PaganSquare is a community blog space where Pagans can discuss topics relevant to the life and spiritual practice of all Pagans.
Let us lift up our hands.
On this Midsummer's Day
I call to Earth, mighty mother of us all,
and I ask that through the summer to come
our gardens may bear abundantly,
You could call it Core paganism.
It's a paganism that anyone can practice anywhere, at any time, regardless of who you are or where your people came from, because it's the common inheritance of us all and we each of us spend every moment of our lives immersed in it.
You could call them the Old Gods; the ancestors did.
Are there pagans on other planets?
For now, of course, there's no way to know. But my guess would be: Yes, there probably are. Wherever there is intelligent life, there will be pagans.
In fact, I'd be willing to go even farther. Since the Old Gods, the great Powers that give rise to, and sustain, life will necessarily (so far as we know) be constant from planet to planet, I suspect that the paganisms of the extraterrestrials may well bear something of a family resemblance to our own.
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.
Exposing the soil is, in temperate climates, something people do when farming or gardening. Drier lands that do not support many plants can have much barer earth. Mountains and deserts can be something else again. I’ve seen small islands where the winter grazing of birds will take out all vegetation and bare the ground. There are all kinds of possible seasonal variations that might expose the soil. Where and when and why this happens is well worth a thought.
Left to its own devices, England is a green sort of place and manages this most of the year round. We lose the leaves from the trees in the winter, but not the green from the fields. Even in the hottest summers, we stay green rather than fading to the yellows and browns of hotter climates. If we don’t dig the soil, then the soil seldom stays bare for long....
It all begins with Earth.
Recently, at the Summerland Spirit gathering, I spent a day in walking meditation, fasting, naked, covered with ash. I'd suspected beforehand that I might be bored. Nothing could have been further from the truth. That day was the busiest I've spent in a long time. They say that the naked ascetic sitting beneath the tree has fought and won more battles than the bravest warrior.
So there I was, sitting under a white oak in the mid-afternoon heat, reeling with the concept: Goddess Earth.