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The Mighty Dead in Conversation with DeAnna...

The Mighty Dead - It's a pretty epic sounding title. It sounds like a summer blockbuster movie to me, but really, who are the Mighty Dead? Well, it depends a little on who you ask but the most common answer to that question goes something like "those in the Craft that have gone before us, whose shoulders we stand on, those nameless persecuted witches, the founders of traditions, Pagan Activists..." etc, etc.

I like that as a definition. It serves well. I also like the slightly less grand version of the Mighty Dead - Those that I've known personally that have deeply affected my view of the Craft. And with that, here's my tribute to the person that always comes to mind when I hear the phrase "The Mighty Dead"

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Yesterday, my friend Erick DuPree posted a very thoughtful piece on embracing the secular Halloween and avoiding the ancestor reverence that is so important to many pagans and witches this time of year.  In a very touching way, Erick discussed his troubled history with his father and his wish to separate himself from the misogyny and racism that permeates his family line.  That same misogyny and racism is likely to pollute the family line of every person of European descent, including myself, so that is a decision I can fully understand.

Yet, I feel like there are still reasons to do ancestor work.  Don’t get me wrong – I’ve never been very good at ancestor work.  I have an ancestor altar at which I pay my respects daily, but I don’t do nearly as much work contacting my family on the other side as many other witches do.  I’m just processing my own thoughts as a person who (I think) shares a similar family history and was touched by Erick’s comments.

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PaganNewsBeagle Watery Wednesday Oct 22

In today's PaganNewsBeagle, we have our Watery Wednesday community news. A watery festival in New Orleans; Paganism and depression; Jewitch ancestors; remembering Margot Adler; a new CSI episode features Wicca.

Bridging the Element of Water and magickal communities, last weekend's Anba Dlo Halloween festival in New Orleans combined environmental issues with Voudon ceremony.

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PaganNewsBeagle Faithful October 17

Halloween/Samhain Special Edition:

In today's faithful Friday post, we are concentrating on the upcoming season of Samhain -- high holy days for Wicca- and Wiccan-influenced Pagans. In today's Beagle, we highlight posts from outside our PaganSquare channel -- watch for our PaganSquare Samhain special edition next week, where we will highlight the Samhain posts of our in-house writers.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Many thanks to Nick Sagala for sharing his traditions with us ♥

Dia de los Muertos—the Day of the Dead--is a holiday dear to the hearts and souls of people who love their ancestors. The Santa Muerte is the goddess connected to Dia de los Muertos. She pre-dates Christianity in that part of the world, and the Mexica knew her as MICTECACIHUATL, Lady of the Land of the Dead. She was believed to be a protector of souls residing in the dark underworld, and she is depicted as a woman in a skull mask and traditional dress decorated with flags which were put upon corpses prepared for cremation.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
'Tis the Season: The Ancestors

I’ve been thinking about the Ancestors a lot lately; it’s that time of year. In fact, they’ve even asserted themselves when I wasn’t seeking them, such as the day I experienced a vision of a Minoan priestess undertaking a rite of prophecy through the ancestral spirits. From the earliest times, the Minoans revered their ancestors. At the Autumn Equinox they held celebrations of the dearly departed, feasting and performing rituals in the shadows of the beehive-shaped tholos tombs where their ancestors’ remains were interred. Some of the tombs had pillar crypts beneath them, providing another place for offerings and communication with the dead.

My own experience with shamanic practice centering on the Ancestors and Minoan spirituality suggests a reason for the beehive shape of these tombs and the connection of the Ancestors with the Bee Goddess. Like many shamanic practitioners, I have experienced a particular sound when I connect with the ancestral spirits, a sort of multi-pitched buzzing that almost exactly reproduces the noise of a hive of swarming bees. And of course, honey being such a delicious prize in cultures that did not yet know how to refine sugar from beets or cane, I can totally relate to the idea of bees being sacred representatives of the Ancestors and, later on, the gods (or goddesses, to be precise). I keep a miniature beehive on my Minoan altar to remind me that the Ancestors were just as much a part of Minoan spirituality as the goddesses and gods.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Gabble Ratchet

As a young woman, I fell in love with the work of Mary Stewart and have read all of her books.  There is one that is set in Lebanon called The Gabriel Hounds and from it I learned the phrase "gabble ratchet" which is a folk corruption of "Gabriel's hounds." It means the sound of wild geese flying, a sound that is evocative of a pack of baying hounds. In folklore, the Gabriel hounds are sometimes the souls of unbaptized children crying in the night, or they may foretell a death or they're thought to be the hounds of Hel(l).

In my heart, though, that eerie sound--so full of longing and grief--always evokes the Ancestors, the Beloved Dead. My writing desk sets by a west-facing window and that window looks out over the French Broad River. The Canada geese use the old river as a flight path that sweeps them northward to a couple of good feeding grounds and a man-made lake. In the spring, we are rewarded with the site of families of the gabble ratchets with their fuzzy chicks, grazing on the chickweed near the old railroad tracks.

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