Saturday, March 27, 2010

Pagan Sunday Brunch for March 2010

March 28th 2010, 10 am sharp
Resto Burgers & Benedicts
2313 rue Sainte-Catherine Ouest (AMC)
(514) 228-5210
Breakfast: <$15
Facebook Event page

Winter is on its way out, but a hearty breakfast and excellent company can help to stave off the cold!

No level of pagan experience is necessary, but as long as you can wield a knife and fork like a guru master, you'll be respected and admired by your peers.

This is a kid-friendly event, so feel free to bring your offspring.

If you have any questions, send me a message on FB or email me at jdhobbes @ If you don't know anybody, don't fret. Ask the resto guys for Hobbes or look for the pentacle.


Resto Burgers & Benedicts is in the Pepsi Forum that houses the AMC Movie theatre and is across Atwater from Alexis Nihon.

Get to Atwater metro (Green line), cross Atwater from Alexis Nihon, and enter the Pepsi Forum. Its the first resto inside.

Friday, March 26, 2010


I have a couple of announcements to make about next class and April 7th:

Next class (March 31st), if you have one, please bring a USB flash drive to class that have at least 120 MB free on it. I have three lectures I want to give you. If you don't have a USB flash drive, I'll give you a CD with the lectures on it.

April 7th: There is no class because Scarlet will not be available on that day. The test will be on April 14th.

See you next week!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Male Symbols

At some point during the class, I need to draw symbols and shapes on the white board. This is really difficult for me because I don't draw terribly well. It's pretty embarrassing really, so I'm going to try to make it up here on the blog with some proper images.

Oddly, it's the male symbols that are incredibly detailed and therefore, very difficult to draw accurately. Here are some of the male symbols we talked about that I could not draw accurately.

From Wikipedia:
"Cernunnos (also Cernenus[1] and Cern) is a Celtic god whose representations were widespread in the ancient Celtic lands of western Europe. Cernunnos is associated with horned male animals, especially stagsram-horned snake; this and other attributes associate him with produce and fertility.[2] Cernunnos is also associated mainly as the God of the Underworld." and the

From Wikipedia :
The Green Man motif has many variations. Found in many cultures around the world, the Green Man is often related to natural vegetative deities springing up in different cultures throughout the ages. Primarily it is interpreted as a symbol of rebirth, or "renaissance," representing the cycle of growth each spring. Some speculate that the mythology of the Green Man developed independently in the traditions of separate ancient cultures and evolved into the wide variety of examples found throughout history.

Check out this site for really cool leather Greenman masks.

From Wikipedia:
White deer hold a place in the mythology of many cultures. The Celtic people considered them to be messengers from the otherworld; it also played an important role in other pre-Indo-European cultures, especially in the north.[1][2] The Celts believed that the white stag would appear when one was transgressing a taboo, such as when Pwyll tresspassed into Arawn's hunting grounds.[2] Arthurian legend states that the creature has a perennial ability to evade capture; and that the pursuit of the animal represents mankind's spiritual quest.[3] It also signalled that the time was nigh for the knights of the kingdom to pursue a quest.[2]

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Snakes and Bladders: Celebrating All Snakes Day

Although Montreal celebrates St. Patrick's Day on a Sunday with its annual parade, March 17th is the actual St. Patrick's Day, which in 2010 falls on a Wednesday. Historically, St. Patrick is one of Christianity’s best-known and most-loved saints who is credited with banishing all snakes from Ireland.

Of course, there never have been any snakes in Ireland for St. Patrick to banish, so we understand that the snakes actually represent the pagans and their beliefs that were replaced by Christian doctrine. Critics often point out that this day is mainly an excuse for the population to drink excessively and wear garishly green clothing.

At face value, the spirit of St. Patrick's Day has certainly been hijacked by boorish behaviour, but it's certainly not the only holiday in which that happens. Let's take a look at the other seasonal celebrations we have and consider their excesses:
  • For Summer, we have St. Jean Baptist Day and Canada Day.
  • For Fall, we have Thanksgiving and Halloween.
  • For Winter, we have Christmas/Yule and New Year's Day.
  • For Spring, we have St. Patrick's Day and Easter.
As far as I can tell, Easter is the only holiday where the worst thing that can happen is cracking a tooth on too much chocolate (Halloween can be accused of that too, but there is more boozing in scary masks than at Easter). So why does St. Patrick's Day get all the criticism?

What are we really celebrating in March? If you take a look outside, you'll no doubtedly notice that the snow has mostly melted away and the days are sunnier. The Vernal Equinox is nigh, signalling the coming of Spring and Summer, a time of growth, rebirth, and warmth. After three months of darkness and cold, St Patrick’s Day is our moment to cast off the dark shroud of winter and welcome the warmth of the sun and the rebirth of nature.

From a pagan perspective, many modern-day pagans refuse to celebrate or even acknowledge this day. The image of our pagan forefathers fleeing the threat of Christianity is not a pleasant thought. But just as our modern-day pagan pioneers attempted to reclaiming the word "witch", I should think pagans can attempt to reclaim the spirit of the Vernal Equinox celebration known as St. Patrick's Day.

If we're going to reclaim the mythology of this day, then we can tongue-in-cheek add our own take on the myth. If St. Patrick's Day celebrates the day when the patron saint of Ireland seemingly drove all the snakes from Ireland, then we can celebrate "All Snakes Day": the day the Druids tricked St. Patrick into thinking the snakes had been banished.

After all, we snakes are still here and we are thriving! We're lean, green, Pagan machines who welcome the Sun God and the Green Goddess with open arms, excited with what the warmer seasons have to offer in terms of their bounty and boundless possibilities. Just like the snake who sheds his outer skin, so do we shed our warm, protective clothing and feel the warmth on our faces and skin. We may even hoist a horn of mead or ale to share with our kith and kin, bringing family and friends together to make plans and celebrate the friendship that got us through the darker winter days.

So Happy All Snakes Day to you, fellow pagans! Go out and revel in the heat that warms your snake skin. And I will raise a toast to you and yours while we enjoy the longer days together. As for St. Patrick? It's only fitting that we extend him some Irish hospitality for his special day if he'll lower his ash staff and share a pint or two with us.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Ritualized Quarterly Directions

Last week, we were covering the five elements in terms of their traditional associations (direction, gender, symbols, etc.) when one of my students wondered why each element was linked to its compass point (earth: North, water: West, air: East, fire: South). I was stumped to explain the mythological evolution of this association, so I promised I'd look it up.

Unfortunately, I couldn't really find anything satisfying in my books about it, other than "This is the way it is". So I turned to the Internet and asked the question to Yahoo Answers. Aside from some asinine responses which basically said I was a fool to believe in such nonsense and I would soon find myself in concrete galoshes in a lake of fire, I got these two great responses:

From katyask
I can tell you about Native American element and compass correlation.

East (Red-fire/heat) - The direction from which the sun comes. Light dawns in the morning and spreads over the earth.

South (Yellow-earth) - warmth and growing, the sun's rays are powerful in drawing life from the earth. It is said the life of all things comes from the south. also, warm and pleasant winds come from the south.

West (black-water) - To the west, the sun sets, and the day ends. For this reason, west signifies the end of life and sends thunder and : rain, lakes, streams and rivers. nothing can live without water, so the west is vital.

North (white-air) - North brings the cold, harsh winds of the winter season. These winds are cleansing. They cause the leaves to fall and the earth to rest under a blanket of snow.

From Cosimo )O( Basta!
That is the normal convention in the Western tradition. I believe the circle is analogous both to the wheel of the year and to the ages of a human lifespan:

East for Spring, when the wind stirs in the new foliage - air;
South for Summer, when the sun swells the grain - fire;
West for Autumn, when rivers rise and fog swirls - water;
North for Winter, when all things await rebirth and the Goddess welcomes us back to her embrace.

East for sunrise and West for sunset mirror the sun's annual cycle in the daily cycle. And for those in the northern hemisphere, the sun's heat always comes from the south. In European pagan traditions, North is ever a place of magic and mystery, the home of the gods.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Gus DiZerga's Blog

The author of Pagans and Christians (which is required reading in the Level 1 class) has a blog which I highly enourage you to follow. It deals with very challenging issues and topics in the neo-pagan world, and not a single spell on how to cure the common cold.

A Pagan's Blog by Gus DiZerga

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Music and Improv

In the last class, we talked about Improvisation and being creative as part of a ritual process. I had the students experiment with improvisation by listening to music and either drawing or writing free form. The musical pieces I played this time were as follows:

Le Reel des Soucoupes Volantes: La Bottine Souriante
Latin Jam: Beau Kavanaugh and the Broken Hearted
Mumbles: Terry Clark and Oscar Peterson
Pagan Soldier: Dragon Ritual Drummers
Team Fortress 2 - Theme 1: Orange Box
Santiago & Sevilla: The Paperboys

Also, Ryan mentioned a local shop called Charme & Sortilege that supposedly played one of the pagan songs. It's not playing the song we mentioned right now, but maybe it'll cycle through eventually. I tried searching for recorded pagan songs/chants on the web, but many of the links are broken. Maybe the MPRC should try to record these songs...