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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in revival
Modern Minoan Paganism: Reconstruction vs. revival

I spend a lot of time telling people that Modern Minoan Paganism is not a reconstructionist tradition. But the issue is actually a little more complicated than that.

When I was at Mystic South this past summer, one of the other presenters, Joseph Beofeld, attended my workshop about Modern Minoan Paganism. What was his presenation about? Reconstructionism! He came up to me afterward and pointed out that even though I had said we aren't a reconstructionist tradition, we use reconstructionist methods extensively. And that's quite true.

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  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    You have a group of fellow travelers to work with and support each other on your journey. I think that is wonderful. I've recent
Modern Minoan Paganism Workshop at Mystic South

I had a marvelous time at Mystic South last weekend. I saw some old friends and met some new ones. I also gave a workshop about Modern Minoan Paganism. I never know what to expect when I'm doing public events, but I was happily surprised that so many people were interested - we had to rustle up extra chairs so everyone would have a place to sit (thank you to the Mystic South volunteers and organizers for being so helpful with this!).

Though there were a lot of attendees at the conference, there are also a lot of people who didn't get to come. With that in mind, we recorded the workshop to share online. A big thank you to my daughter, who patiently babysat the equipment while I gave the presentation.

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A Pagan Revival in 13th Century France

What happens when you turn loose a bunch of over-educated, under-employed intellectuals on a prosperous society in the throes of social ferment?

Apparently, you get a Pagan Renaissance.

It happened in 20th century America. It also happened in 13th century France, during what—ironically enough—is known as the Age of Cathedrals.

The parallels between the two periods are striking. In both, new agricultural techniques produced a burgeoning population, a thriving mercantile class, and unprecedented prosperity. This, in medieval France and elsewhere, was what financed the building of the great cathedrals such as Notre Dame de Paris. Students from all over Europe flooded to the University of Paris.

There they learned Latin and read the Classics. There they learned about the old paganisms.

Alas, there were no suitable jobs for most of these sons of lesser houses. The system produced far more educated people than it could employ.

So a rising tide of clerici vagrantes, “wandering clerics,” washed across Europe: getting drunk (when they could afford it), getting laid (when they could manage it), and writing rhyming hymns in Latin to the old gods of the pagan world, especially (as one would expect) to Venus and Bacchus.

(Several collections of poetry and hymns from this medieval pagan renaissance have survived to inspire and delight us today, notably the famous Carmina Burana (that's CAR-min-ah, not car-MEE-nah), which in turn inspired German composer Carl Orff's pagan oratorio of the same name, one of the landmarks of 20th century pagan art.)

According to British historian Elliot Rose, these literary New Pagans—whatever the seriousness of their paganism—hooked up with the Old Pagan witch-wives of Europe to create a newly reinvigorated Witch Cult which, a hundred years later, would give rise to, and fall prey to, the horrors of the Great Persecution. Well, maybe.

Eight hundred years later, here we are again.

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The Astounding Pagan Revival

Really, in the long history of human religion, the Pagan Revival has got to be one of the most surprising—and unforeseen—developments of all.

One of the things that's most amazing about it is that, as a mass movement, the Revival Paganisms are largely composed of—and driven by—individual choices made by isolated individuals across the world.

Without benefit (for the most part) of personal or social pressure, people have again and again thought—and felt—their way back into the Old Ways. One by one, we look at ourselves and we say: I am pagan. Every day, it happens again. It's happening to someone even as you read this.

In the history of human religion, such a thing is utterly unprecedented.

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  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Even, one hopes--when the time comes--to death. "The Religions of Yes." Anthony, that's brilliant. I plan to mention your name whe
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    Your welcome.
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    Unlike the twin monoliths of fundamentalism and materialism paganism offers an alternative that says yes to life and all it's expe
Modern Minoan Paganism: Reviving ancient spirituality

I've been in relationship with the Minoan gods and goddesses since I was a teenager, but it was only a few years ago that Modern Minoan Paganism began to take shape as a specific spiritual path. I've been walking that path with the lovely folks in Ariadne's Tribe, and together we're creating a tradition that works for us as Pagans in the modern world. The hardest part, believe it or not, is explaining what we do to other people.

The name Modern Minoan Paganism gives you a pretty good idea from the start: We're combining the bits and pieces we know about ancient Minoan religion and culture in a modern Pagan context. We can't really reconstruct ancient Minoan religious practice in detail. There are too many gaps in our knowledge, we don't live in the same kind of culture the Minoans did, and we probably don't want to go back to sacrificing bulls and goats (and possibly people) anyway.

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