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Chapter 4 of Intro to Pagan Studies

January 9, 2013

Group Practices

Generally a description of how the individual/family practices carries over to groups and the types of group rituals such as:

  • Wheel of the Year (Sabbats)
  • Full/Dark moons (Esbats)
  • Initiation
  • Naming
    • the author’s understanding of the necessity of changing one’s name shows a better understanding that many Pagans/Polytheists:  “Adopting a magical name, or changing it, can help one grow emotionally or spiritually, providing a focus for working to change oneself.  Recognizing the name change in community can help reinforce one’s commitment to change.  If one does it alone, there is no one to notice if one does not sustain the change…To change one’s name is to change oneself, to recognize a change, to preserve it, or to encourage it…uses of magical names can foster a positive image of the…self…”
  • Rites of passage
    • Wiccaning/Paganing/Saining
    • Puberty
    • becoming an adult/leaving home
    • Handfasting
    • Croning/Saging
    • Death

She discusses how group rituals, especially those that are open or public, tend be more performative and theatrical.  Festivals are discussed and she states that they are typically attended by more groups (covens) then solitaries.  I do not agree with that since I’ve been attending (and for the last several years working on staff) Dragonfest in Colorado since 1995.  Many solitaries attend festivals because that is the only time they get to experience community.

She also mentions that some celebrations of Beltane are connected to the political sphere (through demonstrations) through the play on French words “M’aidez” meaning “help me”.  I’ve been Pagan since 1995 and have never heard of this what so ever.  Maybe it is an European thing…

4 Comments leave one →
  1. January 9, 2013 9:57 AM

    “M’aidez” is pronounced more or less like “May Day,” which is another name for Beltane. I took French for six years. 🙂

    Also, I’ve been following your notes on this book. It sounds like something I might find more interesting than Drawing Down the Moon. I’m not sure I’ll ever finish that book…



    • January 9, 2013 10:04 AM

      I took a couple of years of French so I knew how to pronounce it but have never heard it called this or associated with political protests.


  2. January 9, 2013 1:53 PM

    I’m pretty sure the French “m’aidez” is why pilots call “Mayday! Mayday!” when they’re in trouble (since in WWII they were frequently in places where someone speaking French could pick up the radio waves).

    I’ve never heard that connection as meaning anything to do with Paganism though, or even political protests. I’m not super up on my French history, but I studied it through college and lived in Paris for a summer, so it’s not an incredibly obvious or well popularized part of French history.


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