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WiccanWeb, A Reference

Oh, it’s been years.

Before Facebook, Twitter and other social sites the pagan community had few choices.  In fact community sites were pretty scarce on the ground.  These are the days of Myspace and AOL, when Yahoo was the search engine.. so long ago.

So why is this here now?  Well, someone asked.  Look around and see the past and I suggest the References section of things that have since been misplaced on the Net, lost in the garbage.  In the last years of the sites activity only Markarios took the time to post news, I had a new family and time was scarce.  As any good pagan knows, ‘real life’ should win such conflicts.  Real life did win and still wins, but here is something you can at least look at, even if it’s only the bones of something once living.

Anat: Warrior Goddess of Canaan and Egypt

By Edward Butler

The Semitic Goddess Anat was introduced into Egypt as a result of immigration and royal patronage, first by the Hyksos and then by the Ramesside kings. Anat is a huntress and warrior, and is depicted armed with a shield, a lance and a club or battle-axe. The warlike Ramesside kings seem to have sought her patronage for their Levantine military adventures, Rameses II even naming one of his daughters ‘Daughter of Anat’. Anat is depicted wearing a tall crown similar to the White Crown of Upper Egypt, but with plumes on the side (indistinguishable, in fact, from the atef crown worn by Osiris). Anat was regarded by Egyptians as fierce and androgynous. She was incorporated into the pantheon as a daughter of Re and a wife of Seth, who receives Anat, along with her fellow Levantine Goddess Astarte, as compensation for being denied the kingship in his dispute with Horus, according to the Conflict of Horus and Seth. This arrangement, in addition to acknowledging the tendency to identify Seth with the Levantine God Ba’al (although Ba’al was also adopted into Egyptian religion in a minor way), also allows Seth’s brute force, which is denied the position of governing principle, scope for expression in the aggressive expansion of Egyptian cultural influence in the region. In addition to her royal patronage in the Delta, Anat also had a following among commoners, perhaps due to the presence in the region of a significant immigrant population, but also reflecting the positive attributes of strength and combat prowess which Anat shares with Seth.

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Walking Between the Worlds

By John Beckett

Shamans and witches have long been said to walk between the worlds – to move back and forth between the world of the living and the world of the Gods and ancestors. As Pagans, we live in the ordinary world, in trance and dreams we visit the Otherworld, and in our circles we stand liminally between the worlds.

We also walk between the worlds in our daily lives.

Part of our work as Pagans is to honor the Gods, ancestors, and spirits of Nature. We pray and meditate, we make offerings and sacrifices, we read Their stories and we tell them again and again. Call it worship, call it piety, call it rendering due honor; this work is about building and maintaining relationships with the spiritual beings who participate in the great work of the Universe. Metaphorically, this work is part of the Otherworld.

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Ritualized Violence against Sorcerers in Fifteenth-Century France

By Aleksandra Pfau

In 1464, Jehan Sommet, a notary living in the town of Thiart in Auvergne, sought remission for the crime of murder. He described his disturbing night on the twelfth or thirteenth of June, when his wife “was greatly troubled in her sense and understanding, crying with a loud voice as if insensible, and wishing to throw herself out the windows into the street.” Jehan Sommet explained that he made a number of vows and pilgrimages, to both male and female saints, on his wife’s behalf, but they did not help her. Upset about his wife’s continued frenzy, Jehan Sommet began asking his “neighbors and other people” where this illness could come from, and if they knew of any possible remedy. The response, which was presented in the letter as universal, rather than being attributed to one particular source, was that his wife had been poisoned by a ninety-year-old woman in the town, named either Guillaume or Guillemete de Pigeules called Turlateuse. The helpful, but anonymous, voices of Jehan Sommet’s “neighbors and other people” further
informed him that only Turlateuse could provide a remedy for her poisons, and that he would have to ask the sorcerer “nicely” (doulcement) to heal his wife. If Turlateuse refused, Jehan’s advisors continued, he should “warm the soles of her feet,” because on other occasions she had healed people of similar illnesses because of threats and beatings. This method of starting with sweet words and ending with threats and violence appears as a pattern in many remission letters about sorcerers, though this is the only one where the protagonist had to have it explained to him ahead of time.

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Tying a Sacred Knot

By Laura Perry

Many symbols and images have held sacred meaning within religious traditions around the world and throughout time: the circle, the cross, the pillar, the pentagram. These symbols don’t necessarily mean the same thing in every tradition, and sometimes we can’t even be sure what the original significance was for each culture. One such symbol is the knot. You may be familiar with the tale of the Gordian knot from Greek and Roman mythology (the one Alexander the Great famously sliced with his sword) or the tyet of Isis from Egyptian mythology, often found in the form of amulets but also related to the knot on some Egyptian deities’ garments. But there’s another one you might not have heard of: the Minoan sacral knot. Let’s explore this symbol and see what we can discover about it.

The famed ‘snake goddess’ figurine from Knossos (in the photo at the top of this post) has an object that Sir Arthur Evans identified as a sacral knot between her breasts, at the top of the girdle that encircles her waist. A second ‘snake goddess’ figurine, also found at Knossos, has a similar, though larger, knot between the front edges of her top. I find it interesting that the snakes themselves form a large knot over her lower abdomen. I have to wonder if that has any significance. What do you think?

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Ten Things to Take to a Pagan Festival

By Patti Wigington

If you’re attending any sort of Pagan festival – whether it’s an afternoon event with potluck dinner, or a week-long celebration in the woods – there are certain things you should always take along with you. Having these ten items on hand, at a minimum, will help to ensure that you have a good time and get the most possible benefit out of the celebration. Here are ten things you’ll want to remember next time you go to a Pagan festival.

Camping Gear and Personal Items

This should be obvious, but if you’re attending an event that involves staying overnight, make sure you take everything you need. This includes basic things like a tent and a sleeping bag, along with toiletries, clothing, and a way to prepare your meals. It’s not fair to others if you’re wandering around looking for a tent to bunk in every night – be responsible and take your own supplies. If there’s a chance you might hook up with someone, bring condoms so you can hook up responsibly.

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Brigid: Warrior Saint and Historic Rebel

By Courtney Weber

[Snip] As Christianity spread across Europe, the Gods of indigenous faiths were either disregarded by the Church or absorbed into folklore. Some were demoted to demons in the new Christian lore. Others were transformed into heroes of a legendary past where they continued to be revered with magick and significance. Still others, particularly those of paramount importance, were adopted as saints. The role of beloved saint was the next chapter for Brigid.

The idea of a beloved God or Goddess of ancient Pagan history turning into a saint can be a painful one for those who love old religions and Goddess worship. For many, the movement from God to saint may seem a demotion, although those who have loved and honored the saints would likely disagree. Particularly in the case of Brigid, the new saint lost few, if any, of her Goddess characteristics and was revered with power and prestige in Ireland on a level only rivaled by St. Patrick.

St. Brigid was identified with the Christian Mother-Goddess figure of Mary, as “Mary of the Gaels,” or sometimes “the Foster-Mother of Christ,” and in some stories as Mary’s midwife. With the exception of the archangels, very few saints enjoy such inclusion with the two most important figures in Catholic Christianity. Even so, St. Brigid is an unsaintly character, one known for screeching across battlefields or flagrant defiance against Church leaders.

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On Differentiation: It Isn’t about “You”

By Theanos Thrax

There is a lot of conversation right now in the circles making up the Polytheist Movement, about differentiating polytheist religion (and its affiliated aforementioned movement, which must be understood as a human-rights movement organized around the premise of religious freedoms and identity dynamics) from other unrelated-but-intersecting social justice considerations and activisms. When Polytheist writers make the request that people make a firm differentiation between “religion” and “social justice work”, we are clear to state that we are in active support of social justice work, our own religious rights movement BEING a social justice pursuit itself, and that we are not trying to “stop” any of these other movements or political and civic engagements. We’re not speaking against anything. We’re speaking in favor of differentiating religion from social justice. And chances are pretty good that we’re not talking about you, or any other individual person or practice, when we say this.

Many of us who are pointing this our are doing so because we are directly observing a popular misunderstanding of “polytheist religion” with certain political movements, not only in our own reading but in the emails or messages that we are sent. There are people contacting us who are concerned that when they supported the Polytheist Movement’s religious rights pursuits, they were somehow “tricked” into being part of a political movement that they do not understand, or may not agree with, or aren’t even sure how to identify. In other words, some people are feeling like their consent of affiliation was not honored. So how do we know that people are confusing polytheist religion with social justice work? Because people are telling us that they are confusing these two things.

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Abundant Time

By Nimue Brown

[Snip] To me, living in the moment does not seem like engagement with life, but removal from it. Being in the moment sounds like pure immersion, but what does it do? It takes away the context for the experience. Humans have fairly linear lives, out of which we fashion narratives and understanding. Beyond a certain point, the more present you are, the more you have to let go of certain other things.

The focal point of living in the moment is (as I understand it) to free us from all those uncomfy emotions. Fear (of the future) and regret (about the past) are the big reasons why we don’t want to bother ourselves with any of that past and future malarkey. I simply don’t like the implications. Our discomfort with past actions is part of how we learn and our anxiety about the future is part of how we avoid disaster. We need, for example, to be really worried about climate change.

Nostalgia and a sense of loss teach us about what we love and value. Hope for the future uplifts us, creating purpose and direction. Do we really want to be free from the judgemental thoughts that are part of not being in the moment? Or do we need to make value judgements in order to function?

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St. Stephen and Freyr

By Joseph Bloch

It’s well-known that certain Celtic deities were imported nearly wholesale into the Christian pantheon of Saints, with the most obvious example being the Celtic goddess Brigid, who is now known as St. Brigid. However, there are also similar correspondences with Germanic deities. One such is St. Stephen, known from the New Testament as the first martyr (or proto-martyr, since his death came before Christianity was founded, as such; see Acts 6-7). Some sources report an 11th century missionary named Staffan, with whom the Biblical figure may have been conflated. I first became aware of this saint, and his possible connections with the Norse god Freyr, in Pamela Berger’s The Goddess Obscured: Transformation of the Grain Protectress from Goddess to Saint, pp 110-112, although she goes further and conflates him with the goddess Freyja, which doesn’t seem all that justified (or necessary).

What’s intriguing is that when the North began to be converted, and the saints of Christianity began to enter the public consciousness, they were mapped onto pre-existing Heathen religious and folk-customs. In the case of St. Stephen, this mapping occurred due to the proximity of his feast-day (December 26th, known as Boxing Day in England) with the Heathen Yule (ON Jól) celebration, which was held around the winter solstice.

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