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Odin–My Favourite Myth

By Galina Krasskova

[Snip] While it’s cliche, I think my favorite myth about Odin is His sacrifice on Yggdrasil. Odin sought out the World Tree Yggdrasil, whose name means ‘steed of the terrible One — Yggr being a by-name of Odin—and hung Himself there for nine nights and days, wounding Himself with His own spear, subjecting Himself to a terrible, torturous ordeal in order to win the runes. It’s one of the defining moments in His mythic cycle, and for any ordeal master, spiritworker, or runemaster, one of the most important.

I’ve often said that the lore is, at best, a map and should never, ever be confused with the territory. Well, for those of us who work the runes, or who walk certain paths of Odin, this particular story is one hell of a map. Encased and enfolded within the mythic retelling of this sacrifice is crucial information about the nature of the runes, about Odin, about sacrifice, and the way to work and negotiation with the rune spirits. For many of us doing this work, this particular story is the one with which we most strongly identify. This is one of the starkest paths to honoring the Old Man.

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The Witch’s Broom: Magic for Everyone

By Deborah Blake

Everyone knows that brooms and witches go together. Most popular images of witches show them with pointed hats, black cats, and a broom. And while not every witch has a cat (or a funny-looking hat, for that matter), most of us own a broom. But how many of us actually use them for our magical work?

When I started writing The Witch’s Broom, I’ll confess that I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to come up with enough material to fill an entire book. My own magical practice only used a broom for a few simple tasks, and at that time, I didn’t even have a dedicated ritual broom of my own. Fortunately, the more I looked at the humble broom, the more there was to see. Not only did I end up with plenty of material for the book, but I also found all sorts of broom facts, lore, and applications that inspired how I used them in my own life.

For example, did you know that before witches became famous for riding on brooms, the earliest drawings actually depicted them flying across the night sky on sticks, or even farm implements such as pitchforks? No one is really sure how the broom became associated with witchcraft, but some hypothesize that it started out as a way to disguise their forbidden wands, by hiding them under the bristles of a broom.

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Witches Are One Way to ‘Safely’ Present Strong Female Characters

By Mary McNamara

In her book “Pure Lust: Elemental Feminist Philosophy,” famed theologian and radical feminist Mary Daly imagined a female-run hag-ocracy, a new world of Witches, Crones, Harpies, Furies and Amazons.

Or, as we like to call it, television.

Even taking into account the increasing preponderance of supernatural beasties, 2013 is most certainly the Year of the Witch. From starring roles (“American Horror Story: Coven,” “Witches of East End”) to supporting (“Sleepy Hollow,” “The Originals”), a host of new witches have joined their already-established sisters (“Grimm,” “Once Upon a Time,” “True Blood,” “The Vampire Diaries,” “Supernatural”) to perform acts of good and evil while exploring, with varying degrees of seriousness, the power of the feminine.

Their appearance also illuminates an industry that recognizes the need for strong female characters but still doesn’t quite know how to fill it without the aid of medieval courts or supernatural powers. The modern quartet of “Sex and the City” is now, more often than not, an actual coven.

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(H/T BadWitch)

I Am Pagan

By Selena Fox

I am Pagan. I am a part of the whole of Nature. The Rocks, the Animals, the Plants, the Elements, and Stars are my relatives. Other humans are my sisters and brothers, whatever their races, colors, genders, sexual orientations, ages, nationalities, religions, lifestyles. Planet Earth is my home. I am a part of this large family of Nature, not the master of it. I have my own special part to play and I seek to discover and play that part to the best of my ability. I seek to live in harmony with others in the family of Nature, treating others with respect.

I am Pagan. I celebrate the changing seasons, the turning of the Wheel of the Year. I celebrate with singing, dancing, feasting, rituals, and in other ways. I celebrate each turn of the Wheel with personal spiritual practices and by taking part in community festivals.

[Snip] I am Pagan. I also honor the seasons of life within my life’s journey — beginnings, growth, fruition, harvest, endings, rest, and beginnings again. Life is a Circle with many cycles. With every Ending comes a new Beginning. Within Death there is the promise of Rebirth.

I am Pagan. I see circles of change and renewal not only within my own life’s journey, but in my heritage. I see my life as a circle that connects with the life circles of my ancestors. They are part of me and my life. The ancient wisdom of Nature’s Renewal and Recycling is embodied in the crests of two of my Ancestoral clans. From my German ancestors of my mother’s mother’s lineage is the totem of the heron, a family emblem signifying perseverance and renewal after difficulties. From my Celtic ancestors of my father’s father’s lineage is the crest bearing the symbol of a hewn oak tree sprouting new branches and leaves from its stump, enclosed in a circle with the motto, Iterum Viriscit, which means It grows Green again. These symbols and motto remind me not only of my own renewal and the renewal of Nature, but also the renewal of Pagan philosophy on this planet that is part of my life’s work as a Pagan priestess.

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Human Transgression–Divine Retribution

By Aslak Rostad

[Snip] Introduction: The so-called ‘confession inscriptions’ of ancient Asia Minor have challenged scholars for nearly a century following Franz S. Steinleitner’s famous thesis on confession and religious justice published in 1913. Since then the distinctiveness and peculiarity of these texts have been emphasised and they have been viewed as detached from other forms of ancient religiosity, especially traditional Greek religion. Instead these texts have been interpreted as expressions of Oriental beliefs and notions – based on the claim that the inscriptions record the confessions of sinners, a practice unknown to ancient Greek religion – but often without specifying what the terms ‘Oriental’ or ‘Greek’ imply.

There can be no doubt that these inscriptions represent a form of religious expression not found anywhere else than in certain parts of Asia Minor for a limited period of history (ca. AD 80 – 260).1 But the fact that the texts are formulated in an unusual way does not prove that the beliefs and notions they express are completely alien to the ancient religious landscape and do not overlap with religious practices we find in cults which usually fall under the traditional category ‘Greek religion’. After all, few if any religious and cultural expressions can be understood in isolation from a wider context of beliefs and rituals. In this study it is argued that what I shall henceforth call
the ‘reconciliation’ inscriptions can be understood as part of a general religiosity, which may be referred to as Greek religion, or, since the inscriptions occurred only during Roman imperial times, Greco-Roman religion.

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(H/T Sannion)

Odin–A Basic Introduction

By Galina Krasskova

[Snip] “Wodan Id est Furor,” -”Woden, that is Frenzy”. With these words eleventh century chronicler Adam of Bremen described Odin, one of the best known and most compelling of all the Norse Gods. Odin is frenzy, furor, hunger, and drive. These things define this God’s nature, and quite often they come to define those who serve Him too. He is the All-Father, the Chieftain of the Aesir Gods, the Master of the runes, God of warriors, kings, poets, and shamans. He’s a complex God, as even the briefest description of His surviving praise names — or heiti– show. He is a God of hunger, power, knowledge, ecstasy, magic, kingship, and war. He was worshipped across Germany, Scandinavia, Anglo-Saxon lands, and Iceland. He is worshipped and venerated across the world today.

One of the first of the Aesir Gods, born of primal Jotun-kind, He arose in the early generations of creation, along with two brothers: Loður and Hoenir (sometimes called Vili and Ve). Together with His brothers, He slaughtered the primordial and hermaphroditic giant Ymir and from his corpse and viscera crafted the nine worlds, including our world Midgard. Caught up in the frenzied synergy of creation, these three Gods also created the first proto-humans – Ask and Embla–from pieces of driftwood found on the briny shores of those early lands. Hoenir gave sense, Loður hot blood and warmth of complexion to these first humans, while Odin breathed into the dry, surf-tossed husks of timber, the animating breath of life.

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Abominable Science, by Daniel Loxton and Donald R Prothero

Origins of the Yeti, Nessie and Other Famous Cryptids

Reviewed by Peter Rogerson

In this book Daniel Loxton, a long time and now sceptical crytozoologist, and geologist and palaeontologist Donald Prothero take a detailed sceptical look at the most famous cryptids. These are Bigfoot, the Yeti, the Loch Ness Monster, the Sea Serpent and Mokele Mbembe, which are dealt with in turn. The uniting factor between all of these is that traditional lore is used as a template, which is extensively modified to suit new cultural concerns. What were once supernatural creatures of uncertain appearance and nature, are transformed into modern western notions of flesh and blood animals.

Starting with Bigfoot/Sasquatch, the authors argue that what were once tales of ogres and other supernatural beings, which we might see as personification of natural forces, become transformed into tales of Wild Men, warnings of what happens to people who fall out of the path of community and culture, and then into early-mid twentieth century notions of ape-men. They note, but could perhaps have expanded on, how these views represented old and now abandoned notions of human evolution, some of which were popular when many of the cryptozoologists were young. It is as if they have really not been able to assimilate any new knowledge since their teens.

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A Few More Thoughts About Christianity

By Frater Barrabbas Tiresius

[Snip] Does it seem that I have a chip on my shoulder or that I am somehow biased and poisoned regarding the faith of Christianity? Well, I have had to deal with quite a lot of cognitive dissonance in my career as a witch and a pagan. I have been preached at, called names, temporarily held against my will while others fervently prayed over me, and even threatened by supposedly good and faithful Christians. Perhaps they were just doing their religious duty as they saw it, but as long as they interfered with my right to worship, then they were decidedly and completely in the wrong. Even the couple who initiated me into witchcraft, Bill and Sharon Schnoebelen, became fundamentalist preachers and Bill wrote a book entitled “Wicca: Satan’s Little White Lie” that continues to be quoted and used as evidence that witches and pagans are actually an evil cult.

All you need to do is check out Witch Hunts on WitchVox to see the list of current lecturers and authors who are telling lots of Christians that witches and pagans are evil worshipers of Satan. I even have the misfortune of living in the congressional district represented by Congresswoman Michelle Bachman and I have to deal with her embarrassing rants about paganism and the evils of witchcraft. Others might find her to be a champion of Christian virtues while others just laugh at her idiotic statements. I don’t find her funny at all. Instead, I find her sentiments to be a chilling reminder that our religious freedoms cannot be taken for granted.

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Heathen Woman

By Heather O’Brien

[Snip] Today, I’d like to talk about representing ourselves, and begin with a personal story on how that matters to us as heathen women. I have a shirt with a huge Mjolnir on it. Most people don’t know what it is when I’m out in public, but I wear it with pride – a sign that I am a heathen. I wear my hammer around my neck as well every day, so with the shirt on I feel ten feet tall. Occasionally, a person will approach me and ask about the hammer. I tell them, “I am Asatru, and the hammer is a sign of my faith.” It’s an easy way (I think) to explain it quickly that will hopefully have them going home and typing “Asatru” into a search engine. Maybe it will lead them to read the history of the Indo-European people, or even stir up something inside of them that leads them down a new path. A girl can hope, right? Realistically, though, most people just shrug and look no further.

Heathens, especially heathen women, want to be acknowledged for their strength, their independence, and their voice. How I represent myself reflects my voice and faith, so in order to convey those things, I need to be mindful of how I come across. For instance, if wearing my shirt only serves my own pride and does nothing to draw positive attention to the values that I want to display, then I haven’t really done anything to increase awareness of the positive traits of being a heathen. Furthermore, if I only confuse people, the point of what a heathen woman represents has been lost.

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Embracing the Darkness: Understanding Dark Subcultures

Reviewed by The Granovitch

Just got through reading “Embracing the Darkness” by Corvis Nocuturnum. Got it as a digital loan from Amazon. Suffice to say this is one book I will heartily recommend with no reservations although there is some room for improvement. The book serves as a guide and explanation of the various dark cultures and it explains them in good depth by use of historical explanation and interviews. The book is a real eye opener for white lighters or someone totally unfamiliar with the various Wiccans and Christians.

For someone like me who has read up quite a bit on dark cultures there is nothing new here or not much but that should not detract from the books value. As it does turn you on to some great new reading material, organizations and recorded music. I only wish I could go more in depth with this book. The kindle edition does suffer rather greatly in some areas from poor editing. They should brush up on that.

Dark cultures are often times misunderstood. People dressing in black with multiple piecing and being into vampires and magic is rather a turn off for most and that is because they do not understand the dark cultures. Life is filled with pain more so for some than others. To strengthen ourselves we must not deny our shadow self but embrace it to make ourselves whole. The diffent sub cultures do not fit into tiny little boxes but rather they over lap. A Goth is not just a goth but could be a Satanist and a vampire at the same time.

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