Pagan prayer

Pagan Prayer by Gixajin on deviantART

A prayer can be nothing more than time taken to set an intention for the day, or to contemplate the day’s events before going to sleep. It can be time spent communing with a deity, or holding others that you care about in your awareness and wishing them well. It can take place at your personal altar, or just in your head. It can be spoken or unspoken, formal or informal, and involve stillness or movement. It can involve descending into your own depths to find a connection with all-that-is; or it can be reaching out to a deity or spirit of place. [Read more...]

Your mountain is not my mountain and that’s just fine

Moraine Lake, Rocky Mountains

Metaphors for religion are tricky things, especially when we try to stretch them and make them work too hard by trying to turn them into analogies. One very popular metaphor for explaining religious diversity is the idea that we are all walking different paths up the same mountain. However, many people are coming to believe (myself included) that we are in fact all walking up different mountains. [Read more...]

Old magic versus new magic

Morgan le Fay, by Frederick Sandys

Recently I received an enquiry from a seeker in Eastern Europe, where much of the traditional magical practices and folklore were wiped out under Communism. There are many seekers in the area, but not many experienced practitioners. The seeker was especially interested in older forms of magic, and asked how to tell the difference between fake and real techniques. [Read more...]

Drugs: it’s all about the context

Two Crow Indians sitting on the ground smoking a peace pipe.

Drugs and other mind-altering substances have been used in a sacred context for millennia. It is only when drug use is taken out of this sacramental and communal context that it becomes a vice. If a drug is taken to alter one’s consciousness for a sacred purpose – to obtain information or abilities inaccessible to normal consciousness – then it is a rare occurrence, and for a good reason: in the service of one’s community. [Read more...]

If you build it, they will come

John William Waterhouse - The Crystal Ball

I would like to see Pagan weddings become legally recognised in England and Wales. I would like to be able to practice Pagan rituals in public without fear of harassment. I would like to see public bodies acknowledging Pagan holidays in listings of holidays both secular and religious. (In the UK, many employers send round lists of holidays from various faiths, but Pagan holidays are often not listed.) I would like to see a Pagan student society in every UK university, and a Pagan temple accessible to every Pagan who wants it. I would like to see Pagan traditions covered in education about religion (not indoctrinating children into it, just teaching them the facts about it). I would like Pagan traditions to be full participants in interfaith councils and bodies. [Read more...]

Lupercalia

Wolf (photo by Jan Nijendijk)

Whatever the origins and timing of Valentine’s Day, 14 February was originally the date of a very different festival – the festival of Lupercalia. This was a fertility festival honouring the she-wolf who suckled Romulus and Remus. It also honoured Lupercus, god of shepherds. The festivities were presided over by the priesthood of the Luperci, who were dedicated to Faunus. They sacrificed two goats and a dog. There was then a sacrificial feast, and the Luperci cut thongs called februa from the skins of the animals, dressed themselves in the skins of the sacrificed goats, and ran round the walls of the old Palatine city. They struck all those who came near with the thongs. Young women would line up on their route to receive lashes from these whips. This was reputed to ensure fertility, prevent sterility, and ease the pains of childbirth. [Read more...]

Ritual safety

Use candles safely

I once attended a ritual where the temple (a basement room) had a polystyrene ceiling, and there was a cauldron of burning methylated spirit, which we danced round. I was very scared when I thought about it afterwards – but I didn’t leave the ritual. If you are in an altered state, it is very difficult to make rational judgements. It is not a matter of being gullible or stupid – it is how group dynamics work. [Read more...]


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