7 Dec 2009

The White Stag

Today on the news, I saw reports of a white stag that has appeared in the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire. This is a creature of rare appearance and mythic symbolism. Among the ancient Celts, the White Stag was viewed as a messenger from the spiritual world and its appearance was thought to portend great change.

1 Dec 2009

The Pagan Months

Of the names of the twelve months in English, four are named after their numerical order, two are named after Roman politicians, one after a festival of purification, and five after specific gods and goddesses.

January is the month of Janus, the Roman god of gates, doors, doorways, beginnings and endings.

February, originally considered the last month by the Romans, takes its name from a purification ritual called Februa held on February 15.

March is the month of Mars, the god of war. April takes it's name from Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love. May is named after Maia (meaning "the great one"), an Italic goddess of spring, the daughter of Faunus and wife of Vulcan. June is Juno's month, from Juno the goddess of marriage and the queen of the gods, both sister and wife to Jupiter.

July and August are named after Julius Caesar, the Roman dictator, and his nephew and adopted son, Augustus, the first emperor.

The names of September, October, November, and December simply mean the seventh, eighth, ninth, and tenth months, although these ordinal denoters are wrong under the present chronological system.

9 Nov 2009

Green Man in Dunblane Cathedral

This is a carving of the Green Man found under a folding seat in Dunblane Cathedral in Perthshire, Scotland.

The name Dunblane is a Christian name, and signifies "The Fort of Blane," Blane being the name of a 6th-century Irish Saint, who was born and based in the Isle of Bute but seems to have been active in several areas including Pethshire.

It seems odd that a saint should need a fort, suggesting that in this case Christianity may have been forced on the local inhabitants by military force.

Lyrics: "A Pagan Place" by Mike Scott

"Who put the colour like lines on his face"

How did he come here?
Who gave him the key
slipped in his hand
so secretly?
Who put the colour
like lines on his face
and brought him here
to a pagan place?

Who shot the arrow?
How high did it fly?
When he tipped it
with poison
did he even know why?
What unseen hand
brought him
face to face with
all this and more
in a pagan place?

Come into my parlour
Sail in at my shore
Drink my soul dry
There is always more
There is always more after
Now fly on my carpet
Look into my face
and see the
heart of man
in a pagan
in a pagan
in a pagan
in a pagan
in a pagan place

29 Oct 2009

The True Meaning of Halloween

Halloween is much celebrated but little understood. Living, as I do, in Japan and being called upon, as I often am, to explain Western customs, I have gradually deepened my knowledge of this unique pagan festival.