Paganistan: Notes from the Secret Commonwealth
In Which One Midwest Man-in-Black Confers, Converses & Otherwise Hob-Nobs with his Fellow Hob-Men (& -Women) Concerning the Sundry Ways of the Famed but Ill-Starred Tribe of Witches.
Gods That Walk
My teacher always used to say that the Sun walks across the sky.
Tony Kelly (d. 1997) was founder (and prime mover) of the Pagan Movement in Britain and Ireland, of which I was an overseas member back in the early 70s. (You may know his much-reprinted essay Pagan Musings, the one that begins: “We're of the old religion, sired of Time”.) Although we never met face-to-face, I regard him as my teacher because from his writings and from our exchanges I learned the gods, ritual, and how to think in Pagan. If that's not teaching, I don't know what is.
And he always used to say that the Sun walks across the sky.
In most mythologies (the European ones, anyway) the Sun doesn't walk. The Sun is too important to walk. The Sun rides. The Sun drives. Horses, wagons, and chariots are his (or her) attributes. This is very much a culturally-driven trope, of course. To ride a horse or drive (in particular a chariot) is prestigious, a sign of wealth and status. Poor people walk. Peasants walk. The ruling class rides or drives.
I've long contended that one of the differences between the ancestors and ourselves is that the ancients had sacred technology, and that modern technologies are problematic precisely insofar as they are thoroughly unsacred. For the Sun to drive a chariot across the sky every day is conceivable. For the Sun to drive an automobile across the sky every day would be ludicrous.
The distinctions between sacred and unsacred technology are not difficult to define—sustainability and environmental impact are clearly factors here—but that's a discussion for another day.
Today the Sun walks the sky.
We too are walkers, we humans, we two-foots. It is our profession, what we do. We walk, and our walking shaped, and shapes, us. It is our first and best exercise, something virtually all of us should be doing more of. Like the Sun, we walk in a sacred way.
Even at Yule, on the day of his birth, the Sun walks the sky from horizon to horizon. It is his shortest walking of the year—he is, after all, a newborn—but it is a mighty walking nonetheless, for one so young.
The Sun walks the Sky.
For more on Tony Kelly and the Pagan Movement in Britain and Ireland, see the on-line Pagan Movement Archive.
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