for my words are written on the hearts of my people.
Muhammad was right.
There are the ahl al-kitâb—the People of the Book—and then there are the pagans.
One of the things that impresses me most about the New Paganisms—and this is one of the ways in which we have remained most true to the ways of the ancestors—is that, from our very beginnings, we have been, and remain, non-scriptural religions. Occasional jokes about Edda-thumping aside (“Snorri said it, I believe it, That settles it”), we have, for the most part, managed to dodge the silver bullet of Canon. In a world in which religions are defined by their scriptures, this is an impressive achievement, rendered all the more striking by the apparently unconscious nature of the decision.
The magnificent rock paintings of the Kimberly range in northwestern Australia are among the most ancient in the world, going back tens of thousands of years. Radiocarbon dating of a fossilized wasp nest built over one painting places the nest itself at more than 17,000 years ago, so that the painting must be older -- possibly much older -- than that. Aboriginal people in this region call the paintings, or rather the Beings in them, Gwion Gwion, Giro Giro, and other names.
While making my Woman Shaman dvd, I did a lot of research on rock art around the world. These paintings grabbed my attention, not only because of their tremendous beauty, but because they show dance and ceremonial regalia. Aboriginal tradition says they represent ancestral Beings of the Dreamtime. Because human ceremony celebrates these beings, and reenacts their primordial creative acts, we come around full circle to a likely reflection what extremely ancient rites might have looked like. But from North America it was next to impossible to find Aboriginal testimony about these paintings.
While debate rages on in other corners of the web about what kinds of Gods we do or don’t believe in, I have been thinking about the way that we worship whatever/whomever we hold dear, sacred, and holy. I decided a series of posts that tackle this question from a deeply personal point of view would be useful to me, and perhaps to a few readers as well. I have also been thinking about shadows, storytelling, and ceremonies-so it seemed natural that I would start there.