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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 

 

A novel about the last of the Neanderthals, told from the Neanderthal perspective.

Now that's what I call a truly heroic leap of imagination.

Pagans will most likely know novelist William (Lord of the Flies) Golding (1911-1993) as name-giver to the Gaia Hypothesis—he and scientist James Lovelock were long-time friends, next-door neighbors, and drinking buddies—but let me tell you about a novel of his that's a little pagan gem.

In The Inheritors (1955), Golding tells the story of the last, doomed group of Neanderthals in Europe, and their disastrous and deadly encounter with a group of incoming Cro-Magnons.

(Back in the Paganolithic Era, we used to joke about how—our style being strictly mask, drum, and red ocher—if we were Wiccans, our trad must be Cro-Magnon.

(My friend Stephanie Fox once gibed about a scenario in which a big, burly guy approaches at Pagan Spirit Gathering one summer. “Hi, are you guys the Cro-Magnon Wicca people?” “That's us.” “Oh yeah? Well, we're the Neanderthal Wicca.” Wham!)

More: Golding tells their tale, as I said, from the perspective of the Neanderthals themselves.

It is, admittedly, no quick read. Golding's Neanderthal-think takes some deciphering,

Oh, but the pay-off is worth the work.

The story I'll leave to your own reading pleasure, but let me pass along to you one of the novel's shining treasures.

The great power in the Neanderthals' world—their goddess, although they don't call her that, of course—is Oa: Earth. (Their most sacred object of power—although, naturally, that's not how they would speak of it—is the little Oa, a pebble naturally-shaped like a fleshy, naked woman.)

Oa: a musical, primal name. Speak to Earth as Oa, think of her as Oa, and see what she tells you.

To Golding's Neanderthals, Oa is a being with whom they're on personal terms. Sometimes the theological language of gods and goddesses can get in the way, make distance, can unnecessarily complicate something that's really, at heart, very simple. Sometimes it's good to set the language aside and just get on with the relationship. Oa.

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  • Chas  S. Clifton
    Chas S. Clifton says #
    Thanks for the recommendation. Another novel with the same premise is Bjorn Kurten's Dance of the Tiger, published in 1980 but wri
  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Mr. Posch, That's beautiful!

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

How to Make Great Dirt | St Anthony Village, MN

 

Here in the Minneapolis, there actually used to be an ordinance against composting. The law-makers, reportedly, were worried about drawing vermin. Tell it to the neighborhood cats that regularly patrol my yard.

That, of course, didn't stop me. Starting the compost heap was one of the first things that I did after we moved in.

I'm a pagan: Earth is my religion. I don't throw away food. Telling me that I can't compost is an abridgment of my free exercise of religion.

A few years later, I started a second heap. You always want to have two compost heaps going at any given time: one to ripen, one to feed.

Digging up the ripened compost is invariably a wonder. You put in apple cores, tea leaves, and carrot peelings. A few years later, voilà, the scraps are all gone and instead you take out the richest, darkest, soil you ever saw: so chocolatey-rich, it looks like you could just take a bite out of it, as is.

Really, there's the whole pagan story, right there.

When we first moved in, the soil of what's now the garden—at the time it was lawn—was flush with the garden walk. Now, some 35 years later, the surface of the garden is all of two inches higher than the pavement. That's what happens when you feed the soil.

Every few days, I take the compost bucket out and empty it. I don't generate enough food waste to keep the heap active through the kinds of winters that we get here in southern Minnesota, so over the winter—barring what the squirrels get—the compost just heaps up into a frozen mound.

But one day not long from now, I'll go out with my bucket to find that the ice barrow is no more. Around here, there's no surer sign of Spring than compost collapse.

Eventually the folks down at City Hall wised up and rescinded the ban, and instead began to actively promote backyard composting. Finally, some years back, they instituted a city-wide composting program.

So now every few weeks I take out the kind of compostables that a small operation like mine won't sustain—the egg cartons, the used paper towels, the pizza boxes—and put them into the bin in the alley.

No way they're getting any of my food scraps, though.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 

 

Let me tell you something wonderful and strange.

When I'm in a place of many pagans—in the midst of a ritual, or at a summer festival, say—I not infrequently smell the smell of sweetgrass, even when none is burning.

This is what sacred smells like.

And not just when I'm among pagans, of course. I can be walking down the street, or by the River, or in the woods, and suddenly, there it will be: that unmistakable, woodruff-y fragrance, even where no sweetgrass burns, where no sweetgrass grows.

What atomized nano-particles are these, wafting on the air, that my mind somehow reads as sweetgrass where no sweetgrass is? Whoever may know, ye wise, O let you tell me.

But well I remember the old saying concerning Mabh, our beloved Earth: Her hair smells of sweetgrass.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 

 

Mabh, bring us together;

Mabh, bring us through.

 

Here at Temple of the Moon, we offer twice daily the old tribal prayers for the welfare of the People: that we may have well-being, that we may prosper, that our numbers may increase.

The first and last prayers of each offering are addressed, of course, to Earth: for us, the beginning and end of all things.

In this time of brokenness, when so much that we know and love is overturned, as we walk a long, Dark Way, I find myself adding to the customary prayers, two more:

 

Mabh, bring us together;

Mabh, bring us through.

 

Naturally, they address Earth, our beloved Earth. Who better to call on than the Mother, out of our deepest need?

They call to her by her sacred love name, her name of power, voiced as MAHV: a name of Birth, close-open-close, and the Breath of Life within. This name I had from my teacher, Tony Kelly, many years ago. Call her by this name, and give her your kiss of love—Love to you, my Mabh—and she will take you into her secrets.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Motherless

Who you callin' 'cowan'?”

 

In Marvin Kaye and Parke Godwin's “Masters of Solitude” novels*, the Witches—they call themselves “Coven” or “Circle”—have a derisory term for cowans/non-pagans: they call them Motherless.

(Quickie alternate-historical recap: the Chinese invade the US; the US collapses; then, for reasons never made clear, the Chinese withdraw. The East Coast, which has become a single sprawling megalopolis, literally walls itself off in incestuous techno-isolation and lets the Interior stew in its own atavistic juices. Out of this cauldron of ferment arises Circle, a tribal Witch culture that has bred for psychic/telepathic ability.)

Now, this makes sense. As pagans, we're the Mother's People, the First People. We've continued to love and to honor Her all along, even when others have forgotten Her.

Hence “Motherless.” It's a brilliant example of how things look from Inside. The term has a whole passel of implications, all of them apt. Those without a mother have no one to care for them. Those without a mother have no one to teach them the right ways of doing things. Those without a mother can grow up emotionally stunted and uncaring. (Just or not, those are the stereotypes.)

Not all non-pagans are Motherless, of course. The Goddess loves all Her children, even those who have turned their backs on Her. In Her mighty ruth (the old Hwicce/Witch word for mercy; tellingly, the term survives mostly in its opposite, ruthless), She shows Herself to them in ways that they too can understand. Hindus have goddesses; Buddhists too, though they may or may not call them that. Not all Christians are Motherless: consider Mary, Goddess of the Christians. (Let them play their semantic shell-games if they wish; pagans know a goddess when we see one.)

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
The MMP Pantheon: The Mother Goddess Rhea

This is the first in a series of posts about the MMP pantheon. Find the full list of the whole series here.

Last time, I shared the full pantheon that we've developed for Modern Minoan Paganism. Now it's time to explore the deities one at a time and discover where we can find their iconography in Minoan art.

...
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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Does Planet Earth = Goddess Earth?

One day, while Mother Earth was visiting Athens...

So begins a story from Robert Graves' Greek Myths. Theologically speaking, I find these words profoundly disturbing. I thought so when I first read them years ago; decades on, they still trouble me.

The same problem arises in Isaac Bonewits' Litany to the Earth Mother:

R: You who are called Gaea among the Greeks....

V: Come to us!

R: You who are called Tellus by the Romans....

V: Come to us! etc.

So let me get this right: we're calling Earth to come to us. Call me opaque, but if there's a logic here, I fail to see it.

In both cases, we proceed from the presumption that, in some sense, Earth-as-Goddess is different to, and distinguishable from, Earth-as-Planet.

Such a view, I suspect, is premised on a binary body/spirit worldview: Planet Earth as the Body of Goddess Earth.

But are the gods spirits? If so, what does that mean?

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  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Mr. Posch, I follow the Divine Iamblichus' beliefs on the nature of Godhood. Mother Earth governs the physical matter of the surf
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I tend to view Spirit as quintessence the fifth element. Along with Earth, Air, Fire, and Water I see it as part of the matrix of
  • Chris Sherbak
    Chris Sherbak says #
    This dichotomy/tension continues in ADF today: there's a spot in the Core Order for "The Earth Mother" and I regularly have issue

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