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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in symbolism
Discovering Signs and Symbols by Kirsten Riddle

“We are a society built on signs and symbols. Our ancestors recognized their significance, assembling powerful messages around the signs and symbols they noted in their surroundings. They looked to Mother Nature for inspiration, and they then took this to another level, choosing shapes and signs and turning them into physical symbols that they could use in sacred rites and rituals.” – From Discovering Signs and Symbols: Unlock the Secrets and Meanings of These Ancient Figures by Kirsten Riddle (Ryland Peters & Small, 2015)

From the triangle to the clover, the caduceus to the Eye of Horus, signs, shapes and symbols permeate our social, religious, artistic and commercial landscape. Recognizing such symbols and tracing their origins is one thing (the crux of most symbol books), but incorporating them into a meaningful, enriching and personal context is quite another.

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Gimbutas Revisited: A Trypillian Clay Phallus, 4500-3500 BCE

In the cash-strapped days following independence, a trio of Ukrainian businessmen watched in horror as illegal digging and the black-market antiquities trade threatened to denude Ukraine of its historical patrimony. The three began to buy up antiquities before they could leave the country, and so assembled the world's largest private collection of artifacts from the Copper Age Trypillian culture (4500-2700 BCE).

I saw a traveling exhibit from this collection at the Museum of Russian Art in Minneapolis in early March 2011. What I saw there forced me to reassess my analysis of the work of Lithuanian-born archaeologist (and feminist ideologue) Marija Gimbutas (1921-1994). Although none of the ceramics in the collection had been excavated before her death, I found that the analytic vocabulary of symbols that she articulated in her 1989 book The Language of the Goddess again and again produced cogent readings of the art.

Let me take one particularly striking example. The not-quite-life-sized (6¼ x 2½ inch) clay phallus and testes (shown above), from the Khmel'nitska region of Ukraine, dates from the Trypillian BI period, roughly 4500-3500 BCE. Above the testes is a small, inset cup; the clay wedge that supports the phallus gives the entire piece a rather droll, and probably not unintended, resemblance to a quadruped. (“I like the kickstand,” I overheard one visitor say.)

Note the engraved “decoration.” Twin spirals adorn the sides of the testes. There are parallel lines engraved along the phallus itself. Rows of evenly-spaced dots ring the top of the scrotum and run down the length of the shaft.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Devil's Lash

At old style sabbats, they say, the Devil would stand at the edge of the circle and whip up the dancing.

Literally.

(In the mountains back East, where I come from, they say that he'd use rose canes to do this. Yikes.)

One of the few truly effective ritual initiations that I've ever witnessed was priested by one of the local dungeon daddies. Now that scourging really meant something.

Burtrand of Minnesota Church of the Wicca—the grandfather of the local pagan community—used to insist that the scourge is one of the Horned's most important, and least understood, attributes.

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Yellow Brick Road to Awakening Spread - Symbols from the Wizard of Oz

As I mentioned in my post A Halloween Divination Spread:

When it comes to spreads--positions for Tarot/Oracle cards, Runes, charms or other divinatory objects--it's easier than you may think to create custom layouts based on holidays, stories, songs, sacred texts, deities or themes using symbols for positions. 

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I've read that L. Frank Baum was a theosophist so it's not too surprising that there should be a lot of layered meaning in "The Wi
  • Janet Boyer
    Janet Boyer says #
    Interesting! I didn't know that, Anthony.

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

I had mentioned in my last blog post that would be pulling one rune a week to learn more about them.  My first rune was Perthro, Peorth.  A rune of mystery and change.  Which was the perfect rune to begin with, I was starting out learning and studying the mysteries of these runes.  It was a beginning for me, a beginning full of mystery. 

 

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Sign of the Hoof

A mudra that links Star Trek, Orthodox Jewish liturgy, and the god of witches.

Fascinating.

The “Vulcan salute” premiered in 1967 during Star Trek's second season. Series creator Gene Roddenberry felt that the words of the newly-invented Vulcan greeting needed some sort of physical gesture to go with them. Actor Leonard Nimoy held up his hand, palm facing out, thumb extended, fingers divided between the second and third fingers. In that moment, a pop-culture icon was born. Live long and prosper, folks.

Nimoy knew the gesture from his childhood. Six times a year in the Orthodox synagogue that his grandfather took him to, the kohanim—men from priestly families—would face the congregation, raise both hands before their faces making the same hand-sign, and pronounce the ancient Threefold Blessing:

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Deus eduxit eum de Aegypto cuius fortitude similis est rincerotis. So, a god whose strength is like unto a rhino's. Well.
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Yikes. My first thought was, "they must have been working from a different underlying Hebrew text," which, given the difficulties
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    I would agree that your reading makes sense of 24:8 with its singular object, Brian, and would add that some MSS. read motsi'o for
  • Brian Niskala
    Brian Niskala says #
    One thing I find funny is the Septuagint's translation here: ὡς δόξα μονοκέρωτος αὐτῷ, taking the Hebrew's תוֹעֲפֹת רְאֵם as 'glo
  • Brian Niskala
    Brian Niskala says #
    I would question that translation of Number 23:20/24:8. That reading of 'lo' לוֹ as a possessive here doesn't quite work; I read i

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Baby Jesus, Baby New Year, Baby Cupid

 

The year ends with a baby.

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