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Culture Blogs

Popular subjects in contemporary Pagan culture and practice.

Category contains 2 blog entries contributed to teamblogs

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Womb of the Earth

Chauvet Cave, in southeastern France, is one of Europe's oldest painted caves, thought to date from the Aurignacian period, between 32,000 and 30,000 years ago, but its secrets will be immediately sensible to any witch today.

In Werner Herzog's 2010 film Cave of Forgotten Dreams, we travel with the film-maker through chamber after chamber of stunning animal art. Finally we reach the last and deepest of all, the culminating holy of holies, the room known as the Gallery of Lions.

In the wall directly opposite the entrance is a 10-foot vertical crevice, looking for all the world like a giant vulva. Directly in front of the crevice hangs a phallic stalactite. Painted on it are a woman, shown from the waist down, with emphasis on her vulva, merging with a man with the head of a bison. They are the only human images in the entire cave.

The walls of the chamber itself are painted with a 360° circle of animals, shown in such a way that they appear to be emerging from the giant vulva on one side, and to be re-entering it on the other.

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  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    As I grow older it seems increasingly clear to me that the deepest mysteries lie hidden in plain sight in the obvious. Goddess b
  • Carol P. Christ
    Carol P. Christ says #
    I couldn't agree with you more. The basic structures of ritual and meaning are not esoteric. Dance indeed! But when scholars don't
  • Carol P. Christ
    Carol P. Christ says #
    yup, but so often, they don't see what is so obvious. marija gimbutas called it indolent assumptions, others call it the patriarch

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Mother Night, Child Of Light

I have had more elegant Yules than this, when there were more decorations up: more evergreen swag, a larger altar covered in small candles and mistletoe, a Yule log burning in a hearth. There have been years when I marked the Solstice with Yule feasts, parties, festivals, days and nights full of reveling, gluttony and socializing.

Across town, across my networks of family and friends, tonight, this whole week really, is full of these things. There are vigils around sacred fires, out on the prairie, at the edge of forests. There are hearths alight with sacred flames, and altars set up in warm homes and under chilly starlight. Tables loaded with venison, or pork, roasted root veggies mashed in butter. I think about my beloveds, far and wide, and send them love, as they vigil the night through, or call upon the Old God in his passing, or libate the Divine Mother. So many magickal, magickal things happening.

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Birth-Cave

It will come as no surprise to anyone likely to be reading this that Christendom's two most sacred shrines, those marking the supposed sites of Jesus' birth, death and burial, are both located on the sites of old pagan holy places.

In a spasm of triumphalist destruction, the emperor Constantine (of cursed memory) tore down Roman Jerusalem's major temple, the Temple of Venus, to build the Church of the Holy Sepulcher on its site. (According to Israeli novelist Meir Shalev, the original builders of the church simply paved over a mosaic of Venus in one corner; ever since, that section of the floor always feels hot to the touch.)

Same deal with Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity. In a letter dating from 395, Eusebius Sophronius Hieronymus (later known as “saint” Jerome), translator of the Vulgate (Latin) Bible, who had himself lived in Bethlehem for a number of years, writes: “Bethlehem...belonging now to us...was overshadowed by a grove of Tammuz, that is to say, Adonis, and in the cave where the infant Christ cried, the lover of Venus was lamented” (Taylor 96).

Tammuz' sacred grove, of course, is long since gone, but the birth-cave that still underlies the Church of the Nativity was mentioned by Christian writers as early as the second century. Jerome, in the late 4th century, is the first to mention the cave's previous divine tenant, admittedly a late attestation; but he seems unlikely simply to have invented a pagan origin for the site.

Even conservative Biblical critic Jesuit Raymond Brown readily admits in his magisterial study of the gospel birth-narratives that their historical value is virtually nil. (We don't even know for sure that Jesus was actually born in Bethlehem.) But by the late third century, Christian tourists were already coming to Bethlehem, asking to see where Jesus was born, and naturally the local tourist industry provided a venue. Where else but at the local holy place? (You know gods: they always hang out together.) That will be two sesterces, please.

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  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Doesn't sound like a very lively party.
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    (You know gods: they always hang out together.) That brought to mind the Avengers and The Justice League, which in turn brought to

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 Witches often point to the Law of Three or the last lines of the Wiccan Rede as the source of their ethical beliefs. The trouble is that even those simple guidelines can be controversial. It’s a wonderful goal to “harm none,” but it’s virtually impossible in practice. Just by driving to work, I harm the environment. The Law of Three has so many different interpretations by now that it can really only be a loose reminder that we get back what we send. Further, since we have no central authority, many people object to each of these for their own philosophical reasons.

 So what’s left? It’s also easy to point to the words of the Charge of the Goddess, which tell us that “All acts of love and pleasure are my rituals.” That’s a great start. Every time you are experiencing or causing love and pleasure, you are in accord with the Goddess. Still, there’s a lot of grey here. You can’t just orient your life around love and pleasure. Your job may not provide either, but that doesn’t make it unethical. I hate vacuuming, but that doesn’t make it immoral.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Lessons From A Star Wars Facebook Fail

[No spoilers here. I haven't seen the movie, so this is 100% spoiler free]

 

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Pregnant Goddess

When I was studying in Jerusalem, my room wasn't much bigger than the bed itself. There simply wasn't space for an altar, but I felt lost without one.

Fortunately, at one of the museums I found a postcard of a Phoenician goddess figurine. I tucked it into the corner of the mirror on the wall, and voilà: instant altar. One 3 by 5 inch postcard was all it took.

Later I found a copy of the same pregnant goddess in an antiquities shop down by the King David Hotel. (Mass-produced and hence affordable to the ancients, they remain so today, even for those of us on student budgets.) How many people come to Jerusalem to buy idols? the shopkeeper joked as he wrapped her up.

She sits now underneath the Yule tree, pensive, her hand on her great belly. Soon.

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