Monday, April 19, 2010

So, Why ANOTHER Pagan Blog?

Wicca – or Druid? Wands – or Athame? Spells – or Tarot Cards? Coven/Glen – or Solitary Practitioner? If you are exploring the possibility of becoming pagan, it can be pretty overwhelming. Just, what do you really need to know about the Ancient Ones, the Sacred Trees, to follow the Craft?

I asked all of those questions and many, many more when I first opened myself up to the early religions. Before that, I thought that once I had found the right faith for me, the journey would be pretty much over except for fine tuning my beliefs. I now know that finding a sacred place to hang my hat actually meant that my journey had only just begun!

When I first began learning about paganism I read as much information as I could. Now that I am farther down the path, I want even more information that delves even deeper into the earth’s mysteries!

For years, I have spent a lot of time collecting information from a variety of sources: books, articles, websites, and blogs. Unfortunately, none of these sources satisfied all of my needs. Some of them simply offered a repetition of beginning stuff, while I found that the heartier fare was scattered across the entire spectrum.

Suddenly, the light went on upstairs (No, not the attic, but ye’ole noggin – but, I must admit, there are often so many cobwebs up their I can see how you might confuse the two!) I should build a blog to try to satisfy the information and topical needs of both the beginner and those who have been practicing paganism for decades – or even a lifetime.

So, when I do research as I always will, I won’t simply throw it in a computer file for my eyes only, but will post it here for others to read and comment upon, if they wish.

Of course, because this is a blog and not a book, the posts will not be presented in any real order. It will probably end up being more of a patchwork, but that may actually be beneficial. I don't think spirituality is experienced in a linear fashion, so a blog shouldn't follow that construction, either.

Sometimes, one post will naturally flow into the next, but sometimes a Pagan holiday-festival or Full Moon will be featured as it happens; or something topical may be going on in the world that relates spiritually. Also as a Pagan, I follow the seasons around the Wheel of the Year, so I expect a lot of posts to be related to that sacred progression.

Okay but first, just two simple blog rules (What? You had to know there would be at least two, no?):

— This is NOT a site that seeks to convert – EVER. Actually, the lack of any proselytizing was something I really appreciated about pagan religions. Anyone interested in following an earth-based faith decides to on their own, by an act of choice, within the privacy of their own hearts.

— Anyone is welcome to comment on whatever it posted, or suggest topics, but those comments MUST be respectful to all other religious views.

It’s true that exploring and learning about paganism can be very moving, but it doesn’t have to be somber or solemn. For me, paganism also provides a well-spring of joy and is hugely fun. If I could still do them, I’d perform a raucous cartwheel here, just to prove it to you.

If you’re wondering about this blog’s name, it’s in honor of the Goddess Danu (pronounced DAH-noo). She is the Irish earth Goddess, mother of the Tuatha Dé Danann (meaning: people or tribe of the Goddess Danu). Danu is an ancient Goddess, and was worshiped extensively throughout Western Europe, ruling over rivers, magic, fertility, wells, and wisdom. She gives her name to many European locales, including the Danube River and even the country of Denmark. Danu, whose name means “wisdom,” was known as Don in Wales, and her name is also seen as Dana or Danann.

The Tuatha Dé Danann (pronounced TOO-uh-huh dey DAH-nun) were the fifth group to inhabit Ireland, flourishing on the earth about 5,000 years ago. They were skilled in art and science, poetry and magic. After learning the magical arts, they arrived in Ireland on ships, which they then burned so that they would not be tempted to go back to where they had come from. They defeated the Fir Bolg (pronounced FEER buhl-ug) who was the main population of Ireland at the time, until the arrival of the Milesians. The Milesians fought the Danann’s and nearly wiped them out.

According to myth, the survivors were driven to Tír na nÓg (pronounced TEER na nohg), the “land of eternal youth,” disappearing into another dimension with their magic. The Tír na nÓg were subterranean palaces hidden by magic from the eyes of mortals. Their homes were commonly called Sidhe (síd or sídh, pronounced “shee”) or the Otherworld. Another name for the Tuatha Dé Danann was the áes sídhe or the "People of the Sídhe." The Danann took the name Daoine Sídhe (pronounced DEEN-uh SHEE) or “People of the Mounds.” It is there that they continue to reside.

In the Ulster Cycle, the Tuatha Dé Danann were still seen as Celtic deities. However, in the Fenian Cycle, the Dananns had devolved into fey people, or the "Fairy People."

(Note: The fairies in Celtic mythology have nothing to do with tiny pixie with wings that are found in folklore and children fairy tales, like Tinkerbell in Peter Pan or the Fairy Godmother in Cinderella. The fairies found here were human with supernatural powers, some of the imagery quite dark and even disturbing.)

Entrances to their alleged multi-dimensional Otherworld appear in sacred sites such as the Hill of Tara and Newgrange in Ireland, both of which have continued to be studied by archaeologists.

For me, the message of the Tuatha Dé Danann is so strong that it calls through millennia – the belief that the Earth is sacred and the source of all magical power. Thousands around the world consider themselves members of this illustrious tribe, and work to find our harmonious place in the ecological system of the planet. Their voices decry our connection to all that is.

— Danu’s Daughter

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