Paganism

Paganism and heathenry galore.

The Pagan diet: a few thoughts

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Fruit & vegetable box, photo by Ali KarimianPaganism, in general, has no prescribed dietary restrictions, though it has developed a few customary dishes for feast days over the past 50 years. There are some noticeable tendencies in our dietary habits, while by no means universal or necessarily defining, there are a few notable commonalities.

For example, you may find a higher number of Pagans who prefer to buy natural and organic meat and produce, as reverence for nature is one of our defining doctrines, Pagans tend to be especially environmentally and morally conscious in this regard. Continue reading


Pagan community

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Birds, photo by Gustavo GomesI first began meeting other Pagans and magically-minded folk online 10 years ago through various Usenet groups, e-lists, message boards, IRC, websites, e-mail and other electronic correspondence. While there were quite a few then, over time I’ve watched it expand and grow significantly. Today there are literally hundreds of e-lists and online communities virtually dedicated to each and every facet of Paganism, and every tradition of Wicca imaginable. (And some I would never have imagined!)

I was excited to find others who were interested in the same things I was, and I learned a lot. I even briefly had a go with an online coven, but that didn’t work out for me, though there are several that are active and successful today.

There is a certain amount of interconnectedness online, especially within specific communities, but what about offline, meeting people in the flesh? Attending public rituals with other Pagans, or even just meeting up for coffee or a pint, can seem difficult or scary for someone newly discovering their path. Continue reading


Definition of Paganism

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Depending on your background, the word ‘pagan’ can mean a variety of things. It may mean one who is not Christian, Muslim or Jewish, or one who has o religion. It could simply mean one who isn’t Christian, or conjure fantastic hedonistic images of orgiastic rites. These definitions have had their place n the past, but definitions have a way of changing with time depending on usage and culture.

Our modern word ‘pagan’ comes from the Latin paganus, meaning ‘country-dweller’. Similarly, the word ‘heathen’, which has come to mean one who does not acknowledge the Christian, Muslim, or Jewish god, literally means ‘heath-dweller’. Both these words refer to someone from the country or rural district, as opposed to more urban folk.

The initial spread of Christianity took place in major urban areas, leaving the countryside continuing to practice folk magick and adhere to the local customs. It wasn’t long before the word became synonymous with the idea of rustic folk tradition and those who were not followers of the Christian god, thus giving rise to many of the more modern meanings we understand today.

More recently, however, the definition of Paganism has evolved yet again to become a general term for the followers of magickal, shamanistic, and polytheistic religions which hold a reverence for nature as a central characteristic of their belief system. It’s also given rise to the term neo-pagan (literally ‘new pagan’), which refers to a follower or sympathizer of one of the newly formed pagan religions now spreading throughout the world. It is with this latter modern definition that this section will be predominantly concerned.


First published on Suite101.com on 11 March 2006. (Unfortunately.)


Discordian Totems

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Jackalope, image from Tyler NienhouseJackalope

These are a special sub-species of rabbit with the antlers of a deer. Elementally, they combine earth and air, and reside in the north-east corner of the compass rose. They are earthly creatures; practical, but intellectual, as their horns harness the cerebral vibrations of air. They demonstrate their almost unique synthesis of earth and air qualities in their ability to bring theoretical ideas and manifest them in reality, making use of their abstract natures in a material setting. Discordians with a jackalope as their totem tend to be successful in their idealistic pursuits. Continue reading


Beltane

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A celebration of spring, the third and culminating fertility festival, and one of the eight major festivals in the Wheel of the Year.

The third fertility festival, after Imbolg and Ostara, Beltane is one of the four Greater Sabbats in the Wiccan Wheel of the Year. It’s opposite on the Wheel is Samhain, the third harvest. In the northern hemisphere we observe this day on April 30th through May 1st, and in the southern hemisphere, on October 31st through November 1st. As at Samhain, at Beltane the veils between the worlds are said to be thin. Though where Samhain is a celebration of Death, at Beltane we celebrate Life renewed.

There are a variety of spellings for this holiday, depending on which regional variation of Galic is used. It is also known as Beltain, Bealtaine, Bealtainn, among others. Beltane roughly translates to ‘bright fire’, ‘shining fire’, or ‘Bel’s fire’.

Fire plays an important part in Beltane celebrations as it is symbolic of the Sun God’s growing strength and warmth of the season. Fire is a sacred representation of purity and healing, and Wiccans traditionally jump through the fire, or dance around it.

Beltane marks the true end of winter: summer has now begun in earnest. Trees and bushes sprout new leaves, flowers and fruit blossoms bloom, crops are new and the pleasures of the Earth seem bountiful again. Life has again returned to the Earth.

The Young God has grown into manhood, and the Goddess is fertile, to be ripe with his fruit. Handfastings are popular at Beltane, in sympathy of the union of the Goddess and God as queen and consort.

Of course, one of the more well known traditions is the Maypole dance. The Maypole is representative of the phallus and the sacred union between Earth and Sky, the pole standing between the worlds. As the sexual union of the Goddess and God are played out at this time, so do couples fertilize the fields with their sacred unions at this time, ensuring the fecundity of the Earth, and bountiful harvests to come.

The altar is often decorated with local blossoms and flowers from asked plants.

It is a time to celebrate the fruitfulness of the Earth, and productivity in your life.

First published on Suite101.com on 1 May 2006. (Unfortunately.)


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