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Historical Spotlight: Vegan Paganism and the Golden Age

Better late than never, I always say. A while back, I began describing some of the major vegetarian philosophies and leaders that have potential to form a foundation for a modern Vegan Pagan practice. Since Neo-paganism often includes the practice of ancestor reverence, I think of vegetarian philosophers as ancestors in this way. Since I have already discussed the Transmigration of Souls (see the blog archives from 2015), I will cover the vegetarian philosophy of the Golden Age before delving into brief bios of some lead writers in the creation of these historical traditions. Think of these as starting points. They are very brief introductions to complex ideas and to complex work done by the honored ancestors.

Some of the resources I used to research this include:

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Living in the Way, Part 2: The Terrestrial Way

 

The Terrestrial Way

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

 

In the Northern Hemisphere, the period around the 1st of May is observed by many pagans as Beltane, based on the Gaelic celebration that traditionally marked the beginning of summer. As a celebration of life, which is bursting forth in abundance at the peak of spring, it is easy to see why this holy day is so popular with pagans of so many paths, including Druids.

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Celebrating the Lambs

In standard, wheel of the year, northern hemisphere Paganism, we talk about lambs at Imbolc. Or at least, we link the name of the festival to ewes’ milk. That may be all the sheepy goodness we get. Of course, how sheep relate to your landscape is a very local issue. In some places, they don’t feature much, while in others there may be a very long history of grazing. There are huge differences between vast, industrial flocks massively impacting on the local, environment, and small sustainable flocks. We can treat sheep and the environment well, or badly. Not all farming is created equal.

However you feel about farming animals for meat and/or wool, I think it’s important to acknowledge the role they have played, for thousands of years, in the lives of our ancestors. In the UK, grazing has shaped some landscapes. It’s important to know how ancestral use of land impacts on the landscape you now inhabit.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Vegan Ritual Objects

            Despite the convenience of the internet, most Neo-pagans love the experience of a brick-and-mortar magic shop. The incense, statues, music, and company are inspiring. For vegans who may be trying to avoid the use of animal products (including feathers, fur, and leather), finding that perfect something can be a little more difficult. With the addition of some down-home craftiness, we can make certain objects and have fun cruising the shops for the rest.

            One of the easiest ways to attain ritual objects is to find them in nature. Stones, feathers, shells, bones, shed reptile skins, and leaves are just a few examples of items you can just pick up on a walk in the woods or on the beach. Finding animal products is often considered a better alternative than buying them. Buying them sometimes sustains a market for animal exploitation. Finding items gives you a more magical connection to them. They remind you of an experience that you had in nature.

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Beltane Rites and Lore

Beltane is the start of summer, at the opposite end of the Wheel of the Year to Samhain, Summer's End. Cattle would be brought to the higher ground and summer pastures, tended by the women and children while the men would work the farms. In Irish Gaelic it is Beltaine, in Welsh it is Calan Mai, and in Scottish Gaelic Bealtainn. It is the other time when the veils between the worlds are thin, and the Fair Folk can be seen wandering the land in abundance. By the calendar, Beltane begins at dusk on the 30th April and runs to dusk on the 1 May. If celebrating by the local flora, it is when the hawthorn, or May is out in flower. In the UK, the first weekend in May is still celebrated with a bank holiday, perhaps as a remnant of this very important Celtic Festival.

Fire is an important part of this festival, for Beltane is often translated as "the fires of Bel", who was a sun deity. All household fires were extinguished on the eve of Beltane, and then fires were lit on hilltops at dawn, similar to but in reverse at Samhain, where fires were lit at sunset.[1] It was important to not give away any fire from your household at Beltane, for your luck would soon run out. In Ireland, the focus on fire and hilltops shifted from Tlachtga and Tara to Uisnech.  It is said that the first Beltane fire was lit at Uisnech by the Druid, Mide, whose name means "the centre". Beltane is a hinge for the world to open and change, as at Samhain. [2] In Scotland and Wales, the Beltane bonfires were made from nine woods collected and put together by nine men, and called "needfires". [3] Cattle were driven between two bonfires on this day before heading out to their summer pastures. They were said to pass close enough to the fires so that their hair might be singed. The heat and smoke of the bonfires might have been enough to cause any parasites to fall off the animals that may have taken up residence in the winter quarters. Fire is also an important part of the Beltane ceremonies today, as at Edinburgh with the Beltane Fire Society putting on a spectacular event every year, as previously mentioned.

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For millennia, people have used a wide variety of methods designed to foretell future events or to gain advice from the spirit realm. In many cultures, the ability to divine the future was a highly valued skill, and the word of augurs and professional soothsayers could influence important political or strategic decisions, such as whether or not an army should head into battle, or if planting or harvesting should commence. The ability to decipher meaning from the chaos of everyday life helped to establish a sense of order in the cosmos.

Divination remains popular in today’s society, even if the status of most professional readers and astrologers may not be quite as illustrious as in the past. Some of the more familiar forms of divination, such as tarot cards, are relatively recent inventions, while others—such as throwing bones or scrying for patterns in a crystal ball or flames are quite ancient. What all these forms of divination hold in common is a desire to try to provide answers for an oftentimes uncertain world.

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