Culture Blogs


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Culture Blogs

Popular subjects in contemporary Pagan culture and practice.

Category contains 2 blog entries contributed to teamblogs
Is Beltane 'Bright Fire' or 'Bel's Fire'?

Is the festival Beltane named for an Irish god Bel?

Short answer: probably not.

The Keltic peoples of the Continent knew of a god Belenos (attested in various spellings) who, during the Roman period, was identified with Apollo.

Belenos clearly = *bel-, “shining, bright” + infixed -n-, (denotes lordship, mastery, or preeminence) + -os, (masculine singular ending). The “mastery infix,” interestingly, features in the names of a number of Keltic deities: among them Cernunnos, “Horned Lord” or “Preeminently Horned” and Epona, “Lady Horse” or “Preeminent Horse.” So Belenos is “Bright Lord” or “the Preeminently Bright.”

Did the Keltic-speaking peoples of Britain know such a god?

If so, the evidence is minimal, and there's none whatsoever that the Irish knew him. ('Beltane' is an Irish word in origin.) We cannot assume that the Insular Kelts worshiped every god that their Continental kin did.

So alas, Beltane is probably not “Bel's fire.”

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What Paranormal Investigators Should Know...

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  • Gerrie
    Gerrie says #
    Right on Catt! I always love watching these shows, if only to yell at their stupidity. But yes, I think Amy Allen on the Dead File

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Overheard in April

Officer, hel-lo. Welcome to Paganistan.

How was your flight?

I can't tell you how delighted we are to have you here with us for our Beltane celebrations this year.

Absolutely delighted.

Care for some cider? Paganistan's finest.

If you'll just come with me, you really must see this year's Wicker Man. He's taken our artists more than a month to construct. I really do believe he's our most impressive yet.

Yes, indeed. So massive, yet so beautiful. Just look at those antlers.

A closer look? Certainly, certainly.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Maypole or Bonfire?

The Maypole and the Bonfire have long been the two ritual foci of Beltane celebration.

The logistical problem being that a ritual can't have two centers.

I remember running into this difficulty decades back while planning the community Beltane down at the old River Circle by the Mississippi. We wanted both a Maypole and a Bonfire, but (unless you want to burn the Maypole, which is wrong) they're mutually exclusive options and only one of them can be in the middle of the circle.

In the end we settled for a central bonfire with the Maypole off to the side of the circle. After the Maypole dance, as darkness drew in, people (of course) clustered around the Bonfire, leaving the poor Maypole deserted.

I.e. not really a satisfactory solution.

Historically speaking, the Maypole is a relative newcomer to the Beltane celebrations (there's no documentary evidence for it until the early modern period), while the Mayfire is clearly prehistoric (the name Beltane itself originally meant “bright fire”).

But the tension between Fire and Tree is more apparent than real. Our problem is trying to cram both hands into the same catskin glove.

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  • Jön Upsal's Gardener
    Jön Upsal's Gardener says #
    Maddeningly, Ronald Hutton in Stations of the Sun (p. 233) doesn't give the title of the poem or the quote, only the author; Adda
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    I'm intrigued, Jon: which poem is that? Clearly time to to brush up my Middle English. So: we find Maypoles in England. We find Ma
  • Jön Upsal's Gardener
    Jön Upsal's Gardener says #
    And just as an aside, written evidence for the Maypole goes back to the 14th century. As it's entirely unlikely it was invented co
  • Jön Upsal's Gardener
    Jön Upsal's Gardener says #
    Actually, we call that Sumarmál. :-) And you're entirely correct; modern society and its artificial cycles of weekday-weekend is
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    A bat needs two wings to fly. Bwa ha ha.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
I Love the Doorposts of Your House

You're entering a sacred place. What do you do?

You can't just saunter in, doing nothing, as if it were (say) some big box store. It's a sacred place; going in means something.

So what do you do?

Some reach down and touch the ground. (If you're reading this, I probably don't need to tell you why you would do this.) In practice, this often means that you touch the threshold of the temple.

What comes next is up to you. Some people touch their hearts, some (with a kiss) their lips. Some touch their brows. I usually touch all three: In my heart, on my lips, in my thoughts.

Or some variation thereof. The deeply pious may bow down and kiss the Earth. Those of us who aren't as spry as we used to be may settle for kissing the doorposts of the temple. (I love the doorposts of your house, goes the old song.)

So much for entering. How do you leave a sacred place?

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

[Today, we sit down for a quick interview with Jenn Campus. Along with her husband, illustrator Roberto Campus, Jenn has launched a kickstarter to fund the creation of Dreams of Ýdalir. Described as "Norse Mythology meets The Mists of Avalon," the novel centers on Ullr and Elen of the Ways. If you are inspired by what you read here, please look over their kickstarter page and consider funding Dreams of Ýdalir.]

 

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  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis says #
    Rebecca, thanks for supporting Jenn and Roberto's project. They are personal friends of mine, so I can say with confidence they ar
  • Jenn
    Jenn says #
    Thank you so much for your un-ending support, Francesca!
  • Jenn
    Jenn says #
    Thank you so much for the opportunity to talk to you about the project!

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Old Lady Hawthorn

Damn that old lady Hawthorn.

There she goes, knocking my hat off.

Again.

I don't know how old she is. Being a Siberian hawthorn, it could be hundreds of years. Judging by how gnarled and ornery she is, I'd say probably pretty old. Older than me, anyway.

And did I say attitudinous? Old lady Hawthorn is the undisputed ruler of this lawn, and you'd better not forget it.

Before you mow, you'd better tip your hat to her. You'd just better. Likes that, she does.

Otherwise, she'll knock it clean off your head.

Like she just did.

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