorri Sturluson and the Eddas as my first source for Norse lore, however it because abundantly clear that something was probably missing. Anyone who has tried to view these ancient writings with a modern eye can discern that most of these stories were re-told by Christian monks with an eye to selling them as pre-cursors to Christianity. Naturally, preserving the stories of female characters was not at the forefront of their minds. I do not consider myself Asatru, nor do I consider myself a reconstructionist of any kind, so I will apologize in advance for any unintended offenses I may make in my own re-interpretation of these Goddesses. I have a love for deities whose stories are not fully known or told, and as such, I am also open to UPG. As I create my own images of the Goddesses, please know I do so with utter respect and love for the cultures from which they came.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Erin Lale
    Erin Lale says #
    For further study on the Handmaidens, I recommend Norse Goddess Magic by Alice Karlsdottir. That's a new edition of the book previ
  • Helena
    Helena says #
    Thank you!
  • d Kate dooley
    d Kate dooley says #
    I you offer prints, I want them for my ritual space.
  • d Kate dooley
    d Kate dooley says #
    This makes me so happy. I love your work. I wrote book for Frigga and the Handmaidens and have been their devotee for sixteen year
  • Helena
    Helena says #
    Thank you so much! I will definitely check out your blog. And I will definitely let you know about prints. Finding time to make t

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Charm for Weaving

Weaving has long been a winter activity. As the last vestiges of the cold hang on hereabouts, the thought of spring still seems distant. But friends have been sharing pictures of their new lambs so it's coming nonetheless. The whole cycle from wool to woven begins again.

There has long been an association of magic with weaving. While dismissed as 'women's work' often, its intricacies inspire wonder at its mysteries. If you don't know how to do a thing, the process can look like magic. Indeed the association goes back to the Moirai, the Parcae, the Norns and even Macbeth's three witches. The threads they weave, measure and cut -- how do they affect our fates? And what are the incantations they mutter over the threads?

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Saying Goodbye in the Spring

I have been meaning to write a blog post on Goddesses.... lots of blog posts on lots of Goddesses, but that annoying nuisance known as real life has interrupted me numerous times. Today I slowed down. I slowed down a lot, and in so doing, I thought I was going to finish a much delayed post about the Norse Asynjur, but my heart is not in it today. I need to write about loss instead.

My beautiful 17 year old cat Bella is leaving us. Bella does indeed live up to her name as the many photos my husband and I have taken of her over the years will show anyone. 

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Jamie Okulam
    Jamie Okulam says #
    Oh, we know what it is to loose a cat! We have lost two in the last two years. I miss them so much. My partner and I were unfairly
  • Helena
    Helena says #
    Thank you! I am so sorry you had to leave your home!

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