The Neo-Pagan Mysteries, Part 8: Exoteric and Esoteric Ritual

Neo-Pagan ritual may function as a celebration of and an experience of connection with nature; as a celebration of and acceptance of change in our own lives; as an honoring and welcoming of parts of ourselves that have been neglected or rejected; and an experience of the loss of the sense of self and of union with the transcendent. Neo-Pagan ritual can focus on any one of these functions, or it can do more than one. All of them are important. Different people may experience the same ritual differently. [Read more...]

The Neo-Pagan Mysteries, Part 7: The Mother and the Son

The Neo-Pagan Goddess may be called Mother, because she is the eternal Source, the continuous principle of Life which gives rise to life in its myriad forms. The Goddess does not die; she is death … and life. The Goddess gives birth to the God, who is manifest life, and then receives him back into the tomb that is her womb. The God is born lives, dies and is born again. He must accept death, falling back into the Source, like a seed returning to the earth, while the Goddess endures to bring forth new forms of life from the inexhaustible store that is her Being. [Read more...]

The Neo-Pagan Mysteries, Part 6: Descent to the Underworld

The psychological process which is symbolized by Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey is not a one time event, for while each “death” and subsequent rebirth results in an expansion of consciousness, this expansion is always necessarily partial, for the creativity of the unconscious source is inexhaustible. Therefore, the Hero’s Journey is never complete. [Read more...]

The Neo-Pagan Mysteries, Part 5: The Dying God

Scholars have criticized Jame Frazer’s Golden Bough, arguing that he glossed over significant differences in order to find his archetypal Dying God. But regardless of whether ancient pagan gods fit the archetype, Frazer’s theory has had a profound influence on contemporary Neo-Paganism. Frazer was a significant influence on Jane Ellen Harrison, Robert Graves, Dion Fortune, D.H. Lawrence, and other writers, who were themselves influential on Neo-Paganism. [Read more...]

The Neo-Pagan Mysteries, Part 4: Sacrifice

It is natural to resist change and to “rage against the dying of the light.” We want to live forever, but this is not our fate as human beings. We must surrender to that finitude which is represented by the dark aspect of the Goddess. Through surrender to our fate, we are transformed, not to endless life, but to a meaningful life in the context of the cosmic cycle of change. [Read more...]

The Neo-Pagan Mysteries, Part 3: The Eternal Return

In contrast to the monotheistic religions with their linear view of sacred time and the progressive nature of history leading to a final eschcatological event, many Neo-Pagans view sacred time as cyclical, rotating between life and death in an eternal cycle of periodic renewal, which Mircea Eliade called “the eternal return”. In contrast to the Dharmic religions, which seek escape from this cycle, many Neo-Pagans embrace it. Far from being a source of pessimism or despair, for these Neo-Pagans, the ineluctability of death gives deeper meaning to existence. [Read more...]


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