Paganism

Paganism and heathenry galore.

Graves’ frabrication of the Celtic tree calendar

By Brian Walsh | August 21, 2013 | 1 comment

Tree, photo by Romain ValletFor many people, their first introduction to the Song of Amergin came through Robert Graves’ The White Goddess.  Graves states that, “English poetic education should, really, begin not with Canterbury Tales, not with the Odyssey, not even with Genesis, but with the Song of Amergin.”

However, despite this apparently reverential beginning; Graves does not actually put forward the Song of Amergin as we have it; rather he begins by utterly changing this ancient poem to better fit his own pet theory, connecting the lines from this poem to the Ogham alphabet and the “months” of the year.  This creates a vague pattern, unprecedented in either nature or the Gaelic source culture he purports to respect.

Graves provides neither the original Irish poem, nor anyone else’s English translation. Instead he just sets off on his own imaginative journey. Continue reading


Salutation to the Heroes: November 11th or 12th

By boudiccaandarta | November 18, 2009 | Leave a comment

The Feast of the Einheriar or the Festival of the Einherjar is also known by other names including the Festival of Odhinn, the Feast of Fallen Warriors, Heroes’ Day, the Salutation to the Heroes and Old November Day. Marking the day of the full onset of winter, this festival was Christianized and transformed into St. Martin’s Day (Martinmas), a catholic saint who was given many of Odhinn’s original attributes. Originally this day was sacred to both Odhinn and Cernunnos (who has many similarities to the Wanderer Odhinn). Continue reading


Stepping Out of the Broom Closet: ‘Coming out’ as Wiccan or Pagan to Friends and Family

By Psyche | July 27, 2007 | Leave a comment

In sharing one’s Wiccan faith with another, one takes the very real risk that the other person will react to the negative stereotypes surrounding witchcraft.

Deciding to share one’s ideas of spirituality with another, especially an alternative religion, can be a difficult decision to make, and should be well thought out. In sharing one’s Wiccan faith with another, one takes the very real risk that the other person will react to the negative propaganda and stereotypes which has surrounded witchcraft for centuries.

The unfortunate truth is that those in minority religions, such as Wicca, are often discriminated against for various reasons, the most common being lack of information, misinformation or propaganda and surrounding the tenants and practices of the religion.

When you’re close to someone, it’s natural to want to share the things that are important, and when one’s religion is kept a secret, it effectively severs a part of yourself from them, and that can seem very lonely with someone you’re otherwise quite open with.

If you do come to the decision that being open about your faith is right for you, consider first opening up to someone whom you trust and who is unlikely to ridicule or criticize.

Try to think ahead to some of the questions the person is likely to ask, and prepare responses, either mentally or on paper. Consider bringing a few reference books, if you have them (see next week’s review of Bryan Lankford’s Wicca Demystified as one possibility.)

Wicca is not evangelical, and attempts to recruit others are ill-advised. Be honest and open, and choose a time and a place that is appropriate, where there will be few distractions, and where you are on equal terms.

You may decide to try a more passive approach, but outward religious symbols can be misinterpreted, standing alone. I’ve had several people surprised to discover I was Jewish. I was surprised too, until I realized they’d caught sight of my pentagram and confused it with the Star of David.

Others have confused it with a Satanic pentagram, or Anton LaVey’s Satanic symbol for Baphomet, which is easy enough to do at a distance, as the second degree symbol in some Wiccan traditions also feature inverted pentagrams.

While religious symbols can be misread, they can provide great conversation starters for those wanting to know more, or for spotting other Pagans more easily.

Lankford, in Wicca Demystified, states that “[w]hen minorities no longer fear discrimination and people with different views are perceived as individuals rather than dangerous, when people no longer have to fear for their life, livelihood, or happiness because their view of Deity is different, then all people can share their religions openly.” It’s a nice ideal to try and live up to.

Best of luck!

Bibliography

  • Lankford, Bryan. Wicca Demystified. New York: Marlow & Company, 2005.


First published on Suite101.com on 10 July 2006. (Unfortunately.)


The Broom Closet: In or Out?

By Psyche | July 27, 2007 | Leave a comment

Should you “stay in the broom closet”; or share your newfound spirituality of Wicca or Paganism with others?

Sometimes deciding what to tell others about one’s religion can be a difficult thing. Unfortunately not all societies are equally open minded regarding matters of faith.

To “come out of the closet” is to acknowledge one’s homosexuality openly, and similarly, the phrase “in the broom closet” refers to Pagans who not only keep their spirituality to themselves, but actively avoid mentioning it or acknowledging their spirituality publicly, often even one’s family and close friends are unaware.

Religious and spiritual belief is a very personal subject, it can be very private. Yet, at the same time, often our beliefs permeate the whole of who we are, how we express ourselves, from what foods we buy for our families to what we do on Saturdays to who we pray to on December 25th (Mithras? Jesus?). It can even dictate how we interact with others, whether we turn the other cheek, practice ahimsa, or harm none.

Unfortunately, religious persecution still exists, and it can be a difficult decision for some people to decide whether or not to tell their friends, or even their families about the path they have chosen.

I’m of the belief that it is always best to be honest and upfront with family and close friends, for those are the people are supposed to know you best, though not everyone may have the same relationships with their loved ones. However, not everyone may have the same support options available to them.

Religious discussion is rarely appropriate on the job, but if you have co-workers you are close to, and the subject arises, what you say and how you present it may affect work relations: not everyone may understand what it means to have a witch in the office. ‘Witch’ is still commonly used as a derogatory term, and even when it’s not, it’s often misunderstood in terms of storybook hags or Hollywood lightshows, and lengthy explanations of religious and spiritual beliefs are not often office cooler talk.

If you do decide to be open about your spirituality, you may want to consider who you want to “come out of the closet” to, and what their response may be. Some questions to mull over may include:

  • Who do I want to tell?
  • Why haven’t I told … previously?
  • What will …’s reaction be?
  • Am I prepared to accommodate possible changes in our relationship, at least at first?
  • Is it appropriate for … to understand my spirituality?

Next week we’ll explore methods of opening up to friends and family.


First published on Suite101.com on 03 July 2006. (Unfortunately.)


Eris and the Discordians

By Psyche | July 27, 2007 | 1 comment

The second of a two part series on Eris, Greek goddess of chaos and disorder. Here we explore Her divine nature as portrayed in Discordianism.

Discordianism is a rather new religion, begun in the late 1950s, which can best be described as a religion disguised as a joke disguised as a religion disguised as a joke…ad nauseum. Its founding text is the Principia Discordia, a mad collection of both typed and handwritten text, cut and paste quotes, images, drawings, rubber stamps, and genuine insight, the authors of which are Malaclypse the Younger and Omar Khayyam Ravenhurst. Omar Ravenhurst was an alias of Kerry Thornley, but while Malaclypse’s identity remains under speculation, he is widely believed to be Greg Hill.

Its matron goddess is Eris, goddess of chaos and disorder. She’s portrayed rather malevolently in some Greco-Roman myths, but Discordians see Her in a softer light, while still revelling in the mischief and disharmony She brings.

Discordianism’s underlying doctrines resemble Catholicism turned on its head, with a healthy dose of Paganism infused with an absurd amount of drugs. To quote Kerry Thornley in his introduction to the fifth edition: “If organized religion is the opium of the masses, then disorganized religion is the marijuana of the lunatic fringe.”

There are a few core concepts in Discordianism, such as the existence of Discordian Popes. The Principia gives a template for Pope Cards, which explain that “Every man, woman and child on this Earth is a genuine and authorized Pope”, and recommend the bearer be treated right.

POEE, the Paratheo-Anametamystikhood of Eris Esoteric, is a non-prophet irreligious disorganization described as “a tribe of philosophers, theologians, magicians, scientists, artists, clowns, and similar maniacs who are intrigued by Eris, goddess of confusion, and her doings”.

The Sacred Chao one of the more popular symbols of Discordianism resembling the yin and yang symbol of Taoism, but as the Principia explains, “The Sacred Chao is not the Yin-Yang of the Taoists. It is the HODGE-PODGE of the Erisians.” It further elucidates “…instead of a Podge spot on the Hodge side, it has a PENTAGON which symbolizes the ANERISTIC PRINCIPLE, and instead of a Hodge spot on the Podge side, it depicts the GOLDEN APPLE OF DISCORDIA to symbolize the ERISTIC PRINCIPLE. The Sacred Chao symbolizes absolutely everything anyone need ever know about absolutely anything, and more! It even symbolizes everything not worth knowing, depicted by the empty space surrounding the Hodge-Podge.”

The Law of Fives states that “ALL THINGS HAPPEN IN FIVES, OR ARE DIVISIBLE BY OR ARE MULTIPLES OF FIVE, OR ARE SOMEHOW DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY APPROPRIATE TO 5.” Five being a number of chaos, the disruption of four, traditionally seen as a stable number representing order. This, coupled with William Burroughs’ obsession with the number twenty-three, which many Discordians discover through the works of Robert Anton Wilson, a well known Discordian author, has given rise to Discordia Day, on the twenty-third of May, the fifth month. Discordia Day is recognized as a day to celebrate Eris and Discordianism, getting into mischief and having a laugh.

Eris is worked with in a lighthearted manner, Her penchant for disrupting the norm is celebrated with mischievous glee, and all works of chaos are Her works.

Rejoice in the sight of a messy room, laugh in a traffic jam, and celebrate divine disruption with joy. Hail Eris!

Works Cited:

  • Malaclypse the Younger and Ravenhurst, Omar Khayyam. Principia Discordia. IllumiNet Press: Lilburn, 1991.

For more, you can check out the entire Principia Discordia online at http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~tilt/principia/. Also recommended: The Illuminatus! Trilogy, a novel by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson.

First published on Suite101.com on 29 May 2006. (Unfortunately.)


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