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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Pagan English

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Divine Economy

In India, when you go to temple, you generally take along a tray of offerings: food, flowers, an oil lamp, incense, some cash. (Only a neo-pagan would go to see a god empty-handed.) You take this tray to the temple, and give it to the priest.

The priest offers it to the god, removes the god's portion—generally the incense and the money—and returns the rest to you. It's now become something sacred, something that the god shares with you.

These holy leftovers are called prasadam: literally, “grace.”

This, of course, is how the Pagan Economy, both human and divine, works: a gift for a gift. You give to the god, the god gives back to you. But of course, what you've given to the god is originally the gift of the god anyway—“thine own of thine own we offer to thee”—and so it goes, one giant Wheel a-turning.

I don't often have the privilege of worshiping in a temple, but in the contemporary pagan world there are still plenty of “holy overs”: things over from the ritual or the feast last night, things over from the festival. I generally partake of them with the sense that's there's value added here. The holy overs give us the opportunity to participate at a distance of time or place.

We need a good word in Pagan English for prasadam. “Holy leftovers” won't do: as a poet, let me tell you that joke names are always a mistake. “Grace” doesn't cut it, and prasadam is someone else's word. For so basic a concept, we need a name of our own.

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  • Deborah Blake
    Deborah Blake says #
    I love this.
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    Sorry, I don't know enough old English or Proto-Indo-European to be of any help here. You might try the Oxford English dictionary

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Those Wacky Non-Pagans

 

Who you callin' 'cowan'?”  (Marvin Kaye and Parke Godwin, Masters of Solitude) 

Every community has one: a name for Them. You know, those “Not Us” People. In this, pagans are just like everyone else. Who are they, those mysterious non-pagans?

Non-Pagans. A term for when you need to sound neutral (or polite). Most non-pagans that I know are pretty amused to learn that they're non-pagans. Long-time resident in the pagan ghetto that I am, I appreciate the educative value of “non-pagan.” (Let's hear it for paganonormativity.) Mostly, though, this is an “inside-looking-out” term; I don't generally use it when speaking with fellow normos.

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  • Linette
    Linette says #
    I'm loving the "Darrens" idea. Thanks for the smiles this is bringing me.
The Holiday that Dared Not Speak Its Name, or, Samhain: The Correct Pronunciation

Sam Hane. Sam Ane. Rhymes with coven. Rhymes with towin'. Rhymes with plowin'.

The first New Pagans of America mostly started off by reading books. In the absence of an oral tradition, we made do. With pronunciation of weird words, for instance.

Sam Hane. Good old rule of thumb for American English: pronounce it like it's spelled. What, you've never heard of Sam Hane, Druidic god of the dead?* (Not to mention his consort, Belle Tane, goddess of life. Sounds like quite the couple.)

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  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Internal polyvocality. You make me jealous, MPC! I suppose one could draw up a dialectal map of the pagan community according to
  • MizPixieChris
    MizPixieChris says #
    This was the first post I found at this community - and it pushed me to sign up and join, so thank you! In my area people seem to
  • Anne Forrester
    Anne Forrester says #
    This whole Samhain pronunciation issue, as well as the "Which God of the Dead is this? I've never heard of him..." issue are 2 rea
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    I've been playing around with Summer's-End and Winter's Eve myself. I don't see any reason to canonize one name. We're the people

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
A Tale of Two Seasons

Rating: PI (Contains Politically Incorrect Language)

There's a whole genre of Minnesota jokes that begin: “Minnesota has two seasons: Winter and....” Winter and Road Repair. Winter and Winter-is-Coming. Occasionally there are variations: “...two seasons: Shovel and Swat.” Whatever one calls its partner, though, Winter is the central fact of existence here in Lake Country. Spring and Fall aren't really seasons in the North; they're occasional delightful visitors, all the more beloved for their poignantly brief stay. Our year really is a bi-seasonal one.

This would have been utterly familiar to the ancestors. The ancient Germanic speakers knew a two-season, Winter-Summer year: etymologically, the “windy” and “sunny” seasons respectively. The great holidays of Proto-Germanic culture were apparently Midwinter and Midsummer, associated even then—between 3000 and 4000 years ago—with the winter and summer sunsteads (solstices). We know that this goes back to the time before the Germanic languages branched off from one another because the terms are preserved in all surviving daughter languages.

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  • Aline "Macha" O'Brien
    Aline "Macha" O'Brien says #
    It's always irritated me when I hear, "Today is the first day of Summer" on Midsummer.
  • Greybeard
    Greybeard says #
    Love the quote.
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Hmm, I've wondered about that myself. Ah well, more research to do. My friend Volkhvy always says, "There's no rest for the Wicca.
  • Greybeard
    Greybeard says #
    Good rant. Every year our media insists that Midwinter Night is "The beginning of winter." That is completely wrong as anyone w

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