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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Hope

Hope can be a double-edged sword. It can lift our hearts, rally us towards a cause, or it can lead us to the depths of despair when it dies. I've often wondered whether it is better to have hope or not, whether hope is a carrot dangling in front of us, or whether it is that very real need to invest our emotions into the belief that we can change our world. Back in 2012, I wrote about the Zen approach, in a piece entitled "No Hope". The words that I wrote four years ago still resonate strongly within me, even as my relationship to hope has changed.

When we are at our lowest, we might still have some hope that things will get better. This hope may be the only thing that gets us through those long, dark nights of the soul. Then again, that hope may be what is preventing us from achieving things in our own right. Hope may cause complacency. If we work without hope, without expectation, then we may be even more motivated to make a positive change in the world in our own right, for the benefit of all.

With hope comes expectation. When we have expectations, we can be thrown against the rocks of frustration, anxiety, anger and despair when those expectations are not met, when things do not go the way that we would like them to. We want people to behave the way we think they should, for the benefit of all. We want our politicians to think of the people that they represent instead of their own agendas. We want colleagues to pull their own weight, spouses and partners to be there for us, children to love us. When things don't go according to our plans, or according to our expectations, we might crash and burn. We might dive into darkness at seeing a new President-elect, we might look at the environment and realise that perhaps we have simply gone too far, and there is no remedy for what we have done. When this happens, we can lose momentum, we can get stuck. Hope might be the thing that brings us out of this stagnation, or it might leave us altogether, so that we are in an even worse state than before.

So how do we work with hope? I've found it useful in the last couple of years to work with Hope as a god. I've worked with Time in the same context, and it has been illuminating for me in so many ways. Working with the gods, we learn to create a relationship with them, one that is nurturing for all involved. There is a give and take, a sustainable and reciprocal feeling to it that means that we cannot rely on them to do everything for us, and vice versa. It is in mutual respect where we meet, where we realise that we are part of an ecosystem, and where we need to strengthen the bonds of relationship so that it functions for mutual benefit. We learn from permaculture that diversity is key, that edges are where things happen. We learn to work with both, and in doing so can make this planet a better place. If we give up Hope in this context, if we give up Hope as deity, then there will be a very real feeling of bereavement in our lives; we will be bereft. That relationship will be gone, and when it is gone then to whom do we relate?

Others would say that this might be preferable, and in giving up Hope as deity we then become more self-reliant. But self-reliance is a myth. We are all co-dependent upon everything else on this planet. We do not exist in a vacuum. We need others in order to exist, let alone thrive. We are not separate. Without the innumerable other factors in our lives, beings seen and unseen, we simply could not be. I think that this is why I believe in the gods. The gods are all about relationship, about relating to our world through a means which is personal to each and every being. This is why I'm starting to work with Hope on a new level, when it seems perhaps that all hope is lost. Otherwise, I fear I might spiral into apathy, or depression. If I work with Hope, if I talk to Her and connect those threads of sustainable relationship, then I might be inspired to solve a problem, mend something that is broken, reweave the threads of connection in the best way that I can.

Hope can be the spark of inspiration, the awen that sings to us in the dead of night when all seems lost. Hope can also be a force that keeps us from changing our lives for the better, hoping someone else, someone more powerful or intelligent will do it for us. But when we work with Hope as deity, then things begin to change. Hope will not save us from ourselves. But Hope may inspire us to do better, to be better, to be the change that we wish to see in the world.

Or so one can only Hope.

 

© Joanna van der Hoeven 2016

Joanna van der Hoeven is a Druid and author of several books, including the best-seller The Awen Alone: Walking the Path of the Solitary Druidand her most recent release, Zen for Druids: A Further Guide to Integration, Compassion and Harmony with the Natural World. Find out more at www.joannavanderhoeven.com

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Social Media and Pagan Culture

Full Title: Social Media's Centralization of Online Dialogue Hurts Pagan Culture

What if wildly witchy articles no longer existed? Imagine if only corporate media "Pagan" blogs were available, as milquetoast as the fake Christianity that dominates media to suppress robust, responsible Christians? Paganism tamed!

The more corporate social media centralizes online dialogue, the closer we move to deterioration of Pagan culture and extinction of meaningful online Pagan conversation.

I love social media, but it could devastate Pagan innovation and culture unless we do something. Here's why:

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  • J'Karrah
    J'Karrah says #
    Definitely food for thought! Thanks for posting
  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis says #
    J'Karrah, thank you for your supportive words.

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Songs of Samhain

The earth hums beneath our feet. There is an energy present, which we can become aware of in each and every moment.  It helps us to deepen our connection to the earth, to the land, to the ancestors and the spirits of place.  Those who have walked this land before, whose bones and blood, leaves and wood, stones and pebbles make up this land, their energy is contained within.  So too are the energies of wind and rain, of sunlight, starlight and moonlight, shining down on us.  We are hurtling through space at infinite speeds, spinning in an endless cycle of birth and death. In that cosmic dance, there is energy, the push and pull of the planets and our nearest star, the dance of orbiting moons.  Open yourself to this energy, let it wash through your soul and awaken your heart to the wonder of the world.

The energy of the land may differ, depending on where we are in the world. Each land has its own unique signature, yet always contains similarities as well, for we share this planet and, deep at its core, is a heart of fire that is the spark of awen which we can tap into wherever we go.  Right here, right now, in this land of Suffolk, I can feel the energy of the land, feel it beneath my feet, place my hands upon the earth and connect with it. You too can practice this connection wherever you are, seeing how the energies differ, seeing how they are the same at various places.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Apples Eating Apples: A Vegan Pagan Mabon

 

Mabon is sometimes called the Pagan Thanksgiving. It is a harvest festival, as well as the time of the year when day and night (light and dark) are equally balanced. For the Vegan Pagan, Mabon gives us a chance to have a Thanksgiving Holiday that avoids modern connotations of colonization and genocide (when it comes to European relations toward Indigenous Americans) and also the association with eating turkeys. As I have mentioned in past posts, about forty-six million turkeys are slaughtered for American Thanksgiving each year. Information about this can be found at the Maine based project, https://46millionturkeys.com/. So perhaps you can already see why I think Mabon is the perfect Vegan Pagan Thanksgiving. We can make the celebration about a bountiful harvest of vegan foods like yams, corn, pumpkins, squash, acorns, chestnuts, blueberries, cranberries, and more. But perhaps the star food of the vegan Mabon feast should be acknowledged as the apple.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
The Magick of Value

Do you truly value your work? 

This weekend I gave a lecture at 2nd Star Festival in Florence, OR.  Originally the idea was to give my "Visual Alchemy" lecture, which looks at the history and intersection of art and magick - but at the festival itself, there wasn't much description for attendees to read besides  the time and "Tempest, artist/dancer", so I decided to go off the rails a bit, and hope no one complained that I wasn't dancing as I lectured.  

2nd Star is a neat fledgling festival that is a cross-section of steampunk, fairies, pirates, mermaids, and other sorts of myth/creative folk - a little of everything fantasy. Just before I took the stage, the previous lecturer Josh Kinsey was answering a question about the title/use of the word maker.  I think that seeded the field a bit for the direction I went.

I started off with my basic introduction of defining art and magick, showing some slides of various kinds of art from early civilizations. Then I talked about art that is temporary - such as sand paintings, and art that is long-lived (temples, henges, etc), yet they are linked by intent and both equally important. And then I talked (ranted) about the value of art in today's society.  

Unfortunately, the vast majority of today's society does not recognize the importance and inherent value of art.  Art is more than something that matches your couch and looks nice, or is tucked away in a museum.  It's essential for human expression and well-being.  It defines and advances civilizations, building cultures.  It bridges the gap between different people and finds a common soul. It connects us and teaches us. 

When you, as a maker/creator/artisan/artist/master of the ephemeral exist in a society that doesn't understand the value of art, you're most likely going to have a hard time valuing your work.  When the artist doesn't value their work, then the society doesn't see value in the work or the worker for that matter. It's a vicious ouroboros.  
So in my rant--err--lecture, I challenged the folks present to reconsider art as something that is integral to their lives, and especially to the creators present - to re-evaluate how they see their work.  If you value your own work, then others in turn will start to see the value in it.  It should be priced with respect to the quality of the work, the materials, the amount of time, and true market value - versus what you think others (especially yourself, your friends, etc) may pay for it.  Nor does it matter if it's what you do for a living or as a hobby on the side, the effort and the result is the same. 

Just the simple act of believing and acting on the sense of value of your work causes a shift - in yourself, as well as those who interact with your work.  If you define magick as the art of changing consciousness in accordance with will - then valuing your work is also a form of magick.  You see value in your work, your work will be empowered, and others will respond to that shift in value, and see it for themselves.

Success in the arts is never overnight.  It doesn't come through one perfect connection, but rather years of hard work and dedication.  However, that sparkle of success rarely comes without belief in one's work, and a dedication to value.  Go forth and do some magick. 





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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
What Are You Communicating?

 

I overhear a lot of conversations that become arguments, and I just want to smack my head because, as an outside observer, it's so clear to me why the two parties are having a difficult time communicating. Why, in fact, a pretty benign topic can become a full on argument. Often it really boils down to intention. What's your intention? What are you trying to communicate? What's your goal? What do you want to get out of this communication/interaction?

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Lammas: Don't Fear the Reaper

The grain harvest is being collected in the fields around my home. The usually still and silent evening air is filled with the sound of combine harvesters, accentuated every now and then with the hoot of a tawny owl. Lammas is upon us.

Standing on a footpath that divides two large fields, one side filled with barley just reaped, the other with wheat standing pale golden in the sun, I raise my hands to the blue sky and give my thanks for all that nourishes us. I walk a ways into the cut field, the harsh stubs of barley amid the dry, sandy earth and place my hands upon the soil. Thank you for your blessing, may the land be nourished even as it nourishes us. Hail and thanks be to the goddess. I then move to stand on the edge of the wheat field, allowing its song of potential to flow through me. I brush the bent heads filled with seed and say another prayer of thanks. 

This is a wonderful time of year, when the songs of the ancestors flow through the rural heartlands of Britain.  Though the way we harvest is different, still there is that cycle of growth, of planting and harvesting. After the long hot days of midsummer, the lengthening evenings are welcome, bringing cooler air. Though the dog days may still lie ahead of us, there is something different in the air at this time of year.  The scents have changed, the leaves are dark green and heavy, the foliage beginning to choke out and fall back.

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  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    Thank you, Joanna. This is beautifully expressed. I really like your statement, expressed in other writings, that death is not the
  • Joanna van der Hoeven
    Joanna van der Hoeven says #
    Hi Ted - thank you for your continued support. Yes, birth and death are an action, an event. Life is simply a constant flow of man

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