Pagan Studies


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Studies Blogs

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

Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Prayers of the Psychopomp

I thought I'd do something a little different this month and share a couple of prayers I make to my psychopomp Gods and the dead. These prayers, made at my psychopomp altar or ancestor shrine, are a major part of my practices as a pagan and as a death care professional. These prayers supplement and aid my professional work, and my profession is an act of devotion to those whom I worship. I think it's important for people to feel that the work they do is sacred, and worshiping the Gods and spirits of that work is one way to experience the sacredness of how we earn our living. Prayers focus our thoughts and remind us of our purpose, providing a quiet moment to remember why we do what we do, anchoring us to our values and the Gods and spirits whom we love.


Nighttime Prayer to Psychopompic Gods and Spirits

O Rosmerta, Our Lady of Roanoke –
Mother of marshes and junctions,
Gracious Hostess of the living and the dying,
the coming and the going, Plentiful Sustainer –
and Mercurius Psychopompos –
God of the roads and rails, fleet-footed and cunning,
Guide into the Otherworlds, Knower of the ways –
and Genii Cuculatti, Messengers and Gift-Bearers,
and all my helping and guiding spirits on this path,
Teach me to be a better servant,
Fill my body with strength to bear the dead,
Show me the ways so that I may guide them;
Fill my mouth with words that comfort the grieving,
Help me make spaces for them to rest and be nourished.
Thank you for entrusting this sacred work to me.
May my words and deeds honor and please you
in the coming day.

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What To Do With the Ashes? Creative Post-Cremation Memorial Options

Something that I love about cremation, aside from its relative low cost, is the variety of memorial options that are available. In the past, the living just had a few options: burying the cremated remains, keeping the urn at home or in a niche in a columbarium, or scattering the remains. But now, there are a number of creative and heartfelt options for those who want a deeper, more tangible connection with their loved ones' cremated remains.

Cremation Stones

This is a product we offer at the pet funeral home and crematory where I work. While we don't make the stones ourselves, we can send them off for our customers, or they can choose to do it themselves. When the company who creates the stones receives the cremains, they refine the granule remains into a super-fine powder and then add a binding agent that transforms the remains into a clay-like material. The clay is then worked into smooth pebble shapes that fit comfortably into the palm of the hand and heated in a kiln. How many pebbles are created is based on the volume of cremains, which varies from person to person (or animal to animal). One company, Parting Stone, estimates 6-10 stones for cats; anywhere from 5-35 for dogs; and around 40-60 stones for humans.

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Coins for the Dead

I’ve begun training as a cremationist, and while it can feel overwhelming at times when faced with all the things I have to learn, I really enjoy it. I like how hands-on it is, and how the steps in the process utilize different skills and actions. Cremation is a deeply spiritual act to me. I physically care for the dead and participate in their transformation, assisting the Fire in releasing their spirits from their physical forms.

 

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Scattering Violets: A New Blog About Death Care and Funerary Traditions

For the past several months, I've found myself struggling with fresh ideas for Hob & Broom, my previous blog here on PaganSquare about hearth and home traditions. While my hearth cult is still a deeply important spiritual foundation for me, I felt that I'd exhausted all my resources for it and there was nothing left to write about. But I think it's closer to the truth to say that my interest has shifted, and has been shifting for quite some time.

 

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The Quickening: Imbolc and Related Holidays

We have been in the long dark for the past few months. Cold, snowy weather and the now-ever-present threat of serious disease have kept us inside our homes, bundled in cozy clothes and blankets, sipping our tea or coffee or hot cocoa. We’re expecting yet another snowstorm here in the eastern U.S., more to add to the snow that hasn’t left us from the last one. We yearn to step out into light and warmth, feel soft grass beneath our feet, but not yet. Still, the time of long light will come again. The days are already beginning to gradually unfurl like the fronds of a fern.

 

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Corn and Whiskey: Sacredness and Community Borne from the Earth

A significant portion of my family originated along the borderlands between Scotland and England, mostly in Northumberland and the Scottish Border. A number of them were reivers, opportunistic and clannish cattle- and sheep-thieving mafiosos of the Tudor and Stuart periods. When King James I of England (the VI of Scotland) wrestled them into submission, they migrated at his behest with other lowland Scots into Ulster, Ireland, before eventually immigrating to Turtle Island, settling in what we now call Western North Carolina. Once again, they dwelled in a borderland, a liminal space between the lands still freely occupied by Native peoples in the west and the European colonies in the east. It’s a breathtakingly beautiful region, with rolling ancient mountains and fertile valleys, carved through with rivers and creeks and patches of swamps. They lived in this area from the middle of the 18th century to the early 20th century. For much of this time, they were listed as farmers in tax and census records, like many other settlers of the area.

Corn Goddesses, Myths, and Traditions

Maize, what we Americans call corn (in Europe, corn can mean any grain), was a crucial and sacred crop to many Native tribes. As explained on the Native Languages website: “Corn played an important mythological role in many tribes as well-- in some cultures Corn was a respected deity, while in others, corn was a special gift to the people from the Creator or culture hero.” For the Cherokee, the Goddess Selu is the Corn Woman. She was the first woman Who came into being, and She was ultimately killed by Her twin sons, who feared Her power. Yet, as She died, She taught Her boys how to farm corn so that She could be reborn (“Selu, the Cherokee Corn Mother”). The Iroquois Corn Goddess is Onatah, Who with Her two sisters formed the Deohako, the “Life Supporters” -- more familiar to us settlers as the Three Sisters. In an Iroquois agricultural myth, Onatah was kidnapped and hidden underground, which caused a famine that only ended when She was liberated and returned (“Onatah, the Iroquois Spirit of the Corn”). In both myths, there is a theme of descent into the underworld -- through death in one, and being hidden in the other -- and a reemergence, which we see every year in the farming of maize.

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Divination, Play, and Sacred Work

If you want to get the magical community riled up, tell us how divination tools often begin their existence as toys. You’ll see how we quickly split into two factions: one which vehemently denies this, and one which asserts the truth of it (with evidence that is often ignored and bypassed by the former faction). For the former set, I’ve sensed a root assumption at work that makes accepting the mundane, unserious origins of many divination forms so difficult, and even heretical. For them, play is inherently secular and unworthy of a sacred function. Divination, and anything else related to spirit work and religion, must be solemn and sober to have value and efficacy.

 

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  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Cunning Wife, I believe you are 100% correct. Just look at the 'Chessboard' of Gwenddoleu ap Ceidio, one of the 13 Treasures of T

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