6 Dec 2010

Daily Mail: Pagan prisoners given time off to worship the Sun God

A Daily Mail report on the government officially recognizing pagan holidays for prison inmates.

You can read the story here or here:

Pagan prisoners given time off to worship the Sun God

By Jack Doyle, 7th December 2010

Hundreds of criminals are to be given four days a year off prison work - to celebrate pagan festivals. Prison governors have been issued with a list of eight annual pagan holidays and told pagan inmates can choose four to celebrate.

The festivals include Imbolc - The Festival of the Lactating Sheep - which falls on February 1 and is dedicated to the goddess Brighid. Another is the festival of Beltane, which falls in early May, devotees are urged to celebrate the Sun God with 'unabashed sexuality and promiscuity'.
The Yule festival involves pagans 'casting spells' and dressing up as ghosts.

Pagan inmates may even be allowed special food and drink on their days off. Traditional pagan food include Ewe's milk for Imbolc, Simnel Cake and eggs on Spring Equinox and Roast Goose on Autumn Equinox.
On Samhain - celebrated on Halloween - pagans by tradition go apple bobbing.

It is the latest in a series of rulings to protect convicts' rights and ensure equality among different faiths.New guidelines entitled 'Religious Festival dates for 2011' state that all prison staff must be made aware of the pagan festival dates. It states: "The Prison Service is committed to ensuring that prisoners from all religious faiths are given the opportunity and facilities to practise their religions.'"

It lists the eight main festivals before adding: "Most Pagans celebrate the eight festivals set out, but depending on the particular tradition would attach particular significance to certain days."

"Because of variations in emphasis between different Pagan traditions it has been agreed with the Pagan Federation that prisoners may choose four festivals on which they should not be required to work."

Prisons are told they must prepare specific foods if it is a requirement of a prisoner's religion. But the guidance states the food should be prepared inside prison kitchens and the cost must be 'proportionate to the number of prisoners involved'.
Paganism was first recognised by the Prison Service as a religion more than nine years ago. The number of prisoners declaring themselves as pagan has tripled in six years to 366 last year. Worshippers are allowed to keep tarot cards, a hoodless robe and a twig to use as a wand in their cell. They can also keep incense, a piece of jewellery and rune stones. Skyclad, or naked worship, is banned.

Pagan inmate Mark Stewart, who is serving a three year term for drug dealing at HMP Elmley in Kent, wrote to prisoners' newspaper Inside Time this month to complain about how Pagans are treated. He claimed Pagans had been 'sidelined' and 'marginalised' in favour of more popular religions. He wrote: "There is a perception amongst most people that Pagans are devil worshippers, etc, but that is so far from the truth."

"I am an earth loving person who thanks Mother Earth, spirits and ancestors for what I have today. I do practise witchcraft, but only for good."

Sources said there was 'no question' of prisoners being served roast goose or boar. A Prison Service spokesman said: "The Prison Service issues annually a list of religious festival dates for the year ahead – this includes key dates on which prisoners registered in that affiliation can be excused from work."

It comes a day after it emerged that an underworld crime boss jailed for the murder of two grandparents has won the right to be called 'Mr' by prison guards. Colin Gunn complained that he was not treated with sufficient respect and, under guidelines introduced by Labour, prison officers are required to address inmates as they wish.

20 Nov 2010

Semitic Sky God, One, Two, and Three

The confused followers of the Semitic Sky God

Semantics can be a powerful weapon in any ideological battle. This is even truer when semantics are brought into line with the underlying truth.

8 Nov 2010

Priapic Worship in Medieval Scotland

The Lanercost Chronicle is a medieval history of events in Northern England and Scotland covering the period 1201 to 1346. For the year 1282, it contains the following evidence of pagan worship at Inverkeithing in the Scottish county of Fife:
"About this time, in Easter week, the parish priest of Inverkeithing, named John, revived the profane rites of Priapus, collecting young girls from the villages, and compelling them to dance in circles to [the honour of] Father Bacchus. When he had these females in a troop, out of sheer wantonness, he led the dance, carrying in front on a pole a representation of the human organs of reproduction, and singing and dancing himself like a mime, he viewed them all and stirred them to lust by filthy language. Those who held respectable matrimony in honour were scandalised by such a shameless performance, although they respected the parson because of the dignity of his rank. If anybody remonstrated kindly with him, he [the priest] became worse [than before], violently reviling him.

"And [whereas] the iniquity of some men manifestly brings them to justice, [so] in the same year, when his parishioners assembled according to custom in the church at dawn in Penance Week, at the hour of discipline he would insist that certain persons should prick with goads [others] stripped for penance. The burgesses, resenting the indignity inflicted upon them, turned upon its author; who, while he as author was defending his nefarious work, fell the same night pierced by a knife, God thus awarding him what he deserved for his wickedness."

1 Nov 2010

Phallic Saints (1) St. Cosmas and Damian

One of the most reliable accounts of phallic saints is in a letter written by Sir William Hamilton, the British ambassador at the court of Naples from 1764 to 1800. This describes the Festival of Saints Cosmas and Damian. Intrigued by an account of the Priapic cult from "a person of liberal education" engaged in constructing a road to the town, Sir William then visited Isernia and verified the details by quizzing the town's governor.

The letter is dated Naples, December 30, 1781. Here is the most significant portion describing the festival.

On the 27th of September, at Isernia, one of the most ancient cities of the Kingdom of Naples, situated in the Province called the Contado di Molise, and adjoining to Abruzzo, an annual Fair is held, which lasts three days. The situation of this Fair is on a rising ground, between two rivers, about half a mile from the town of Isernia; on the most elevated part of which there is an ancient church, with a vestibule. The architecture is of the style of the lower ages; and it is said to have been a church and convent belonging to the Benedictine Monks in the time of their poverty.

This church is dedicated to St. Cosmus and Damianus. One of the days of the Fair, the relicks of the Saints are exposed, and afterwards carried in procession from the cathedral of the city to this church, attended by a prodigious concourse of people. In the city, and at the fair, ex-voti of wax, representing the male parts of generation, of various dimensions, some even of the length of a palm, are publicly offered to sale. There are also waxen vows, that represent other parts of the body mixed with them; but of these there are few in comparison of the number of the Priapi.

The devout distributers of these vows carry a basket full of them in one hand, and hold a plate in the other to receive the money, crying aloud, "St. Cosmo and Damiano!" If you ask the price of one, the answer is, piu ci metti, piu meriti: "The more you give, the more’s the merit." In the vestibule are two tables, at each of which one of the canons of the church presides, thus crying out, Qui si riceveno le Misse, e Litanie: "Here Masses and Litanies are received;" and the other, Qui si riceveno li Voti : "Here the Vows are received." The price of a Mass is fifteen Neapolitan grains, and of a Litany five grains. On each table is a large bason for the reception of the different offerings. The Vows are chiefly presented by the female sex; and they are seldom such as represent legs, arms, etc., but most commonly the male parts of generation.

The person who was at this fete in the year 1780, and who gave me this account (the authenticity of every article of which has since been fully confirmed to me by the Governor of Isernia), told me also, that he heard a woman say, at the time she presented a Vow, Santo Cojmo benedetto, cosi lo voglio: "Blessed St. Cosmo, let it be like this;" another, St. Cosimo, a te mi raccommendo: "St. Cosmo, I recommend myself to you;" and a third, St. Cosimo ti ringrazio: "St. Cosmo, I thank you." The Vow is never presented without being accompanied by a piece of money, and is always kissed by the devotee at the moment of presentation.

At the great altar in the church, another of its canons attends to give the holy unction, with the oil of St. Cosmo; which is prepared by the same receipt as that of the Roman Ritual, with the addition only of the prayer of the Holy Martyrs, St. Cosmus and Damianus. Those who have an infirmity in any of their members, present themselves at the great altar, and uncover the member affected (not even excepting that which is most frequently represented by the ex-voti); and the reverend canon anoints it, saying, Per intercessionem beati Cosmi, liberet te ab omni malo. Amen.

The ceremony finishes by the canons of the church dividing the spoils, both money and wax, which must be to a very considerable amount, as the concourse at this fete is said to be prodigiously numerous.

The oil of St. Cosmo is in high repute for its invigorating quality, when the loins, and parts adjacent, are anointed with it. No less than 1400 flasks of that oil were either expended at the altar in unctions, or charitably distributed, during this fete in the year 1780; and as it is usual for every one, who either makes use of the oil at the altar, or carries off a flask of it, to leave an alms for St. Cosmo, the ceremony of the oil becomes likewise a very lucrative one to the canons of the church.

27 Oct 2010

The Christian Gleichschaltung

Gleichschaltung is a German word that is usually associated with the history of Nazi Germany. It means "coordination," "making the same", or "bringing into line," and refers to the process of establishing a totalitarian system.

But Nazi-ism was not the first totalitarian system nor was it by any means the most successful. That dubious honour belongs to the Christian religion. It is therefore appropriate to apply this term with all its connotations of totalitarianism, tyranny and forcible standardization of culture to the process by which Christianity took over the rich pagan world of Europe and transformed it over the centuries into the arid abstractionism of Christian totalitarianism.

Where it found a rich and varied religious topgraphy, it left a bleak, spiritual desert, much like the actual desert that spawned it.

Priapus and the Phallic Saints

Priapus is a well-known Roman fertility god. After the Christianization of Europe, his worship was suppressed along with all the other pagan gods. But, while certain gods and goddesses could be subsumed relatively easily into Christianity (for example, the worship of Diana was a natural fit with the cult of the Virgin Mary, and Mithras could be merged into the Archangel Michael), Priapus was more difficult to blend into Christianity's anti-sexual system.

17 Oct 2010

The Pagan Sites of Europe Remembered: (11) Donar's Oak, Geismar, Germany

The site of the Donar Oak with a statue showing St. Boniface atop a tree stump

An oak tree that once stood at the town of Geismar in central Germany was sacred to the pagan god Thor. We know this because the somewhat fanciful account of its destruction was gleefully preserved by the Christian chroniclers of the cultural genocide of Europe's indigenous culture.

The Pagan Sites of Europe Remembered: (10) The Temple of Uppsala, Sweden

An early 20th-century reimagining of the Temple of Uppsala by Carl Larsson

One of the most authentic, interesting, and specific accounts of pre-Christian paganism was written by Adam of Bremen, a German chronicler of the 11th century, in his ecclesiastical history of the Bishopric of Hamburg.

As a Christian, he was obviously biased against paganism, but nevertheless managed to preserve some interesting information about the pagan beliefs that preceded the cultural genocide committed by the Church.

His mention of human sacrifice is a typical example of Christian hypocrisy, as the Church continued to sacrifice millions in its crusades, inquisitions, and witch hunts for many years to come.

2 Oct 2010

The Celtic Pantheon

The Christian church did a thorough job eradicating traces of earlier religions. This is especially true in the case of the Celtic pagan religion. Following the Roman conquest of Gaul and Britain, the Celtic religion was marginalized and Romanized. This means that that there are few reliable historical records of it. Also, the Celtic lands, including Ireland, were among the first to be Christianized. These factors mean that the ancient pagan religion of the Celts is shrouded in mist, with only the occasional glint of sunlight.

2 Jul 2010

The Burryman of South Queensferry

Scotland has several fascinating pagan traditions. This article by Peter Ross for the "Scotland on Sunday" newspaper details Burryman Day in South Queensferry, when the Burryman, a man dressed in a costume made from burrs (bristly seedpods) 'cleans' the town of evil. The event takes place on the second Friday of August, which this year will be on the 13th of August. Naturally, a fair amount of whisky also enters the proceedings.


By Peter Ross

JOHN Nicol, a South Queensferry man living in Leith, returned to his home town on Thursday to make final practical and psychological preparations for the lead role in Scotland's oddest ceremony. By 8.25am on Friday, in a back room of The Stag's Head, one of nine pubs he will visit over the next 11 hours, his transformation into the Burryman is almost complete.

Nicol is a well-built, 35-year-old, six-two in his socks, but disappearing fast behind a jaggy veneer of 11,000 seed pods, or burrs, from the burdock plant being stuck all over his body by friends and family who could not be more chuffed about the ordeal he is about to endure. "We're proud," says his mother, Senga, who has arranged flowers all over his bowler hat. "But I worry all day. It's a hard thing he's going to do."

Her son is standing with his arms folded across his chest, scowling with concentration, his long hair tied back. Over his trousers and T-shirt he has pulled long-johns and a thermal vest to which the burrs are stuck. Next he puts on a full-face balaclava. "Goodbye, honey," says his girlfriend, Emma. It sounds like the sort of joke couples make, but she's in earnest. Once the hood goes on and those final burrs applied, Nicol no longer feels like himself. He has become the Burryman, a creature which some believe has walked the streets of Queensferry on every second Friday in August for the last 900 years. According to Doc Rowe, a folklorist who has been attending Burryman day since 1969 and now directs the dressing process, the first written mention of the ceremony is in the writing of Sir Walter Scott.

Whatever his provenance, the duties of the Burryman are these: walk around Queensferry all day, never sitting down, never eating, never lowering your outstretched arms and never refusing whisky. In addition to the pubs, people come out on the street in front of their homes and offer a dram, holding the straw to the Burryman's lips. Often these straws are green in acknowledgment of Nicol's Hibee tendencies. It is considered a great honour to have a drink with the Burryman and his two supporters, George Topping and Steven Cannon – responsible for helping him get around safely. This duty is compromised by the fact they match him drink for drink, but the lads do a grand job for all that.

Nicol has been Burryman for 11 years and has his eyes on the record of 27 years. When he was first approached about becoming Burryman, the head of the selection committee asked him: "Are you aware of the dangers? Are you fit? Are you able to take on board some whisky? Have you got some sensitivity to the tradition? And are you mental?" To all these, he answered yes.

At 8.55am by the Jubilee Clock. Nicol is led from The Stag's Head, heralded by a 12 year-old boy called Cameron Forrester who clangs a bell and sings, "Hip hip hooray! It's the Burryman's day!" This anthem is taken up by many adults and children as we walk along High Street, stopping traffic, and up a steep hill. Already, Nicol is "melting" inside the heavy costume. Itchy too. The burrs saw into his flesh as he walks. The pain, heat, whisky, lack of food and air, the restricted vision and movement – it's an intoxicating mix. You can black out if you're not careful. Today, the problem is heavy rain which makes it easier for the spikes to penetrate Nicol's clothes. But it's not raining hard enough to stop the wasps from buzzing round his head. One year a wasp crawled in an eye hole and stung him.

At 9am we make the first stop. This is at the house once occupied by the late James Milne, former provost of the town. He used to offer the first dram, and now his granddaughter Donna travels from Belfast each year to stand outside the home and give the Burryman a drink. This commitment is indicative of how seriously Queensferry takes the tradition. The Burryman is part of the town's soul and collective memory. His passage through the streets is a celebration but there's something elegiac about it too. We stop, for instance, outside a house on Stewart Terrace, where whisky has been left on a doorstep beneath a dishtowel. "Drink to Harry on the train," Steven Cannon instructs Nicol. "Harry Docherty was a good Ferry lad," Nicol tells me. He died suddenly on the train back home from Edinburgh and was found on arrival in Dundee. Docherty used to love the Burryman visiting for a whisky and so his widow, Mary, carries on the tradition.

The Burryman seems particularly meaningful for the very young, who regard him as a magical figure, and the very old for whom he is a reminder of their own magic youth. Wee girls wearing angel wings or dalmatian-spot raincoats go up to Nicol and get burrs for luck. At 9.25am, Betty Archibald, 79, offers the third whisky of the day. She's delighted to see Nicol. Her own father, Sam Corson, was Burryman just after the war. "He did it just the one year," she says."They brought him hame in a wheelbarrow, he was that drunk."

Inevitably, there are those for whom the tradition means nothing. A mystified workman laying a new road says: "I nearly shit myself when he came round the corner," and it is left to Nicol's father to explain the Burryman is supposed to bring good fortune. The idea is that evil sticks to the burrs and he thus cleanses the burgh, like some metaphysical nit comb. For Rick Compton, 46, visiting from Florida, the pleasure he takes in this tradition is more basic: "In Orlando, we got seven dwarves, fairy princesses, Mickey, Minnie and Goofy. But we don't have any Burlymen."

At 6pm, after drinking the last whisky of the day, his 20th, in just two sooks, Nicol staggers to the back room of the Stag's Head and, seated in the middle of the dance floor, is cut from his burry prison. His hair is tousled, his clothes sweat-soaked, and he has blood all over his back. But it's the ecstasy on his face as his boots are removed that will stay with me. "Oh!" he slurs. "It's worth it just for that, eh?"

21 May 2010

The Pagan Sites of Europe Remembered: (9) Loudon Hill, Scotland

It is quite difficult to claim Loudon Hill as a pagan site using the usual historical and documentary evidence, but anyone who has visited it, as I have, will know that it must certainly have been a pagan site at one time.

25 Mar 2010

"Why I'm a Pagan" by Stephen McNallen

I found this interesting statement of pagan identity and belief on the website of Alternative Right. (Note 2018: Subsequent to this, the Alt-Right was taken over by shills and idiots and perverted into a Nazi-tard movement.)

Much of what Mr. McNallen says squares with my own views. I am however intrigued that he is attached to Germanic instead of Celtic paganism, despite having a "Mc" on his surname rather than a "von."

The Modern Relevance of Paganism

Beware the "Capitalist Death Cult" and its proxy non-religions

Paganism in the 21st century may seem like some kind of game, cynically indulged in, for a variety of motives, by people who frankly know better; a kind of spiritual “cosplay” or parlor game; an ironic pose in the vain hope of being thought “interesting” – essentially ego-driven.

The assumption behind this perception of paganism is that, in this day and age, the only viable mindset is skeptical rational agnosia or some kind of purely "cultural" affiliation with one of the so-called "great religions" (i.e. Buddhism, Christianity, Islam), or the still-going group religion to which one is born into - Sikhism, Judaism, or Shintoism. As long as you don't take it too seriously. This is what we are directed to by the dominant global culture, a road plan devised by the winners of history.

This view contains fallacies and hollow idols that I will now draw attention to.

(1) Rationalism is an illusion fuelled by emotions. This is possible because, even with rigorous logic, false premises and the selective input of data allow rationalism to be corrupted to the point of meaninglessness. This means that all knowledge is essentially non-objective and non-universal. In short we exist in a state of agnosia (literally a lack of universally valid knowledge).

(2) In an age of agnosia, faith and will become objective although not universal truths.

(3) The decreed religions that our culture sanctifies are all politically loaded and reflect the globalist politics of the present age, namely the attempt to make us all conform to global norms and economic practices for the simple reason of maximizing profit returns on lent capital.

This element of global spiritual totalitarianism is especially true of Christianity, which is the continuation of Roman political imperialism by other means, and which has provided the template for (a) the intellectual totalitarianism of rationalism (with its constant invocation of the notions of heresy and witch hunt) and (b) the assumption of moral superiority that underpins the post-Christian globalist capitalist system.

The historical pattern is for these totalitarian "great religions" to take over specific global regions, wiping out and absorbing indigenous, grassroots pagan beliefs, and then for those "great religions" to be progressively watered down to a point of meaningless and similitude to create an acultural skeptical rational agnosia that allows complete surrender to the real "religion," the Capitalist Death Cult of greed and interest-driven over-economization of the human race, even to the point of its destruction.

At a political level, paganism is an attempt to resist this unnatural and economically-determined deculturization and intellectual totalitarianism, and an attempt to protect a true diversity that reflects the natural diversity of the world. In this sense, paganism has a high and absolute moral purpose that trumps the short term "certainties" of the totalitarian puppet religions of the Capitalist Death Cult.

18 Mar 2010

The Pagan Sites of Europe Remembered: (8) The White Horse of Uffington, Oxfordshire, England

Five miles south of the town of Faringdon on an Oxfordshire hillside can be found the famous White Horse of Uffington. Made by trenches in the hillside filled with crushed white chalk, it presents a stylized figure of a horse. Scientific dating techniques estimate its age at between 3400 and 2600 years old.

The Pagan Sites of Europe Remembered: (7) The Rude Man of Cerne, Dorsetshire, England

The village of Cerne Abbas in Dorsetshire, England, is famous for a giant naked, club-wielding figure carved into a hillside. The contrast between the white chalky soil and the green grass makes for a very vivid image.

13 Mar 2010

Interview with a Witch

Back in 1992, soon after I started writing as a rock journalist, I had the pleasure to interview Patricia Kennealy-Morrison, the "pagan wife" and "widow" of rock legend Jim Morrison.

The interview article is over on my music blog "The Revenge of Riff Raff": Interview with Patricia Kennealy-Morrison

She was in town promoting her book "Strange Days: My Life With and Without Jim Morrison," and our talk naturally centered on rock music and how Jim Morrison's legend had been presented in books and movies. Nevertheless there are some elements of pagan interest, such as a mention of Jim Morrison's 'fetch,' a kind of spirit or apparition, resembling a person due to die, which then visits close friends or relatives of that person.

13 Feb 2010

A Definition of Paganism

Because of its wide application, the meaning of the word "paganism" is liable to be stretched and rendered almost meaningless. The definitions given in dictionaries tend to reflect rather than resolve the resultant confusion. Because of this it is essential that we have a clear definition of what paganism is.

I would define it as religions, supernatural beliefs, and symbolic systems that are rooted in the lives, landscapes, and histories of particular peoples. This distinguishes it from rootless international globalized religions, supernatural beliefs, and symbolic systems; in particular the one-size-fits-all spiritual totalitarianism inherent in the proselytizing religions of Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism.

This definition also distinguishes it from such rootless internationally traded cultural commodities as Satanism, the occult, New Age mumbo-jumbo, and indeed any 'pagan' belief system transplanted wholesale from its native soil halfway round the world to a spiritual vacuum elsewhere.

In this context, the etymology of the word pagan is revealing. Not surprisingly, given the Christian-dominated background of European languages, pagan was originally meant as an insult. It comes from "paganus," meaning "villager, rustic, civilian," which in turn comes from "pagus," meaning "rural district." "Pagus" itself comes from "pangere," which means "to fix, fasten," and derives from "pag" (to fix), which is also the root of "pact."

In this, we can see paganism's clear connection with location and social obligation, rather than with the rootless amoral masses, gathered as slaves and immigrants, in the vast metropolii of the Roman Empire, a population, which, deprived of cultural and religious identity, provided many easy converts to the great universal religion.

9 Feb 2010

The Green Men of Rosslyn

Thanks to books like the preposterous "Da Vinci Code," Rossyln Chapel in Midlothian, Scotland, is now a well-known site, associated with freemasonry, the Knights Templar, and a load of other mumbo-jumbo, but, setting all this nonsense aside, it is also home to a remarkable collection of Green Men, the ancient pagan symbol of fertility and rebirth that runs through British culture.

There are said to be in excess of 110 Green Men throughout the 15th-century chapel, many of them of very high quality. Depictions of the Green Man normally show a human head enmeshed in foliage, often with branches or vines sprouting from the mouth.

Older versions, like the one in the picture, often seem designed to scare. Perhaps, like church gargoyles, they were intended to repel evil spirits, or simply to warn Christians of the supposed dangers of paganism. Through the centuries, the Green Man has become increasingly human. At present his popularity seems bolstered by the fad for ecology.

The Pagan Sites of Europe Remembered: (6) Delphi

One of the most famous and recognizable pagan sites in Europe is undoubtedly Delphi, once famous for its oracle. Lying at the foot of Mount Parnassos, within the angle formed by the twin rocks of the Phaedriades, Delphi was regarded as the navel of the world by the pagan Greeks.

8 Feb 2010

The Pagan Sites of Europe Remembered: (5) Santiago de Compostela, Spain

Many of the former pagan sites of Europe can easily be found because they are now weighed down with an over-ornate church or cathedral. A case in point is Santiago de Compostela, often described as the third holiest Christian site (after Jerusalem and Rome) and the supposed resting place of St. James, one of Jesus's twelve disciples.

7 Feb 2010

The Pagan Sites of Europe Remembered: (4) Vilnius, Lithuania

Vilnius Cathedral built on the shrine of Perkunas

Apart from a few tribes in the depths of the remote Russian forests, the Lithuanians were the last European people to be Christianized, finally submitting to the Church in 1387.

6 Feb 2010

The Pagan Sites of Europe Remembered: (3) Aquae Sulis, Bath, England

Bath - site of the cult of the Celtic Goddess Sulis

One of the best known pagan sites in Britain is the Roman baths in the town of Bath, the Roman name of which was Aquae Sulis. This means 'the Baths of Sulis,' the local Celtic goddess of the hot spring.

The Roman baths, built after the conquest of Southern Britain in the first century, occupied a site long held sacred. In Celtic times the pool of bubbling orange-tinged water would probably have been surrounded by a grove of oak trees.

The Pagan Sites of Europe Remembered: (2) Shrine of Lugus, Peñalba de Villastar, Spain

Near the small town of Peñalba de Villastar, 8 km from Teruel in the Aragon region of Eastern Spain, there is a sanctuary of the Celtic god Lugus (also spelt Lugh, Luc, or Lugus). This brief account is based on a Spanish blog by Juan Carlos Olive Pedreño [link].

St. Michael = Mithras

It's no secret that Christianity, in its ruthless ascent to religious dominance, borrowed, commandeered, and co-opted elements from all the other competing religions of the time, weaving them deep into its totalitarian picture of the universe. Almost every element of Christianity can be traced to some pre-existing pagan faith.

But Christianity was also very skillful at Christianizing elements of paganism by finding the nearest Christian equivalent and substituting it. For example, in the Mediterranean, where the worship of the Goddess Diana had deep roots, they were able to transfer the pagan affection for this goddess to Christianity through the cult of the Madonna.

During the pre-Christian period, the religion of Mithraism, with its central theme of a dualistic battle between good and evil, was popular in the North West part of Roman Empire. It was especially favored by the military stationed in the provinces of Spain, Gaul, Britain, and the Rhine frontier. In order to successfully subsume these local sentiments into their religion, the Christians found aspects of their faith that matched local beliefs and then promoted them.

In the Bible, the Archangel Michael is described as the commander of the army of the Lord (Joshua 5:13-15). In artistic representation, he is usually shown holding a sword and defeating Satan or a dragon in battle. In short he is the cutting edge of the "Forces of Light" in the battle with the "Forces of Darkness." Like Mithras, he is also connected to those in uniform, being considered the patron of police officers and soldiers.

These affinities made Michael a suitable spearhead for Christianizing areas where Mithraic traditions still had some influence. A good example is the world heritage site of Mont-Saint-Michel in Brittany. Originally this was a site sacred to Mithraism. Its original name, Mont Tombe, means 'tomb,' probably a reference to the underground temples favored by the Mithraists.

The change of name is recorded in the Life of Saint Aubert, the bishop of Avranches. One night in the year 708, the archangel Saint Michael appeared to the bishop in a dream, ordering him to erect a sanctuary on Mont Tombe. At that time, the Mount was a remote site far from any road, and could only be accessed by passing through the vast forest of Scissy, which was inhabited by wolves and wild beasts.

For this reason, the bishop was reluctant to act, whereupon the Archangel Michael appeared again. Incensed at the bishop's prevarication, he struck the cleric with a blazing finger, leaving a deep mark in his skull, but persuading him to finally build the sanctuary, which gave the site it Christian name. In later years, a hole in the relic of the bishop's skull was explained as the mark of the Archangel's finger.

The Pagan Sites of Europe Remembered: (1) Heligoland

Heligoland - a site once sacred to the Frisian god Fosite

The pagan sites of Europe - shrines, temples, and groves - were often destroyed by Christian fanatics and then forgotten, but some of them, like Heligoland, can still be traced in the historical records. It may even be possible one day to reestablish these sites as holy places.

Heligoland is a tiny island, less than a square mile in size and 29 miles off the German coastline in the North Sea. The name means 'Holy Land' because of the island's religious associations with the Frisian god Fosite, the god of justice, peace, and truth, identified with the Norse god Froseti. On the island, there was a well that was once sacred to Fosite and probably provided a focal point for his shrine.

31 Jan 2010

Lyrics: "The Return Of Pan" by Mike Scott

I stood upon the balcony with my brand new bride
the clink of bells came drifting down the mountainside
When in our sight something moved
- lightning eyed and cloven hooved -
The great god Pan is alive!

He moves amid the modern world in disguise
it's possible to look into his immortal eyes
He's like a man you'd meet anyplace
Until you recognise that ancient face
The great god Pan is alive!

At sea on a ship in a thunder storm
on the very night that Christ was born
A sailor heard from overhead
a mighty voice cry Pan is dead!
So follow Christ as best you can
Pan is dead! Long Live Pan!

From the olden days and up through all the years
from Arcadia to the stone fields of Inisheer
Some say the Gods are just a myth
but guess who I've been dancing with
The great god Pan is alive!

24 Jan 2010

Sertorius and the White Hind

A 19th-century cartoon showing a classics teacher impersonating Sertorius.

Following reports of the White Stag that appeared in the British media recently, I was reminded of Plutarch’s Life of Sertorius, the first-century-BC Roman statesman and general who rebelled against Rome. He attempted and almost succeeded in establishing an independent republic in Iberia before he was assassinated in 72 BC. One of the keys to Sertorius’s transitory success was his ability to win over and inspire the Celtic or semi-Celtic peoples who inhabited Northern, West, and Central Iberia through an understanding of their culture, traditions, and pagan religion.