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...]

Thought forms

Georg von Rosen - Oden som vandringsman, 1886 (Odin, the Wanderer)

One aspect of deities seems to be thought-forms. That is not to say that deities are merely thought-forms, but that part of the way we interact with them seems to be through our internal image of what they are like. The more people carry an internal image of that deity around in their heads, the easier it is to visualise them. [Read more...]

Hard Polytheism (Seeking the Mystery, Chp. 1 Excerpt)

Seeking the Mystery: An Introduction to Pagan Theologies

Today (Monday, 7/1), Amazon.com will be offering the e-book edition of Seeking the Mystery: An Introduction to Pagan Theologies for $0.99. It’s now available in paperback too! Click through for details and an excerpt from Chapter One. [Read more...]

The varieties of religious experience

Rainbow At Maraetai Beach New Zealand, by Haley Sulcer

Having distinctive religious traditions matters because each tradition expresses a distinctive identity, philosophy, tradition, set of values, mythology, and community identity. These traditions are ways of being in the world. They are collective projects which explore the question of “How shall we live a good life?” (and what do we mean by ‘a good life’) in very different ways. They each have their own rich collection of source texts and rituals which try to answer that basic question, along with many of the other great existential questions, such as “Why are we here?” [Read more...]

Tradition

Tree with birds, by Mary Hart

Tradition is something that grows and evolves. It is not set in stone, but is more like a discourse; if you start with a particular set of premises, ideas and values, you will get further ideas and practices that are consistent with the initial set of ideas. Religious traditions evolve according to social, cultural, and political circumstances. [Read more...]

Deities and divinity

Ivory panel depciting the apotheosis of Quintus Aurelius Symmachus (c 340-402), the greatest orator of his day, a prominent pagan and opponent of Christian hegemony and intolerance. (Source: British Museum)

There are many different views of how deities relate to each other and to the universe. My personal view is that there is an underlying divine energy, which emanates from the divine source. In my view, neither the underlying energy nor the divine source have a personality. From the underlying energy, all beings emerge — humans, spirits, deities, and animals. [Read more...]

Three Legs on the Pagan Cauldron, or Must Pagans Be Polytheists?

Three sources for contemporary Paganism. Practitioners in the dark green area usually struggle the least with Pagan identity, and those in the white areas struggle the most.

In 2013, I think the three legs of the contemporary Pagan cauldron are these: polytheism, Goddess worship, and earth-based spirituality. These three focuses for belief and practice have all made a huge impact on what we think of as Paganism. [Read more...]


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