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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in sacrifice

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Interview with a Cauldron

It's generally conceded that the far-famed Gundestrup "Cauldron" was used in ritual.

Assuming, then, that "form follows function," can we hazard any guesses about what sort of rituals those might have been?

The Gundestrup Cauldron is a container.

Chances are, it was made to hold offerings. It seems likely that these would have been liquid offerings; libations are known universally throughout the Indo-European-speaking culture sphere.

The Cauldron as libation-bowl.

One possibility might be libations of beverages: water, milk, mead, wine, beer.

The Cauldron as blood-bowl.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Ancient Crete Was No Utopia

One of the dangers of having an ancient civilization as the focus of our spirituality is the tendency to view that culture through rose-colored glasses. That’s especially tempting when it comes to ancient Crete and the Minoan civilization that flourished there in the third and second millennium BCE.

There are so many positive aspects of Minoan culture: Women had high status and the Goddess was revered. Minoan cities and towns had paved streets, enclosed sewers, and flush toilets. The Minoans appear not to have had any sort of military, choosing instead to invest all their energy and wealth into what was probably the largest merchant fleet in the Mediterranean at the time, so their society was prosperous and relatively peaceful.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
What Do You Do With Old Offerings?

If you build the candy cottage, the children will come.

If you build a temple, people will come and, being pagans, they will, of course, bring offerings.

Offerings belong to the god, which makes them (by definition) sacred. So what do you do with them when they begin to pile up?

With consumables, that's one thing. Libations are poured out onto the ground. Token amounts of food are placed onto the earth (but never directly; they should always be placed on a layer of something biodegradable: leaves, grass, sticks). Food offerings in quantity traditionally revert to the temple staff; part of the god's responsibility to his people is to see that they're fed. (Richard Reidy calls this “reversion of offerings.”)

But the non-consumable offerings, what of them?

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Good Guys, Bad Guys, and Utopias

The world is a complicated place, and it’s tempting to divide it up into good guys and bad guys to simplify things, make life a little easier to digest. A good example of this kind of simplification is the Minoans of ancient Crete.

I’ll admit, when I first discovered this fascinating Bronze Age civilization, I felt like they were practically a utopia: equality for women, no military, a beautiful religion based around nature. Heck, they even had paved streets and flush toilets.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Old Ways Endure

A rural Anabaptist commune in mid-20th century Manitoba seems an unlikely time and place for a sacrifice to a river.

But that is the story that journalist Mary-Ann Kirby tells in her autobiography I Am Hutterite.

Some memories, it would seem, live long indeed.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Whatever Happened to Animal Sacrifice?

At one time, animal sacrifice was the most common form of public worship in the West.

So what happened to it?

We tend to think of Judaism as mother and Christianity as daughter, but in fact Christianity and Rabbinic Judaism are sister religions that arose at the same time in response to the self-same trauma: the destruction of the Jerusalem temple in 70 CE.

In ancient Hebrew religion, anyone could build an altar anywhere and offer up sacrifice there, but with the rise of the Jerusalem temple, a hard-fought process of centralization set in which eventually banned sacrifice anywhere else, on the logic of “one god, one temple.”

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Divine Economy

If I had to characterize Kirk S. Thomas' Sacred Gifts: Reciprocity and the Gods in only two words, it would be: “accessibly profound.”

Don't be put off—as I initially was—by his bantering tone, hyper-colloquial diction, or home-spun analogies. This book speaks as an incisive work of contemporary pagan scholarship and philosophy, and (best of all) points the way forward for future pagan thought.

There can be no relationship without communication. How, then, do we communicate with the gods?

In Sacred Gifts, Thomas answers this question elegantly and authoritatively by beginning with a careful examination of ancestral precedent. From these specifics, he deduces the general principles of the divine economy.

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