Disney looks to adapt (again!) one of the most popular example of Celtic mythology in young adult literature. The Catholic roots of Marvel's Daredevil are examined. And the maverick magician John Constantine visits the land of the fair folk in DC Comics. It's Airy Monday, our weekly segment on magic and religion in pop culture! All this and more for the Pagan News Beagle!
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Caution: Rant Alert
It's an arbitrary and artificial cycle without relation to the natural cycles of the world, an oppressive seven-headed monster.
I say, let's kill it. Death to the week!
Yes, I know that pagans invented it. (Since pagans invented just about everything, that's really no great shakes. Pagans invented slavery and genital mutilation too. Face it, they haven't all been winners.) Tart it up with pagan god-names if you like, but we are not fooled. The intrusive Roman proves it's a foreign import.
When Muhammad of Mecca (piss be upon him) was setting up Islam, he intentionally replaced the traditional solar-lunar calendar with a strictly lunar calendar that careened through the solar year like a drunken bicyclist. In this way he guaranteed that the holidays of his religion would never accrete any of those nasty (and inevitably paganizing) seasonal associations, as the holidays of Judaism and Christianity had. Well, you can't say he wasn't savvy.
Same deal with the week. That's why the Hebrew prophets denounced new moons and holidays and championed the Sabbath instead. Stop looking at the Sun and Moon to tell time; you don't need them. Look at the calendar instead. Why measure our lives by the cycles of nature when we've got this nice, convenient, man-made cycle instead?
I just spent two months in the United States and got to see spring in three different places. Really, I got to see three different springs.
My first spring was in San Francisco, which was unaccountably hot. The last time I was in San Francisco, in the July of their summer, I needed my winter coat. This February I needed t-shirts, which I hadn’t packed. It was hot. Not just mildly warm, but as if I’d arrived in the middle of summer, except it wasn’t. There were leaves on the trees, magnolias in full bloom, shedding those deep-red-purple centred white petals onto the street. I felt completely disoriented, particularly as I’d come from my own Blue Mountains where – in summer – I’d been needing to wear several jumpers....
The week of the Spring Equinox, we got snow, lots of it: almost 2 feet feel in 12 hours, with a biting wind turning it into a full blown spring blizzard. Schools and offices were closed for 2 days, the roads were an icy mess, and it was really cold. It was hard, then, to start spring-cleaning or open the windows to invite in a freshening breeze. While snow poured into my flowerbeds, it didn’t feel appropriate to charge seeds, bless tools or prepare an offering to be left in swirl of icy snowflakes. Celebrating Ostara, regardless of what the calendar said, was the last thing on my mind.
Then, a few mornings later, I went outside, and things were...different. Yes it was cold, and the snow lingered on the lawn and had hardened into frozen slush in the street. But the cold air was not as sharp as I expected. In fact, there was a softness to it despite the chill. I could smell something too—something like soil or pollen, something almost floral. And unlike the stony silence of deep winter, with only the wind and traffic sounds in the air, I heard birds, I could hear several different trills and twees, and I noticed a froth of activity in my neighbors' cedar tree, as it was literally shaking with dozens of tiny gray wrens hopping in and out of its branches....
I was taught how to be afraid and how to avoid danger with the understanding that it still may not do what I want it to do. Never go to a bar or a club alone, never go home with a guy you just met because you might wind up in his refrigerator. Travel in a pack of girls and you will keep each other as safe as anyone can. You will protect each other from aggressive would-be suitors, bad half-drunk decisions and make sure no one wound up in the hospital.
And we did do those things for each other and we kept each other safe....
When witchcraft first flourished in the 20th Century, it was cutting edge. Hot on the heels of the feminist movement, the fledgling environmental movement, and a time of great social upheaval, neo-paganism opened a whole new realm of possibility that at once called to our roots but also challenged dominant paradigms. At the same time, a lot of us are drawn to pagan beliefs when we ourselves undergo inter and intra-personal change. To dedicate yourself to a pagan path is a challenging step to take, and the journey is a difficult one. If it was easy - everyone would do it. To be a pagan is already a radical and progressive act. But is it enough? I'd like to offer my own interpretation of what radical, progressive paganism can look like....