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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Focusing is an important part of practicing magic, and there are a number of tools that can help you achieve this--like the wand. Wands are directly linked to Nature and the four elements, the source of all physical life. Wood wands, in particular, are quite common because they hold elements of earth, fire, water and air. In Irish myth, oak, ash, thorn and hazel are the most noble of the trees and, therefore, the best for wand making, but you can use any that “speak” to you. One of our friends, author Pauline Campanelli, liked to use a fallen twig from her favorite twisted filbert tree! The tree is anchored in earth, draws water and nutrients from the soil, releases oxygen through its leaves, and is burned for fuel. Wood naturally conducts energy.

Other materials are popular as well, and for the same reason: conductivity. Crystal wands are great at drawing energy from your hand chakra and directing it outward, as are those made of copper. Your wand can be as simple or fancy as you like. The feel is most important. How does it rest in your hand? Does it feel too light, too heavy, or too awkward? When you extend your arm and point at an object in the distance, does it seem like a natural part of you, or does your arm get weak and shaky? When you draw a pentagram in the air, can you sense your energy moving outward through the wand? These are things to consider when making your selection. Obtaining a wand can be as simple as finding a fallen branch with an interesting twig, buying one from a Craft store or festival, or making your own. Crafting a wand yourself allows you to bind your energy to the wand at all times, not just when it's in use. In fact, you can easily craft a wand that combines wood, crystal AND copper. You will need:

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Avast me Witchlings! The Summer Solstice is upon us--and this be no ordinary Sabbat! Sound the trumpets! Break out the MAGIC CONCH! Aaarrrrr!

Pirates (and Sponge Bob) aside, there really is such a thing as a Magic Conch. When you stop laughing, consider this: The life that was stirring at Imbolc blinked it's eyes at the Spring Equinox, started to bloom at Beltain, and now is in full swing--a reason to celebrate!

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Youth Q&A: Swordless in New York State

In the correspondence-based work that I do with Pagan youth, much of my communications revolve around answering questions and giving suggestions about how to live a Pagan life with both the restraints and opportunities that being a young person represents. This Youth Q&A column will be updated regularly with my questions and answers, shared with permission from the questioner. Only the names will be removed for privacy and safety.

Question: 
Having a sword or athame is the only thing my mom won’t let me do. Everything else is fine with her. I have to have one for my altar, right?
Age 16, Syracuse NY

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Jennifer Bisson
    Jennifer Bisson says #
    I also started out using a letter opener. I have also used a pointed crystal, a wooden folding fan, a pencil, a small spear point
  • Finn McGowan
    Finn McGowan says #
    In the bad old days when living with my parents or unsympathetic partners I would use secret, mundane tools. The Athame was a Swis
  • Diane Hedden
    Diane Hedden says #
    I am a witch who has worked both as a solitary and with a coven for over 25 years. I have met quite a few other witches who do
  • Terence P Ward
    Terence P Ward says #
    For my handfasting, the priest was more than happy to use the titanium spork I provided.

Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Theology is God-talk

I’ve very grateful for all of the on- and off-blog posts to me about the question of evil. It is gratifying to know that I’m being read. Before we go deeper into specific subjects, I want to take a step back and gain some perspective on our project. This blog is an experiment in what is technically called Systematic Theology. It is systematic in that it endeavors to cover core issues pertaining to a religious tradition, here Pagan, in an orderly, coherent, where appropriate rational, and hopefully complete way. This is different from Practical Theology, which has to do with applying theology to life (although we’ll do some of that too). Practical theology has a variety of sub-disciplines like pastoral, political or liturgical theologies, dealing with theology in the context of the practitioner’s service to a population, or in application to political or social discourse, or with respect to ritual practice, respectively. But now, I want to talk about the idea of theology itself.

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Recent comment in this post - Show all comments
  • Christine Kraemer
    Christine Kraemer says #
    Sam, I'm delighted to see you writing on this topic. I have an introduction to Pagan theology coming out from Patheos Press this f

If you keep any kind of regular spiritual practice over a long period of time, you'll find that you can hit a wall. The tried and true technique just doesn't do it for you like it once did. In my experience its not so much that the technique is at fault, or that you are at fault, as you've been sincerely using it as a part of your practice with regular frequency, but that you've hit a plateau or even made a permanent shift. 

If you are going strong enough, our spiritual practice can open us to new levels of consciousness. Our first experience with these levels is a “peak” experience. When you enter into this peak often enough, it starts to level out and become a more regular normal level for us, creating a plateau of consciousness. When you maintain this plateau for a period of time and use it as a base to establish new peaks, you are making a permanent shift of consciousness. 

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

During the writing of yesterday's post on Reconstruction, an example of my changed mindset came to mind which I couldn't find a place for in that post. I told you all before about my path. Most of my religious life was spent as a Neo-Pagan or some form of Eclectic Witch. I enjoyed it a lot and some practices were so engrained into my life, I only realized I had them when I transitioned to Hellenismos. One of these practices was to buy (almost) only second-hand religious items for my practice.

The thought process behind it was that, everything I stumbled upon, be it boxes, chalices or books, was provided to me by the Gods. The only things that were exempt were my Athame, candles and incense. Especially in the case of books, I felt that the books I found in thrift or second-hand stores were the books I was supposed to find at that time in my life and religious practice. I took them as signs. In true Neo-Pagan manner, I also didn't haggle on the cost of any item I bought for religious purposes. It was a wonderful way of magickal living.

As I transitioned into Hellenismos, however, the change in mindset caused me to drop both practices without conscious thought. I knew what my path was, now. I didn't need that specific type of guidance. I left general Pagan books on the shelve that I would have bought only a week ago. With my new shopping list in hand, I still found myself in a veritable Elysium of possibilities. I also couldn't think up a single reason why I shouldn't try and haggle when the opportunity arose. In fact: it seemed like a perfectly valid Hellenic thing to do. And all of that over the course of, maybe, a week.

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