TagPaganism

Were the “Snakes” Cast Out by Saint Patrick Really Pagans?

saint patrick

Nope. The Wild Hunt quotes scholar and Celtic Reconstructionist pagan P. Sufenas Virius Lupus:

“Unfortunately, this isn’t true, and the hagiographies of St. Patrick did not include this particular “miracle” until quite late, relatively speaking (his earliest hagiographies are from the 7th century, whereas this incident doesn’t turn up in any of them until the 11th century). St. Patrick’s reputation as the one who Christianized Ireland is seriously over-rated and overstated, as there were others that came before him (and after him), and the process seemed to be well on its way at least a century before the “traditional” date given as his arrival, 432 CE, because Irish colonists (yes, you read that right!) in southern Wales, Cornwall, and elsewhere in Roman and sub-Roman Britain had already come into contact with Christians and carried the religion back with them when visiting home.”

The Wild Hunt: Saint Patrick, Druids, Snakes, and Popular Myths

See also: Bring the Snakes Back to Ireland.

ACLU Sues Library for Blocking Wiccan Websites

Pentacle

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Eastern Missouri sued a local public library on Tuesday for allegedly blocking websites related to Wicca, a modern pagan religion.

Anaka Hunter of Salem, Mo., said she tried to access websites about Wicca, Native American religions and astrology for her own research, but the library’s filtering software blocked the sites.

According to the ACLU, the software labeled the sites as “occult” and “criminal.”

The Hill: ACLU sues library for blocking Wiccan websites

Bonus: the library director is accused of saying she had an obligation to report people who accessed said sites to the police.

Have we really learned nothing from the West Memphis Three fiasco?

Air Force Academy creates space for pagans, druids, wicans

pagan soldier

The U.S. Air Force Academy, viewed in recent years as a deplorable example of religious intolerance, is now accommodating witches, warlocks, druids, and other worshipers of “Earth-centered” religions. A stone circle has been allowed on a hill somewhere on the academy’s vast military grounds in the Colorado Springs area.

Tech. Sgt. Brandon Longcrier, a pagan, worked to convince academy officials to allow the space. “When I first arrived here, Earth-centered cadets didn’t have anywhere to call home,” he said in a news release. “Now, they meet every Monday night, they get to go on retreats, and they have a stone circle.” He added that the academy hasn’t stood in the way of the idea and that the chaplain’s office has been “100 percent” supportive.

Dscriber: Air Force Academy creates space for pagans, druids, wicans

(via Religion News)

See also: Does the military have a Christian missionary agenda in Afghanistan

Bring the Snakes Back to Ireland!

From Hakim Bey’s Black Thorn Manifesto:

We propose to embody this poetic complex in a popular chivalric order, devoted symbolically to the cause of “bringing the snakes back to Ireland” – that is, of uniting all these mystical strands into one patterned weave, which will restore the power of its synergistic or syncretistic power to the hearts of those who respond to the particular “taste” of its mix. We have borrowed this slogan from contemporary neo-pagans in order to symbolize the special mission our order will undertake toward Celtic-Moorish friendship. The BLACK THORN LEAGUE will be open to all, regardless of whether they are MOC members or not, providing only that they support this particular goal.

“Black” in our title signifies not only the black banners of the moors but also the black flag of anarchy. “Blackthorn”, because the tree symbolizes druid Irelands & is used to make cudgels. “League”, in honor of the various Irish rebel groups which have organized as such. Other organizational models include such Masonic-revolutionary groups as the Carbonari, or Proudhon’s anarchist “Holy Vehm”, or Bakunin’s Revolutionary Brotherhood. We also emulate certain anarcho-Taoist Chinese tongs (such as the Chaos Society)~~ & hope to evolve the kind of informal mutual aid webworks they developed.

The League will bestow the Order of the Black Thorn as title & honor, & will hold an annual conclave & banquet on St. Patrick’s Day in memory both of Noble Drew Ali’s vision, & of those rioters of 1741 who conspired in low taverns to overthrow the State.

Full Story: Black Thorn Manifesto

See also: Were the “Snakes” Cast Out by Saint Patrick Really Pagans?

Thunderbird and Heyoka, the Sacred Clown

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“The heyoka were different in three primary ways from the other sorts of clowns. They were truly unpredictable, and could do the unexpected or tasteless even during the most solemn of occasions. More so than other clowns, they really seemed to be insane. Also, they were thought to be more inspired by trans-human supernatural forces (as individuals driven by spirits rather than group conventions), and to have a closer link to wakan or power than other clowns. And lastly, they kept their role for life – it was a sacred calling which could not be given up without performing an agonizing ritual of expiation. Not surprisingly, these unique differences were seen as the result of their having visions of Thunderbird, a unique and transforming experience.

Testimony of Black Elk: the heyoka and lightning:

The Oglala Indian Black Elk had some interesting things to say about the heyoka ceremony, which he himself participated in. Black Elk describes the “dog in boiling water” ceremony in some detail. He also describes the bizarre items he had to carry as a heyoka, and the crazy antics he had to perform with his companions. He also attempts to explain the link between the contrary trickster nature of heyokas with that of Thunderbird.

“When a vision comes from the thunder beings of the West, it comes with terror like a thunder storm; but when the storm of vision has passed, the world is greener and happier; for wherever the truth of vision comes upon the world, it is like a rain. The world, you see, is happier after the terror of the storm… you have noticed that truth comes into this world with two faces. One is sad with suffering, and the other laughs; but it is the same face, laughing or weeping. When people are already in despair, maybe the laughing is better for them; and when they feel too good and are too sure of being safe, maybe the weeping face is better. And so I think this is what the heyoka ceremony is for … the dog had to be killed quickly and without making any scar, as lightning kills, for it is the power of lightning that heyokas have.” (quoted in Neihardt 1959: 160)

Today, of course, Western physicists describe the dual nature of electricity. An object can carry a positive or negative electric charge. The electron is simultaneously a wave and a particle. Electricity and magnetism are thought to be aspects of the same force, and as is well know with magnetism, it comes in polarities, with opposite poles (north and south) attracting. Though the Indians did not have access to our modern scientific instruments, they are likely to have observed some of the same properties in lightning. Thus it would have been intuitive to link the dual spiritual nature of the heyoka (tragicomedy – solemn joking – joy united with pain) with the dual nature of electricity.”

(via Heyoka Magazine)

Ontological Terrorism for the Holidays

santa shroom

(Above: a holiday card taken from the Amanita muscaria – Holiday Cards gallery)

Christmas is always a good time of year for ontological terrorism. For example, “The psychedelic secrets of Santa Claus” by Dana Larsen from Cannabis Culture Magazine is one of my favorite links to spread around Christmas time. Larsen makes the case that though Santa Claus is now a symbol of our annual collective consumer-orgy, he may originally have been inspired by amanita muscaria mushroom eating shamans. That the very same politicians that enforce and promote the war on drugs tend to also whole heartily endorse a religious figure birthed of ancient drug culture amuses me to no end. Larsen’s idea, apparently taken from Jonathan Ott, might not pass skeptics’ muster. But most, if not all, of Christmas traditions stem from pagan practices.

saturnalia

Another of my favorite Christmas links is Patrick Farley‘s Chick tract parody about the pagan roots of Christmas. But Chick himself is all too aware of the Christianizing of pagan practices and publishes tracts warning Christians against paganism. In Are Roman Catholics Christians?, Chick portrays Roman Catholicism as a pagan religion. In The Death Cookie he compares communion with various pagan traditions, and in Fairy Tales a kid goes on a murder spree when he learns that there is no Santa.

chick tract

What you’ll never see acknowledged in the Chick tracts is that it’s not just Santa with pagan origins: the real “reason for the season” has pagan roots as well. What better holiday gift can you give your Christian loved ones this holiday season than an e-mail with a link to jesusneverexisted.com? In addition to covering the lack of historical evidence that Jesus ever existed, they take a look at pagan sources of “son of god” myths and Christ’s various predecessors such as Osiris, Apollo, Hercules, and Odin.

Alas, even the staunchest of atheists, like Dawkins and Sam Harris celebrate Christmas with their families, according to the New York Times. And despite my misgivings about consumer-binging and hazardous winter travel, I too find myself celebrating Christmas every year. Astronomer Carolyn Porco has argued in favor of creating science rituals and customs to replace religion:

Imagine a Church of Latter Day Scientists where believers could gather. Imagine congregations raising their voices in tribute to gravity, the force that binds us all to the Earth, and the Earth to the Sun, and the Sun to the Milky Way. Or others rejoicing in the nuclear force that makes possible the sunlight of our star and the starlight of distant suns. And can’t you just hear the hymns sung to the antiquity of the universe, its abiding laws, and the heaven above that ‘we’ will all one day inhabit, together, commingled, spread out like a nebula against a diamond sky?.

And in a recent Reason Magazine column Greg Beato has made the case for an increase in atheist or secular humanist merchandise, along the insane lines of Christian merchandising. Neither one of these things has much appeal to me. As Beato says, “One virtue of non-belief is that not every aspect of your life has to be yoked to some clingy deity who feels totally left out if you don’t include Him in everything you do.”

Yet, I’ve come up with an idea for a “secular humanist” celebration for December 25th, for anyone dying for something to celebrate. In Divine Horseman, Maya Deren describes the loa Ghede Nimbo as the first human who ever lived (page 38). Michael Bertiaux’s hypersyncretic Voudon Gnostic Workbook describes Baron Legbha-Nibbho as a Christ figure (page 48) and says that his death is to be recognized on Fridays. This gave me the idea of celebrating the 25th as the birth of the very first human. Not as a Voudon loa, but as a secular humanist celebration of the origin of our species.

Earliest Known Shaman Grave Site Found: Study

“An ancient grave unearthed in modern-day Israel containing 50 tortoise shells, a human foot and body parts from numerous animals is likely one of the earliest known shaman burial sites, researchers said on Monday. The 12,000-year-old grave dates back to the Natufian people who were the first society to adopt a sedentary lifestyle, Hebrew University of Jerusalem researcher Leore Grosman and colleagues said.

“The interment rituals and the method used to construct and seal the grave suggest this is the burial of an ancient shaman, one of the earliest known from the archaeological record,” they wrote in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Shamans play an important role in many cultures, mediating between the human and spiritual worlds and acting as messengers, healers, magicians to serve the community, the researchers said.

The Israeli team found the bones in a small cave in the lower Galilee region of present-day Israel that was a Natufian burial ground for a least 28 people. At the time of burial, more than 10 large stones were placed directly on the head, pelvis, and arms of the elderly woman whose body was laid on its side. The legs were spread apart and folded inward at the knee. The special treatment of the body and use of stones to keep it in a certain position suggests the woman held a unique position in the community, likely some sort of a shaman, the researchers said.”

(via News Daily. Thanks DJ!)

Witches of Cornwall

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“Over the centuries, many in the British Isles have appealed to witches in times of need–to cure a toothache, concoct a love potion, or curse a neighbor. Witchcraft, the rituals of a number of pagan belief systems, was thought to offer control of the world through rites and incantations. Common as it has been over the past several centuries, the practice is secretive and there are few written records. It tends to be passed down through families and never revealed to outsiders. But archaeologist Jacqui Wood has unearthed evidence of more than 40 witchy rituals beneath her own front yard, bringing to light an unknown branch of witchcraft possibly still practiced today.

Wood’s home is in the hamlet of Saveock Water in Cornwall, a county tucked in the far southwest corner of the country. For thousands of years people have raised crops and livestock in its fertile valleys, and its coastline of dramatic cliffs, secluded coves, and pounding surf was once a haunt for smugglers. Cornwall is a place time forgot; steeped in folklore, myth, and legend; and purported to be inhabited by pixies, fairies, and elves. So it should come as no surprise that it has also been home to the dark arts.

When I visit Saveock Water it is raining, which adds to its unearthly atmosphere. Wood, a warm lady with sparkling hazel eyes, greets me in her cozy white-washed barn while rain hammers on the roof. She moved to Saveock Water 15 years ago because it was an ideal location for her work in experimental archaeology, replicating ancient techniques, including those used in farming or metallurgy. Since then she has carried out her experiments, such as growing ancient crop varieties, unaware of what lay under her fields. In the late 1990s, Wood decided to do some metalwork research by re-creating an ancient kind of furnace. “I dug down into the ground to construct a shelter close to the furnace and I discovered a clay floor,” she says.”

(via Archaeology)

Possession

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b7/Schongauer_Anthony.jpg

Great series of articles on possession and the artist.

“In a beautifully written and highly interesting recent post on his interview with Mark Stewart for The Wire, Mark K-Punk writes:
…one link between the post-punk trio I wrote about in the July issue (Stewart, Mark E Smith, Ian Curtis) is channeling. In order to get at what is at stake in so-called psychic phenomena (and its relationship to performance and writing), it’s necessary to chart a middle course between credulous belief in the supernatural and the tendency to relegate any such discussion to metaphor: being taken over by other voices is a real process, even if there is no spiritual substance. (…) Hence another take on the old ‘death of the author’ riff: the real author is the one who can break the connection with his lifeworld self, become a shell and a conduit which other voices, outside forces, can temporarily occupy.

(Posts on Possession 1-7 via Documents)

September Moon

“This New Moon happened on August 30, and it is the first Blue Moon of the year. A Blue Moon is when the Julian calendar and the 13 months of the Moon are in conflict.

8+3=11, which is the Strength card, take it out and set it down. Now remember that this moon covers the Julian month of September, so think 9+3=12 and take out the 12th card, The Hanged Man. Place it down, crossing the Strength card. And consider both the positives and negatives of The Hanged Man.

This is a Moon that you can not prepare for. Bluntly, expect some personal betrayals this moon. Batten down the hatches and try to ride it out.

Historically, The Hanged Man, who in years gone by was referred to as the ‘traitor’ who under this Blue Moon is influenced by Strength, is going to be a guest that we shall long remember.

While this view is short on words, it is not short on warnings. A tough month in many personal ways is ahead for us.

Step carefully, and tremble humbly, considering the unknowns of ‘betrayal’.

This New Moon was in Virgo, so throughout this month we can expect the judgementalness that is associated with this sign. Because this Moon creates the conflict between the natural cycle and the man made Julian calendar, we can expect this judgementalness to carry through each cycle for the rest of the year, diminishing slightly each New Moon until the natural cycle and Julian calendar are re-aligned.

The New Moon will be on 9-15, so take The Hermit (the 9th card) and The Magi (the 1st card), set them down and add 9+1+5=15: The Devil card. The Full Moon will be a Moon of lusts and temptations, as well as a somewhat playful time. It would be wise to recall the humility of The Hermit as well as the mystery of The Magi as the Moon is full.

Whilst the Moon waxes it will be the Justice card that rules, which instructs us to consider the pleasures of the solitary person who seeks truth in their surroundings. As the Moon wanes, it will be governed by The Magi, which leads us to accept the mysteries that surround us. Due to the fact it is a Blue Moon, be prepared for exposure to some of the sour side of the mysteries.”

Natalia Vladimirova Tikimirov

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