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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in idols

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Mystery of the Golden Goddess

Many are the mysteries of the Russian land.

But of these, none is greater than the mystery of the golden goddess.

They say that long ago in a sacred grove on the banks of the Volga was kept a golden goddess.

Far and wide spread the fame of this golden goddess, and from far and wide did people came to see this wonder, and to offer to her.

And this was the manner of their offering: that they would hang all manner of gold from the branches of her grove.

And when the priests who tended this goddess had gathered to themselves sufficient offerings, they would melt them down and make from them yet another goddess around the first, the former enclosing the latter.

In this way, the golden goddess grew ever greater down the years, goddess within goddess within goddess, and with her grew her fame.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Christian Pagan

An old boyfriend of mine actually became pagan because of the Jehovah's Witnesses.

His mom never read any of the “literature” that they dropped off for her, but he did. It talked about paganism a lot.

Don't dye Easter eggs, they're pagan, it said. Don't have a Christmas tree, it's pagan. Don't celebrate Halloween, it's pagan.

“This pagan stuff sounds pretty good,” he thought.

 

The single most fascinating chapter in Michael Dowden's book European Paganism is the one titled “The Christian Pagan.”

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Gus diZerega
    Gus diZerega says #
    I han't read Dowden, but you have convinced me to do so. However, if i understand you, I find myself between the two of you. I th
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    If you mean Dowden, Gus, I think that that's very much his point: that there are more differences than similarities between the ol
  • Gus diZerega
    Gus diZerega says #
    We are called NeoPagans for a reason. This rather central distinction appears lost on the author.
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    Easter Eggs, Christmas trees, and Halloween, all the fun bits of the year I enjoyed growing up and someone frowns on them for bein

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Little Gods

Back before Hebrew became the First Language of monotheism, it was a fine old pagan language in its own right, with words (for example) for “standing stone” (matsevá) and “stone circle” (gilgál).

The Hebrew word that usually gets translated “idol” is 'elíl. Scholardom has generally read this word as a cacophemism based on the root √ ' L L (alef-lamed-lamed) meaning “weak.” This even though words similar to 'elil occur in other Semitic languages—for example in Sabaean, the South Semitic language of the Arabian kingdom of “Sheba”—in religious contexts as well.

It occurs to me, however, to wonder if the derivation from “weak” is really the correct one. Hebrew (like its sister Semitic languages) has a pattern of word-creation called “reduplication,” in which the second part of the word is repeated; reduplicated words are usually diminutives. Hence, kélev, “dog” becomes k'lavláv, “puppy”; qatán, “little” becomes q'tantán, “teensy.”

I wonder if 'elil is the same. 'El = god. 'Elil = “little god.”

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Shana tova, ya Ariel.
  • Ariel Aron
    Ariel Aron says #
    Thank you for sharing this lovely hymn.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The God That Wasn't There

I'd gone down to the clearing to make the morning offering to the stang.

But the stang wasn't there.

(It turned out later that the stang's keeper had moved it, but that doesn't really enter into this story.)

Now, it's always best to offer towards: in this case, towards an icon.

Well, I had the offerings and it was the time of offering, so I made the usual offerings and said the usual prayers to the Invisible Stang instead: to the stang that wasn't there.

Of course, every visible stang—and every icon—is (shall we say) overlain by the invisible stang anyway (or should be, at least).

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
When Statues Speak

 They have mouths, but cannot speak.

 

So wrote a dyspeptic 7th century Hebrew poet concerning the so-called “idols” of the pagans.

But of course (as anyone who has ever actually lived with one for very long can tell you), he was wrong.

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Recent comment in this post - Show all comments
  • Molly
    Molly says #
    I make goddess sculptures for a living and I totally identify with this experience. I'd modify the quote for mine to: "they do not

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
What Do You Do With an Old Idol?

It's a terrible dilemma.

These holy images body forth Those that we love and honor.

And the Breakers are coming: those who hate and fear the beauty that we love.

So what do you do?

The archaeological record makes it clear. Time and again the old pagans chose to lay their holy images in the womb of all-protecting Earth.

Hoping, perhaps, as they did so that a time might come when the power of the breakers would itself be broken.

Hoping that some day, once again, as of old, the Mother of Gods would bring forth.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Sif's Wheat, Part 2: Her Idol

The Sif doll seated on the harvested wheat. This is a Lithuanian doll that I bought in an amber shop along with some amber in 1989. Shortly after I dedicated part of my garden to Sif last year, I was walking past the display of folk art in my house where I used to display this doll and it called to me to dedicate it to Sif. So I did a dedication ritual, which I related in my post A Doll for Sif. I moved the doll to my Spiritual Souvenir display, which is kind of a wall altar.

I almost always make, remake, or repurpose things to dedicate rather than buying things new for that purpose. I feel that conserving resources is part of how I live as a heathen.

...
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